Gunning Daily News

Making Smooth Moves, Part 2: Packing Your Valuables

April 20, 2012 5:06 pm

In the coming months, your RIS Consumer Confidant will be highlighting the advice of many experts whose reputation depends on ensuring your move—whether across the street, or across the nation—goes as smoothly as possible. 

We already heard from Bill Oakley of Oakley Restoration & Finishing, LLC in Litchfield County, Conn. ( who recently blogged about how to save your furniture and sanity during a move.
Oakley says there are a lot of things that can go wrong in a major household move, and a lot of things that can break, can be easily replaced. But when it comes to family heirlooms, antiques, art collections, jewelry, wills, stock certificates, photos, home videos, etc.—you need a little extra effort to be sure those items travel as safely as possible. 

Once you get to the point where you are engaging a moving company in a walk-through of your possessions, Oakley says it's a good time to make the company aware of your most valuable items and perhaps have a replacement value cost documented. 

If you are a collector of antique or vintage items Oakley recommends you call a professional appraiser to do either a summary appraisal stating the replacement cost, or at least an approximation of value.
But don't forget—you may already have these figures if your insurance company has scheduled these items separately on your personal property policy. Oakley says this extra effort can save so much trouble and heartache if you do have a damage or loss claim. 

When it comes to choosing a moving company to use, the best way is by a recommendation from someone you know and trust. Nothing is better than a good report on the professional care and service a mover gave to a friend. 

Lacking that, Oakley says ask for references that you can call for their testimonial. I have heard some horror stories about how unprofessional and ill-mannered movers showed up the day of the move and did not do as they promised, causing much concern, anxiety and outright damage. 

Oakley adds that if the moving company representative isn’t able to handle antiques and higher end items to your satisfaction you can use them for the bulk of your possessions and hire a mover who specializes in antiques and fine art for the good stuff.

8 Sure-Fire Tips to Attract Hummingbirds

April 20, 2012 5:06 pm

Hummingbirds are one of the most interesting species of birds. They can hover, fly forward, backward and up and down. Not to mention their dazzling, iridescent colors. The bird experts at Duncraft offer these eight great tips so anyone can attract and enjoy these amazing “flying jewels” in their backyard. 

When hummingbirds migrate north from South and Central America in early spring, there are few insects or flower nectar for them to eat. To attract hummingbirds, nectar feeders should be put out about a week before the hummingbirds are expected to return. Hummingbirds will feed on nectar for energy until a good supply of insects is available. Although Duncraft has a complete array of instant nectar mixes, they offer this recipe for homemade nectar: Use 1 part white table sugar to 4 parts water. Bring to a boil to remove impurities in the water and to dissolve the sugar completely. Cool before filling feeders. 

Hummingbird feeders should be placed in a shady area near a shrub or tree. Hummingbirds are very territorial and will welcome a perch from which they can keep watch over “their” feeder. 

Hummingbirds return to the same location each year where they know they will find a food source. Once hummingbirds have been attracted to an area, feeders should be hung in exactly the same spot each following year. 

Planting flowers near a nectar feeder will increase the chance that hummingbirds will find a feeder. Tubular-shaped flowers of red or orange harbor the types of insects that hummingbirds feed on, attracting them to the area. 

Because hummingbirds are very territorial, they will fight at a feeder. When this happens it is best to set up another feeder in another spot to stop the fighting. Locate it at least six feet from the first feeder. 

Duncraft recommends that nectar feeders be cleaned thoroughly once a week in warm water and white vinegar to remove residue, then rinsed well. A stiff bottle brush or hand-mop is useful. Soap or detergent are not recommended. 

Change the nectar solution about every 4 days, especially in high temperatures. Old solutions can ferment or produce a mold harmful to hummers. Hummers are fussy and will not come to feeders that have been neglected. They are quickly discouraged and may leave the area when they find feeders empty so keep feeders at least half full at all times. 

Do not use pesticides on flowers that hummingbirds may visit for either nectar or insects. 

Source: Duncraft

Word of the Day

April 20, 2012 5:06 pm

Deficiency judgment. Judgment issued against a borrower when the sale of foreclosed property does not bring in enough to pay the balance owed on the mortgage.

