Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

January 20, 2012 5:26 pm

Title search. A professional examination of public records to determine the chain of ownership of a particular piece of property and to note any liens, encumbrances, easements, restrictions, or other factors that might affect the title.

Question of the Day

January 20, 2012 5:26 pm

Q: What are closing costs?

A: Closing, or settlement, costs are expenses over and above the price of the property. Both the buyer and seller incur some of these expenses when transferring ownership of a property. Who actually pays, however, often depends on local custom and what the buyer or seller negotiates. Closing costs normally include title insurance, loan points, escrow or closing day charges, property taxes, and document fees. The lender provides an estimate of closing costs for prospective homebuyers.

Top 3 Most Common Home Defects to Check For

January 20, 2012 5:26 pm

There is no such thing as a perfect home; most homes—both new and old—have a few problem areas. However, some home flaws are more frequent than others. Below are the top three home defects that every buyer and seller should check for before making an offer, or putting a home on the market.

Wood

Any wood that is exposed to air will naturally contain a small percentage of water, and rotted wood is one of the most frequently occurring maintenance issues. In fact, the repairs for rotted wood constitutes for 10 percent of wood production sales. The flooring and walls in places like kitchens and bathrooms are often exposed to moisture, and over time this can lead to rot. Buyers should also check basements and garages for rot, as well as the exterior of a house including any decks, overhangs or eaves.

Water and Drainage

According findings from the 2009 NCHH survey that polled Americans (18 and older) to determine their level of awareness for common home health and safety risks, only 41 percent of homeowners surveyed repaired water damage or plumbing leaks. This can lead to serious expenses down the line. Water damage is one of the most expensive problems a homeowner can be faced with. Water intrusion in basements and garages can create a rotting foundation which is pricey to repair, and mold which is difficult to get rid of. Be sure the foundation of your home is properly graded for maximum drainage, and check that the gutters are in working order.

Roof

The roof is your home’s strongest shield against the elements. Keeping your roof in top shape can help you avoid some pretty big disasters, including major leaks and even a total collapse. If you find yourself patching and re-patching sections of your roof annually, it might be time to replace it completely. Maintaining your roof by replacing shingles and patching any leaks can extend the life of your roof, but it is a good idea to have it inspected every five years, and replaced every 20 years.

Trust Your Children; Kidnap Survivor Shares His Story & Tips for Protecting Kids

January 20, 2012 5:26 pm

Each new generation of parents keeps its children closer to home, supervises them more carefully, and guards them from both neighbors and strangers alike. With the rise of the Internet, they’re even running background checks on babysitters and troop leaders.

And still, children go missing.

Every day in the United States, 2,000 youngsters are reported missing, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Each year, 58,000 are taken by people unrelated to them and 200,000 are snatched by members of their own families. Sadly, there’s no relief in knowing the child may be with family.

George Molho knows that only too well. As a 7-year-old in 1978, he was taken to Greece from his home in Houston by his father, a man with a brutal temper, an obsessive need for control, Molho writes in his new memoir, Scarred.

Now a passionate advocate for child kidnapping and abuse victims, Molho says awareness of the problem and efforts to develop solutions that protect children should be a top national priority.

“One thing every parent can do to protect their children comes right from my own experience—and I don’t think parents know how very important it is,” Molho says.

When young children express fear or concern about even a close friend or family member, adults tend to chalk it up to shyness, a ploy for attention, or fantasy, Molho says.

“Trust your child's instincts,” he says. “If they act uncomfortable around someone because they can’t verbalize their feelings, or if they tell you they’re uncomfortable, trust them. No matter who it is, if they tell you a person scares them, protect them.”

Molho offers these other lesser-known tips for protecting children from kidnappers, whether they’re friends or family:
• Teach children how to fib on the phone. If they’re home alone, for instance, and someone calls asking to speak to their mother or father, they might say, “My mother’s busy in the kitchen right now and asked me to answer the phone and take a message.” Put them to the test by having someone they don’t know, one of your friends or co-workers, call.

• Make approved lists of people who will deliver any important news to them. If Mom or Dad is in trouble or hurt, only these people will know and will tell the child. Even if Uncle Bob tells them Mom is in the hospital and the child needs to go with Uncle Bob, if he’s not on the approved list, the child should not go. This is a common ploy.

• Teach them, train them and give them permission to defend themselves.
This is very important and it saves lives. Most children are taught to be polite and respect adults; it’s far safer to risk offending an adult—even if it turns out the adult meant no harm. Screaming, kicking and running away are perfectly acceptable if a stranger grabs your arm—even if the stranger is smiling sweetly.

George Molho worked as a health-care consultant for 15 years before becoming a writer and public speaker, addressing domestic abuse, child abduction, and recovering from trauma through self-reflection.

