January 18, 2012 5:00 pm
Q: How can I find out how my property is zoned?
A: Zoning ordinances and maps are a matter of public record. Visit your local zoning office, city hall, or some other local planning board and get a copy of your local ordinance.
In some areas, if you have a legal description of the property (name, address, tax map, and parcel number), you can call the zoning office or city hall, or even e-mail your request for information.
Some communities also have their zoning maps and ordinances online and in local libraries.
January 17, 2012 5:46 pm
Q: What do zoning regulations do?
A: Zoning is the government’s way of controlling the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put.
Zoning regulations establish how the land can be used, either for residential, industrial, commercial, or recreational purposes – although they also can allow for more than one use in a given jurisdiction.
Designed to protect you, your neighbors, and the community from undesirable, or inappropriate, land uses and/or construction, zoning laws in many communities can be very rigid and inflexible.
On the other hand, they can protect your property value and give you a piece of mind. This is particularly true in instances where the community debates whether to locate a prison in your neighborhood or a neighbor illegally builds a second story onto his home that blocks your view of the lake or mountains.
Before you begin any remodeling jobs, determine how your local zoning laws might affect your project.
January 17, 2012 5:16 pm
Rebecca Kolls, the consumer strategist of home and garden for Iconoculture—a leading consumer trends advisory firm—has been getting a lot of attention talking about the most anticipated 2012 home decorating trends.
She says 2012 will not be about flashy, over-the-top design; but rather, about decorating for real life—a home that's smaller, more well-equipped and custom-made for its owners' lifestyles.
Kolls says 2012 trends highlight practicality, rightsizing, style-telling and universal design. She says despite a decrease in average overall square footage, kitchens are growing, homeowners are adding more porches, ditching the conventional living room concept and embracing fewer - yet larger - rooms.
Instead of one purely decorative element, Kolls says homeowners are springing for more affordable luxuries with experiential benefits.
In the bedroom, these purchases include new mattresses for increased comfort and a better night's sleep, plus items like improved lighting and window coverings that facilitate a gentle transition from sleeping to waking. Bathroom remodels include items like towel warmers, steam showers and multiple body spray outlets that promote relaxation and spa-like indulgence.
Furthermore, Kolls says homeowners in 2012 will be looking to tell a story through their decorating, with pieces that put a personal stamp on their spaces. People are stylizing the most-used room in the home—the kitchen—by adding workstations, artwork, photography and more furniture-like cabinetry enhanced by decorative cabinet knobs and pulls.
And since baby boomers are caring for their parents, their children, and sometimes even grandchildren, all while making plans for their own future, Kolls says more will want to spend the rest of their lives in their own home.
That also means homes with several generations under one roof will be utilizing technology to help keep all members of the family safe and well. In fact, Kolls predicts that wireless home health monitoring technologies are expected to grow by $4.4 billion by the year 2013.
That is a trend we'll talk more about in the New Year.
January 17, 2012 5:16 pm
When it comes to starting your own business, having a good game plan is crucial —especially for entrepreneurs. This is something former NFL starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe understands first-hand. The importance of building a reliable team, outlining a game plan, hard work and persistence involved in starting up and running a business are all necessary steps Bledsoe has mastered along the way.
"In 2007, when I was in my mid-30's, I retired from the NFL after 14 years in the league. My wife Maura and I have had a passion for wine for many years, so when planning for retirement became a reality, the wine business became a very attractive choice," explains Bledsoe.
With a lot of effort, patience and time, Bledsoe's dream is coming true. Now the proud owners of Doubleback Winery in his hometown of Walla Walla, Wash., the Bledsoe's and their staff are preparing to release their third vintage.
"Starting a new business can be very challenging. I am learning new things almost every day. That is one of the reasons I have teamed up with FedEx to share my small business game plan. Even though I still feel like I'm a rookie in business, I have found there are many important principles that carry over from my previous career to my new one."
