Tuesday, December 27, 2011

10 Ways to Look and Feel Better Today!!

We all want to feel better, look better, and live as if we are a finely tuned instrument, or well-maintained vehicle.

1. Smile. Researchers at Harvard found that people with positive attitudes are more likely to have fewer heart ailments.
2. Take Monday Off. Researchers in New York found that missing a few days of work lowers your risk for stroke by 30 percent…not to mention most heart attacks occur on Monday morning!
3. Eat Oatmeal Cookies. University of Connecticut researchers found that eating oat-bran cookies daily can lower your LDL cholesterol by 20 percent.
4. Go To Bed Early. People who are fatigued have high levels of fibrinogen, a blood-clotting protein that reduces blood flow to your heart and brain.
5. Wash Your Hands. German scientists found people with high levels of antibodies from fighting infections also had more clogging of their arteries.
6. Read A Good Book. Need I say more?
7. Meditate 30 Minutes A Day. Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found meditation may reduce depression and anxiety by up to 25 percent.
8. Drink Cranberry Juice. People who drink 8 ounces of cranberry juice a day increase their HDL cholesterol levels by 10 percent…reducing heart risk by 40 percent, according a New Jersey study.
9. Bike Your Blues Away. Biking was found to be as effective at relieving depression as antidepressants reported Duke University researchers.
10. Join A Group. People who have a circle of friends handle stress better and have less heart disease, according to University of Chicago researchers.

Monday, December 26, 2011

10 Strategies For Strengthening Your Family!

Is the quality of your family life important to you? According to a recent Harris poll, the majority of working men and women place the highest value on a work schedule providing plenty of time for family. We sure don’t need to look very far to discover the challenges families are facing today. The good news is there are quick and easy ways to strengthen your family and promote each other’s personal growth.

Here are 10 positive key strategies that you can use today to improve and strengthen your family now…and for years to come.

1. Make Family Your First Priority. Strong families spend lots of quality time together. We’ve all heard the well-known quote, “How do kids spell love?” T-I-M-E! Strong families spend lots of positive time working on family projects and playing together. And they enjoy being together too.

2. Appreciate One Other. Strong families appreciate each other’s unique qualities and contributions and express their feelings openly. Make a commitment to compliment each other at least once each day.

3. Foster Communication. Strong families listen to each other, respect each other’s opinions, and avoid interrupting. One of the most valuable ways to foster communication is by having at least one meal together each day. During the meal, make it a point to engage everyone on their daily experiences, discoveries, challenges and goals.

4. Strengthen Commitment. Strong families work together to solve their problems. They may not always agree, but they are willing and able to bring things out into the open and to talk about them.

5. Create Traditions. Strong families stay connected – another reason for having at least one meal together each day. Also, give your children the gift of friendship with their cousins, aunts, and uncles by keeping in touch regularly. You’ll be giving them happy memories and friendships to last a lifetime.

6. Set Rules and Expectations. Strong families set and put into practice clear guidelines and limitations. Family members take responsibility for their actions.
7. Support Each Other. Strong families support one another during challenging times. When family members feel valued by one another, they know they have someone they can turn to for support.

8. Identify Your Family’s Strengths. Have each family member write down something he/she likes about each family member (animals included!). Put them up on a bulletin board or refrigerator magnets for everyone to see.

9. Set Achievable Family Goals. Setting and achieving family goals, even if they are small, cultivates success and creates unity. Set goals together whether it’s saving for a family trip, a car, or a new home. The ideas are endless.

10. Strong Families Love Unconditionally. Strong families love with unconditional acceptance that builds strong heart and faith connections.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Turn Your ho-hum House into a Lovely Showplace

Q. We are getting ready to sell our house. What suggestions can you give us to prepare it to sell for top dollar?

A. Buyers are looking for a home, not a house. They want a home they would like to have as their own, so focus your attention on making your home as pleasing as possible. Start by viewing your home at the entrance. Is it well kept and in good condition? If not, make the necessary changes needed to get you the most return for your home. Here are several steps you can take to make your home ready for show:

 Begin at the curb of your house. Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden, and clean any debris from the yard.
 Clean all the windows—inside and out.
 Deep clean all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls, and ceilings. Make sure the bathrooms and kitchen are spotless!
 If your house needs painting, go ahead and make the investment. When you do, it’s best to choose neutral colors.
 Organize all the closets, and clear away all the clutter.
 Be sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Fix any leaky faucets in the kitchen or bathrooms.
 If you have a small room and want to make it appear larger, add a mirror.
 Place several vases of fresh flowers, and plants throughout the house.
 Make sure the house smells pleasing. You can bake cookies, muffins, or simmer scented tea to add a pleasant aroma to your home.

Your accessories can enhance a room by setting a mood. Keep in mind a few interesting accents are better than a lot of knickknacks that clutter. Choose complementary accent colors and arrange them around the room.
You also may want to purchase some items specifically for decorating. Sometimes just by adding a few furniture pieces, pictures, lamps, plants, dishes and other items, you can turn your ho-hum house into a lovely showplace!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Famous Last Words…

• It’s fireproof.
• What does this button do?
• So, you’re a cannibal?
• It’s probably just a rash.
• Are you sure the power is off?
• The odds of that happening have to be a million to one.
• Which wire was I supposed to cut?
• But where is the mother bear?
• I’ve seen this done on TV.
• These mushrooms are edible.
• You hold it, and I’ll light the fuse.
• It’ll hold both of us.
• This doesn’t taste right.
• I can make the light before it changes.
• Nice doggie.
• I can do that with my eyes closed.
• Well, we’ve made it this far.
• That’s odd.
• Now watch this.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Public Speaking Tips From The Experts!

You’ve just been asked to lead a meeting, introduce someone at a dinner or church, or give a speech in front of a large group. Are you feeling panicked?
If you’re like thousands of people, you may have a real fear of public speaking.
But there’s really no need to worry, says Janet Esposito, author of “In the Spotlight: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing.”

“Your audience wants you to succeed!” she says. “The key to success is in the preparation.” You can make your next public speaking experience a success by following these expert tips:

1. Make a list of material you want to cover. Outline your material, and then write down the words you want to use and revise as needed.
2. Check for accuracy, redundancies, and clich├ęs. Use everyday language that both you and your listeners are comfortable with. Avoid using a lot of technical terms and statistics.
3. Use a tape recorder and practice aloud until you are comfortable with your delivery.
4. Print your key points on index cards. You can refer to them while speaking.
5. Consider your audience’s level of knowledge on the subject. Be prepared to answer questions.
6. Picture yourself speaking with confidence in a loud, clear voice.
7. Don’t mention that you are nervous or that you have problems with speaking. That calls attention to something the audience hasn’t even noticed.
8. Focus on your message and the information your audience needs, not on yourself.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oops…The E-Mail That Got Away

Remember that email you sent…and then wished you hadn’t. Maybe you inadvertently passed on some business information that was a secret, or data that wasn’t quite right. Well, you’re not alone. Now there are a few new programs on the market that can delete or recall your email—even after you’ve sent it!
Authentica, Inc. offers encryption technology that lets you look at e-mails but it does not save, copy, print, or forward them. And you can recall or kill off your
e-mails, even after they’ve been opened by another person.
Omniva Policy Systems offers an e-mail “shredder” that lets you specify a “detonation time” of from 30 minutes to years after the e-mail is sent. And even while the e-mail is still live, the receiver must have a special password to read it. Visit www.authentica.com or www.disappearing.com for more information on this revolutionary technology.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kitchen Wisdom

• Coat your cheese grater with cooking spray before grating cheese. It will be easier to use and to wash.

• Before measuring honey, corn syrup, or other gooey, sticky substances, run the measuring spoon or cup under hot water before using. The sticky liquid will slide right out!

• Soften butter quickly by grating it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Most Important Purchase Of Your Life

Ever wake up tired or sore from a night’s sleep? If so, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from sleepless nights and don’t know why. But did you know the likely culprit may “rest” with your mattress?

We all know that a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing. So, if you’re not getting the best sleep possible, you may want to start shopping for a new mattress. It’s recommended that you replace a mattress every eight to 10 years. Here are a few tips to follow. First and foremost, don’t let anyone, (that includes pushy salespeople) tell you what kind of mattress you need. Your body will help you make that decision.

Before You Buy, Always Test The Mattress. How you sleep may have an impact on the best mattress for you. If you like to sleep on your stomach, you may like a medium firm mattress. If you sleep on your side, you may want a bed that is softer on your hips and shoulders. If you sleep on your back, you may like a firmer bed. Whatever position you prefer, let your body find the mattress that works best for you.

Traditional Coil Mattresses - The S’s Have It!
Coil-spring mattresses are the most popular mattresses on the market. The leading mattress manufacturers all begin with the letter S:
Simmons, Spring Air, Sealy, Serta, and Stearns & Foster. You can expect to pay about $299 for a twin set to $999 for a popular queen-sized model, and much more for the luxury mattresses. There are many less-known brands that offer the same quality, but for about $100 less. If you buy below these prices, you may find your mattress may not last long. The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” especially holds true when buying a mattress.

Latex Mattresses – A Good Idea For Allergy Sufferers
Latex mattresses are antimicrobial and antibacterial, so they don’t harbor dust mites — a leading cause of allergies. Many people like the softness and support found with latex mattresses. They are a bit more expensive than the traditional coil mattresses, from about $899 for a twin set to $1,499 for a queen set. Latex mattresses, however, are not suitable for anyone who is allergic to latex! Nature’s Rest is the leading manufacturer.

