How to put your own touch on modern bathroom design

November 15, 2018 (316 words)

[Headline: Adding modern bathroom designs]

A secluded bathroom is an ideal spot to experiment with modern designs without undergoing a major renovation. Below are a few tips to add contemporary elements.

Accessorize simply: Choose simple and polished accessories that complement the aesthetic of the room. Incorporate sleek, angular towel bars or an elegant robe hook.

Add warmth: Incorporating softer materials such as a plush rug, textured bath towels or handwoven wicker baskets, will provide contrast to angular accents, bringing a sense of warmth and tranquility.

Create a timeless aesthetic: Inspired by the modern styles found throughout European homes, the Delta Emerge Shower Column couples bold lines with impactful design to deliver a luxurious, customizable shower experience.

Engage your senses: To truly complete the modern look and feel of your bathroom, skip the traditional candle and consider adding elements such as an aromatherapy diffuser.

For more design inspiration, visit DeltaFaucet.com/InspiredLiving.

4 unexpected bed bug hotspots

November 15, 2018 (436 words)

The term “bed bugs” might make you shudder and picture a mattress teeming with bloodsucking insects, but don’t be fooled; the name is a bit of a misnomer. While almost 70 percent of bed bug infestations are associated with beds or items near beds, the insects don’t limit themselves. They can be found in common spaces like movie theaters and public transportation. Terminix offers a few spots you may not have thought to check for these insects. 

* Personal belongings

* Luggage racks

* Dirty laundry

* Furniture

If you do find yourself dealing with a bed bug infestation, don’t try to fight it alone. Take your home back with the help of trained professionals, such as Terminix’s technicians, who are trained to perform thorough inspections, detect bed bugs and develop a customized treatment solution.

5 tips for an efficient and safe moving day

November 14, 2018 (447 words)

Consider the following steps toward a safe and organized moving process.

Assign roles. Organize your packing and loading crew so everyone knows his role.

Choose a reputable rental company. Secure your moving truck from a reputable dealer, then follow its specific instructions for safely packing and driving the vehicle.

Optimize tools. Use dollies, hand trucks, harnesses and/or multiple people to lift boxes that weigh more than 50 pounds.

Lift correctly. When picking up anything even moderately heavy, avoid back injuries by keeping your back vertical and your chest forward.

Be aware of obstacles. When moving items out of your house and into your vehicle, watch for items that could trip you or get in your way, such as low-hanging obstacles, ground protrusions or surfaces that are wet, slick or uneven.

Visit www.pensketruckrental.com for more tips to make your next DIY move smooth, organized and worry-free.

Winter weatherproofing: Preparing your home to stay safe and save energy

November 13, 2018 (629 words)

[Headline: Winter weatherproofing]

By making a few minor adjustments, homeowners can reduce the amount of wasted energy while staying comfortable during the chilly season.

Repair the roof. Inspect the roof to make sure shingles are in place to prevent water from seeping inside.

Dodge the drafts. Air leaks caused by cracks around windows and doors can enable warm air to escape and cold air to seep in.

Don’t forget the furnace. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, Lennox recommends upgrading to a high efficiency system, such as one of its variable-speed furnaces, which can save hundreds of dollars on utility costs. 

Attend to the attic. If you are experiencing high heating bills and having difficulty keeping your home warm, it could be time to add additional insulation to the attic.

Five Show House Trends to Inspire Your Renovation

November 13, 2018 (557 words)

[Headline: Top renovation design trends]

These design show trends from Kohler Kitchen and Bath can help inspire your next renovation.   

* A floor-to-ceiling living wall of plants adds a pleasing contrast to a bathroom’s hard surfaces, especially when paired with statement sinks and fixtures.

* When choosing colors, expect less domination by bright whites, and more soft earth-inspired shades, like stone gray and warm terracotta. Deep, moody velvet-inspired colors are also making a comeback.

* Taking things beyond the marble countertop, the latest kitchen design incorporates even more natural materials, such as wood and stone.

* The kitchen is the busiest room in the house, so designers are adding more functional solutions like a second kitchen island to make organization and meal prep easier.

Tips for embracing the benefits of natural light

November 13, 2018 (604 words)

[Headline: Tips for installing windows]

If you decide to install or upgrade windows, keep in mind the following helpful tips:

* To maximize daylight, comfort and energy efficiency, be sure to identify the climate zone you live in and select a window that meets your zone requirements.

* To determine your home’s orientation and sun exposure, try using the compass app on your smartphone.

* Hire a reputable contractor to help you select the right windows for your home and to ensure your windows are installed according to local building codes.

For more information about windows, energy efficiency and the importance of natural light, visit www.plygem.com.

Slippery season: Mayo Clinic offers 10 tips for avoiding falls

November 12, 2018 (464 words)

[Headline: Tips for avoiding falls]

If you’re getting older, consider whether you’re at risk of taking a fall once colder weather hits. Mayo Clinic notes that some 400,000 “fragility fractures” occur annually due to falls injuring osteoporosis-weakened bones.

Suggestions for minimizing such risk from Kim Lombard, Mayo Clinic's injury prevention coordinator:

* Walk like a penguin. Take short, careful steps, adopting a wide stance and pointing feet slightly outward to maintain balance. 

* Exercise your legs and core. Improve strength, balance, coordination and flexibility through low-impact yoga, tai chi, water workouts or dance.

* Choose good footwear. Wear close-fitting shoes and boots that provide good traction, perhaps investing in the handy removable ice cleats that strap right onto your shoes or boots for traversing slippery surfaces.

* Be prepared. Wear winter gear even on short walks so you’ll be protected if you take a spill. And always bring your phone so you can call for help.

How to assemble a holiday cheeseboard guaranteed to impress

November 08, 2018 (520 words)

[Headline: Holiday cheeseboards made simple]

The culinary experts at Stella Cheese provide simple tips for creating an impressive cheeseboard:

Choose cheese wisely: Select three to five varieties of cheese for your board. This provides nice variation without overwhelming guests with too many options. 

Get the right amounts: Typically 4-6 ounces of cheese per person is a good estimate, but increase or decrease that amount based on time of day and other foods being served.

Add accompaniments and garnishes: For a festive take on your cheeseboard, add quintessential holiday-themed foods such as cranberry jam, roasted chestnuts, fresh figs and even pumpkin butter. 

Consider proper preparation: Set cheese out about an hour before serving as this time allows cheese to adjust to room temperature which maximizes flavors. 

4 tips to keep pantry pests off your holiday invite list this year

November 08, 2018 (425 words)

[Headline: Tips to keep pests out of your home]

Keep your pantry pest-free with these tips from the National Pest Management Association.

* Store things properly. Plastic containers with secure lids are affordable and invaluable when it comes to protecting your pantry goods from pests. Look for plastic or glass solutions instead of other materials and always try the lid before you buy.

* Make it a total kitchen effort. Your work to protect the cleanliness of your pantry will be more successful if you are vigilant about your entire kitchen. This means routinely emptying trash receptacles, clearing crumbs from countertops, scrubbing the floors and running the dishwasher. 

* Inspect your packages closely. You can protect yourself from rolling out the red carpet for these pests by closely inspecting your food packages before tossing them in your cart. Avoid purchasing any package that shows a hint of damage.

5 ways to host a no-hassle holiday celebration this season

November 08, 2018 (586 words)

[Headline: 4 ways to host a no-hassle holiday]

1. Cater in

Companies like Boston Market specialize in preparing complete holiday spreads with classics that belong on every holiday table. You don’t have to sacrifice a quality, delicious meal to gain sanity this holiday season.

2. Host a potluck

Loved ones will be more than happy to pitch in to help you make this gathering great.

3. Make a statement with a few decorative touches

Wrap a strand of twinkle lights into garland or place the lights into glass vases to create a cozy look in any room. Place ornaments into a large vase for a pop of color at the dining table.

4. Give your guests a memorable time with games

Brainstorm lighthearted games that large groups can play, such as charades. If you don’t own many games yourself, ask around to see what your friends and family can bring. 

What's making noise in your attic?

November 08, 2018 (447 words)

Was that a squeak you just heard? A thump? What could be making those noises inside your house, and how can you get rid of whatever pest has moved in? The experts at Terminix have information on what might be going bump in your attic.

Birds: Chirping or flapping indicates a bird (or two) may have decided to make a home up there.

Rats and mice: If you hear scratching, gnawing, scurrying or squeaking, you could have a rat or mouse infestation.

Bats: Bats, which can weigh less than two ounces, can fit through a hole as small as the diameter of your finger!

