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Today's Top Real Estate News

Provided by RISMedia News
4/7/2020  4:18:05 PM

5 Tips for Decorating With Books
Are you a bookworm? Do you want to give your home a chic update using what you already own? Perfect. Below are five tips for turning your favorite books into accents, centerpieces, and more.

Stacks on stacks. Stack books on end tables, counters and coffee tables that seem a bit naked on their own. Curate a small grouping—odd numbers work best—and stack or fan them in a way that's pleasing.

Fill the fireplace. What can you do with your fireplace during off-season months? Fill it with books, that's what! Stack an appealing group of books up high, add a potted plant or two and boom, you've turned a dead space into a book nook. Just be sure to clear them out when winter comes.

Color by room. This works best for people with a huge reading collection. Simply organize and arrange your books by color. You can segregate all your earth- and fire-toned books into a room that could use some natural accents, pile your crisp and clean colors into that all-white guest room, stack those daisy-yellow reads into the sunroom, etc.

Color by shelf. If you have a massive book shelf in one room and want to keep your family of books together, you can organize them by color in one place, much like you might with your clothes closet. One shelf for those bright greens and blues, another for pastels, another for blacks, and so on.

Create a tower or table. Find several wide books of the same size and heft, stack them on top of each other next to a low-lying bed or sofa, and boom: a side table! Top them with a vase of flowers and voila – an accent extension.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Should You Paint or Stain Your Kitchen Cabinets?
So you've got new kitchen cabinets. Congratulations! But now what? For those wondering how to finish their brand-spanking-new cabinets, we run down the pros and cons of painting vs. staining—the two most popular finishing avenues. The kitchen is one of the most important factors in your home’s value, so consider how the following information impacts your real estate investment.

Pros for paint

It's flawless. Regardless of the color you choose, painting your cabinets covers up any quirks or blemishes in the natural wood, which can often be magnified by staining.

Your color choices are endless. When it comes to picking a paint, the world is your multi-colored oyster. Get crazy and really customize the look and feel of your cabinets.

Paint sticks to lower quality materials. If your cabinets are not made of wood (think particle board), paint is your BFF. It sticks to these materials just as well as higher grade wood options, and no one but you will know the difference.

Cons for paint

It looks more uniform. Remember those natural quirks we mentioned? Well you may not want to cover them up. If you're looking for a more natural, country vibe that highlights those stunning features like grain and knots, opt for a stain over paint.

It's pricey. While not too expensive in the grand scheme, paint is more expensive than a stain, so if budget is a concern, take heed.

Harder to touch up. Even if you can't find an exact match for your cabinet color, when you're working with stain, odds are you'll have better luck blending touch-ups in stain than with picky paint.

Source: Houzz

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Cool Ideas for Dressing Up Your Kidís Room
Icons and superheroes go in and out of style, so decorating your kids’ rooms to reflect their current favorite may not be the best idea. Decorators suggest using timeless themes and practical ideas to make their spaces cheerful and organized:

Start with color – Choose a favorite, preferably a soothing one, to help your child ease into sleep. Consider painting one wall in chalkboard paint, ready for years of artistic expression.

Use cool family art – Choose a favorite family, vacation, or kid photo and blow it up to large standard frame size at an office supply store. Then cut it evenly into thirds or fourths vertically, frame each one, and hang them side by side as separate pieces separated by just an inch or two.

Make it a gallery – String wire from one wall to another, just high enough for you to reach, to hold a changing display of your child’s drawings. Or frame the drawings in standard acrylic frames that can be changed as new masterpieces emerge.

Try dresser magic – Perk up a drab white dresser inexpensively by tying a length of colorful ribbon into a bow around each of the knobs.

Create a reading nook – Make it an inviting place for shared reading with a bookcase full of books, soft lighting, and seating comfy enough for cuddling.

Add maxi-storage – A rack of colorful, stacked bins from the local home store is better than a toy box for storing trucks, games, building blocks, and other large toys.

And mini-storage – A multi-pocketed shoe organizer hung from one wall is a great place to stash mini action figures, Hot Wheels cars, hair goodies, and other small treasures.

Stock cubbies or a shelf with art supplies – Keep it full of construction paper, markers, poster board, and other supplies your kid may need for school projects.

Create a play space – Kids love to play dress-up. Find an old trunk and fill it with vintage clothing and hats they can use to ‘put on a show.’

