5 tips to prevent the spread of an infectious superbug

January 14, 2019 (650 words)

[Headline: 5 ways to prevent MRSA]

Infectious diseases, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), are spreading rapidly among public places like gyms and schools, but prevention efforts should continue at home. Consider the following MRSA prevention tips:

1. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

2. Keep to yourself and do not share personal items, such as towels or razors.

3. Regularly clean countertops and other surfaces in our home with an EPA-registered disinfectant, like Clorox Regular Bleach with Cloromax.

4. Act fast and take care of cuts and open wounds by covering them with a clean, dry bandage until healed.

5. Use a barrier, such as a towel, between skin and shared equipment at the gym.

Learn more on how to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria, such as MRSA, at Clorox.com.

5 ideas for savvy party planning made easy

January 10, 2019 (751 words)

[Headline: A non-DIYer's guide to entertaining]

Here are some ways for you to make it look like a pro-DIYer was behind your entertaining.

Semi-homemade hors d'oeuvres. Combine pre-made phyllo cups with deli items like tuna or chicken salad, chicken curry, barbecued beef or pork or anything else that strikes your palate.

Know when to outsource. Outsourcing dessert is one easy option and a big time-saver. 

Hire a cleaning service. Merry Maids offers a variety of cleaning services and customizable plans. 

Give homemade gifts. (Just not made in your home.) You can find handcrafted and unique items online. 

4 ways to simplify your decorating

January 03, 2019 (440 words)

[Headline: Simplify home decorating]

When it comes to the new year, opt for easier decorating with the tips below.

* Add a little color to your home. Sprigs of evergreens added to vases can bring a flora component to any room and infuse a seasonal dash of color.

* Photo-friendly options. New photo panels from Kodak Moments — available at cvs.com/photo — provide you a new and exciting way to display your favorite family moments.

* Let there be light. String lights through the main entertaining areas of your home using insulated holders, just be sure to check the wires for fraying before you do.

Simple bathroom installations with big impact for 2019

January 03, 2019 (496 words)

[Headline: New year, new bathroom]

You don't need to completely remodel your bathrooms for the refresh you crave in 2019. Consider these ideas for simple installations with big impact. 

Project 1: Eco-friendly upgrades

The Town Square S collection is designed to reduce installation time. Plus, the WaterSense-certified bathroom sink faucets deliver a powerful water flow that uses only 1.2 gallons of water per minute (gpm), saving 45 percent more water than standard models.

Project 2: Modern flooring

To elevate the room, consider heated flooring to add comfort and a touch of luxury. This top trend works with a variety of different types of flooring, such as ceramic and marble tile. 

Project 3: International luxury

Bidets have been a staple in Europe and other parts of the world for decades, but recently are a growing trend in the United States. Add one to your room and enjoy the rejuvenating experience.

5 New Year’s resolutions to help prevent pests

January 02, 2019 (344 words)

[Headline: 5 tips to help keep pests out]

The pest management experts at Terminix offer the following tips to help keep your 2019 pest-free.

Inspect your home: Take a walk around your entire house exterior, looking for any cracks or holes, and be sure to seal any gaps you find.

Eliminate standing water: Refresh the water in bird baths, fountains and other water features at least once a week, and dump out any other unnecessary water on your property.

Be mindful when away from home: Check hotel rooms for signs of a bed bug infestation such as blood spots or shed skins.

Keep firewood at a safe distance: Be sure you’re storing firewood piles away from your home.

Call in the professionals: If you’re dealing with a pest problem too big to handle alone, know when it’s time to call in the professionals.

Goodbye spring cleaning, hello winter refresh!

December 31, 2018 (627 words)

[Headline: Winter home improvement ideas]

Homeowners can use the winter months to enhance their homes' value and functionality by tackling some simple improvement projects.

Upgrade appliances: The kitchen is the heart of the home and gets an instant face lift with new appliances. Explore modern options in your budget at www.maytag.com

Declutter: Donate or sell things you don't use and focus on organizing the rest. Consider storage solutions like closet organizers and kitchen pull-outs that make organization a snap. 

Fresh paint: Whether you paint all the walls in your favorite spaces or just one with a pop of color to create a focal wall, you can customize this project to your personal tastes. 

Replace hardware: Update knobs, handles, hooks and more with a new look that reflects your style. Brushed metals continue to be popular, and brass is poised to make a comeback. 

5 tips to entertain like a boss this winter

December 28, 2018 (544 words)

[Headline: Tips to entertain like a boss]

Brighten up winter evenings by entertaining. Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman of A Beautiful Mess offer these tips: 

1. Clean at least one day ahead and set the table the night before. 

2. Stock up on ice and easy-to-fix drinks to simplify bartending. The LG Smart InstaView refrigerator can boost ice production from your phone, thanks to the LG SmartThinQ app. 

3. Prep food ahead and warm dishes that day. LG’s ProBake Convection technology gives you optimal heating distribution on every rack, every time.  

4. Delegate. If guests ask, "What can I bring?" — don't be shy. Request a bottle of wine or favorite treat. 

5. Cater to all the senses. Set a pretty table, prepare delicious food and play upbeat music. If you don’t have a yummy smelling dish cooking, simmer water with cinnamon and cloves, or use scented candles or essential oils to enhance your party. 

5 simple tips for the best batch of cookies

December 26, 2018 (621 words)

[Headline: 5 simple cookie tips]

* Get a food scale. For consistent results, weigh ingredients, especially flour. The rule of thumb: Every cup of white flour equals 5 ounces.

Use high-quality ingredients. Use the best quality natural ingredients and flavorings, such as double-strength, flavor-rich Watkins All Natural Baking Vanilla Extract, to bake your best cookies yet.

Chill the dough. Chilling dough for at least an hour prevents cookies from over-spreading while baking. Another upside: You can prepare dough ahead of time and chill until you’re ready to bake.

Use parchment paper. No need for pricey baking sheets. Parchment paper on each cookie sheet does wonders for preventing overdone cookie bottoms.

Decorate with care. Start with good dough (chilled) and use cookie cutters for perfect shapes. Wait for cookies to cool before applying icing or toppings. Use a variety of toppings (candies, sprinkles, icing, etc.) for beautiful results.

Indoor survival guide for guys

December 21, 2018 (458 words)

[Headline: Stir-crazy? Try these tips]

The winter months are known as a leading cause of indoor stir-craziness. Here are some outside-the-box ideas to help maintain sanity.

Establish an indoor work station

Tackling the list of projects around the house requires a work station where you can get things done, though being confined indoors means that space is at a premium. The portable Keter folding work table from Northern Tool + Equipment is an efficient way to establish this home base that you can easily fold up and store when finished.

Embrace the elements

The only surefire way to overcome stir-craziness is to get outside, no matter what the elements may present. If it’s snowing, try a snowmobile rental. If your area has been hit with heavy rains, fight back by taking the truck out “muddin.’” Be creative and get the whole family involved.

2019: The Year of the Space-Age Home

December 21, 2018 (441 words)

[Headline: The Year of the Space-Age Home]

* In 2019, the “space-age” home will become a reality with modern innovations that are poised to change the way we think about luxury, elegance, and comfort. Incorporating advanced technology into your home is essential when elevating its overall style, design, and functionality.

* To add style to your bathroom, the Flotation Tub with ZERO DIMENSION from TOTO USA combines a weightlessness experience with neurological research to provide maximum relaxation.

* Smart mirrors that double as TVs can display weather and other useful information, blending seamless connectivity in a sleek design.

* Making your home as eco-friendly as possible will soon get easier with solar windows that capture solar energy while remaining transparent.

* Install a home automation system to make everyday life easier. Users have control over various systems and appliances throughout their house at their fingertips.

5 simple ways to bring more color to your home

December 20, 2018 (558 words)

[Headline: Create a colorful home]

Lifestyle expert Camille Styles offers simple ways to bring color into your home:

Paint an accent wall: An accent wall commands attention, and will easily become the new focal point of any room.

Add a vibrant rug: A rug with a bright color or pattern can help create the illusion of more space and make it more inviting.  

Start small: Incorporate a new, bold tone with items like a coffee table accessory or oversized pillows.

Embrace the unexpected: For example, paint the trim instead of the wall. EasyCare Ultra Premium Paint’s Crow color will definitely wow your guests.

Introduce different, colorful textures: Add a plush throw blanket or a woven basket for visual variation.