Foam Mattresses – A Revolutionary Idea
“Viscoelastic temperature sensing” foam mattress sales have taken-off in the last decade. NASA first developed the body-hugging technology, which uses your body heat and weight, to create “memory cells” within the mattress. The memory cells then adjust to your body’s form, providing comfort and support. Tempur-Pedic, and Strobel Technologies offer a twin bed for $999; a queen set at $1,399. You also will need to purchase a foundation for about $149-$300.

Air Beds – The Latest Craze
According to analysts, air beds are the fastest growing segment in the industry. They are popular because they offer dual controls for couples with different firmness preferences. Each person can adjust the firmness of the mattress, by either increasing or decreasing air pressure. Prices start at about $450 for a twin, and $1,700 for a queen-sized model. Comfortaire and Select Comfort are the leading air bed manufacturers.

Before you buy a mattress, do your homework. Check the retailer’s return policy. Mattress manufacturers generally offer a 10-year warranty, or more. Some retailers offer their own warranty. This is a plus because if you have a problem, you can avoid the hassle of returning the mattress to the manufacturer. Watch out for any extra costs. Some mattress retailers offer free delivery; some do not. Most retailers include the basic metal frame in the price; some do not.

Bottom line? If you not getting the best sleep possible, you may want to start shopping for a new mattress. It just might be the most important purchase in your life!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dangerous Clothing

Doctors warn that your wardrobe may be leading to your pain and other problems! Pants that are too tight around your waist can cause heartburn. High heels increase a woman’s risk of knee osteoarthritis. And, tight neckties raise the pressure in your eyes and can lead to glaucoma.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fire Protection For Your Home!

Many homeowners are aware of fire safety precautions for the inside of the home, but how often to you think of the exterior of your home? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests clearing a 30-foot radius around your house by removing vegetation which could provide a path for fire to reach your home.

Additionally, if you have paints or other highly flammable materials, be sure they are properly stored in a safe location away from your home.

Finally, FEMA suggests that you look into replacing your roof with a material that is more resistant to fire than asphalt or wood shingles. A small amount of time and money may prevent the spread of exterior fire and successfully protect your family and cherished belongings.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cure Snoring In 7 EASY Steps!

Is someone else keeping you awake at night? If your sleep partner is a snorer, chances are you need some tips to improve your sleep. Here are a few to help you through the night:

1. If your snorer is overweight, get him (or her) to lose weight.
2. Have your snorer roll over...no sleeping on his/her back!
3. Put three tennis balls in a sock and attach it to the back of his/her nightshirt. This prevents the snorer from sleeping on his/her back.
4. Buy earplugs for you.
5. Try using nasal strips for your snorer. They work.
6. Go to bed earlier than your snorer...you’ll be in a deeper sleep stage.
7. Get a white-noise generator to drown out the sound.

Usually, snoring is caused by allergies, congestion from colds, nasal blockages, a deviated septum, and even acid reflux. But snoring has also been linked to more serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or sleep apnea. If the snoring is severe, have your partner see a doctor to see what is causing the snoring.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What’s Your Money Personality?

When couples disagree about money, you can bet there’s going to be trouble. The good news is most money problems can be solved by simply talking.
You may want to begin by asking yourself, “What’s Your Money Personality”? According to Olivia Mellan, author of Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts in Your Life and Relationship, most people fall into one or more loosely defined money personalities:
• Spenders are the shop until-you-drop consumers who gain pleasure from buying. They don’t budget, prioritize or save.
• Hoarders like strict budgets and prioritize everything. They see spending money on entertainment, vacations, and any extras as frivolous.
• Avoiders put off money management because it overwhelms them. Since they don’t like budgets or keeping records, they often forget to pay their bills.
• Amassers like to stockpile their money to feel safe and happy. The bigger the pile, the more secure they feel.

So what’s your money personality, and what’s your spouses? This may help you understand your partner’s relationship to money. When it comes to talking about money with your partner, here are four strategies to help you on the road to better communication:

1. Timing is everything. When it comes to talking about money, choose a time when people are feeling good.
2. Stay positive. Don’t accuse your partner. Focus on how the behavior is making you feel, and look for solutions.
3. Be specific. For example, “I’m feeling concerned about the money we’re spending on this vacation.”
4. Assume win-win situations are possible! Find your common ground where both of you can agree and each get most of what you want.

Once you and your spouse have identified your individual styles, set-aside time to define common objectives and find strategies that work around your differences, so you can meet those goals. If your tempers begin to heat-up, agree to meet at another time when both of you are calmer.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Q. Should You Ever Buy A House That Is An “As Is” Property?

A. It really depends on the house and the situation. There may be two reasons a house is marketed as an “As Is” Property. The first may be because the seller just doesn’t have the money to make the necessary repairs, and wants to get out from under the cost of repairing the property. Bank owned homes are discounted and generally sold As Is, however you can still have an inspection and back out for any reason.

The second reason is much more difficult. A word of caution is in order. The house may have serious problems! Something serious may be defective...so buyers beware. Generally speaking, an “As Is” property tends to have a major structural or functionally obsolete (i.e. expensive!) problem. Typical problems may range from a faulty roof, termites or serious termite damage, problems with the foundation, leaking pipes or other plumbing problems, to problems with a pool/spa just to name a few.

It is in the buyer’s best interest to have a home inspection completed and all the problems documented, so that the buyer is aware of any potential problems with the property.
If you are buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sweet Drinks Number #1 Source Of Calories

How many soft drinks or other sugar-added drink do you consume a day? One, two, five, or more? There’s an alarming trend occurring in the American diet—soft drinks and other sugar-added drinks are becoming the main source of calories. According to researchers at Tufts University, the average American consumes enough sweet drinks each day that add up to more calories than any other food source.

In the study, researchers collected data to study the relationship between obesity and certain foods. What they found was shocking! Two-thirds of the people sampled reported that they consumed enough sweet drinks to provide them with more daily calories than any other food source. Want to lose weight? Limit your sweet drinks.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Negotiating On The Job

Would you like to improve your job negotiation skills? A recent survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources Management and CareerJournal.com, found that both employees and HR specialists are willing to talk about salary, but they differ on other issues.

Employees focus on bonuses, incentives, and time off, while HR specialists may be more willing to talk about flex schedules and relocation costs. (The survey indicated employees may have more negotiating power on non-salary issues.) Here are six valuable tips you can use for better negotiating on your job:

• Make sure to show your enthusiasm for the job at hand.
• Know your strengths and skills and explain why you’re the best person for the new job or raise.
• Use the right words and cite facts, “I’ve done the research, and the market reflects this salary.”
• Ask for what you want, and explain why you deserve it.
• Be open to what is presented and remain objective.
• Avoid talking about specific salary figures until the end the interview process; otherwise you may limit your options.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Surprising Way To Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally!

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that people who ate a lot of plant sterols and fiber naturally lowered their cholesterol by 29%. What are plant sterols? They are foods that many of us like to eat: avocados, walnuts, almonds, olives, eggplant, olive oil, and flaxseed.

The researchers found that people on the drug, Lovastatin, lowered their cholesterol by 30%, and people who ate a low-fat diet reduced cholesterol levels by 8%. What’s interesting about these findings is they show that a diet rich in plant sterols can be as effective as one of the most frequently prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs—and without some of the side effects associated with prescription drugs.

Adding these important foods can help raise your good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL). Note: If you’re on a cholesterol reducing medication, talk with your physician before making any changes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Where’s The Cheapest Gas In Your Area?

If you’re looking for the least expensive gas in your area, go to gasbuddy.com or gaspricewatch.com. The gas prices are listed by ZIP code and the surrounding areas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Good Night’s Sleep is Essential!!

The Power of Sleep...And the Dangers of Not Enough

Did you know that the quantity and quality of your sleep may be the biggest indicator of your health? Dr. James B. Mass, bestselling author of Power Sleep, and Cornell University professor, reports that sleep can have an enormous impact on your overall health, outlook and productivity. It may also be the biggest predictor of how long you live – even more than diet, and exercise!

How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep? Most people should get eight hours, experts say. If you fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow, if you’re frequently tired, irritable, or if you have trouble getting up in the morning, you need more sleep. What can you do? Here are seven important strategies to help you get a better night’s sleep:

1. Maintain A Regular Sleep Schedule. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day; allow for at least 8 hours per night.

2. Keep Your Bedroom Dark and Quiet. Your body’s response to darkness is to produce an increase in the naturally-occurring hormone, melatonin – proven to produce a deeper, more restful sleep.

3. Exercise Daily. Exercising daily relieves stress and improves your overall health; however, avoid exercising right before bedtime.

4. Avoid Alcohol and Stimulants. If you have any trouble sleeping, avoid alcohol, coffee, caffeinated drinks, tea, chocolate, and nicotine.

5. Make Sure Your Bed And Pillow Are Comfortable. Choose the right bed (and pillow) for you. If you’re having trouble sleeping you may want to shop around for a new bed or pillow.

6. Put Your Worries In Jar. Write down any worries, put them in a jar, and let them go for the night. You can set aside time the next day to handle them.

7. Sleep Alone If Your Partner Keeps You Awake. If your mate is keeping you up with his/her snoring, sleep in another room.

