Gunning Daily News

Question of the Day

April 17, 2012 5:10 pm

Q: What are the benefits of having a co-op?
A: In addition to being able to take advantage of tax deductions, the National Association of Housing Cooperatives (NAHC) says shareholders will find that co-ops have low turnover rates, lower real estate tax assessments, reduced maintenance costs, resident participation and control, and the ability to prevent absentee and investor ownership.

Also attractive: housing cooperatives come in all shapes, sizes, and types. They include townhouses, mid-and high-rise apartments, garden apartments, single-family homes, mobile home parks, artists’ cooperatives, and senior housing. 

For more information about co-ops contact NAHC at (202) 737-0797, or log on to www.coophousing.org.

When Retirement Meets Divorce: Dissecting the QDRO

April 16, 2012 5:54 pm

What is a QDRO? To those of us unversed in the common acronyms of divorce law, this means Qualified Domestic Relations Order. However, notes Find Law writer Andrew Chow, if you have a retirement account, and you're facing a divorce, you may quickly become quite familiar with this acronym.
Chow breaks down the basics of a QDRO, below:

A QDRO is a court order that allows an alternate payee— a spouse, an ex-spouse, a child, or some other dependent— to collect money from a retirement account. This may be needed for spousal or child support, for example. In some states, a retirement account may also be considered community property that must be divided upon divorce. 

Because QDROs can be complicated, it's probably wise to consult an attorney experienced in dealing with them. But here is some basic information about QDROs: 

What Qualifies as a QDRO?
In general, a QDRO is a court-issued judgment, order, or decree that formally approves a property-settlement agreement that involves a retirement plan. A QDRO must contain the following information:
• The name and last known mailing address of the participant, and each alternate payee;
• The name of each plan to which the order applies;
• The amount or percentage, or method for calculating the amount or percentage, to be paid to the alternate payee;
• The number of payments, or time period, covered by the QDRO. 

How Does a QDRO Work?
A QDRO generally describes how retirement assets will be divided between the retirement plan's participant and his alternate payees. A QDRO is required for any retirement plan covered by ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. 

The plan's administrator must approve the QDRO, provided it meets certain requirements. QDRO transfers from a retirement account do not incur an early-withdrawal penalty. 

How Do QDROs Get Drafted?
Plan administrators may provide QDRO forms that participants can fill out on their own. But because there are a number of legal requirements for what a QDRO must contain, it's probably best to speak with an attorney about drafting a QDRO that meets your specific needs. 

Source: FindLaw.com

Word of the Day

April 16, 2012 5:54 pm

Deed. Written document that when executed and delivered conveys title to real property.

Question of the Day

April 16, 2012 5:54 pm

Q: What should elderly homeowners consider when deciding to remodel? 

A: According to the AARP, older homeowners prefer to age in place, meaning they want to live in their homes safely, independently and comfortably, despite age or ability level. To do so, many require a few modifications in the home to enhance maneuverability, including the installation of a private elevator and the addition of a bathroom and bedroom to the main level. A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) may prove helpful. CAPS professionals are remodelers, general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants who are trained in the unique needs of the elderly, Aging-in-place home modifications, common remodeling projects, and solutions to common barriers. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), together with the NAHB Research Center, NAHB Seniors Housing Council, and AARP, developed the CAPS program to address the growing number of consumers who will soon require modifications to their homes.

Color Trends 2012: Soothing Palettes, Subtleties in Focus

April 16, 2012 5:24 pm

I recently looked over the earthy and Easter egg varieties of new colors that designers and DIY-ers will be slapping on this season. From chili pepper oranges and yellows to cool grays or blues, there's plenty to soothe or stimulate. 

Don't just say blue. sample deep cobalt blue or blue green shades of peacock and turquoise. Even neutrals are spicier this year, with khaki and gold standing in for black and white. 

Gray is popular, as are the nearly neutrals, like lilac tones. These purples are so subtle that they look gray, with reds so deep they look brown. 

Pantone’s Chicago unveiling of the Spring/Summer 2012 Color Trends Report revealed nine palettes for 2012: Nonchalance, Subtleties, Resilience, Indigo Effects, and Transcending Time, Back to the Fuchsia, Reflections, Nouveau Neon and The Comics. 

