Consumer Real Estate News

    • Fun and Inexpensive Ways to Entertain Kids This Summer

      16 July 2018

      School’s out, and the last thing most parents want is for their kids to watch TV all summer. If you need ideas to keep them busy and happy – especially on a tight budget – check out these cool ideas:

      Make a two-liter bottle into a sprinkler – Use a small screwdriver to poke a few holes into three sides of the plastic bottle. Tape the bottle securely to a hose, turn on the water, and let your kids have at it.

      Pitch a tent – Not using that camping tent any time soon? Put it up in your own backyard. It will give the kids a fun place to play and keep them out of the sun.

      Make bird feeders – This is fun for older kids. In a saucepan, combine two packets of unflavored gelatin with two cups of water. Stir to dissolve and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in two cups of birdseed, and let cool. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spray the insides of a few cookie cutters. Lay them out on the paper. Spoon the bird seed mixture into the cookie cutters. Insert a straw into each one to form a hole for hanging. Refrigerate for an hour or so, then remove the cookie cutters and straws and insert twine for hanging.

      Make ice cream cone planters – Help your kids fill ice cream cones with potting soil and seeds for favorite herbs. Kids will delight in watering them and delight in watching them sprout. Or, if you are planting a bigger garden, let the kids get creative and make colorful signs to separate the beans from the zucchini.

      Make a pool noodle race track – Pool noodles are cheap. Cut one in half lengthwise with a serrated or electric knife and lay both long pieces on the ground side by side. Insert toothpicks where the two halves touch, using as many toothpicks as it takes to fasten and hold the ‘tracks’ close together. Clip off the ends of the toothpicks with a small pair of pliers so they are flush to the ‘tracks.’ Decorate the sides of your track with small flags glued to toothpicks, prop it up and start the competition to see whose small car reaches the finish line first.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Use Less Water at Home

      16 July 2018

      Whether you live in a drought prone area or are simply environmentally conscious, saving water is important, and you can do so both inside and outside your home.

      The non-profit GRACE Communications Foundation (GRACE) developed a free Water Footprint Calculator, so consumers can see how their everyday actions – from washing dishes to watering the lawn to buying groceries – impact water use.  

      Here are some great ways GRACE says homeowners can conserve water inside their homes:

      - Get a dishwasher, especially water- and energy-efficient models. Hand washing one load of dishes can use 20 gallons of water, whereas water- and energy-efficient dishwashers use as little as 4.5 gallons.
      - When doing dishes by hand, use a little water to get your sponge soapy, then turn off the faucet until you’re ready to rinse a bunch of dishes at once. Or plug the sink or get a tub to wash dishes in so you don’t need to let water run.
      - Use dish and clothes washing machines only when it’s full.
      - Choose ENERGY STAR water- and energy-efficient dish- and clothes-washing appliances if you’re in the market.
      - Wash denim clothes and jeans less – washing them a lot will wear them out more quickly. Consider airing them out or even putting them in the freezer to freshen them up.
      - Dry clothes on a drying rack or a clothes line. When you save energy, you also save water because power plants use a lot of water to produce electricity.
      - Put a bucket in the shower while you’re waiting for the water to warm up, and use that water for plants, flushing the toilet, or cleaning.
      - Install a low-flow showerhead — conventional showerheads flow at 5 gallons per minute or more, whereas low-flow showerheads typically flow at 2.5 gallons per minute (or less).
      - Spend less time in the shower, and turn off the water as you soap up, shave or brush your teeth to save time.
      - Avoid baths. The average bath uses 35 to 50 gallons of water, whereas a 10-minute shower with a low-flow showerhead only uses 25 gallons.
      - EPA New England further advises immediately repairing leaky faucets, indoors and out.

      Source: watercalculator.org.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 3 Healthy Habits That Aren’t So Healthy

      16 July 2018

      With the unending stream of information aimed at keeping us fit and healthy, it’s pretty much impossible to keep up. From new superfoods to the latest exercise trends, what’s good for you and what’s bad for you seems to keep changing. To help you stay up to speed, here are five habits you may have adopted thinking they’re to your benefit, when they actually may be doing more harm than good:

      Avoiding carbs. While low-carb diets can not only help you lose weight, but also help reduce the risk factors associated with diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, eating no carbs at all deprives your body from the important fuel source of natural complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes. The result? No energy for your workouts, and potentially serious digestive issues from a lack of fiber. So, yes, stay away from white flour and sugar, but make those healthy carbs part of your life.

      Doing lots of cardio. How can that possibly be bad? If all that cardio is resulting in an unbalanced exercise regimen, that’s how. While cardio is king when it comes to burning calories, weight training is essential for building muscle, which boosts your metabolism while your body is at rest...and who doesn’t want that? Plus, if you’re embarking on long cardio sessions at a low or moderate pace and, therefore, not getting your heart rate up sufficiently, you’re not burning as many calories as you think. So if the pounds aren’t coming off despite hours of cardio, make your sessions shorter but pump up the volume with some sprints or inclines, then add in weight training to build muscle and overall strength. Or look into high intensity interval training (HIIT), which serves both your cardio and muscle-building goals.

