Thursday, December 31, 2015
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Do-over your denim
Shorts are a fashionable warm weather staple - and a great way to show off your tan. Make a personalized pair by repurposing old jeans - just trim them at your desired length for a cool, casual pair of cutoffs. Or, embrace the bright color trend by transforming colored khakis or denim into capri pants or Bermuda shorts. Add a bit of pop to your jeans by adding fabric panels at the sides - open the side seams and sew in some fabric all the way down. For a simpler touch, add lace or ribbon down the side seams for a chic effect, or cover the back pockets in a unique design.
Transform a T-shirt
The classic summer tee is the perfect medium for some do-it-yourself fashion flair. Give new life to a favorite T-shirt by transforming it into a halter top. Start with a crew neck T-shirt, remove the sleeves, cut a v-shape in the front and back, then trim straight across the back at the bottom of the v-shape to create straps. To embrace another fun trend, add some fringe to the bottom of a t-shirt. For best results, start with a T-shirt that's a bit longer. Mark where you want the fringe to start; next, use a ruler to measure even strips. Then, snip, snip.
Stick to it
Father's favorite fix-all isn't just for home repairs anymore - duct tape clothing and accessories are everywhere. A recent episode of the popular fashion design program "Project Runway" even featured an Unconventional Materials Challenge asking the designers to create dresses using Duck Tape brand duct tape.
"What is great about making a dress out of Duck Tape is that you can always change as you go - the -dress is never set in stone, because it's tape," says Michelle Lesniak Franklin, winner of the Duck Tape Unconventional Materials Challenge and Season 11 of "Project Runway."
Flexible and fun, Duck Tape can be used to create entire garments or to simply add a bit of color and pattern to existing clothing and accessories. For instance, cut out a personalized monogram using Duck Tape Sheets to add some style to a handbag or backpack, make a funky flower ring or create colorful waterproof flips flops using a few of the hundreds of colors and prints available.
Stenciling or painting on fabric is another easy way to turn basic clothing into sophisticated styles. Create your own customized stencils using contact paper, or find plenty of options at your local craft store or on websites like Etsy. Just pick up some fabric paint, lay out your stencil and get to work. For a super simple - but definitely eye-catching - transformation, try replacing the buttons on a favorite sweater or jacket with new buttons in an unexpected color, fabric or texture. Adding beads, ribbon or lace are additional options for making your clothing your own.
Not ready to make over your favorite existing pieces? Experiment with finds from a local consignment store, Goodwill or Salvation Army shop - you'll often discover gently used or like-new clothing for just a few dollars, and you won't have to worry if your design goes awry. For more fun fashion do-it-yourself ideas, check out Pinterest, crafting websites like Craftster, or try to recreate styles from the pages of your favorite fashion magazine.
Homeowners are embracing the island, and what's not to love about it? Adding an island can dramatically alter a kitchen's appearance, provide additional storage space and work area, and create a fresh focal point for family meals. What's more, common challenges that have historically held homeowners back from adding islands - such as the difficulty and high costs associated with adding plumbing drainage in the center of the room - are easier to solve than ever.
Plumbing problem solved
While you could add an island without plumbing, having a sink in an island can improve the workflow in a kitchen and open up counter space elsewhere. Plumbing an island can be problematic, however, if your home is built on a slab or a crawl space. The cost of cutting through concrete and adding piping can be prohibitive.
Above-floor plumbing can solve the problem. Manufacturers make a variety of pumping systems that can eliminate the need to cut concrete and reduce the cost of installing plumbing in a new island.
"Cutting through concrete to install plumbing can easily account for 50 percent of a renovation budget," says Chris Peterson of Saniflo. "Homeowners may decide to abandon the idea of an island altogether when they face that kind of cost. Above-floor plumbing allows them to add an island, hide a single drain pipe in a decorative column, and achieve the kitchen of their dreams at a fraction of the cost of traditional plumbing options."
Top island trends
Islands are increasingly becoming the focal point of kitchen renovations, serving both practical purposes and as design statements.
More homeowners are replacing traditional dining tables and breakfast nooks with spacious islands that feature seating. "Islands are replacing tables," said Audrey Macdonald of Creative Interiors By Audrey in Mississauga, Ontario, in the National Kitchen & Bath Association's 2015 Kitchen & Bath Style Report.
In addition to seating, homeowners are incorporating restaurant-quality fittings into islands, adding charging stations for the family's personal digital devices. They're also choosing architectural and design touches such as decorative legs, and countertops and cabinetry that contrast with those around the perimeter of the kitchen.
Kitchen renovations continue to be among the most popular home improvement projects and can offer homeowners a high return on their investments. A major kitchen remodel costing about $56,000 can recoup nearly 68 percent of its cost when you sell your home, while a minor remodel in the range of $19,000 can yield a 79 percent ROI upon resale, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
(BPT) - When it comes to health and wellness, the design of your home may prove to be just as important as your diet, sleep habits or exercise routine. This is the premise behind biophilic design - the idea that incorporating natural elements into your home, such as wood or plants, can actually improve overall health.
