Ann M. Ciesielka
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Snowed In? Clear Snow from Your Property the Safe Way

January 5, 2016 12:55 am

(Family Features)—Snow in the forecast? No matter how much snow is expected to accumulate, homeowners can make certain they’re prepared with an arsenal of tools that can be called upon when clearing snow from driveways, sidewalks and pathways around the home.

To clear snow from large, flat areas, such as the driveway, a snow blower is the best tool. To eliminate the need to restock gas supplies during a storm, consider using hybrid snow blower. When using the hybrid model, clear the areas furthest from your home first using the battery, and then switch to corded electric power as you move closer to your home. Clear a path as it snows, if possible, to avoid a larger job later on. Once snow has been removed, cover icy patches with salt or sand.

When it comes to clearing sidewalks and pathways, put down ice melt a few hours ahead of lighter snowfall—this can melt snow up to 2 inches down and keep ice from forming. If a blizzard threatens your area, remove smaller amounts of snow from sidewalks and pathways several times, instead of waiting until the snow stops falling. This not only cuts strenuous activity, but also allows the sun to warm up the surface.

Remember that while removing snow, it’s important to dress warmly, paying attention to parts of the body that are vulnerable to frostbite, like fingers and toes. Dress in layers so that you can remove articles of clothing as your body heats up.

Bear in mind also that some municipalities require homeowners to keep sidewalks clear, so be sure to make contingency plans if you yourself will be unable to remove snow in a timely manner.

Source: Snow Joe

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Hire a Mover

January 5, 2016 12:55 am

Moving from one home to another is an arduous task; hiring a mover for the job may be even more challenging. But before you decide to forgo the services of a professional, consider the following:

• Do-it-yourself costs can add up quickly: truck rental, equipment rentals, boxes, tape, packing materials and fuel, to name a few. A professional mover will supply the means necessary to relocate you to your new home, without the added burden of the preceding expenses.

• Issues are few and far between with a professional mover. Those moving can avoid damage from a lack of packing skills, personal injury and truck or van accidents by hiring a qualified professional.

• Your possessions will be handled with the utmost care. Moving professionals packing and handling items use the latest technology and advancements in packing materials to transport your belongings safely.

If you’re still not convinced a professional mover is right for you, do some comparison shopping. Get at least three free written estimates, and ask questions if you don’t understand any provisions of the contract. Conducting this research may help ease the process of hiring—and the transition overall.

If you decide to hire a professional mover, look for the ProMover seal when sussing out candidates. This certification, backed by the American Moving & Storage Association, means the mover is fully licensed and insured, and meets high standards for safety and professionalism.

“Millions of Americans have a safe, successful move each year with a certified ProMover," says Scott Michael, president and CEO of the American Moving & Storage Association. “Hiring a professional mover is a smart decision that saves you time and effort while providing the best protection for your household goods. Just look for the easily recognizable ProMover seal, which stands for honest and ethical business practices.”

Source: American Moving & Storage Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Housing Market Progresses toward Stability

January 5, 2016 12:55 am

The housing market continues to move toward stability, most recently with the addition of two more states, Kansas and New York, to the outer range of stable housing activity, according to the Freddie Mac Multi-Indicator Market Index® (MiMi®). The most recent MiMi value indicates the overall national market is in the outer stable range, as well.

“The strong annual change of 6.31 percent is the best improvement we've seen in the MiMi on a year-over-year basis since July 2014,” explains Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “While strong home purchase applications and rising home values in some markets are contributing to this improvement, it’s largely more of a reflection of mortgage delinquencies continuing to decline at a steady pace, especially in those hardest hit markets, and a better employment picture overall.”

According to the Index, 32 of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have MiMi values in stable range; 53 of the top 100 metro areas have MiMi values in a stable range; and 43 of the 50 states and 89 of the 100 metros have shown an improving trend over the last three months.

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Deals to Score in January

January 4, 2016 12:55 am

Looking to save money in the New Year? Shop in January.

"January is great time to find savings on items that people will need to start the year off on a good note," says Brent Shelton, online shopping expert for FatWallet.com. "Many items from new bed and bath textiles to health and wellness products see heavy discounting to help people save money out of the gate."

