Sunday, May 30, 2010

Don’t Throw Away Your Old Coffee Grounds

Did you know there are many uses for your Java besides drinking it? Both the grounds and the liquid can help you around the house.

Use coffee grounds in your garden or flower pots for composting. As the grounds decompose, they add much needed nitrogen for your plants. Plus, they increase the acidity of your soil. Adding water to grounds makes a great liquid fertilizer, and you can even feed it to your friendly garden earthworms.

You can also use coffee grounds as pest control. Spread some of the grounds around ants and their mounds. Caffeine appears to be a deadly poison for the little critters. Plus coffee is much less harsh and expensive than chemicals.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How to Stay Healthy and Save Money with Your Dry Cleaner

Does it seem unusual to see an article about dry cleaners? Perhaps. But dry cleaners are one of the most complaint-ridden businesses in the United States, according to the Better Business Bureau. At the top of the complaint list are lost items and damaged garments.

Worse yet, some of the chemicals dry cleaners use can be downright dangerous! Clearly, there are reputable dry cleaners, but next time you drop off your items, here are a few tips for protecting yourself as a consumer.

 Always Ask For A Receipt. When you drop off an item to the cleaner, ask for a receipt indicating what you had cleaned. It’s helpful to include the size, color, and brand name if possible. When a dry cleaner acknowledges they lost a garment, they are supposed to pay the full price of a replacement. A detailed claim ticket will be your best argument.

 What To Do About Damaged Clothing? Damaged clothing is a different story. Dry cleaners refer to the Fair Claims Guide published by International Fabricare Institute to assess the depreciated value of damaged garments. One-year-old cotton suits, skirts, shirts in average condition get just 40 percent of their original price. A 5-year-old wool blazer will get you 15 percent of the actual cost. If they ruin an item classified as an heirloom (such as an antique Persian rug) demand fair market value for its replacement.

 PERC Is A Toxic Chemical. Most dry cleaners use PERC (prechloroethylene) a probable human carcinogen, to clean your clothes. The National Institute for Occupational Safety found that dry cleaning industry workers were 25 percent more likely to die from cancer than the general population. Remember, this chemical is on your garments. Take the plastic bags off, and air out your garments before wearing.

 Watch Out For “Meet Or Beat” Gimmicks. The BBB warns that dry cleaners are notorious for “bait and switch” advertising, where the dry cleaner claims he will match or beat a competitor’s price. The catch is you will have to walk in with the competing dry cleaner’s price list to qualify for the discount.

 Watch Out For The “Special Handling” Charge. Women are often charged more than men for dry cleaning similar items. Women’s shirts are a common item of contention that dry cleaners claim need “special handling” for a variety of reasons. Ask up-front if any women’s clothing needs “hand-cleaning” and how much you will be charged for the work.

 Ask Your BBB For Help If You Have A Problem. You may also go to Small Claims Court if you have a grievance against a dry cleaner. There is no guarantee small claims will get you a settlement, but sometimes the threat of action is enough to settle a dispute.

Taking a few small actions and asking the right questions of your dry cleaner can save you considerable money and headaches in the long run.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Energize Your Life With These Tax Incentives

Are you making the most of energy tax incentives? You can save energy and money by qualifying for these rebates and tax credits:

• Cash for Appliances. It’s the 2010 version of “Cash for Clunkers” but you get the rebate when you buy new energy-efficient appliances. Funded with $300 million from the stimulus package, the program is conducted at the state level. Visit your state’s energy office web site for details.

• Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Tax Credits. If you install certain products, such as energy-efficient windows, insulation, roofing, and heating and cooling equipment in an existing home, you can receive a federal tax credit for 30 percent of the cost (up to $1,500) for improvements “placed in service” from Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2010. Go to www.energystar.gov for specifics.

• Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credits. Install a solar energy system (including solar water heaters) and receive a 30 percent tax credit if it’s placed in service before Dec. 31, 2016. (The previous tax credit cap no longer applies.)

• Auto Tax Credits. If you buy or lease a new hybrid gas/electric car or truck, you’re eligible for an income tax credit for vehicles placed in service from Jan. 1, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2010. This will be phased out for each manufacturer when they sell 60,000 eligible vehicles. Tax credits also are available for alternative-fuel vehicles, diesel vehicles with advance lean-burn technologies and fuel-cell vehicles. See the IRS web site for vehicle specifics.

