Ann M. Ciesielka
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3 Things to Say “Yes” to This Year

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

As we struggle through our day-to-day routines, it can feel like we’re stuck in a wheel of negativity. Get out of this slump by saying yes more often. Read on for three things to say “yes!” to this year.

Social time. Your coworker asks you to go to an impromptu happy hour, your childhood friend invites you to a last-minute weekend girl’s getaway, or a mother of your child’s friend invites you in for tea when you had just planned to drop your kid and run. Many of us say no to social invites that our out of our normal routine and comfort zone. But by doing so, we’re closing ourselves off to new experiences and the brain boost that comes from face-to-face time. Say yes to more social invites and you may find your life feels fuller, and more fun.

Giving time. Does your friend need help moving or organizing a charity walk? Say yes when they ask if you can pitch in. Giving back is a great way to boost your spirits, and donating your time is just as valuable as making monetary contributions. The next time you hear of an opportunity to give back, answer with a big fat yes.

Travel time. Leaving the comfort of our own home expands our view of the world and makes us feel more fulfilled. The next time you’re invited on an outing, say yes, and then figure out how you can afford it. Can you sell some of the used items sitting in your basement? Rent out an extra bedroom in your home? Do some pet sitting? Cut back a few luxuries, like that weekly manicure or daily latte? If you commit, you will find a way to make it happen. Of course, it’s important to only commit to things in reason. A long weekend at the beach that may cost $500 is doable. A cruise to Europe that will set you back $3,000? Maybe not so much.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Experts Tap Top Anticipated Home Design Trends For 2017

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

I recently reported on a number of cool innovations being presented at the 2017 CES. But the new year also heralds predictions and previews from hundreds of sources about the top home design trends for 2017.
At housebeautiful.com, Brie Dyas is digging mixing antique with modern elements. And she is expecting to see more furnishings scaled or custom made for the space they are intended to occupy to avoid the overstuffed feeling that larger furniture pieces can bring to even large airy spaces.

Heidi Caillier who is based in Seattle tells decorist.com that designers will be promoting much more "maximalism" in 2017. Gone are the super clean, plain, unadorned rooms of the past few years, she says. Lines remain clean but prints are layered in and colors pop. More is more and it's super fun.

Caillier says designers will be seeing green in all tones popping up in small doses such as in accessories and objets and also in larger upholstered pieces.

Kelsey Kloss, writing for elledecor.com, also says cheery shades of green will be everywhere around the home in 2017 as Pantone's Color Of The Year, "Greenery" takes center stage on the design palette representing refreshment and revitalization. She also predicts butterfly motifs - symbolizing grace and optimism - showing up all around the home this year.

Vogue's Monique Valeris syas weaving texture into interior designs will make spaces more inviting as the idea of mixing fabrics and materials will be on the rise. And her sources say that the new year will include an emphasis on uniquely crafted furniture, quirky lighting fixtures, and the natural clean combination of marble and brass will be popping up in both kitchens and baths in 2017.

And finally, Mitchell Parker of the Houzz editorial staff says laundry rooms in particular are seeing more love. Design tricks to bring in more light, smarter storage and better function resonate with homeowners who realize that since they spend a lot of time doing laundry.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

(Family Features)--No matter the season or the region, outdoor living is more popular than ever, as homeowners look to "bring the indoors out" and create spaces that are true extensions of the home. The newest designs in outdoor living spaces do not simply feature the look of the indoors, but the functionality as well.

"Advances in all-weather materials have made it possible for homeowners to enjoy more and more of their favorite activities outside," says Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex Company. "The movement toward 'outdoor rooms' has evolved into fully functional outdoor kitchens and entertainment centers that make it even more difficult to determine where the indoors end and the outdoors begin."

Regardless of the size of your deck – or budget – these simple tips from the experts at Trex can add interior function to your outdoor oasis:

Absolute Al Fresco
While grilling and al fresco dining are longtime hallmarks of backyard entertaining, outdoor kitchens are now finally living up to their name. From storing seat cushions to keeping drinks cold, today's outdoor kitchen accessories can make outdoor spaces look as put-together as the rest of the home.