Bledsoe's Game Plan
Football teams spend months leading up to the season planning—they pick players and design offense and defense strategies. The same approach applies to any good business.
• Pick a winning team. It's important to have confidence in your staff and ensure that everyone works together well, especially for small businesses. Make sure each team member feels supported and empowered because, just like in football, it takes contributions from every member of the team to achieve success.
• Have a playbook ready. As a small business owner, you need to keep a dual focus on what's happening right now and what might happen tomorrow. Take time to think through best-case (and worst-case) scenarios for your business, and develop plans for them. If your business takes off quickly, make sure you're ready to speed ahead to keep up with demand by having the right people and vendors in mind to help you succeed. Always be thinking of your next play.
• Stay patient and persevere. The process of taking an idea from concept to reality takes patience. It took a full seven years from the time we planted our vineyards until the first bottle of Doubleback wine was produced. Expect setbacks and delays along the way that will test your character and maybe even your desire to keep going. Ultimately, you will become a better business person and leader because of adversities.
• Lead by example. As an entrepreneur, it's your job to lead effectively by setting a positive tone and knowing when to get involved and when to step out of the way. It's also important to share your success with others. Don't settle for being your team's quarterback; aim to be voted team captain.
January 17, 2012 5:16 pm
If you're thinking about getting a new pet, consider going to an animal shelter to find that new family member. There are about 3,500 shelters in the United States that serve an estimated 5 to 7 million homeless animals, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Why adopt from a shelter?
• You will make a pet happy. By adopting from a private humane society or animal shelter, breed rescue group, or the local animal control agency, you'll help a homeless pet find a new home. Questions to ask
• You will receive a healthy pet. Most shelters follow strict medical protocols including examinations when pets come in and vaccinations before they leave. In addition to medical care, shelters also screen animals for specific temperaments and behaviors to match each pet with the perfect family. Animal shelters have happy, healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home.
• You will support your community and save money at the same time. Adopting from an animal shelter is usually less expensive, as your local shelter will just ask for a moderate adoption fee that will mainly cover basic routine medical care costs. Shelter pets are also usually already spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Finally, you help promote responsible pet ownership through your community.
When you visit an animal shelter, ask the staff some key questions. Ask about:
• The pet's history - Find out as much as you can about the pet's background. Was it a stray or given up by its owner? Did it come from a loving home? Did it live with other pets or with children?
• Medical and behavioral assessments - Find out what evaluations have been done and what lifestyle would suit it best. Ask about the pet's interaction with the staff, and what their impressions are.
• The adoption timeline and process - Some shelters will let you take an animal home right away, while others take a slower approach. Find out what to expect up front.
• Spaying/neutering - Most shelters have policies to make sure that animals leave spayed or neutered. Some take care of this before the animals are available for adoption. Others schedule the procedure when the animal goes home and either finalize the adoption once it is performed, or refund the spay/neuter deposit once proof is provided.
January 17, 2012 5:16 pm
Millions of Americans have their identities swiped each year, proving identity theft to be a top concern for most consumers. With fraud fright a realistic worry, a new credit card is touting greater security.
The new Dynamics Inc. credit card, recently unveiled at the annual CES show, contains internal electronics with a magnetic strip programmed in real time.
The New York Times
notes that Dynamics Inc. is currently testing out some versions of the card with customers, and reviewers and reporters at say it look and feels like a standard credit card.
But how does it work? Each card has an empty section that replaces several numbers on the strip. There are also five built-in buttons on the card. A card owner needs to punch in their code, which generates a unique credit card number that changes after each purchase. In order to make a purchase with a stolen card, thieves would have to know your unique code.
It appears smart credit cards may soon be trending, and new technology, like the Dynamics Inc. card, will help diminish identity theft in the future.
January 17, 2012 5:16 pm
Actual ownership; the right of possession; also the evidence of ownership such as a deed or bill of sale.
