National Seafood Month: 5 reasons to choose sustainable seafood

September 24, 2018 (712 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 (448 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.

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.

30-minute Mediterranean meals with grapes

September 12, 2018 (669 words)

[Headline: Fabulous fall food ideas]

With the onset of fall, new schedules and an invigorating pace, eating nourishing meals is an important way to keep up energy levels. With few having the time to devote to cooking an elaborate meal, a collection of delicious and dependable 30-minute recipes for a quick but satisfying meal can be handy. What else keeps things simple? Having fresh staples such as California table grapes on hand helps brighten up any recipe and fuel up after activities. Try Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with Grapes, which replaces traditional bulgur with quinoa, or a Mediterranean Pizza using whole-wheat naan instead of a traditional crust. For these recipes and more recipe ideas, visit grapesfromcalifornia.com.

And when it’s time to decorate the table, create a simple but stunning centerpiece with gorgeous black, red and green California grapes. Add fall leaves, mini pumpkins and gourds if desired.

The truth behind food labels

September 12, 2018 (766 words)

[Headline: What food labels really mean]

Everyone has a right to know what is in their food and where it comes from. Look to these certifications to guide your next shopping trip:

* The Fairtrade certification ensures safe and fair working conditions, prohibits child labor and provides farmers and workers with a fairer price or better wages. Fairtrade products originate in developing and least developed countries.

* By choosing MSC Certified seafood with the MSC blue fish label you are supporting independently certified sustainable fisheries.

* The Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured label indicates that the workers who harvested your food are treated with respect, compensated fairly and engaged to identify problems that impact the safety of your food.

* The Non-GMO Project Verified standard is North America’s most rigorous and most reliable standard for GMO avoidance. The best way to avoid consuming GMOs is to look for the butterfly.

For information, visit www.fairtr.de/TruthBehindLabels.

How to properly store summer clothes to avoid a pest infestation

September 12, 2018 (432 words)

Try the following tips from Terminix to best protect your clothing in storage:

1) Keep a close eye on the places where fabric-eating bugs like to hide like carpets, rugs, wall hangings and upholstered furniture. Vacuuming these areas can remove larvae and help prevent an infestation. Be sure to repair torn screens and block cracks under doors to prevent clothes moths from entering.

2) Another key to keeping stored clothes bug-free is to clean them before packing them. Stains can attract hungry pests, so remove any obvious ones such as food or oil before boxing things up. Keep the area where you’re storing your clothing as clean as possible. Vacuum the area and wipe down any shelves and walls.

3) If you find yourself with damaged clothes and an infestation too big to tackle alone, it’s time to contact a specialist. Trained pest control professionals can help remove destructive pests.

3 questions to ask when looking for your new HVAC unit

September 12, 2018 (609 words)

Ask these questions when looking for the right HVAC solution for your home.

Is the unit the right size for your home?

A common rule of thumb for HVAC systems is that one ton is necessary for every 400 square feet in the home.

What is the proper SEER rating for your home?

SEER is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and the rating is a good indicator of your unit’s energy efficiency. For example, the 19 SEER efficiency of the new two-stage Luxaire Acclimate HVAC unit can reduce your system’s energy usage by up to 47 percent when compared to older 10 SEER units.

What maintenance will be involved with my unit?

The maintenance required for your new unit should be outlined in the owner’s manual but you can also ask your distributor as well if you have any questions not answered in the guide.

Get there intact: 5 tips toward a safe DIY moving day

September 10, 2018 (449 words)

Consider the following steps toward a safe and organized moving process.

Assign roles. Organize your packing and loading crew so everyone knows his role.

Choose a reputable rental company. Secure your moving truck from a reputable dealer, then follow its specific instructions for safely packing and driving the vehicle.

Optimize tools. Use dollies, hand trucks, harnesses and/or multiple people to lift boxes that weigh more than 50 pounds.

Lift correctly. When picking up anything even moderately heavy, avoid back injuries by keeping your back vertical and your chest forward.

Be aware of obstacles. When moving items out of your house and into your vehicle, watch for items that could trip you or get in your way, such as low-hanging obstacles, ground protrusions or surfaces that are wet, slick or uneven.

Visit www.pensketruckrental.com for more tips to make your next DIY move smooth, organized and worry-free.

Fabulous Fall Flavors: Why Autumn is ideal for gardening, plus timely tips for success

September 05, 2018 (695 words)

[Plants that thrive in autumn]

You'll hear the term "cole crops" often associated with fall gardening. All cole crops are cultivated varieties of the species Brassica oleracea. These plants are hardier and can withstand cooler temperatures, with some even being frost-tolerant, making them a popular choice for autumn.

To boost your fall harvest, it's best to start with plants instead of seeds. Bonnie Plants grows a wide variety of cool-weather veggies and herbs, perfect for fall planting. Availability of Bonnie’s fall varieties is limited to specific regions, so check your local garden retailers to find plants near you.

* Collards
* Broccoli
* Cabbage
* Cauliflower
* Lettuce
* Brussels sprouts
* Kale
* Spinach
* Swiss chard

In addition to cole crops, herbs like rosemary and cilantro can grow well in the fall, especially in warmer parts of the country. Sun-loving plants like tomatoes, eggplant and peppers can also be planted in the fall.

Uncommon - but important - baby safety steps

September 05, 2018 (572 words)
[Headline: Car safety and air quality for little ones]
You know it's important to install and use the right car seat, buckling your child in properly every time you hit the road. But there’s another car safety step that parents should consider — improving your vehicle’s air quality.
The California Air Resources Board reports that the air inside a car, truck or SUV can be up to six times dirtier than air outside, because cars are constantly surrounded by emissions from other vehicles. What's more, studies show that babies exposed to pollution in the first year of life are more likely to develop allergies.
The FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin air filter, which removes up to 98 percent of dirt, dust and allergens from the air passing through a car’s A/C and heating system, is quick and easy to install. It’s an easy way to help everyone breathe easier — babies and the parents who want to keep them safe.

Going green a smart real estate strategy that adds value

August 31, 2018 (673 words)
4 green improvements for a fast home sale
More than half of people rank green and energy efficiency as top requirements for their next homes, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. That means homeowners looking to sell should consider:
Solar panels: Homeowners enjoy a $5,911 resale increase per installed kilowatt, according to the USGBC, which means a 3.1 kilowatt system could improve your home’s resale value by about $18,000.

Smart water-leak detection: Install intelligent-water technology like the Phyn Plus smart water assistant + shutoff, which analyzes your home's water use and detects tiny changes in water pressure.

New windows: Heat gain and loss through windows are 25 to 30 percent of residential heating and cooling energy use, according to the U.S. Energy Department. New windows can be eco-friendly and enhance the aesthetic.