Setting up your home office for efficiency

December 20, 2018 (598 words)

[Headline: Efficient home offices]

To maximize home office efficiency, tidy up your space. Ensure that your office is equipped with the latest equipment and stocked up on supplies. Having your items delivered right to your doorstep will help alleviate the time it would take to do this on your own. In fact, over one-third of Americans think that ink and toner replenishment is a good idea, according to an independent study from YouGov. With only a few simple steps, you are enrolled and guaranteed to get your items right when you need them. Services like Brother Refresh allow customers to quickly and easily replace their ink and toner without having to think about it.

Don’t let the busy holiday season bog you down. Get your office set up right, so you can get your work done efficiently and enjoy your time with the family.

Home security tips for the holidays

December 19, 2018 (551 words)

[Headline: Holiday home security]

Be prepared and protect your home before you travel with the following tips:

Set the system: It may sound simple, but it is important for people to remember to set their home security systems to the appropriate settings before leaving for travel.

Smart doorbell: Invest in a smart doorbell, which automatically sends a text or email to you each time the bell is triggered.

Remote locks: These locks are useful if you are planning on going away for the holidays, but still need to allow certain visitors into your home while you’re gone.

Video: With video surveillance, you’ll be able see live video of your home from your smartphone, tablet or computer.

For more information and tips, visit: USAA.com/ADT.

Tips to help keep out pests this holiday season

December 14, 2018 (447 words)

[Headline: Holiday pest prevention]

It’s easy for things like pest prevention to get overlooked during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Unfortunately, rats, mice and squirrels don’t hibernate and can remain active in the winter. As resources grow scarce and temperatures turn cold, your home can start to look like a safe refuge for these critters. Without proper preparation, you could be faced with squirrels gnawing through drywall and rats contaminating food supplies with droppings. To help avoid these troubles, seal possible entry points and inspect all cracks and crevices in your home’s exterior regularly.

Maintaining a home can be stressful, especially during the holidays. Without proper pest management, infestations can get out of hand quickly and ruin your winter fun. Terminix’s trained technicians can help you protect your home from winter pests, leaving you free to enjoy the season.  

Cold brew coffee: How to enjoy this top 2019 food trend at home

December 13, 2018 (648 words)

[Headline: What is cold brew coffee?]

Cold brew coffee is slowly steeped in cool water using rich, coarser beans than you would in hot brewing at home. While you can brew a pot of traditional hot coffee in a few minutes, cold brew takes hours — 12 or more — to achieve the signature result.

Coffee made using the cold brew method has a smoother, naturally sweeter result that is less acidic than traditional hot-brewed coffee. The reason is organic acids (like citric, malic, formic, quinic and acetic) enhance coffee’s flavor and aroma, yet dissolve in hot water. The cold brewing method allows these important molecules to stay intact, which results in a difference you can taste. 

Java House(R) Authentic Cold Brew Dual-Use Liquid Pods can be enjoyed hot or cold at home, so you can taste the difference without all the work.

Tips and tactics for buying a home in a seller's market

December 11, 2018 (583 words)

[Buying in a seller's market]

Here are some tips from the pros at RE/MAX for buying a home in a seller's market.

Prequalification vs. preapproval. They're not created equal. In a mortgage preapproval, you do all of the paperwork upfront.

An experienced Realtor. Don't even think about starting the process of buying a home in a seller's market without an experienced Realtor in your corner.

Interest rates. Experts predict we'll see a few more increases in 2019.

Speed. Be flexible enough to get to showings quickly.

Your best offer. Figure out the best offer you can afford and go with it up front.

Are you recycling your plastic beverage containers?

December 05, 2018 (566 words)

[Headline: Recycling at home]

Save the planet, energy and more by adopting these simple recycling tips from the experts at the International Bottled Water Association.

Location: Place your recycling bin near your trash bin to make recycling fast and simple. It serves as a visual reminder when it's right next to the garbage.

Caps included: Enjoy convenience drinks, empty them, replace the cap and recycle. Every part of a plastic water bottle can be recycled.

Set reminders: Set an alert on your phone so you remember to bring out the recycling on the designated day.

Reuse: Think about how you can reuse items, such as transforming an empty milk jug into a watering container for plants.

Buy recycled: Purchase goods made from recycled materials to support the ongoing life cycle of products.

Rule the holidays using Alexa smart home technology

December 05, 2018 (652 words)

[Headline: Rule the holidays]

Most of us know all too well that the holiday season is busy, busy, busy. Use smart home technology to cut through the chaos and make your life easier this holiday season.

* Create a stress-free routine by using your smart home to control lights, music, set alarms, check the forecast and review your daily schedule.

* If you’re hosting, use your smart home device to play games and music, sing carols or test everyone’s holiday trivia knowledge.

* Finish your holiday shopping by using voice technology to order gifts quickly and easily.

* Cook the perfect holiday meal with help from your smart home by receiving recipe suggestions, setting timers, ordering groceries and more.

* There are more than 20,000 devices that work with Alexa, from smart lights, doorbells, locks and more, so take some of the stress out of the holiday and let your smart home device do some work for you.

Steps for homeowners dealing with ice or snowstorms

December 04, 2018 (387 words)

[Headline: Dealing with snow]

Are you ready if a blizzard hit tomorrow?

Beyond securing the necessities and winterizing your home, there are a number of tools that work even when your power doesn’t! Below are the tools that can make dealing with a large accumulation of snowfall much more pleasant.

* A battery-powered snow thrower cleans off the driveway. Greenworks Tools 60V 20” Snow Thrower will get the job done and eliminate the noise and hassles of dealing with fossil-fuel options. 

* A generator that provides portable power can be of great use in charging cell phones or other essentials.

* A cordless, battery-powered snow shovel helps clear a path without the back-breaking work. 

* A cordless, portable heater helps prevent frostbite in the absence of electricity or a fireplace.

With a little preparation, you will be ready for anything Jack Frost throws at you this winter. 

Putting your best face forward: 5 holiday beauty tips

December 04, 2018 (554 words)

[Headline: Brighten Your Beauty Routine]

As you relax and socialize this holiday season, consider these effective steps to make your face look brighter and more vibrant:

* Eat well and stay hydrated. When you cut out junk food, eat nourishing foods and drink plenty of water, your skin tends to reward you by looking clearer right away.

* Use a simple product that will whiten your smile. Turning your teeth dazzlingly white, even if they’ve been discolored by time and/or the frequent consumption of coffee, tea and red wine, can be difficult. Actress Debra Messing attributes her signature smile to Colgate Optic White(R) High Impact White(TM) Toothpaste, which features the key ingredient hydrogen peroxide. “I don’t mess around with anything that doesn’t work — who has time for that?” Messing notes.

* Tame those wayward eyebrows. These days, women and men are both paying more attention to the definition, shape and overall neatness of their brows. 

Prep your kitchen against holiday pests with these 5 tricks

November 30, 2018 (359 words)

[Headline: Keep pests out]

The experts at Terminix have a few tips for protecting your kitchen from insects, so that you can spend your time enjoying the holidays rather than combating pests.

Start with a deep clean: Clean your kitchen and pantry top to bottom, removing food spillage and stains that could attract pests. 

Don’t try to salvage contaminated food: If you find a food item that’s been contaminated, simply throw it out.  

Store supplies carefully: Seal the plethora of holiday leftovers and open packages in airtight containers.

Inspect new purchases for signs of damage: Be sure to examine each new food product for signs that it could already be infested.

Call in a professional: Trained technicians can help determine what kind of pest is trying to invite itself to your classy dinner, and how best to get rid of it. 

Luxury entertaining for the holidays

November 29, 2018 (420 words)

The holidays usher in a sense of celebration and opportunities for lavish seasonal gatherings. To leave a luxurious, lasting impression, try these tips from award-winning Chef Michael Voltaggio.

The experience: At the start of the event, greet guests with a cocktail topped with fragrant garnish, and introduce unexpected details, such as a passed amuse-bouche atop a slate serving platter.

The essentials: Every touchpoint should exude the same level of luxury, from the linens to the culinary tools used. For Voltaggio, this is especially true of kitchen faucets. The Artesso SmartTouch Pull-Down Prep Faucet by Brizo offers visual intrigue and touch technology.

Lavish pairings: Pair candlesticks of various heights with bone china; carefully select wine pairings for dishes.