For more information on local, utility and federal incentives that promote energy efficiency, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Getting Ready to Sell? Great Inexpensive Suggestions!

Q. We’ve purchased a new house, and are selling our existing home. We don’t have a lot of money to fix up our existing home before selling it. Do you have any inexpensive suggestions?

My first suggestion is to deep-clean the house and “make it sparkle!” Here are a few more tricks of the trade to help you get the most for your money:

• If your master bedroom looks drab, add new linens, pillows, and shams to spice it up the bedroom and add a little color.
• Buy a bright colored shower curtain and rug to perk up a dull bathroom. Re-grout if your bathroom grout is chipped or discolored.
• Eliminate clutter. Remove photos, knickknacks, refrigerator magnets and other personal items. Organize your cabinets and closets.
• Clear off kitchen and bathroom counter tops. Put away appliances.
• Arrange your furniture so it focuses on your home’s strongest feature (it may a view, a garden, flowers, or a painting). Remove excess furniture. Create a “model home” look, clean, attractive with well-place items.
• Dress up your rooms with attractive area rugs and framed prints.
• Install new light fixtures if they’re damaged or unappealing.
• Paint your walls in neutral tones. Paint the front door if needed.
• Trim bushes and make sure the outside landscaping is neat and clean.

If you are in the market for a buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Important News About Blood Pressure

Here’s important news about lowering your blood pressure! In a recent study that appears in the Journal of Hypertension, researchers evaluated 25 studies on the effects of dietary fiber and blood pressure.
They found that by adding fiber to the diet, there was a reduction in both systolic (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure.

Today, over 50 million Americans and 1 billion people around the world have high blood pressure, so this finding comes as BIG news!
Dietary fiber includes fruit, cereal, fiber pills, and vegetables. In the study, the fiber intake ranged from 3.8 grams per day to125 grams per day. So, if you’re concerned about lowering your blood pressure, you’ll want to add more fruits, veggies, and cereal to your diet, exercise daily, and watch your weight. You’ll be glad you did!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Are You Hopelessly Disorganized?

Can’t find your keys? Missed an appointment? Still looking for that file you misplaced? Well, if you’re like thousands of people, searching for simple solutions to a big organization problems can be a problem!

There may be hope. Here are five quick tips to get (and stay) organized:

1. Keep an errand basket by the door for returning books, videotapes, dry-cleaning, etc.
2. De-clutter your junk drawer using plastic cutlery trays that come in a variety of sizes.
3. Keep a donation box in your laundry room or garage. Add unneeded clothing, books, toys, or small appliances and drop off monthly.
4. Do one small chore each day (dust, straighten one room, vacuum).
5. Have a key rack near the door with two sets of car and house keys. Remember the adage, a place for everything and everything in its place!

Are You Hopelessly Disorganized?

Can’t find your keys? Missed an appointment? Still looking for that file you misplaced? Well, if you’re like thousands of people, searching for simple solutions to a big organization problems can be a problem!

There may be hope. Here are five quick tips to get (and stay) organized:

1. Keep an errand basket by the door for returning books, videotapes, dry-cleaning, etc.
2. De-clutter your junk drawer using plastic cutlery trays that come in a variety of sizes.
3. Keep a donation box in your laundry room or garage. Add unneeded clothing, books, toys, or small appliances and drop off monthly.
4. Do one small chore each day (dust, straighten one room, vacuum).
5. Have a key rack near the door with two sets of car and house keys. Remember the adage, a place for everything and everything in its place!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kindness Is Good For You!

When was that last time you noticed you were grumpy, then, out of the blue, someone does or says something nice to you? Didn’t it make you feel better…even a lot better?

When you are kind to other people, it also makes you feel good about yourself. And it’s good for your health. Researchers have found positive people have fewer health problems. In his book, It’s a Meaningful Life, it Just Takes Practice, author Bo Lozoff writes about the importance of being kind and building a better community. That community encompasses family, friends, co-workers, and the people you meet in your daily life (the bank teller, cashier, the parking lot attendant).