Make it a priority!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sure-Fire Tips For Improving Your Credit Rating…

A good credit rating in essential in today’s economic market. It can save you thousands of dollars when you apply for a mortgage, car loan, or when you want to finance any other big-ticket purchase. Here are six tips for improving your credit rating:
1. Check your credit report. Make sure to resolve any credit debt inaccuracies or disputes. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com for information on how to order your credit report.
2. Pay your bills on time. It’s especially important near the time you are applying for a loan.
3. Pay down, or pay off your credit cards. High debt will adversely affect your credit rating.
4. Don’t apply for new credit cards to increase your available credit.
5. Pay down your revolving debt. Also, pay down your debt rather than moving it around.
6. Manage your credit cards and installment loans responsibly. Paying credit cards and installments loans promptly will actually raise your credit rating.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Value of a Buyers Agent

Q. I’m thinking of buying a home soon. Should I get a Buyer’s Agent, or should I go it alone?

A. I recommend getting a Buyer’s Agent because the agent will be specifically representing you, and, because a Buyer’s Agent generally gets paid by the seller, you pay no commission. A Buyer’s Agent will take time to help you find the type of home you want, in the location you want, and the properties that fit your particular needs and desires. Research by the National Association of REALTORS® reveals that buyers find their home faster when they use a Buyer’s Agent.

A Buyer’s Agent can also help you with financing your home. The agent will determine how much you can afford and help you become pre-qualified to purchase a home. Getting pre-qualified puts you in a stronger negotiating position by letting the seller know you are serious and able to purchase the home. You hire a Buyer’s Agent by signing an agency agreement, which is legal and binding. If you have questions about Buyer Agency, or if you are buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Great Tip On How To Reduce The Cost Of College Tuition!

Millions of dollars available from private sector scholarships go unclaimed every year. Generally, it’s because parents and students don’t know how to apply.
For more information, send a self-addressed, stamped, business size #10 envelop to: The U.S. Commission for Scholastic Assistance, P.O. Box 650067, Potomac Falls, VA 20165-0067.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brain Food - How to be Smarter

Would you like to know how you can make yourself smarter? It’s really quite simple. There are certain foods that make your brain work better. To improve your memory and brain function, eat more foods high in choline. According to Dr. Arthur Winter, coauthor of Build Your Brain Power, foods high in choline include: soy, fish, beef, dairy, egg yolks, oatmeal, brown rice, liver and wheat germ.

Eating foods high in Vitamin B12, such as red meat, liver, eggs, and dairy, also will improve memory and brain power. Winter recommends taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement to ensure you’re getting what your body needs. You can take Vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) to reduce stress to your brain tissue.

To improve alertness, memory, and focus make sure you eat three servings of protein (chicken, fish, beef, soy, and dairy) each day. Your brain is regulated by amino acids, and these foods have the necessary amino acids your brain needs. If you are a vegan, make sure to balance your diet with legumes and nuts. Lastly, folic acid, another B vitamin, helps brain function by improving mood and alertness. It’s found in green leafy veggies, broccoli, cereals, meat, and lentils. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dangers of Processed Meat

Hot dogs, sausage, bacon and even luncheon meats may not be so good for your health, according to a researcher at the University of Hawaii. The greatest danger may be to your pancreas. In a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, people who ate processed meats had a 67% higher risk for pancreatic cancer than those who didn’t consume processed meats.

The study analyzed the diets of 190,545 men and women. Other research has found a correlation between pancreatic cancer and other factors such as a family history of pancreatic cancer, smoking, obesity, and diabetes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Want To Find Out Info On Someone...Or Yourself?

Here’s a great website worth keeping in your favorite’s file!
Do you want to find out information about someone you know, or even your neighbor? Go to www.pretrieve.com. You’ll be amazed at what you can find out. It’s a search engine that explores public records from any state. Try typing in your own name or address and see what you find out about yourself. It might surprise you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

7 Secrets for Conquering Stress in Your Life...

Are you a harried mom? Overworked dad? Stressed out professional? Stress is considered one of the top three contributors to heart disease and other serious illnesses. Don’t let daily stress get the best of you. Here are seven steps you can take right now to reduce your stress level, and get back to feeling more balanced and energized in your daily life...

1. Master Your Thoughts. Stress and anxiety are actually a choice. You have the power to choose how you feel at any given moment. When you are feeling stressed out, take a moment to pause and close your eyes. Ask yourself, “Is there another choice I can make that will make me feel more at peace with myself or this situation?”

2. Breathe. It sounds so simple, but breathing has a tremendous affect on your mind, body, and your mood. Focus on your breathing when you find yourself feeling stress. If you put your finger on your belly button, you’ll begin to breathe from your belly and relax.

3. Exercise. Regular exercise can release stress and make you feel more in control of your life. Try a 30-minute brisk walk, bike ride, or play a game of tennis or racquetball.

4. Take Up A Hobby. Hobbies give our body and mind a place to relax. Whether it’s painting, woodworking, gardening, or playing a musical instrument, hobbies can give us that feeling of a vacation without having to go anywhere to get away.

5. Pace Yourself. Many of us have a tendency to over schedule ourselves or our family, and then become stressed when we can’t meet the demands. Prioritize your workload and concentrate on one task at a time.

6. Lighten Up And Take The Long View. If you’re feeling anxious and tense...take a moment and ask yourself, “will this really matter tomorrow, next week, or even five years from now?”

7. Strive For Peace of Mind. You can get more out of your life by actually doing less. Happiness comes not from the number of activities we do, and things we collect, but from the opportunity to enjoy our experiences. Doing less may actually make you happier...it’s your choice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What a Pest Inspection Too?

Q. We are taking the first steps in getting our home ready for sale. Our REALTOR® says we need to have a pest inspection. Is this really necessary?

A. Most states (especially in regions prone to termite infestation) will require that the seller or buyer obtain a Wood-Destroying Insect Report. Termites can devastate a dwelling to the point it needs to be demolished. It’s best to get the report from an independent, reputable expert rather than the company that treats homes for termite problems. A termite problem is not always visible and a trained entomologist (insect specialist) may be needed to spot evidence of termite nests and activity.

Hire only experienced, licensed, and insured exterminators. There are freelancers out there who are not properly trained to apply chemicals. (This could easily damage your home and your health!) Avoid any company that offers a contract containing a disclaimer against water damage. This is an “out” if their treatments aren’t effective, because termites need a 98 percent humidity level to thrive and survive. Moisture and termites go hand-in-hand and only a thorough extermination will get them.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau for reputable exterminators. Americans spend $4.5 billion a year on termite extermination and 2 billion to repair termite damage. The right exterminator could save your home and avoid extensive repairs. Here are some tips on hiring exterminators.

1. Ask someone you trust for a reference (your agent is a great place to start!).
2. Find out if the company belongs to a national, state, or local pest control association.
3. Ask the company exactly what the pest is, what treatments are needed, and how long it will take before they go to work.
4. Thoroughly read and understand the company’s guarantee.
5. Expect to pay for a good extermination job. Go by value and not price.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How To Boost Your Brain Power

Have you lost your keys lately? Have you recently put something down, and now you can’t find it? Or, maybe you just want to be more efficient and productive at work. Well now there are some new herbal products available at your local health food store that can increase oxygen and glucose to the brain—triggering more brain power!
1. Bacopa (Bacopa Monnieri) – Rich in antioxidants, this herb has been found to improve memory and information processing.
2. Cordyceps (Cordyceps Sinensis) – Cordyceps has been used to treat exhaustion, weakness, poor sexual appetite, and aging. It has been shown to help the adrenals function better and stimulate the liver to release stored energy in the form of glucose.
3. Periwinkle (Vinca Minor, sold as vinpocetine) – Periwinkle is a European herb that delivers more blood to the brain and acts as a powerful free-radical destroyer. It may prevent senility and dementia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Safe Way To Jump-Start Your Car

Jump-starting a vehicle can be very dangerous to the person doing it and to the vehicle. Read the car owner's manual first before touching a dead battery because some directions are unusual. Improper jump-starting can cause electrical surges through the vehicle's electrical system.

When working with a battery, wear splash-proof goggles. If the battery explodes, eye protection can prevent injuries from flying fragments or chemicals.

Here's how to attach the cables:
1. Connect one positive cable (+ or red) to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
2. Clamp the remaining positive cable to the positive terminal of the good battery.
3. Clamp the negative cable ( - or black) to the negative terminal of the good battery.
4. Make the last connection by clamping the black or negative cable on the engine block (not on the negative post of the dead battery) of the stalled vehicle.

Now you are ready. Start the car with the good battery and then the disabled car. When finished, remove cables in reverse order.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The New Miracle Health Food

Ah…Yes, Chocolate—

If you love chocolate, you don’t need to feel guilty anymore! Here’s why. Nutritionists at Penn State University have discovered that chocolate has powerful (and very healthy!) antioxidant properties. Chocolate (especially the very dark chocolates) have been found to have high levels of the antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols. Long-term studies have shown that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have a lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, and type-2 diabetes.

Researchers found that Dove Dark Chocolate packed a walloping amount of the heart-healthy flavanols. It reduced bad LDL cholesterol, boosted antioxidant levels in the blood and raised good HDL cholesterol by 4 percent. In the lab, they discovered chocolate reduces blood clotting, and may stabilize arterial plaque, making it less likely to travel and cause stroke and heart attack. “The chocolate flavanol factor” also triggers production of nitric oxide, which maintains flexible arteries and increases blood flow – great for controlling high blood pressure! So the next time you unwrap a savory piece of dark chocolate and offer some to a friend, you can say, “To your health and long life!”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friends—The Key To A Longer Life

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, men who have lots of friends, social contacts, and relatives live longer, more satisfying lives. In a study of 28,000 men in their early 40s to late 70s, researchers found that men who were socially isolated loners were 20 percent more likely to die prematurely. The socially isolated group also was 53 percent more likely to die from heart related diseases and stroke. Unmarried men included in the study had markedly higher death rates than married men with a strong family support system did.