Finishing touches: Ornament an autumnal risotto with shaved truffle to bring rich depth of flavor or infuse a wintry dessert with liquid nitrogen for an unexpected dining experience.

Why you must insure the 'little' things in life

November 26, 2018 (485 words)

[Headline: How insurance protects valuables]

This holiday season, investing in things like pet insurance, device insurance and valuable personal property insurance is the thing to do, so that the “little” things in life do not turn into big problems.

For example, many homeowner’s coverage policies have a certain limit for valuable items categories. A typical homeowner’s policy may have a limit of $1,500 in coverage for jewelry. A valuable personal property policy provides coverage for higher-ticket items such as jewelry, silverware, fine art, stamps and coins, instruments, etc. that may not be adequately accounted for in other property policies. This type of policy also provides coverage for damage or loss, which is a major distinction from a homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

Protect your purchases for loved ones this holiday season, especially when it comes to meaningful and valuable gifts. To learn more about the varieties of insurance, visit: USAA.com.

5 bathroom DIY projects for weekend warriors

November 26, 2018 (587 words)
[Headline: A quick shower overhaul]

Overhauling your shower doesn't require hiring a professional with modern all-in-one kits that provide a custom look without the extra work. Visit your local home improvement store to learn about options.

For example, the American Standard Passage Custom Shower Solution is ideal for the DIYer, with stylish patterns, a sleek glass shower door and modern shower bases. The kit includes adhesive, color-matched sealant and pre-measured walls that easily adhere over existing wall materials, making it a time-saving project. With designs that mimic granite, stone or timber, it has an upscale look at an economical price. 

4 ways to recreate your entertaining space

November 21, 2018 (662 words)

[Headline: Home viewing tips]

Redefine your entertaining space with these tips. 

* Control light. To keep total control of the light in your entertaining area, invest in room-darkening blinds or dark-colored curtains that can block out the sun when you crave darkness and let in the light when you don’t.

* Redefine your viewing experience. The 4K UHD Laser Smart Home Theater CineBeam Projector is perfect for binge-watching the hottest shows, gaming in an immersive experience or cheering on your favorite team. The projector itself can be ceiling mounted or set up to reflect onto any screen you want. 

* Install a seating strategy. If you’re planning to have a large group over on game day, a simple platform can provide your room with stadium seating and give everyone that at-the-game feel. 

How to protect against the silent killer

November 21, 2018 (572 words)

[Headline: Protect against carbon monoxide]

A colorless and odorless gas, carbon monoxide is known as “the silent killer,” impossible to detect without a CO alarm. Estimates suggest that there are more than 80,000 CO incidents per year. 

To ensure your home is protected, install CO alarms. By providing protection against the deadly gas, CO alarms can make the difference between life and death. A survey from First Alert found that 40 percent of Americans do not own a single working CO alarm.

It is recommended to install CO alarms on every level of the home, including the basement, and within 15 feet of all sleeping areas. Check alarms regularly and follow manufacturer instructions.

If your CO alarm sounds, immediately go outside for fresh air and call 911. To learn more about CO safety or other home safety tips, visit https://www.firstalert.com/carbonmonoxide/

5 DIY holiday activities for the whole family

November 21, 2018 (786 words)

[Headline: DIY: Cup of joy]

Want a simple DIY project that is as much fun to create as it is to give? From neighbors and the mail carrier to teachers and school friends, it's easy to show you care when you create a treat that lets everyone enjoy a cup of joy.

Simply get packets of classic hot chocolate and PEEPS marshmallow in seasonal shapes like gingerbread men, snowmen and holiday trees. Tie together with a bow and add a tag with a holiday greeting or fun saying like, "You're our favorite 'PEEP'le, thanks for being great neighbors!"

6 holiday hacks for easy entertaining prep

November 21, 2018 (562 words)

[Headline: Easy entertaining hacks]

With these helpful tips, you’ll be entertaining like a pro this holiday season.

Never turn down help

When someone asks to help you in the kitchen, take them up on their offer. Delegate tasks to your kids, spouse, family or friends. 

Get a head start

Choose dishes that can be made ahead of time. And don’t forget about your non-food prep. Make sure you have enough clean plates, silverware and napkins for all your guests. 

Clean strategically

Find tools that will help you get the job done faster. A cordless, versatile vacuum like the Shark ION F80 MultiFLEX Cordless Stick Vacuum allows you to quickly deep-clean carpets and floors.

Set the mood with decor

Setting the right mood can make or break your party. Candles are a simple way to make your space feel warm, and cheery lights outside will let your guests know where the party is. 

Holiday shopping tips to save money and reduce stress

November 20, 2018 (543 words)

[Headline: Holiday shopping tips]

Here are money- and time-saving tips to reduce your shopping stress and get the most out of holiday sales:

Make a gift list: Write down everyone you need to shop for and assign a dollar amount next to each name.

Review the deals: Collect ads from your favorite stores and use them to create your shopping plan.

Don’t procrastinate: The easiest way to overspend on holiday gifts is to wait until the last minute.

Follow brands on social media: Check out your favorite brands, where you can find up-to-the-minute info on savings.

Shop savvy with your smartphone: Mobile apps, like Home Depot’s, make it easy to search for your favorite items.

Don’t overlook shipping costs: When ordering online, beware of shipping, delivery and service fees.

'Tis the season to get the home ready for holiday entertaining

November 20, 2018 (548 words)

[Headline: Is your home holiday ready?]

From whipping up a feast to toasting to the new year, here are three ideas for getting the heart of the home — the kitchen and dining spaces — ready for holiday entertaining.

Simplify measurements: Simplify cooking with the Beale MeasureFill touch kitchen faucet from American Standard. Its adjustable dial provides a precise amount of water on demand, giving holiday cooks accurate measurements faster than using measuring cups. 

Prepare meal necessities: Get items out of storage and ready for holiday entertaining by washing and drying each carefully. Silver can be polished so it's shining and ready to elevate the occasion.

Create clean, comfortable spaces: Clear clutter from common spaces where guests will congregate for refreshments, meals and more. Focus on the dining room where guests will toast to a merry holiday, but don't forget the kitchen for visitors who might want to pitch in.

Winter allergies: The allergies you didn't know you could have

November 20, 2018 (777 words)

[Headline: Do you have a dust mite allergy?]

One of the most common indoor allergens, dust mites are a year-round annoyance.

* Symptoms: Nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, irritated eyes, coughing, wheezing, itchiness in throat.

* Diagnosis and Treatment: Your allergist will perform a skin test or blood test to determine the cause of your allergy and order treatment that may include medications or allergy shots.

* Management: The presence of dust mites does not mean you have a dirty house; they're everywhere. You can lessen or avoid your symptoms by opting for wood floors, cleaning with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, using mite-proof cases on mattresses and pillows and washing linens regularly in hot water.

Use the allergist locator tool on the ACAAI website to find an allergist near you to treat your symptoms.

Tips for using metals in home decor

November 19, 2018 (368 words)

[Headline: Using metals in home decor]

While trends in home decor often change, there is one constant design feature that continues to shine: metals. 

Heavy metal mixing

Avoid mixing the same color family — such as gold and brass, or nickel and silver. Rather, choose one metal that can serve as the dominant and another to complement it. 

The gilded age of flooring

Achieving the golden look isn’t done through metallic finishes alone. One way to bring the shine to a room is with flooring like Lumber Liquidators’ Gilded Reserve Chestnut, which reveals hints of a glimmering gold stain through its lightly wirebrushed chestnut base.

Add elements of luxury

Simple and strategic touches of metal can bring a big impact, such as in picture frames, drawer pulls or door handles, and sink fixtures.

For a no-worries Noel, follow these 12 holiday safety tips

November 16, 2018 (577 words)

[6 holiday safety tips]

The festive activities during the holiday season make it a favorite time of year for many people. Unfortunately, some 30 percent of all home fires and 38 percent of home fire deaths occur over December, January and February, reports the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).  

Think about these best practices for keeping you and your family safer.

1. Have GFCI protection outdoors or anywhere electricity and water may come in contact. 

2. When in bed, stash phones, computers and appliances elsewhere to rule out overheating. 

3. Install an arc-fault circuit interrupter to protect your home from potentially danger power leaks, and add shutter-protected tamper-resistant receptacles that prevent curious children from inserting objects.