January 16, 2012 5:06 pm
Do you know what it takes to keep your nursery clean and your baby healthy? Probably not, according to a recent study commissioned by Playtex, surveying moms and moms-to-be on their germ-related knowledge. The survey revealed that the majority of moms scored in the 'D' range—meaning that most don't make the grade when it comes to minimizing the spread of germs in the nursery.
According to the survey, most moms have the basic germ knowledge down pat. Nearly all respondents (95 percent of new moms and 97 percent of expectant moms) correctly answered that it is best to wash your hands after every single diaper change. Similarly, 87 percent of both new and expectant moms recognized that there is no such thing as the "five second rule" and correctly identified the rule as a myth since germ transfer is instantaneous.
However, moms' germ knowledge seriously faltered on detecting and disinfecting germ hot spots in the nursery—areas where most bacteria typically gather including the floor, changing table, toys, and laundry hamper. And according to Dr. Benjamin Tanner, a germ expert and microbiologist who partnered together with Playtex for this study, putting an emphasis on cleaning these spots is a key element in helping to keep the nursery as germ-free as possible.
According to the survey, only about half of those surveyed (49 percent of new moms and 51 percent of expectant moms) correctly answered that germ hot spots should be disinfected at least once daily. And only about a third (32 percent of new moms and 35 percent of expectant moms) was aware that the changing table is the nursery's number one germ hotspot.
Moms' knowledge further faltered when asked about the best ways to eliminate germs and knowing whether or not those germs can be harmful to their baby. Less than half (47 percent) of new and expectant moms polled knew the correct amount of time a disinfectant must remain wet on a surface to effectively do its job, and a majority (53 percent) of those surveyed incorrectly thought that exposing children to germs strengthens their immune systems.
To help moms brush up on their germ knowledge and pass with flying colors, Playtex partnered with Dr. Tanner to educate moms on simple things they can do to keep their nurseries clean.
"Keeping the nursery as clean and as germ-free as possible is such an important aspect for most parents," says Dr. Tanner. "But when we surveyed moms, we found that they generally aren't aware of the best ways to do it. The good news is, with the right knowledge, keeping germ levels to a minimum in the nursery is much easier than most moms think."
To help moms improve their germ knowledge and simplify their nursery cleaning routines, Dr. Tanner developed a number of simple steps including:
• Disinfect germ hot spots (floor, changing table, toys and laundry hamper) at least once a day to kill any harmful bacteria that may be lurking. Make sure to focus on these key areas more than others when disinfecting in the nursery.
• Develop a mess-free changing routine, helping to minimize the spread of germs in the number one germ hotspot in the nursery: the changing table.
• Use an EPA-registered disinfectant when cleaning and always allow it to remain wet for 5-10 minutes before wiping to let it do its job. Afterwards, wipe the surface down with water to get rid of any chemical residue that may irritate your baby's skin.
• Keep a separate hamper in the nursery specifically for heavily soiled baby laundry. These clothes should be washed using hot water, which will help prevent bacteria from spreading in the wash.
• The belief that exposing children to germs strengthens the immune system is a major misconception. Germ exposure should always be avoided.
"In a typical day most moms spend three or more hours in the nursery with their little ones, which makes it essential that it's a clean place," says Carolyn Turoczi, Brand Manager at Playtex. "Creating a space that is as germ free as possible doesn't need to be an overwhelming task.
January 16, 2012 5:06 pm
Even as midwinter snow and cold are hitting every state, more consumers than ever are trying to start plants from seed according to Gardener's Supply, a national online gardening retailer. The company has seen an increase in seedstarting among beginner and avid gardeners.
"Seedstarting is a great way to save money in the garden and for the past few years, we continue to see a significant increase in consumers wanting to either start seedstarting or elevate their capability with new equipment and lights," says Maree Gaetani, director of gardening relations. "The calls and questions to our 1-800 help line have ranged from 'how do I start' to more advanced questions about 'heatmats and grow lights.'