In reviewing existing research from Canada and Austria on the health impact of wood and other natural elements, environmental psychologist Dr. Sally Augustin and researcher Dr. David Fell of FPInnovations found that humans automatically relax when they are surrounded by elements from the natural world. In fact, these materials have a pronounced effect on the autonomic nervous system, lowering blood pressure and stress levels.
"When we experience things in a built environment that are similar to hospitable natural spaces that sheltered humans for thousands of years, we feel relaxed and de-stressed in a profound way," Augustin says. "We are not as stressed in difficult situations and our lives are improved."
While most research on biophilic design has focused on schools and healthcare settings, both Augustin and Dr. Fell say the same principles apply to home building and design. "Everyone responds positively to natural materials. These are biological responses, not learned," Fell says.
Though we all can't have sweeping views of the ocean or find the forest in our backyard, homeowners can make easy fixes to up the nature quotient in their homes.
1. Let the sun shine in
According to Augustin and Fell, research links exposure to natural light to positive health outcomes, including weight loss and improved mood. Whenever possible, homeowners should minimize window coverings to let the natural light shine in.
2. Use your green thumb
The addition of green plants to any indoor space is the most literal way of bringing the outside in. Green, leafy plants can brighten up any room and inspire a relaxed and peaceful setting.
3. Make waves
Water - particularly the sound of water - is soothing and relaxing. It's easy to take advantage of that by incorporating a fountain or other water element into your home.
4. Go with the grain
Whether purchasing a new home or remodeling, nature is easily incorporated into a home through a wood feature wall, ceiling, wainscoting or floors. "We're talking about wood where we can see the grain. This really has a fundamental effect on the autonomic nervous system," Augustin says. Unlike other natural elements, wood can also be used for a home's structure and exposed beams still produce a stress-reducing response.
5. Admire the views
Simply rearranging your furniture to take advantage of the best outdoor views or natural light can help improve your home's overall atmosphere. If you can, orient furniture so that you have views of the outside and nature, as this should be the focal point of any room.
"Looking at peaceful nature views distracts our minds from thoughts that make us cognitively exhausted," Augustin says. "The mind has a chance to relax and refresh. When it comes to relieving stress and creating a soothing atmosphere, it turns out that you really can't beat Mother Nature."
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Monday, December 14, 2015
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Friday, December 11, 2015
Changes in mobility, vision, hearing and stability are a reality of growing older for many Americans. Certain types of home improvements can make your home safer and more comfortable as you age, allowing you to live there longer. From lovely skylights that fill rooms with vision-friendly natural light and fresh air to slip-resistant flooring in designer colors, those "aging in place" home improvements can be beautiful as well as functional.
Here are a handful of aging-in-place upgrades that shout "fabulous" instead of "fogey":
In the kitchen
We all spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, and it's the room where we also do the most work. Upgrades that improve your ability to reach important appliances, enhance vision and boost safety will help you use your kitchen more efficiently for as long as possible.
Age-related vision changes can necessitate increasing the amount of light in your kitchen. Task lights and under-cabinet lighting can focus illumination where you need it most, and hide discretely out of sight without disrupting the clean lines and unmarked beauty of kitchen cabinets.
Overhead lighting is also important, but rather than opting for industrial-type lights that may cause harsh glare, consider introducing natural light. Research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology suggests that natural light may be better for aging eyes than artificial light. A skylight is an upscale, beautiful home improvement that can benefit boomers with natural light.
Skylights can also help improve indoor air quality. Most exposure to environmental pollution occurs by breathing indoor air, according to research by the Greenguard Environmental Institute. No leak solar powered fresh air skylights not only provide healthful natural light, they also provide passive ventilation to reduce fumes, humidity and stale air - improving overall indoor air quality.
You can increase a skylight's energy efficiency with solar powered blinds. The complete daylighting system, plus installation, is eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. To learn more about these Energy Star-qualified skylights, visit www.veluxusa.com. The website offers a skylight planner app to show you exactly how skylights and blinds will look in your home, as well as a tax credit calculator to figure your savings.
In the bath
Falls are a leading cause of injuries that result in hospitalization of older people. Most falls in the home occur in the bathroom, so taking precautions in this much-used room makes sense. Like them or not, grab bars improve safety in the bathroom. Fortunately, bathroom fixture manufacturers seem to understand the need for products that blend safety and beauty. It's now easy to find grab bars in a variety of attractive finishes and designs that complement your interior decor.
Lighting is also important in the bath, and a fresh air skylight can be beneficial in this room. Skylights provide natural light and passive ventilation while ensuring privacy in the bath. If your bathroom is on the ground floor, without direct roof access, you can still enjoy natural light by installing a Sun Tunnel tubular skylight.