4. Monitor space heaters for overheating, sparking, tipping over and/or igniting combustibles. 

5. Consider battery-operated instead of open-flame candles.

6. When decorating, check for loose or bare wires, cracked or damaged sockets, wobbly connections or other hazards.

Tips for winter tree care

November 16, 2018 (339 words)

[Headline: Why winter pruning is best]

Pruning during dormancy is the most common practice among arborists, and it’s usually best to wait until the coldest part of the winter to begin this process. It results in vigorous growth in the spring. There are a number of reasons why pruning in the winter is best.

* The wounds heal faster, which keeps the plant strong.

* Pruning a tree helps it maintain its shape and appearance.

* There is less risk of disease or infestation.

* It’s easier to see when the leaves are gone.

* Dead or broken branches can fall at any time, which creates a safety hazard.

For more information, visit www.greenworkstools.com.

How to put your own touch on modern bathroom design

November 15, 2018 (316 words)

[Headline: Adding modern bathroom designs]

A secluded bathroom is an ideal spot to experiment with modern designs without undergoing a major renovation. Below are a few tips to add contemporary elements.

Accessorize simply: Choose simple and polished accessories that complement the aesthetic of the room. Incorporate sleek, angular towel bars or an elegant robe hook.

Add warmth: Incorporating softer materials such as a plush rug, textured bath towels or handwoven wicker baskets, will provide contrast to angular accents, bringing a sense of warmth and tranquility.

Create a timeless aesthetic: Inspired by the modern styles found throughout European homes, the Delta Emerge Shower Column couples bold lines with impactful design to deliver a luxurious, customizable shower experience.

Engage your senses: To truly complete the modern look and feel of your bathroom, skip the traditional candle and consider adding elements such as an aromatherapy diffuser.

For more design inspiration, visit DeltaFaucet.com/InspiredLiving.

4 unexpected bed bug hotspots

November 15, 2018 (436 words)

The term “bed bugs” might make you shudder and picture a mattress teeming with bloodsucking insects, but don’t be fooled; the name is a bit of a misnomer. While almost 70 percent of bed bug infestations are associated with beds or items near beds, the insects don’t limit themselves. They can be found in common spaces like movie theaters and public transportation. Terminix offers a few spots you may not have thought to check for these insects. 

* Personal belongings

* Luggage racks

* Dirty laundry

* Furniture

If you do find yourself dealing with a bed bug infestation, don’t try to fight it alone. Take your home back with the help of trained professionals, such as Terminix’s technicians, who are trained to perform thorough inspections, detect bed bugs and develop a customized treatment solution.

Winter weatherproofing: Preparing your home to stay safe and save energy

November 13, 2018 (629 words)

[Headline: Winter weatherproofing]

By making a few minor adjustments, homeowners can reduce the amount of wasted energy while staying comfortable during the chilly season.

Repair the roof. Inspect the roof to make sure shingles are in place to prevent water from seeping inside.

Dodge the drafts. Air leaks caused by cracks around windows and doors can enable warm air to escape and cold air to seep in.

Don’t forget the furnace. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, Lennox recommends upgrading to a high efficiency system, such as one of its variable-speed furnaces, which can save hundreds of dollars on utility costs. 

Attend to the attic. If you are experiencing high heating bills and having difficulty keeping your home warm, it could be time to add additional insulation to the attic.

Five Show House Trends to Inspire Your Renovation

November 13, 2018 (557 words)

[Headline: Top renovation design trends]

These design show trends from Kohler Kitchen and Bath can help inspire your next renovation.   

* A floor-to-ceiling living wall of plants adds a pleasing contrast to a bathroom’s hard surfaces, especially when paired with statement sinks and fixtures.

* When choosing colors, expect less domination by bright whites, and more soft earth-inspired shades, like stone gray and warm terracotta. Deep, moody velvet-inspired colors are also making a comeback.

* Taking things beyond the marble countertop, the latest kitchen design incorporates even more natural materials, such as wood and stone.

* The kitchen is the busiest room in the house, so designers are adding more functional solutions like a second kitchen island to make organization and meal prep easier.

Tips for embracing the benefits of natural light

November 13, 2018 (604 words)

[Headline: Tips for installing windows]

If you decide to install or upgrade windows, keep in mind the following helpful tips:

* To maximize daylight, comfort and energy efficiency, be sure to identify the climate zone you live in and select a window that meets your zone requirements.

* To determine your home’s orientation and sun exposure, try using the compass app on your smartphone.

* Hire a reputable contractor to help you select the right windows for your home and to ensure your windows are installed according to local building codes.

For more information about windows, energy efficiency and the importance of natural light, visit www.plygem.com.

Slippery season: Mayo Clinic offers 10 tips for avoiding falls

November 12, 2018 (464 words)

[Headline: Tips for avoiding falls]

If you’re getting older, consider whether you’re at risk of taking a fall once colder weather hits. Mayo Clinic notes that some 400,000 “fragility fractures” occur annually due to falls injuring osteoporosis-weakened bones.

Suggestions for minimizing such risk from Kim Lombard, Mayo Clinic's injury prevention coordinator:

* Walk like a penguin. Take short, careful steps, adopting a wide stance and pointing feet slightly outward to maintain balance. 

* Exercise your legs and core. Improve strength, balance, coordination and flexibility through low-impact yoga, tai chi, water workouts or dance.

* Choose good footwear. Wear close-fitting shoes and boots that provide good traction, perhaps investing in the handy removable ice cleats that strap right onto your shoes or boots for traversing slippery surfaces.

* Be prepared. Wear winter gear even on short walks so you’ll be protected if you take a spill. And always bring your phone so you can call for help.

Mexican Cheese is Hot Right Now: A Queso Primer

November 09, 2018 (692 words)

[Headline: Mexican cheese is hot right now]

Cheeses from Mexico rival anything the French can dish out, offering a wide range of tasty, savory, nutty, even sweet cheeses to tempt any palate. They're just not as well known as their French cousins.

Queso Fresco is a soft, fresh cheese similar to ricotta, but with more savory, salty and tangy notes. Use it with tacos and enchiladas.

Panela has a mild, creamy, slightly tangy flavor, with a texture that is a cross between feta and ricotta. This cheese is great for baking, grilling or frying.

Cotija is like Parmesan but creamier, with a savory flavor and crumbly texture. Use it just like you'd use Parmesan.

Manchego has a nutty, earthy flavor and thick, creamy texture. Similar to sharp English cheddar.

Oaxaca has a mellow, earthy flavor and buttery texture, similar to mozzarella with a superior melt.

How to assemble a holiday cheeseboard guaranteed to impress

November 08, 2018 (538 words)

[Headline: Holiday cheeseboards made simple]

The culinary experts at Stella Cheese provide simple tips for creating an impressive cheeseboard:

Choose cheese wisely: Select three to five varieties of cheese for your board. This provides nice variation without overwhelming guests with too many options. 

Get the right amounts: Typically 4-6 ounces of cheese per person is a good estimate, but increase or decrease that amount based on time of day and other foods being served.

Add accompaniments and garnishes: For a festive take on your cheeseboard, add quintessential holiday-themed foods such as cranberry jam, roasted chestnuts, fresh figs and even pumpkin butter. 

Consider proper preparation: Set cheese out about an hour before serving as this time allows cheese to adjust to room temperature which maximizes flavors. 

4 tips to keep pantry pests off your holiday invite list this year

November 08, 2018 (425 words)

[Headline: Tips to keep pests out of your home]

Keep your pantry pest-free with these tips from the National Pest Management Association.

* Store things properly. Plastic containers with secure lids are affordable and invaluable when it comes to protecting your pantry goods from pests. Look for plastic or glass solutions instead of other materials and always try the lid before you buy.

* Make it a total kitchen effort. Your work to protect the cleanliness of your pantry will be more successful if you are vigilant about your entire kitchen. This means routinely emptying trash receptacles, clearing crumbs from countertops, scrubbing the floors and running the dishwasher. 

* Inspect your packages closely. You can protect yourself from rolling out the red carpet for these pests by closely inspecting your food packages before tossing them in your cart. Avoid purchasing any package that shows a hint of damage.

5 ways to host a no-hassle holiday celebration this season

November 08, 2018 (586 words)

[Headline: 4 ways to host a no-hassle holiday]

1. Cater in

Companies like Boston Market specialize in preparing complete holiday spreads with classics that belong on every holiday table. You don’t have to sacrifice a quality, delicious meal to gain sanity this holiday season.