Anyone looking to paint on the cutting edge of the latest color schemes can match their mood to any of the appropriate Pantone offerings: 

Nonchalance – These are easy to read and enjoy, according to Pantone. The reassuring colors coax a feeling of tranquility and relaxation with no suggestion of anxiety in the surroundings. The comforting pastel pinks, ethereal blues and soft egret white wrap us in carefree baby blanket colors, harmoniously blending with the more mature taupe, gray and grape tones. 

Resilience – This represents a group of sturdy hues that work very well together. It speaks of hand-hewn objects of substance, sustenance and solidity in a range of natural, outdoor shades. There are nuances of the deepest browns, varietal mushroom tones, foliage green and greenish yellow. A dash of flamingo orange adds an exotic touch to this otherwise organic grouping. 

Indigo Effects – These shades evoke a mood of broad expansiveness and depth – enveloping and protective, yet mysterious. The colors are variations on a blue theme – celestial and majestic blues, purpled and deep blue indigos – all deftly brushed with contrasting strokes of maroon, mauve and moody gray. 

Metallics – These are taking the lead in a season in which modern materials are key. Transparent plastics and highly polished surfaces like lacquer and polished metals are everywhere, but you’ll see them in combination with vintage looks. 

Happy painting!

Painting Tops Spring Home Improvement Wish Lists

April 16, 2012 5:24 pm

Spring brings many new beginnings, especially around the home, as people look to freshen up their living spaces this season. 

In fact, seven out of 10 homeowners are planning home improvement projects, with nearly half (49 percent) citing painting as the most-desired need, followed by landscaping at 47 percent and remodeling a room at 29 percent, according to the 2012 Spring Home Improvement Survey conducted by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and Sherwin-Williams. 

"We know people are looking for more cost-effective ways to enhance their space," says Paul Zuch, certified remodeler and NARI chairman. "Some of the most impactful transformations for a room are economical projects like painting, resurfacing cabinets or changing kitchen or bathroom hardware. But it is important for consumers to use quality materials to make it worth the investment. While it's tempting to go easy on the wallet, spending a little more on quality products saves money in the long run." 

"Painting can add energy and liven up any home—whether it is revamping the bedroom, giving new life to an old piece of furniture or staining the deck," says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing, Sherwin-Williams. 

The Spring Home Improvement Survey also showed that seven out of 10 homeowners believe a room or area of their home is currently in need of painting. The top vote for a new coat of paint goes to bedrooms and bathrooms (both at 29 percent), and living or family rooms are next in line (28 percent). 

Source: www.NationalPaintingWeek.com.

Tree Troubles: Whose Yard Is It, Anyway?

April 16, 2012 5:24 pm

When a tree is planted between property lines, disputes may arise, and an otherwise neighborly relationship may be strained. Or perhaps a tree fell, and now no one knows who should cover the cost. From dangerous tree removal to the just plain annoying tree debris landing in the yard, there are ways to work out tree problems and maintain good neighborly relations. 

Most shared tree problems fall into three main categories:

1. Hazardous Tree Removal: The neighbor's tree is dead, split or leaning. The homeowner next door wants the tree removed before it falls in the yard and perhaps hits the house or other property.

2. Property Damage: The neighbor’s tree has fallen and damaged property. Payment for tree removal service and damage repair is required.

3. Poor Maintenance: The tree is growing over the next door neighbor's roof. Debris keeps falling in the yard, pool or patio. The tree needs professional maintenance to resolve the problem. 

“Don't touch a neighbor's tree,” advises Lou Giroud, ISA Certified Arborist and President, Giroud Tree and Lawn. “By law provided there is no trespassing, a homeowner has the right to take care of the portion of the tree on their property. However, to avoid conflict and potential legal issues, get the neighbor’s permission before taking any action.” 

Here's how to proceed. “Start with an evaluation by an ISA Certified Arborist,” suggests Mr. Giroud. "Ask the Arborist to assess the situation and provide a recommendation in writing. Share the professional evaluation with your neighbor, especially if the tree is deemed a hazard and removal by a tree removal service is required. 