Smart thermostat: More than programmable, they can analyze home-usage trends, make energy-efficient setting suggestions, plus allow you to control your thermostat remotely.

New home? 6 steps for preventing pests from moving in

August 29, 2018 (390 words)

Moving into a new home is chaotic. With a few tips from Terminix, you can ensure no unexpected pests move in with you.

* Reduce standing water in sources like pots and tires, and empty your bird bath once a week.

* Check the exterior for openings around doors, windows and utility penetrations. Seal improper openings.

* Note tree limbs overhanging your roof and shrubbery or mulch close to the foundation. Having them touch your house makes it easier for pests to enter.

* Check for moisture issues. Leaky roofs, plumbing and seals should be fixed.

* Look for insufficient screening around plumbing or drains in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room to ensure openings are properly covered to keep out silverfish, spiders, ants or cockroaches.

* For any pest problem too big to tackle alone, call in a pest control professional to help.

Remake your bathroom with these luxurious hotel-inspired trends

August 28, 2018 (553 words)

[Headline: 5 luxury hotel trends to incorporate in your bathroom]

Adding luxury features to your bathroom will inspire a transformative self-care routine.

Color: To induce relaxation, choose colors that call back to your favorite natural scenes, like seafoam green, pale blue or warm sandstone.

Lighting: A sparkly chandelier or bold pendant light can give the bath a luxurious feel.

Products: Don’t be afraid to upgrade by choosing pieces that appeal to the eye and take pampering to the next level. TOTO’s line of NEOREST NX Intelligent Toilets offer an integrated personal cleaning system and have technologies that automatically keep the bowl fresh and clean without harsh chemicals. Visit totousa.com.

Warmth: Install a bathroom fireplace so you can sit back and bask in the warmth and flickering light.

Greenery: Choose plants that thrive on humidity and filtered light. Orchids and aloe vera are good options to try.

5 tips to help party guests feel welcome

August 28, 2018 (536 words)

[Headline: Tips to welcome your party guests]

Here are three ways you can make your party guests feel welcome.

* Be there to greet them. Resolving to stay near the door and welcome each of your guests warmly reduces their concerns of intruding into another person’s home. Greet them warmly and let them know they are welcome.

* Keep your home comfortable. The Champion Momentum Series air conditioner features a Wi-Fi-enabled touch-screen to provide precision comfort and allow you the ability to monitor and control the system from your smartphone, even out by the grill. In addition, its innovative ShadowDrive Sound Reduction system means that your guests will always be able to enjoy their conversations.

* Give them a quick tour. If your guests see the room on the tour, they’ll be more comfortable mingling in that space during the party.

Fall maintenance tips for a lush green lawn next spring

August 27, 2018 (667 words)

"Once temperatures are consistently below 60 degrees, your lawn will start storing up nutrients in preparation for winter. That’s when you should start your fall lawn care regimen,” says Bryan Ostlund, executive director of Grass Seed USA.

Following are three proactive measures you can take:

Reseed thin or bare areas. By reseeding after the summer’s heat subsides and before the first winter freeze, you can repair damage and give turf a jump start on root growth.

Aerify. You can hire a professional to aerify your turf, or rent a core aerator that uses hollow tines to pull up small plugs of soil at regular intervals. If you’re reseeding, aerify right before you apply new seed.

Apply fertilizer. Cool-season grass should be fertilized in fall — even if your lawn looks healthy and has no bare patches — to promote good root development, enhance the storage of energy reserves and extend color retention.

Battling back-to-school pest problems

August 24, 2018 (520 words)

[Headline: Battling back-to-school bed bugs]

These small, reddish-brown insects feed on blood and can easily become a headache for your family. Bed bugs are great hitchhikers, meaning they can catch a ride home on your child’s backpack. Although they aren’t known to carry disease-causing pathogens, their bites can cause mild to moderate allergic reactions, which can also itch.

To limit the chances of your child bringing home bed bugs, you should check backpacks and other possessions upon entering your house. You can also inspect your car for obvious signs of bed bugs, like shed bed bug skins and blood stains.

If a pest does manage to hitch a ride home with your child and sneak past you, it might be time to call in the professionals. A pest management provider like Terminix can help you handle any infestation in your home.

3 reasons fall is a great time for roofing

August 23, 2018 (397 words)

Cool breezes and falling leaves are around the corner, and for many parts of the country, signs of fall signal the best possible season for roofing.

What makes fall a great time for roof repairs or a full replacement?

1. Perfect weather: The same perfectly cool weather for camping and outdoor activities also makes it a great time for roofing.

2. Spring and summer storms: The warmth and humidity of the spring and summer months are notorious for spawning severe thunderstorms. Hail and high winds can also damage the roof. “We always recommend homeowners hire a professional to examine their roofs, both for their safety, and to protect their roof,” said Stephen McNally of TAMKO Building Products.

3. Winter is coming: Winter can bring subzero temperatures and snow. Freeze-thaw cycles, ice dams and damp weather require the roof to be in top shape to defend against these threats.

What does the color of your home reveal about you?

August 22, 2018 (559 words)

Your home’s exterior gives off a powerful first impression. A recent poll conducted by vinyl siding brand Mastic by Ply Gem showed that only half of homeowners say their home’s exterior reflects their personality. This is surprising since 81 percent say a home’s exterior shapes their impression of the homeowner.

The following personality profiles can help homeowners select the perfect color:

* Blue = Calm, cool, collected: Fifty-five percent believe that blue has the most positive impact on their mood.

* Neutral = Safe, certain, dependable: Neutrals are the norm when it comes to exterior color preferences. Fifty-three percent of Americans would choose neutral colors such as beige, white, or gray for the exterior of their dream home.

* Bold = Brave, confident: Fifty-five percent of Americans say homes with bold colors probably belong to people with bold personalities.

7 surprising benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles

August 21, 2018 (651 words)

[Headline: 7 surprising benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles]

Jigsaw puzzles ...

Exercise the left and right sides of your brain at once

It's a mental workout that improves problem-solving skills.

Improve your short-term memory

It reinforces connections between brain cells.

Improve your visual-spatial reasoning

This helps with driving a car, packing, using a map.

Are great meditation tools and stress relievers

Focusing on one image for a long period is meditation.

Are a great way to connect with family

A jigsaw puzzle on a table invites the whole family to participate.

Are great for some needed alone time

Perfect for people seeking a quiet break.

Help you live longer, better

Puzzling wards off the plaque that is the marker of Alzheimer's.

Ravensburger recently partnered with Target to offer a new line of 500- and 1,000-piece puzzles because anyone and everyone can benefit from puzzling.