Vegetables Leap to Culinary Forefront

January 20, 2012 5:26 pm

Add increased selection and tasty preparations to the good nutrition and overall wholesomeness long associated with vegetables, and you have a food group that's claiming an ever bigger portion of the dinner plate. Farmers are growing new, colorful varieties, creative chefs are whipping up flavorful vegetable dishes in restaurants and prepared food counters, and glossy magazines feature tempting vegetable recipes that exploit seasonal bounty.

Vegetables and the side dishes they grace have moved into the culinary forefront, according to the Vegetables & Sides: Culinary Trend Mapping Report recently released by leading market research publisher Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development (CCD).

"This explosion of farmers' markets with new and different varieties of vegetables has raised American consumers' vegetable IQs and influenced their lifestyles by encouraging them to add new vegetable-centric products to their diets," says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD. "And not just as sides, but as green breakfast smoothies, meatless entrées and even desserts made with vegetables that all extend vegetables into new dayparts."

Many consumers can now identify several types of heirloom tomatoes, which have opened the door for more exotic vegetables from watermelon radishes to kabocha squash to sea vegetables.
Simultaneously, consumers are showing a renewed interest in growing their own produce and are either turning their yards into garden plots or are making a weekly trip to the farmers market their main and most enjoyable food shopping event. Supermarkets are responding both by retooling produce sections and by purveying a wider range of convenience and value-added products such as pre-chopped mirepoix for soup making or peeled butternut squash cubes for easy roasting or stir-frying.

Vegetables & Sides: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, designed to help participants in the food industry seize a leading position in new product development, profiles several hot trends using CCD's proprietary Trend Mapping® methodology:

Stage 1: Fried Brussels Sprouts - Brussels sprouts are now taking a dive into the deep-fryer as restaurants and food trucks feature fried Brussels sprouts as a snack or side dish. What chefs have taken to doing to Brussels sprouts might seem to cancel out their health benefits, but that isn't deterring diners.
Stage 1: Savory Baked Goods -Creative and whimsical pastry chefs are now raiding the savory pantry and adding vegetables to their sweet creations resulting in delicacies such as Smoked White Chocolate Parfaits with Fennel Mousse and Beet Cake with Fromage Blanc Frosting. By highlighting the unique flavors and mild sweetness of vegetables in desserts, these chefs are ranging far beyond standards such as carrot cake and zucchini bread as well renouncing the old trick of hiding vegetable content to get more veggies into kids' diets.
Stage 1: Sea Vegetables - Long appreciated in several cultures across the globe, sea vegetables such as nori, dulse and kelp are washing up on menus and even on grocery shelves as more Americans learn to appreciate their distinctive flavors and nutritional powers. The salty, briny taste of sea vegetables can provide umami flavor to dishes and be used as a seasoning, ground and added to spice rubs, spice blends, vegetable coating batters, rice dishes and stir fries.
Stage 2: Kale - With its soul food resonance, superfood profile, and health foodie advocates, this leafy green could very well follow the path that baby spinach and bagged greens have taken in the past decade and become a mainstream addition to the weekly shopping list.
Stage 2: Vegetable Juices Redux - As consumers (particularly Millennials) look for ways to work in their five-a-day servings of fruits and vegetables, they are turning to hip fresh veggie juice bars and carts and a range of trendy veggie juice detox cleansing programs.
Stage 3: Farro - Carb lovers are opening their minds to alternative grains such as farro (or emmer wheat) that pack more nutritional punch. Fine dining currently is taking cues from the farro-based pasta, bread, croissants, flatbreads, cookies, crackers and soup mixes enjoyed in Italy.
Stage 5: Sweet Potatoes - Never a hard sell, sweet potatoes have long been featured in classic American holiday dishes. But new uses for sweet potatoes are being seen across all stages of the Trend Map®, including at Stage 5 sweet potato fries in quick-service restaurants.

Spring Break Travel Tips for Planning Early

January 20, 2012 5:26 pm

Even though snow is still on the ground, many travelers are already making spring break travel plans. Whether traveling to an international destination with college friends or camping in the backyard with family, vacationers have many arrangements to make. Travel costs can add up fast, but with a little pre-planning even spring break can be a fun time to travel without breaking the bank.

"Planning a spring break trip is both exciting and stressful. Everyone wants to pick a fabulous location, but they also want to get the best price to stretch their travel budget as far as possible," states Michelle Strong, President of the premier online savings hub DealTaker.com. "Travelers save money when they plan ahead and utilize online tools such as DealTaker.com to find the best deals available."