Question of the Day

April 20, 2012 5:06 pm

Q: Does the federal government offer home improvement programs?
Yes. Among the most popular:
- Title 1 Home Improvement Loan. HUD insures the loan up to $25,000 for a single-family home and lenders make loans for basic livability improvements – such as additions and new roofs – to eligible borrowers.
- Section 203(k) Program. HUD helps finance the major rehabilitation and repair of one- to four-family residential properties, excluding condos. Owner-occupants may use a combination loan to purchase a fixer-upper "as is" and rehabilitate it, or refinance a property plus include in the loan the cost of making the improvements. They also may use the loan solely to finance the rehabilitation.
- VA loans. Veterans can get loans from the Department of Veterans Affairs to buy, build, or improve a home, as well as refinance an existing loan at interest rates that are usually lower than that on conventional loans.
- Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Loans. Funded by the Agriculture Department, these low-rate loans are available to low-income rural residents who own and occupy a home in need of repairs. Funds are available to improve or modernize a home or to remove health and safety hazards.

Making Moves: Spring Moving Made Easy, Part I

April 19, 2012 5:24 pm

It's a sure bet that fair April weather is beckoning millions of Americans to begin planning a spring or summer relocation. So I will be highlighting the advice of many experts whose reputation depends on ensuring a move—whether it’s across the street, or across the nation—goes as smoothly as possible.

Bill Oakley is one of those experts. He owns and operates Oakley Restoration & Finishing, LLC in Litchfield County, Conn. ( who recently blogged about how to save your furniture and your sanity during a move.

Oakley said he's seen too many mistakes made by unknowing customers who have moved out of one home and into another. As much as he makes a living repairing and refinishing furniture, he hates to see beautiful furniture mishandled and damaged, sometimes irreparably.

To prevent that from happening when you move, we'll review Oakley's tips in a three part series to ensure your furniture arrives at your new home in the same condition as when it left your old home.

Oakley advises you begin the moving preparation by creating with a written and photographic inventory of your possessions. It doesn’t have to be all of your things, but definitely do this with your better pieces.

He suggests taking an inventory of items that are of significant value or difficult to replace—such as antiques, art collections, jewelry, wills, stock certificates, photos, home videos, etc. Shipping valuable items via Certified Mail or Federal Express as well as personally moving them are options to consider if you don't want them to be part of the 'big move.’

Oakley highly recommends you do a walk-through inspection with the moving company representative using the inventory you've created—like when you rent a car and they do a “walk around” inspection with you. Note the condition and any existing damage like professional movers do in a “condition report.” Using a digital camera makes it easy to chronicle and copy pictures to a computer, and you can back up everything on a flash drive for safekeeping.

In our next segment, we'll look at TLC handling of valuables during a move.

5 Renovations for Your Backyard Pool

April 19, 2012 5:24 pm

(ARA) - If you added a pool to your home in the past few years, or moved into a house with an existing pool, you may wonder what more you can do to enhance the value and enjoyment your pool brings to your home and family. You may even think there's not much you can do beyond keeping it clean and well maintained.

"Pools are a great investment, and the vast majority of owners say their pool is a great place to entertain," says Bill Weber, president and CEO of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP). "Fortunately, some simple upgrades and renovations can help pool owners enjoy their investment even more."

APSP points to five renovations that can offer homeowners the most satisfaction and value for their investment. The Association suggests homeowners consult with and hire an APSP-certified professional for the best possible results from any of these renovations:

1. Resurfacing - If your in-ground pool is made from concrete, time and use can cause the surface to deteriorate and become rough or even cracked. Resurfacing can restore the beauty and comfort of the pool and extend its functional life. Choose options that provide durability, and consider multiple manufacturers' products to ensure the best selection. For pools with a vinyl interior, a host of new patterns, available for replacement liners, can transform the appearance of the pool overnight. Fiberglass pool owners also have several resurfacing options. Consult with an APSP-certified professional to determine the best product to make your fiberglass pool look like new.

2. New tile - Just as a kitchen backsplash can transform the overall look of the room, tile can set the tone for how your pool looks. Pool tile options are vast, and changing the tile is one of the most dramatic improvements you can make; it will give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of appearance.