Home sweet home? 6 safety tips when moving with kids

August 20, 2018 (547 words)

[Headline: Home sweet home? 3 safety tips when moving with kids]

For parents of young children, the process of moving to a new home calls for a plan to ensure potential safety hazards are remediated. Consider these tips as such.

* Be proactive about precautions. Evaluate potential safety hazards before the move even begins, buying important tools and fixtures so you can make adjustments early rather than retrofitting.

* Switch all your blinds to the cordless variety. The string-like attachments that adjust old-style blinds are proven strangulation hazards. Replace them immediately with the cordless varieties available at major U.S. retailers. Seek the Best for Kids(TM) label that certifies products best suited for young children, finding more info at Windowcoverings.org.

* Separate and secure household chemicals. Deliberately pack anything that could hurt your kids into marked boxes that travel with you in your car instead of your moving van. Upon arrival, keep them sealed until you’re ready to unpack them into locked cabinets.

6 simple tips to prevent a fall

August 15, 2018 (459 words)

[Headline: 6 steps to fall prevention]

Every 11 seconds an older adult is seen in an emergency room for a fall-related injury, reports National Council On Aging. To prevent falls, follow these six simple steps.

Step 1: Find a good balance and exercise program. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for program information.

Step 2: Talk to your health care provider. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling.

Step 3: Review medications with the pharmacist. Take medications as prescribed and know the risks.

Step 4: Get vision and hearing checked annually. Update vision prescriptions and take measures to correct hearing loss.

Step 5: Secure your home: Remove tripping hazards like loose rugs or free cords and keep areas well lit.

Step 6: Talk with family members. Enlist their help as needed to secure your home and keep you safe.

New technology promotes healthy aging in place

August 15, 2018 (578 words)

From simple wearable devices to high-tech monitoring systems, gadgets are helping aging boomers stay independent. Here’s a few of the innovative technologies that are revolutionizing aging.

Digital solutions for staying in touch: Seniors can be left out of the family communications loop. Filling that gap are products like GrandPad, powered by Consumer Cellular, a touchscreen-based tablet with simplified apps.

Fall alerts can be lifesavers: For seniors, wearable devices that monitor and track health can summon help in a range of emergency situations.

Smarter access to healthcare and medications: Video consultations offered by many providers can help seniors who can’t come in for an appointment. In addition, automated pill counters can help with following medication regimens.

In-home tracking for safety: Sensors can be placed in multiple discreet locations, like doors, cabinets, windows or beds, to track movement around the house and report back to a caretaker or family member.

Bathroom customization: Stylish options for styling needs

August 15, 2018 (646 words)

[Headline: 4 elements of a customized bathroom]

A well-designed bathroom has many elements that come together in a cohesive fashion. Consider these four areas for a custom bathroom with modern flair.

Modular configurations: Configurable products from Robern offer a wide array of sizes, shapes and options to fit your construction needs so you're not limited by space constraints.

Storage and organization: Configurable solutions — like modular vanities and gangable medicine cabinets — let you design a storage solution that fits your lifestyle.

Strategic lighting: Top lighting casts shadows on the face, which is bad for makeup application, shaving and other personal hygiene tasks. Keep in mind that lighting from all sides increases functionality.

Custom flooring: From custom colors that can be created on demand to faux finishes that look nearly identical to the real deal (think porcelain tile that looks like wood), tile options are endless.

Laugh, learn and lunch: Tips for bonding with kids over cooking

August 13, 2018 (708 words)

[Headline: Tips for bonding with kids over cooking]

Cooking with kids is just plain fun. Everyone likes good food, and being in the kitchen together offers an excellent opportunity to work as a team. Consider these suggestions as you cook with your child.

* Expect messiness. As young kids brush up on motor skills while measuring and mixing, spills, stains and a little waste will be the norm.

* Choose fast, easy options. At least initially, select simple recipes that offer a good chance at success.

* Experience trumps outcome. Some projects may not come out as planned. Share a laugh, discuss what went wrong and try again.

Already bonding with your children over cooking? Consider entering the BEN’S BEGINNERS(TM) contest sponsored by UNCLE BEN’S(R). The annual initiative invites families with kids in K-8th grade to submit photos of themselves preparing a rice-based dish to beginners.unclebens.com.

Will my deck have room for a hot tub? And other questions answered

August 10, 2018 (514 words)

As the major outdoor living trend sweeps the nation, decks are getting bigger. With television shows featuring 3,000-square-foot monster decks, the average homeowner can wonder, “Just how big of a deck do I need?”

Atlanta, Georgia-based deck builder Frank Pologruto says it comes down to how the space is used. He says each “zone” of the deck requires the following square footage:

Dining — 320+ square feet

Seating — 250+ square feet

Pool or hot tub — 150+ square feet

Parties — 15 square feet per person

With added square footage comes a bigger price tag — $25,000 to $250,000 depending on size.

Deck material will also affect the final cost. Pologruto uses traditional wood boards and high-end ENVISION composite decking by TAMKO Building Products.

Overall, most homeowners should be able to fit a small dining area, arbor, hot tub and separate seating area in about 750 square feet.

Easy entertaining and recipe tips from celebrity chef Katie Lee

August 10, 2018 (743 words)

[Headline: Easy entertaining and recipe tips from celebrity chef Katie Lee]

TV chef and cookbook author Katie Lee offers these tips for easy entertaining.

Consider a buffet or family-style menu

Try veggie burgers or shrimp rolls with new Sara Lee Artesano Bakery Buns and Rolls to kick the flavor up a notch. Have people "Create Your Own" (CYO) with a buffet of toppings.

Prepare your side dishes ahead of time

Any kind of grain salad, such as a quinoa or farro, is an easy, go-to choice.

Hors d’oeuvres are a must

Easy options are cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, a cheese plate or a tasty dip.

Cool off with cocktails

Set up a bar area where guests can make their own drinks. Be sure to include non-alcoholic choices.

Smart grilling options

Fresh fish or veggie burgers lighten up the grill.

For recipe tips, visit saraleebread.com.

5 yard updates you can complete in a fall weekend

August 08, 2018 (599 words)

[Headline: 4 yard updates you can complete in a weekend]

Get a head start on spring by adding one of these yard-enhancing projects now.

* Pond: This fall, choose a sunny spot in your yard to build your pond, and with the help of a rented mini-excavator, you can move the dirt and even carve out the terraces.

* Patio and pergola: With the help of a post hole digger, which you can rent, you can have the posts in place before the snow flies.

* Flower beds: Preparing the bed in the fall means less dirt work in the spring, so you can focus on getting plants in the ground.