Railing Redefined
Even railings have taken on a more functional role in today's backyards. One of the most popular trends is "cocktail railing," which provides a flat surface for drinks and plates. By using a matching deck board to create a shelf for the top rail, you can achieve a look that complements your home's deck, while making great use of space.

Lights, Please
Lighting is another "bright" idea for adding versatility to the outdoors. Lighting systems that incorporate deck lighting and other exterior lighting work together to create ambiance that can be adjusted for any setting. By choosing which outdoor elements to highlight, it's easy to change the look of an outdoor living space without moving any furniture.

Connection Protection
The idea of enjoying a favorite show or movie outdoors has always been enticing, but not exactly practical. However, with advancements in both equipment and equipment storage, enjoying the big screen experience in the great outdoors has never been easier. Electronics manufacturers now offer televisions and entertainment equipment specifically designed for the outdoors, taking into consideration differences in lighting and outdoor acoustics. Meanwhile, storage options now include durable, wall-mounted television and entertainment centers that beautifully conceal and protect pricey electronics from the elements.

Material Matters
Just because people are spending more time on their decks doesn't mean they're willing to put in extra hours for maintenance. Wood alternatives, particularly wood-plastic composites, are especially popular due to their low-maintenance features. Unlike wood, composite decking resists fading, staining, scratching and mold – and won't rot, warp, crack or splinter. No sanding, staining or painting is required, and food and drink spills wash off easily with soap and water. The latest generation of composite decking also features wood-grain patterns and rich, saturated colors that look and feel more natural than ever before.

Source: trex.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Steps For Easy Entertaining

February 3, 2017 1:45 am

(Family Features)--Hosting a large group of family and friends can be overwhelming, especially if entertaining isn’t something you do often. No matter the occasion, these tips can help you avoid common party pitfalls so you can keep the focus on having fun.

Offer an assortment. Rather than attempting to plan the menu around a wide range of likes, dislikes, allergies and other considerations, simply create a menu that satisfies everyone’s cravings. If you’re serving a buffet, provide a mix of hot and cold dishes in a variety of tastes and textures. For a plated meal, offer several robust sides so if the main dish misses the mark for one or two guests, there’s no chance of anyone going hungry.

Create a beverage cart. The kitchen is likely to be a hotbed of activity, but setting up a remote beverage cart can help redirect some of that traffic. A cart or table with multiple shelves is ideal. Stock the cart with an ice bucket and tongs; garnish such as lemons, limes, olives and cherries; and an assortment of glasses. Offer a couple of bottled beers on ice (one light and one with a bolder flavor), at least one white and one red wine, and a couple of liquors that work with a wide array of mixers, such as vodka and rum. Round out the cart with a few mixers, including fruit juice so non-drinkers can enjoy mocktails as well.

Never compromise on wine. Lots of times, guests have wildly different tastes in wine and it can seem impossible to select a couple bottles that everyone will like. If you want to please everyone but worry you’ll end up with a stash of partially poured bottles, there is an alternative to pulling all those corks. The Coravin Wine System lets you serve wine without removing the cork, allowing your guests to pour as much or as little wine as they like (you can save the rest or what’s left for another day).

Plan ahead for refills. Clear as much space as possible in the refrigerator for extras so you can easily replenish anything that runs out. Make extra pitchers of punch, and have bowls of popular items ready to replace as needed. For warm items, use the warming feature on your oven to hold dishes at serving temperatures, or simply leave the oven off and contain the precooked dishes’ warmth.

Remember to enjoy yourself. Your guests can easily sense when you’re frazzled or stressed, so plan ahead and get all your preparations completed well before anyone arrives. Then you’ll be ready to mingle, visit and set a warm and inviting tone for an event that everyone can enjoy.

Source: coravin.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Want a Better Brain? Get Some Zzzz’s

February 2, 2017 1:45 am

We’ve heard it over and over again, but a new scientific report by the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) stresses the relation between getting 7 – 8 hours sleep a day and maintaining your brain’s health as you age.  

While the AARP Sleep and Brain Health Survey found that 99 percent of adults age 50-plus believe that sleep is important for their brain health, more than four in 10 (43 percent) say they don't get enough sleep. Additionally, more than half (54 percent) of adults report they wake up too early in the morning and can't get back to sleep.  

