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Saturday | September 17 | 2011


Saturday | September 17 | 2011

How To HIRE Building a dream house is typically a once-in-a-lifetime endeavor. Whether that house is an oceanside manse or a log cabin in the woods, if done right, the dream house will only need to be done once. Part of getting a dream house right is choosing the right architect to work with. A rchitects can help ma ke a dream house a reality, guiding homeowners through the planning and designing of a project and, ultimately, the home's construction as well. Many people have little or no experience with architects, so it behooves men and women to learn about the process of hiring an architect and just what goes into building a dream home.

Develop Your Vision One of the first things to do, even before shopping around for an architect, is to truly develop the vision of what you want your dream home to be. The goals of the project should be ap p a rent before ap p roaching any architects. Goals include the desired location of the home, the ideal amount of space, the function of the home, and the budget of the project. A vision for a home goes beyond an indoor poor and a balcony that overlooks the ocean.The vision encompasses everything, including budget and what the home will eventually be used for (pri ma ry residence or vacation home?). Once that vision has been flushed out and deve l o p e d , the process of finding an architect can begin.

Finding an Architect No two architecture firms are the same. Architecture is an art form, and the men and women who work as architects each bring their own unique skill sets and ideas to every project they do. What men and women looking for an architect must do is find the architect whose ideas and skill sets best match their own needs. The process of finding an architect should not be easy. This is a dream home, after all, and men and women should exercise due diligence when vetting prospective architects. Topics to cover while meeting with architects include design philosophy and experience building "dream" homes. If the




a rchitects cite a history of building dream homes, ask to see a portfolio of their previous work and or references from past clients. Your particular project should also be discussed when meeting with architects. Ask how much of a priority your project will be and if the architects foresee any challenges ahead. Responses to such questions can be telling. For instance, a rchitects who foresee no problems might just be desperate for business or too inexperienced to plan for potential problems down the road, both of which should be a red flag. Discuss the timetable for the pro j e c t , and how it is likely to progress. Will the firm share their ideas through models or drawings? Will they utilize computer animation to keep you in the loop? The home's design should also be discussed before hiring an architect. The entire process should be explained beforehand. This includes the projected schedule of the project, which gives the architect's clients a framework or timeline for the pro j e c t . N owadays, many homeowners prefer sustainable homes. Ask each architect about his or her experience with sustainable design and what impact, if any, the go- green route will have on the overall budget of the project. When discussing design, it's also important to discuss the architect's role during construction. Men and women should know if, once construction begins, they will be dealing with the architect or the contractor.

The Final Step Perhaps the last step before hiring an architect is discussing the fees of the project. Before an architect provides a formal pro p o s a l , ask how fees are determined. Discuss what, if anything, would incur additional fees and how any additional fees will be communicated. Ask each architect about their history finishing projects both on time and within the original budget. More information is available at the American Institute of Architects Web site at




Saturday | September 17 | 2011

How To CHOOSE THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU FAMILY A pet can make a wonderful addition to any type of family – there is nothing quite like the feeling of unconditional love that an animal companion provides. When choosing a pet for your family, it is extremely important to take the time to learn about which pet would suit your family and your lifestyle best so that the pet can become a permanent fixture within your home. Selecting a family pet is a subjective decision that takes a lot of thought, and there are many factors that should be taken into consideration befo re bringing a new pet into your home. One of the most important factors to consider, especially during the current economic climate, is the state of your finances. Having realistic expectations about the cost of your new pet is vital when making your selection. Some pets simply cost more to care for than others. For example, a goldfish simply needs to be fed and to have its tank maintained after the initial expense of purchasing a tank, rocks and decorations. By comparison, larger animals, like cats and dogs, consume more food and also need beds, toys and other supplies. It is also important to realize that larger animals will need regular veterinary care, which includes needed vaccinations and seasonal medications like flea and tick treatments and heartworm pills. The veterinary bills will also become larger as your pet gets older or becomes sick, so it is always good to consider the cost of long-term care for your pet when reviewing your finances as well. The next factor to consider is the type of lifestyle your family leads and whether a pet will be able to fit comfortably into that routine. Larger pets

are a major responsibility and require a lot of constant attention and care. If you or members of your family work long hours or travel often, consider the affect that your absence might have on a pet. Determine amongst yourselves whether you would be able to spend enough time at home with your pet or if the pet could travel with you. It is also important to have a general idea about how much time you will have to engage your pet in enriching activities and needed exercise and playtime.