"There are many benefits to indoor seedstarting besides saving money," continued Gaetani. "There are also the bragging rights when you've harvested a tomato or are enjoying summer blooms from plants you've started with seeds."
Seedstarting with the right seeds and tools is easy and rewarding. Here are 10 steps along that make seedstarting simple and successful:
1. Choose Seeds Wisely - If you're new to seed starting, stick with easy to grow vegetables and flowers such as tomato, cucumber, basil, squash, morning glories, bachelor buttons, calendula and cosmos. Don't start your seeds too early and create a seed starting calendar. Find the last expected frost date in your area and count back from that date based on the seed packet recommendations to determine when to start seeds indoors. Starting too early will create monster plants that need to be tamed because the outdoor environment isn't ready for them yet.
2. The Right Equipment - You can start seeds in just about any container, provided it's sturdy and allows for water drainage.
3. Start with Organic Mix - Seedstarting mixes can also be found at your local garden centers. Go natural with an organic mix, such as Eco-co Coir potting mix, which is both that's economical and earth-friendly. Derived from recycled coconut husks, Eco-co Coir passed Gardener's Supply extensive seed-starting trials with flying colors, providing excellent germination rates and producing healthy, sturdy seedlings.
4. The Right Light - Even though starting seeds in a sunny southern window may work in some climates, a surer bet is to have an indoor, seed starting light system. Most seeds don't need light to germinate, but once up, they need 12 to 14 hours of continuous full spectrum, bright light to grow strong and sturdy. Gardener's Supply recommends only using T-5 bulbs that emit brilliant, full-spectrum light, providing the ideal intensity and quality of light needed for optimal plant growth. The bulbs last up to 7,500 hours and use 45 percent less energy than standard fluorescent bulbs.
5. Temperature - Most seedlings germinate and grow best with air and soil temperatures between 60F and 80F. The soil temperature is actually more important than the air temperature. The right soil temperature will accelerate germination making seedlings less likely to die from disease. To keep soil warm for quickest germination, place seedlings on the top of a refrigerator or use Soil Heating Cables or Root Zone Heat Mat. Place your trays or pots on top of the water proof cable or mat to keep the soil at a constant 70F to 75F. Once germinated, keep the air temperatures around seedlings between 60F and 70F. This will enable seedlings to grow slow and strong, helping to prevent leggy, weak stems.
6. Once Seeds Come Up - Once the true leaves form you'll need to thin the seedlings in the pot to one per container. Do not pull out the thinned seedling by hand, use scissors to snip them off at the soil line.
7. Watering - It's important to keep the soil consistently moist as seedlings germinate and grow. Watering from above often displaces seeds and creates divots in the soil resulting in poor germination. A better method is to bottom water the seedlings. Through a natural capillary action, water will moisten the seed starting soil mix.
8. Fertilizing - Once the true leaves emerge, seedlings need a gentle fertilizer specific to seedlings that will not cause root burn or force them to grow too fast. Fertilize weekly until the plants are ready for moving outdoors.
9. Transplanting - Cowpots are perfect for transplanting seedlings as once they're ready for the garden you can just plant the biodegradable Cowpots. However, for most plants started in smaller (2 inch diameter or less) pots, you'll need to transplant them into pots one size larger while still indoors to keep the seedlings growing strong.
10. Place In the Garden - Don't rush your healthy, tender seedlings into the wind and weather as they need time to adjust to the outside environment. You can harden off seedlings by placing them outdoors for one hour the first day in a shady location. Increase the amount of time outdoors each day, eventually moving them into a sunny location. By the end of a week you can leave them outdoors safely overnight. At this point they're ready for transplanting into containers or the garden.
Source: Gardener’s Supply
January 16, 2012 5:06 pm
Time-sharing. Part ownership of a property coupled with a right to exclusive use of it for a specified number of days per year.