The biggest savings to be had, according to FatWallet.com, are in the following categories:

Fitness: Resolutions for better fitness collide with the best time of year to save money on fitness equipment, workout gear and fitness wear and sports apparel. January shoppers can find savings of 25-50 percent off these items at stores like Sears, Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods. It's also a good month to stock up on health supplements, vitamins and dietary foods, as sales on these items are abundant the entire month.

Tax Software: The majority of tax software retailers, including H&R Block and TurboTax, offer some of their best discounts of the year for early filers, including up to 50 percent off on desktop and online tax software deals for both personal and small business tax.

TVs: Following a long month of holiday TV bargains, the second half of January offers the best selection of top-end HDTV deals leading up to the Super Bowl. Shoppers can expect average savings to exceed $200 on 40-inch and larger 4k TVs and last year's 50- to 60-inch 1080p TV models.

White Sales: Unlike holiday deals on lower quality linens, traditional January White Sales bring big discounts up to 50 percent off quality sheets, towels, window treatments and other textile items for the home from big-box stores that offer additional savings with cash back.

Winter Apparel and Gear: Warm weather has slowed retail sales for cold weather apparel, so January shoppers will see an extra boost in discounting of winter coats, boots, hats, gloves and under garments. Winter sporting good deals will offer shoppers up to 60 percent off from top stores with top name-brands like Under Armour, North Face and Timberland throughout January.

Source: FatWallet

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tornado Watch: Homeowners Insurance Questions to Consider

January 4, 2016 12:55 am

Tornadoes can occur anytime, anywhere—and with that level of uncertainty, it pays to be prepared. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), homeowners and renters should immediately contact their insurance professional to report tornado damage, and to find out the terms under which it is covered.

“After a homeowner offers an initial description of the damage to their insurer, an important first question to ask is the amount of the deductible,” says Lynne McChristian, the I.I.I.’s Catastrophe Response Director. “The deductible is the amount of the loss a property owner agrees to pay before insurance kicks in; this amount is typically subtracted from the claims payment. You will also want to ask how long it will take to process your claim and whether you’ll need to obtain estimates for repairs.”

Keep in mind standard homeowners policies cover damage caused by tornadoes, including wind damage to the structure itself and its contents. Homeowners policies also provide for additional living expenses to pay the costs of living away from home if a house is uninhabitable due to damage from an insured disaster.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Taylor Swift Crowned Most Desirable Celebrity Neighbor

January 4, 2016 12:55 am

In our wildest dreams! Americans crowned Taylor Swift the most desirable celebrity neighbor of 2016 in Zillow’s recently released Celebrity Neighbor Survey. The reigning princess of pop edged out America’s newest sweetheart, Jennifer Lawrence, to take the top spot.

Americans also casted their votes for the worst celebrity neighbor of 2015, this time naming Donald Trump the celebrity they’d least like to share a fence with.

"2015 was a landmark year for Taylor Swift, from her highly successful 1989 World Tour, to being named the youngest female ever on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women list—it's no surprise America picked the down-to-earth singer-songwriter as 2016's most desirable neighbor," says Jeremy Wacksman, chief marketing officer for Zillow. "Donald Trump, on the other hand, is frequently in the limelight for his polarizing comments and non-apologetic attitude, which some may see as unattractive qualities in a neighbor."

Comedian Amy Schumer came in a close third as the most desirable neighbor in 2016, followed by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux and Hillary Clinton. More than a third of respondents to the survey would not choose any of the preceding candidates as neighbors.

Following Trump as the worst neighbors of 2015 are Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Hillary Clinton, Miley Cyrus and Tom Brady.

Source: Zillow’s Porchlight

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Keep Your Resolutions in 2016

January 1, 2016 12:49 am

Research shows individuals are more than 90 percent likely to fail in committing to a New Year's resolution, especially those that are health-related. But don't let that statistic contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy, says Dr. Virender Sodhi, renowned expert on complementary and alternative medicine.

 "Of course, that statistic represents the average," says Dr. Sodhi. "You don't have to be average! There are plenty of things individuals can do to improve their odds of success if they resolve to become healthier and fitter.”

Dr. Sodhi's tips include:

• Getting away from the instant-gratification mentality and avoiding unrealistic goals. Don’t expect to go from zero to 60 in just a few months, especially if you have little background in training. Unfortunately, most who have resolutions like losing weight and quitting smoking are used to easy snack foods and quick rewards. Health is a long-term labor of love; commit to the love and wait for results.