The next step is to reach out to the neighbor. “In working with thousands of tree issues between neighbors,” explains Mr. Giroud, “I’ve found that the best results are gained through friendly communication.” 

1. If the neighbor is approachable, call or visit. Schedule a time to talk about the tree problem. Calmly present the issue and share the recommendation from the tree service company. If the neighbor can’t pay for the work, offer to pay for it or share in the cost.

2. If the neighbor is never home, write a friendly letter explaining the concern and attach the Arborist’s recommendation. 

3. If the neighbor doesn’t respond, send a certified letter. As a last resort, hire an attorney specializing in tree law. 

Disputes with a neighbor can cause a lot of stress. An ISA Certified Arborist can evaluate the situation and help make the job of negotiating with a neighbor a little easier.

Source: Giroud Tree and Lawn, http://www.giroudtree.com.

Tips for Living Comfortably When You're on the Road

April 13, 2012 4:24 pm

Traveling can leave you craving the comforts of home, especially when you're on the road for more than a day or two. Making life comfortable while you are away starts with choosing the right hotel and finding ways to keep your real-life routines rolling, so being miles from where you live still feels close to how you live. 

Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, co-founding editor of Apartment Therapy, founding editor of Apartment Therapy's culinary arts site TheKitchn.com, and author of "Good Food to Share," is a frequent traveler, and for the first time, she's taking her lifestyle expertise on the road. For this food expert, being comfortable and maintaining her routine starts with selecting a hotel with all of the amenities she needs, such as a fully-equipped, in-suite kitchen and separate living and sleeping spaces. 

Sara Kate offers the following tips for making life on the road feel more like home: 

Do Like the Locals Do
Find a local farmers market or local gourmet grocery store. Buy yourself flowers there -- a pot of your favorite violets on the counter or by the window will add color and life to your hotel room. Or, even just having a freshly-baked baguette or some fresh yogurt to snack on in your room can make you feel more cozy and at home. It's also a great place to go for a walk and explore the neighborhood. 

Get Exercise
Ironically, travel can be sedentary, so make sure to move your body. Look for hotels with 24-hour gyms or spacious suites, which provide the perfect setup to work out with your favorite DVD or get in your morning Pilates or yoga routine. Keeping your workout consistent, even while on the road, will help keep you energized throughout the day. 

Sip and Enjoy
Bring your favorite tea bags or coffee grounds -- whether you crave espresso or chai, one sip of your favorite coffee or tea will evoke memories of home and start your day off on the right foot. Find a hotel with an in-room coffee/tea maker so you can enjoy your morning drink while getting ready for your day. 

Source: www.hyatthouse.com.

Protect Your Pets from Pests

April 13, 2012 4:24 pm

For pet owners, warm weather brings the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with their furry loved ones. But it also brings the risk of flea and tick infestation. 

Veterinarians across the country are expecting an abundance of fleas and ticks this year, due in part to warmer winter temperatures in some areas of the nation. 

"Fleas and ticks are more than simple nuisances for your pets," says Laura Petree, DVM, Manager of Technical Services for Central Garden and Pet Company. "They can cause your pet discomfort, and in the case of ticks, put your pets and your family at risk for a variety of diseases." 

Dr. Petree says that flea eggs can account for 50 percent of a domestic flea infestation. One adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. If your pet has 10 fleas, your problem suddenly multiplies to 15,000 fleas in a month. "In order to effectively protect your dog or cat from fleas and ticks, you need to address any initial infestation problem, then keep the problem from coming back," she said. 

Preventing problems
Prevention is the best course of action. Making your yard unfriendly to pests is a good place to start.

Don't give fleas and ticks a welcoming environment.
Mow regularly, keep shrubs trimmed, and rake up leaves. Keep the garbage covered so it won't attract rodents -- that means fleas and ticks won't have any help getting close to your house.

You can spray your yard to kill adult fleas and ticks.
Outdoor sprays can be used on lawns, flowers, trees and shrubs. They kill and repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, crickets and other insects. Spray wherever your pet frequents the most. Allow it to dry before letting pets or people onto the treated area. 