Flooring is another opportunity to blend beauty and practicality in the bathroom. Replacing slick, traditional ceramic tiles with slip-resistant flooring such as stone, vinyl or textured ceramic tile, can be visually pleasing and safety-enhancing at the same time.
Outside the house
Navigating from the car to the front door can be fraught with peril for older folks, yet many people dislike the way certain assistive devices, like ramps, look in front of their home. If you're not ready to add a ramp, a decorative railing for outdoor stairs is a great alternative. It's easy to find good-looking options and virtually any home contractor can help you create a railing that meets your safety needs and meshes well with your home's exterior design.
Outdoor lighting is also important for safety. Make sure walkways are well lit with low lamps that put illumination directly at your feet. New high-output solar lights are a great way to effectively light a path while minimizing energy costs. Finally, keep concrete sidewalks and brick pavements in good repair. Take care of uneven spots or loose pavers right away, to reduce the risk of falling outside.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Fortunately, the fundamentals of good accessorizing are the same, regardless of whether you're dressing up your house or spicing up your own look. Whether you have a knack for pulling together an outfit as easily as a room, or can't quite seem to get it together, a few simple tips can help you enhance your style.
Pop that color - Neutrals make an awesome backdrop for pops of color. Whether it's a neutral shade on the walls of your living room, or a classically cut skirt in a subtle hue, set off your neutral backdrop with brightly colored accessories. Pillows, plates, photo frames, candles and other colorful accessories create interest and depth in a room's design. All kinds of small and decorative items can be colorful and inexpensive. You can find fashionable and fun items in shops that specialize in the unusual, such as Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (R). Explore the offbeat. For example, beautiful glass jars filled with pickles and canned veggies are not only a culinary treat, they can add zest to a room's decor when used as a colorful display.
For you, adding a bold necklace, chunky bracelet, bright belt or scarf can layer your look with personality. As a bonus, if you find a look that fits your personal style, consider incorporating it into your home decor with accessories. For example, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store offers trendy coastal-themed jewelry - several pieces are less than $10 - and home decor items that echo the easy, relaxed style and sea-side colors of the shore.
Simple styling - One of the most challenging aspects of accessorizing can be settling on a style. The good news is, when you find one that works for you, you can apply it to both your personal style and your home decor. Does classic sophistication work for you? Subtle colors that convey classic styling in your wardrobe can make great hues for walls, carpeting and upholstered furnishings. Is quirky and unconventional -more your style? That tropical print you love on your bedroom drapes can add humor and excitement to your wardrobe when it shows up in an airy cotton scarf. That same color and pattern combination can make a statement when you use it as a runner on your dining room table.
Brimmed hats, earrings, bracelets, totes and flowing wraps all speak of summer vacation and fun - and the essence of easy style that works well in your home and in your closet.
You need to love your atmosphere - Whatever the purpose of a room or an outfit, you need to love the atmosphere it creates. Whether you're designing a space for family fun or pulling together a knockout look for that special night out on the town, the colors and styles you choose will create a specific ambiance. It should be one that speaks to you and your personality.
For example, are summer gatherings with friends one of your favorites things to do? Salute the best of summer with colors that evoke summer holidays, such as a fun red picnic cup lighted garland (available at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store) and matching red picnic cup stemware. Keep the effect going by adding that shiny red hue to your wardrobe accessories with a belt or necklace. Have an affinity for the horsey set? "Stable" décor featuring riding-inspired accessories such as candleholders and canisters with whip stitched accents is popular and a horseshoe doubling as a tea light holder evokes the look beautifully.
Just keep a few secrets that apply to both home decor and wardrobe building in mind, then let your adventure begin.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Preparing to buy a home requires more than just a down payment. Before you purchase property, take time to understand your available mortgage options and balance your debt load. Thorough planning and smart budgeting now can help you avoid running into high debt or repayment problems down the road.
Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that first time home buyers should answer three important questions before they start hitting any open houses this season.
• Do I understand the process? It never hurts to meet with a mortgage specialist to learn more about the home buying process and the different mortgage options available, such as fixed versus variable rate mortgages, flexible repayment schedules, and even mortgages that offer cash back. Before falling in love with a home, consider getting pre-approved so you know what you may be able to afford and avoid getting disappointed by falling in love with a home that is outside your price range.
• What is my personal debt load? If you have other obligations like a car payment or student loan, ensure you are taking on a mortgage that you can manage within your total budget. Try using an online debt management calculator to help determine how much debt you can reasonably take on based on your income, current debt payments and expenses.
• Can I afford my mortgage and save for the future? Sometimes home buyers take on more debt than they can manage and quickly find themselves "house poor" - with no money left for future savings or a rainy day. Before you take the leap into homeownership, crunch the numbers to ensure your budget reflects the lifestyle you want after you move into your new home, and you are clear on what sacrifices you may need to make to continue to live comfortably and save for your future.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Bunions are bumps that form on the outer edge of the big toe when the bone or tissue of the toe joint moves out of place. If you have a bunion, the spot is likely red, swollen and may hurt like crazy. About 23 percent of people between 18 and 65 have bunions, 35 percent of people older than 65 have them, and women are more likely than men to have them, according to a study published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, bunions can form at any stage in life, and several factors influence their growth, including:
* Genetics - People with flat feet, low arches, arthritis or inflammatory joint disease - all ailments that tend to run in families - are more prone to developing bunions.