It appears that making friends and nurturing social relationships not only will make you healthier, but it could make you a lot happier too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Save BIG On Prescription Drugs

Anyone who buys medications from their local pharmacy can’t help but wonder about the high cost of prescription drugs. By applying a little knowledge and forethought at the doctor’s office—and at the pharmacy counter, you can save BIG money…and get the medications that you need to stay healthy! Here are a few practical strategies to help you SAVE on your health care needs:

1. This one is simple…don’t take medications you don’t really need. If a change in diet, more exercise, and weight loss will get the job done, then by all means try that approach first.
2. Buy in bulk when possible. The larger the quantity, the greater the savings. Ask your doctor for a 90-day prescription if you are on a daily medication.
3. Routinely ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is generic equivalent for a prescribed medication. Generics can be as effective and cost less.
4. If you are starting a new drug, ask your doctor for free samples. Then if you have a bad reaction and can’t continue, you haven’t wasted money on a full bottle of pills or ointment.
5. Ask your doctor for a higher dose, and then cut the pills in half by scoring them with a kitchen knife or pill-splitter. Not all drugs can be split, so consult with your doctor first.
6. Compare prices at your neighborhood drug stores. Many of the “big box” stores feature pharmacies that have lower prices on prescription drugs.
7. Check out mail order drug companies and the blossoming internet outlets. Medications can be 20 percent cheaper and shipped to you.
8. Use discount cards promoted by pharmacies and consumer groups (like AARP). The savings can be up to 40 percent with these special programs.
9. If you can’t afford medication, at least 30 states now have active prescription drug assistance programs for the low-income and elderly.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kitchen Wisdom

• When freezing ahead for daily use, package food items in the measured amounts you will need for your daily recipes…less waste!
• If you have a fisherman in the family, or buy a quantity of bulk fish, here’s how to keep it from drying out and losing its flavor in the freezer: Clean and prepare the fish for cooking then layer fish in a loaf pan as tightly as possible. Pour cold water over it; be sure to cover the very top fish. Freeze. When frozen solid, run warm water over the pan to release the block of fish. Bag tightly and store in the freezer.
• A little vinegar kept boiling on the stove while cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli are boiling will prevent odor.
• In preparing greens for salads, never cut them! Tear them into pieces. Cutting bruises greens and makes them limp.
• Grease your spoon or cup when measuring syrup, molasses, or honey and the sticky foods will roll right off.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

7 Secrets to Wealth-Building

The tech boom and the stock market “bubble” of the 1990s have come and gone like a bright, shining dream. And visions of “instant millionaires” created by stock options and killer web sites have all but evaporated. So what really defines being “wealthy” in the 21st century and who has it…for real?

Thomas J. Stanley, author of the bestseller “The Millionaire Next Door,” interviewed 1,000 millionaires to find out what traits, attributes, and habits they have in common.

Stanley sorted through the “showboat” wealthy (those living affluent lifestyles but actually burdened with debt) to find the genuine “balance sheet” millionaires—those with solid assets between $2 and $5 million. And what he found is that the basic rules for creating and keeping wealth are still driven by old-fashioned, common sense values. Here are seven key factors that make a “real” millionaire:

1. They started their own business and acquired wealth by finding a profitable niche in the market. They also love what they do for a living, and are motivated by building a business—not by amassing wealth for its own sake.
2. “Real” millionaires live comfortable lifestyles, but they are not extravagant or wasteful. On the average, they live in homes valued at $350,000 and drive mid-priced cars.
3. They stay married to responsible, stable spouses who run tight, efficient households. Their mates clip coupons, buy household items in bulk, and keep track of the household expenses.
4. They spend less than they earn, and follow a savings plan as a life-long habit.
5. TRUE millionaires do not speculate when it comes to investments. Once their businesses have reached maturity, they invest wisely to grow capital. They rarely visit a casino to gamble, and almost never buy lottery tickets.
6. Most of the millionaires were average students who had little encouragement to succeed in life. They developed leadership skills through sports and nurtured determination and a will to succeed—on their own.
7. Two strong characteristics the TRUE millionaires all had in common were an unwavering belief in themselves and their abilities. They dared to think differently from the crowd!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10 Warning Signs Your 401(K) May Be In Trouble!

The Department of Labor Anti-Fraud Division has put together a list of 10 warning signs that your 401(K) funds could be in jeopardy.
1. Your 401(K) or individual account statement is late or comes irregularly.
2. Your account balance is not accurate.
3. Your employer fails to transmit your contribution to the plan on time.
4. There is a drop in your account balance beyond normal market fluctuations.
5. Your 401(K) or individual account statement does not reflect your contributions.
6. There are investments on your statement that you did not authorize.
7. Former employees are having trouble getting their benefits paid on time or in the correct amounts.
8. You notice unusual transactions, such as a loan to the employer, a corporate officer, or one of the plan trustees.
9. There are frequent and unexplained changes in investment managers or consultants.
10. Your employer has recently experienced severe financial difficulty.
If you have any concerns about your 401(K), contact the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What to Know About Buying a Rental Property

Q. My wife and I are interested in investing in real estate. What should we know before we jump in and put down our money?

A. Investing in real estate can be a very profitable investment, but there are a few things you should know.
• Financing investment properties may have a higher interest rate than in a home where you reside. You also may be required by the lending institution to have a larger down payment.
• The secret to making money is to buy right. Choose a property that will appreciate over time. You want to buy an “average” home in a very strong neighborhood or area – then improve the property. Be particularly careful about the location of the property, and any future changes to the area.
• If you are handy at making repairs, and available to make them, buying a fix-up property can be profitable. Make sure you choose a neighborhood where the houses are well-maintained at a higher value.
• Lastly, you’ll need to become knowledgeable about landlord tenant legal issues whether you lease the property yourself, or enlist a management company to handle your property.
If you have any questions, or if you are buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Making Small Talk - Get ready for Your Holiday Party

Have you ever found yourself at a meeting or social event and been at a loss for words? Making small talk isn’t random. It follows a formula, says Bernardo Carducci, author of The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk. Carducci says you can anticipate where the conversation is going and plan ahead. Here are some tips to follow:

 Look for someone not talking with a group and use a simple opening line, “This appetizer (food) is great!” Or, mention something about the building or room. Then introduce yourself.
 If a conversation stalls, you can restart it with a compliment. “That’s a great suit (tie, jewelry, color of clothing), you’re wearing.”
 If there’s someone you want to talk to (but they’re talking in a group), meander over, introduce yourself to others in the group and soon enough you’ll be able to talk directly with that person.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Searching Family Records is FUN

7 Easy Ways to Discover
Your Family History

Would you like to know more about your ancestry, but don’t know where to start? Now you can learn about your family’s history and discover interesting facts in a matter of minutes – all from the internet. Here are seven easy tips you can follow to help research your ancestry on the web:

1. What Does Your Name Mean? A fun way to begin to search your ancestry is to find out what your surname means. You can go to a number of sites on the web including www.Ancestry.com/learn and www.Geneology.com.

2. Where Do Most People With Your Surname Originate? You can continue your search to find out where most people with your last name came from. You can also learn immigration information, headlines from that period, war records, and the current population distribution.

3. When Did They Arrive At Ellis Island (if you live in the U.S.)? Go to www.EllisIsland.org to search passenger arrival records, which are fascinating to view.

4. What Type Of Work Did Your Ancestors Do? You can find the occupations of your ancestors, which can tell you about their socioeconomic class and dominant family trades.

5. Access a Variety of Interesting Family Information and Trivia. You can access obituary data, prison records (for that “black sheep” of the family), bible records transcriptions and more at www.AncestorHunt.com.

6. How to Access Military Records? You can search military records including Civil War records, WWI, draft records, and other records using the above links on the web.

7. Connect And Share With Your Family. You can begin to build your family tree using computer software, or you can create your own family tree using many free resources available on the websites mentioned here.

Searching family records is fun, interesting and rewarding. Hop on the internet today, and discover amazing facts about your family.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Teaching Kids Life Skills

Teaching kids how to approach and solve life’s challenges is one of the biggest jobs parents face. Here are a few tips to help your children (or grandchildren) grow into self-sufficient and responsible adults:

• Teach Kids To Look For Solutions. When kids are faced with a problem, have them identify several options and solutions. Then you can help them choose which solution works best.

• Teach Kids Responsibility: Let kids know they are responsible for their actions. They have to do their homework, but you can offer them two “positive choice” options: Do you want to do it in 15 minutes or 30 minutes? Teach them how to organize, and give them the tools to stay organized (calendar, palm pilot, notebook).

• Teach Kids How To Make Good Choices. Giving kids choices empowers them to make their own decisions. Have them weigh the pros and cons of their choice, and let them make the decisions.

• Teach Kids How To Deal with Failure. Teach your children that failure is not personal, permanent, or pervasive (i.e. losing a soccer game doesn’t mean you’re bad at other things as well). Developing a positive explanatory style early in life will help your children live a happier, healthier and more successful adult life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Healing Magic Of Cinnamon

Did you know that cinnamon offers more than just a great scent and taste? It has important health benefits too. A USDA scientist, Dr. Richard Anderson, recently found that cinnamon imitates the effect of insulin in the body. A study of Type-2 diabetics found that people who were given between 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day reduced their blood sugar by up to 29% depending on the amount of cinnamon they were given.