So as you go about your day, be kinder to your spouse, your kids, your co-workers, and wherever your travels take you. Then see if adding a little more kindness to your daily diet makes a difference in how you feel, how other people respond to you, and how others feel when you are kind to them. It’s a worthwhile experiment!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

7 Simple Steps To Happiness And Success!

Are you feeling stuck on the roadmap of life? Have you longed for greater success and happiness, but haven’t yet hooked the brass ring?

Albert Schweitzer once wrote, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Here are seven steps you can take today to achieve more happiness and success in your life:

1. Believe In Yourself. Identify your natural talents and abilities. Do what you enjoy and what you do best. Truly successful and happy people find joy in their working lives. Invest your time in what you do best. Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses.

2. Develop a Vision. First, define your path and start working your plan. Write down a vision for yourself and your life. Be specific. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want your life to look like in 5 years, 10 years?

3. Develop Good Habits. Happy and successful people choose good habits. If you’re watching too much TV, chronically late, or eating poorly, make a commitment to change your bad habits into habits consistent with your goals.

4. Show Gratitude. The happiest people are also the most grateful people. Count your blessings frequently and you’ll quickly start seeing a change in yourself and the world around you.

5. Take A Chance. Seize opportunities! Success and happiness does not come to those who sit and wait for it to be brought to them.

6. Give to Others. Studies reveal that the happiest people are also the most generous. Do, say, or give something nice to another and see how your own life improves.

7. Take Responsibility. You hold the key to your future. Take responsibility for your actions. Choose the work you like to do, and do it well. Ultimately, you are the master of your fate. You choose your own future by the decisions you make and the actions you take.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Use Your IRA for Real Estate Purchases

Q. A friend told me I can buy a retirement home using my IRAs to purchase property. Is this legal? And, if so, how do I go about doing it?

A. Yes, you can buy your retirement home using your IRAs, 401K, or pension. But there is a catch. You can’t live in the house until you can take the entire value as a distribution from your IRAs and that’s after age 59.5. Until then, you’ll have to rent it to someone else!

You can use IRAs and Roth IRAs to purchase property (homes...and even apartment buildings). You’ll have to do your homework, though. Most banks and brokerage firms don’t offer this service—it’s just too costly for them implement.

How do you set up this program? First, you can transfer your existing IRA, or roll over money from an existing plan (401K, pension) to a “self-directed IRA.” You’ll then need to have bank custodian oversee the account. They will receive an annual fee for this, typically .5 percent to 1.5 % percent of the asset. You’ll also need a property manager to maintain and rent the property. You are not permitted to manage the property, according to IRS regulations.

If you’re truly interested in pursuing this option, choose your investment wisely. Make sure you base your decision on the size of your IRA, the time between now and age 59.5, and your level of comfort with risk. For more information on investing with IRAs go to www.IraResources.com . If you are in the market for a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

5 Ways to Encourage Your Children

Teaching Kids
“How Live On The Bright Side”

Encourage, limit, help, show, and give. That’s a simple way to say it, but it’s true. Today there can be so many distractions, too many expectations, and unrealistic and realistic fears kids must face each day. Here are five simple strategies to help your kids learn how to live on the brighter side of life:

1. Encourage Your Child’s Special Talents. Research has shown that children who are encouraged to follow their talents by supportive parents are much more successful than parents who have high expectations and are critical.
2. Limit Your Child’s Exposure To News. The news can create an unrealistic perception of danger in your child’s day-to-day life.
3. Help Them To Find The Bright Spot In Their Day. Make this a daily ritual for your family, and have your kids write them down in a book.
4. Show Them Tools To Shake Off A Bad Mood. If your child is a little blue, spend time with him/her reading, talking, playing a game or musical instrument, or go for a walk together.
5. Give Them Hope. Plant a tree...or a garden. Rent a funny comedy. Go see a play. Turn on some upbeat music and get up and dance.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Internet Dating has Gone Mainstream

Are You Looking For Love?

Surfing for love is now more popular than ever. With over 50 million people surfing for love on-line, Internet dating has gone mainstream. Whether you 20, 30, 40, 50, or older, all you need is a computer and email. The most popular dating sites are: Americansingles.com, Date.com, Match.com, Persons.yahoo.com, SeniorFriendFinder.com, ThirdAgeConnections.com. Each have a monthly fee ranging anywhere from $24.95 to about $29.00.