Squirrels: Rustling and other noises during the day hint that squirrels, which are diurnal, could be causing the ruckus.

Leave the attic critters to professionals, such as Terminix’s trained technicians, who can help determine the type of pest and come up with a customized treatment plan.

 

Deck the halls with cherry preserves! Give your holidays a healthy twist

November 07, 2018 (718 words)

[Headline: Deck the Halls with Cherry Preserves]

Cherry-Cranberry Sauce

The rich fruitiness of sweet cherries helps blunt the sharp edge of fresh cranberries. Cooked together, these anthocyanin powerhouses make a great holiday staple that can be used as a base ingredient for cocktails, a glaze for meats, a spread for sandwiches, a topping for yogurt and more.

Ingredients

* Equal portions fresh cranberries and dried/frozen Northwest cherries

* 1/4 cup water or pomegranate juice

* Optional: 4 –2” peels fresh ginger, 3 tbsp citrus zest, black pepper, fresh herbs, raspberries 

Directions

In medium-sized sauce pot, add 1/4 cup water and cranberries. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally and more frequently as the sauce begins to form. Add sweet cherries, continue stirring. Once reduced, remove from heat, incorporate other flavorings if desired. 

Cool for 30 mins – 1 hour before transferring to wider, shallow pan to speed cooling. Once cooled, refrigerate in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. 

Top exterior trends to inspire your 2019 home projects

November 05, 2018 (600 words)

[Headline: 4 hot trends in home exteriors]

Adding a deck or updating siding? These trends will give you inspiration to get started on your plan.

1. Don’t settle for boring beige for your new siding. There’s so much more choice now to suit any taste and design preference, from soft grays to earth-toned terra cottas.  

2. Rethink the standard deck by bringing more “indoor” amenities outside. Rugs, arbors and high-design furniture turns these spaces into an outdoor living room.

3. Wellness and mindfulness have become huge influences in design. To pull this off, consider water features, zen gardens or a tree-shaded reading nook.

4. A plethora of possibility lies within the four walls of your shed. It can be a backyard bar, an outdoor shower, man cave or even an office. Dress it up with siding and a sleek glass door.

For more information, visit Royal Building Products at royalbuildingproducts.com.

Where does your turkey come from? It does matter

November 02, 2018 (537 words)

[Headline: Where does your holiday turkey come from?]

Where does your holiday turkey come from? With sustainability and farm-to-table becoming the norm in the food industry, it's a question more and more people are asking. Whether it's grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free chicken or organic produce, people are increasingly aware of the food they put on their family's dinner table. They want to know how and where the animals were raised and how the vegetables were grown, because knowing what goes into the food you eat — and what doesn't — brings peace of mind.

At Shady Brook Farms, turkeys are raised with care on family farms. The farmers, some of whom have been raising turkeys for generations, are the company's heart and soul. 

Family farmers from across the country talk turkeys

November 02, 2018 (604 words)

[Headline: Where does your holiday turkey come from?]

Where does your holiday turkey come from? With sustainability and farm-to-table becoming the norm in the food industry, it's a question more and more people are asking. Whether it's grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free chicken or organic produce, people are increasingly aware of the food they put on their family's dinner table. 

At Honeysuckle White, turkeys are raised with care on family farms. Customers in some areas can actually trace where their turkey was raised by entering a code that's on the package into a field on the Honeysuckle White website. They can learn about the farmer who raised the turkey and see the farm where it was raised.

How parents can encourage and support imaginative play

November 01, 2018 (678 words)

When kids are in the 3- to 5-year age range, toys and games take a more central and productive role in playtime, says Laurie Schacht, publisher of The Toy Insider.

Children reap six benefits from playtime, according to The Genius of Play, a website spotlighting the role of playtime in child development: physical, emotional, social, cognitive, creative and communication.

Pretend play is where kids’ creativity can really shine, when they go deep into new worlds, ideas and characters. Toys that mimic the world and let them imagine and control the happenings, like Calico Critters, are optimal for facilitating this kind of play. These toys have a complete setting, like a house or a town, with a cast of characters who each have a role to play. Kids can get inspired by tuning in to 12 new Calico Critters episodes and two mini-movies being released Nov. 1 on Netflix.

Know your enemy: Bed bugs

October 29, 2018 (454 words)

[Headline: Dealing with bed bugs]

How can you avoid getting bed bugs?

The best approach is to take steps that will minimize the risk of bringing the critters home with you. When traveling, be aware of your clothes and any personal belongings that could act as a free ride for a bed bug. Inspect hotel rooms and your own home for signs of bed bugs such as blood spots and shed skin. And check any clothing or furniture you bring into your home, whether new or used. 

How do you get rid of them?

Even the cleanest person can end up with a bed bug infestation. The pests can be extremely difficult to remove, so it’s best to forgo do-it-yourself methods and let professionals handle the issue. Terminix’s trained technicians can help evaluate the infestation and create a treatment plan that will have you sleeping tight — without bed bug bites.

4 insurance myths and misconceptions dispelled

October 26, 2018 (783 words)

[Headline: An insurance misconception dispelled]

Misconception: Homeowners insurance protects against damage from all natural disasters 

Fact: Homeowners insurance covers losses or damages to your house and personal belongings in the event of a fire, sudden flooding caused by a broken pipe, theft and even objects falling from the sky like airplane debris. It also provides liability coverage if visitors suffer injuries on your property, and it can extend to events off the premises as well like if personal property is stolen from your vehicle. 

“Generally speaking, homeowners insurance is designed to help you rebuild your home and replace personal property if it is damaged or stolen,” says Christopher O’Rourke, Vice President of Property Claims at Mercury Insurance. “However, you may need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home from floods, because these events are usually not covered by a homeowners policy.” 

High-tech appliance trends from the House Beautiful Whole Home Project Concept House

October 25, 2018 (729 words)

[Headline: High-tech appliance trends highlighted]

House Beautiful's Whole Home Project Concept House is a first-ever custom-built house that showcases the concept that high tech can empower wellness and better health.

* Signature Kitchen Suite's high-end line of high-tech kitchen appliances was chosen for the home, the standout being the 48-inch range. If you're a home chef, this range will take your breath away. If you're a "technicurean," someone who loves technology and cooking, it just might bring a tear to your eye. It has a built-in sous vide cooking feature, and horsepower to sear and stir fry like a pro.

* LG's laundry room of your dreams features a twin washer with a drawer for small loads and a steamer that refreshes, de-wrinkles and reduces allergens.

5 ways to prep your home's exterior for cold weather pest problems

October 24, 2018 (381 words)

[Headline: 5 ways to prep your home's exterior for cold weather pest problems]

Seal possible entry points

Take a walk around the outside of your house, paying careful attention to any deteriorating structures or holes that could act as an access point for pests.

Keep your home’s exterior clear of debris

Be aware of any piles of debris near your house that might act as a hiding place for pesky animals.

Store trash safely

Keep food scraps and other garbage in secure, sealed trash cans.

Check for signs of pest activity

While it’s important to notice what’s going on in your house, also pay attention to potential signs of pests outside, so you can catch an issue before it makes its way indoors.

Bring in a professional

If you do find yourself faced with an infestation, Terminix’s trained technicians can develop a pest control plan to help remove any unwelcome animal visitors.

5 secrets to brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home

October 24, 2018 (539 words)

[Headline: The perfect cup of coffee in 4 steps]

A cup of steaming rich coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures. To achieve better java at home, give these tips a try.

Step 1: Choose the freshest beans. Glossy beans are a tell-tale sign of freshness.

Step 2: Don’t scoop, but weigh your beans. A food scale will get you the most consistent results.

Step 3: Unlock the magic of spices. Before brewing, add Simply Organic Pre-Brew Spice Blends to your ground coffee beans and your coffee will be infused with a delicious, more distinctive flavor and aroma, thanks to the handcrafted blend of organic spices that goes into every jar. For information, visit SimplyOrganic.com.

Step 4: Not too hot! When using a French press, keep water between 195 and 205 degrees. If using tap water, filter it first.

Considering a composite deck? Here are expert answers to homeowners' most common questions

October 18, 2018 (559 words)

[Headline: Common questions about composite decks]

What are the key benefits?

Unlike wood, high-performance composite decking resists fading, scratching and mold — and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter.

Does composite decking look natural?

Today’s offerings feature high-definition wood-grain patterns that are nearly indistinguishable from real wood textures. Additionally, composite decking comes in a wider variety of color options.

How do composite costs compare with wood?