2. Host a potluck

Loved ones will be more than happy to pitch in to help you make this gathering great.

3. Make a statement with a few decorative touches

Wrap a strand of twinkle lights into garland or place the lights into glass vases to create a cozy look in any room. Place ornaments into a large vase for a pop of color at the dining table.

4. Give your guests a memorable time with games

Brainstorm lighthearted games that large groups can play, such as charades. If you don’t own many games yourself, ask around to see what your friends and family can bring. 

What's making noise in your attic?

November 08, 2018 (447 words)

Was that a squeak you just heard? A thump? What could be making those noises inside your house, and how can you get rid of whatever pest has moved in? The experts at Terminix have information on what might be going bump in your attic.

Birds: Chirping or flapping indicates a bird (or two) may have decided to make a home up there.

Rats and mice: If you hear scratching, gnawing, scurrying or squeaking, you could have a rat or mouse infestation.

Bats: Bats, which can weigh less than two ounces, can fit through a hole as small as the diameter of your finger!

Squirrels: Rustling and other noises during the day hint that squirrels, which are diurnal, could be causing the ruckus.

Leave the attic critters to professionals, such as Terminix’s trained technicians, who can help determine the type of pest and come up with a customized treatment plan.

 

Deck the halls with cherry preserves! Give your holidays a healthy twist

November 07, 2018 (718 words)

[Headline: Deck the Halls with Cherry Preserves]

Cherry-Cranberry Sauce

The rich fruitiness of sweet cherries helps blunt the sharp edge of fresh cranberries. Cooked together, these anthocyanin powerhouses make a great holiday staple that can be used as a base ingredient for cocktails, a glaze for meats, a spread for sandwiches, a topping for yogurt and more.

Ingredients

* Equal portions fresh cranberries and dried/frozen Northwest cherries

* 1/4 cup water or pomegranate juice

* Optional: 4 –2” peels fresh ginger, 3 tbsp citrus zest, black pepper, fresh herbs, raspberries 

Directions

In medium-sized sauce pot, add 1/4 cup water and cranberries. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally and more frequently as the sauce begins to form. Add sweet cherries, continue stirring. Once reduced, remove from heat, incorporate other flavorings if desired. 

Cool for 30 mins – 1 hour before transferring to wider, shallow pan to speed cooling. Once cooled, refrigerate in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. 

Top exterior trends to inspire your 2019 home projects

November 05, 2018 (600 words)

[Headline: 4 hot trends in home exteriors]

Adding a deck or updating siding? These trends will give you inspiration to get started on your plan.

1. Don’t settle for boring beige for your new siding. There’s so much more choice now to suit any taste and design preference, from soft grays to earth-toned terra cottas.  

2. Rethink the standard deck by bringing more “indoor” amenities outside. Rugs, arbors and high-design furniture turns these spaces into an outdoor living room.

3. Wellness and mindfulness have become huge influences in design. To pull this off, consider water features, zen gardens or a tree-shaded reading nook.

4. A plethora of possibility lies within the four walls of your shed. It can be a backyard bar, an outdoor shower, man cave or even an office. Dress it up with siding and a sleek glass door.

For more information, visit Royal Building Products at royalbuildingproducts.com.

Where does your turkey come from? It does matter

November 02, 2018 (537 words)

[Headline: Where does your holiday turkey come from?]

Where does your holiday turkey come from? With sustainability and farm-to-table becoming the norm in the food industry, it's a question more and more people are asking. Whether it's grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free chicken or organic produce, people are increasingly aware of the food they put on their family's dinner table. They want to know how and where the animals were raised and how the vegetables were grown, because knowing what goes into the food you eat — and what doesn't — brings peace of mind.

At Shady Brook Farms, turkeys are raised with care on family farms. The farmers, some of whom have been raising turkeys for generations, are the company's heart and soul. 

Family farmers from across the country talk turkeys

November 02, 2018 (604 words)

[Headline: Where does your holiday turkey come from?]

Where does your holiday turkey come from? With sustainability and farm-to-table becoming the norm in the food industry, it's a question more and more people are asking. Whether it's grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free chicken or organic produce, people are increasingly aware of the food they put on their family's dinner table. 

At Honeysuckle White, turkeys are raised with care on family farms. Customers in some areas can actually trace where their turkey was raised by entering a code that's on the package into a field on the Honeysuckle White website. They can learn about the farmer who raised the turkey and see the farm where it was raised.

How parents can encourage and support imaginative play

November 01, 2018 (678 words)

When kids are in the 3- to 5-year age range, toys and games take a more central and productive role in playtime, says Laurie Schacht, publisher of The Toy Insider.

Children reap six benefits from playtime, according to The Genius of Play, a website spotlighting the role of playtime in child development: physical, emotional, social, cognitive, creative and communication.

Pretend play is where kids’ creativity can really shine, when they go deep into new worlds, ideas and characters. Toys that mimic the world and let them imagine and control the happenings, like Calico Critters, are optimal for facilitating this kind of play. These toys have a complete setting, like a house or a town, with a cast of characters who each have a role to play. Kids can get inspired by tuning in to 12 new Calico Critters episodes and two mini-movies being released Nov. 1 on Netflix.

Know your enemy: Bed bugs

October 29, 2018 (454 words)

[Headline: Dealing with bed bugs]

How can you avoid getting bed bugs?

The best approach is to take steps that will minimize the risk of bringing the critters home with you. When traveling, be aware of your clothes and any personal belongings that could act as a free ride for a bed bug. Inspect hotel rooms and your own home for signs of bed bugs such as blood spots and shed skin. And check any clothing or furniture you bring into your home, whether new or used. 

How do you get rid of them?

Even the cleanest person can end up with a bed bug infestation. The pests can be extremely difficult to remove, so it’s best to forgo do-it-yourself methods and let professionals handle the issue. Terminix’s trained technicians can help evaluate the infestation and create a treatment plan that will have you sleeping tight — without bed bug bites.

4 insurance myths and misconceptions dispelled

October 26, 2018 (783 words)

[Headline: An insurance misconception dispelled]

Misconception: Homeowners insurance protects against damage from all natural disasters 

Fact: Homeowners insurance covers losses or damages to your house and personal belongings in the event of a fire, sudden flooding caused by a broken pipe, theft and even objects falling from the sky like airplane debris. It also provides liability coverage if visitors suffer injuries on your property, and it can extend to events off the premises as well like if personal property is stolen from your vehicle. 

“Generally speaking, homeowners insurance is designed to help you rebuild your home and replace personal property if it is damaged or stolen,” says Christopher O’Rourke, Vice President of Property Claims at Mercury Insurance. “However, you may need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home from floods, because these events are usually not covered by a homeowners policy.” 

High-tech appliance trends from the House Beautiful Whole Home Project Concept House

October 25, 2018 (729 words)

[Headline: High-tech appliance trends highlighted]

House Beautiful's Whole Home Project Concept House is a first-ever custom-built house that showcases the concept that high tech can empower wellness and better health.

* Signature Kitchen Suite's high-end line of high-tech kitchen appliances was chosen for the home, the standout being the 48-inch range. If you're a home chef, this range will take your breath away. If you're a "technicurean," someone who loves technology and cooking, it just might bring a tear to your eye. It has a built-in sous vide cooking feature, and horsepower to sear and stir fry like a pro.

* LG's laundry room of your dreams features a twin washer with a drawer for small loads and a steamer that refreshes, de-wrinkles and reduces allergens.

Tips to keep holiday spending from breaking the bank

October 24, 2018 (427 words)

[Headline: Take the stress out of holiday shopping]

Americans will have lots to celebrate this holiday season, with unemployment rates at an all-time low and consumer confidence on the rise. We all get caught up in the spirit of giving, yet the most wonderful time of year is also one of the most stressful financially. However, with a little planning, you can enjoy and be merry.

Here’s a checklist to get started:

* Make a budget

* Make a list of everyone you need to buy for

* Make a list of the big purchases

* Decide how you want to spend your budget — pay now, pay later or pay in increments.

* Save with coupons and discounts

Holiday spending still causing you stress? The experts at Nummo can help you manage, maintain and improve your financial health for the holidays and beyond.

5 ways to prep your home's exterior for cold weather pest problems

October 24, 2018 (381 words)

[Headline: 5 ways to prep your home's exterior for cold weather pest problems]

Seal possible entry points

Take a walk around the outside of your house, paying careful attention to any deteriorating structures or holes that could act as an access point for pests.