* Footwear - Shoes that are too tight or that squeeze the toes together (like those stylish pointy-toe shoes you love) can aggravate a bunion-prone foot. In fact many of the trendiest footwear fashions are harbingers of bunions to come - so you can't possibly be too cool to develop a bunion.
* Injuries - Any injury that causes damage to the big toe joint could inspire the formation of a bunion.
If your bunion is just beginning to form, you may be able to inhibit its growth with a few lifestyle changes. Avoid wearing heels higher than 2 inches, and purge your shoe wardrobe of all styles that have tight toe-boxes. Using a bunion pad inside your shoes can also provide some protection and slow down the bunion growth.
But if your bunions are getting the best of you - and interfering with your mobility - it's time to see a podiatrist. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified to treat ailments of the feet and lower extremities, including bunions. Your podiatrist will be able to diagnose your bunions and he or she may recommend treatment options that range from:
* Using padding and taping to minimize pain and keep your toes in a normal position, which will reduce stress and pain.
* Prescribing anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections to ease acute pain and inflammation.
* Physical therapy, including ultrasound therapy.
* Orthotics or shoe inserts to control foot function and prevent bunions from getting worse.
* Surgery if your bunion problems are extreme.
Every year, bunions bring thousands of Americans into podiatrist offices around the country. A few simple lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of developing bunions, and treatment for existing bunions can help ensure they don't interfere with your mobility and enjoyment of life.
Sunday, December 6, 2015
"It's important for caregivers to take care of themselves as well, and to help those they care for find treatment options that can make it easier for both patient and caretaker to better manage Alzheimer's symptoms," says Dr. Richard S. Isaacson*, associate professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer's Prevention & Treatment Program at Weill Cornell Medical College and a respected AD researcher who has several family members with the disease. "Just as there is no one solution for managing Alzheimer's symptoms, caregivers need to employ a suite of tactics in coping with their responsibilities - from stress-relieving habits and regular medical care for themselves, as well education about nutritional therapy and medication for patients."
Caregivers should keep in mind that helping themselves stay well is also helping the people for whom they're caring. If you're taking care of a loved one with AD, here are some ways you can help both yourself and the person in your care:
* Therapy to mitigate AD symptoms - Coping with common symptoms of AD such as disorientation, forgetfulness and emotional imbalances are among the most stressful aspects of caregiving. Helping patients mitigate those symptoms can improve the quality of life for both the patient and caregiver. Some medications show promise in helping reduce symptoms, and a new medical food, Axona(R) by Accera, Inc. can further help some mild to moderate patients mitigate symptoms, especially when used in tandem with drug therapies.
Axona helps by providing the brain of mild to moderate AD patients with an alternative to glucose - the "food" which fuels brain function. A brain affected by AD doesn't process glucose into energy as efficiently as a healthy brain, creating a condition known as diminished cerebral glucose metabolism (DCGM)) which most often occurs in the areas of the brain involved in memory and thoughts. The easy-to-mix, once-daily prescription medical food Axona helps provide brain cells with an alternative energy source, which may help ease the effects of DCGM and enhance memory and cognitive function in AD patients. Doctors and caregivers of AD patients who use Axona report patients appear more alert and engaged in daily activities and interactions with others.
* Seek support - Caregivers provide a tremendous amount of support for both patients and those who love them, but they can use support too. If you are a caregiver, join a support group where you can connect with people whose experiences and emotions parallel your own. You can find a support group through the Alzheimer Association's website, www.alz.org. Don't be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, too. Something as simple as picking up laundry or groceries, or sitting with a patient for an hour while you run errands doesn't take much time away from someone else's schedule, but it could give you a much-needed break.
* Keep an organized schedule - Routine can be very comforting for AD patients, and a schedule can help caregivers stay on track and feel less stressed by day-to-day demands. Online calendars or apps for your mobile device can help you keep a schedule and stay organized. Be sure to schedule in some time to give yourself a break, along with doctor's appointments and medication timings.
* Avoid isolation - Withdrawal from society is common among dementia patients and can take a toll on those caring for them. Caregivers can feel isolated, too. It's important to connect with others. Seek social interaction that will benefit you and your loved one with AD, whether it's attending a weekly prayer meeting or a regularly scheduled dinner with family members.
* Keep things in perspective - The Alzheimer's Association outlines five key things to remember: Don't take behaviors personally; stay calm and patient; realize pain can be a trigger for behavior; don't argue; and accept upsetting behaviors as part of the disease. Remember, your loved one can't control his or her disease, but you can control your reaction to disease-related behaviors.
