Monday, October 27, 2014

Are you Hooked on Salt?

Most of us are. Adults consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day on average and that doesn’t count what you add with the salt shaker! Too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems. Here’s what you need to know and do to shake the habit. • Your body needs sodium to function, but only about 500 milligrams a day. Table salt is 40 percent sodium so one teaspoon is 2,300 milligrams. Set your salt budget to 1,500 milligrams a day (two-thirds of a teaspoon). • Seventy-seven percent of the sodium consumed is from processed and restaurant food. Food manufacturers and restaurants are taking steps to reduce the sodium, but while that’s happening, it’s up to you to take control. When eating out, share entrees, order smaller portions and ask for sauces and dressings on the side. • Cook more at home and shop selectively. Cook with fresh herbs and spices, and rinse the contents of canned foods before you use them. • Learn some salty language. The term “reduced sodium” only means that the product contains at least 25 percent less than its original version. “Sodium-free” is better – it means less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving. Look for “%DV” (or daily value) for sodium on the Nutrition Facts label. Anything above 20 percent is high. Aim for 5 percent or less. • Watch out for diet foods. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing, for example, has only 15 calories, but 480 milligrams of sodium. • Focus on eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. These are all high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, minerals needed to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Clever Uses For Unwanted CDs/DVDs

• Candle holders: They’ll catch drips and reflect the light. • Cool decoration: String them together and make a mobile. • Party invitation: Jot details on the shiny side and mail in envelope. • Game pieces: Make a giant checkerboard & spray paint the CDs in different colors. • Kids’ name tags: Hang them on ribbons and let the kids wear them.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Be Safe, Not Sorry On Your Next Trip

Everyone loves to travel, but there are some precautions you should take just to be on the safe side. Use these travel security tips to help make your next international trip stress-free: • Be prepared in case your passport is lost or stolen. If your passport is lost, you must immediately notify the embassy or the State Department and report details of the incident. Take copies of the passport, birth certificate and marriage certificate for each person on your trip. You’d need these documents to authenticate yourself to authorities. • Leave your itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport with a friend or relative. You also can register your travel for free with the State Department so you may be contacted in case of a family emergency or because of a crisis in the area in which you are traveling. Go to for more details. • Don’t take your eyes off your laptop. Hundreds of thousands are stolen each year and 97 percent are never recovered. To protect yourself, remove any sensitive information from the laptop before you go and encrypt the data that’s on it. Take a security cable to attach it to a piece of furniture if you leave it in your hotel room. • Purge your wallet or purse of extra credit cards, receipts and any reference to your social security number. Leave your checkbook and debit cards at home. • Keep a grip on your valuables (especially in crowds). To thwart pickpockets, use security travel purses, bags, belts and money clips. If you’re a man, keep your wallet under your clothes or in your tightest pocket. If you’re using a fanny pack, secure the zipper by using a safety pin or a paperclip fastened to a rubber band around the belt strap.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How can I protect my home from water damage?

Water damage is one of the most common problems affecting homeowners today. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reports that in 2010 it accounted for 22 percent of all U.S. homeowners’ insurance claims, with the average claim being $5,531. That’s why you need to have the right amount and type of insurance coverage. The Institute says standard homeowners insurance covers burst pipes, wind-driven rain, and damage resulting from ice dams on your roof. Some policies cover sewer and drain backups, but many don’t. In general, water coming from the top down (such as rain) is covered by a standard homeowners policy. Water coming from the bottom up (such as from a river) is covered by separate flood insurance. You can buy this from the National Flood Insurance Program and from some private insurers. The best way to prevent water damage is proper maintenance. For some excellent tips on such subjects as avoiding frozen pipes, replacing and maintaining bathroom fixtures and installing an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system, see the water damage section at the web site for the Institute for Business & Home Safety,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Making Small Talk

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.