You can visit these sites to see which one might appeal to you. There are also specialty sites geared to your age group, religion, or ethnic group.
After you’ve found a site you like you can post your profile on one of the sites. You’ll want to make your profile interesting and appealing, but don’t oversell (or undersell) yourself. Secondly, be specific about what you want. Tell a little bit about yourself (hobbies, interests, special skills). You can even post a picture of yourself.

When dating, don’t expect too much. Most people e-mail several times before meeting. Your first date should be short and always in a public place. Lastly, you may want to check out your on-line dater. Do they really work at the company they said they did? It’s best to be safe.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to Start Your Own Blog

Hey, What’s A Blog?
And How Do I Start One?

Whether you’re in China or Brazil, whether it’s cars, magic tricks, or paleontology, you can hold on-line discussions with people around the world...just by logging onto your computer. And they’re called “Blogs.” Blogs are very popular Internet sites, also known as “web logs.”

They’re somewhat like a chat room, but you can go to specific information “blogs,” to gain information, contribute your knowledge and opinions, or hold an on-discussion about a particular subject. To find a blog, go to www.google.com or other search engine, and type in the subject you’re interested in, plus the word blog. Or go to: www.blogwise.com .

If you want to start a blog, there are several books on the market that explain what to do: We Blog: Publishing Online with Weblogs, and Blog On: Building Online Communities with Web Logs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Safe Travel Starts With You

How To Be Safe, Not Sorry
On Your Next Trip

Everyone loves to travel, but there are some precautions you should take just to be on the safe side. Use these travel security tips to help make your next international trip stress-free:

• Be prepared in case your passport is lost or stolen. If your passport is lost, you must immediately notify the embassy or the State Department and report details of the incident. Take copies of the passport, birth certificate and marriage certificate for each person on your trip. You’d need these documents to authenticate yourself to authorities.

• Leave your itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport with a friend or relative. You also can register your travel for free with the State Department so you may be contacted in case of a family emergency or because of a crisis in the area in which you are traveling. Go to http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html for more details.

• Don’t take your eyes off your laptop. Hundreds of thousands are stolen each year and 97 percent are never recovered. To protect yourself, remove any sensitive information from the laptop before you go and encrypt the data that’s on it. Take a security cable to attach it to a piece of furniture if you leave it in your hotel room. Better yet, you can actually buy tracking software that allows you to record a message (“Get your hands off me, I’ve been stolen!”) that will play when the thief turns it on.

• Purge your wallet or purse of extra credit cards, receipts and any reference to your social security number. Leave your checkbook and debit cards at home.

• Keep a grip on your valuables (especially in crowds). To thwart pickpockets, use security travel purses, bags, belts and money clips. If you’re a man, keep your wallet under your clothes or in your tightest pocket. If you’re using a fanny pack, secure the zipper by using a safety pin or a paperclip fastened to a rubber band around the belt strap.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Is Weight Loss Surgery Really For You?

Five bites of chicken. A tablespoon of mashed potatoes. A bit of broccoli. And a nibble or two of salad. That’s your typical meal after weight loss surgery.

People who undergo weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, underestimate the dietary changes they will have to make. Last year over 103,000 bariatric procedures were performed. And many surgeons are booked a year in advance. A typical surgery averages about $25,000 and in some cases is covered by insurance.

In the most popular procedure, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the surgeon staples the stomach leaving a pouch the size of a golf ball. The first section of the small intestine is removed. The surgeon then attaches the middle portion of the intestine to the upper pouch. The body’s ability to absorb calories is limited by bypassing the lower part of the stomach and small intestine. Most patients lose about 75 pounds in the first year.

But what are the dangers of weigh loss surgery? Here’s vital information you should know, and important tips to consider before contemplating weight loss surgery:
1. A patient must eat slowly. The average meal weighs about two ounces, yet it takes 30 minutes to eat. Eating too fast can cause cramping and nausea.
2. Eating refined sugar can cause too much glucose into the blood, triggering nausea, diarrhea, hypoglycemia and a sudden plunge in blood sugar.
3. Fatal leakage can occur at the area where the small intestine has been joined to the stomach.
4. Less than 1 percent of patients have died from pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs). Smokers and the heaviest patients are at the greatest risk.
5. Some patients required daily B-12 supplements.

