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 and click on a category from Business to Social Science.

• The History Channel. On their site at 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.”

• 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 to download hundreds of video or audio courses and on-campus lectures.

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

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

• 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 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.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How To Get A Leaner Stomach

If you’re like most of us out there you’d like to lose a little around the middle. The easiest way to get rid of stomach fat is to reduce your carbohydrates. These are foods many of us love to consume: crackers, chips, white bread, cakes, cookies, candy, pizza.

But if you’re really serious about losing your belly, there are some easy ways to do it, and it doesn’t require medical intervention. First, start by eating lean meat (chicken, turkey, and seafood). Eliminate breads, pasta, rice, baked goods, candy and alcohol for two weeks, so you can train your body to live without the cravings. Limit fruits for the first two weeks, but you can eat lots of veggies.

At week three you can add a small serving of rice, pasta or bread two times a day. Continue to eliminate refined sugars from your diet. Next issue we’ll discuss where you go from here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Practical Tips for Care and Managing Your Property from Afar

Q. We are relocating to a new city, and we will have to sell our house from a distance. What steps should we take so we can sell our home successfully?

A. If you are leaving the area before the sale, you will need to stay in close contact with your realty agent, AND provide for the care and upkeep of your property. Here are some practical tips for managing the property and keeping your home looking good for potential buyers:

1. Have the house, windows, and carpets professionally cleaned after your furniture is out. Arrange for fresh interior paint if the walls show dirt, grime, or smoke build-up.
2. You home may be closed up for long periods. If you need to fumigate because of pet, cooking, or tobacco odors, do it. The initial smell of your house will leave a big impression (conscious or subconscious) on the buyer.
3. Leave the water and power ON. They will be needed to carry out various inspections while the sale is in progress. Ask your utility company if they have reduced rates for vacant properties.
4. Hire a landscaping service to mow the lawn and trim the bushes and trees once a month.
5. Arrange to have your lawn watered and sprinklers checked as needed.
6. Schedule pest control treatment, especially during the spring/summer seasonal transition. An ant, roach, or bee infestation would be an unpleasant surprise for your agent and clients.
7. Have your realty agent or a trusted neighbor open up your house for a complete airing out a couple of times a month. This will eliminate mustiness or radon gas if it is a concern in your area.
8. Have someone check the house regularly, open the faucets (inside and out) and flush the toilets at least once a month. This will get rid of stagnant water in your plumbing system and check for leaks.

If you are thinking of selling or buying soon, and require competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall is the Time to Start Thinking About Energy Savings

How To Save $100’s On Utility Bills

Are you spending too much of your hard earned $$$ on utility bills? If you’re like most Americans, you’re paying almost $1,300 a year. Now, there’s help. A new web site,, set up by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, has hundreds of energy saving tips that you can follow that will save you money.

The “Energysavers” web site covers it all from insulation, weatherization, heating, cooling, water heating, windows, landscaping, lighting, to appliances. Just by following a few of their inexpensive energy saving strategies, you see how easy it is to reduce your home energy use. In some areas, you’ll be able to reduce your energy bills by 10 to 50 percent!

You’ll not only save money and reduce your home energy use, you’ll be helping the environment by reducing pollution and conserving our natural resources future generations!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What You Eat Can Profoundly Affect Your Sleep!

Your daily diet can have a great impact on your night’s sleep. First, be sure you are getting enough calcium and magnesium. You can get it by eating milk, yogurt, beans, dark green vegetables, or a taking vitamin supplement (1,000 mg. to 1,300 mg. are recommended as a daily target for calcium consumption). Along with calcium, pay attention to consumption of these foods before bedtime:

 Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Of course caffeine is a stimulant and even though alcohol is a relaxant, it will switch gears in the middle night and wake you up when it wears off.
 Choose a good evening snack. These would be yogurt, bananas, figs, nuts, turkey, tuna, and whole-grain crackers. These foods are rich in trytophan, an amino acid the brain uses to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is critical for a normal night’s sleep.
 Evening snacks you definitely should avoid. Bacon, cheese, chocolate, ham, potatoes, sugar, sausage, tomatoes, and wine are the foods to skip if you want a restful night’s sleep. They all contain high levels of tyramine, which increases release of the stimulant norepinephrine into the brain.