* Fire pit: This is the ultimate fall project because when it’s done, you can enjoy it right away.

To find the tools and equipment you need to get your yard improvement project off the ground, be sure and visit RentalHQ.com.

Celebrate the season! 5 ways to get your yard party-ready

August 03, 2018 (487 words)

[Celebrate the season! 3 ways to get your yard party-ready]

Part of the fun of hosting a backyard gathering is taking pride in the yard you’ve worked so hard to maintain. To ensure the grass is green, landscaping looks neat, and bugs and rodents stay away, consider these tips.

Create a lush mix of plants. Why not go all out this season by investing in a wealth of gorgeous, colorful blooms and lush emerald foliage? Then take care of your investments with Miracle-Gro potting mix and plant food.

Show off a carpet of green. Make your blades greener in as few as three days by applying micronutrient-rich Scotts Green Max Lawn Food.

Repel the bugs. Discourage mosquitoes and gnats by lighting citrus-scented Ortho Home Defense Perimeter Protection Repellent Candles, or adding several drops of spearmint or lemongrass oil to unscented or beeswax candles.

4 ways to prep your home for winter

August 03, 2018 (769 words)

[Headline: 4 ways to prep your home for winter]

Winterize your house, or you could can end up paying for it later.

Sky-high energy bills: Seal off any cracks and gaps with caulk, and check entrances for signs of worn or broken weatherstripping.

Water leaks: Freezing temperatures amplify the risk of water damage, especially after a power outage or a furnace malfunction. Protect your home with a smart home device like LeakSmart, which detects not only freezing temperatures but leaks, shuts off your home's main water supply and notifies you via free, downloadable app in five seconds or less.

Power outages: Make sure your generator or backup power source has fuel and is in good working order. Keep basic supplies at the ready, such as blankets, batteries and food.

Ice dams: To help prevent ice dams and dangerous hanging icicles, clean the gutters and downspouts of leaves and other debris, and check the condition of your attic insulation.

4 tips to mitigate home improvement costs

August 02, 2018 (433 words)

[Headline: 4 tips to mitigate home improvement costs]

As a homeowner getting ready to start a project, what can you do to minimize costs?

1. Don’t delay: Waiting to start a home repair or improvement could push off the repair for months due to the contractor’s schedule, and cause the project to get more expensive as building material costs continue to rise.

2. Look for low-cost quality products: In many product segments there is a leading manufacturer of a product or brand comparable in quality to more expensive brands, but offered at a lower cost.

3. Choose a reputable contractor: “A good contractor should be able to show homeowners their license to practice and a certificate of insurance,” said Rick Taylor, Field Sales Training Manager for TAMKO Building Products, a leading manufacturer of asphalt roofing shingles.

4. Plan, plan, plan: Making as many decisions early in the process can reduce project delays or rework.

5 simple tips for a low-maintenance lawn

August 01, 2018 (698 words)

To keep your lawn looking sharp without breaking your back, follow these five simple tips.

1. Mow high. Most turfgrasses can grow 3 inches tall in the summer before the top third is removed.

2. Find the most efficient mowing pattern. Whether you choose lengthwise rows or concentric circles, overlap rows so you don’t have to clean up areas you missed.

3. Leave the clippings. If you aren’t cutting off more than one-third of the grass height, you don’t need to bag clippings.

4. Water thoroughly but less frequently. Turfgrass prefers thorough watering once or twice a week.

5. Overseed now to save time later. Overseeding in the fall can save you time next spring and summer.

“Working more efficiently can help you enjoy a healthy lawn all season long without hours and hours of labor,” said Bryan Ostlund of Grass Seed USA.

5 ways to beat the heat this summer

July 31, 2018 (640 words)

[Headline: Tips to stay cool this summer]

Here are three ways to beat the heat now before the heat beats you.

* Make your bed the cool place to be. Apply ice packs — preferably soft gels — on top of your mattress and beneath the sheets, placing them in the areas where your neck, lower back and legs are located when you sleep.

* Invest in the right air conditioner. The LG DUAL Inverter Compressor Window Air Conditioner constantly adjusts its speed — rather than turning on and off — to maintain the desired air temperature all at a reduced energy usage.

* Cool yourself down effectively. When you’re feeling hot, the first thing you want to do is apply a cool towel to your forehead. It feels good, of course, but for maximum impact, applying this cooling agent to pulse points like your wrist or neck is actually a far better alternative.

5 tips to amp up the natural benefits of your yard

July 26, 2018 (556 words)

[Headline: 5 tips that will enhance the benefits of having a lawn]

Your healthy yard is more than what meets the eyes. Healthy lawn and landscape filter the air of pollutants and prevent unwanted runoff. Simply looking at trees and plants can reduce stress. Inspired? Here are some tips to make your yard look even better.

* Raising the deck height of your lawn mower is one simple thing you can do right now to improve your green space.

* Professionals recommend to not mow right after it rains because mowing wet grass will cause clumping and ruts.

* Let the clippings fall back on the lawn to add a natural source of nitrogen back to the soil.

* Enhance your landscape with native flowers, shrubs and trees. These require less water than exotic species and are more resilient to your region’s weather patterns and insects.

* Work with a professional to get your lawn and landscape in top condition. To find one in your area, visit LoveYourLandscape.org.

4 ways gardening is good for you

July 24, 2018 (534 words)

[Headline: 4 ways gardening is good for you]

In this digital world, there's an app for just about everything. People are interacting with technology more than they do with the world. But there's a cure for tech overload: Gardening.

Here are four surprising ways gardening is good for you.

Locally grown food is healthy. What's more local than your own backyard? Locally grown veggies are picked at the peak of ripeness, full of flavor and freshness.

You'll have less anxiety. Research shows gardening creates compassion toward others, and less worry and depression. Wave Petunias and Cool Wave Pansies are perfect for beginners!

It counts as a workout. Whether you’re pulling weeds or lifting your Wave petunia planters, research shows you'll burn 200-400 calories per hour!

Gardening combats loneliness. Gardening gives us a sense of community. Start a weekly cooking group with friends using ingredients from your gardens! Get started with one of Burpee's favorite recipes at www.burpeehomegardens.com.

Considering a new deck? Avoid these pitfalls

July 23, 2018 (442 words)

[Headline: 3 common mistakes when planning a DIY deck]

While building a deck on your home isn’t difficult, it’s helpful to understand some potential pitfalls. Three common mistakes made by inexperienced homeowners:

* Choosing the wrong side of your house. Are you most apt to enjoy a full-on sunny spot, or a shady haven on a hot day? Do you seek privacy, an optimal view or a chance to socialize with neighbors?

