REMAX 440/Central Blog

Time-Saving Laundry Tips to Get You Out of the Laundry Room and Back to Family Fun

July 30, 2012 1:20 am

From messy meals to remnants of craft time creations, parents know that life is full of all kinds of stain-inducing—yet magical—adventures. But the great times should live on through cherished memories, not through permanently stained clothing. When it comes to removing those stains—from mud to markers and everything in between—knowing how to care for your child's garments means you can get out of the laundry room more quickly and focus on the activities your family enjoys.

Aside from letting your washer and dryer do the heavy lifting, there are a few tricks of the trade worth keeping in mind when it comes to protecting clothing items, according to laundry expert Tara Aronson. "There's more to prolonging the life of your garments than simply checking pockets and choosing the right cycle," offers Aronson.

Put these five tips to the test to help better care for your garments, so you can spend less time sorting and treating stains, and more time with the family.

1. Spot, Treat, and Check - If you spill something on a garment, immediately rinse or blot away the stain using cool water to prevent it from setting. Make sure to read fabric care labels and wash accordingly to help clothing last. And before you toss garments into the wash, be sure to double-check the pockets, as well as zip zippers and fasten buttons - this helps cut down on snags, holes, etc.

2. Sort, Sort, Sort - Sort laundry by color, wash cycle and water temperature required. Make it easier on yourself and your family by placing bins marked for whites, darks, mediums and delicates in your laundry room.

3. Choose the Right Cycle - High efficiency appliances can wash clothing on various cycles. This means you can launder sturdy items such as jeans on the permanent press cycle using warm water, causing less agitation, while washing swimsuits, fine knits and undergarments on the delicates cycle with cold water.

4. Double-duty - If your clothing is heavily soiled, extra-large, or you want to use the cold water setting, add extra laundry detergent when you start the cycle. Some high efficiency washers feature a sanitize setting, which uses the hottest water available to thoroughly get rid of germs and grime.

5. Quick Dry - Dry only full loads. Drying only a handful of garments prolongs the drying time by reducing the tumbling. If you have to dry a smaller load, add a few bath towels to help with tumbling.

"Remember that properly caring for your garments can help sustain your favorite clothing," says Aronson.

Source: Family Features

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Freedom from Debt an Achievable Goal for Every Family

July 30, 2012 1:20 am

American households are carrying an average of nearly $16,000 of credit card debt, which translates into more than $2,000 in finance charges and fees each year, according to the Federal Reserve.

Even with statistics like these, freedom from debt is an achievable goal for every family. The first step in regaining control is to take an honest look at your overall financial picture. The experts at Money Management International have developed a “debt test” to help consumers asses their financial standing.

The Debt Test:
- Is an increasing percentage of your income going toward paying down debts?
- Is your savings cushion inadequate or nonexistent?
- Are you near or at the limit of your lines of credit?
- Can you only make the minimum payments on your revolving charge accounts?
- Are you often late with bill payments?
- Are you paying bills with money earmarked for something else?
- Are you using credit to pay for items you used to buy with cash?
- If you lost your job, would you be under immediate financial strain?
- Are you unsure about how much you owe?
- Are you being threatened by collectors with possible legal action?

A ‘yes’ to any of these questions is a sign that you need to take a good look at your total debt levels, spending habits and plans for payoff. While a single red flag is not a sign of impending doom, it is an indication that you should take action to avoid future trouble.

The following tips should help you regain control and overcome the burden of debt:

Stop using credit temporarily.
You cannot borrow your way out of financial difficulty.
Create a budget. After allocating funds for ‘needs,’ such as rent, food and bills, set aside an amount to go into savings each month. Then, set aside an amount that you can spend on ‘wants,’ such as clothing and entertainment.
Assess your debt. Gather all of your statements and find out who you owe, how much you owe, and what interest rates you are paying. Being informed will help you make a good plan for payoff.
Adjust your spending. Write down each purchase you make for two weeks. Then, take a good look at your list. There is a good chance little purchases are taking a big bite from your budget.
Communicate with your family. It is important that all members of your family understand your financial goals, and the changes that are going to be made, so they can fully support those changes.
Get help. Career counseling, VA benefits, United Way agencies and nonprofit credit counseling organizations may all be of assistance.
Learn from your mistakes. An emergency savings account can protect you from future setbacks. Practice your new habits each day to ensure that you are improving your financial standing rather than harming it.

