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4 Four tips to make home maintenance easier Real Estate

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Some home maintenance jobs require a significant investment of time and specialized equipment, but there are many projects you can accomplish efficiently with basic tools and the right approach. Follow these tips to get started: Update your toolbox. Take inventory to ensure your collection is complete, and replace damaged or rusted tools. Your toolbox is also a good place to store common repair items such as adhesive. For quick, fuss-free fixes with no dry time, ditch traditional glue for Glue Dots. The double-sided adhesives bond instantly to virtually any surface with no mess and let you skip using clamps. Get ahead of potential problems. For example, have a plunger on hand to prevent clogged sinks and toilets from causing water damage, and keep gutters and filters clean to prevent structural damage or fire. You can also protect your home and valuables from damage by using adhesive to secure precious items from getting knocked over, and protect floors from traffic damage by securing rugs and felt pads to furniture. Take a helping hand. Most phones have levels and flashlights that can help

with minor jobs, and your phone's calendar can be set with recurring reminders so that you'll never miss a maintenance date. In addition, find creative ways to make tasks easier. It can be tough to keep items in place while nailing or screwing into walls or ceilings, or installing features such as under-cabinet lighting. Glue Dots are a handy solution that won't damage the surface, don't expand and won't make a mess. Get organized. Daily home maintenance tasks like cleaning are easier when they are done along the way rather than letting them pile up, creating a bigger job. Store everyday needs in each room, or on each floor. For maximum efficiency, keep cleaning supplies in both the bath and the kitchen, and a broom and vacuum on each floor. Making sure you have the right tools on hand and taking preventive steps to get ahead of potential problems will make minor home repair jobs quick and easy so you can get back to enjoying the comforts of your home. For additional DIY home repair tips, visit -Family Features

Photo courtesy of Alex Wilson/Getty Images

What’s your kitchen style?

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Photo courtesy of Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

From the beams and archways to the mullion cabinet doors and island legs, this kitchen portrays every aspect of traditional. With so many styles of kitchens and cabinets, it can sometimes be hard to decide on a favorite. You may see kitchens in each style and agree that they are all beautiful in their own way. But which is the style you would choose for your own home? Aside from the look of each style, many aspects must be considered, such as its compatibility with the rest of the home, and whether it will endure the test of time. With many considerations to sort through, it can sometimes become more of a hassle than a fun improvement on your home. Defined below are different kitchen styles to help you decide on what suits your home while fitting your personal style. Contemporary Contemporary kitchens, very simple spaces, are characterized by distinctive hard and sleek horizontal lines. A full overlay slab door style is typically the norm for these kitchens. The Wellborn Cabinet, Inc. Milan door style is the perfect slab selection for a contemporary kitchen.

The small amount of ornamentation that does exist is natural and usually comes in some form of texture. For example, there may be horizontal wood grains to match up with the horizontal line scheme. Visually the wood grain gives off a textured appearance. Traditional Traditional styled kitchens are distinguished by their detail. Unlike transitional kitchens, traditional kitchens contain embellishments and detail is found everywhere, with corbels and mouldings on every piece of furniture. In terms of cabinetry, raised panels with applied moulding are common for traditional kitchens. Outlining these raised panels are inset or framed cabinet construction, adding a hint of detail to the cabinet doors. A fun thing about traditional is the ability to mix door styles, giving you the freedom to choose a couple of styles and mix them between perimeter cabinets and your island. Techniques are a small detail that, when applied to every cabinet door, give off a striking effect. This is an at-

tribute that can really define your own personal style. Hutch and furniture style cabinets are another unique feature of traditional kitchens. Transitional Transitional styling pulls together the warmth of traditional with the crispness of contemporary making for a good median. This allows you to choose a simple door style, often a shaker, and pair it with a beautiful stained wood. Neutral paints are also very popular among transitional cabinetry. Wellborn offers two shaker door styles, Bristol and Hanover, which are both wonderful choices for transitional kitchens. With ornamental pieces at a minimum, emphasis is placed on the modest details that do exist. Maybe you like some characteristics of the traditional styling but enjoy the simplicity of contemporary. Transitional style encompasses the best of both worlds and fits the style of many homes because of its versatile traits. Casual Casual kitchens maintain a comfortable feel and fit in with

