Gunning Daily News
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.
January 16, 2012 5:06 pm
Q: There seem to be no shortage of contractors; how do you identify one who is less than reputable?
A: They often give themselves away. The telltale signs:
• Pressure is used to get you to sign a contract;
• Verifying the contractor’s name, address, phone number and credentials is impossible;
• Cash payments are only accepted, not checks made out to a company;
• Payment for the entire job is demanded up-front, whereas most remodelers typically require a down payment of 25-50% of the contract price for small jobs and 10-33% for large jobs.
• The contractor suggests that you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows, which could make you the target of a home improvement loan scam – a sure way to lose your home;
• The contractor offers information that is out-of-date or no longer valid;
• No references are available;
• An inability by the contractor to communicate the project well;
• Exceptionally long guarantees are offered;
• The contractor fails to listens and talks over you; and
• The contractor fails to notify you of your right to cancel the contract within three days; this “right of recision” is required by law and allows you to change your mind without penalty if the contract was provided at a place other than the contractor’s place of business or an appropriate trade premise.
January 16, 2012 4:36 pm
Regardless of the size and shape of a space, lighting matters. From fresh and airy, to intimate and cozy, lighting sets the tone of a room and should be an integral part of its design and layout. Ever wonder how designers make the rooms you see in magazines or on decorating shows look so good? It doesn't always depend on paint colors or fabric choices. A little light can go a long way. And you can make dramatic changes by doing something as easy as switching out a light bulb.
So if you want to give a room a makeover, or just freshen it up a bit, use these tips from the lighting pros at SYLVANIA to brighten things up.
Types of Lighting
Not only does a good lighting plan make a room more inviting, it also makes it more functional. To create a good lighting plan, you'll need different kinds of light:
• Ambient - Provides overall illumination and a comfortable level of brightness, allowing people to see and move around safely and easily.
• Task - Helps you perform a specific activity, such as reading or playing games, by concentrating light in a particular place.
• Accent - Sets the mood and highlights certain areas and objects, such as paintings, walls and collectibles.
• Decorative - Fixtures become an element of the space themselves, such as chandeliers or pendants.
The type of light bulbs you use matter as well. Due to the EISA Act of 2007, traditional incandescent light bulbs will eventually be phased out; however there are several energy-efficient options, ranging from CFLs to halogen or LED light bulbs. No matter what room you're looking to improve, there is an energy-efficient light option that will be a perfect fit.
• Using dimmers and layering with light gives you flexibility for different occasions.
• For an elegant look, blend low levels of light sources throughout the room.
• When installing light over the dining room table, be careful not to create shadows on the faces of your guests. Placing additional light sources elsewhere in the room helps to balance the light.
• Use adjustable accent lamps with SYLVANIA halogen bulbs to highlight plants, artwork, or special furniture pieces. These bulbs are fully dimmable and use between 22 and 33 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.
• For general lighting, use fixtures with a dimmer. The light source is concealed, and with dimming capabilities you can change the lighting of the room for various activities from reading to movie watching.
• Wall sconces and floor lamps are good sources of task lighting for reading or playing games, while track fixtures can be used to highlight art work or unique wall treatments such as wall washing or glazing.
• Place light sources at various heights within the room to add visual interest.
• Use translucent shades on table lamps to contribute to the ambient light level.
• General lighting can be provided by ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, fan lights, recessed downlights or wall sconces that use halogen or LED bulbs.
• Use a floor-mounted directional fixture to project light through plants from the floor to soften a room with interesting shadows. Place the light behind a large plant or indoor tree and aim it through the leaves towards the ceiling.
• Use a low wattage energy efficient bulb to brighten up the closet. These bulbs have a long life and offer energy-efficiency and quality color.
• Provide light for reading by choosing swing-arm or flexible bedside lamps.
January 16, 2012 4:36 pm
With the new year also brings new opportunities to make a difference in your state's water supplies by conserving. With just a few simple steps, you can reduce water use inside and outside the home, adding up to big savings overall. Some can even cut down on the workload at home.
"In California, the next drought is always just around the corner," says Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.