So before you, or someone you love, decide to have weight loss surgery, consider all options and do your homework.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Are You Fully Protected Against Water Damage?

Q. How can I protect my home from water damage?

A. Water damage is one of the most common problems affecting homeowners today. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reports that in 2007 it accounted for 22 percent of all U.S. homeowners’ insurance claims, with the average claim being $5,531. That’s why you need to have the right amount and type of insurance coverage.

The Institute says standard homeowners insurance covers burst pipes, wind-driven rain, and damage resulting from ice dams on your roof. Some policies cover sewer and drain backups, but many don’t.

In general, water coming from the top down (such as rain) is covered by a standard homeowners policy. Water coming from the bottom up (such as from a river) is covered by separate flood insurance. You can buy this from the National Flood Insurance Program and from some private insurers.

The best way to prevent water damage is proper maintenance. For some excellent tips on such subjects as avoiding frozen pipes, replacing and maintaining bathroom fixtures and installing an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system, see the water damage section at the web site for the Institute for Business & Home Safety, www.disastersafety.org.

If you have any questions, or need capable and trustworthy representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Will Aspirin Reduce Your Risk Of A Heart Attack?

You may have seen emails going around that talk about heart attack symptoms and the use of aspirin. The answer to the above question is “it depends.” Here are the facts:

• Aspirin is a drug. Even though you can buy it over-the-counter at any drug store, aspirin is a drug that can mix badly with other medicines, vitamins or dietary supplements. If you’re already taking a medication or supplement to thin the blood, you should not add aspirin.

• It may not be for everyone. The risks of long-term use may be greater than the benefits if there are no signs of, or risk factors for, heart or blood vessel disease.

• Daily aspirin can be safest when prescribed by a medical professional. Aspirin has been known to help people who are living with some kinds of heart and blood vessel diseases. It can help prevent a heart attack or clot-related stroke by lowering the clotting action of the blood’s platelets. Your doctor, nurse or other health professional should decide if it’s right for you, depending on your health and medical history.

• Dosage matters. There are no directions on the label for using aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack. You must discuss the different forms of aspirin products with your doctor. When you buy a product, check the “Drug Facts” label for “active ingredients: aspirin” or “acetylsalicylic acid” at the dose your doctor prescribes.

• If you feel symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. The operator, emergency medical technicians or Emergency Department physician will give you an aspirin if it's right for you. To study the warning signs (chest pain, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath), go to the American Heart Association website at www.americanheart.org.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

7 Ways to Shop for a Bargain

The next time you’re making a purchase, whether you’re buying a car, shopping for a TV or renting a hotel room, remember this: Virtually everything is negotiable. While your tactics will vary, you’ll save thousands of dollars by using these easy ways to drive a hard bargain:

• Go armed with information. Compare prices online, and have an idea about what you want to pay for the product.

• Know where to shop. You expect to bargain at a car dealer or a flea market, but did you know you could negotiate at “big box” stores? Since buyers
now have more access to information, some retailers are giving their salespeople more latitude on pricing. If they won’t come down on price, try for free delivery or a floor-model discount. Some sellers will give away what’s known as “10-cent dollars,” where you ask for a free product add-on that costs much less than the retail value. For example, ask a car dealer for free floor mats that might retail for $200, but cost the dealer only $40.

• Ask for a discount or free upgrade. You won’t get it if you don’t ask. A hotel or car rental company, for instance, will offer a standard rate unless you ask about discounts. If you can’t get a discount, use the magic words “Courtesy Upgrade.”

• Look for defects and consider quantities. Many items have defects you can live with – for the right price. If the dresser has a dent in it, bring it up. It also pays to ask, what would the price be if I bought two?

• Pay in cash. Sellers are eager to avoid check difficulties and credit card company charges. If you and the seller can’t agree on a price, take out your cash and make an offer.

• Bargain when you have the upper hand. Many competitive companies want to keep your business. When your cell phone provider asks you to renew your plan, say no until they sweeten the offer.