3. Change the look of the pool deck - The current design trend is to extend the look of interior flooring out into the pool area to create the effect of an outdoor family room. Deck choices range from man-made and natural materials to staining existing concrete. Know that old concrete does not necessarily need to be removed. Often you can fix unsightly cracks and dated concrete decks with a thick overlay and new finish.

4. Add a water feature - Installing a waterfall or fountain is a great way to bring the sound and beauty of moving water to your outdoor environment. Water features also create a strong focal point for the pool. A dramatic spillover or sheer water feature can be dynamic additions to an ordinary pool.

5. Lighting - While safety is a primary function of lights, today's pool lighting also adds touches of beauty and pizzazz. Standard incandescent and halogen pool lights are functional staples, and fiber optic lighting can add striking color to a nighttime poolscape. Fiber optics are especially great around pools and landscaping because there's no electrical current to worry about. Long-lasting LED replacement lights can typically be installed with little or no modification to the existing pool. The colored LED lights can create an entirely new mood around your pool while providing energy savings at the same time.

"Of course, there are many more renovations and improvements to consider," Weber says. "Digital controls make operating pool equipment easier than ever, allowing you to control lighting, heating and cleaning with the touch of the button. And upgrades like adding a salt chlorinator system, solar cover and heater can improve the functionality and efficiency of a pool."

Keep in mind, you don't have to do everything at once. Pool renovations can be done over several seasons, allowing you to make the improvements and fund your investment at a pace that works for you. Of course, to ensure you get the most for your money, you'll want to hire an experienced pool contractor. You can find an APSP certified building or service professional through the organization's website, APSP-certified professionals are required to demonstrate proven knowledge of design, construction and service, follow a strict code of ethics, and must engage in continuing education to maintain their certification.

"Most renovations are quite affordable, and can dramatically change the look of your backyard," Weber says. "It's important to ensure your project is performed by a certified professional who can help you turn your vision into reality safely, efficiently and cost-effectively."


Realistic and Livable Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

April 19, 2012 5:24 pm

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the past 20 years, the diets of most Americans have changed, consuming too many calories and too few nutrients. This type of diet leads to weight gain—60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese—and 9 out of 10 Americans fall short of many essential nutrients in their diets. With on-the-go lifestyles, many people find it difficult to eat right, exercise regularly and keep their diet in check. 

Dr. Melina Jampolis, author of "The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life," knows that even small, consistent steps can lead to big changes over time. "Eating a well balanced diet, keeping to a fitness routine and maintaining one's weight are all tactics to support a healthy lifestyle. As a doctor specializing in nutrition and weight loss, I've been helping people navigate life's challenges using a motivational and simple, year-long approach." The "Calendar Diet," shows you how to maintain a healthy lifestyle month-by-month, allowing you to cut calories without depriving yourself. 

Dr. Melina shares the following recommendations: 

Eat wholesome foods
"A menu filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables will give you a big nutritional boost," suggests Dr. Melina. Vegetables, she explains, are packed with fiber and water, and are low in fat, so they decrease the calorie density of your diet, while boosting overall nutrition. 

Opt for lean protein in your diet as well, which helps control hunger, stabilize blood sugar levels, support your metabolism, as well as build and protect muscle. Add moderate amounts of "good" fats -- found in nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil -- to keep calories under control and support the absorption of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. 

Supplement your diet
"When you reduce calories, you reduce nutrient intake. I recommend dietary supplements to my patients who are restricting calories and who want to achieve optimal health," says Dr. Melina. "When choosing supplements, it is important to go with a reputable brand such as Nature Made," says Dr. Melina, "which has rigorous quality control standards in place to ensure what is on the label is in the bottle." Dr. Melina also recommends looking for products carrying the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Verified Dietary Supplement mark, as a way to ensure the product has met stringent quality criteria for purity and potency. 