To learn more about Axona, visit www.about-axona.com/. For more information on AD, including tips for caregivers, visit www.alz.org.
*Dr. Richard Isaacson is a paid scientific advisor/consultant for Accera, Inc.
Saturday, December 5, 2015
(BPT) - You know those days when your normal schedule gets thrown completely out the window? You're tired, overrun and can barely think about the next thing on your to-do list, let alone work on your larger goals or concentrate on your health.
"Luckily, major results can stem from small steps, even if they seem inconsequential. These tiny decisions throughout your day add up to create a gradual shift towards change and transformation when it comes to your health," says Paul Kriegler, registered dietitian with Life Time - The Healthy Way of Life Company.
When you're flying at rapid speed throughout your day and could use a small win, Kriegler suggests trying a few of these five-minute health commitments:
Whip up a sustainable energy boost. Think of food as fuel for your body. When you're busy and on the run, don't forget to pack healthy lunches and snacks to keep you nourished throughout the day.
* A protein and powdered greens shake is the perfect quick snack or lunch.
* Cut up veggies at the beginning of the week to pack for lunch.
* Make a 3-ingredient salad. All you need is lettuce, a protein, and another veggie.
* Throw together stew or chili ingredients for a week of healthy dinners and lunches.
Do you have five minutes? Fit in a workout. Kriegler says a workout doesn't have to (and shouldn't!) disrupt your entire day. If you find yourself with five minutes to spare, get up and move.
* Work out your kinks with five minutes of stretching or foam rolling.
* See how many pushups you can do in five minutes.
* When you're at work, run up and down the side stairs of your office.
* Fit in two sprints up and down your street before dinner.
* Do three to six yoga poses to target a particular body part or objective. Find a yoga video that focuses on relaxation or strength.
*Head out to your backyard for five minutes of jumping rope, playing tag with the kids or trying a YouTube exercise video that looks interesting.
Plan for the days and weeks ahead. Achieving a goal always involves planning. Find five minutes in your day to make sure you have a healthy plan in place.
* Plan a healthy menu for dinner tonight or start your healthy shopping list for the week.
* Pack your gym bag for tomorrow's workout.
Take time for yourself. "When you're constantly on the go, remembering to take time for yourself can be a challenge," says Kriegler. "Whether you have to get up five minutes early or stay up five minutes late, fit in some time to connect with yourself."
* Try a five minute meditation to relax your body.
* Walk outside for a few minutes of sun and fresh air.
* Pour yourself a big glass of water to take your supplements with in the morning.
*Call someone in your support network for encouragement. This could be a weight loss coach, running or workout buddy, friend or spouse.
Although these may seem like minor tips, these small wins can help you on your journey toward a healthier way of life.
Friday, December 4, 2015
(BPT) - It may be the most wonderful time of year, but at times, it can also feel like the most stressful. This holiday season, take a fresh approach to your "to-do's list" to save time and energy so you can be merry and bright. These 10 tips and tricks will help you relax, unwind and enjoy all the best parts of the holidays.
Wrap while shopping
It's a given that shopping early avoids the last-minute frenzy, but you can save even more time and stress by getting gifts wrapped while out and about. Many department stores offer gift wrap services, all you need to do is ask.
Streamline holiday cards
Sending cards is a holiday tradition, but it shouldn't cause unneeded stress. No need to worry about a dated address book - an easy trick is to cut return address labels from each card you receive and place in an envelope. Now it's easy to send cards to loved ones and update your address book without hassle.
Use baking hacks
Using premade foods is one of the simplest (yet yummy) ways to create holiday bakery delights. Check out www.facebook.com/entenmanns for simple, amazing recipes like Entenmann's Dreamy Chocolate Bars that feature crumbled Rich Frosted Donuts as the secret ingredient. While you're baking, double the batch to have an extra on hand for a hostess gift.
Go tech free
Smartphones ringing, emails beeping, texts buzzing - technology is time consuming. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by designating tech-free times for your family each day. Use this time (1-2 hours) to relax and focus on each other, perhaps with a hot cup of cocoa - the emails and messages will still be there later.
Schedule a salon visit
With a long holiday to-do list, it's hard to find time for you. That's why treating yourself to a haircut or manicure can do wonders for your holiday spirit. Plus, you'll look and feel fantastic when you attend all those festive get-togethers.
Opt for an open house
Having a holiday gathering adds to the season's merriment, but where will everyone fit and how will you feed them? Instead of a formal dinner, opt for an open house with hors d'oeuvres. You'll have less work and more time to spend with love ones as they come and go.