• Be polite and respectful. The idea is for both parties to feel like they’ve made a good deal. If you don’t get the deal you wanted, be prepared to walk away and try somewhere else.

Free Trial Offers are Rarely Free

Free Trial? Maybe Not!

The next time you sign up for a free trial offer, be sure to read the fine print. While these offers can be a great way to try out a product, you might be agreeing to buy additional products and services if you don’t cancel within a specified time.

It’s called the “negative option feature,” and it requires the customer to cancel or opt-out of a recurring charge for future products. While it’s not illegal, some questionable online merchants pre-check the consent box or bury the details under terms and conditions, making returns difficult.

If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. A Visa survey showed 29 percent of American consumers have been victims of this option. The Better Business Bureau says it has received thousands of complaints from people who learned the hard way by signing up for online trial offers for acai berry supplements, detox products, teeth whiteners, free government grants and debt consolidation services.

Best advice? Before you buy, read the offer carefully, pay attention to pre-checked boxes and check out the business at www.bbb.org.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Time is Right to Start Buying Fixers Again

Q. We’re thinking of buying a fixer-upper as an investment. What’s the best way to find a deal without being taken to the cleaners?

A. Many people make good money buying rundown properties, fixing them up, and reselling them for a profit.

The best strategy for finding a profitable fixer-upper is to find the least desirable house in the most desirable neighborhood. Then, examine whether the cost of fixing up the property to its full market value will yield a significant profit.

You can find a fixer-upper in most communities—even in more affluent neighborhoods. One of the best ways to find a fixer-upper is to ask a real estate agent. Most agents have one or two properties they don’t like to show. You also can look for advertisements with phrases like “handyman’s special,” “needs TLC,” “or earn your down payment.”

The most profitable fixer-uppers will only need minor repairs like inside and outside painting, new carpeting and flooring, new light fixtures, new kitchen cabinets, landscaping, or a thorough cleanup. Look at properties that can be bought at 20-30 percent below what the house will be worth after fixing it.

Avoid homes that have serious flaws like a sinking foundation, structural damage, serious termite infestation, or that need a new roof. Also, avoid fixer-uppers that don’t fit in their neighborhoods, such as a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in a neighborhood of three and four bedroom homes.

To get an idea of the finished market value, look at comparable properties in good condition. To determine the cost of fixing any existing problems, hire a good inspector. A competent inspector can save you from making a bad investment. You can find one through the American Society of Home Inspectors’ website: www.ashi.com

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We Should All Have CO Detectors in Our Homes

Steer Clear Of This
Invisible Killer!

Do you spend time around gas-burning motors, generators, stoves or heaters? If so, this little article may save your life! CO (or Carbon Monoxide) poisoning is responsible for thousands of deaths per year. And because the gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, many times the inflicted aren’t aware of their exposure. Yet it can kill in seconds. Generally, the initial symptoms of CO poisoning include the feeling of being intoxicated followed by nausea. Here are a few tips for keeping you and your family safe from CO poisoning:
 Buy one or more CO detectors for your home and install them according to product instructions,
 Never spend time around a running gas-burning auto, boat, generator, stove, or heater without adequate ventilation,
 If you feel you’ve been exposed to CO, immediately get into fresh air and seek medical assistance.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Time Management Tips For Healthy Living

Are You “Stuck In Neutral?”

Are you someone who puts things off until the last minute, or misses deadlines? Well, you’re definitely not alone. Everyone does it sometimes. But procrastination can lead to even more stress. Here are a few tips to help you manage your time and reduce your stress:

• Time Management. Use a schedule planner or notebook to plan your day or week. Use a timer or alarm clock to help you keep on track.
• Break Up Large Tasks. If you know you’re unable to concentrate on a project for three hours, divide your work into one hour blocks for three days.
• Plan To Play. Plan your work and plan your play. If you know you are going out for fun later, you will be able to start your work and concentrate on it now.
• Create Short-Term Deadlines. Many people feel they work better under pressure. But if you always work under pressure, you will increase your stress. Decide to reach some short-term goal before stopping your work for the day.
• Avoid Perfectionism. If you accept nothing less than a perfect performance, you may never get to work on a task because you’re worried that it won’t be perfect. Strive for excellence, not perfection.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Strengh Training Tops 2010 Fitness Trends

Resolve To Follow These
Fitness Trends In 2010

The American College of Sports Medicine has ranked the top fitness trends for 2010 based on a worldwide survey of fitness professionals. Make a New Year’s resolution to incorporate these trends in your family’s fitness program this year:

 Educated and experienced fitness professionals. As the fitness market becomes more competitive, consumers are realizing the importance of working with professionals who have been certified through accredited health/fitness educational programs.