For most of her patients, especially those who are overweight or obese, live in northern latitudes, or are at an age greater than 65, Dr. Melina recommends taking a vitamin D supplement as this key nutrient plays a supporting role in bone, heart and immune health. "To determine if you have low vitamin D levels, speak with your doctor about having your blood levels of vitamin D checked," says Dr. Melina, who recommends adults take 1000 to 2000 International Units (IU) of Vitamin D3 daily to fulfill their vitamin D requirement. 

Up your activity
Always speak with your doctor before beginning a new workout regimen. Make sure you get the recommended amount of activity into your week. "The key is to gradually increase your activity levels," says Dr. Melina. "By switching up your routine every month, you can continually challenge yourself, improve fitness levels and work major muscle groups in different ways to prevent plateaus." 

For more information, visit and

Is Your Pet Ready for Warm Weather Fun?

April 19, 2012 5:24 pm

Before heading outdoors, make sure your pet is ready for the season. Dr. Kemba Marshall, PetSmart veterinarian and pet care expert, knows it's important to pay extra attention to your pet when temperatures climb. 

"Pet parents can make sure their pets stay comfortable, happy and healthy by preparing for the day ahead," says Dr. Marshall. She suggests these tips for pet parents looking to include their canine companions in warm-weather activities. 

Keep pets groomed
A winter indoors often leaves pets with dry skin, tangled fur and a thick undercoat, which begins to shed when the weather warms. Take your dog to a professional grooming salon, like those found in PetSmart stores, to help keep them cool with services like a bath, brush or hair cut to remove loose hair. Have their skin and coat moisturized with a soothing conditioner and their nails trimmed. 

After grooming, brush your dog frequently and trim nails regularly to keep them clean and minimize dirt and debris collected from playing outdoors. Keep grooming tools, such as the Martha Stewart Pets Massager Brush and nail clippers, handy by hanging them behind the back door or tucking them into a basket. 

Keep pets hydrated
Pets need lots of water, especially when it's hot. Be sure to pack extra bottles of water for your dog when heading outdoors for a long hike, walk, jog or trip to the park. "Remember, if you're feeling hot, tired and thirsty, your pet likely feels the same way," says Dr. Marshall. Wet food also helps pets stay hydrated, so consider adding wet food to dry kibble, along with extra water. 

Keep pets sheltered
While the outdoors beckon pets to play, high temperatures can be dangerous. Keep your pet indoors during the hottest part of the day to help them avoid such conditions as dehydration, heatstroke and paw injuries from overheated pavement. 

Consider taking your dog to an indoor play center to keep them happy, such as a Doggie Day Camp. They'll spend the day interacting and exercising with other dogs and trained pet-loving professionals while you're at work or running errands. 

Keep pets pest-free
Pets are susceptible to a variety of bugs and pests—especially fleas and ticks. While fleas can trigger allergies and dermatitis, ticks may carry zoonotic diseases, which can be passed to humans. Purchase preventative collars and topical treatments to protect your pet. And after every outdoor trip, inspect pets carefully for ticks and other insects to ensure their safety. 

Get pets ready to hit the road
• Prepare pets for a long road trip in a crate by taking them on short drives while running errands around town. Your pet will acclimate to traveling in his crate before your vacation. Remember, however, not to leave pets in hot cars while you go into a store.
• Try using pheromone sprays and toys, which may help the pet feel calmer while inside his crate. Avoid plush toys, which can shred and be ingested.
• Dog training classes are a good way to be sure your pet is comfortable in different environments and around new faces. 

Going camping with pets.
• Protect your dog's feet with hiking booties. Come into the store with your dog so that booties can be fit properly. Always remove the booties when you reach your destination or return to the campground so paws don't get overheated.
• Avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day and walk in shaded areas when possible.
• Always keep a fresh supply of drinking water on hand for your pet, and be sure to offer water at least hourly while hiking. 


Word of the Day

April 19, 2012 5:24 pm

Default. Breach of a contract or failure to meet a legal obligation. Nonpayment of a mortgage beyond a certain number of payments is considered a default.

Question of the Day

April 19, 2012 5:24 pm

Q: What is a second mortgage?

A: It is a loan against the equity in your home. Financial institutions will generally let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance on your original mortgage.

You may incur all the fees normally associated with a mortgage, including closing costs, title insurance and processing fees.