* Not researching your optimal layout. Think beyond aesthetics and consider how you’ll use the space. Where will furniture be placed? What will the foot traffic patterns be?

* Not opting for real wood. Wood can be less expensive than composite and just as easy to maintain while recouping greater resale value. Western Red Cedar, a knotty pine species offered by RealCedar.com, inherently resists rot, decay, shrinkage and insects even as it weathers over time into a silver patina.

5 tips to help keep pests from attending your backyard party

July 20, 2018 (384 words)

When you’re making memories surrounded by friends and family by the grill, the last thing you want to be doing is swatting and shooing away pests. With a few tips from Terminix, you can help keep your backyard the perfect place for all your celebrations.

1) Reduce standing water, which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

2) Inspect for wasp nests and contact a professional to remove them.

3) Keep outdoor surfaces clean. Mop up spills to avoid attracting pests like bees.

4) Choose clothes carefully. Bees are drawn to bright colors, so stick to un-patterned, muted colors.

5) Bring in the professionals. Some problems call for professional help, and pest control technicians can fight pests both inside and outside your home.

Before you renovate, have you considered this?

July 18, 2018 (642 words)

Apply these tips during your upcoming home renovation.

* Finalize your goals. Don't settle for a goal of simply improving your home. Decide if you’re trying to up the resale value, add more space, create a hobby area or finally build the bathroom you deserve.

* Determine if you need to update/replace core systems. You can replace your old, inefficient unit with the Luxaire Acclimate AL19 Air Conditioner. It uses a two-stage compressor to meet your comfort needs and its SilentDrive system ensures a peaceful, enjoyable experience.

* Set your budget. Many homeowners have no idea what a renovation project will cost and even if you do, unexpected expenses can appear very quickly. If you are working with a contractor, they should be able to give you a fairly accurate estimation of how much your project will cost.

3 elements to create a dream bathroom sanctuary

July 18, 2018 (441 words)

Bathrooms have overtaken kitchens as the most popular remodeling project, according to the National Association of Home Builders. To incorporate leading bathroom design trends and create a spa-like bath setting, consider these elements.

1. Freestanding tubs: The right tub offers a way to unwind every day, as well as a stunning focal point to anchor the space. Soaking tubs are an option that adds style with a touch of luxury.

2. Sinks and vanities: To calm the disorder that commonly overtakes bathrooms, keep organization in mind when selecting a sink and vanity combination. The DXV Modulus collection creates simple yet dramatic spaces with modular sinks and coordinating vanities that optimize organization in the bathroom.

3. Shower systems: Design the space to fit your preferences with different sprays and various angles for massage, invigoration or total relaxation. You can adjust the flow and temperature to your liking. It's customization on demand.

Watch what you heat: 5 kitchen safety tips

July 12, 2018 (463 words)

Cooking equipment is the top cause of home fires, and the second leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Follow the below tips to stay safe in the kitchen.

1) Properly equip your home. Install functioning smoke alarms throughout your home.

2) Keep an eye on your food. Staying in the kitchen while cooking is key to preventing oven or stovetop fires.

3) Clean your appliances. Keep appliances clean of grease and food debris that could potentially cause a fire.

4) Clear off kitchen countertops. Keep your countertops clean and clear of flammable objects.

5) Be prepared when disaster strikes. Over 70 percent of fire extinguisher owners say that they would not feel very comfortable actually operating one. The First Alert Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray features a lightweight spray-can design that has no pins or levers — making it easy to use.

DIY deck re-do: Resurface in a weekend

July 06, 2018 (587 words)

For the same time and energy you would spend maintaining and repairing old, wood deck boards, you could replace them with a deck made of structurally superior composite material — and never again have to worry about upkeep. If the structural framework of your existing deck is intact and in good condition, you are a candidate for deck resurfacing.

Follow these simple steps to a new deck surface that you can spend less time maintaining and more time enjoying:

Step 1: Examine the substructure.

Step 2: Remove old deck boards.

Step 3: Level it out.

Step 4: Install new deck boards.

Step 5: Complete with railing.

For more guidance on deck resurfacing, watch a step-by-step video from Trex at https://youtu.be/ZI8CYwI0MYM.

Got company? 5 quick and easy refreshments for summer guests

July 04, 2018 (467 words)

[Headline: Got company? 3 quick and easy refreshments for summer guests]

As you prepare to entertain during these long, lazy days of summer, it’s convenient to keep on hand easy-to-prepare refreshments your guests can snack on as they enjoy the balmy breezes. Consider these suggestions:

Blender drinks: Stockpile a selection of frozen juices and fruits so you can blend up icy-cold cocktails — either the adult or kiddie versions — on demand.

Guacamole and chips: Whipping up everyone’s favorite avocado dip is nearly effortless with Simply Organic’s Guacamole Mixes. You need only add two ripe, peeled, pitted avocados (organic is best) and break open a bag of tortilla chips.

Deviled eggs: When you keep hard-boiled eggs on hand, these classics are easy to prepare. Suggested fillings: mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, pickle relish, hot sauce, bacon bits, blue cheese, chives, pickles, mango chutney, pesto, pickled okra or crumbled potato chips.

Remodeling to age in place? Make changes where it matters most

July 03, 2018 (659 words)

[Headline: Single-story living idea for aging in place]

Having all rooms on a single story is the ideal layout for senior living. That means the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen can be accessed without having to travel to different levels of the home.

Adding a bathroom to facilitate single-story living might seem impossible if you don't have existing drainage. However, with Saniflo, you can add a complete bathroom where no drainage existed before thanks to above-floor plumbing features like a macerating toilet and drain pumps. The Saniaccess2 is ideal for powder rooms and the Saniaccess3 is a smart choice for full baths.

Keep in mind, open-concept designs can be beneficial for seniors, but if you are updating hallways, make sure they are at least 36 inches wide for easy maneuverability.

Choosing the right wood for your deck project

June 29, 2018 (456 words)

Ground contact wood

As its name implies, ground-contact wood often forms the foundation of your project and may include the support posts placed in or on the ground, in concrete or in fresh water. Ground-contact should be used whenever your wood pieces will be installed less than 6 inches off the ground, such as a ground-level deck.

Above-ground wood

Above-ground wood is the other major designation, and this is the wood type you will use to build the majority of your deck. Above-ground wood uses less preservative chemicals than ground-contact wood while providing added benefits that can repel water, minimize cracking and keep boards straighter.

If the wood will be more than 6 inches from the ground, above-ground wood is the ideal, and most economical type of treated wood to use.

Visit treatedwood.com from Viance to see what wood is best for your deck project.