Embrace holiday breakfasts
Start every day off right by enjoying a delicious breakfast with your family. No need to spend hours in the kitchen cooking; instead include iconic breakfast classics that you and the kids love. For example, scrumptious Entenmann's Donuts are undeniable when paired with fresh fruit for a quick breakfast delight. Find more breakfast inspiration at www.facebook.com/Entenmanns.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Color has an enormous effect on mood and it greatly influences the atmosphere of a room. Neutral and white walls can feel stark and cold during the winter months, so consider warming them up with rich hues like those found in Dutch Boy's holiday palette. Yellow Springs, Reservoir Red and Loden Wool will create the perfect cozy feel, and accents of Ultra White will make your new colors stand out even more."The warmth of this light yellow is reminiscent of lights glowing on the tree, popcorn strands strung, or light from the candles set on the mantel," says Rachel Skafidas, color and design specialist for Dutch Boy Paints. "It's the perfect backdrop for a deep, traditional red and mistletoe green." And don't stop at paint - incorporate these colors into other decor elements for a festive feel throughout the home.
Hardwood and natural stone floors have become extremely popular in the past several years, but these options can be cold and unpleasant underfoot in the wintry months. Adding rugs in visible areas will instantly give any room a more inviting look, as well as warmer feet on cold winter mornings. Experiment with different sizes, styles, shapes and designs throughout the home. You might even consider switching out current kitchen and bathroom rugs for more seasonal choices to give these rooms a festive appeal.
Now that winter is here and days are shorter, depending on natural sunlight to brighten a room past mid-afternoon is no longer an option. But instead of harsh white ceiling lights, give your home a cozy glow with strategically placed lamps, candle sconces and wall lights. A variety of light sources creates a welcoming feel that still allows occupants to entertain or read comfortably. A trip to any home improvement store will prove there are endless possibilities to light your home, with many unique and easy-installation options to choose from.
It's the little things that can make the biggest difference, and accent items have a great effect on the ambiance of your home. From decorative sofa pillows, to festive candles, to holiday table runners, the details of a room determine its mood. If you're feeling creative, many home and craft magazines have hundreds of ideas for do-it-yourself wreaths, centerpieces, wall hangings and other accents. And appealing to other senses with a pine-scented candle or seasonal bowl of potpourri will instantly make a room more inviting.
No matter what your budget or decorating experience, you can give your home a cozy, comforting feel easily and affordably. Using these tips, you'll be ready to enjoy the great indoors in no time at all.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
A little advanced planning can help alleviate some of the traditional stresses travelers experience during holiday visits, winter vacations and spring break trips, allowing everyone in the family to enjoy the journey.
* Be organized - Keep a folder or notebook filled with every detail of information you will - or might - need. These details include important telephone numbers, insurance information, as well as all travel details like flight times, car rental information, hotel reservation, addresses and tickets to any events you might be attending while on your trip. Also pack photo copies of your personal information like driver's license, passport and credit cards separately from your purse. Create a second set and give them to a friend or family member not traveling with you who would be able to email or fax them if an emergency situation happens. Having the photo copies of the original information will help shorten the time it will take to get official replacements.
* Pack a medicine bag - It's very easy to catch a traveler's cold or end up suffering with digestive issues from eating out and indulging in too many sweet or spicy foods. Make certain to include over-the-counter pain killers, cold and allergy medicines and don't forget about packing an all-in-one solution to handle both anti-gas and antacid digestive relief. It's available in liquid, tablet and on-the-go forms to treat symptoms of heartburn, upset stomach, constipation, indigestion and acid indigestion.
* Use technology - Smartphones and cellphones make travel much easier. Airline and hotel applications can notify you about delay and cancelations, allow you to check-in for your flight before leaving for the airport, select seats on the plane, and confirm your hotel your reservation. Some airlines even allow you to scan a boarding pass directly from your smartphone. A bonus - pack headphones and use your smartphone to carry favorite tunes to help soothe your mind and relax your body while traveling. It will make the long road trip or flight go much quicker.
* Bring snacks - Airport food is expensive and many airlines have done away with in-flight snacks. Dry foods can be taken through airport security, so bring along trail mix, granola bars or sandwich crackers to help keep hunger pains at bay, and save you time and money when at the airport. For longer flights that serve a meal, call the airline ahead to request a special needs meal, like heart healthy or vegetarian. These meals tend to be fresher and lower in sodium than the regular meals and will ensure that you feel great when you land.
* Comfort is king - A long road trip or plane flight can have anyone feeling rumpled and uncomfortable. To make these travels more comfortable, consider wearing slip-on shoes - they're easy to remove to go through security at an airport and can be kicked off in the car to help relax your feet. Also pack breezy and loose-fitting clothing, because most people tend to indulge in convenience foods and alcohol while traveling, which can cause tight-fitting clothing to feel very uncomfortable later on in the trip.
Traveling for the holidays, or a spring break vacation is meant to be a relaxing and enjoyable time. So plan ahead for any stresses, and when the big day for departure arrives, let the fun begin.
When you are not in a rush to whip up a family meal or put away loads of groceries, take some time to really look at the items in your pantry. What is in front? What is hidden in the back? What's used most frequently? What is expired?