"Having enough water is critical to every aspect of our lives. We must all do our part to conserve our state's most precious resource to ensure we have enough for future generations."
Save Our Water offers these tips for saving water in 2012:
• Only wash full loads of laundry and dishes
• Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth
• Keep showers to five minutes or less
• Replace water-guzzling toilets with low-flow models.
• Turn off automatic sprinkler system during the winter months
• Water outdoors only when needed, and consider replacing grass with low-water shrubs and flowers
• Use a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor spaces
• Install aerators on faucets to slow the flow
January 12, 2012 6:00 pm
Safeguarding your home against food-borne illnesses begins not at home, but at the supermarket, grocery store, or any other place where you buy food that you plan to store and serve.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne ailments cause about 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,200 deaths nationwide each year.
You as a consumer can play a key role in preventing these illnesses. While shopping for food, you should:
1. Check for cleanliness
Buying from a retailer who follows proper food handling practices helps assure that the food is safe. Ask yourself: What is the general impression of this facility? Does it look and smell clean?
2. Keep certain foods separated
Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart. Place these foods in plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping on other foods. It is also best to separate these foods from other foods at checkout and in your grocery bags.
3. Inspect cans and jars
Don't buy food in cans that are bulging or dented. Also, don't buy food in jars that are cracked or have loose or bulging lids.
Since foods sold in cans or jars are processed to be sterile, they can "keep" for a long time if the can or jar is intact. A bulging can or jar lid may mean the food was under-processed and is contaminated. A dent in a can, especially if the dent affects a seam, may cause an opening in the seam which may allow contamination, as would a crack in a jar. A loose lid on a jar means the vacuum has been lost and the product may be contaminated. Don't buy a food product whose seal seems tampered with or damaged.
4. Inspect frozen food packaging
Don't buy frozen food if the package is damaged. Packages should not be open, torn or crushed on the edges. Also, avoid packages that are above the frost line in the store's freezer. If the package cover is transparent, look for signs of frost or ice crystals. This could mean that the food in the package has either been stored for a long time or thawed and refrozen. In such cases, choose another package.
5. Select frozen foods and perishables last
Meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be the last items placed in your shopping cart. Always put these products in separate plastic bags so that drippings don't contaminate other foods.
6. Choose fresh eggs carefully
Before putting eggs in your cart, open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and none is cracked. Buy only refrigerated eggs and follow the "Safe Handling Instructions" on the carton.
7. Be mindful of time and temperature
It's important to refrigerate perishable products as soon as possible after grocery shopping. Food safety experts stress the "2-hour rule"—because harmful bacteria can multiply in the "danger zone" (between 40° and 140° F), perishable foods should not be left at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Modify that rule to 1 hour when temperatures are above 90° F, as they often are in cars that have been parked in the sun.
If it will take more than an hour to get your groceries home, use an ice chest to keep frozen and perishable foods cold. Also, when the weather is warm and you are using your car's air conditioner, keep your groceries in the passenger compartment, not the trunk.
January 12, 2012 6:00 pm
Many women try to lead healthier lives during their pregnancies. To promote the health of their baby, they may clean up their diets, take vitamins and eliminate alcohol and caffeine.
Unfortunately, all those efforts may be for naught if they are still being exposed to unseen chemicals in their daily lives. Dr. Doris Rapp, an experienced physician and expert on all the hidden household and environmental hazards, dishes on the details about the many insidious and dangerous threats to their unborn babies. These exposures can cause serious harm and damaging birth defects to babies in the womb, and they are right under our noses.
“One of the most dangerous groups of chemicals to pregnant women is known as PCBs,” says Rapp, author of 32 Tips That Could Save Your Life.
“PCB stands for polychlorinated biphenyls, and they are commonly used in industrial pesticides. While they may not be in your house, they may exist in your office, your water or your food, especially if you live near the Great Lakes or consume seafood caught there. These chemicals pass through the placenta into the unborn, and some exposures have been known to cause devastating birth defects. These chemicals have also been found in the breast milk of women.”