"We know how many questions adults have about how much sleep is enough, and the role that sleep plays in brain health and cognitive function," says Marilyn Albert, Ph.D., GCBH Chair, professor of Neurology and director of the Division of Cognitive Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. "This report answers a lot of these questions."

The new recommendations cover a wide range of sleep-related issues, including common factors that can disrupt sleep, symptoms of potential sleep disorders, and prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids. Based on the scientific evidence, the GCBH report offers the following tips for better sleep:

- Get up at the same time every day, seven days a week.

- Restrict fluids and food three hours before going to bed to help avoid disrupting your sleep to use the bathroom.

- Avoid using OTC medications for sleep because they can have negative side effects, including disrupted sleep quality and impaired cognitive functioning.

- Dietary supplements such as melatonin may have benefits for some people, but scientific evidence on their effectiveness is inconclusive. Be particularly cautious of melatonin use with dementia patients.

- Avoid long naps; if you must nap, limit it to 30 minutes in the early afternoon.

I hope you found this information helpful. For more helpful tips, contact me today!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Protect Your Family in 2017

February 2, 2017 1:45 am

(Family Features)--Protecting your family and loved ones is one of your most important responsibilities. Many people think It is dif cult to protect loved ones if you are not healthy about protection in terms of physical acts, such as yourself. Make sure you receive proper preventive care, practicing safe driving, but there are many more such as regular health screenings and check-ups that are aspects of your lifestyle and home that affect your loved recommended for your gender and age. Find a checklist of ones’ safety.

Protect your family’s financial health

Although it can be painful to consider, your untimely death may leave your family reeling. Life insurance can help cover funeral costs, child care or act as income replacement. It can also help pay off any loans you’ve accrued, such as a home mortgage, car payment, credit card debt or student loans.

Ensure your family is breathing safe air

One threat you may not be aware of is radon, a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment but can create significant health consequences in anyone exposed to unsafe levels.

Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can go undetected in homes until it is too late. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers in America, and claims the lives of nearly 21,000 Americans each year.

Protect the home of your loved ones

There are over 2 million burglaries annually in the United States, according to FBI statistics. Home security systems can help put your mind at ease, and having a security system can also decrease the premiums you pay for monthly homeowner’s insurance. Studies have shown that homes with a security system see a 39 percent decrease in financial loss compared to homes with no security system.

Safeguard your family from hazards

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that two-thirds of home related deaths result from homes with either no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms. Batteries wear out and may be taken out to cease persistent beeping then never replaced. Smoke alarms should be in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on each level of your home.

Source: MyExamOne.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Communication Tips to Help You Listen Better

February 2, 2017 1:45 am

Are you having trouble communicating with your partner, friends, or colleagues? Do you forget what your friend just told you only minutes after the conversation ended. In a world geared toward multitasking, it can be hard to drop fully into a conversation and just listen. Below are three tips to help you be more present in your conversations.

Ask questions. Don’t just smile and nod. Make your conversation partner feel more heard by asking questions that are relative to what they’re saying. Ask for more details to dig deeper and listen fully.

Repeat what you heard. Every few minutes, repeat what you heard so you know you’re retaining prevalent information. This will also help you avoid accidental miscommunications.

Wait to offer a solution. When we’re listening to a friend with a problem, our go-to response is often to fill silence with a solution. But sometimes, people just need to feel heard and understand. You can even ask your friend if they’re looking for a solution or just space to vent.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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On the Job: How to Get More Done Each Day

February 1, 2017 1:39 am

It happens to the best of us. You look at the rising list of emails in your inbox, the blinking light on your phone, the increasing number of unread texts, and panic sets in. You’ll never catch up, let alone get ahead.

Believe it or not, some simple adjustments in your daily habits can yield a more productive day and let you get a handle on your workload again. Try these:

Close your email. If you need to focus on getting a project done, close your email. The constant distraction of emails popping in diverts you from a task that might otherwise take no time at all.

Put your landline and your mobile on do not disturb. You can take an hour off from constant connection and get some real work done in the process.

Pop in your headphones. Today’s open work space environment often comes with frequent chatter and background noise, so plugging in to some relaxing music can help you stay focused on your work. Alternatively, hunker down in an available conference room or quiet lounge area. The change of scenery will remotivate you as well.