If diet changes don’t work, try an occasional herbal sleep aid like Valerian or the excellent homeopathic sleep remedy Calms Forte – formulated from safe minerals and herbs.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Make Yourself Indispensable at Work

Did you know that how you dress, speak, work, and act might be sending a message to your boss saying, “When it’s time to cut someone, choose me?”
You can make yourself indispensable by avoiding these mistakes, says Ronna Lichtenberg, author of It’s Not Business, It’s Personal: The 9 Relationship Principles That Power Your Career. Here are five tips that can make you indispensable at work:
1. Pitch in when others ask for help. You’ll make friends and allies at work.
2. Strive for excellence not perfection. Be willing to take on a new task. Also, if you make a mistake, admit it and find a solution.
3. Keep an eye on your appearance. Your boss may think your appearance is a reflection of your work.
4. Network with people at your level or people who are in a position to promote you.
5. Take things in stride. Your ideas may be passed over sometimes, but don’t take it personally.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Improve Your Vision With Berries!

The Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has discovered that the humble blueberry and its European cousin, the bilberry are a uniquely rich source of the powerful antioxidant, anthocyanin. Anthocyanin gives grapes, blackberries, and blueberries their deep blue-violet coloring.

Bilberry extract has been used in Europe and Japan as a natural vision-enhancer for years. Beta-carotene combined with 400 mgs. of bilberry have been shown to significantly improve the ability to see in dim light, especially at night. Bilberry extract appears to strengthen the tiny blood vessels behind the eye and prevent macular degeneration.

There is strong research-backed evidence that anthocyanin may protect the brain cells from the wear and tear of extended life. They shield the neurotransmitters from age-related changes in the brain. The antioxidants in blueberries could help preserve our memory, as we get older. The Nutrition Research Center suggests eating fresh blueberries for the maximum benefit, or substitute a good bilberry extract from the health food store.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

People Who Walk Live Longer

Walk Your Way To Excellent Health and Long Life!

According the U.S. Centers for Disease Control the most beneficial exercise we can do on a regular basis is…walking! All you need is a good pair of shoes and few hours a week to do a simple aerobic conditioning activity that really works. The benefits are substantial – walking helps your heart, lungs, circulatory system, and controls body weight. The positive impact of walking is similar to that of running or jogging without stressful wear and tear on your joints, knees, and shins. If you don’t follow any other exercise program, just simple outdoor walking could add many healthy years to your life.

 A Brisk Walk Is Best. You should be able to carry on a conversation and have your breathing slightly elevated.

 It’s Easy—Just Walk 20 Minutes A Day. Start slowly, and then build up to longer, faster paced walks. Stretch your muscles (especially the calves and hamstring muscles) before and after you walk. For the best benefit, make a commitment to walk everyday. A recent study in Germany found that walking just two hours a week can cut your risk of heart disease in half!

 Walking Relieves Stress And Invigorates Your Mind And Body. Walking will make your heart stronger, improve your lung capacity, and the efficiency of your breathing. Walking circulates more oxygen through your body and is very effective in lowering your blood pressure. A regular walking routine can be your best preventative medicine – greatly lowering your risk of stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and even depression.

 People Who Walk Live Longer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted an 11-year study of 2,896 adults in their late 50’s who had been diagnosed with diabetes. Researchers found those subjects who walked just two hours a week had a 39 percent lower death rate from all causes! They speculate that if every healthy person in the United States walked briskly just 30 minutes a day, the incidence of many chronic diseases would go down 30 to 40 percent. So grab your shoes and get walking…your body will be glad you did!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Selling Soon? “Make it Sparkle!”