In two other scientific studies, one that was published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, rats were given cinnamon extract to see if it would improve how they metabolized glucose. These findings may help scientists understand the role of cinnamon on the body, and open the door to much needed research. Taken a step further, cinnamon may also help people reduce their chance of developing diabetes and improve the body’s ability to balance blood sugars.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspections Best Money You Ever Spend

Q. We’re getting ready to purchase a home. What’s involved in a home inspection, and is it mandatory when buying a house?

A. A home inspection is not mandatory when you purchase a house, but I recommend that you have any home you’re planning on buying inspected by a licensed inspector. In fact, I’d insist upon it.

A home inspector has the training and expertise to provide an objective opinion about the condition of the home. The inspector will carefully examine the home’s structure, roof, plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and cooling system, and appliances. He or she will provide a written assessment of the house’s condition.

The inspection will tell you what repairs might need to be made before buying. The inspection can alert you to any serious problems the house may have—before you buy the house. There’s a period after a contract is accepted when you can have the inspection completed. Fees are paid to the inspector by the buyer.

If there are problems or repairs that need to made, you can request in writing during the specified period that these repairs be made as a condition of the sale. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

“ICE” Campaign Can Save Lives

In Case of Emergency

A campaign encouraging people to enter an emergency contact number into their cellular phone’s address book under the heading “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) is spreading throughout the world.

Originally established in the UK, ICE allows paramedics or police to be able to contact a designated relative or next-of-kin in an emergency situation – which could be vital in a life or death situation. Almost everyone carries a cell phone, and with ICE, paramedics or emergency workers will quickly know who to contact. In many cases, the friend or relative may even know the medical history or other important information of the injured person.

Setting up your “ICE” is easy. Simply select a person to contact in case of emergency, then enter their phone number in your phone’s address book under the description “ICE.” That’s all there is to it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life’s Truisms…

• Money doesn’t bring you happiness, but it enables you to look for it in more places.
• Your conscience may not keep you from doing wrong, but it sure keeps you from enjoying it.
• The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
• A closed mouth gathers no feet.
• Money isn’t everything...there’s credit cards, money orders, and travelers checks.
• A modern pioneer is a woman who can get through a rainy Saturday with a television on the blink.
• Misers aren’t much fun to live with, but they make great ancestors.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Driving Tips In Bad Weather

Truck drivers know what to do when driving in rain and fog, but do you? First, make sure your windshield is clean. This will improve your windshield wipers effectiveness. Secondly, be aware that rain can cause serious problems after a period of dry weather. A slight drizzle combined with the oil on the road, can make the road as slick as ice.

Driving in fog can be the most hazardous because of its changeability. In dense fog, the American Truckers Association (ATA) recommends you pull off the road. If that’s not possible, adjust your speed to whatever vision you do have. Here are six tips when driving in fog:

1. Drive with headlights on low beam, whether it’s day or night.
2. Reduce your speed.
3. Roll down your windows to hear traffic you can’t see.
4. Use your defroster in addition to your wipers for maximum vision.
5. Use the right edge of the road as a guide. Be patient and don’t pass.
6. Never stop on the roadway when there is fog.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Two Ways You Can Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s research is a hot topic, and could have a big impact on your life. There’s an estimated 4.5 million cases in the U.S. reports the Alzheimer’s Association, and that number is growing. But there’s hope!

You may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by taking two important vitamins, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Vitamins C and E are the focus of many research studies, which indicate they may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that antioxidants may absorb damaging free radicals in the brain and prevent cell damage.

A Johns Hopkins study found that people taking both Vitamins C and E were 64% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease four years later. The recommended daily doses for Vitamin C are 500 to 1,500 mg, and 400 to 1,000 IU of Vitamin E daily. Be sure you check with your doctor to determine which dose is best for you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Neatness Pays Off

Your boss may be watching your neatness factor. A study of 2,600 bosses commissioned by DYMO Corp. found that bosses think the organization and cleanliness of a worker’s desk is important.
The bosses reported a link between organizational skills and job performance. Bosses said they look more favorably at “neat-niks” than the “slackers.” Over 50% of those bosses interviewed consider it when they conduct annual reviews, hand out raises, and offer promotions. You may want to think about clearing off your desk!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Seattle Humane Society - Your Key to a Longer Life!

Could Owning a Pet
Help You Live Longer?

What would you say if you could buy a medicine that lowered your blood pressure, improved your cardiovascular health, reduced your anxiety and stress, and made you happy...everyday. Would you buy it?

We know how much love and affection pets can bring to our lives, but there’s more. Scientific studies have found that having a pet can significantly improve your health. Here are five ways pets can positively impact your health:

1. Heart Benefits. The American Journal of Cardiology reports pet owners are more likely to survive a heart attack than those who don’t own a pet. Another study found people who owned a dog were more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than those who didn’t have a dog.

2. Lower Blood Pressure. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that pets help lower blood pressure (and heart rates). An American study found men who owned a cat had a lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure than men who didn’t own a cat. And after a stressful event, their blood pressure returned to normal more quickly.

3. Mood Elevator. People, particularly seniors, who own pets are less likely to be depressed and lonely. Pets can provide companionship, humor, and add playfulness to our daily lives.

4. Kids and Health. Research presented at the 10th International Conference on Human Animal Interaction 2004 found that children who have pets have fewer sick days. They also reported that children who had pets had higher levels of self-esteem and functioned better emotionally. Research studies also found that children with pets coped better with divorce.

5. An Exercise Buddy. Dogs need regular exercise, which also gets their owners walking. This can improve their overall health. As an added benefit people improve their social network as they socialize their pet.

There is a word of caution, however. Owning a pet requires your time and a financial commitment. If you’re not ready for that responsibility, it’s best to hold off owning a pet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Read These Labels To Become A Smarter Shopper

Consumers should be able to make better buying decisions in the coming months, thanks to two new voluntary labels that will appear on U.S. products:

 “Nutrition Keys.” This icon will summarize important nutrition information from the Nutrition Facts Label and put it on the front of the package. It will display calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving and say how each serving contributes to overall diet based on recommended daily nutrition intake (expressed as “percent of daily value”). Other nutrients that may appear on some products are potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and protein. To see what this looks like, go to www.gmaonline.org.

 “USDA Certified Biobased Product” seal. This will identify products made from renewable resources composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. As products get certified, you’ll start seeing it on everything from trash bags and cleaning supplies to skin care products. The USDA hopes the seal will give the same consumer boost to biobased products as Energy Star did to energy-efficient appliances. See an example of the seal at www.biopreferred.gov.

 But wait – there’s more! The Department of Agriculture announced that nutrition labels will be required on meat and poultry beginning Jan.1, 2012. The labels will list calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein and vitamins for 40 commonly purchased cuts of beef, poultry, pork and lamb.

 Still to come: Requirements for chain restaurants and vending machine operators to post calorie information. Some restaurants (such as Subway) already make the information available.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Don’t Get Caught In These Risky Investor Traps

You’re anxious to rebuild your nest egg but want to make sure you invest wisely. Here are some of the top products and practices you should avoid, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association:

Foreign Exchange Trading Schemes. Beware of salesmen who claim to have algorithms or propriety software programs that allow them to beat the market. State regulators have found situations where there are no trades; the money is simply stolen.

“Green” schemes. New energy-efficient technologies are popular, but be wary of those exploiting headlines related to the Gulf oil spill clean-up and “clean” innovations, such as wind energies or carbon credits.

Oil & Gas schemes. These investments tend to be unsuitable for smaller investors who can’t afford the risk. While ventures can be legitimate, some promoters structure their “general partnerships” to avoid securities regulation.

Affinity fraud. Scam artists like to prey on groups, such as church members and professional groups. Seek further information from an unbiased, independent source.

Undisclosed conflicts of interest. Demand that anyone giving advice or recommendations disclose how they are compensated.

Private or special deals. Although properly used by many legitimate issuers, private offerings have become an attractive option for con artists who steal money by promoting special deals.

“Off the Books” deals. Be cautious if your broker offers an investment on the side instead of one sold through his or her employer.

Unsolicited online pitches. Fraudulent investment scammers are now using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, YouTube) to solicit unsuspecting investors. Approach any unsolicited investment opportunity with suspicion.

How do you avoid getting taken? Do your homework, be skeptical and only do business with licensed brokers and advisers. Check out any adviser before you invest at a site such as www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. Report any suspicion of fraud to your state or provincial securities regulator.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Need Gift Ideas?

If you’re looking for a gift, check out a site like www.gifts.com where you’ll find suggestions for every occasion.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some Good College Advice…

If you just sent your son or daughter off to college, chances are you gave him or her plenty of advice. Here are three points you may have missed, thanks to Trent Hamm of thesimpledollar.com.

Don’t worry too much about picking a major early on. You don’t have to know what you want to do right now. Try things you’ve never done before. This is the time to see what does or does not interest you.

The biggest value you’ll get from college is your relationships with other people. Build relationships with students, professors, staff members, anyone you respect, admire and enjoy being with. They may help you with your career path and end up being your friends for life.

The biggest value you’ll get from your classes is transferable skills. You’ll learn to process information, manage your time and communicate (writing, speaking, presenting) with a variety of people. You’ll get as much value out of learning how to learn a particular subject (say, Western Philosophy) than you may get out of the specific subject itself. These are skills you’ll use no matter what career you pursue.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What is Your Walkability Score?

Q. What are “walkability” scores?

A. CEOs For Cities, a national network of urban leaders, commissioned a study released in August 2009 that explored the relationship between home values and walkability in various U.S. metropolitan areas.

Walkability is defined by the Walk Score algorithm, which calculates the closest amenities to a U.S. address. Scores range from 0 (car dependent) to 100 (most walkable).