Initially, composite decking costs more, board for board, than pressure-treated lumber. But rather than deteriorating over time, composite decking delivers more long-term value due to its minimal maintenance requirements.

Are composite materials environmentally friendly?

Wood might be a natural material, but the chemical coatings used to protect the wood from rot and mold are not. Trex decking is made from 95 percent recycled materials, including plastic film recycled from a variety of items, such as grocery bags and newspaper sleeves.

Tips from an executive pastry chef for simple holiday entertaining

October 17, 2018 (651 words)

[Headline: 3 tips for simple holiday entertaining]

To save time on holiday party planning, focus your efforts on a few star desserts and cocktails, which can easily elevate any party.

1. Prepare cocktails in batches for easy serving. Look to classics like the Old-Fashioned, which features holiday flavors and warm spices.

2. Ditch the expensive holiday decor and florals, and let the desserts serve as your holiday centerpiece. Serve a variety of flavor options with different textures and colors, such as layered trifles, fluffy pies and stacks of cookies and bars.

3. Opt for eye-catching items that will leave your guests thinking you spent hours in the kitchen. A thaw-and-serve pie from Edwards Desserts can elevate any occasion, whether served straight out of the box, or deconstructed into a new holiday dish.

3D printing is reimagining the way we live today

October 17, 2018 (562 words)

In addition to expanded design options, 3D printing offers several other benefits, including:

A single source of efficiency and strength. Traditional manufacturing and its assembly exposes the end product to errors, poor construction and delays. However, 3D printed objects are structurally stronger because they are free of connection weaknesses and expertly assembled to specifications, as with Kohler's Kallista Grid Faucet, named "Best In Show" at the 2018 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.

Environmental consciousness. 3D printing builds the desired piece by adding material as the process goes along. This means it utilizes only the amount of material necessary to create the object. The result is less waste and reduced environmental impact.

Faster results at a better price. The 3D printing process offers a new level of accuracy and rapid part production with the ability to reduce — and in many cases, eliminate — material waste, which also favorably impacts a project's bottom line.

Oh deer! How to keep hungry herbivores out of your yard all year-round

October 16, 2018 (692 words)

Few sights make homeowners more furious than an attractive landscape destroyed virtually overnight by hungry deer. Rose bushes and ornamentals? Nipped off every bud. Expensive shrubs? Browsed within an inch of their lives. Trees? Damaged, disfigured and sometimes dead.

Deer — and their wilder relatives, moose and elk — usually leave a path of destruction in their wake, and even winter can't calm the carnage. As cold weather descends, deer shift their sights to your most expensive and difficult-to-replace trees, evergreens and shrubbery.

You can strike a blow against deer’s voracious appetites by maintaining a year-round program of defense.

The experts at Bobbex recommend a steady course of repellent spray application in every season as deer shift their feeding patterns. Repellent applications throughout the year will “school” them to continually bypass your yard for less objectionable fare elsewhere.

With a year-round deterrent spray program, deer will soon take their hungry habits elsewhere.

5 tips to plan the perfect game day

October 16, 2018 (625 words)

[Headline: 3 tips to plan the perfect game day]

Follow this guide and you’ll make this year your best season yet.

* Get creative with your seating. This year give your home that true game-day feel by setting up designated seating for your friends based on team affiliation. You can also build a simple stage to create a stadium seating environment.

* Upgrade your viewing experience. The LG Oled lineup features sophisticated design to complement stunning picture quality. With an Alpha 9 intelligent processor — LG’s most powerful ever — the Oled provides true-to-life images coupled with rich colors, sharpness and depth.

* Have plans for halftime. Halftime is normally downtime so put a little excitement into it. Plan a mini game to take place during halftime, get new food from the kitchen or simply go outside and throw a football around for a while.

Forget 'wine rules': 4 unconventional wine pairings for guys

October 15, 2018 (600 words)

[Headline: Forget 'wine rules': 3 unconventional pairings for guys]

The Federalist wines and Dan Dunn, author of American Wino: A Tale of Reds, Whites and One Man's Blues, are on a mission to take the stuffiness out of wine. Some of Dunn's unconventional wine pairings:

* With Elvis’ Christmas Album

“Here Comes Santa Claus” with a red wine blend. Like Jolly Ol’ St. Nick, this North Coast California wine is timeless, big, red and revered.

* With a big juicy burger

Think of a great hamburger like Paul Simon. Both are special on their own, but when paired with the right partner — be it a robust cabernet sauvignon or a spindly, curly-haired tenor from Queens — magic happens.

* With pork

For smoky roasted pork, you can go with a richer, heavier red — say The Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon.

How to keep pests out of your chimney

October 12, 2018 (461 words)

Keeping pests out: Installing a chimney cap can help keep birds, raccoons and other large pests out. With pests like rats and mice, focus on sealing smaller entry points, as a rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter. It can be difficult to spot these access points from the ground, so have a professional inspect your roof and chimney for possible holes.

If pests are already in your chimney: The general rule is you shouldn’t light a fire or try to smoke the animal out. Pests like raccoons can attack when they feel threatened, and rodents can spread ectoparasitic insect pests like ticks and fleas, so you don’t want to come into direct contact with whatever animal has decided to seek shelter in your home. Leave the removal to professionals, like Terminix’s trained technicians, who can safely and effectively remove pests that have taken up residence.

3 alarming places where germs are hiding in your kitchen

October 11, 2018 (562 words)

Check out three places germs like to hide, and things you can do to clean up your act.

1. Your dishwashing station: Researchers from the University of Mauritius discovered towels can develop nasty bacteria when used for a month. Grab a clean towel every few days, a new sponge every few weeks.

2. Your food prep surfaces: According to the NSF study, fecal coliform was present on 45 percent of kitchen sinks, 32 percent of countertops and 18 percent of cutting boards. Wash these areas with hot, soapy water before use.

3. Your refrigerator: These tested positive for E.coli, salmonella or listeria 36 percent of the time. Discard food that’s past its prime, and maintain a consistent temperature between 40 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s time to replace your fridge, consider the LG InstaView Door-in-Door, designed to maintain the ideal humidity and temperature levels.

How to create the perfect, four-season outdoor living space

October 09, 2018 (640 words)

[How to create the perfect, four-season outdoor living space]

Creating an outdoor living space will give you an extra "room" to enjoy in all types of weather. Here are some ideas for must-have elements in your perfect outdoor living space.

* Deck

Using real wood for your deck is the key to creating a natural, beautiful outdoor living space. One great option is Western Red Cedar.

* Fire

Choose from fire pits, chimeneas or fireplaces.

* Outdoor kitchen

It's essential to be able to cook outside so you won't be stuck in your home's kitchen preparing dinner while your family and friends chat on the deck.

* Furniture

Comfort, durability in all types of weather, and the size (not too big or too small) are prime considerations.

* Shelter

Shelter lets you enjoy it in all types of weather.

* Landscaping

The final touch is the yard beyond your deck. Pavers, flowers and shrubs are beautiful additions.

Prepare your backyard now and create a safe haven for birds in bad weather

October 09, 2018 (724 words)

Transform your backyard into a safe refuge for winter-weary birds before unpredictable, harsh weather begins with these tips from the experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products.

* Start with an inventory of your feeders. Inspect each for damage and replace if necessary. Consider a variety of feeder types to increase the diversity of your avian visitors.

* Clean out any residue before filling feeders with fresh seed.

* Provide birds with the biggest energy boost possible. Sunflower is a great seed option for winter because it’s rich in oil, which attracts birds and provides plenty of energy. Peanuts are another high-energy option. And don’t forget high-fat foods, like suet.

* Birds need fresh water, especially in cold weather. Choose a heated birdbath and place it in a sheltered spot for safe access.

* Birds also appreciate warm, dry shelter from wet, snowy conditions. Well-insulated nest boxes will provide them with a cozy place to harbor.

Prevent these 4 winter home problems now

October 08, 2018 (682 words)

[Headline: 4 ways to prep your home for winter]

Winterize your house, or you could can end up paying for it later.

Sky-high energy bills: Seal off any cracks and gaps with caulk, and check entrances for signs of worn or broken weatherstripping.

Water leaks: Freezing temperatures amplify the risk of water damage, especially after a power outage or a furnace malfunction. Protect your home with a smart home device like LeakSmart, which detects not only freezing temperatures but leaks, shuts off your home's main water supply and notifies you via free, downloadable app in five seconds or less.

Power outages: Make sure your generator or backup power source has fuel and is in good working order. Keep basic supplies at the ready, such as blankets, batteries and food.