the home. They have the ability to be personalized and beautiful while practical at the same time. Casual is a style that can take on many looks. For instance, there can be coastal, country and eclectic versions of this laid-back look. Here are further explanations of each style: * Coastal casual is a look that is often found depending on location. Beach houses often have the coastal casual style that encompasses a light and airy environment with pops of color through pastels. The atmosphere is also set through driftwood and white washes. * Country casual is a style that is traditionally made up of stained cabinets detailed with ornamentations and embellishments, making for a warm, inviting environment. The embellishments are placed in a comfortable manner reflecting the natural surroundings in which the home is located. * Eclectic casual is a mix of a little bit of everything that you love with taste. It captures pieces and accessories from different places and times and combines

them together in one space. Old and new design elements are pulled together to create a unique, individual style. Formal Formal kitchens often display sophisticated, yet stunning details in which beauty is key. Although the detail may be small, it does not go without notice and forms a timeless environment of high societal living. A vast range of cabinetry door styles can be seen in formal kitchens because the style is distinguished by the architectural elements such as coffered ceilings, columns and moulding details. Glass cabinet doors can be found in formal kitchens to add to the elegance of the environment. The arrangement of over-the-top elements and accessories is essential to creating a formal kitchen. Whether your preferences fit perfectly into one category or a combination of several, the goal of creating your special kitchen space is to listen to what style speaks to you. For more kitchen and home remodeling ideas, visit -Family Features

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Pick your power source In a variety of situations, portable generators can supply temporary or remote electric power. From emergencies to recreational and construction activities, portable generators become a welcome addition to any instance when power is needed, yet not readily available. For outdoor events such as tailgating, hunting and camping, an inverter generator is a quiet, reliable option. These temporary power sources can be used to power televisions, radios, small appliances, fans and space heaters. Before using one of these helpful devices at your next event, there are a few things to remember in order to keep friends and family safe. "Portable generators are helpful in various situations, but the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by their improper use are very real," said Joe Harding, representative for Portable Generator Manufac-

turers' Association (PGMA). "The educational efforts of PGMA, including the Safety First campaign, are focused on educating the public on the proper selection and safe usage of portable generators." Essential safety tips Generator exhaust contains high levels of carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that is tasteless, colorless and odorless. For any situation which requires temporary power to be available, consider the following preparation and safety tips: * Do not run portable generators inside homes, garages, basements, crawlspaces, sheds or other partially-enclosed spaces, even if using fans or opening doors and windows. Carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these spaces and linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off. * Only operate a portable generator outside, far away from

windows, doors and vents to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide gas accumulating and potentially being drawn toward occupied spaces. * Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in alarms with battery backup according to the manufacturer's instructions. Smoke alarms cannot detect carbon monoxide gas. * Always place your portable generator downwind and point the engine exhaust away from occupied spaces. * The symptoms of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those caused by other illness such as cold, flu or food poisoning. If you suspect you or a family member are experiencing any of these symptoms due to carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately and call 911 for emergency medical attention. * Always refer to the genera-

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Fuse

tor owner's manual for further information about safe operation and potential hazards. Regardless of the events requiring the use of portable generators, safety precautions

should be considered in order to reduce risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. For more information, visit -Family Features

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Save on splurge-worthy home styles 9