Smart steps to beat the heat in favorite outdoor spaces

June 29, 2018 (454 words)

[Headline: 4 steps to cooling favorite outdoor spaces]

Whether it's wrenching on a car, in the garage tackling a DIY project, tending to your patio container garden or simply kicking back on the deck, the following steps can help you stay cool and safe.

Shade: Strategically implement shade features like umbrellas and awnings for instant protection. Try vine-covered trellises that block sunlight and align with the natural elements outdoors.

Portable cooling: Available in a variety of sizes, Portacool portable evaporative coolers drop temperatures through the naturally occurring process of evaporation using water and the surrounding air, without creating mist.

Insulation: Batt insulation is inexpensive and an easy weekend DIY project if drywall isn't present. If you already have drywall, you can look into blown-in insulation.

Color: Light colors reflect the sun and dark colors absorb it, causing temperatures to rise. From outdoor rugs and furniture to exterior paint and roofs, try to select light colors.

Fresh grilling ideas for entertaining

June 26, 2018 (614 words)

[Headline: Recipe: Southwest Corn and Grape Salad]

Southwest Corn and Grape Salad is guaranteed to please the senses with its tasty flavors; beautiful color medley from red and green grapes, avocado and corn; and variety of pleasing textures.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup corn kernels, either freshly cut off the cob or thawed, frozen corn kernels

1/2 avocado, diced

3/4 cup red California grapes, halved

1/2 cup green California grapes, halved

1 tablespoon chopped shallot

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

Directions:

Combine the corn, avocado, grapes, shallot, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, salt and pepper to taste; mix gently. Serve with grilled flank steak. For more recipes visit GrapesfromCalifornia.com.

The surprising health benefits of decluttering

June 25, 2018 (571 words)

[Headline: The surprising health benefits of decluttering]

The effort to declutter can be worthwhile for our homes and for our health.

Getting rid of things you no longer need or want may have a positive effect on mental health and can also make for a safer environment. It’s a sobering fact that every 12 seconds, according to the CDC, someone over age 64 will fall and end up in the emergency room. Decluttering can help keep paths clear and obstacles to a minimum.

A study at Indiana University showed that people with clean houses are healthier than people with messy houses. Regular household chores like vacuuming and washing windows can be great physical activity. A tidy home can also mean we’re more likely to invite people over — prompting interactions that can help alleviate feelings of depression and isolation that can accompany aging.

Don't suffer high energy bills any longer

June 22, 2018 (693 words)

The annual energy cost for a typical home in the U.S. is more than $2,000, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Read on for tips on insulating your attic, basement, crawl space and garage to improve energy efficiency and comfort, while putting money back in your pocket.

Attic: Consider rigid foam panels. Among the rigid foams, expanded polystyrene (EPS) like Insulfoam R-Tech insulation provides the highest insulating power per dollar.

Basement and crawl space: Rigid foam insulation boards can be cut to size and installed on basement walls. It is typically much easier to install insulation on the inside wall. Also insulate any crawlspaces.

Garage door: Readily available DIY insulation kits allow homeowners to insulate their garage door in less than an hour, for less than $100.

6 sure-fire tips that save time and labor on yard work and gardening

June 20, 2018 (558 words)

Title: 5 things that make yardwork and gardening easier

Give some of these labor-saving tips a try so you have more time for your favorite summer activities.

1. Use organizing tools like pegboards and repurposed containers to group and store supplies and tools.

2. Trade annuals for perennials. These hardy plants will leap back to life every spring without needing much attention from you.

3. To make large container pots lighter, fill the bottom half with packing peanuts. Then, layer a piece of landscaping fabric and it’s ready for the soil.

4. Remove your mower’s grass catcher, and let the clippings fall — they’ll feed your turf.

5. Look for the new generation of irrigation tools, like the Gro 7-Zone Controller that lets you customize and automate your watering schedule with a smartphone app.

5 tips for a bathroom worthy of any man cave

June 20, 2018 (579 words)

[Headline: 3 tips for the perfect man cave bathroom]

It is possible to create a bathroom worthy of any man cave and the tips below will show you how.

* A fresh coat of paint. Switch out that drab white or brown with a soothing blue or another color that catches your attention. And don’t be afraid to hang some art or photographs.

* Finally a throne. The right upgrades can turn any toilet into a throne, especially with TOTO’s WASHLET S550e with EWATER+. This highly advanced personal cleansing system leads to a new level of luxury and hygiene. A unique, self-cleaning wand offers soothing warm water to cleanse. Gentle warm air follows to dry.

* Warm up the floors. Your toilet seat needn’t be the only thing in your bathroom that’s heated. In fact, installing heated floors in your bathroom can provide a much-appreciated dose of comfort once cooler temperatures kick in.

Bee responsible! How to attract pollinators to your garden and help them thrive

June 20, 2018 (539 words)

[Bee responsible! How to attract pollinators to your garden and help them thrive]

The pollinator population is declining, but backyard gardeners can help. Ortho has partnered with the Pollinator Stewardship Council for a consumer education campaign, "Bee Responsible," aimed at helping home gardeners protect the pollinators in their yards, attract more of them, and help them thrive.

Plant a pollinator-friendly garden and ask your neighbors to do the same. Use nectar and pollen-rich wildflowers.

Keep your garden pest free. Ortho's 3-in-1 Insect, Mite & Disease control product is neonic free and includes info about how to use the product safely: Never spray on windy days and avoid flowers.

Provide shelter and water. A birdbath, bee house, piles of leaves and wild spots in your yard provide nesting and water.

Install a hummingbird feeder. You'll love seeing these magical birds.

Paint like a pro in 5 easy steps

June 19, 2018 (700 words)

Nothing transforms a home like a fresh coat of paint. Before reaching for a paintbrush, follow these tips:

Clean up your act – Wash surfaces with soap and water, rinse well and allow them to fully dry.

Scrape and sand – Smooth the surface with fine-grit sandpaper, wiping it down with a damp cloth to remove any residue.

Don’t forget the details – Use painter’s tape to protect window sills, molding, baseboards and the ceiling perimeter. Remove loose or cracked caulking from windows, doors and trim, and apply Alex Flex Premium Molding & Trim Sealant for a smooth, sealed surface.

Fill it up – Apply spackle to cracks and dents with a putty knife.

Paint with precision – Moisten rollers and brushes in water, as this will help the paint glide on. Allow the first coat to dry, then apply a second coat. Once dry, carefully pull up any painter’s tape.

3 secrets to hosting a great party on your deck or patio

June 15, 2018 (270 words)

Try these three simple steps to get your deck and yard ready to go, so you can play host to the cookout of the year.