Source: Money Management International

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Beat the Heat: Simple Tips to Protect Your Lawn from Extreme Summer Heat

July 30, 2012 1:20 am

Record-setting heat and drought conditions this summer have prompted many homeowners to give up hope for a green lawn. The biggest threat to lawns this time of year is heat, not necessarily only a lack of water.

"The solution to a distressed lawn is not just more water but how you water," said John Eden, a lawn care specialist with Denver-based Revive, Inc. "Watering deeper and longer, not more frequently, results in stronger root systems."

Here are a few lawn care tips for homeowners to keep in mind in order to combat the extreme temperatures:

Avoid watering during daytime hours: Avoid evaporation by running sprinkler zones during the late evening and early morning; Water twice a day, splitting the zone times in half.

Check sprinklers for water output and coverage: Place a shallow container on the lawn to measure water intake. Lawns require about two inches of water per week during the peak summer temperatures.

Reducing heat stress: During hot daytime temperatures, sun-exposed areas that are stressed can be cooled off by wetting ("syringing") the turf for a few minutes with a hose. Syringing can reduce damage by cooling and refreshing heat-stressed areas.

Mow smarter, sharpen blades: Set the mower height level as high as possible. Leave lawn clippings behind and use a mulching mower to recycle moisture and nutrients back into the yard. Be sure to sharpen the lawnmower blade twice each summer.

Source: Revive

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Electronic Cigarette Considered Safer Way to Quit Smoking by Most Americans

July 27, 2012 1:14 am

Electronic cigarettes have been making a lot of headlines recently. In the United States, e-cigarettes are grabbing a lot of popularity among smokers who want to quit the habit of tobacco smoking.

A new study in the American Journal of Public Health reports that about 40 percent of individuals had heard of e-cigarettes, and awareness was highest among smokers. A majority of Americans consider electronic cigarettes to be effective for quitting smoking and a healthier, safer way of smoking.

Electronic cigarettes go by many names including e-cigarettes, electric cigarettes, smokeless cigarettes and vapor cigarettes. They are available in a variety of flavors and nicotine strengths and can be purchased on the Internet and in stores.

Jennifer Pearson, Ph.D., MPH and research investor at Legacy, an antismoking group in Washington, D.C. says, “We don't have data to say about long-term effects of e-cigarettes, but they are probably less harmful than combustible cigarettes.”

E-cigarettes resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes in many ways. They have a cartridge containing liquid nicotine, a vaporizer that vaporizes the liquid nicotine into vapor upon inhalation, an indicator light to give smokers a more real feel, and finally the mouthpiece. The cartridges can be purchased again in case the cartridge runs out of liquid.

Findings from recent studies of vapor cigarettes suggest that smokers are using them as smoking cessation tools. Also, many harm-reduction advocates say that the main selling point of vapor cigarettes is that they only contain nicotine sans the harmful carcinogenic products that are found in tobacco cigarettes. This suggests that they may be a safer cigarette.


Published with permission from RISMedia.

Five Quick Travel Safety Tips

July 27, 2012 1:14 am

Whether heading to the 2012 Olympic Games in London or escaping for a weekend getaway, vacationers should remember to take steps to protect their money, luggage and other valuables. Here are a few reminders you should take notice of in order to prevent thieves from ruining your vacation:

-Avoid bringing large amounts of cash. Carry one or two credit cards and use travelers checks when possible.
-Don’t bring valuable or irreplaceable jewelry, electronics or collectibles.
-Make sure each piece of luggage is labeled inside and out with your name, address and telephone number. This goes for carry-on luggage, too.
-Keep cash, credit cards, passports and airline tickets in the hotel safe. And keep your hotel door locked at all times.
-If you have to carry cash or credit cards, don’t keep them in handbags or outside pockets that are easy for thieves to access. Inside pockets and shoulder bags across the chest are safest.