The results showed that the walkability of cities translated into increased home values in 13 of the 15 housing markets studied. In the typical metropolitan area, a one-point increase in Walk Score was associated with an increase in value ranging from $700 to $3,000 depending on the market. The gains were larger in more dense, urban areas like Chicago and San Francisco and smaller in less dense markets like Tucson and Fresno.

Houses with above-average levels of walkability commanded a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with average levels in the typical metropolitan area.

Walk Score is an approximation. It does not consider factors such as public transit, crime and topography. Lots of real estate agents, however, are adding the Walk Score to their listings.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

America’s Safest Cities

Forbes has named these cities the safest based on crime rate, workplace fatalities, traffic deaths & natural disaster risk:
1. Minneapolis
2. Milwaukee metro area
3. Portland metro area
4. Boston (tie)
5. Seattle (tie)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Make Sure Your Diploma Is Legitimate

If you’re about to sign up for an online education program or a specialized school, check to see if the school is accredited. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education maintains a database at www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How To Complain Effectively

The customer may always be right, but sometimes you have to convince companies that it’s true. If you think you’ve encountered bad service, you not only have a right to complain, you have a responsibility. Here’s how to do it effectively:

 Decide what you want the company to do. Will you be satisfied with a refund, a credit, a repaired product or a replacement?

 Contact the seller as soon as possible. Talking to a customer service representative can solve many problems. Be ready with details and documentation. Be assertive yet calm (not threatening!) as you explain your position. Keep going up the ladder until you reach someone in a position of authority.

 If the issue is not resolved, write a letter to the seller’s national headquarters or the manufacturer of the item. Do your research since the manufacturer is often different than the brand name.

 If you are not satisfied (after a reasonable amount of time), file a complaint with a third party. In addition to complaining to the Better Business Bureau and your state consumer protection office, take your issue to the state or federal agency that regulates that particular business. You might also get help from a trade association or the local news media.

 If all else fails, consider filing a small claims suit or pursuing a dispute resolution program. You can get a directory of programs, including mediation, arbitration and conciliation, from the American Bar Association.

For more information, consult the “2009 Consumer Action Handbook”
a free 172-page guide from the General Service Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Communication. You can order the handbook, which contains a directory of several hundred companies and a sample complaint letter, or download it at www.consumeraction.gov.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't Grocery Shop on an Empty Stomach

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).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kids Are Expensive

A new government study found the average cost to raise a child from birth through age 17 is $221,000! This does not include college. Here’s the breakdown:
 Housing – 32 percent
 Child care/education – 16 percent
 Food – 16 percent
 Transportation – 14 percent
 Health care – 8 percent
 Miscellaneous – 8 percent
 Clothing – 6 percent

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Can Medication Make You Sick?

Medication is supposed to make us better, but it can have the opposite effect. Take care to avoid these medication mistakes:

• Mixing over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications. You may be double dosing. For example, if you take a cold pill that contains acetaminophen (more than 600 OTC and prescription medicines do), don’t pop an additional Tylenol for good measure. Too much of the drug can cause liver damage.

• Not recognizing the “rebound effect.” That’s when a drug produces reverse effects when the effect of the drug has passed or the patient no longer responds to it. In other words, a remedy meant to help may make a condition worse. This has been known to happen with pain relievers, OTC eye drops, decongestant sprays, sleeping pills and teeth whiteners. Best advice: If you don’t think a drug or product is working, don’t just take more of it. Talk to your doctor about alternatives.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why Do They Call It Bing?

Microsoft’s newest search engine is not named after a cherry and does not stand for “But It’s Not Google.” It’s meant to represent the sound of something found, as in “Bingo! I’ve got it!”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Should You Get A Flu Shot?

Despite all the publicity and serious worldwide concern about the H1N1 flu virus last year, many U.S. adults chose not to get vaccinated. As flu seasons approaches, here are some points to consider:

• The U.S. Centers For Disease Control reiterates that the flu is a contagious disease that can be life-threatening. They estimated that 60 million Americans contracted the H1N1 virus by March 2010. Some 270,000 were hospitalized and more than 12,000 died.

• The 2010-2011 vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1 and two other flu viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B). People who got the 2009 H1N1 vaccine (or had that flu) should still get the 2010-2011 vaccine.

• The CDC recommends that all people six months and older be vaccinated each year. Adults only need one shot while some children will need two. A new, higher-dosage vaccine will be available for people 65 and older. Most flu occurs from November through May. You should get the vaccine as soon as it is available in your area.

For flu prevention tips, see www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Education Innovation

Will students in the future use tablet computers instead of textbooks? Students, parents and teachers are helping to determine that as part of www.ischoolinitiative.com. Started
by a student, the site includes some recommended apps and a social community that gives everyone a chance to discuss how schools can make the best use of technology.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stay Connected: Start A Family Blog

You don’t have time to send e-mails, much less cards, letters and photos to keep your family in the loop. You can use Facebook, but why not create your own blog? It’s easy, fun and you can do it as an individual or a group.

To get started, check out some of the free blogging hosts, such as www.wordpress.com, www.livejournal.com or www.blogger.com. Each one has templates, instructions and features like custom privacy settings and ability to post from your mobile phone. You can upgrade to a paid account later, if you need advanced features.

Here are some keys to success from experienced bloggers:
 Keep posts short and to the point (300 words or less).
 Include lots of photos (make sure to size them correctly).
 Don’t use it to vent (unless it’s entertaining).
 Set a date in your calendar so it’s updated monthly (or weekly).

Another plus: You can even publish your blog as a book once a year!

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Your Kids Are Doing

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows that 8-18 year-olds spend an average of 7 hours 38 minutes using entertainment media a day.
 They spend more time listening to music, playing games and watching TV on their cell phones than they spend talking on them!
 7th-12th graders spend an average of 1 hour 35 minutes a day texting, and that wasn’t counted as entertainment media in this study.
 Media use increases when they become tweens (11-14 years old).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Where to Focus Your Money in a Remodel

Q. We are planning to sell our home soon. What room should we focus our main attention when getting our house ready for sale?

A. Focus on the kitchen. The kitchen is a major consideration in most sales. For many people, the kitchen is the most important room in a house.
If you have an outdated kitchen and plan to sell your home, a kitchen remodel usually doesn’t make sense. However, a kitchen makeover can work magic in brightening your home. Here are a few tips to liven up a tired kitchen without taxing your pocketbook:
1) A New Coat Of Paint. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in brightening any room. Focus on neutral colors.
2) Clean Up The Clutter. Put away any extra appliances, cookbooks, and other messy items that take up counter space.
3) Clean, Clean, Clean. Make sure everything sparkles...from the windows, appliances, counters, to the floor.
4) Out With The Old, In With The New. If your countertop tile is outdated, old, or grungy. replace it with new tile. Remember to keep the colors neutral. If you have an old stainless steel faucet replace it with a new one. These improvements can be completed inexpensively, and will increase the value and appeal of your home.
5) Replace Outdated Hardware. If you have old, outdated hardware on your kitchen cabinets, look for a new, stylish replacement.
6) Lighting. Make sure there is light shining in the kitchen when you show your house. You want your kitchen to look bright and spotless.
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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Help Your Kids Deal with Bullies

Bullies are among the top fears school age children expressed in a recent study. Here are six strategies for dealing with bullies in school:
1. Listen to your children. Encourage your kids to talk about school and other kids, so that you can hear if they are having any problems.
2. Take your child’s complaints of bullying seriously. A minor complaint may actually uncover a more serious problem.
3. Report bullying behavior to school officials. They can stop the problem at the source. If it’s happening to your child, chances are it’s probably happening to other children.
4. Help your child learn the social skills they need to make friends. A confident child who has friends is less likely to be bullied.
5. Teach your child non violent ways to resolve arguments. Teach your child self-protection skills, staying alert and verbal assertiveness.
6. Teach your child that they can walk away from a bully.
For more information on how to protect your children from bullies, go to www.mcgruff.org.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Extra Calcium Can Save Your Life

How to Reduce Your Risk
of Colon Cancer…

You can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by 15 percent just by drinking one glass of milk a day! Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that by drinking milk and taking calcium supplements (1,000 mg) daily you can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 24%.

The study analyzed the calcium intake of over 500,000 men and women, and colorectal cancer and was published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers recommended eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grain, while reducing your fat intake. They also recommended exercising regularly and getting a regular colon-screening test to reduce your risk of colon cancer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Secrets Of Female Millionaires

Did you know there are more women millionaires today than at any time in history? It’s true. Thomas Stanley, author of The Millionaire Woman Next Door, has come up with some interesting facts. The average female millionaire is 49 years old, married, a mother, spends 3-4 hours a week at the gym, and works a 50-hour week.

Stanley found three themes that stood out. Female millionaires were responsible for budgeting and financial planning in their households and had a detailed method of tracking expenses. Second, female millionaires focused selling their skills rather than merchandise. Service businesses enabled the women to do what they liked, and work a reasonable schedule.

Third, female millionaires viewed themselves as leaders. Four out of five women millionaires focused their attention on the future...and not what had happened in the past. The millionaire women were proactive, and believed it was their responsibility to move situations forward.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We All Tell White Lies Sometimes

Five Surefire Ways
To Spot A Liar…

Do you remember the old joke: “How can you tell if a politician is lying? Answer: Their lips are moving!”