According to Rapp, some of the dangers of these pesticides include, but are not limited to:
• Lower birth weight
• Smaller head size and developmental delays
• Movement, mental, and behavioral problems
• Increased or decreased activity levels
• Slowed thought processing and “less bright” appearance
• Lower reaction times
• Compromised nervous systems
“Moreover, a group of pesticides known as organophosphates also poses a high risk for pregnant women,” Rapp adds.
“These include Bisphenol-A and phthalates,” she says. “They are derived from World War II nerve agents and are highly toxic. Even at low levels, organophosphates can be toxic to the developing brain, and studies show that they can affect brain and reproductive development in unborn animals. While most pesticides categorized as organophosphates have been banned for household use, they are still permitted for commercial use, including in fumigation for mosquitoes. Malathion, a common toxic organophosphate, is still allowed for use as an industrial and household insecticide. In the US, approximately 15 million pounds of Malathion are used each year by the government, as well as by businesses and homeowners.”
Her advice for women is to do all they can to avoid contact with these chemicals, starting before conception.
“Stay as far away as possible from pesticide-treated areas,” Rapp says. “Do not eat pesticide-laden food or any fish from the Great Lakes. Try to eat only organic foods. Further, if your job requires you to be in contact with any chemicals or pesticides, insist that other tasks be given to you for the duration of your pregnancy. Half the battle is knowing these dangers exist, but the other half is being informed and conscientious enough to be able to avoid contact with these dangerous and toxic agents.”
Dr. Rapp is board certified in pediatrics, pediatric allergy and environmental medicine.
January 12, 2012 6:00 pm
According to a recent BMO Harris survey, the majority of U.S. residents are not confident in their ability to save for their ideal retirement lifestyle (57 percent). Adequate retirement savings has become an issue of significant concern to members of every income bracket, and approximately half of U.S. residents (52 percent) say they have/will or anticipate maybe having to delay their retirement and/or work part-time during retirement due to a shortage of retirement savings.
"This is a critical wake-up call to everyone, no matter what your age," says Mike Miroballi, president and chief operating officer, BMO Harris Financial Advisors.
"Our best advice? Start now. Get smart about planning and saving for retirement, and get educated about the many strategies and tools available to help maximize your savings."
Miroballi provides the following tips to guide you as you review or initiate your retirement planning:
Meet with a professional: A financial advisor can provide the guidance you need to learn about the retirement planning process and assist you in creating a realistic retirement plan. You just might be surprised at some of the opportunities available to help build your nest egg.
Start Early: We can't say it enough. Start saving at an early age. Doing so gives you the advantage of compound interest, your money will be working for you every single day. Just ask your parents, they learned this lesson the hard way.
It's never too late: Don't be discouraged if you haven't been saving for retirement. Instead of giving up, like many people do, start now. Contact a financial planner who can help you develop a plan for the best retirement that you can have.
Take advantage of your company 401(k): There are many advantages to 401(k) plans. Don't miss out on any of them. Although rare these days, some companies still offer to match your contributions (guidelines will vary by company). If there is no match, you still benefit because whatever you put into your 401(k) plan is tax-deferred. Don't forget that no matter how long or short your career at the company, you can take your 401(k) contributions with you or roll it over into other retirement vehicles.
Consider a Roth IRA: A Roth IRA is a special type of retirement plan under U.S. law that is generally not taxed, provided certain conditions are met. This plan is different from other retirement plans because the tax break is granted on money withdrawn from the plan during retirement, rather than for money placed into the plan.
Commit to saving, even if you start small: Ben Franklin said it best, "A penny saved, is a penny earned."
Parents, educate your children: So many of us are learning the retirement lesson, save early and save often, the hard way. Please be sure to share this knowledge with your children, and guide them to make saving an important part of their financial lives.
Source: BMO Harris Financial Advisors
January 12, 2012 6:00 pm
Tenants in common. Style of ownership in which two or more persons purchase a property jointly, but with no right of survivorship and separate undivided interests. They are free to will their share to anyone they choose, a principal difference between this form of ownership and joint tenancy.