It's also a good idea to leave a copy of your itinerary with a family member or friend who can contact you in the event of an emergency.

Here are a few other travel reminders from the website:

-Remember to bring a photo identification card and updated passport if you’re traveling outside of the United States.
-Contact your doctor to see whether you need any immunizations before you travel to a foreign country.
-Don’t forget to bring any prescription medications you may need. Keep them in their original, labeled containers and carry copies of your prescriptions, including the generic names.
-If you’re traveling by air, review the Transportation Security Administration’s list of prohibited items to bring on airplanes.

By using these simple safety tips, you can help protect yourself and your belongings, making your vacation more enjoyable for everyone.

Source: Amica Insurance

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Drop Those Costs! Air Conditioning Energy Efficiency Plan That Can Save You Money

July 27, 2012 1:14 am

Staying cool costs money. In the summer, air conditioning is the big energy ticket item. In fact, the Alliance to Save Energy says that the average 2012 residential household energy bill will run around $2,200. They also say that simple changes can ease the strain and keep your home more comfortable at the same time.

The following American Cooling and Heating Six-Point Energy Star Efficiency plan can help you ease the burden on your A/C system, your pocketbook and your family’s comfort demands:

1) Air Filters
When things appear to be functioning correctly, homeowners forget the importance of changing their HVAC air filter. Dirty filters reduce air flow, force your system to work harder and result in wasted energy. Change the HVAC filter once a month. It will reduce cooling expenses and prevent the buildup of dust and dirt, which may even eliminate the future need for a service call.

2) HVAC System Tune Up

What would it cost to repair your automobile if you never changed the oil until the engine seized up? Although special circumstances such as landscaping-related dust and debris may prompt a need for a special maintenance call, once a year is typically sufficient for a home HVAC system. Spend a little to save bunches.

3) Programmable Thermostat
Not all home air conditioning systems have an installed programmable thermostat. Yet when correctly installed and properly used, a programmable thermostat can reduce your yearly energy costs by as much as $190.

4) Leaking Duct System
Low air pressure moving through your home may be the result of an improperly sealed heating and cooling duct system. As much as 20 percent of your cooling and heating cost may be coming to rest in the crawlspace beneath your home or in your attic.

5) Upgrade to a New Energy-Efficient HVAC System
Old systems cost more to operate than the modern energy-efficient products available today. A new energy-efficient home HVAC system can reduce your yearly energy bill by as much as $200. If your system is older than ten years or if it is not keeping your home livable and comfortable, perhaps you should have it evaluated by a quality HVAC contractor.

6) Proper Installation
Perhaps a new system is the only answer to your home cooling complication. If so, seek the best in performance, energy efficiency and installation services. Improper HVAC installation can reduce your energy efficiency by as much as 30 percent, not to mention the excess wear and tear on your equipment.

Source: American Cooling and Heating

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Top 10 European Destinations

July 26, 2012 1:14 am

Thinking of a European getaway? has announced its list of the top ten cities to visit in Europe. Travelers looking to experience the splendor of Europe should do a little comparison shopping before booking flights, in order to experience everything Europe has to offer. Start with these destinations.

1. Rome, Italy
Located in the central-western part of the country, the Italian capital is often referred to as the "birthplace of western civilization." Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rome is home to the Pope, St. Peter's Basilica, the Colosseum and the Vatican Museum.

2. Dublin, Ireland
Hugely popular with tourists across the world, visitors can take a stroll down the River Liffey, or sample the famous Irish craic whilst enjoying a pint of Guinness in Temple Bar. Don't miss the statue of Molly Malone on Grafton Street or the Ha'penny Bridge over the Liffey, which remains Dublin's most recognizable landmark.