Well, almost everyone lies at sometime, according to Dr. Robert Galatzer-Levy of the University of Chicago. In fact, research has shown that people lie in one-fourth of their daily social interactions.” White lies, little kid lies, vicious lies, lies of infidelity...and infamous ‘presidential’ lies! There can be severe penalties for lying. If you lie in court and get caught, you can go to prison. Most liars usually give themselves away with their body language or their words. Here are five surefire ways for becoming an expert ‘liar detective’:

1. Shifty Eyes. Shifty eyes are the hallmark of a liar, according to a recent study of people polled in 75 countries. Looking away or lack of eye contract are non-verbal signs that may indicate the person is lying.
2. Body Language Giveaways. Look at body movements. Is the person fidgeting? Is their body stiffening? Watch their hands, fingers, legs, and feet. Also, look at their emotional facial expressions. Watch for small, brief expressions that run counter to the person’s facial gestures.
3. Verbal Clues. Liars tend to hesitate, stammer, or stutter when speaking. Watch for slow speech, pauses, and a higher-pitched voice.
4. Inconsistencies. If a “liar” tells you something that doesn’t add up, ask for an explanation. Then watch for clues. Are they defensive? Do they give you too much information and go overboard with a lie?
5. Intuition. Pay attention to clues. Listen to what a person is saying (and how they’re saying it). Look at what a person is telling you with their body and gestures. Does the person say they’re glad to see you, but then moves away...or gives you a tepid handshake?
The chance a person is lying increases when their words and gestures don’t match. Asking questions is the best way of getting to the truth.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Need Pain Relief? Try This…No its NOT MaryJane

If you’re looking to relieve pain – try meditation. People all over the world have recognized the benefits of meditation for thousands of years.
And recent studies show even brief training in meditation can help ease pain.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte researchers found that
students who received a single hour of mindfulness training over three days significantly reduced their awareness and sensitivity to pain. Other studies show that meditation is particularly helpful to people who suffer from chronic back pain, fibromyalgia and migraines. Here’s how you can get started:

 Understand that most types of meditation have four elements in common: 1) a quiet location, 2) a specific and comfortable posture,
3) a focus of attention, and 4) an open attitude.

 Try this 3-minute exercise called A.C.E. recommended by Psychologist Elisha Goldstein, PhD. Do it several times a day:
• Awareness. Spend 60 seconds becoming aware of what is happening right now in your thoughts and emotions.
• Collecting. Spend another 60 seconds collecting your attention on your breathing. Notice where you are breathing most prominently ─ your nose, chest or belly.
• Expanding. Spend another 60 seconds expanding your awareness into your physical body and noticing sensations like tingling, warmth, pain and coolness at specific sites.

 Practice. Dr. Robert Bonakdar from the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine says the idea is to relax your body and become aware of your pain without judging it or fixating on it. Instead of running away from pain, come to terms with it. The reduced tension helps ease pain.

 Educate yourself. You can buy books and tapes on all kinds of meditation techniques (mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, relaxation response, guided imagery etc.) or seek out information on the internet. Try different techniques to see which one best suits you. If you have chronic pain, you might consider taking formal training.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Learn How To Organize And Get Things Done

Do you feel like you’re always working to keep up, but don’t really get anything done, especially around holidays? In his best-selling book Getting Things Done, David Allen gives you an effective time management system to help you organize your stuff, your work activities and your personal life.

Allen’s key idea is to start with a “mind sweep” ─ get everything out of your head and down on paper (or other written form). Once your mind is cleared, your productivity goes up and you can focus on creative action. His five basic stages of mastering your personal or professional “workflow” are:

1) Collect. Capture anything and everything that is on your mind.
2) Process. Decide what each thing means. Is it something you should do? Do it now or later? Can you delegate it (and track on a “Waiting For” list)?
3) Organize. Place the items in categories, such as Projects, Calendar, Next Actions and Waiting For, and sub-categories of your choice. (To help you visualize this, he includes a diagram for navigating through the processing and organizing phases of your workflow.)
4) Review. Go over Calendar and Action lists daily and do a weekly customized review to get clean and current.
5) Do. Make choices about your actions based on what you can do, how much time and energy you have and your priorities.

Another one of his most popular methods is the “two minute rule.” If any task can be completed in less than two minutes (for example, a quick email response), do it immediately. Stop putting those little things off.

Allen says Getting Things Done is “just advanced common sense.” But once you learn how to get everything under control, real change begins.

Millions of people around the world have found that his methods work. To order the book, search for “Getting Things Done” at www.amazon.com.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Get Smart About Your Heart

People often treat their cars better than they do their bodies. That’s what the president of the American Heart Association (AHA) says about the public’s awareness of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death around the world. The key is this: If you do the right things, most heart disease is preventable. While talking with your doctor is important, here’s what you can do on your own:

• Know where you stand. To get your personal heart score and learn what steps you may need to take to improve your heart health, go to MyLifeCheck.heart.org and click on “Get your assessment.”

• Follow the AHA’s “Simple 7”:
• Get active. 150 minutes/week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes/week of vigorous exercise. Walking is a great way to start.
• Control cholesterol. Make diet and lifestyle changes if your level is 200 mg/dl or higher.
• Eat better. Follow the 2010 guidelines at www.dietaryguidelines.gov. The AHA takes these a step further by saying everyone should limit their daily sodium consumption to 1,500 mg a day.
• Manage blood pressure. Know yours and keep it in a healthy range.
• Lose weight. Understand the relationship between the calories you’re consuming versus the calories you’re burning off.
• Reduce blood sugar. Diabetes is one of the major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
• Stop smoking. Seek out classes/support groups by contacting such organizations as the American Lung Association or Cancer Society.

• Track and manage your heart health by using the interactive tool at www.heart360.org.

Learn the warning signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest. Find this information at a doctor’s office, library or online sites like WebMD.com. By acting quickly (calling 9-1-1) you may save a life, including your own

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time to Shop for a Good Lender?

Q. We are shopping around for mortgage, but we don’t even know where to begin. What are the biggest mistakes people make?

A. First, before you begin, do your homework. Choosing the wrong mortgage is the biggest mistake people can make. Shop around. Make sure to look at the initial interest rate, future interest rates, and payments. Also, make sure you know if there are any prepayment penalties, and if so, what these are before signing anything.

Secondly, pay off your credit cards. Excessive credit can affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage. A lender doesn’t want you to get in over your head, and then have you unable to make your payments. Another big mistake is not having the home inspection done. Make the purchase of your new house contingent on passing a home inspection. Don’t skip this step. That way you’ll know whether there are any serious problems with the house (mold, leaking roof, poor foundation, cracks) before you buy. It’ll be money well spent!

Also, know the terms. Know the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved when talking with lenders and real estate agents. Pre-qualified means the lender is making an estimate about how much you can borrow based on the financial information you’ve provided. Pre-approved means the lender has verified the financial information you’ve supplied, and can offer you a loan at a specific amount, interest rate, and under certain conditions.

Lastly, hire a competent real estate agent who is experienced, who specializes in your area, and has a record of success. Ask the agent for specific information about how he/she plans to market your house.

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10 Ways To Live Forever!!

Back by popular demand. Want to feel better, look better, and live as if you’re a finely tuned sports car? Here are 10 more tips that’ll keep you feeling, looking, and living better...and enjoying life however long you live.

1. Take A Baby Aspirin Daily (81 mg.) reduces your risk of heart disease.
2. Let Grapefruit Be Your Friend. Grapefruit lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol.
3. Find A Mate. Happily married people have lower blood pressure.
4. Treat Yourself To A Massage. A massage will soothe away your stress.
5. Have An Apple. It’s true...an apple a day lowers your risk for heart disease.
6. Get A Pet. Studies show man’s (and woman’s) best friend really is just that.
7. Whistle A Happy Tune. Sing, whistle, or listen to music reduces stress.
8. Dress Your Salads. Leafy greens, high in antioxidants, protect your heart.
9. Go Wild With Watermelon. High in lycopene, it protects you from cancer.
10. Eat Chocolate! Dark chocolate, high in flavonoids—is good for your heart.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trans Fats In Your Food—Just How Dangerous Are They?

It’s becoming one of the most frequently used ingredients in many foods...and it’s one of the most dangerous! Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, are in everything from crackers, cake mixes, snack foods, cookies, breakfast cereals, microwave popcorn to french fries. Trans fats get their name from a distinct chemical structure. When manufacturers want a more solid, stable form of oil to make their products, they bubble hydrogen gas through vegetable oil. Sounds harmless? But what they are doing is changing the chemical structure of the fat.

Trans fats raise your level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and can also decrease your HDL, (the good cholesterol). Combined, these two effects put you at risk for developing heart disease. Trans fats also have been implicated in an increase risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and other cancers, and aging, according to recent studies. But don’t despair, there are plenty of healthy alternatives to trans fat foods at your neighborhood health food store. Just be sure to always check the labels on all foods for this hidden danger.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Here They Are—The Top 10 Jobs For Working From Home

Have you ever wanted a job where you didn’t have to drive to work? No traffic. No commuting. Flexible hours. And no sharing office space with people you might not care to see everyday. Now more and more people are opting for working at home. With technological advances and computers, home offices make working at home more affordable for employers, and much more convenient for workers.

How do you know if working at home is for you? Two traits can help to make someone more successful at working outside the office. First, successful at home workers or telecommuters are self-starters who don’t need “hands-on” help from managers. Secondly, they need to be an organized person with good time management skills. So if you’re interested in what career opportunities lend themselves to working at home, here’s a list of the Top 10 Jobs for working from home:

1) Computer Programmer / IT Specialist; 2)Accountant / Financial Advisor; 3) Graphic Designer; 4)Web Site Designer / Web Developer; 5) Communications Specialist; 6)Medical Transcriptionist;
7) Real Estate Agent; 8) Sales Representative; 9) Market Researcher; and 10) Translation Specialist.