• Establishing good habits. People make resolutions because they know they’re important, but they’re hard. With each passing week, more people drop their promises for self-improvement. You’ll want to set the right goals. If you want to lose 100 pounds, focus on the first 10, and then the next. Make sure to establish new and good habits—they take about 28 days to stick. Once you train your mind with good habits, achieving your goals becomes much easier.

• Embracing supplemental support. Of course, all health efforts are connected to your overall well-being. When you make the investment to eat more vegetables, you’re reinforcing your commitment to exercise. Consider practices such as yoga and meditation, which will feed your health kick and provide unexpected benefits. Additionally, supplements such as kelp and green tea extract can yield even more health benefits. And, spices such as garlic, onion, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, long pepper, and cayenne pepper all have important thermogenic properties, which stimulates metabolism.

• Solidifying gains with persistent positive reinforcement. Learn to reward yourself in a new way by paying attention to the gains in your body. Notice the improvement in stress levels, breathing, energy, mood and overall strength. While these improvements are wide-ranging and palpable, they increase over time and can be subtle. Don’t let these improvements occur without a personal recognition of your accomplishments.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle in the New Year

January 1, 2016 12:49 am

Cut the carbs, eat more veggies. Exercise more, stress less. Get organized, stick to a budget. We start every January 1 with good intentions, but often fail to follow through—in fact, just 8 percent of those who make health-related New Year’s resolutions manage to keep their pledges.

Stay on track this year with these tips:

Get inspired. Many websites offer inspiring stories from people that have met their health and fitness goals. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) page, "Inspiration for a Healthy Year," features pictures and stories to reinforce the idea that you can set and achieve significant goals.

Break goals down. Whether it's your resolutions or daily to-dos, a long list of goals is overwhelming, not inspiring. Make no more than three resolutions and break them down into actionable steps.

Explore your options. If you've delayed getting essential health services due to financial concerns, a little research can reveal ways to make getting the care you need more affordable.

Track and share your goals. It takes about three weeks to establish a new habit. Track your health goals on your 2016 calendar by marking the 22nd as the day you put the past behind you. Consider publicly sharing your goals with family and friends and asking for their support.

Source: :DentalPlans

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 New Year's Resolutions for a Happy Home

January 1, 2016 12:49 am

As a homeowner, one of the best resolutions you can make in the New Year is to keep up with maintenance in and around your property. This checklist will help you stick to that goal!

- Insulate all piping exteriorly exposed.
- Insulate your hot water tank with an insulation blanket.
- Install weatherstripping.
- Use a door sweep for extra insulation.
- Find air leaks around windows and seal them with caulking.
- Consider installing storm windows.
- Insulate your windows and install eco-friendly shades.
- Replace missing or damaged roof shingles.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Check flashing around chimneys and other roof protrusions for air leaks.
- Cover furniture and external air conditioners.
- Seal your deck before the wet winter ruins it completely.
- Drain gas from lawn mowers, leaf blowers and other outdoor equipment.
- Drain water from fountains.
- Shutting off water to sprinkler systems and blow compressed air through the system.

Source: Budget Blinds

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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8 Cleaning Tips to Fight Off the Flu

December 31, 2015 2:46 am

Winter is here, and that means flu season is not far behind. To keep your home free of illness, it’s important to maintain a clean household.

"With the flu season kicking into high gear, it's important to make sure you're taking the appropriate steps to help reduce the spread of the virus in your home, at work and when you're on the go," says Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert for Merry Maids. "Cleaning common touch points is key, especially if fever has been present. Take a few extra minutes each day, or a few hours each week, to help keep you and your family healthy this flu season."

These steps include:

• Vacuuming and steaming floor surfaces regularly

• Wiping down common touch points regularly, and more often when the virus is present

• Keeping hand soap stocked in bathrooms and kitchens

• Keeping fresh hand towels available and encouraging each home member to use their own

• Keeping tissues on hand in areas of the home where your family spends most their time

• Changing clothes as soon as kids get home from school and parents from work

• Running vinegar through your washing machine each month to keep your system running clean and trouble-free

• Cleaning all electronic surfaces (tablets, phones, gaming systems, ear buds, etc.), especially if they're taken outside the home

Source: ServiceMaster Clean

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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