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 12, 2011

Important News About Blood Pressure

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

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

Friday, September 9, 2011

How Interest Rates Affect You

Interest rates can have a huge impact on your finances, especially if you carry a lot of debt. Here’s some important information that can help you manage your money more successfully:
1. Credit cards. When the Federal Reserve raises rates, expect to pay more. It’s best to pay off your credit card debt, or switch to a card with a lower interest rate, Go to for credit card rates.
2. Home-equity line of credit. You can use your home-equity line of credit if you can pay off the amount you borrow within three years. If you’re unable to pay off the amount in three years, obtain a home-equity loan with a fixed rate. Go to for bank rates.
3. Mortgages. If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage you may pay more as rates go up. Financials advisors recommend an adjustable-rate loan with a five or seven-year fixed period.
4. Bonds. When rates go up, generally the yields on most bonds go up. For your protection, invest in funds that hold Treasury and high-quality corporate bonds.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are You Hopelessly Disorganized?

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Be Kind...You Will Live Longer

Kindness Is Good For You!

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happiness is the KEY to Success!

7 Simple Steps To
Happiness And Success!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Focus on What Pays in Home Remodel Projects

Q. We’re selling our home soon, but don’t want to spend much money on home improvements. Are there any inexpensive ways to fix up our home?

A. Here are just a few low-cost improvements (outdoor and indoor) that can really make a difference and help you sell your house at a higher price:

Outdoor Improvements:
You’ll also want to pay close attention to your home’s curb appeal. Remember, that first impressions count!
 Painting – While painting is not inexpensive, it is the best way to improve the appearance of your home.
 Replace The Front Door – If your front door is in poor condition, either paint the door, or replace it. You can also install quality decorative features (doorknobs, lock, knocker) to dress up the door.
 Repair Screens – Repair any screens. Your local hardware will do this for about $15 per screen, or you can do it yourself.
 Patch Holes In Walkways – Concrete patching costs less than $10 gal.
 Reseal Your Driveway – Repave your driveway if it needs it.

Indoor Improvements: The best way to add to your home’s value is to make sure your house is “sparkling” it shines!
 Replace Worn Carpeting. You can get quality carpeting installed at about $20 square yard, a good value that will transform the look of your home.
 Painting – A new coat of paint, in neutral colors, will brighten and add value to your home at a reasonable cost to you.

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

Friday, September 2, 2011

Soft Addictions: Are You Hooked?

Has the time you spend watching TV gotten out of hand? Do you find yourself spending hours surfing the Internet? Or, maybe you’re like many people who are addicted to shopping...even when they don’t have the money! These are “soft addictions”—activities that zap your energy, and keep you from living a purposeful and passionate life.

Soft addictions may not threaten your health or your job, like the big ones do. We all know that drugs, alcohol, and gambling can ruin lives. (Although excessive shopping can put you at financial risk.) But soft addictions can cause family and marital stresses, and leave you feeling disconnected.

How can you reconnect? First, turn off the TV, and unplug the Internet. If this sounds too painful, start by doing this for one day and build up to three days. If you are addicted to shopping, cut-up all but one credit card, and promise to use it only for emergencies. Try this for one week, you’ll be glad you did!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Drug Patches...Are They Safe?

Today, many drugs are available in drug patch form. What are drug patches? They are transdermal drug-delivery systems. And are they really safe? Yes, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic. They have fewer side effects because they allow for lower doses and a steady dose of medication. Patches bypass the liver and intestines and directly deliver the drugs into your bloodstream, which actually reduces side effects and liver damage.

Currently, drug patches are available for testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, narcotic painkillers, anti-nausea drugs for motion sickness and chemotherapy related nausea, nitroglycerine (for angina), and nicotine (to help people quit smoking).

There are some downsides however. Some people have reported hives where the patch has been applied; other patients have experienced some allergic reaction. The good news—researchers are developing drug patches for diabetes, Parkinson’s, depression, and asthma that will one day be available for use.