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In the fashion and design world, alternative materials that emulate high-end looks are trendy not only for their lower price point and low maintenance qualities, but thanks to advancements in design and technology, are often hard to differentiate from the real thing. Throughout the home, you can find examples of home design options in which alternative versions of high-end materials can be incorporated. Metallic bling Bright, golden tones are big right now, but few homeowners have the financial means to deck out the family home with mirrors, sconces and other decorative items made of genuine gold. Fortunately, these, and a wide range of other accessories, are available in finishes that mimic the look of real gold, with price tags that won't leave you feeling like a fool. Trendy tile Wood-look porcelain tiles, such as Daltile's Season Wood ColorBody(tm) Porcelain, resemble distressed and aged wood; yet can be installed without concern for water damage, warping or wear and tear. With advanced technologies, tile manufacturers are also able to create visuals that capture the look of natural stone. Veining, color variations and even textured surfaces make them often indiscernible from the real thing. Some examples include Daltile's marble (Marble Falls) and slate-look (Porada) collections. Earth-inspired walls Creating a feature wall is an easy way to instantly transform a room. One hot look that has made a big comeback - grass cloth - lets you set an earthy mood with a fun and funky focal point. However, the wall treatment can be fragile, especially in a high-traffic area or in a room, such as a bathroom, where humidity is high and can weaken fibers. Fortunately, there are numerous vinyl options that simulate the natural material but are much hardier to stand up to the activity of an average household. Another benefit: the "imitation" versions tend to be a bit more uniform, eliminating the color variation or texture inconsistency that are inherent to the natural varieties and can make it very difficult to match to other decor and accessories. Stylish stucco Another way to add interest to your walls is to incorporate dimension - literally. Forget faux paint finishes that give the illusion of depth. Achieve a look that is more "now" with a stucco-like finish. Using some simple painting tools, multi-tone paint and a material such as joint compound, you can easily - and relatively inexpensively - create a stucco surface that adds genuine texture you can see and feel. Touchable textiles The use of diverse fabrics is an age-old method of introducing variety and polish to a well-decorated space. Contemporary designers are looking to opulent options such as rich leather, suede and fur to create a high-end ambiance. You can enjoy the look without the expense by opting for synthetic versions of these coveted textiles. Even better, these simulated materials will prove more practical for everyday wear and tear. Achieving a trendy, lavish style for your home doesn't have to cost a fortune, and often, imitation materials will deliver comparable results that stand up better to the test of time. To see more stylish design options for your home, visit -Family Features

Photos courtesy of Daltile

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Embrace childhood with flavors of winter 11 As a kid, the winter season was always a special time of year filled with snow days, ice-skating, favorite movies and fun board games. Bringing back carefree moments from winters past can be as easy as gathering together family and friends for game night and sipping your favorite wintertime drink - hot chocolate. Nearly 70 percent of Americans agree that hot chocolate is the drink that most reminds them of their childhood, according to a new survey by Wakefield Research. This winter, while the weather is brisk, warm up by taking a flavorful walk down memory lane with these fun takes on the classic hot chocolate. The Rocky Road Hot Chocolate and Gingerbread Hot Chocolate are heart-warming treats that ward off winter chills and satisfy your sweet nostalgic cravings. The key ingredient is the Limited Edition TruMoo Chocolate Marshmallow milk. The rich, velvety-smooth milk com-

bines your favorite chocolate and marshmallow flavors into a drink that's delicious when enjoyed cold, and equally good when tried hot. Like regular TruMoo, Chocolate Marshmallow milk is made with wholesome low-fat white milk from local dairies, and contains no artificial growth hormones or high fructose corn syrup. For more recipe ideas, visit, or look for TruMoo Milk on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Rocky Road Hot Chocolate Servings: 2 2 cups TruMoo Chocolate Marshmallow milk or TruMoo Chocolate milk 1/4 cup coarsely broken graham crackers 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Chocolate chips, graham cracker pieces, mini marshmallows and toasted almonds for garnish In small saucepan over medium heat, heat chocolate marsh-

mallow milk, graham crackers and vanilla until milk is hot. Pour into mugs. Garnish with chocolate chips, graham crackers, toasted almonds and mini marshmallows, if desired. To heat in microwave, combine milk, graham crackers and vanilla in large glass measuring cup or bowl. Heat on high 1 minute or until warmed through. Garnish as above. Tip: For an extra toasty flavor, broil mini marshmallows

until lightly browned before garnishing. Gingerbread Hot Chocolate Servings: 2 2 cups TruMoo Chocolate Marshmallow milk or TruMoo Chocolate milk 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger Dash ground cloves Cinnamon sticks and gingerbread cookies for garnish