3. Paris, France
Known best for its romance and iconic landmarks, the French capital is perhaps the most majestic city in the world. From the Eiffel Tower, to the Champs-Elysees and Sacre Coeur, the sights and sounds of this great city are simply endless.

4. London, England
With its pomp and pageantry, London has a place on any highlight list. Explore the countless museums and art galleries or take a short trip down The Mall and try to spot the Queen in Buckingham Palace.

5. Venice, Italy
A simply fascinating city with beauty and elegance to be found on every corner. Explore the many waterways and the Grand Canal before taking a walk over the famous Rialto Bridge and on to St. Mark's Basilica, not forgetting to set aside some time for a world famous Gondola ride.

6. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is one of the most visited cities on the planet and it's easy to understand why. A warm year-round climate combined with fantastic beaches, sensational sporting action and a rich cultural heritage make Barcelona a must-see city.

7. Amsterdam, Holland
Amsterdam is one of the most eye-catching and alluring cities in Europe. With a picturesque canal, an abundance of museums and a thriving nightlife, Amsterdam can cater to everyone's tastes.

8. Prague, Czech Republic
The Czech Capital has seen immense changes throughout its history but has stood the test of time and is now one of Europe's most flourishing cities. Not to be missed are the Old Town Square, Prague Castle and the Lennon Wall.

9. St. Petersburg, Russia
Previously known as Petrograd and then Leningrad, St. Petersburg is the most Western city in Russia. It may not be its nation's capital city, but it is home to more than 200 museums, of which The Hermitage is one of the largest in the world.

10. Vienna, Austria
The Austrian capital is awash with cultural highlights and rich decadence. But with the stunning Alps just moments away and historical settlements to be discovered throughout, Austria has much to offer.


Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tips to Avoid Oral Cancer

July 26, 2012 1:14 am

The American Dental Association (ADA) asked practices around the country to participate in helping address the issue of oral cancer. Here are a few tips every family should take into consideration in order to avoid oral cancer.

Get screened.

Early detection of oral cancer can save lives. Everyone is urged to get screened for oral cancer. There are more than 35,000 new oral cancer cases every year and this is the fifth year in a row that the number has increased. The mortality rate for oral cancer is higher than that of skin or cervical cancer, yet many people are more aware of the risks involved with those diseases.

If you are at risk for the Human papillomavirus 16 (HPV-16), get screened. In the past, oral cancer was primarily found in patients who smoked or chewed tobacco, or among those who drank heavily (over 30 drinks a day). Now it's seen in more and more younger patients, generally caused by a jump in HPV-16 cases.

Ask about your oral care professional’s screening process.

Only trained professionals can detect the early warning signs of oral cancer. Find a hygienist who is trained in visual and tactile identification of oral pathology. The oral cancer screening process should inspect the patient’s tongue, lips, palette, neck, throat and entire mouth for any abnormal signs that may point to cancer. During the screening, the hygienist should look for swelling, ulcerations, lumps, nodules, sores, white or red spots, and any unusual marks, which could possibly indicate cancer.

Visit the dentist.

It’s important to visit the dentist and/or the ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) regularly to be screened for oral cancer, so you can be sure about your oral health. It is recommended that patients receive an oral cancer exam at each dental visit. Oral cancer screenings are performed only by ear, nose and throat doctors (ENT), oral surgeons and dentists. Just like patients visit the dermatologist for a skin cancer screening or women get screened for breast cancer, it’s imperative that more patients visit a dentist, ENT or oral surgeon on an annual basis for an oral cancer exam. Dentists are well-positioned to perform oral cancer screenings because patients typically visit their dentists on a semi-annual basis but rarely visit an ENT or oral surgeon.

Source: The Blende Dental Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.

The Wrong Sun Hat Can Leave Heads Fit to Be Fried

July 26, 2012 1:14 am

Every head needs sun protection. In fact, the simple act of wearing a hat can dramatically reduce the chances of skin cancer and premature aging by shading the face, scalp, ears and neck. These areas are also a common place for skin cancer to occur.