1. Make your deck and patio shine. After you remove the leaves from the surface of your deck or patio, dirt and stains remain. Try the 2000psi Pressure Washer by Greenworks to make your deck or patio look brand-new.

2. Give your deck a makeover. Consider outdoor string lights to hang across the deck, instead of relying on porch lights, to set the party mood. This is also a wonderful time to invest in new lawn and deck furniture if your current set is beginning to show its age.

3. Pamper your yard. While the barbecue may not leave the deck, your guests should be impressed with the high-quality mowing lines and perfectly trimmed hedges in your backyard.

For more information, visit http://www.greenworkstools.com.

DIY dream: 4 cedar project ideas for your home or cottage

June 14, 2018 (532 words)

[Headline: DIY dream: 3 cedar project ideas for your home or cottage]

Americans love their do-it-yourself home improvement projects, and the warmer months can be an excellent time to complete a woodworking project for your home or cottage.

Consider one of the following ideas this season from Western Red Cedar, a durable, aromatic wood species that naturally resists rot, shrinkage and insects and, when left unfinished, is able to weather into a stunning silver patina.

* Sharpest shed ever: A compact multi-purpose shed in a key corner of your backyard could organize your yard tools, sports equipment and other gear.

* Recliner of your dreams: Relax with a friend on a roomy loveseat fitted with standard-size comfortable cushions that match your outdoor decor. Later, fold down the back to seat guests on both sides.

* Dinner al fresco: When built of Western Red Cedar, a clean-lined dining table and bench-set fits seamlessly into any indoor or outdoor decor.

3 easy ways to get on deck with the right decking

June 13, 2018 (649 words)

Before you decide on a material for your deck, look for it to meet these three criteria:

1. Beautifies your backyard. Make sure the decking material you select packs a lot of style and ties in with your home’s existing architecture.

2. Keeps the sander in the shed. To spend more time on the deck with a lemonade in hand than on your knees sanding, consider wood-alternative decking materials that reduce the hassle of upkeep.

3. Withstands the elements. Look for products with exceptional durability. Composite decking is one offering that is specially designed to withstand the rigors of life outside. “After investing in a new deck, the last thing homeowners want is to spend time on costly fixes. Composite decking can help keep them on deck enjoying the sun,” said Josh Landis of ChoiceDek Composite Decking.

Be prepared for the 2018 storm season

June 07, 2018 (564 words)

Whether they live in a coastal area that might be affected by a hurricane or anywhere else in the country, many people are asking: What can I do to prepare for the 2018 storm season? A big worry is the uncertainty, cost and danger they may face if they lose power.

An automatic standby generator from Kohler automatically turns on within 10 seconds. Depending on the size of the generator, it can power everything in the home, from lights, HVAC, refrigerators, sump pumps, computers, TVs and home security systems, while smaller units can power a few key circuits.

Just like you would take out a home insurance policy, having an automatic standby generator can help you get through some of the worst weather this storm season.

Quick DIY home improvement projects

June 05, 2018 (373 words)

[Headline: 2-hour DIY projects]

Major home improvement projects, like tiling your bathroom or kitchen or tearing down a wall, take hours or even days to complete. But there are some meaningful home improvements you can finish in under two hours.

1) Installing a video doorbell takes just a few minutes and you can monitor visitors at your front door on your smartphone through an app.

2) Another product that installs quickly is an upgraded bathroom fan, which can dramatically reduce bathroom humidity and odors and run more quietly.

3) Maybe you want to bring daylight to a small place closet or laundry room. Or maybe you have a room with a window but not enough light. One solution is a daylighting system from Solatube.

4) Try swapping out light bulbs for LEDs that last up to 20 years or more.

For more easy home improvement ideas, visit www.solatube.com/residential.

How homeowners can prepare for summer storm season

June 05, 2018 (707 words)

Understanding what to do after a severe storm can help you get back on your feet much quicker. Consider these tips:

Safety first. Avoid driving or walking in floodwaters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast-moving waters can sweep your vehicle away.

Check the power. When you return home, turn off the power to your house if you are able to reach the breaker box safely, or ask your power company to cut power remotely. Standing water inside your home can create an electrical shock hazard.

Check the structure. If your home's structure or foundation appears unstable, do not attempt to go inside. Immediately call for professional help and get a thorough assessment of the damage.

Partner with professionals. Professional restoration companies like ServiceMaster Restore offer 24-hour emergency assistance to minimize the impact a storm can have on your home.

5 home-buying tips for first-timers and old-timers

June 04, 2018 (787 words)

Whether buying a first home or looking for an upgrade, there are things you can do to feel more confident as you begin your search.

Consider all costs: The mortgage is not the total cost of your home. It usually only covers principal, interest, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance premiums.

Be flexible but firm: Finding the right home requires a balance of flexibility and finesse. A real estate agent can be of enormous benefit. Use resources to help you find an agent, such as USAA’s Real Estate Rewards Network.

Meet the neighbors: Take time to walk the street and gauge compatibility with the neighbors.

More house is more work: Money for maintenance on a bigger house is money in your pocket at a smaller house that has many of the features you want.

Use your head, not your heart: Take time and think through every aspect of the process.

4 simple tips for hosting a memorable summer party

June 01, 2018 (345 words)

Here are some tips on how to throw a simple summer soirée:

Embellish with blossoms — Design a floral arrangement with varying heights for the illusion of a fuller, larger table centerpiece without spending the time or money.

Embrace seasonal ingredients — Incorporate a blend of seasonal ingredients such as garden strawberries and fresh basil into gourmet treats for guests.

Stay spotless as you go — The Delta Charmaine Faucet with ShieldSpray Technology, available at The Home Depot, ensures quick and easy cleanup throughout the event.

Illuminate your space — If you’re planning an evening event, use string lights or scented candles around the space to create a cozy environment. For daytime gatherings, hang foliage garland, paper lanterns or colorful ribbon.

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

Lower temps at a lower price: How to improve the energy-efficiency of your home today

May 31, 2018 (565 words)

Apply these tips to improve your home's energy-efficiency this summer.

* Consider alternative energy sources. Instead of simply focusing on what you can do with your current energy situation, expand your options to alternative energy sources as well. Installing home solar panels can drastically cut or even eliminate your electricity bills and even increase your home’s resale value. Newer systems like the LG NeOn R maximize sunlight absorption and generate the maximum possible output — as much as 26 percent more than other comparably sized solar panels.

* Bring your windows into focus. The role your windows have in dictating the temperature in your home can be considerable. Older windows allow cool air to escape outside and that makes your air conditioner work harder to control the interior temperature. However, replacing them eliminates this problem and sets you up to more easily retain heat during the winter.