Be more aware of your consumption habits, suggests Cory Schreiber, a chef instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Portland. This awareness is a simple step to greener living. Avoid impulse purchases by being more mindful of the emotions that can be involved in food shopping, he adds. Not only do you avoid waste this way, but conscious consumption is more cost effective too.
Another cost-effective method that Joshua Joe, storeroom manager at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California - Los Angeles, a campus of Argosy University, recommends is a common inventory and accounting process used by schools, hotels and other food service providers. Practicing a first-in, first-out method of consuming your pantry goods is a true way to save money and prevent food waste, says Joe, who purchases the school's food supplies. With approximately 500 culinary arts students regularly coming through the school's dry storage area, Joe encourages the students to use the earliest bought, or oldest, goods first. The tendency is to go for the freshest or A+ product when the A grade item will do, he says. You don't want to let perfectly usable goods go to waste.
Once you have a handle on what you are buying and how you are consuming it, it is time to stock up.
Schreiber proposes buying high-quality essentials and purchasing goods in bulk. Buy the highest quality staples you can afford, recommends Schreiber. For example, six pounds of a good butter can last you a solid five months. Other items where quality counts and the products can endure include oils, vinegars, salts, dried herbs and spices.When possible, buy dry goods in bulk too, he adds. Grains, rice, legumes and pastas are all good products to shop for in a food store's bulk department.
To store the loose pasta or grains, look for containers with a lower environmental footprint. Using glass, metal and ceramics is the easiest solution, says Chris Stanley, an Industrial Design instructor at The Art Institute of Seattle. Stanley, who has taught courses on the history of industrial design and in materials and manufacturing, adds, choose something classic in design so you won't be tempted to throw it out in two years. Or, you can re-use glass jars and that fruit cake tin your aunt sends you each year.
Not only is buying in bulk less expensive, but less packaging means less energy used to create the materials and less garbage to throw away - all of which are more friendly to the environment.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Some kids engage in team sports after school. Others participate in school-sponsored extracurricular clubs. Still others go home and spend time alone until parents are finished working. Regardless of how a child spends the hours after school, personal safety should be important—and a topic of conversation between parents and kids.
Consider how your child will spend their after-school hours, and work together to develop a list of relevant safety tactics. For example, if your child plays a sport, discuss ways to avoid injury and make sure they always wear appropriate safety gear. For students who will arrive home before parents, set ground rules, such as go straight home and check in via phone call or text once they arrive. Remind children not to open the door to strangers or answer phone calls from numbers they can't identify. Safekids.org offers a wealth of safety tips that can be applied to virtually every child's after-school situation.
Snacking is actually a very healthy habit when done smartly. Teach kids to reach for a sensible and filling snack to help keep their minds alert for homework and their bodies fueled for after-school activities. Encourage kids to use portion control and choose healthier snacks, like fresh fruits or veggies or fat-free options like pretzels.
Portion-controlled, pre-packaged choices are convenient and healthy options for after-school snacking. For example, 100-calorie pretzel packs from Snyder's of Hanover are a great-tasting snack kids love. Plus, ample research - and common experience - indicates chewing on something crunchy stimulates the brain. Try a low-fat combination of pretzels with apple slices or carrot sticks, which are more stimulating to a child's brain than something sweet and fatty. Visit www.snydersofhanover.com to learn more.
Follow a schedule that builds in fun and eases homework headaches
Naturally, all children want to work some fun into their day, whether it's before or after homework is complete. Since most kids thrive with guidance and structure, talk to your child about creating a schedule or "to-do" list for after-school time, and make sure it includes a combination of fun activities, snack time and homework. Keep in mind that every child is different. Some children need to run around before starting homework, while others do best when saving the fun time for last.
Once kids have completed homework and gotten a little physical activity, many may prefer to spend hours online, playing video games or watching TV. Finding a balance can be tough. Many parents take a "homework first" approach, having kids complete school assignments before they're allowed the treat of screen time. Also consider parental control software to set limits on when kids can use the PC, laptop or tablet and to restrict when—and where—they can go online.
You can also encourage kids to use technology in a manner that stimulates their brain, such as reading a book on a tablet, working on a brain puzzle on the computer, or practicing their keyboard or typing skills. Many schools will provide a list of fun websites kids can access at home or the library to reinforce skills taught in school.
Once the bell rings and school is out for the day, keep your children safe, smart and healthy with each of these approaches.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
"This Old House" magazine notes that since the front door is the first and last thing we touch when entering and leaving our homes, "it's easy to understand why many of us still like our doors to be made of wood - nothing else matches the material's warmth and satisfying heft."
"People choose wood entry doors first and foremost for their beauty; it's a fine piece of furniture on the front of your home," says Brad Loveless of Simpson Door Company.
For homeowners who enjoy the beauty of wood entry doors, options are now available to stand up to the harshest climates - from the wind-driven rains of Nantucket Island to the desert Southwest. Following are three ways to have the wood door you want and to ensure it will look great for years, no matter what the climate throws at it.