manageable tasks to perform. As your family gets older, you can move on to l a rger animals and bigger, m o re involved tasks. When you choose a new pet, another factor your family will have to decide is what age and what breed you would like. This factor goes hand in hand with considering your family dynamic. Caring for a baby pet, such as a puppy or kitten, is often more intensive than caring for an adult. For example, housetraining a puppy and teaching all of the basic foundation skills in their first 6

Another factor to consider is your family dynamic. If you have young children, determine which type and size of pet will be best suited for your home. You should also ask yourself if you are willing to spend a lot of your time caring for your pet if your children are too small to help. For young children, you might consider starting off with a low maintenance pet like a fish, rabbit or bird. Help your children learn about the responsibilities of pet ownership and give them the chance to prove themselves by assigning them smaller, more

months in your home can be very time consuming. Healthy adult animals will also need time to adjust to their new environment and lifestyle. You will be discovering who they are in their first few months in your home, and you can adjust your training efforts to the areas needed. If you want to rescue an adult pet that has a history of being neglected or abused, it is best to learn as much as possible about the pet’s history and current behavior by talking to the shelter or rescue pro fessionals prior to adoption. Decide if you have the time

and patience it takes to rehabilitate a pet with behavior issues. You may need to enlist the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist to guide you through the process. You should also do your research on the breed that you are considering. Learning about the health issues, behavior, personality traits and lifespan of specific types of pets is beneficial when choosing which anima l may be best for your family. The final factor that your family should consider is where to obtain your new pet. It is best to be cautious about finding a pet in the newspaper or on an online sales commu n i t y. Reputable breeders, rescue groups and animal shelters are much more reliable resources from which to purchase a pet. These groups can offer your family a wealth of information on which breed would suit your home best, as well as pet care and training tips and information on how to make the transitions with your new pet as smooth as possible. A n i mals from these types of gro u p s have also received general care, training and enrichment which help to increase the animals’ chances of successfully fitting into your home. Choosing a new family pet can be a fun and exciting experience for your family. Taking each of these factors into consideration will help make the decision process much easier. Just remember to take your time and involve the whole family in making the decision. Make a list with everyone’s wishes and go over the pros and cons of each idea based on the factors that were listed. Then make sure that everyone in your family agrees on the final decision and go choose your new family pet.

Saturday | September 17 | 2011



How To MAINTAIN YOUR WHIRPOOL TUB When remodeling bathrooms, some homeowners prefer to add special features that give the room a spa-like feel. A whirlpool tub is one such feature that can help transform an ordinary bathroom into a relaxing oasis. Whirlpool tubs have many benefits, which have helped the industry become a billion-dollar business. Massage and water therapy can be instrumental in reducing stress and easing tired mu s c l e s. Some people depend on a soaking bath with rejuvenating water jet propulsion as part of a sports rehab regiment or to alleviate pain associated with arthritis. Whirlpool baths come in diffe re n t dimensions and shapes to fit just about every bathroom. The common shapes include corner size, recessed, platform, or freestanding. Whirlpools can also be sized to fit two people or just one person. Many people prefer a corner style or a platform bath because they are easier to fit than most. Although the installation of an all-inone whirlpool tub may be similar to a standard bathtub, with the addition of

electrical hookup, the maintenance of the tub is somewhat different. There are certain products that should be avoided when cleaning or using the whirlpool bath to prolong its life. ☛ One of the plagues of any appliance that houses water is hard water. This can form scaling that may damage the internal components of the motor and water jets. Testing to see the hardness level of water may be a wise decision. This way a water softening system can be added to the home, which will also benefit when doing laundry or running the dishwasher. ☛ Many whirlpool tubs list items that should not be used in the water while bathing. These may include sudsing bubble bath powders or scented oil additions, each of which may form a film inside of the system, causing it to malfunction. Be sure to read the users' manual prior to first use or before introducing anything foreign to the tub. ☛ Tubs will require routine cleaning as well. Use a dampened sponge to rub off any grime and other deposits that

can form an unsightly ring around the tub. Some whirlpool manufacturers will list recommended products for cleaning. In general, a mild, low-suds formula or a diluted bleach-and-water solution will be effective for routine cleaning. ☛ For tough grime, fill the tub just above the jets with water. Place about a capful of bleach into the water. Let the tub run for at least five minutes to agitate the solution. Let the water drain

and then rinse out the whirlpool bath afterward. Bleach can also kill bacteria and pathogens that may have been left behind in jet plumbing that did not completely drain out. Whirlpool baths can be a prized addition to a bathroom and add resale value to the home. H oweve r, a whirlpool can quickly become ineffect i ve if not properly maintained and used.