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tap into Employer Benefit Resources in Times of Uncertainty
(Family Features) For many American workers, how they do their jobs dramatically changed with the spread of COVID-19. Some have shifted to working from home while others moved to part-time or reduced hours.

With uncertainty abound, now’s a good time to take stock of your physical and mental health and familiarize yourself with the resources available from your employer.

As part of a report on mental health, employee benefits company Unum found nearly three-quarters (74%) of working adults feel big life events can have a major impact on their mental health. Some top mental health triggers include a person’s health (69%), finances (67%), relationships (59%) and job satisfaction (52%).

“With so many people experiencing major shifts in not only their work lives, but also potentially their health, finances and personal lives, now is a good time to know what resources are available,” said Laurie Mitchell, assistant vice president of global wellbeing and health at Unum.

Often linked with a health care or disability plan’s coverage, employee assistance programs, telemedicine or tele-behavioral health and app-based programs are low-cost solutions that allow people to connect with a professional on their own time when they’re experiencing a problem.

Employee Assistance Programs
An employee assistance program (EAP) often offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services to people who have personal or work-related concerns. EAPs address a wide range of issues affecting mental and emotional wellbeing, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems and psychological disorders. Many EAPs also provide services to help caregivers, assist with financial planning or offer child care resources.

Telemedicine and App-Based Mental Health Solutions
Telemedicine services can make accessing medical and mental health resources easier. There are even apps that can target specific mental health needs, and people can access them on their own time when they need the services. These types of tools can be effective complements to traditional care and help with everything from increasing positivity and efficiency to reducing stress and anxiety.

“Employees should ask their human resources department what resources are available and be supportive of colleagues who may be struggling as well,” Mitchell said. “Especially during this time of uncertainty, offering support to others and knowing where to direct them can improve lives and help create a more inclusive work environment.”

In addition, the report found 93% of human resources professionals say their companies offer an EAP, yet only 38% of employees said they’re aware of the resource. More than half of human resources professionals also said they offer financial counseling, legal services and telemedicine services, but only a fraction of employees reported being aware these services exist.

As businesses chart new ways of working, these types of tools can help employees establish new ways of interacting with support services when in-person options may not be available. Even if you’re not struggling now, as you navigate this uncertain time, consider asking your employer what resources you have access to that can help support your physical and mental wellbeing.

To download the mental health report and learn about other employee benefit resources, visit Unum.com/workwell.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Staying Safe During a Health Crisis
Whether or not your state has issued mandated guidelines for sheltering in place during the COVID-19 crisis, there is little question that social distancing and practicing basic health safety measures are effective weapons against getting sick.

In fact, with the illness curve still rising across the country, more than 158 million people are now working from home these days in an effort to keep the disease from spreading.

For those who are part of this at-home demographic, and especially for those who are not, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Red Cross recommend guidelines for staying healthy and preventing the spread of infection:

Disinfect Home and Work Areas – This includes all frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, desktops, phones, faucets and toilets.

Wash Hands Frequently – Using soap and hot water, wash for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public space.

Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Mouth or Nose – Especially if you have not washed your hands for a while.

If You Must Go Out in Public – Avoid groups of 10 or more people and try to maintain a distance of six feet from others.

Avoid Shaking Hands – Greet people with an elbow bump instead, or a slight bow, a nod of the head or a hand over your heart.

Protect Others – Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze, or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve.

If You Feel Sick, Stay Home – If you have mild cold or flu symptoms, recovering at home may be enough. If you develop a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Money-Saving Strategies You Can Use Right Now
While many Americans typically look for money-saving strategies, the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis leaves a growing number of people searching for new ways to stretch every dollar.