Pause and focus. Sometimes our worst enemy is our own mental distraction—issues at home, errands we need to run at lunch, what to make for dinner... Take a pause, take three deep breaths and focus in on the task at hand. Repeat this practice every time your inner chatter takes over.

Work from home. If you’re under a really big deadline, take a day and work from home, provided that’s not an even more distracting environment.

Tack on an hour before or after work. If you’re a morning person, getting in an hour early before your coworkers arrive and while your mind is at its sharpest can result in super productivity. Conversely, maybe you’re really foggy in the morning, but sharper once the sun goes down. If that’s the case, get in later and stay later.

While these strategies may seem simplistic, they actually can yield unbelievable results, turning overwhelming tasks into happy checkmarks on your to-do list.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Protect Your Kids at Home

February 1, 2017 1:39 am

(Family Features)--Every year, more than 2,200 children die from injuries that occur at home, according to estimates from Safe Kids Worldwide. While every parent knows that accidents can and do happen, there are many areas of the home where some preventive steps can help reduce the risk. Go throughout your home to check for these common risk factors and implement corrective actions based on advice from the experts at Safe Kids.

Kitchen

Although it may be tempting to hold a fussy child while working in the kitchen, a safer alternative is a high chair where they can see all the action but be safely out of harm’s way. Place the chair or seat on the floor to avoid possible toppling from atop a counter or furniture, and use the provided straps as instructed to prevent falls and strangulation hazards.

Keep pan handles turned inward, out of reach of little hands, and before opening the oven door, ensure little ones are a safe distance away, putting your own body between the child and the oven so you can prevent any sudden lunges.

Use the rear burners when possible and keep dishes filled with hot food out of reach on counters or table tops.

Bathroom

Always check the water temperature before placing a child in the bathtub. Remember that small children cannot tolerate the same level of heat that many adults enjoy.

Use a minimal amount of water in the tub, as drowning can occur in as little as a couple of inches. Drain the tub as soon as you are finished.

Reduce access to other water sources by closing toilet lids and keeping bathroom and laundry room doors closed.

Immediately unplug and store items such as hair dryers, curling irons and straight irons, which can retain heat long after being turned off and pose an added strangulation danger with dangling cords.

Keep medication out of reach and always use the intended dosing devices. Common kitchen spoons vary greatly, so using these to measure a medication may be imprecise and result in over or under medicating.

Living Areas

Prevent window falls and injuries by installing window guards and stops.  

Eliminate dangling cords from blinds, either by hooking cords out of reach or using an alternative window covering.

When possible, place heavy items on low, sturdy furniture and use safety brackets, braces and wall straps to attach furniture and large items like TVs to the wall to prevent tipping.

Stairs

Use safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases to prevent falls. Ensure gates are securely attached on both sides and review manufacturer instructions to verify gates are constructed for their intended use. For example, not all gates are intended for use at the top of stairs and may give way under pressure.

Pantry/Garage

Products containing harmful chemicals, such as cleaners, should be stored out of reach, but also out of sight to avoid temptation.

Keep products in their original containers, which include instructions for proper use and guidance on what do to if ingested, rubbed in eyes, etc. This also helps ensure items are not mistaken for something else and used dangerously.

Source: eLivingToday.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Ways to Clear Clutter Daily

February 1, 2017 1:39 am

Do you look around your living space at the end of the busy work week and think “what happened?” Piles of mail, dirty laundry and dishes are lurking around every corner. Between work and family, it can be hard to carve out the time to clear clutter. Below are 3 tips to manage clutter daily.

Make a clutter clearing playlist. At the end of the day, choose one or two songs, put them on, and do a surface clean. Put the laundry away, empty the dishwasher, clear the kitchen table. By the time your chosen tracks are up—roughly 6 to 8 minutes—your place will look a lot better, and so will your mental state.

Set yourself up for success. By having designated areas for the items that end up laying around, you will be more likely to put things away properly. Have a basket for mail that needs opening, a bin for shoes by the front door, and a station for things like keys, headphones and change that gets dumped for your pockets when you walk in.

Enlist help. Do you have a roommate, spouse, or kids? Get them to pitch in every night after dinner and clear the day’s clutter before relaxing in front of the TV or with a book.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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