5 ways to up your summer get-together game

May 30, 2018 (655 words)

[Headline: 3 unique cookout tips]

Follow these tips to add a unique flair to your cookouts.

* Theme your get-together. If your guests are baseball fans, encourage everyone to wear apparel for their favorite team while the game plays, and if you have a pool, make your event a pool party and ask everyone to bring their suits.

* Change up the menu. Replace those same-old sides with unique tastes like macaroni and blue cheese with bacon, pickled grapes or crispy pineapple slices and cream cheese. You can find these and many more recipes at www.castellocheese.com/en/recipes/.

* Shift the timeline. Invite friends and family over for a morning cookout where you make everyone breakfast before spending the day enjoying another activity. You could also hold a nighttime get-together capped with a bonfire as the perfect way to end the day.

4 Tips to Pull Together a Garden-to-Table Meal This Summer

May 30, 2018 (565 words)

[Headline: 4 inspiring tips to plan a party with your garden's bounty]

You’ve worked hard on your garden, but don’t hoard your harvest. Let the bounty of your yard inspire a summer party.

* What tastes better than homemade pizza? When it’s topped with fresh ingredients grown in your own pizza garden! Sliced tomatoes, basil leaves, chopped peppers and even thin-sliced eggplant all make delicious pizza toppings.

* Herb-infused cocktails like juleps and mojitos are not only delicious, the flavors and fragrances of their delicate leaves shine through when they’re freshly snipped from your garden.

* Dress up your bouquet of blooms with other growing things in your yard. Slender branches with leaves, greenery and grasses all can add fullness and texture to your display.

* A nature theme lends itself well to homemade, special touches for the table, like homemade place tags and napkin rings.

To find inspiration for your garden bash, visit Fiskars.com.

Take the sting out of summer with these pest prevention tips

May 30, 2018 (589 words)

Reduce your yard's chances of insect infestation with these tips.

* Make your yard less inviting.
Yellow jackets enjoy spending time around trash while mosquitoes are able to breed and thrive in even the smallest amount of water. Removing any or all of these appealing targets from your space will make your yard less desirable.

* Protect your home inside and out. Sometimes a little extra protection is all you need. Ortho(R) Home Defense Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter provides 12-month protection against ants, roaches and spiders, killing common household bugs and providing a long-lasting bug barrier around your home.

* Keep your yard clean. Insects love dark, moist areas, many of which can be found in your yard if you don’t tidy it up. Mowing the grass at least once a week and removing debris or clutter as soon as it accumulates gives them less room to hide.

Easy and breezy: 6 tips for controlling summer cooling costs

May 29, 2018 (497 words)

[Headline: Easy and breezy: 6 tips for controlling summer cooling costs]

As Americans gear up for summer fun, they’re also concerned with how to save money while keeping their homes comfortably cool. The following tips might help.

* Use your ceiling fan to keep yourself cool.

* Tune up your heating and cooling system annually and change filters every three months to keep your system running efficiently. Optimize attic insulation to keep your home temperature even and comfortable.

* Use double- or triple-layered heavy curtains to keep the sun from unnecessarily heating your rooms.

* Optimize your heating and air conditioning use via a Wi-Fi-enabled, ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat.

* Use up to 80 percent less energy by cooking with a microwave oven instead of traditional oven or stove.

* Air-dry your clothes since dryers can take up to 80 percent of the energy you use for your laundry.

How much will it cost to replace your roof?

May 25, 2018 (552 words)

How can homeowners get an idea of what a new roof will cost?

Many factors go into a roofing bid. Here are the top four factors that can affect the cost of a new roof, according to Rick Taylor of TAMKO Building Products Inc.

Size: The larger the house, the larger the roof, and the more shingles needed to cover it.

Pitch: A roof with a steep pitch can increase the final roof bid as contractors may build in additional costs for more safety equipment and a longer timetable to complete.

Roofing material: The type of roofing chosen will also affect the final cost.

Type: Whether the roof is a “complete tear-off,” or a “layover” will also affect the final bid. Doing a layover is more economical, although homeowners need to discuss with their contractor what local building codes require and implications for the manufacturer’s warranty.

5 tips for selecting the right railing for your deck

May 25, 2018 (520 words)

A deck’s railing adds support, safety and style. Here are five tips for creating the perfect perimeter for your outdoor space.

1. Aim high and low — Look for high-performance, low-maintenance materials, so you can spend more time relaxing on your deck rather than maintaining it.

2. Showcase your style — When selecting a railing color and style, you can coordinate with the decking material, contrast with a complementary color or get creative and customize. Take the guesswork out with an option like Decking & Railing Duos from Trex Company.

3. Optimize views and privacy — Aluminum railing offers a minimalistic style to make your view the focal point, while thicker railing posts enhance privacy.

4. Factor in function — Try a “cocktail railing,” using a deck board as a top rail to create a flat surface ledge at just the right height for holding drinks and plates.

5. Light it up — Integrate outdoor lighting on railing posts and caps.

4 decorating tips for the perfect outdoor entertaining space

May 25, 2018 (528 words)

Lowe’s recently partnered with Julia Engel, lifestyle influencer of Gal Meets Glam (galmeetsglam.com), to style her new Charleston porch with affordable, chic accents so it’s ready to welcome family and friends.

Follow these simple tips to turn your backyard or patio into the perfect, outdoor oasis you can enjoy every day of summer.

* Get the furniture right. Striking the right balance of ample seating while not overwhelming a space is key.

* Choose your landscaping. Landscaping is crucial as it brings a necessary curb appeal or wow factor to your patio or backyard.

* Select the right containers. A container garden is an easy landscaping solution that can be transported place to place, and is completely customizable.

* Bring the outdoors indoors. By giving your outdoor space a cozy touch of home like a rug or lighting, it will quickly become your favorite spot to relax.

Great grilling tips and tricks of the pros

May 25, 2018 (573 words)

[Headline: Great grilling tips]

A few simple tips and creative tricks will help you perfectly grill foods:

Keep it closed: If you're looking, it's not cooking! A grill does its best work when closed, so let heat build up to cook foods evenly.

Marvelous marinades: Two hours should be your max for most marinades when you're planning to grill so that it doesn't change the texture of your meat.

Please with cheese: The smoky flavors of the grill are the perfect pairing to earthy cheeses. Crafted in the heart of Wisconsin, Salemville Blue Cheese deliciously accentuates burgers, chicken and steaks.

Let it be: After grilling your choice of meat, remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes to let the juices redistribute.

Grilled dessert: Peaches and nectarines taste great cut in half and grilled. Other popular fruits to grill include pineapple, bananas, cantaloupe and even watermelon.

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