For those who have the desire for sun protection but just cannot find a hat that fits, here are four tips to help when making a selection:

• Protect the scalp by selecting a hat, not a visor, that will cover the entire head. The scalp is susceptible to sun damage; especially a bald head or thinning hair. If a sun visor is worn, pull the hair back so that the scalp is not showing.
• Start by choosing a comfortable hat with a brim of at least three inches. Rule of thumb: the bigger the brim, the better the protection. Also, a brim that is angled downward will provide even more hours of sun protection.
• Do not rely on a baseball cap to protect against dangerous UV (ultraviolet) rays. A baseball cap shades your forehead and a small portion of the face, but the small brim leaves the neck, ears and most of the face exposed.
• A hat that is made from tightly woven fabrics, such as canvas, offers the best protection. In contrast, the holes in a straw hat will allow UV rays to come through and any protection may be minimal. Regarding color choice, go darker. Darker colors tend to offer better protection by absorbing UV rays. Hats that come with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) tag have been rated and the tag will state the degree of sun protection the hat provides.

Be mindful of the power of the sun. One good habit to get into is to avoid excessive UVB exposure between the peak hours of 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. and seek shade when possible.

No one product will give complete protection. For maximum protection, combine a wide-brimmed sun hat with sunscreen and sunglasses. Also, cover up exposed skin by wearing UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing. This is clothing that has been certified to protect against UV rays. This is accomplished through a tight fabric weave or a sun protection additive.


Published with permission from RISMedia.

When Traveling, Don't Leave Home without These Top Gluten-Free Items

July 25, 2012 1:10 am

Savvy gluten-free travelers always carry crackers, dried fruit, and nuts in case gluten-free food isn’t available, but Carol Fenster, an expert in gluten-free living and author of “Gluten-Free 101,” carries additional items to make sure she has safe food while en route and at her destination.

Fenster, whose travels have taken her around the world, despite her gluten-free lifestyle, selects these items so that they pass airport-security screenings, are non-perishable, and are substantial enough to make a light meal, if necessary. “There’s nothing worse than being away from home and hungry,” says Fenster. “Whether traveling for business or pleasure, with these items in a purse or carry-on, gluten-free travelers are always prepared for airport delays, long plane rides, or destinations that lack gluten-free options.”

Nut Butters
Bring individual-serving packets of nut butters. Tear one end open and squeeze the packet to distribute the nut butter on apples, carrots, or gluten-free crackers with no need for a knife.

Beef Jerky
Fenster chooses gluten-free versions and carries a few sticks in a plastic, resealable bag. Chewy, filling, yet non-perishable, they can make a small, but high-protein meal.

Never forget a few individual-serving packets of gluten-free rolled oats, in plain or flavored versions. Pour into a paper cup designed for hot beverages, add hot water, and let stand (covered) for a few minutes to reconstitute the oats. Some airport concessions serve ready-to-reconstitute paper cups of oatmeal, but Fenster cautions that these may not be made with gluten-free oats.

Whether home-made or store-bought, granola can be eaten as trail mix (just add nuts and candy bits), as a breakfast cereal, or sprinkled on yogurt. Always verify that it is made with gluten-free oats. Carry a small bag to eat en route, with additional bags in your suitcase to eat throughout the trip.

Packing a couple of gluten-free bread slices into a child’s sandwich box can also be handy. The rigid sides protect the bread from being crushed as well as keep it fresh longer. The bread can be toasted, used in sandwiches, or eaten with nut butter. If possible, buy a loaf of gluten-free bread at your final destination and keep a couple of slices on you at all times.

Fenster, the author of ten gluten-free cookbooks, says that these foods may be purchased in natural food stores as well as some supermarkets.

“Travel can be safe and enjoyable when gluten-free travelers are prepared with safe food that transports well, especially for those times when food choices are limited,” says Fenster.

Source: Carol Fenster, author

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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