Ice dams: To help prevent ice dams and dangerous hanging icicles, clean the gutters and downspouts of leaves and other debris, and check the condition of your attic insulation.

Touring through the best Italian wines

October 04, 2018 (466 words)

[Headline: A wine with a ‘sea view’]

The playful name of Ca'Marcanda Vistamare, which means "sea view," was inspired by the Tyrrhenian sea breeze, the sun and the cheerful, lighthearted outlook of the Tuscan coast.

Italian coastal innkeepers would use "vistamare" to entice hotel guests, even if their rooms only offered a limited view of the Mediterranean. The vineyards used for Vistamare have a panoramic view of the Tuscan horizon, and their grapes are touched by the salt air and brilliant colors of the Tuscan sea.

Vistamare is fresh and light on the palate, with notes of bergamot, pear and nectarine. Then it shifts toward a more mineral and spicy character, with notes of flint, rosemary and saffron. The wine gets riper in the finish with hints of mango.

5 steps to building and designing a sustainable, energy-efficient home

October 03, 2018 (604 words)

[Headline: 4 steps to building a sustainable home]

A sustainable home can help save money and help protect the environment. Are you looking to build a sustainable home? Here are some options to consider:

Smart thermostats

For many builders, smart thermostats are offered as a standard feature in new homes for energy savings over time. For example, Clayton Homes includes the ecobee3 lite smart thermostats in all newly built prefabricated homes.

Low-emission windows

By blocking UV rays from entering the home’s interior, the windows help regulate the indoor temperature and help can protect your indoor furniture from UV-induced fading.

Drought-intolerant landscapes

Methods like drip irrigation cut down on wasteful watering. A drip irrigation system slowly drips water directly onto your lawn through pipes that run along your yard and can save on water usage.

Eco-friendly habits

Simple changes like unplugging electronics when they’re not in use and turning the thermostat down can go a long way.

A guide to getting your home and yard winter-ready

October 03, 2018 (10 words)

Use this checklist to prepare your house for cold weather, inside and out.

* Seal cracks and gaps in the foundation, steps, windows, drive and walkway.

* Seed and feed the lawn with a product like Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Sun & Shade 3-in-1 solution.

* To deter mice, store food — especially pet food and wild bird seed — in hard containers with fitted lids. With the first sign of mouse activity, set a trap near the area, check and empty it regularly.

* In addition to changing the furnace filter and vacuuming the register, regularly inspect furnace components like the blower to ensure they’re free of leaks and blockages. Fall is also a good time to inspect the burners.

* Give gutters and downspouts a good cleaning using a ladder, trowel and a large container to catch the debris. Rinse away dust and particles with a hose.

How to make sure your door hardware makes the grade

October 03, 2018 (408 words)

Before shopping for a new door lock, know what type of lock you need. Consider the following:

* How much security do you need?

* Will the door be used frequently?

* Will the protective aesthetic finish be exposed to the elements?

When you are ready to make your selection, it is important to check the ratings. Once a lock or deadbolt is tested to ANSI/BHMA standards for security, durability and finish, it is given a rating of Good (C), Better (B) or Best (A) in each area based on its performance during testing. The rating system is defined by progressive levels of performance requirements. Be sure to select the lock or deadbolt that is rated highly in the area(s) most important to you.

To learn more about BHMA Certified locksets and deadbolts, or the BHMA Certified Secure Home label, visit www.securehome.org.

Avoid chilling accidents with these tips to winterize your home

October 03, 2018 (547 words)

Apply the following tips to get your home ready for winter.

* Prime your plumbing. A frozen pipe that bursts can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on damage, so shut off any water lines tied to outdoor spigots and your sprinkler system if you have one.

* Be sure your furnace is ready for the season. If it isn't up to the test, replace it now before winter arrives. The York(R) Affinity(TM) Series YZT two-stage heat pump offers a two-stage compressor to deliver higher energy efficiency and quieter operation.

* Have your home audited. Your energy audit will show you where energy is being wasted and provide suggestions on how to correct them. You may discover opportunities to add insulation in drafty areas or replace appliances that are no longer operating efficiently.

Simple steps to stay healthy during cold and flu season

October 02, 2018 (483 words)

[Headline: 3 ways to stay healthy during cold and flu season]

Follow these three steps to help keep your family healthy all season long.

Wash hands: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands for 20 seconds. Try singing "happy birthday" twice and you'll be good.

Tidy toilet bowls: ContinuousClean from Kohler is a factory-installed system housed in the toilet tank that dispenses a consistent dose of cleaner during each flush.

Launder towels and linens: For frequently used items like bed sheets and bath towels, wash in hot water or use the sanitize setting. Follow this by drying at the high-heat setting in order to kill any microorganisms.

Why fall is one of the best seasons to build a deck

October 02, 2018 (592 words)

Here are five reasons fall is actually one of the best times to build a deck.

1. Use fresh summer memories to plan to perfection: Fall is the perfect time to evaluate your outdoor lifestyle and plan a deck that fits your needs.

2. Avoid project delays: As fall approaches and construction demands slow, homeowners can often secure top-rated contractors and negotiate a convenient start date.

3. Take advantage of seasonal savings: There are plenty of seasonal opportunities to save on decking materials and installation costs.

4. Protect your existing landscape: Grass, trees and plants start to go dormant as temperatures drop and the ground freezes, making it easier for you or your contractor to build a deck without harming your landscape.

5. Extend decking season: With the right decking material, like ChoiceDek composite decking, you can create an indoor-outdoor space that spans multiple seasons.

Integrate accessories for added luxury

September 27, 2018 (374 words)

Accessories bring a sense of purpose into a space and can transform a room into an elevated experience. Focus on the following ideas:

A balanced perspective: Choose accessories featuring a variance of shapes, sizes, colors and textures for visual and spatial equilibrium.

Sophisticated hardware: Complete a luxurious design with sophisticated fixtures that serve as anchoring details. Incorporate an element of surprise by adorning a kitchen space with a towel bar from the Litze Bath Collection by Brizo, for example, with textured knurling detail that highlights innovative engineering and artistry.

Harmonizing accents: Find the perfect blend of tones and textures by sourcing contrasting, but complementary accessories to finalize a design. Contrast an industrial coffee table with an acacia wooden bowl, or a sleek, modern shelf with coarsely textured relics.

An elevated update: From a one-of-a-kind sculpture to a tasteful timepiece, small-scale updates have the unexpected potential to make a large-scale impression.

Balancing 2 (or more) generations under one roof

September 26, 2018 (723 words)

[Headline: Tips for seniors who opt to live with family]

As seniors consider how they will adapt their homes to their changing needs, some will opt for combining households with their grown children.

* Consider ways to adapt or even renovate the home so you can strike a balance between privacy and communal space.

* Combining households can be hard, especially with varying tolerance levels for noise and clutter. Commit to communicate, while doing your share to keep the peace.

* Family finances can be fraught with a lifetime of bad habits. From the start, be clear on who pays for what, from utilities, to child care to dinners out.

* Be aware of community resources. For example, SCAN Health Plan is a Medicare Advantage Plan that also offers a number of no-cost services and programs to seniors and their caregivers in many California counties, regardless of plan membership. Visit scanhealthplan.com.

Hurricane Florence: What to watch out for during recovery

September 25, 2018 (505 words)

Hurricane Florence has come and gone, but its aftermath remains. These steps can give homeowners a better idea of what they can do next to recover.

1. If you need to relocate, keep the receipts of your expenses. Homeowners insurance will generally provide coverage, but review your policy and contact information.

2. Report your claim. You can file a claim online or by calling.

3. Secure your home and make temporary repairs. Protect property from further damage. Photograph debris or damaged items. Save receipts.

4. Prepare for the adjuster's visit. Provide complete information about the damage to your property.

5. Hire a contractor — with care. Check the contractor’s license or identification, do not pay upfront, take photos of the contractors and their license plates, and call your insurance provider if you suspect fraud.

For more information on insurance coverage, visit USAA.com/help.

Rats! How these rodents can ruin your day

September 25, 2018 (503 words)

[Headline: What dangers does a rat infestation present?]

The rat that winds up in your house isn’t the cute-but-cunning character of cartoons. Rodents present dangers to your health and home. Rats can damage electrical wiring, wooden beams, insulation and food stores, and they can carry pathogens that may transmit diseases to humans, such as hantavirus. These pathogens can be transmitted and even become airborne through urine and droppings, meaning that you could be exposed to disease without ever seeing the rat. Because of this, you should never disturb a rodent nest, and instead allow a rodent control professional to handle it.