From economists and consumer advisors, here are seven ways to cut costs without measurably impacting your lifestyle:
  • Save on Utilities – Wash small loads of dishes or laundry by hand and air or line dry them. Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Put on a sweater and turn down the thermostat.
  • Save on Cleaning Supplies – Don’t replenish your stock of targeted detergents, polishes and cleaning products. For everyday cleaning chores, use a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces with a combination of 1/2 cup of regular chlorine bleach and a gallon of water. (For small batches, use 4 teaspoons of chlorine bleach and a quart of water.)
  • Save on Food – Cook more meals at home. Get the family involved in looking for recipes based on grocery store specials, and planning and preparing simple but nutritious meals. Using that plan, make a list of needed groceries and send one person to the store; keep in mind some items may be out of stock so be flexible with your recipes.
  • Cut Entertainment Costs – Look into saving by cutting the cost of cable and subscribing to one or two of your favorite streaming services. Use Zoom or a similar app to set up audio-visual visits with friends and family. Pop some popcorn, dust off the Yahtzee set and other board games and bring back the fun of family game nights.
  • Get Crafty – Got birthdays or other gift-giving occasions coming up? Make jam. Knit a toasty afghan. Search online for crafting ideas and make heartfelt, homemade gifts that are sure to please just about everyone.  
  • Use Credit Wisely – If you’re going to use a credit card, use one that gives you something back—preferably cash. If you don’t have one, apply for one. If that’s not an option, and/or if you are forced to carry a balance, call your card company. Getting a reduced interest rate is often only a matter of asking for it.
  • Cancel Subscriptions – Spotify. Magazines. Gym memberships. You may not realize how many subscriptions you have. Cancel automatic renewals. Consider membership sharing with family or friends on services like Netflix and Hulu. With an upgraded account, you can watch from two or more screens and everyone saves.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Seven Top Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy
No one can predict when a health crisis will arise, but there are steps every family can take in any environment to ensure they remain healthy enough to ward off illness.

From the Center for Disease Control (CDC), health experts, and university researchers, here are seven proven tips for raising healthy families:

Make nutrition a family affair. A well-balanced diet combined with regular exercise is the basis for good health. Even young children can be encouraged to ‘eat the rainbow’ of fruits and veggies along with whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and fat-free sources of calcium. Involve everyone in learning about nutrition, planning and preparing healthy meals – and commit to drinking lots of water and steering clear of sugary drinks.

Get enough exercise. Kids who spend a little time outdoors each day typically get enough exercise, but adults should make time for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Whether it’s walking, bicycling, dancing, swimming, or participating in sports – even gardening counts! – a little daily exercise can pay big health dividends.

Help avoid injury. Wear seatbelts and bike helmets, use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, and be street smart when walking alone. 

Create no-phone zones and times. Designate times during the day – like at the dinner table or during homework time - when no technology is allowed. A 10-minute break from devices just before bedtime can help ease the way toward sleep.

Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep is one of the best promoters of physical and mental health. It reduces inflammation and helps reduce the risk of infectious diseases. Aim for a minimum of eight to nine hours for children, and seven to eight hours for adults.

Plan some family time. Family vacations can be fun, but just spending a few hours of regular time together is a great way to increase communication. Whether it’s over a game board, at the zoo, or volunteering together at the local food bank, meaningful family time can contribute to overall health.

Avoid smoking and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Smoking harms every major organ in the body, and second-hand smoke can severely impact children. If you drink, keep your intake to within accepted guidelines – up to one glass per day for women and two per day for women, according to the CDC.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Smart Home Technology You Can Easily Integrate Into Your Home
Smart home technology is advancing beyond telling your phone or internet-enabled device to play music and look up sports scores.

Smart thermostats, lightbulbs, plugs, locks and doorbells are available to homeowners, and the list of things technology can connect to within a home is growing every year.

Here are some smart devices you may want to consider integrating into your home:

Thermostat
With a variety of options to choose from, one of the most popular smart thermostats among today's homeowners is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is owned by Google.

The Nest thermostat uses an algorithm to adapt to your preferences, as well as when you leave and arrive home. When you're away at work, it uses your phone's location to determine that you've left and enters eco mode to save money and energy, reducing bills by up to 15 percent, according to the company.

Floodlight
The Sengled Smart LED Floodlight is an inexpensive way to monitor your home as a motion sensor, while providing light without having to turn the light switch on and off.

Unlike some motion detector lights that require installing new fixtures and possibly wiring, the Sengled Smart LED bulb connects to existing fixtures. Built-in motion and daylight sensors turn the light on automatically for 90 seconds when motion is detected within 30 feet. The light can also be controlled through voice control on Alexa or Google Assistant.

With the Sengled app, you can even receive mobile notifications when motion is sensed.

Smart Lock
The August Smart Lock Pro + Connect attaches to the existing deadbolt and features keyless access. With your phone in your pocket, you can open the door without fumbling for your keys. It automatically locks the door behind you after you leave.

The lock can also be voice activated through Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Smart Doorbell
Want to see who's ringing the doorbell? With continuous streaming and video recording, the Nest Hello gives you a 160-degree view and visitor detection alerts. It also has a speaker and microphone so that you can communicate with visitors knocking on your front door whether you're inside the house—or away from home.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

How to Make Mornings Less Stressful
For many people, mornings are stressful, even chaotic. Rushing and feeling anxious first thing in the morning can set a negative tone for the rest of the day. Some simple (but important) changes can make a world of difference.