      Getting up early to work-out. While prioritizing your work-out is a great thing, if it means you’re sacrificing sleep to do so, then you’re sabotaging your fitness goals. Exhaustion stresses your body and causes increased production of the hormone cortisol, which could be why you can’t seem to get rid of that puffiness around your midsection. Being well rested is the foundation of good health on all levels, so make sure you’re getting at least seven hours each night (some of us need eight or nine), then adjust your work-out schedule accordingly.

      The golden rule when it comes to staying healthy? Keep everything in balance. Generally speaking, extremes of any kind usually come with a potentially harmful downside.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Support Better Vision

      13 July 2018

      For desk jockeys, or anyone who spends long hours staring at a screen, it's important to pay mind to your vision. And while it can be hard to undo eye damage once it's done, you can try to stay abreast of eyesight deterioration with the following tips.

      Eat for eye support. While diet can't better your vision once it's impaired, you can eat for eye support. Focus on foods with essential fatty acids, minerals like copper and zinc, beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and E.

      Roll your eyes. Turns out, a sense of sarcasm might help you see better. To strengthen your eye muscles, stop your desk-work three times a day and do the following eye roll exercise: Look up, then slowly circle 10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise.

      Practice focus. Staring at a screen all day can impair your eye's range of focus. To help, hold an item like a pencil or pen an arm's length away. Train your eyes on it, and then slowly bring the pencil closer, keeping your gaze locked on it, until the pencil is six inches from your nose. Then reverse the direction. Do this exercise five times, two to three times per day.

      Pick a point. Once every hour (set your timer for this!) look away from your desk and stare at a point six or more feet away for twenty to thirty seconds.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Caring for Caregivers: Preventing Burnout

      13 July 2018

      (Family Features)--While caring for an older family member - whether it be a spouse, parent or grandparent - can be a rewarding experience, it can also be a difficult and overwhelming task. This is especially true if your loved one lives with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia-related illnesses.

      Whether it's out of love or obligation, caring for a chronically ill or disabled family member (and potentially his or her financial and legal interests) can come at the expense of the caregiver's quality of life. In addition to maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle outside of caregiving responsibilities, it is important for those caring for a loved one to learn ways to avoid health hazards and stay well-informed of any changes in their loved one's condition. Add work and children to care for to the equation and it's a formula that can lead to stress, exhaustion and even potential health issues.

      The additional duties often required to provide care for a loved one can lead to physical or emotional fatigue, often referred to as "caregiver burnout." If you're caring for an older adult, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America recommends these tips to help manage stress before caregiving leads to burnout.

      Know the signs of burnout. By the time many caregivers suspect signs of burnout, they're likely already suffering symptoms related to their responsibilities. Being aware of some of the warning signs can help caregivers properly manage stress and protect themselves. Warning signs include:

      - Overwhelming fatigue or lack of energy

      - Experiencing sleep issues

      - Significant changes in eating habits or weight

      - Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

      - Neglecting personal physical and emotional needs

      - Becoming unusually impatient, irritable or argumentative

      - Having anxiety about the future or a feeling of hopelessness

      - Suffering from headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments

      - Experiencing depression or mood swings

      - Having difficulty coping with everyday tasks

      - Lower resistance to illnesses

      Educate yourself about the disease. It's likely the loved one you care for has several health problems, takes multiple medications and sees multiple health care providers to manage his or her conditions. As a first step in learning more about Alzheimer's disease and other dementia-related illnesses, visit alzfdn.org or nia.nih.gov/alzheimers for information. Support groups, educational workshops, community resources and professionals can also help increase your understanding of the disease and what to expect so you can be a better-informed and prepared caregiver.

      Be prepared for important decisions. Take care of financial, legal and long-term care planning issues early on to help reduce stress later. Try to involve the individual in decision-making if he or she is capable, and consider personal wishes regarding future care and end-of-life issues.

      Build your care skills. Key skills for any caregiver include communication, understanding safety considerations and behaviors, and managing activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting and dressing. Some organizations and local hospitals may even offer classes specific to your loved one's disease that can aid you in the process.

      Develop empathy. Try to understand what it is like to be a person living with Alzheimer's or dementia. Put yourself in the affected person's shoes while also recognizing your own losses. Manage your expectations of your loved one and remain patient.

      Ask for help when you need it. Reach out to medical and mental health professionals as well as family and friends. They can assist you when things get tough. In addition, there are typically programs, agencies and organizations in your community that can help manage the challenges of caring for older parents, grandparents, spouses and other older adults.

      Advocate for and connect with your loved one. Take an active role in the individual's medical care. Get to know the care team, ask questions, express concerns and discuss treatment options. Also remember to connect on a personal level through kindness, humor and creativity, which are essential parts of caregiving and can help reduce stress.

      Think positive. Focus on the capabilities and strengths that are still intact and enjoy your relationship with your loved one while you are still together. Look for ways to include him or her in your daily routines and gatherings to make as many memories as possible.

      Source: Alzheimer's Foundation of America, www.alzfdn.org.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.