Here are some ways to save on spring break travel from the experts at DealTaker.com:
Make travel plans early - Travel gets more expensive as spring break gets closer, so planning ahead can significantly reduce travel costs. Expedia, Travelocity, Funjet, and Southwest Vacations already list several local and international offers that can save travelers money on airfare, hotel, and even car rentals, but travelers need to book now to take advantage of the savings.

Use a student ID - STA Travel caters to students and offers discounted rates on airfare and hotels. They even have special spring break packages. Currently, STA is offering a DealTaker.com exclusive coupon for $15 off any Student Exclusive ticket when students spend $400.

Take advantage of packages - Travelers can find packages for just about any destination, including the Caribbean and Disney World. The best part about booking a complete travel package is that travelers on a tight budget know just how much transportation, lodging and other expenses are going to be.

Pack the right luggage - Travel arrangements include more than just airfare and hotel. They also include packing the right luggage for the destination. Travelers can visit Luggage Guy and Franklin Covey to find a large selection of luggage and travel accessories suited for any vacation.

Check the weather - Purchasing cold or warm weather gear and clothing while vacationing can get expensive, so travelers should check the weather forecast for their destination a week before the trip so they can pack accordingly.

No matter the destination, a little planning can turn into a lot of savings for any traveler this spring break.
Source: www.dealtaker.com

Word of the Day

January 20, 2012 5:26 pm

Title search. A professional examination of public records to determine the chain of ownership of a particular piece of property and to note any liens, encumbrances, easements, restrictions, or other factors that might affect the title.

Question of the Day

January 20, 2012 5:26 pm

Q: Can I split my mortgage in two and pay biweekly?

A: The biweekly mortgage has become increasingly popular as more people favor paying off their home loan early and reducing interest charges.

Monthly payments on these loans are split in half, payable every two weeks.

Because there are 52 weeks in a year, you actually have 26 half-payments, or the equivalent of 13 monthly payments per year instead of 12.

Under the biweekly payment plan, a homeowner can save tens of thousands of dollars in interest and pay off their loan balance in less than 30 years.

A Landscaping Primer; What to Consider When Planting Your Yard

January 19, 2012 5:40 pm

Trees, bushes, and plants come in many shapes, sizes and colors. That’s great in that it gives us lots of choices, but for a novice gardener with a fairly blank yardscape, the choices can be intimidating.

From a panel of new home owners, landscape gardeners, and a representative of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin to choose greenery for your yard:

• Share your ideas – Show any initial drawings or tentative ideas to your local nursery or landscaper. A sketch of your yard’s shape and size, and ideas about where you might like shade trees, flower beds, fruit trees or ground cover can help them help you make decisions.
• Match trees to functions – Slow-growing trees take longer to provide shade, but they will last longer and be less prone to wind damage because they have stronger root systems. By the same token, a tree with a spreading root system planted too near a structure or cement block wall may eventually cause structural damage.
• Shape matters – The density of a tree’s leaves or needles is important. Dense evergreens, like spruces, make great wind breaks. Trees with more open branches and leaves may be better for filtering sunlight.
• Shrubs and hedges – When planting shrubs or hedges close to your house, plan for at least a foot between the hedge or shrubs and the house to prevent structural damage or problematic pruning later.
• Energy efficiency – A well designed landscape can add more than beauty to your home. It can help you save on heating, cooling, and water costs. Do some reading, and/or work with your nursery or landscaper to improve the soil, use mulch, and irrigate efficiently so that the plants you choose will grow and thrive in an eco-friendly environment.

3 Smart Steps for Bathroom Renovation

January 19, 2012 5:40 pm

Looking to upgrade your bathroom? Hoping to boost your home value by turning that over-sized closet into a bathroom? Renovating can be daunting, but a little planning can go along way. Consider the following before you build:

• Build a Budget– Establishing a budget is always smart, from grocery shopping to car shopping. The same holds true to renovations. Bathroom remodeling costs vary greatly depending on what features you want, and how much you can spend. To create a budget, first educate yourself on the bathrooms in the homes in your area, so you know what you will need to bring yours to par—a key ingredient for a fast home sale. Even if you aren’t interested in selling now, you may be in the future and don’t want that walk-in shower or oversized Jacuzzi tub to be something you regret.
• Prioritize– With your budget in mind and neighborhood know-how, decide what type of bathroom renovation will best fit your needs. Perhaps a new tub and a fresh paintjob will do the trick. Or maybe you need to completely revamp from tile to toilet.
• Shop– Explore your options, talk to friends who have had renovations, and, if you’re budget is narrow, decide if there is any part of the job you can do yourself. Maybe you want to bring someone in for installations and tiling, but can paint the walls or add new light fixtures on your own. Think you’ve found a great company? Don’t rush into anything. Talk to several companies and contractors and take a look at their portfolios, ask for references and get price estimates.

Source: http:// http://www.searshomeservices.com.