How To CLEAN HARDWOOD FLOORS Over the years, home interior trends h a ve continued to change. What's popular one year might seem dated the next. Hardwood floors, however, are one popular trend that has managed to maintain its popularity. Renters and homeowners alike are head over heels for hardwood floors, enjoying their aesthetic appeal and their tendency to never go out of style, particularly when compared to other flooring alternatives. Hardwood floors can also be much easier to maintain. W h e reas carpets are susceptible to h a rd - t o - re m ove stains and dirt that might never go away, hardwood floors can be very easy to clean, maintaining their "good as new" look for years if homeowners take simple steps to keep them clean. • Be diligent on a daily basis. Hardwood floors are typically easier to maintain than carpet, but that doesn't mean homeowners should be lax with regards to hardwood floors. Some daily maintenance can signifi c a n t l y i n c rease the floor's life expectancy. Should any spills occur, clean up after them immediately to avoid warping. In addition, address any scuff marks at night after dinner.When it rains or snows outside, make sure no one wears their shoes around the home inside. Place a mat near the entryway and instruct all family members and guests to remove their shoes before walking on the floor. This will greatly reduce the likelihood of water damage. • Sweep or mop on a regular basis. A dry microfiber mop will keep the floor clean and looking good while ensuring there is no water damage. It might not be necessary to mop every day, but homeowners who want to extend their floor's life can use a broom or vacuum to keep their floor dirt-free.

• Periodically give the floor a thorough cleaning. It isn't necessary to give the floor a thorough cleaning every night before going to bed. However, every so often thoroughly clean the floor beyond dry mopping or vacuuming. C h e ck with the ma n u facturer before doing anything, as the type of floor will dictate which is the best approach. Some manufacturers suggest certain polishes or cleaning solutions, while others advise against such options. If there are no manufacturer instructions or if you're a tenant and the landlord doesn't have the manufacturer's instructions, a damp cloth is almost always a viable way to clean a hardwood floor. Dampen a cloth and scrub the floor but be sure to avoid soaking the cloth. A soaked cloth will likely cause water damage, while a damp cloth will pick up dirt and debris without harming the floor. Once finished, go over the floor with a dry rag to reduce the risk of water damage. When purchasing a care kit for wood floors, be careful to read the ingredients first. Some kits contain ingredients that can be very harmful to floors. Renters or homeowners unsure of certain ingredients should consult a wood floor specialist before applying any solutions to their floors. Renters who damage the floor could lose their security deposit if the landlord determines the floors need to be replaced or fixed by a professional. Wood floors remain one of the most popular flooring options to homeowners and renters alike, and some simple maintenance can keep hardwood floors looking good for years to come.

Saturday | September 17 | 2011

How To CREATE A GREAT QUILT! Lets Quilt! “A bed without a quilt is like the sky without stars!” I remember the very first time I heard this and how easily I could relate to the message. Think about it, how comforting the sky is with stars and .... The process of quilt making is SEW rewarding, SEW satisfying, SEW fulfilling, SEW calming, SEW soothing to your soul and it brings with it such a sense of accomplishment, pride and harmony, not to mention the friends you’ll make along the journey or the beautiful finished quilt you’ll create with such love and happiness. It seems to speak a language all it’s own, yet completely understood by SEW many! The real truth regarding quilting is... no matter what the size, a quilt is merely a sandwich of fabric, consisting of a top, a back and some batting in between! How YOU create YOUR sandwich is up to you, the choices are endless, there’s no right or wrong, it’s YOU! - unique and priceless. The first step in making a quilt is deciding on a pattern, then choosing the fabrics, this is my favorite! I first decide who my quilt is going to comfort, what did I want to share with my quilt, where’s my quilt going to live. It’s funny, sometimes I have no idea, I just love the fabrics and HAVE to make something beautiful with them, they actually often talk to me, then life gives me the opportunity to know where it needs to go and to whom it belongs! It’s a perfect process and often completely out of my hands - life truly does happen. After the top is pieced, the batting is placed between the top and the back,

the quilt is quilted, bound and labeled! If you have to be addicted to something, let it be quilting! It’s healthy, full of l ove and sharing, a wonderful selfesteem project, gratifying and enables us to comfort others! At Sew Pieceful we offer approx imately 4,000 bolts of the finest 100% cottons available today, hundreds of quilting books and patterns, a plethora of tools, notions and gadgets, quilting classes for the experienced quilter and for beginners - even if you’ve never picked up a sewing needle in your life! All at very competitive prices. A new friend awaits to walk with you through the mysteries of quilt making. together we’ll plan and create a quilt you’ll be very proud of. A quilt will outlast any gift you give! Mary Jo Prowley, Sew Pieceful


Saturday | September 17 | 2011

ALL NATURAL WAYS How To... The quickest fix to a problem is not always the best fix. Many convenience items are full of chemicals that may not be safe for the env i ronment. And although many medications may be ideal for treating ailments, some people prefer a more natural method to treat certain ailments. There are many all-natural items that can be put to use for personal care and home care if you know where to look. It is important to note that some supplements or herbs are not a d v i s e able for pregnant women or those with certain conditions. Therefore it's best to check with a doctor or pharmacist before beginning any regimen.