 Strength training. This was once the domain of bodybuilders, but it’s now an essential part of a complete physical activity program.

 Children and obesity. This is the year to reverse an alarming trend of rising obesity rates by getting overweight kids involved in exercise.

 Personal training. As more personal trainers are educated and certified, they are becoming more accessible to a greater number of people.

 Core training. This training specifically emphasizes strength and conditioning of the stabilizing muscles of the abdomen and back.

 Special programs for older adults. Fitness facilities are offering more exercise programs for active older adults. Get your parents involved now!

 Sport-specific training. High school athletes are now training during the off-season to prepare themselves for their specific sports.

 Pilates. This form of exercise that targets the core of the body has become a mainstay of most fitness facilities. If you haven’t already done so, try it this year to increase your flexibility and posture.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shoppers Lose 3 Billion a Year on Scanner Mistakes

Use These Strategies To Shop Smarter For Groceries
You can read plenty of articles on the internet about how to save money on groceries, but do you really have a grocery shopping strategy? Here are some supermarket tips and secrets that will make you a savvy shopper.

 Approach grocery shopping like a job. You need to have a plan (take a list) and a budget to make the best use of your time and money.

 Stick to a time schedule. Shop for what you need and get out. It is said that if you’re in the store more than 30 minutes, you’ll spend an extra 50 cents to $1 per minute as you walk the aisles.

 Shop alone. Real Simple Magazine says parents will spend 10-40 percent more if they take their kids along. It might be worth it to hire a babysitter!

 Only buy “food” at a grocery store. Generally, you’re better off buying toiletries, cleaning supplies and pet food at a big-box discount store.

 Know the floor plan. Shop the perimeter first for fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and milk. You’ll find some good buys in the center aisles, but you’ll also be tempted by items like frozen convenience foods.

 Don’t assume everything on sale is a bargain. Stores often display “sale” items at the end of the aisles. Manufacturers pay to have their products put there so they aren’t necessarily a good deal.

 Check “price per unit.” Sometimes it’s cheaper per unit to buy two smaller items than it is to buy one supersize package.

 Look high and low. Stores often place higher-priced items at eye level (brands pay for the space). Check prices on the top and bottom shelves.

 Pay attention at checkout. Shoppers lose up to $3 billion a year on scanner mistakes (current sale prices not reflected). Watch every item to make sure sale prices are correct!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Save BIG and Make a Dramatic Statement on Your Next Remodel

Q. I’d like to do a makeover on my house and make it the look more luxurious, but I don’t have a lot of money to spend. What do you suggest?

A. 1) You can make your home look more luxurious with a fresh coat of paint and a little bit of creativity. Try the new faux treatments and other new painting techniques. Your local home improvement store-brand paint usually runs about $30 per 5 gallons. Give your kitchen cabinets a clean, quick makeover by applying a coat of flat primer. After it dries apply a top coat of semi-gloss latex enamel.
Another trick: add crown molding where the wall meets the ceiling for a elegant style. Kits are available at home improvement stores.

2) Ceramic tile flooring can add luxury to your entryways, kitchens and bathrooms for $2-3 per sq. ft. If you’re handy, you can do the work yourself; otherwise installation is usually $2.50-3.50 per sq. ft.

3) New overhead lighting fixtures can change the look of a room and create a luxurious ambiance. Shop for off brands or contractor packs at home improvement stores that’ll save you money. If you are buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why Do We Overeat!! Things to Avoid...

Overeating Triggers...And
How To Avoid Them!