In small saucepan over medium heat, heat chocolate marshmallow milk, cinnamon, ginger and cloves until just boiling. Remove from heat. Garnish with cinnamon stick and favorite gingerbread cookies if desired. To heat in microwave, combine above ingredients in glass measuring cup or bowl. Heat on high 1 minute or until warmed through. Garnish as above. -Family Features

Photo courtesy of TruMoo

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12 Keep winter energy bills in check Real Estate

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Photo courtesy of Power Creative

As winter temperatures drop, the potential for higher utility bills goes up. Taking steps ahead of the cold season can help you trim costs and make your home more energy efficient, keeping those utility bills in check even as the winter weather rages. "Many homeowners just assume the winter season means their bills will go up as systems work harder to keep their home regulated," said Francois Lebrasseur, marketing manager of water products for GE Appliances. "In reality, there are many steps one can take to improve energy efficiency and minimize the added expense that comes with extreme winter temperatures." According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity costs are on the rise.

Before winter weather sets in for your part of the country, take some time to assess your home for potential problem areas and improvements that can help lower your energy costs. Lighting. Though turning off unneeded lights is a smart strategy any time of year, it's especially helpful during the winter months when utility expenses can add up. New technology from GE Lighting lets you manage your lights away from home - handy if you're gone for the day and realize lights were left on. GE Link Connected LED lights can be adjusted using an app on your smartphone. These energyefficient LED lights also will come in handy if you're away from home for an extended period or traveling over the holidays, as you can turn specific lights on to give the appearance that

someone is home so you can vacation worry-free. If you replace a 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a 12-watt GE Link LED bulb, you would save $132 over the life of the bulb at an electricity rate of $0.11 per kWh. Water heaters. Heat isn't the only system that gets an extra workout come winter. Cooler house temperatures may require water heaters to work harder, so ensuring you have a model wellsuited to your family's yearround needs is key. In fact, heating water is the second source of energy use in the residential home after space heating and cooling, with standard electric water heaters costing the average homeowner $585 every year to operate. One energy-efficient option is the 50-gallon GE GeoSpring(tm) hybrid electric water heater, which can save the

average household $365 every year (using 1514 kWh per year and national average electricity rate of 12 cents per kWh) compared to a 50-gallon standard electric water heater (using 4646 kWh per year), as based on a test comparison. GeoSpring also offers features such as vacation mode, which lowers the water temperature during a trip, then reenergizes itself the day before the homeowner's return. Thermostat. A programmable thermostat is easy to install and saves energy (and money) by automatically adjusting to pre-determined temperature settings. This allows you to drop the temperature during the day when no one is home, but have a comfortable environment ready when you arrive home from work each day. Depending on the model you choose, you can

select numerous settings to adjust your indoor climate for various days to fit your lifestyle patterns. According to ENERGY STAR(r), when used properly, a programmable thermostat can save as much as $150 a year in energy costs. Air leaks. An airtight house is critical to managing your heat-related expenses. You take time to close windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping, but that's only half the battle. Sealing cracks around those windows and doors, and other leak-prone areas such as the basement and attic, will help keep heat inside and costs down. To protect your wallet with more seasonal energy-efficient savings tips and products, visit or -Family Features

Forget fad diets, focus on health 13 If you recently committed to managing your weight or dieting, it may be time to change your approach. For long-term results, ditch fad dieting and adopt a balanced approach to eating with a focus on healthy foods. Being healthy isn't just about fitting into skinny jeans. According to a recent national survey, there are many reasons why women consider dieting: 68 percent want to improve their health, 51 percent want to look their best, and 39 percent want to have more energy. With these goals in mind, it may not come as a surprise that survey participants reported being on an average of nine diets in their lifetimes. In fact, 76 percent of American women who have dieted admit to having tried a fad diet. However, nearly two out of three women believe fad diets are difficult to maintain. What's more, these diets may even be