Ideally, you’ll prevent rats from entering your home in the first place through methods such as inspecting possible entry points and trimming back trees and shrubbery. But if rats make it into your home, contact a pest control provider such as Terminix to come up with a treatment plan.

National Seafood Month: 5 reasons to choose sustainable seafood

September 24, 2018 (712 words)

October is National Seafood Month. One of the best ways to keep the world’s waters full of life is to choose certified wild, sustainable seafood.

The Marine Stewardship Council’s blue fish label indicates the product meets sustainability standards. So why pick seafood with this label?

1. It’s better for the oceans. Certified sustainable seafood ensures whole ecosystems remain healthy and thriving with marine life.

2. It’s good for the whole family. Seafood provides nutrients, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

3. It’s a way to drive change with your shopping habits. You’re protecting jobs and preserving coastal communities.

4. It’s available at every price point. Whether you’re looking for healthy, affordable lunch options or celebrating a special occasion, sustainable seafood is a viable option.

5. It’s a way to ensure seafood for generations to come. Consumers have the power to support individuals and organizations committed to protecting our wild oceans.

13 moving hacks that could save time, money and sustainability

September 24, 2018 (521 words)

[Headline: 5 moving hacks that could save time, money and sustainability]

Changing households can be a time for new beginnings and boundless opportunities. The experts at Penske Truck Rental have some advice for orchestrating a move that won’t waste your time or money. Consider the following suggestions.

1. Create a timeline for your move weeks or months ahead, detailing the resources, time and labor you’ll need.

2. Reserve your rental truck at least two weeks ahead, choosing the size that corresponds to the number of rooms in your home. Pick a company like Penske that ensures up-to-date emission-control technologies, recycled packing materials and fuel-efficient diesel engines.

3. Recycle by minimizing your unwanted belongings through garage sales, online sales, donations or giveaways to friends.

4. Utilize packing space inside your own dressers, chests, baskets, suitcases and other household containers.

5. To cushion breakable belongings, optimize your own blankets, pillows, linens, clothing and tarps.

Take a second look at your homebuying options

September 21, 2018 (448 words)

[Headline: Qualifying for a mortgage might be easier than you think]

Several factors may lead potential homebuyers to believe they may not be ready to buy. These include credit score requirements, income and debt levels, and the common myth that a 20 percent down payment is needed.

However, with private MI a borrower can qualify for a conventional home loan with as little as 3 percent down. In addition to the competitive pricing of mortgages backed by private MI, private MI can be canceled when a borrower reaches 20 percent equity in his or her home. This added perk often makes private MI a more affordable option over other home loan programs — such as FHA-backed home loans — which require mortgage insurance premiums for the vast majority of borrowers for the entire term of the mortgage, which is often 15 or 30 years.

Check out lowdownpaymentfacts.org to learn more.

Back to basics: The importance of real grass

September 21, 2018 (451 words)

[Headline: 4 ways real grass benefits your family]

Well-maintained outdoor spaces increase curb appeal and can bolster homeowners’ property values. They inspire kids’ imaginations and support healthy play. They make a homegrown neighborhood hangout.

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) is sharing the benefits of real grass:

* Healthy kids need healthy outdoor spaces to play: They will not only spend valuable time together, but research shows physically active children achieve 40 percent higher test scores.

* Real grass play spaces boost property values: Real grass yards make a great first impression. Desirable public parks and spaces can boost nearby property values by 8-20 percent.

* Grass keeps it cool: Real grass is an always-cool surface to run and play on, especially when summer temperatures rise above 85 degrees.

* A well-maintained lawn is a point of pride.

Real grass spaces provide a place to escape screens, play with loved ones and enjoy time together outside. Visit www.debugthemyths.com to learn more.

This Season the Hygge Design Trend is Back and Bold

September 20, 2018 (651 words)

[Headline: 3 tips for achieving the Danish concept of hygge]

Hygge is a Danish word for the feelings of coziness and contentment often associated with cooler weather. Noa Santos of Homepolish provides three tips so you can master this trend at home.

Declutter

"There’s nothing more satisfying than coming home to a streamlined space," says Santos, who stresses decluttering doesn't mean de-styling. He recommends LG’s line of matte black stainless-steel appliances for a sleek yet cozy vibe.

Invite the outdoors inside

"Artfully arranged flowers and perfectly placed plants help cement your space as an indoor Eden," says Santos. "The positive psychological benefits aren’t too shabby either. Organic materials like wood and leather work like a charm as well."

Gather

It could be a cozy night in for two or a bountiful feast for a crew — togetherness is at the heart of hygge and allows you to show off your home design.

Chemical conundrum: 5 ways to keep pesticides away from your kids

September 19, 2018 (602 words)

As toxic persistent pesticides continue to be used on crops, in landscaping and in consumer products, many Americans are becoming more concerned about the effect of such chemicals on our children. If you’re seeking to minimize such contact, consider the following suggestions:

* Eat organically. Serve your kids certified organic foods produced without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, antibiotics or chemical fertilizers and preservatives.

* Monitor pesticide use where your children play like sports fields and parks. Most of those areas are treated with chemical cocktails of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. That’s why organic yogurt maker Stonyfield has launched a three-year, half-million-dollar initiative to work with 35 communities across the country in converting outdoor playing fields and parks to organic.

* Seek organic health and beauty products. Conventional beauty products often include petroleum-based ingredients and rely on chemicals for their production. Upon application, those chemicals can be absorbed into your children’s bloodstream.

8 home security hacks recommended by police

September 18, 2018 (427 words)

These tips come from a police home safety evaluation:

1. Change the locks. You never know who has a key.

2. Replace outdoor lightbulbs: Get outdoor flood lights. Make sure the bulbs are working.

3. Place an alarm sign in your yard: Many would-be thieves won't approach a house if they think it has an alarm.

4. Buy an indoor camera: Cameras can capture a suspect in the act.

5. Get out the garden shears: Bushes outside of windows should be below the window line.

6. Bake some cookies: A great way to stay safe is to work together as a neighborhood. Why not start that relationship with a plate of cookies?

7. Protect your neighborhood: Outdoor security cameras, like Flock Safety, can prevent would-be criminals from entering the neighborhood.

8. Ask for a security survey: Officers can assess your home's safety.

For more information, visit www.flocksafety.com/securityhacks.

5 steps to protect your home from rodents this fall

September 18, 2018 (508 words)

The experts at Terminix have some tips that can help protect your home from rodents.

Block possible points of entry: Be aware of holes or cracks in the exterior of your home.

Trim trees and move debris away from your home: Tree limbs that touch your house can provide an easy access point for rodents. You should also keep stacks of firewood or piles of debris away from your home.

Protect food from hungry rodents: Keep unpackaged food — even pet food — in airtight containers so rats won’t smell it. Avoid leaving unsealed food sitting out.

Properly dispose of waste and compost: Keep outdoor trash cans properly closed and away from your home. Keep compost piles far from the home's exterior.

Call in the experts: Pest control professionals can determine the best way to set up a strong defense and get rid of any unwelcome houseguests that have already moved in.

30-minute Mediterranean meals with grapes

September 12, 2018 (669 words)

[Headline: Fabulous fall food ideas]

With the onset of fall, new schedules and an invigorating pace, eating nourishing meals is an important way to keep up energy levels. With few having the time to devote to cooking an elaborate meal, a collection of delicious and dependable 30-minute recipes for a quick but satisfying meal can be handy. What else keeps things simple? Having fresh staples such as California table grapes on hand helps brighten up any recipe and fuel up after activities. Try Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with Grapes, which replaces traditional bulgur with quinoa, or a Mediterranean Pizza using whole-wheat naan instead of a traditional crust. For these recipes and more recipe ideas, visit grapesfromcalifornia.com.

And when it’s time to decorate the table, create a simple but stunning centerpiece with gorgeous black, red and green California grapes. Add fall leaves, mini pumpkins and gourds if desired.

The truth behind food labels

September 12, 2018 (766 words)

[Headline: What food labels really mean]

Everyone has a right to know what is in their food and where it comes from. Look to these certifications to guide your next shopping trip:

* The Fairtrade certification ensures safe and fair working conditions, prohibits child labor and provides farmers and workers with a fairer price or better wages. Fairtrade products originate in developing and least developed countries.

* By choosing MSC Certified seafood with the MSC blue fish label you are supporting independently certified sustainable fisheries.

* The Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured label indicates that the workers who harvested your food are treated with respect, compensated fairly and engaged to identify problems that impact the safety of your food.