Preventive maintenance should be a regular part of your pet care routine. Whenever you groom your dog or cat, check for fleas and ticks. Signs of fleas include redness and scratching, as well as what's known as flea dirt -- black flea droppings left on your pet's coat. Ticks are most commonly found around the neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and body, and in between the toes. Cats may also have them around the neck and face. 

Topical treatments contain an insect growth regulator (IGR) that kills flea eggs and prevents re-infestation. They kill and repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes for up to 30 days. 

Shampoos and mists can also be used to complement your pet's regular flea and tick control maintenance.

Shampoos clean your pet by eliminating adult fleas, ticks and flea dirt. The active ingredients must come in contact with the pests for a certain period of time in order to be effective. Results are immediate. However, because shampoos have no long-lasting effects, it's a good idea to follow the shampoo with a dip or maintenance product.

Mists are used to kill fleas, ticks and mosquitoes on dogs and cats instantly. Flea eggs and larvae will be prevented for one to two months. 

Controlling an infestation
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your pet brings home some unwanted pests.

Here's what you can do:

Quickly kill biting adult fleas and offer several days of flea protection by using short-term control products for severe infestation problems. Sprays, dips, shampoos and other products can be used to help combat an infestation problem until it is under control. 

Vacuuming plays an important role in getting a flea infestation under control. Vacuum before the first home treatment, then daily for the next few weeks. This will help remove newly emerged fleas, flea dirt, eggs and some larvae from the carpets.

Treating your home with carpet powders, carpet sprays, room foggers or home sprays will help control fleas. Every area your pet frequents should be treated -- including the garage, basement, kennel and yard. 

Source: www.adamsfleacontrol.com.

Time-Saving Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms

April 13, 2012 4:24 pm

It's no surprise that mothers make compromises every day. A recent survey of 1,000 American moms by Green Works naturally derived cleaners revealed that 57 percent admit to turning down bedroom time with their mate to clean the house. This number soars to 74 percent for new moms. 

In addition, the survey found that moms don't get to take breaks for special occasions. In fact, half of all moms reported cleaning the kitchen after a special meal on their own birthday and even Mother's Day. Thirty-six percent of new moms reported cleaning up the mess on their first Mother's Day. 

When it comes to keeping a clean home, moms will also compromise plans with friends. Half of the moms surveyed admitted to turning down time with pals to do laundry, and 64 percent responded that they have cancelled fun activities in order to clean. Even with all of these cleaning compromises, 90 percent still admit to feeling guilty for taking time for themselves. 

"The truth is that moms have a house full of cleaning priorities and not enough time to get it done," says Amanda Mahan, blogger for Green Mommy in a Plastic World and creative director for Green Works. "The logical solution becomes compromising personal time. But there are easy ways to cut down on time spent cleaning without compromising yourself or the clean." 

To help busy moms keep the house cleaning manageable, while making time for the people and activities they most enjoy, Mahan offers the following tips: 

Five minutes to clean laundry
• Take a few seconds to spot treat tough stains.
• Don't sort laundry before throwing it into the washer. Simply leave out garments that are likely to bleed and use the coldest water setting on the rest.
• Use the shortest wash cycle, then treat your load to an extra spin cycle. This will wick away extra moisture and cut down on drying time.
• If you have kids old enough to hit the mall, it's time for them to start pitching in. Assign specific tasks, such as sorting or folding. 

Five minutes to a clean bathroom
• Stash stray items in cupboard organizers for easy sorting.
• Use a gentle cleaning wipe that is naturally derived, yet packs a punch, such as the compostable Green Works wipes, to quickly give the mirror, countertop, faucet and sink a good once-over.
• Shake out the bathmat and use a few squares of toilet paper to wipe the floor.
• Use a disinfecting wipe to clean the toilet seat. Spray the inside with cleaner, and flush.
• Lastly, throw out the trash. 

Five minutes to a clean kitchen
• Stow away bulky appliances, pots and pans.
• Recycle old newspapers and take out smelly trash.
• Stick dirty dishes in the dishwasher or fill the sink with soapy water and submerge dishes into hiding.
• Hit hot spots with an old T-shirt and all-purpose cleaner, wiping down fridge door, counter, stove top and sink.
• Do a quick sweep of the floor. 

Source: www.GreenWorksCleaners.com/blog.