Keep your home’s exterior clear of debris

Be aware of any piles of debris near your house that might act as a hiding place for pesky animals.

Store trash safely

Keep food scraps and other garbage in secure, sealed trash cans.

Check for signs of pest activity

While it’s important to notice what’s going on in your house, also pay attention to potential signs of pests outside, so you can catch an issue before it makes its way indoors.

Bring in a professional

If you do find yourself faced with an infestation, Terminix’s trained technicians can develop a pest control plan to help remove any unwelcome animal visitors.

5 secrets to brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home

October 24, 2018 (539 words)

[Headline: The perfect cup of coffee in 4 steps]

A cup of steaming rich coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures. To achieve better java at home, give these tips a try.

Step 1: Choose the freshest beans. Glossy beans are a tell-tale sign of freshness.

Step 2: Don’t scoop, but weigh your beans. A food scale will get you the most consistent results.

Step 3: Unlock the magic of spices. Before brewing, add Simply Organic Pre-Brew Spice Blends to your ground coffee beans and your coffee will be infused with a delicious, more distinctive flavor and aroma, thanks to the handcrafted blend of organic spices that goes into every jar. For information, visit SimplyOrganic.com.

Step 4: Not too hot! When using a French press, keep water between 195 and 205 degrees. If using tap water, filter it first.

Road salt reduces crashes by up to 88 percent

October 19, 2018 (345 words)

[Headline: Promoting winter road safety]

More than 116,000 Americans are injured and over 1,300 are killed on snowy, slushy or icy pavement every winter.

Studies show road salt is the most effective way to treat road surfaces. A Marquette University study examined highway accidents in snow and found that road salt reduced crashes by up to 88 percent, and injuries and accident costs were reduced by as much as 85 percent.

Another study from the University of Waterloo on the safety impacts of using deicing salt before and after a snow event on four-lane highways found that it reduced accidents by up to 93 percent.

The Salt Institute promotes the latest environmentally friendly application technologies and management practices with its "Safe and Sustainable Snowfighting" program and award. It also partners with other organizations to provide training and information to snowfighters across the U.S. and Canada.

5 questions to answer when considering a new deck

October 18, 2018 (564 words)

[Headline: Common questions about composite decks]

What are the key benefits?

Unlike wood, high-performance composite decking resists fading, scratching and mold — and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter.

Does composite decking look natural?

Today’s offerings feature high-definition wood-grain patterns that are nearly indistinguishable from real wood textures. Additionally, composite decking comes in a wider variety of color options.

How do composite costs compare with wood?

Initially, composite decking costs more, board for board, than pressure-treated lumber. But rather than deteriorating over time, composite decking delivers more long-term value due to its minimal maintenance requirements.

Are composite materials environmentally friendly?

Wood might be a natural material, but the chemical coatings used to protect the wood from rot and mold are not. Trex decking is made from 95 percent recycled materials, including plastic film recycled from a variety of items, such as grocery bags and newspaper sleeves.

Tips from an executive pastry chef for simple holiday entertaining

October 17, 2018 (651 words)

[Headline: 3 tips for simple holiday entertaining]

To save time on holiday party planning, focus your efforts on a few star desserts and cocktails, which can easily elevate any party.

1. Prepare cocktails in batches for easy serving. Look to classics like the Old-Fashioned, which features holiday flavors and warm spices.

2. Ditch the expensive holiday decor and florals, and let the desserts serve as your holiday centerpiece. Serve a variety of flavor options with different textures and colors, such as layered trifles, fluffy pies and stacks of cookies and bars.

3. Opt for eye-catching items that will leave your guests thinking you spent hours in the kitchen. A thaw-and-serve pie from Edwards Desserts can elevate any occasion, whether served straight out of the box, or deconstructed into a new holiday dish.

3D printing is reimagining the way we live today

October 17, 2018 (562 words)

In addition to expanded design options, 3D printing offers several other benefits, including:

A single source of efficiency and strength. Traditional manufacturing and its assembly exposes the end product to errors, poor construction and delays. However, 3D printed objects are structurally stronger because they are free of connection weaknesses and expertly assembled to specifications, as with Kohler's Kallista Grid Faucet, named "Best In Show" at the 2018 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.

Environmental consciousness. 3D printing builds the desired piece by adding material as the process goes along. This means it utilizes only the amount of material necessary to create the object. The result is less waste and reduced environmental impact.

Faster results at a better price. The 3D printing process offers a new level of accuracy and rapid part production with the ability to reduce — and in many cases, eliminate — material waste, which also favorably impacts a project's bottom line.

Oh deer! How to keep hungry herbivores out of your yard all year-round

October 16, 2018 (692 words)

Few sights make homeowners more furious than an attractive landscape destroyed virtually overnight by hungry deer. Rose bushes and ornamentals? Nipped off every bud. Expensive shrubs? Browsed within an inch of their lives. Trees? Damaged, disfigured and sometimes dead.

Deer — and their wilder relatives, moose and elk — usually leave a path of destruction in their wake, and even winter can't calm the carnage. As cold weather descends, deer shift their sights to your most expensive and difficult-to-replace trees, evergreens and shrubbery.

You can strike a blow against deer’s voracious appetites by maintaining a year-round program of defense.

The experts at Bobbex recommend a steady course of repellent spray application in every season as deer shift their feeding patterns. Repellent applications throughout the year will “school” them to continually bypass your yard for less objectionable fare elsewhere.

With a year-round deterrent spray program, deer will soon take their hungry habits elsewhere.

5 tips to plan the perfect game day

October 16, 2018 (625 words)

[Headline: 3 tips to plan the perfect game day]

Follow this guide and you’ll make this year your best season yet.

* Get creative with your seating. This year give your home that true game-day feel by setting up designated seating for your friends based on team affiliation. You can also build a simple stage to create a stadium seating environment.

* Upgrade your viewing experience. The LG Oled lineup features sophisticated design to complement stunning picture quality. With an Alpha 9 intelligent processor — LG’s most powerful ever — the Oled provides true-to-life images coupled with rich colors, sharpness and depth.

* Have plans for halftime. Halftime is normally downtime so put a little excitement into it. Plan a mini game to take place during halftime, get new food from the kitchen or simply go outside and throw a football around for a while.

Forget 'wine rules': 4 unconventional wine pairings for guys

October 15, 2018 (600 words)

[Headline: Forget 'wine rules': 3 unconventional pairings for guys]

The Federalist wines and Dan Dunn, author of American Wino: A Tale of Reds, Whites and One Man's Blues, are on a mission to take the stuffiness out of wine. Some of Dunn's unconventional wine pairings:

* With Elvis’ Christmas Album

“Here Comes Santa Claus” with a red wine blend. Like Jolly Ol’ St. Nick, this North Coast California wine is timeless, big, red and revered.

* With a big juicy burger

Think of a great hamburger like Paul Simon. Both are special on their own, but when paired with the right partner — be it a robust cabernet sauvignon or a spindly, curly-haired tenor from Queens — magic happens.

* With pork

For smoky roasted pork, you can go with a richer, heavier red — say The Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon.

How to keep pests out of your chimney

October 12, 2018 (461 words)

Keeping pests out: Installing a chimney cap can help keep birds, raccoons and other large pests out. With pests like rats and mice, focus on sealing smaller entry points, as a rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter. It can be difficult to spot these access points from the ground, so have a professional inspect your roof and chimney for possible holes.

If pests are already in your chimney: The general rule is you shouldn’t light a fire or try to smoke the animal out. Pests like raccoons can attack when they feel threatened, and rodents can spread ectoparasitic insect pests like ticks and fleas, so you don’t want to come into direct contact with whatever animal has decided to seek shelter in your home. Leave the removal to professionals, like Terminix’s trained technicians, who can safely and effectively remove pests that have taken up residence.

3 alarming places where germs are hiding in your kitchen

October 11, 2018 (562 words)

Check out three places germs like to hide, and things you can do to clean up your act.

1. Your dishwashing station: Researchers from the University of Mauritius discovered towels can develop nasty bacteria when used for a month. Grab a clean towel every few days, a new sponge every few weeks.

2. Your food prep surfaces: According to the NSF study, fecal coliform was present on 45 percent of kitchen sinks, 32 percent of countertops and 18 percent of cutting boards. Wash these areas with hot, soapy water before use.