* The Non-GMO Project Verified standard is North America’s most rigorous and most reliable standard for GMO avoidance. The best way to avoid consuming GMOs is to look for the butterfly.

For information, visit www.fairtr.de/TruthBehindLabels.

How to properly store summer clothes to avoid a pest infestation

September 12, 2018 (432 words)

Try the following tips from Terminix to best protect your clothing in storage:

1) Keep a close eye on the places where fabric-eating bugs like to hide like carpets, rugs, wall hangings and upholstered furniture. Vacuuming these areas can remove larvae and help prevent an infestation. Be sure to repair torn screens and block cracks under doors to prevent clothes moths from entering.

2) Another key to keeping stored clothes bug-free is to clean them before packing them. Stains can attract hungry pests, so remove any obvious ones such as food or oil before boxing things up. Keep the area where you’re storing your clothing as clean as possible. Vacuum the area and wipe down any shelves and walls.

3) If you find yourself with damaged clothes and an infestation too big to tackle alone, it’s time to contact a specialist. Trained pest control professionals can help remove destructive pests.

3 questions to ask when looking for your new HVAC unit

September 12, 2018 (609 words)

Ask these questions when looking for the right HVAC solution for your home.

Is the unit the right size for your home?

A common rule of thumb for HVAC systems is that one ton is necessary for every 400 square feet in the home.

What is the proper SEER rating for your home?

SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and the rating is a good indicator of your unit’s energy efficiency. For example, the 19 SEER efficiency of the new two-stage Luxaire Acclimate HVAC unit can reduce your system’s energy usage by up to 47 percent when compared to older 10 SEER units.

What maintenance will be involved with my unit?

The maintenance required for your new unit should be outlined in the owner’s manual but you can also ask your distributor as well if you have any questions not answered in the guide.

Fabulous Fall Flavors: Why Autumn is ideal for gardening, plus timely tips for success

September 05, 2018 (695 words)

[Plants that thrive in autumn]

You'll hear the term "cole crops" often associated with fall gardening. All cole crops are cultivated varieties of the species Brassica oleracea. These plants are hardier and can withstand cooler temperatures, with some even being frost-tolerant, making them a popular choice for autumn.

To boost your fall harvest, it's best to start with plants instead of seeds. Bonnie Plants grows a wide variety of cool-weather veggies and herbs, perfect for fall planting. Availability of Bonnie’s fall varieties is limited to specific regions, so check your local garden retailers to find plants near you.

* Collards
* Broccoli
* Cabbage
* Cauliflower
* Lettuce
* Brussels sprouts
* Kale
* Spinach
* Swiss chard

In addition to cole crops, herbs like rosemary and cilantro can grow well in the fall, especially in warmer parts of the country. Sun-loving plants like tomatoes, eggplant and peppers can also be planted in the fall.

Uncommon - but important - baby safety steps

September 05, 2018 (572 words)
[Headline: Car safety and air quality for little ones]
 
You know it's important to install and use the right car seat, buckling your child in properly every time you hit the road. But there’s another car safety step that parents should consider — improving your vehicle’s air quality.
 
The California Air Resources Board reports that the air inside a car, truck or SUV can be up to six times dirtier than air outside, because cars are constantly surrounded by emissions from other vehicles. What's more, studies show that babies exposed to pollution in the first year of life are more likely to develop allergies.
 
The FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin air filter, which removes up to 98 percent of dirt, dust and allergens from the air passing through a car’s A/C and heating system, is quick and easy to install. It’s an easy way to help everyone breathe easier — babies and the parents who want to keep them safe.

Going green a smart real estate strategy that adds value

August 31, 2018 (673 words)
4 green improvements for a fast home sale
More than half of people rank green and energy efficiency as top requirements for their next homes, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. That means homeowners looking to sell should consider:
Solar panels: Homeowners enjoy a $5,911 resale increase per installed kilowatt, according to the USGBC, which means a 3.1 kilowatt system could improve your home’s resale value by about $18,000.

Smart water-leak detection: Install intelligent-water technology like the Phyn Plus smart water assistant + shutoff, which analyzes your home's water use and detects tiny changes in water pressure.

New windows: Heat gain and loss through windows are 25 to 30 percent of residential heating and cooling energy use, according to the U.S. Energy Department. New windows can be eco-friendly and enhance the aesthetic.

Smart thermostat: More than programmable, they can analyze home-usage trends, make energy-efficient setting suggestions, plus allow you to control your thermostat remotely.

Do you really need less salt?

August 29, 2018 (296 words)

More research seems to contradict the notion that we eat too much salt. The latest study appeared in The Lancet medical journal. It found that for the vast majority of people there is no health benefit from a low-salt diet and no harm from the average salt consumption of most people.

The lead scientist working on this study, Dr. Andrew Mente of McMaster University, worked with researchers to monitor the salt intake and health of over 95,000 individuals in 18 countries for an average of eight years. They also monitored associations between sodium and potassium intake and blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and mortality.

They found most people around the world already eat in the healthy range of sodium consumption — between 3,000 and 5,000 mg per day — and that people who consumed salt at the higher end of that range had better health outcomes and fewer incidences of heart attacks.

New home? 6 steps for preventing pests from moving in

August 29, 2018 (390 words)

Moving into a new home is chaotic. With a few tips from Terminix, you can ensure no unexpected pests move in with you.

* Reduce standing water in sources like pots and tires, and empty your bird bath once a week.

* Check the exterior for openings around doors, windows and utility penetrations. Seal improper openings.

* Note tree limbs overhanging your roof and shrubbery or mulch close to the foundation. Having them touch your house makes it easier for pests to enter.

* Check for moisture issues. Leaky roofs, plumbing and seals should be fixed.

* Look for insufficient screening around plumbing or drains in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room to ensure openings are properly covered to keep out silverfish, spiders, ants or cockroaches.

* For any pest problem too big to tackle alone, call in a pest control professional to help.

Remake your bathroom with these luxurious hotel-inspired trends

August 28, 2018 (553 words)

[Headline: 5 luxury hotel trends to incorporate in your bathroom]

Adding luxury features to your bathroom will inspire a transformative self-care routine.

Color: To induce relaxation, choose colors that call back to your favorite natural scenes, like seafoam green, pale blue or warm sandstone.

Lighting: A sparkly chandelier or bold pendant light can give the bath a luxurious feel.

Products: Don’t be afraid to upgrade by choosing pieces that appeal to the eye and take pampering to the next level. TOTO’s line of NEOREST NX Intelligent Toilets offer an integrated personal cleaning system and have technologies that automatically keep the bowl fresh and clean without harsh chemicals. Visit totousa.com.

Warmth: Install a bathroom fireplace so you can sit back and bask in the warmth and flickering light.

Greenery: Choose plants that thrive on humidity and filtered light. Orchids and aloe vera are good options to try.

5 tips to help party guests feel welcome

August 28, 2018 (536 words)

[Headline: Tips to welcome your party guests]

Here are three ways you can make your party guests feel welcome.

* Be there to greet them. Resolving to stay near the door and welcome each of your guests warmly reduces their concerns of intruding into another person’s home. Greet them warmly and let them know they are welcome.

* Keep your home comfortable. The Champion Momentum Series air conditioner features a Wi-Fi-enabled touch-screen to provide precision comfort and allow you the ability to monitor and control the system from your smartphone, even out by the grill. In addition, its innovative ShadowDrive Sound Reduction system means that your guests will always be able to enjoy their conversations.

* Give them a quick tour. If your guests see the room on the tour, they’ll be more comfortable mingling in that space during the party.

Fall maintenance tips for a lush green lawn next spring

August 27, 2018 (667 words)

"Once temperatures are consistently below 60 degrees, your lawn will start storing up nutrients in preparation for winter. That’s when you should start your fall lawn care regimen,” says Bryan Ostlund, executive director of Grass Seed USA.

Following are three proactive measures you can take:

Reseed thin or bare areas. By reseeding after the summer’s heat subsides and before the first winter freeze, you can repair damage and give turf a jump start on root growth.

Aerify. You can hire a professional to aerify your turf, or rent a core aerator that uses hollow tines to pull up small plugs of soil at regular intervals. If you’re reseeding, aerify right before you apply new seed.

Apply fertilizer. Cool-season grass should be fertilized in fall — even if your lawn looks healthy and has no bare patches — to promote good root development, enhance the storage of energy reserves and extend color retention.