Prepare for the Day Ahead

You can eliminate much of your morning stress by taking care of as many things as possible the night before. Check the weather forecast and pick out clothes and shoes for yourself and your kids. If anyone will need an umbrella, coat or other items not generally worn, put them with each person's clothes. If you and your kids take lunches to work or school, make them in the evening. Put them in the refrigerator in labeled or color-coded bags. Fill your gas tank in the evening so you won't have to make a detour in the morning.

Plan Your Day and Week
Make a to-do list for the day ahead, but be realistic about how much you can accomplish. Prioritize items so you get essential tasks done and know which ones can be saved for another day.

If there are any special events, medical or dental appointments, athletic competitions, teacher conferences, or other things that are not a regular part of your weekly routine coming up, write them on a calendar. Check it before the start of the week so that you can make any necessary adjustments to your schedule in advance.

Don't Stay in Bed Too Long
Many people experience morning stress because they get out of bed at the last possible moment. Resist the urge to do that. Don't hit the snooze button. You won't get any more quality sleep, but you could be groggy and fall behind schedule.

Before you get out of bed, take a moment to think about things for which you are grateful, things you have to look forward to that day, and what you hope to accomplish. Don't check your email, texts, social media accounts or newsfeed until you have gotten ready for the day. Reading about other people's problems or requests could cause you to begin your morning on a negative note.

Fuel Your Body
Eat a healthy breakfast that includes protein. Avoid sugary foods that will provide a quick boost of energy followed by a crash. If you typically skip breakfast, try eating a small morning meal each day for a week and see how it affects your mood and energy level.

Expect the Unexpected
Build an extra 10 or 15 minutes into your schedule in case you spill something on your shirt, find that a pet knocked over a plant, or hit a traffic jam. Something will inevitably come up at least once a week. Budgeting extra time for those situations can help you avoid becoming frazzled.

Change Your Routine
Mornings don't have to be stressful. Knowing what you need to do, accomplishing as much as you can ahead of time, and being prepared for last-minute hiccups can make your mornings much more relaxed.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

How to Help Your Child Cope With Allergies
Allergies can make life uncomfortable or nearly unbearable. Kids with allergies may not understand why their bodies respond to things in ways that other bodies don't. They may feel different from their siblings and peers, and may struggle with feelings of embarrassment and isolation.

Talk to the Doctor and to Your Child
If you suspect that your child has allergies, schedule an appointment with a doctor. Once you have confirmed that your child has allergies and know what triggers reactions, you can make any necessary changes.

Explain to your child in age-appropriate terms what allergies are, what he or she is allergic to, and how to avoid reactions. Your child will feel less anxiety and will be more willing to accept medication and diet and lifestyle changes if you explain what is going on and why those measures are necessary.

How to Deal With Allergies
If your child needs to take medication, discuss the benefits, how it should be taken and how often. If your child needs to take medicine at school, talk to the school nurse and teacher so your child can be excused from class when necessary.

If your child has to avoid certain foods, make sure all relatives, teachers, coaches, babysitters, family friends and any other people who might care for your child understand which foods he or she can't eat. Describe the signs of an allergic reaction and explain what to do if one occurs.

If your child needs to stay inside on days with high pollen counts, look for something fun to do. Encourage your child to invite friends over to play indoor games or watch movies.

If your child is allergic to a family pet, some treatments might make it possible to keep the pet without causing too much discomfort for your child. Keep the pet out of your child's bedroom and frequently sweep and vacuum to reduce the amount of dander in your home. If your child's symptoms are so severe that you can't keep the pet, giving it to a family member or friend who agrees to share photos and updates could ease the emotional distress. You might also be able to have a different type of animal as a pet without triggering allergic reactions in your child.

Kids often feel embarrassed if others perceive them as different, or if they view themselves that way. However, allergies are very common. If your child and others feel comfortable discussing their allergies, that can help take away the stigma, but don't force the conversation.

Support Your Child
In addition to the physical symptoms of allergies, children may have to deal with complicated emotions. Explaining what is going on and finding ways to avoid triggers can ease the emotional toll on your child. Talk openly and honestly about your child's allergies and help him or her find ways to cope.

Published with permission from RISMedia.