Why do we overeat? While not all of us struggle with weight (yes, there are a few out there who don’t) most of us do have triggers that can cause us to overeat and consume up to an extra 500 calories per day. Here are a four overeating triggers and tips on how to avoid them:
Emotional Triggers. Stress, frustration, and worry are just a few of the emotions that can trigger overeating. Have a plan to deal with these feelings without food...go for a walk, bike ride, or talk with a friend.
Situational Triggers. Overeating has a pattern. TV is a big food trigger. Focus on what you’re eating without any distractions (don’t watch TV or read while eating). Set a time to stop eating (after 7 p.m.)
Low Energy Triggers. People tend to overeat when they are tired and need an energy boost. Identify your low energy times, and plan to do something else (or have healthy snacks like carrots ready to eat).
Environmental Triggers. Lighting affects how much we eat and when we eat. The brighter the lighting, the less likely you will overeat.
If you’re plagued by overeating triggers, keep these quick tips in mind: take a walk, take a nap, make a phone call, leave the table, do 20 sit-ups, drink two glasses of water, brush your teeth, or check your email!

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Laser Therapies Help Dermatologists

Latest News On Wrinkle Cures

With age comes wisdom, and with age also comes the dreaded wrinkles. While many of us continue to search for the fountain of youth, there is some new information on the latest therapies that help to remove or diminish wrinkles, and improve our skin as we age.

• Today’s lasers are better at removing spider veins, scars, birth marks, age marks, tattoos, and hair.
• Intense pulsed light therapy delivers multiple wavelengths of light in millisecond intervals. It works by inducing trauma to the skin just as lasers do.
• Light-emitting diode photo-modulation uses a single wavelength, promoting collagen and elastin production in skin. It’s less powerful than a laser, but promotes skin growth without trauma, and there’s no recovery time. You can do it on your lunch hour!
• New skin products like Revitol, Hydroderm, Avotone, and Prescriptive Intensive Rebuilding Moisturizer are now available that improve skin tone, and help diminish wrinkles.
For more information, go to The American Academy of Dermatology’s website at www.aad.org

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dump Your Cable TV for Six Months and You Will NEVER Go Back

Here’s Another BIG Reason
To Turn Off The TV…

Watching TV may not only be mind-numbing, it can turn you into a couch potato. But here’s another reason to get rid of your TV habit. Consumers are paying high dollars for cable TV and satellite TV. Today, nearly 110 million American homes have at least one TV, and of those 68% receive a cable signal and 22% receive a DBS signal, according to Gary Shapiro, president of Consumer Electronics Assoc.

The average cable TV subscriber pays over $58.51 per month, while the average satellite TV subscriber pays about $57.72 per month, reports J.D. Power and Associates. This adds up to about $700 per year just for watching TV! Imagine what you could do with an extra $700 per year. You can take that money and invest it, and in five years at a 15% return; you’ll be almost $7,000 richer! In 25 years you could have $200,000–or a vacation home! Now, that’s worth thinking about!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Organic Foods Have Never Been Better!!

Are the Foods You’re Eating Contaminated by Pesticides?

If you’re concerned about pesticides and your food, there’s some new information that you should know. Some of the most popular fruits and vegetables you eat every day are the most contaminated with pesticides, according to reports conducted by the Environmental Working Group, and Consumers Union. What are they?

Foods that were found with the highest pesticide levels were: Apples, Peaches, Pears, Potatoes, Spinach, Strawberries, Grapes, Cherries, Nectarines, Celery, Bell Peppers, and Raspberries.

The produce with the lowest pesticide levels were: Avocados, Sweet Corn, Broccoli, Bananas, Mangos, Papaya, Sweet Peas, Pineapples, Kiwi, Onions, Cauliflower, and Asparagus.

A 2003 study conducted by Seattle scientists and published in Environmental Health found that school children eating conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are more likely to exceed EPA safety thresholds for organophosphate pesticides than children eating organic produce.

What can you do? To reduce your exposure to pesticides, always wash your produce, and buy organic whenever possible. What are the advantages of buying organic produce?
Organic foods have been found to contain more nutritional value and more antioxidants than conventionally grown foods, according to University of California, Davis scientists. Organic foods were found to have high levels of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

What’s the difference between organic and conventionally grown foods? Organic foods are grown in safe soil, and have no additives, or irradiated genetically modified organisms. Organic foods must be separated from conventional foods (in storage containers) so there is no contact with chemicals or pesticides. For more information, go to www.foodnews.org, or www.consumersunion.org.