Battling back-to-school pest problems

August 24, 2018 (520 words)

[Headline: Battling back-to-school bed bugs]

These small, reddish-brown insects feed on blood and can easily become a headache for your family. Bed bugs are great hitchhikers, meaning they can catch a ride home on your child’s backpack. Although they aren’t known to carry disease-causing pathogens, their bites can cause mild to moderate allergic reactions, which can also itch.

To limit the chances of your child bringing home bed bugs, you should check backpacks and other possessions upon entering your house. You can also inspect your car for obvious signs of bed bugs, like shed bed bug skins and blood stains.

If a pest does manage to hitch a ride home with your child and sneak past you, it might be time to call in the professionals. A pest management provider like Terminix can help you handle any infestation in your home.

3 reasons fall is a great time for roofing

August 23, 2018 (397 words)

Cool breezes and falling leaves are around the corner, and for many parts of the country, signs of fall signal the best possible season for roofing.

What makes fall a great time for roof repairs or a full replacement?

1. Perfect weather: The same perfectly cool weather for camping and outdoor activities also makes it a great time for roofing.

2. Spring and summer storms: The warmth and humidity of the spring and summer months are notorious for spawning severe thunderstorms. Hail and high winds can also damage the roof. “We always recommend homeowners hire a professional to examine their roofs, both for their safety, and to protect their roof,” said Stephen McNally of TAMKO Building Products.

3. Winter is coming: Winter can bring subzero temperatures and snow. Freeze-thaw cycles, ice dams and damp weather require the roof to be in top shape to defend against these threats.

What does the color of your home reveal about you?

August 22, 2018 (559 words)

Your home’s exterior gives off a powerful first impression. A recent poll conducted by vinyl siding brand Mastic by Ply Gem showed that only half of homeowners say their home’s exterior reflects their personality. This is surprising since 81 percent say a home’s exterior shapes their impression of the homeowner.

The following personality profiles can help homeowners select the perfect color:

* Blue = Calm, cool, collected: Fifty-five percent believe that blue has the most positive impact on their mood.

* Neutral = Safe, certain, dependable: Neutrals are the norm when it comes to exterior color preferences. Fifty-three percent of Americans would choose neutral colors such as beige, white, or gray for the exterior of their dream home.

* Bold = Brave, confident: Fifty-five percent of Americans say homes with bold colors probably belong to people with bold personalities.

7 surprising benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles

August 21, 2018 (651 words)

[Headline: 7 surprising benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles]

Jigsaw puzzles ...

Exercise the left and right sides of your brain at once

It's a mental workout that improves problem-solving skills.

Improve your short-term memory

It reinforces connections between brain cells.

Improve your visual-spatial reasoning

This helps with driving a car, packing, using a map.

Are great meditation tools and stress relievers

Focusing on one image for a long period is meditation.

Are a great way to connect with family

A jigsaw puzzle on a table invites the whole family to participate.

Are great for some needed alone time

Perfect for people seeking a quiet break.

Help you live longer, better

Puzzling wards off the plaque that is the marker of Alzheimer's.

Ravensburger recently partnered with Target to offer a new line of 500- and 1,000-piece puzzles because anyone and everyone can benefit from puzzling.

Home sweet home? 6 safety tips when moving with kids

August 20, 2018 (547 words)

[Headline: Home sweet home? 3 safety tips when moving with kids]

For parents of young children, the process of moving to a new home calls for a plan to ensure potential safety hazards are remediated. Consider these tips as such.

* Be proactive about precautions. Evaluate potential safety hazards before the move even begins, buying important tools and fixtures so you can make adjustments early rather than retrofitting.

* Switch all your blinds to the cordless variety. The string-like attachments that adjust old-style blinds are proven strangulation hazards. Replace them immediately with the cordless varieties available at major U.S. retailers. Seek the Best for Kids(TM) label that certifies products best suited for young children, finding more info at Windowcoverings.org.

* Separate and secure household chemicals. Deliberately pack anything that could hurt your kids into marked boxes that travel with you in your car instead of your moving van. Upon arrival, keep them sealed until you’re ready to unpack them into locked cabinets.

6 simple tips to prevent a fall

August 15, 2018 (459 words)

[Headline: 6 steps to fall prevention]

Every 11 seconds an older adult is seen in an emergency room for a fall-related injury, reports National Council On Aging. To prevent falls, follow these six simple steps.

Step 1: Find a good balance and exercise program. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for program information.

Step 2: Talk to your health care provider. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling.

Step 3: Review medications with the pharmacist. Take medications as prescribed and know the risks.

Step 4: Get vision and hearing checked annually. Update vision prescriptions and take measures to correct hearing loss.

Step 5: Secure your home: Remove tripping hazards like loose rugs or free cords and keep areas well lit.

Step 6: Talk with family members. Enlist their help as needed to secure your home and keep you safe.

New technology promotes healthy aging in place

August 15, 2018 (578 words)

From simple wearable devices to high-tech monitoring systems, gadgets are helping aging boomers stay independent. Here’s a few of the innovative technologies that are revolutionizing aging.

Digital solutions for staying in touch: Seniors can be left out of the family communications loop. Filling that gap are products like GrandPad, powered by Consumer Cellular, a touchscreen-based tablet with simplified apps.

Fall alerts can be lifesavers: For seniors, wearable devices that monitor and track health can summon help in a range of emergency situations.

Smarter access to healthcare and medications: Video consultations offered by many providers can help seniors who can’t come in for an appointment. In addition, automated pill counters can help with following medication regimens.

In-home tracking for safety: Sensors can be placed in multiple discreet locations, like doors, cabinets, windows or beds, to track movement around the house and report back to a caretaker or family member.

Bathroom customization: Stylish options for styling needs

August 15, 2018 (646 words)

[Headline: 4 elements of a customized bathroom]

A well-designed bathroom has many elements that come together in a cohesive fashion. Consider these four areas for a custom bathroom with modern flair.

Modular configurations: Configurable products from Robern offer a wide array of sizes, shapes and options to fit your construction needs so you're not limited by space constraints.

Storage and organization: Configurable solutions — like modular vanities and gangable medicine cabinets — let you design a storage solution that fits your lifestyle.

Strategic lighting: Top lighting casts shadows on the face, which is bad for makeup application, shaving and other personal hygiene tasks. Keep in mind that lighting from all sides increases functionality.

Custom flooring: From custom colors that can be created on demand to faux finishes that look nearly identical to the real deal (think porcelain tile that looks like wood), tile options are endless.

Laugh, learn and lunch: Tips for bonding with kids over cooking

August 13, 2018 (708 words)

[Headline: Tips for bonding with kids over cooking]

Cooking with kids is just plain fun. Everyone likes good food, and being in the kitchen together offers an excellent opportunity to work as a team. Consider these suggestions as you cook with your child.

* Expect messiness. As young kids brush up on motor skills while measuring and mixing, spills, stains and a little waste will be the norm.

* Choose fast, easy options. At least initially, select simple recipes that offer a good chance at success.

* Experience trumps outcome. Some projects may not come out as planned. Share a laugh, discuss what went wrong and try again.

Already bonding with your children over cooking? Consider entering the BEN’S BEGINNERS(TM) contest sponsored by UNCLE BEN’S(R). The annual initiative invites families with kids in K-8th grade to submit photos of themselves preparing a rice-based dish to beginners.unclebens.com.

Easy entertaining and recipe tips from celebrity chef Katie Lee

August 10, 2018 (743 words)

[Headline: Easy entertaining and recipe tips from celebrity chef Katie Lee]

TV chef and cookbook author Katie Lee offers these tips for easy entertaining.

Consider a buffet or family-style menu

Try veggie burgers or shrimp rolls with new Sara Lee Artesano Bakery Buns and Rolls to kick the flavor up a notch. Have people "Create Your Own" (CYO) with a buffet of toppings.

Prepare your side dishes ahead of time

Any kind of grain salad, such as a quinoa or farro, is an easy, go-to choice.

Hors d’oeuvres are a must

Easy options are cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, a cheese plate or a tasty dip.

Cool off with cocktails

Set up a bar area where guests can make their own drinks. Be sure to include non-alcoholic choices.

Smart grilling options

Fresh fish or veggie burgers lighten up the grill.

For recipe tips, visit saraleebread.com.

5 yard updates you can complete in a fall weekend

August 08, 2018 (599 words)

[Headline: 4 yard updates you can complete in a weekend]

Get a head start on spring by adding one of these yard-enhancing projects now.

* Pond: This fall, choose a sunny spot in your yard to build your pond, and with the help of a rented mini-excavator, you can move the dirt and even carve out the terraces.

* Patio and pergola: With the help of a post hole digger, which you can rent, you can have the posts in place before the snow flies.