Bring your dreams to life
With doors available in hundreds of wood species, and numerous designs and glass options, it can be hard to envision how a particular door will look like on your home. Short of hiring an architect to make a sketch, most people have had to rely on their imaginations. Recently, easy-to-use, free online tools have become available to simplify the door selection process. For example, Simpson's "Test Drive a Door" enables people to upload a photo of their home and view different door options on it. This allows a homeowner to be sure before they buy.
Go for performance
People are used to looking for high performance when shopping for new cars or computers, but might not realize the same approach can apply to doors. Manufacturers have developed high-performance wood doors with superior weather resistance that last in the most demanding exposures, including coastal homes with no porch or roof overhang to protect the door.
One high-performance option to consider is choosing wood species that perform best in moist conditions, as this varies among wood types. Species that have been shown in laboratory testing to have natural moisture resistance include Douglas Fir, Black Locust, Nootka Cypress and Sapele Mahogany, among others. In recognition of the use of such species and advanced joinery techniques, "Window & Door" magazine selected Nantucket Collection doors from Simpson as its "Most Innovative Door."
Another performance option some manufacturers offer in their wood doors is water-resistant composite blocks within the bottom of the door, where water can infiltrate. Doors also are available with full exterior cladding to protect them from rain and sun, while retaining the beauty of wood inside the home.
A strong finish
With any door, whether made of wood, steel or fiberglass, it is crucial to finish it for long-lasting protection from the elements. Doors are sold either factory finished or unfinished. If unfinished, the door must be finished by the door dealer, a contractor or the homeowner. Manufacturers provide step-by-step instructions for best results from finishing, and those steps typically must be followed to ensure warranty requirements. Chief among these are to finish all six sides - front, back and all edges. As no wood surface should be left unfinished, finish should also be applied to the cut-outs for the handle and lock set, as well as any other openings, such as for mail slots or pet doors.
If the door is exposed to sun, it is generally better to use lighter color paints or stains as those absorb less heat from damaging UV rays.
If people are looking during the holidays...they are SERIOUS! They are ready to buy!
While it may seem inconvenient during such a busy time of the year, you always remain in control of the showings.
Check out this infograph from Tom Ferry and then give us a call! #515.964.9400
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
1. Gift your services
Rather than giving a tangible item, give your services; it's the perfectly practical gift for the person on your list who may be short on space, lacking financial resources or would just appreciate a little extra help. Love kids? Offer free child care so the recipient can enjoy an evening out on the town without worrying about the little ones. Have a knack for cooking? Gift a weeknight meal that you deliver to the recipient's doorstep. Known for your organization? Offer your skills to help the recipient organize a closet, office or other cluttered space.
2. Make a miracle happen
Positively impacting others by giving a charitable gift in the recipient's name embraces the true meaning of the season. The new Give Miracles Holiday Catalog from national nonprofit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals features in-demand pediatric items and services that local children's hospitals need anything from comforting teddy bears ($30) to a case of extra-small preemie diapers smaller than the palm of your hand ($170)! For high-impact gifts like a physical therapy toy kit ($375) or a pediatric wheelchair ($970), funds can be collectively raised by numerous gift-givers. This option is ideal for extended families looking to do something more meaningful than the typical gift exchange.
And to make that 'do-good' feeling for the recipient last long after the holidays are over, Give Miracles donors receive ongoing communication from Children's Miracle Network Hospitals throughout the year about how their gift is making an impact at their local hospital. Browse the gift catalog at www.GiveMiracles.org.
3. Purchase a membership to a monthly club
Rather than wasting money on a new gadget that will quickly be forgotten, give a gift that benefits the recipient all year long. Monthly clubs provide fun deliveries to a loved one's address, an ongoing reminder of your generosity. Monthly gift clubs are available for just about anything, from wine and beer, to jams and cheese, to bacon and fruit.
4. Give a gift that grows
Potted plants are a fantastic gift idea because they represent how your love continues to grow for that special someone. Plus, plants are a wonderful addition to interior decor and help clean the air. With so many houseplants readily available, you're sure to find the perfect one for the person who has everything. Does he gravitate toward decor with vivid color? Choose a flowering plant that provides delightful blooms. Does she love Asian culture? How about gifting a bonsai tree or a bamboo plant?
5. Provide an experience
Often, it's not what's in the box, it's the memory that stays with so many people after the holidays have passed. That's why giving a special experience can make a truly meaningful gift. Think about what really interests the recipient or an activity they've had on their bucket list. Perhaps it's a hot air balloon ride or a white water rafting daytrip. If the person really loves to shop, hire a personal shopper for the day and let them see what it's like to live like a star. If the recipient loves gourmet food, purchase a spot in a class taught by your town's hottest chef.
Any one of these ideas is sure to show that hard-to-shop-for person on your list that you've put some real thought into their gift. And ultimately, isn't it the thought that counts?