3. Your refrigerator: These tested positive for E.coli, salmonella or listeria 36 percent of the time. Discard food that’s past its prime, and maintain a consistent temperature between 40 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s time to replace your fridge, consider the LG InstaView Door-in-Door, designed to maintain the ideal humidity and temperature levels.

How to create the perfect, four-season outdoor living space

October 09, 2018 (640 words)

[How to create the perfect, four-season outdoor living space]

Creating an outdoor living space will give you an extra "room" to enjoy in all types of weather. Here are some ideas for must-have elements in your perfect outdoor living space.

* Deck

Using real wood for your deck is the key to creating a natural, beautiful outdoor living space. One great option is Western Red Cedar.

* Fire

Choose from fire pits, chimeneas or fireplaces.

* Outdoor kitchen

It's essential to be able to cook outside so you won't be stuck in your home's kitchen preparing dinner while your family and friends chat on the deck.

* Furniture

Comfort, durability in all types of weather, and the size (not too big or too small) are prime considerations.

* Shelter

Shelter lets you enjoy it in all types of weather.

* Landscaping

The final touch is the yard beyond your deck. Pavers, flowers and shrubs are beautiful additions.

Prepare your backyard now and create a safe haven for birds in bad weather

October 09, 2018 (724 words)

Transform your backyard into a safe refuge for winter-weary birds before unpredictable, harsh weather begins with these tips from the experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products.

* Start with an inventory of your feeders. Inspect each for damage and replace if necessary. Consider a variety of feeder types to increase the diversity of your avian visitors.

* Clean out any residue before filling feeders with fresh seed.

* Provide birds with the biggest energy boost possible. Sunflower is a great seed option for winter because it’s rich in oil, which attracts birds and provides plenty of energy. Peanuts are another high-energy option. And don’t forget high-fat foods, like suet.

* Birds need fresh water, especially in cold weather. Choose a heated birdbath and place it in a sheltered spot for safe access.

* Birds also appreciate warm, dry shelter from wet, snowy conditions. Well-insulated nest boxes will provide them with a cozy place to harbor.

5 steps to building and designing a sustainable, energy-efficient home

October 03, 2018 (604 words)

[Headline: 4 steps to building a sustainable home]

A sustainable home can help save money and help protect the environment. Are you looking to build a sustainable home? Here are some options to consider:

Smart thermostats

For many builders, smart thermostats are offered as a standard feature in new homes for energy savings over time. For example, Clayton Homes includes the ecobee3 lite smart thermostats in all newly built prefabricated homes.

Low-emission windows

By blocking UV rays from entering the home’s interior, the windows help regulate the indoor temperature and help can protect your indoor furniture from UV-induced fading.

Drought-intolerant landscapes

Methods like drip irrigation cut down on wasteful watering. A drip irrigation system slowly drips water directly onto your lawn through pipes that run along your yard and can save on water usage.

Eco-friendly habits

Simple changes like unplugging electronics when they’re not in use and turning the thermostat down can go a long way.

A guide to getting your home and yard winter-ready

October 03, 2018 (10 words)

Use this checklist to prepare your house for cold weather, inside and out.

* Seal cracks and gaps in the foundation, steps, windows, drive and walkway.

* Seed and feed the lawn with a product like Scotts Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Sun & Shade 3-in-1 solution.

* To deter mice, store food — especially pet food and wild bird seed — in hard containers with fitted lids. With the first sign of mouse activity, set a trap near the area, check and empty it regularly.

* In addition to changing the furnace filter and vacuuming the register, regularly inspect furnace components like the blower to ensure they’re free of leaks and blockages. Fall is also a good time to inspect the burners.

* Give gutters and downspouts a good cleaning using a ladder, trowel and a large container to catch the debris. Rinse away dust and particles with a hose.

How to make sure your door hardware makes the grade

October 03, 2018 (408 words)

Before shopping for a new door lock, know what type of lock you need. Consider the following:

* How much security do you need?

* Will the door be used frequently?

* Will the protective aesthetic finish be exposed to the elements?

When you are ready to make your selection, it is important to check the ratings. Once a lock or deadbolt is tested to ANSI/BHMA standards for security, durability and finish, it is given a rating of Good (C), Better (B) or Best (A) in each area based on its performance during testing. The rating system is defined by progressive levels of performance requirements. Be sure to select the lock or deadbolt that is rated highly in the area(s) most important to you.

To learn more about BHMA Certified locksets and deadbolts, or the BHMA Certified Secure Home label, visit www.securehome.org.

Avoid chilling accidents with these tips to winterize your home

October 03, 2018 (547 words)

Apply the following tips to get your home ready for winter.

* Prime your plumbing. A frozen pipe that bursts can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on damage, so shut off any water lines tied to outdoor spigots and your sprinkler system if you have one.

* Be sure your furnace is ready for the season. If it isn't up to the test, replace it now before winter arrives. The York(R) Affinity(TM) Series YZT two-stage heat pump offers a two-stage compressor to deliver higher energy efficiency and quieter operation.

* Have your home audited. Your energy audit will show you where energy is being wasted and provide suggestions on how to correct them. You may discover opportunities to add insulation in drafty areas or replace appliances that are no longer operating efficiently.

Simple steps to stay healthy during cold and flu season

October 02, 2018 (483 words)

[Headline: 3 ways to stay healthy during cold and flu season]

Follow these three steps to help keep your family healthy all season long.

Wash hands: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands for 20 seconds. Try singing "happy birthday" twice and you'll be good.

Tidy toilet bowls: ContinuousClean from Kohler is a factory-installed system housed in the toilet tank that dispenses a consistent dose of cleaner during each flush.

Launder towels and linens: For frequently used items like bed sheets and bath towels, wash in hot water or use the sanitize setting. Follow this by drying at the high-heat setting in order to kill any microorganisms.

 

Why fall is one of the best seasons to build a deck

October 02, 2018 (592 words)

Here are five reasons fall is actually one of the best times to build a deck.

1. Use fresh summer memories to plan to perfection: Fall is the perfect time to evaluate your outdoor lifestyle and plan a deck that fits your needs.

2. Avoid project delays: As fall approaches and construction demands slow, homeowners can often secure top-rated contractors and negotiate a convenient start date.

3. Take advantage of seasonal savings: There are plenty of seasonal opportunities to save on decking materials and installation costs.

4. Protect your existing landscape: Grass, trees and plants start to go dormant as temperatures drop and the ground freezes, making it easier for you or your contractor to build a deck without harming your landscape.

5. Extend decking season: With the right decking material, like ChoiceDek composite decking, you can create an indoor-outdoor space that spans multiple seasons.

Integrate accessories for added luxury

September 27, 2018 (374 words)

Accessories bring a sense of purpose into a space and can transform a room into an elevated experience. Focus on the following ideas:

A balanced perspective: Choose accessories featuring a variance of shapes, sizes, colors and textures for visual and spatial equilibrium.

Sophisticated hardware: Complete a luxurious design with sophisticated fixtures that serve as anchoring details. Incorporate an element of surprise by adorning a kitchen space with a towel bar from the Litze Bath Collection by Brizo, for example, with textured knurling detail that highlights innovative engineering and artistry.

Harmonizing accents: Find the perfect blend of tones and textures by sourcing contrasting, but complementary accessories to finalize a design. Contrast an industrial coffee table with an acacia wooden bowl, or a sleek, modern shelf with coarsely textured relics.

An elevated update: From a one-of-a-kind sculpture to a tasteful timepiece, small-scale updates have the unexpected potential to make a large-scale impression.

Balancing 2 (or more) generations under one roof

September 26, 2018 (723 words)

[Headline: Tips for seniors who opt to live with family]

As seniors consider how they will adapt their homes to their changing needs, some will opt for combining households with their grown children.

* Consider ways to adapt or even renovate the home so you can strike a balance between privacy and communal space.

* Combining households can be hard, especially with varying tolerance levels for noise and clutter. Commit to communicate, while doing your share to keep the peace.

* Family finances can be fraught with a lifetime of bad habits. From the start, be clear on who pays for what, from utilities, to child care to dinners out.

* Be aware of community resources. For example, SCAN Health Plan is a Medicare Advantage Plan that also offers a number of no-cost services and programs to seniors and their caregivers in many California counties, regardless of plan membership. Visit scanhealthplan.com.