For more information on working from home or telecommuting, go to smarterwork.com, projectfirm.com, brainbid.com.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Here They Are—The Top 10 Jobs For Working From Home

Have you ever wanted a job where you didn’t have to drive to work? No traffic. No commuting. Flexible hours. And no sharing office space with people you might not care to see everyday. Now more and more people are opting for working at home. With technological advances and computers, home offices make working at home more affordable for employers, and much more convenient for workers.

How do you know if working at home is for you? Two traits can help to make someone more successful at working outside the office. First, successful at home workers or telecommuters are self-starters who don’t need “hands-on” help from managers. Secondly, they need to be an organized person with good time management skills. So if you’re interested in what career opportunities lend themselves to working at home, here’s a list of the Top 10 Jobs for working from home:

1) Computer Programmer / IT Specialist; 2)Accountant / Financial Advisor; 3) Graphic Designer; 4)Web Site Designer / Web Developer; 5) Communications Specialist; 6)Medical Transcriptionist;
7) Real Estate Agent; 8) Sales Representative; 9) Market Researcher; and 10) Translation Specialist.

For more information on working from home or telecommuting, go to smarterwork.com, projectfirm.com, brainbid.com.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How To Keep Yourself Safe From Animal Borne Diseases

The pace is quickening. The headlines can be downright frightening...and every day the dangers of animal-borne diseases are growing. Does the thought of diseases like Mad Cow, SARS, West Nile Virus, and Monkeypox make you a little queasy?

There’s also Rabies, Salmonella, Tularemia (rabbit disease), Lyme Disease, and Avian Influenza (bird flu). Today, more than 50 percent of all viral and bacterial diseases threatening humans come from animals, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. What are these dreaded diseases and where do they come from? Here’s information you should know, and important tips for avoiding them:

West Nile Virus. Virus transmitted through mosquitoes.
SARS. Virus first transmitted through civets (catlike animals) in China.
Mad Cow Disease. Viral disease caused by eating contaminated tissue from cattle.
Monkeypox. Virus transmitted through animal bites from rodent pets, prairie dogs, rats, mice, and squirrels.
Rabies. Viral disease often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal.
Salmonella. Bacterial disease usually caused by drinking contaminated water, or eating contaminated eggs or chicken.
Tularemia (rabbit fever). Bacterial disease usually caused by ticks, deer flies, rabbits. Also caused by drinking or eating contaminated food or water.
Lyme Disease. Bacterial disease usually caused by deer ticks.
Avian Influenza. Virus usually transmitted by birds. Birds excrete the virus; human-to-human transmission is rare.

Are you at risk for any of these diseases? Here’s vital information that can you protect you, your friends, and your family:
1. Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap.
2. Keep a clean environment.
3. Don’t own exotic pets or wild animals.
4. Protect yourself from ticks. When hiking, tuck your pant legs into your socks. Use insect repellent containing DEET.
5. Don’t keep reptiles if you have young children or are pregnant. They
transmit diseases, particularly salmonella.
6. Protect yourself from mosquito bites. Remove any standing water from
areas around your home. Use insect repellent containing DEET.
7. Take any sick pets to a veterinarian.

For more information on the dangers of animal related diseases, go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s web site at www.cdc.gov/healthypets.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Free Education Just a Click Away!

Learn Almost Anything
Online For FREE

You don’t have to pay for a college degree program to learn over the internet. Whether you want to fix a leaky faucet, speak Chinese, or listen to a lecture on world history, there’s plenty of educational material available for free. Here are some good places to start (and some you might not have thought of):

• YouTube. It’s not just for funny videos any more. You can find tutorials on sports and home improvement as well as how to do the moonwalk! YouTube also has an education channel where you can view content from universities and other institutions. Go to www.youtube.com/edu and click on a category from Business to Social Science.

• The History Channel. On their site at www.history.com you’ll find videos on such subjects as the Civil War, Great Inventions and Space Exploration. Check out the videos under “Topics” and “Great Speeches.”

• DiscoveryEducation.com. Go here for videos on math, science, social studies and more that you can use to help your kids with their homework.

• University of California-Berkeley. Go to webcast.berkeley.edu to download hundreds of video or audio courses and on-campus lectures.

• The BBC. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/languages to study everything from Italian to Chinese. Taking a trip? Learn essential phrases in 36 languages.

• AcademicEarth.org. Watch lectures on subjects from Computer Science to Mathematics and Law given by professors from universities such as Harvard, MIT and UCLA.

• OpenCulture.com. This site is a guide to thousands of hours of the latest educational content on the web. Readers will be especially interested in the section on free e-books you can read on your computer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Find a Reputable Contractor

Q. We’re getting ready to remodel our home. What’s the best way to find a reputable contractor without being taken to the cleaners?

Complaints about home improvement contractors are one of the most frequent grievances received by the Better Business Bureau and the office of state attorneys general. So you are wise to ask this question. Here are five ways you can improve your chances of finding a reputable contractor:

1. Get referrals from other building professionals. Ask professionals who you know. For example, ask your plumber, roofer, painter for recommendations. Since they work with other contractors on other jobs, they know who’s good and who is not.

2. Get references. Get three customer references from the contractor for similar projects that were completed in the past two years. Check these references carefully, and maybe even see the work that was done. Ask them if they would hire the contractor again.

3. Check the contractor’s license, insurance, and permits. Make sure they are in order. Contact the Registrar of Contractors in your area.

4. Get a written cost estimate with specific details, schedule, and the projected completion date.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

5 EASY Money Saving Tips

Would you like a few new, creative ways to save a little money? Here are five tips to help you keep a little more “green” in your pocket:

1. Shop only when you need something. Don’t shop for fun unless you are hunting for a bargain.
2. Learn to do things yourself. Instead of hiring a painter, learn how to paint your kitchen like a professional. Want to landscape your yard? Take a free class at your local home improvement store on landscaping...and then do the work yourself.
3. Live within your means. Hold off on purchases until you can pay cash.
4. Research future purchases. Find the best value for your money. Avoid cheaply made items that end up costing you more in the long run.
5. Explore thrift stores and garage sales. Sometimes you can find high quality items at low prices.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Power of One Small Step…

Are you having trouble losing weight? Saving money? Or reaching some of your goals? Here’s an interesting approach to life: Instead of trying to achieve the “big goals” try something small. For one minute a day, try making a small change. Sound intriguing?

Author Robert Maurer, “One Small Step Can Change Your Life,” says here’s how it works...instead of crash dieting, try taking one thing off your plate. Or, if can’t seem to find the time to exercise...walk one minute a day in front of the TV. Maurer’s clients reported that small steps led to big changes...one client lost 40 pounds with this approach.

Maurer says using small steps helps people overcome their fears and roadblocks. Small steps can reinforce and build good habits. Here are a few suggestions: Overspending? Take one item out of your cart before checking out. Feeling a little down? Take time to notice and cherish one small moment of joy a day. Craving fast food? Go ahead, but order the children’s meal.

Try it for a day, and then maybe a month, and see what happens.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

With $4.00 Gas its Time to Save Some Fuel!!

8 Simple Tips For Saving Fuel

Gasoline prices at the pump can take a toll on your pocketbook. Here are eight ways you can save the next time you “filler-up.”

1. Fill your gas tank in the morning or late evening when it is cool outside. It will help reduce fuel evaporation.
2. Service your vehicle regularly. A poorly tuned engine can increase fuel consumption by up to 50%.
3. Avoid excessive idling. Turn off the engine if you’re idling more than two minutes. Idling increases gas consumption by one gallon per hour.
5. Shop for the best price. When your fuel gauge is half-full start looking. Buying gas at wholesale clubs can save you up to 12 cents a gallon.
6. Park in the shade. You’re less likely to use your air conditioner if your car is cooler. When driving on the highway, keep your windows up to reduce air drag, which can reduce your gas mileage by10%.
7. Make sure your tires are inflated adequately. Under inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by 5%.
8. Avoid “fast starts.” They not only increase fuel consumption, but increase tire wear.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Health Experts Never Use Plastic In The Microwave

Could using plastics in the microwave be dangerous to your health? The answer is “yes,” according to important news from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

There have been many stories circulating about the safety of microwaves, heating, plastics and food. Some have focused on dioxin, a known carcinogen. Dioxin occurs in our environment, primarily from the incineration of waste materials, according to Dr. Rolf Halden, at John Hopkins Bloomberg School. People are exposed to dioxin mostly from eating meat and fish rich in fat. But it may not be the sole offender.

There are other concerns we should consider, according to Halden. There’s a group of chemicals called “phthalates” that have been added to some plastics to make them flexible and less brittle. If you heat these plastics, it can increase the leaching of phthalates from the containers into your food.

Many scientific studies have shown that when you heat up an object, the chemicals are more likely to release into the environment. This is the same with plastics...and possibly the plastic packaging in some microwave meals.

Another chemical, diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), is also used to make plastics more flexible. DEHA exposure can occur when eating certain foods wrapped in plastics. “It’s true that substances used to make plastics can leach into food,” says Edward Machuga, Ph.D., a consumer safety officer in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “But the levels are low.”

What should you do? People should use heat resistant glass, Corning Ware or ceramic containers for heating food in the microwave. Don’t use foam or plastic carryout containers from restaurants or margarine tubs in the microwave, according to the FDA. And never use plastic storage bags, grocery bags, newspapers or aluminum foil in the microwave.