unhealthy, according to the Weight-control Information Network (WIN). Some fad diets fail to provide your body with the nutrients your body needs. In addition, sustained rapid weight loss can increase your risk of gallbladder problems, and heart problems can result from consuming too few calories for too long. To maintain a healthy weight and healthier lifestyle, the experts at WIN suggest focusing on establishing these healthy habits: * Choose healthy foods, with a diet rich in fruits and veggies. * Manage calorie intake and portion size. Keep on track by using a smaller plate, paying close attention to nutrition labels and weighing portions on a scale. * Make exercise part of your daily life. Even activities such as gardening or taking the stairs can make a difference. Managing your metabolism -

how your body uses calories - is another key to healthy eating. Eating foods that deliver plenty of protein and fiber are all keys to maximizing your metabolism. When it comes to healthy food, look for wholesome, nutritious options, even when you snack. For example, new Great Grains Granolas and The Bar Undone snack mixes are the first non-cereal Great Grains offerings. Made with less processed ingredients for more wholesome nutrition in every handful, each serving of Great Grains The Bar Undone snack mix has at least 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. One half-cup serving of new Great Grains Granola contains at least 26 grams of whole grains. "At Great Grains, we believe when it comes to healthy eating, the secret is, there is no secret," said Mangala D'Sa, Senior Director of Marketing for Post Foods. "A fad-free diet, complete with wholesome, nutri-

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images/iStockphoto

tious foods is key to healthy eating." A balanced approach to eating, coupled with a few lifestyle changes, are all the tools you

need to succeed on your weight control quest. For more smart eating tips and recipes, visit -Family Features

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Breakfast and beyond A great day starts with a balanced breakfast filled with healthy ingredients fit for the whole family. Enticing the youngest family members to enjoy as many food groups as possible at the morning meal - including veggies - may be challenging, but it's an important step to ensuring a well-rounded diet all day long. The experts at Birds Eye frozen vegetables offer up these tips to get kids to eat more vegetables, starting with the breakfast table and continuing throughout the day. 1. Look for dining occasions for vegetables throughout the day, including breakfast. Click here to see more.While veggies are often only thought of at dinnertime, parents can help ensure their kids get the proper amount of vegetables by combining Birds Eye frozen fruit and veggies into other meals and snacks, such as smoothies. These are a great start to the morning and an easy way to work in extra servings of fruits and vegetables. Another option is combining many ingredients, including veggies, into a single breakfast dish, such as the Baked Eggs with Peppers and Breakfast Sausage recipe below. 2. Whether frozen or fresh, it's important to get veggies in every meal. Click here to see more.Nine out of ten Americans don't eat enough vegetables on a daily basis, so incorporating them into each meal is important. From a nutritional per-

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Photo courtesy of Birds Eye

spective, there is little to no difference between fresh and frozen vegetables. For example, at Birds Eye, they flash freeze their veggies within four hours after harvest, locking in peak freshness, nutrients, taste and color. Easy to store in the freezer, they make it a snap to have nutritious ingredients on hand for any meal. 3. Mix up the veggie and flavor profiles to keep meals exciting.Click here to see more. It's easy to become bored with the same meals or flavors, so mix up mealtime. Birds Eye offers more

than 40 unique vegetable varieties year round at affordable prices, allowing families to change up their meals regardless of the season. With a little creativity, you will have the kids in your family eating more vegetables at every meal, beginning with breakfast. For more recipes and veggiefriendly tips for your family, visit Baked Eggs with Peppers and Breakfast Sausage 6 ounces breakfast sausage (if links, remove from casing) 1/2 bag Birds Eye Recipe

Ready Tri Color Pepper & Onion Blend 4 large eggs Salt and ground black pepper 1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese Chopped fresh parsley for garnish Preheat oven to 325째F. Lightly grease four 8-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. Brown sausage over medium heat in nonstick skillet, stirring and breaking up sausage, about

5 minutes. Stir in peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Evenly divide vegetable mixture among prepared ramekins. Gently break one egg into each ramekin and season with salt and pepper. Evenly top each egg with milk and cheese. Place ramekins on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until egg white is opaque but yolk is still soft. Garnish with parsley and serve. -Family Features

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February Real Estate Showcase 2015  

Monthly real estate magazine of the Denton Record-Chronicle.