Hurricane Florence: What to watch out for during recovery

September 25, 2018 (505 words)

Hurricane Florence has come and gone, but its aftermath remains. These steps can give homeowners a better idea of what they can do next to recover.

1. If you need to relocate, keep the receipts of your expenses. Homeowners insurance will generally provide coverage, but review your policy and contact information.

2. Report your claim. You can file a claim online or by calling.

3. Secure your home and make temporary repairs. Protect property from further damage. Photograph debris or damaged items. Save receipts.

4. Prepare for the adjuster's visit. Provide complete information about the damage to your property.

5. Hire a contractor — with care. Check the contractor’s license or identification, do not pay upfront, take photos of the contractors and their license plates, and call your insurance provider if you suspect fraud.

For more information on insurance coverage, visit USAA.com/help.

Rats! How these rodents can ruin your day

September 25, 2018 (519 words)

[Headline: What dangers does a rat infestation present?]

The rat that winds up in your house isn’t the cute-but-cunning character of cartoons. Rodents present dangers to your health and home. Rats can damage electrical wiring, wooden beams, insulation and food stores, and they can carry pathogens that may transmit diseases to humans, such as hantavirus. These pathogens can be transmitted and even become airborne through urine and droppings, meaning that you could be exposed to disease without ever seeing the rat. Because of this, you should never disturb a rodent nest, and instead allow a rodent control professional to handle it.

Ideally, you’ll prevent rats from entering your home in the first place through methods such as inspecting possible entry points and trimming back trees and shrubbery. But if rats make it into your home, contact a pest control provider such as Terminix to come up with a treatment plan.

National Seafood Month: 5 reasons to choose sustainable seafood

September 24, 2018 (737 words)

October is National Seafood Month. One of the best ways to keep the world’s waters full of life is to choose certified wild, sustainable seafood.

The Marine Stewardship Council’s blue fish label indicates the product meets sustainability standards. So why pick seafood with this label?

1. It’s better for the oceans. Certified sustainable seafood ensures whole ecosystems remain healthy and thriving with marine life.

2. It’s good for the whole family. Seafood provides nutrients, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

3. It’s a way to drive change with your shopping habits. You’re protecting jobs and preserving coastal communities.

4. It’s available at every price point. Whether you’re looking for healthy, affordable lunch options or celebrating a special occasion, sustainable seafood is a viable option.

5. It’s a way to ensure seafood for generations to come. Consumers have the power to support individuals and organizations committed to protecting our wild oceans.

13 moving hacks that could save time, money and sustainability

September 24, 2018 (521 words)

[Headline: 5 moving hacks that could save time, money and sustainability]

Changing households can be a time for new beginnings and boundless opportunities. The experts at Penske Truck Rental have some advice for orchestrating a move that won’t waste your time or money. Consider the following suggestions.

1. Create a timeline for your move weeks or months ahead, detailing the resources, time and labor you’ll need.

2. Reserve your rental truck at least two weeks ahead, choosing the size that corresponds to the number of rooms in your home. Pick a company like Penske that ensures up-to-date emission-control technologies, recycled packing materials and fuel-efficient diesel engines.

3. Recycle by minimizing your unwanted belongings through garage sales, online sales, donations or giveaways to friends.

4. Utilize packing space inside your own dressers, chests, baskets, suitcases and other household containers.

5. To cushion breakable belongings, optimize your own blankets, pillows, linens, clothing and tarps.

Take a second look at your homebuying options

September 21, 2018 (456 words)

[Headline: Qualifying for a mortgage might be easier than you think]

Several factors may lead potential homebuyers to believe they may not be ready to buy. These include credit score requirements, income and debt levels, and the common myth that a 20 percent down payment is needed.

However, with private MI a borrower can qualify for a conventional home loan with as little as 3 percent down. In addition to the competitive pricing of mortgages backed by private MI, private MI can be canceled when a borrower reaches 20 percent equity in his or her home. This added perk often makes private MI a more affordable option over other home loan programs — such as FHA-backed home loans — which require mortgage insurance premiums for the vast majority of borrowers for the entire term of the mortgage, which is often 15 or 30 years.

Check out lowdownpaymentfacts.org to learn more.

Back to basics: The importance of real grass

September 21, 2018 (451 words)

[Headline: 4 ways real grass benefits your family]

Well-maintained outdoor spaces increase curb appeal and can bolster homeowners’ property values. They inspire kids’ imaginations and support healthy play. They make a homegrown neighborhood hangout.

RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) is sharing the benefits of real grass:

* Healthy kids need healthy outdoor spaces to play: They will not only spend valuable time together, but research shows physically active children achieve 40 percent higher test scores.

* Real grass play spaces boost property values: Real grass yards make a great first impression. Desirable public parks and spaces can boost nearby property values by 8-20 percent.

* Grass keeps it cool: Real grass is an always-cool surface to run and play on, especially when summer temperatures rise above 85 degrees.

* A well-maintained lawn is a point of pride.

Real grass spaces provide a place to escape screens, play with loved ones and enjoy time together outside. Visit www.debugthemyths.com to learn more.

This Season the Hygge Design Trend is Back and Bold

September 20, 2018 (651 words)

[Headline: 3 tips for achieving the Danish concept of hygge]

Hygge is a Danish word for the feelings of coziness and contentment often associated with cooler weather. Noa Santos of Homepolish provides three tips so you can master this trend at home.

Declutter

"There’s nothing more satisfying than coming home to a streamlined space," says Santos, who stresses decluttering doesn't mean de-styling. He recommends LG’s line of matte black stainless-steel appliances for a sleek yet cozy vibe.

Invite the outdoors inside

"Artfully arranged flowers and perfectly placed plants help cement your space as an indoor Eden," says Santos. "The positive psychological benefits aren’t too shabby either. Organic materials like wood and leather work like a charm as well."

Gather

It could be a cozy night in for two or a bountiful feast for a crew — togetherness is at the heart of hygge and allows you to show off your home design.

Chemical conundrum: 5 ways to keep pesticides away from your kids

September 19, 2018 (602 words)

As toxic persistent pesticides continue to be used on crops, in landscaping and in consumer products, many Americans are becoming more concerned about the effect of such chemicals on our children. If you’re seeking to minimize such contact, consider the following suggestions:

* Eat organically. Serve your kids certified organic foods produced without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, antibiotics or chemical fertilizers and preservatives.

* Monitor pesticide use where your children play like sports fields and parks. Most of those areas are treated with chemical cocktails of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. That’s why organic yogurt maker Stonyfield has launched a three-year, half-million-dollar initiative to work with 35 communities across the country in converting outdoor playing fields and parks to organic.

* Seek organic health and beauty products. Conventional beauty products often include petroleum-based ingredients and rely on chemicals for their production. Upon application, those chemicals can be absorbed into your children’s bloodstream.

8 home security hacks recommended by police

September 18, 2018 (427 words)

These tips come from a police home safety evaluation:

1. Change the locks. You never know who has a key.

2. Replace outdoor lightbulbs: Get outdoor flood lights. Make sure the bulbs are working.

3. Place an alarm sign in your yard: Many would-be thieves won't approach a house if they think it has an alarm.

4. Buy an indoor camera: Cameras can capture a suspect in the act.

5. Get out the garden shears: Bushes outside of windows should be below the window line.

6. Bake some cookies: A great way to stay safe is to work together as a neighborhood. Why not start that relationship with a plate of cookies?

7. Protect your neighborhood: Outdoor security cameras, like Flock Safety, can prevent would-be criminals from entering the neighborhood.

8. Ask for a security survey: Officers can assess your home's safety.

For more information, visit www.flocksafety.com/securityhacks.

5 steps to protect your home from rodents this fall

September 18, 2018 (508 words)

The experts at Terminix have some tips that can help protect your home from rodents.

Block possible points of entry: Be aware of holes or cracks in the exterior of your home.

Trim trees and move debris away from your home: Tree limbs that touch your house can provide an easy access point for rodents. You should also keep stacks of firewood or piles of debris away from your home.

Protect food from hungry rodents: Keep unpackaged food — even pet food — in airtight containers so rats won’t smell it. Avoid leaving unsealed food sitting out.

Properly dispose of waste and compost: Keep outdoor trash cans properly closed and away from your home. Keep compost piles far from the home's exterior.

Call in the experts: Pest control professionals can determine the best way to set up a strong defense and get rid of any unwelcome houseguests that have already moved in.

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