* Flower beds: Preparing the bed in the fall means less dirt work in the spring, so you can focus on getting plants in the ground.

* Fire pit: This is the ultimate fall project because when it’s done, you can enjoy it right away.

To find the tools and equipment you need to get your yard improvement project off the ground, be sure and visit RentalHQ.com.

Celebrate the season! 5 ways to get your yard party-ready

August 03, 2018 (487 words)

[Celebrate the season! 3 ways to get your yard party-ready]

Part of the fun of hosting a backyard gathering is taking pride in the yard you’ve worked so hard to maintain. To ensure the grass is green, landscaping looks neat, and bugs and rodents stay away, consider these tips.

Create a lush mix of plants. Why not go all out this season by investing in a wealth of gorgeous, colorful blooms and lush emerald foliage? Then take care of your investments with Miracle-Gro potting mix and plant food.

Show off a carpet of green. Make your blades greener in as few as three days by applying micronutrient-rich Scotts Green Max Lawn Food.

Repel the bugs. Discourage mosquitoes and gnats by lighting citrus-scented Ortho Home Defense Perimeter Protection Repellent Candles, or adding several drops of spearmint or lemongrass oil to unscented or beeswax candles.

4 tips to mitigate home improvement costs

August 02, 2018 (433 words)

[Headline: 4 tips to mitigate home improvement costs]

As a homeowner getting ready to start a project, what can you do to minimize costs?

1. Don’t delay: Waiting to start a home repair or improvement could push off the repair for months due to the contractor’s schedule, and cause the project to get more expensive as building material costs continue to rise.

2. Look for low-cost quality products: In many product segments there is a leading manufacturer of a product or brand comparable in quality to more expensive brands, but offered at a lower cost.

3. Choose a reputable contractor: “A good contractor should be able to show homeowners their license to practice and a certificate of insurance,” said Rick Taylor, Field Sales Training Manager for TAMKO Building Products, a leading manufacturer of asphalt roofing shingles.

4. Plan, plan, plan: Making as many decisions early in the process can reduce project delays or rework.

5 simple tips for a low-maintenance lawn

August 01, 2018 (698 words)

To keep your lawn looking sharp without breaking your back, follow these five simple tips.

1. Mow high. Most turfgrasses can grow 3 inches tall in the summer before the top third is removed.

2. Find the most efficient mowing pattern. Whether you choose lengthwise rows or concentric circles, overlap rows so you don’t have to clean up areas you missed.

3. Leave the clippings. If you aren’t cutting off more than one-third of the grass height, you don’t need to bag clippings.

4. Water thoroughly but less frequently. Turfgrass prefers thorough watering once or twice a week.

5. Overseed now to save time later. Overseeding in the fall can save you time next spring and summer.

“Working more efficiently can help you enjoy a healthy lawn all season long without hours and hours of labor,” said Bryan Ostlund of Grass Seed USA.

5 ways to beat the heat this summer

July 31, 2018 (640 words)

[Headline: Tips to stay cool this summer]

Here are three ways to beat the heat now before the heat beats you.

* Make your bed the cool place to be. Apply ice packs — preferably soft gels — on top of your mattress and beneath the sheets, placing them in the areas where your neck, lower back and legs are located when you sleep.

* Invest in the right air conditioner. The LG DUAL Inverter Compressor Window Air Conditioner constantly adjusts its speed — rather than turning on and off — to maintain the desired air temperature all at a reduced energy usage.

* Cool yourself down effectively. When you’re feeling hot, the first thing you want to do is apply a cool towel to your forehead. It feels good, of course, but for maximum impact, applying this cooling agent to pulse points like your wrist or neck is actually a far better alternative.

5 tips to amp up the natural benefits of your yard

July 26, 2018 (556 words)

[Headline: 5 tips that will enhance the benefits of having a lawn]

Your healthy yard is more than what meets the eyes. Healthy lawn and landscape filter the air of pollutants and prevent unwanted runoff. Simply looking at trees and plants can reduce stress. Inspired? Here are some tips to make your yard look even better.

* Raising the deck height of your lawn mower is one simple thing you can do right now to improve your green space.

* Professionals recommend to not mow right after it rains because mowing wet grass will cause clumping and ruts.

* Let the clippings fall back on the lawn to add a natural source of nitrogen back to the soil.

* Enhance your landscape with native flowers, shrubs and trees. These require less water than exotic species and are more resilient to your region’s weather patterns and insects.

* Work with a professional to get your lawn and landscape in top condition. To find one in your area, visit LoveYourLandscape.org.

4 ways gardening is good for you

July 24, 2018 (534 words)

[Headline: 4 ways gardening is good for you]

In this digital world, there's an app for just about everything. People are interacting with technology more than they do with the world. But there's a cure for tech overload: Gardening.

Here are four surprising ways gardening is good for you.

Locally grown food is healthy. What's more local than your own backyard? Locally grown veggies are picked at the peak of ripeness, full of flavor and freshness.

You'll have less anxiety. Research shows gardening creates compassion toward others, and less worry and depression. Wave Petunias and Cool Wave Pansies are perfect for beginners!

It counts as a workout. Whether you’re pulling weeds or lifting your Wave petunia planters, research shows you'll burn 200-400 calories per hour!

Gardening combats loneliness. Gardening gives us a sense of community. Start a weekly cooking group with friends using ingredients from your gardens! Get started with one of Burpee's favorite recipes at www.burpeehomegardens.com.

Considering a new deck? Avoid these pitfalls

July 23, 2018 (442 words)

[Headline: 3 common mistakes when planning a DIY deck]

While building a deck on your home isn’t difficult, it’s helpful to understand some potential pitfalls. Three common mistakes made by inexperienced homeowners:

* Choosing the wrong side of your house. Are you most apt to enjoy a full-on sunny spot, or a shady haven on a hot day? Do you seek privacy, an optimal view or a chance to socialize with neighbors?

* Not researching your optimal layout. Think beyond aesthetics and consider how you’ll use the space. Where will furniture be placed? What will the foot traffic patterns be?

* Not opting for real wood. Wood can be less expensive than composite and just as easy to maintain while recouping greater resale value. Western Red Cedar, a knotty pine species offered by RealCedar.com, inherently resists rot, decay, shrinkage and insects even as it weathers over time into a silver patina.

5 tips to help keep pests from attending your backyard party

July 20, 2018 (384 words)

When you’re making memories surrounded by friends and family by the grill, the last thing you want to be doing is swatting and shooing away pests. With a few tips from Terminix, you can help keep your backyard the perfect place for all your celebrations.

1) Reduce standing water, which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

2) Inspect for wasp nests and contact a professional to remove them.

3) Keep outdoor surfaces clean. Mop up spills to avoid attracting pests like bees.

4) Choose clothes carefully. Bees are drawn to bright colors, so stick to un-patterned, muted colors.

5) Bring in the professionals. Some problems call for professional help, and pest control technicians can fight pests both inside and outside your home.

Before you renovate, have you considered this?

July 18, 2018 (642 words)

Apply these tips during your upcoming home renovation.

* Finalize your goals. Don't settle for a goal of simply improving your home. Decide if you’re trying to up the resale value, add more space, create a hobby area or finally build the bathroom you deserve.

* Determine if you need to update/replace core systems. You can replace your old, inefficient unit with the Luxaire Acclimate AL19 Air Conditioner. It uses a two-stage compressor to meet your comfort needs and its SilentDrive system ensures a peaceful, enjoyable experience.

* Set your budget. Many homeowners have no idea what a renovation project will cost and even if you do, unexpected expenses can appear very quickly. If you are working with a contractor, they should be able to give you a fairly accurate estimation of how much your project will cost.

3 elements to create a dream bathroom sanctuary

July 18, 2018 (441 words)

Bathrooms have overtaken kitchens as the most popular remodeling project, according to the National Association of Home Builders. To incorporate leading bathroom design trends and create a spa-like bath setting, consider these elements.

1. Freestanding tubs: The right tub offers a way to unwind every day, as well as a stunning focal point to anchor the space. Soaking tubs are an option that adds style with a touch of luxury.

2. Sinks and vanities: To calm the disorder that commonly overtakes bathrooms, keep organization in mind when selecting a sink and vanity combination. The DXV Modulus collection creates simple yet dramatic spaces with modular sinks and coordinating vanities that optimize organization in the bathroom.

3. Shower systems: Design the space to fit your preferences with different sprays and various angles for massage, invigoration or total relaxation. You can adjust the flow and temperature to your liking. It's customization on demand.

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