... get rid of ants Make a sweet solution of sugar water and bora x , also known as sodium tetraborate. Borax is not toxic, but it should not be ingested, and it may cause minor skin irritation. You can also try substituting washing soda for the borax, which is sodium carbonate. The ants will feed on the solution, take it back to the colony, and eventually the numbers will dwindle.

... reduce irritation from a sting Apply a paste of baking soda and water to the sting and it will help reduce the pain and swelling. This also may work on jellyfish stings and on other bug bites.

... fall asleep more quickly Passion flower is known to produce mild sedative effects that can help induce sleep. Passion flower can be found in tinctures, teas and capsules. In tea form it can be mixed with chamomile to improve fl a vor and boost even further relaxing feelings.

... relieve nasal congestion A stuffy nose can make sleeping difficult, contribute to a dry throat from mouth-breathing and just be a nuisance. There are many different ways to open up nasal passages. Saline solutions that are sprayed or misted into the nose can loosen mucus and help it to drain. The same principal applies when using a neti pot. Eating spicy foods, such as hot peppers, wasabi or jerk seasonings, can also temporarily cause the nose to run and alleviate pressure.

... remove grass stains Using the wrong items can set in a grass stain quickly. Wet the stain with rubbing alcohol and let dry to dissolve

some of the stain. Then wet the fabric with water, pour detergent right on the stain and wash as usual.

... clean up pet accidents Pet urine can stain and smell. Quick clean-up is key, but use a product that will neutralize odor. Oxygen powder bleach diluted in a bucket of water can be used as a carpet shampoo. It will clean up the stain and remove the odor.

... remove a wart Coat the skin around the wart with petroleum jelly to protect it. Soak a small piece of cotton in apple cider vinegar and place it directly on the wart. Cover with medical tape or a bandage and repeat daily. The vinegar will kill the wart in a matter of days or weeks.

... treat dandruff Medicated shampoos and products can smell harsh and leave hair lifeless. Tea tree oil already found in shampoos can be applied to the scalp as a separate therapeutic step to help reduce dryness and dandruff.

... exterminate household bugs All sorts of insects like to come indoors from time to time. While many are harmless and some can be beneficial (like spiders), most people care not to cohabitate with six- or eight-legged friends. Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powdery substance made from small crustaceans. It is typically used as a swimming pool filter medium to trap dirt. The drying properties of DE can be used to eliminate bugs. Insects walk through a sprinkling placed in areas where they are often found (such as crevices in a basement). The sharp, microscopic edges of the DE penetrate the insects' exoskeleton and the product also dries out the tender internal areas. DE can be irritating to the skin and the dust should not be breathed in, but generally the product is safe in small amounts and non-toxic, unlike bug sprays.

... polish chrome on cars Use vinegar full strength on a rag and wipe the chrome components until nice and shiny. Metal parts that have been rusted can also be soaked clean in undiluted vinegar overnight. With little knowledge, people can remedy many ailments with all-natural products that are safer on the environment and the body.




12 COUPON TIPS: A recent addition to the television lineup called "Extreme Couponing" has spurred greater interest in the use of coupons. Although many shoppers on the show end up walking away with wagonfuls of items for virtually nil to add to their stockpiles of supplies, chances are most casual coupon users are looking for ways to save without going overboard. Coupons in Sunday newspapers such as The Leader, online sites such as and through instore discount programs are essentially free money for the taking. It's never been easier for shoppers to find deals on the products they commonly use through the clipping of coupons. But it's not just about clipping and saving. With a few coupon pointers, shoppers can save even more , and possibly wa l k away with a few items free of charge. Here’s a few to get you started:

Saturday | September 17 | 2011


TIP #1. The first way to get started is to figure out if your family is brand-specific or can manage with a variety of different brands. Being more flexible on brands widens the availability of coupons -and the deals.

TIP #2. One of the easiest places to find coupons is in the Sunday newspaper. Offerings from "Smart Source" and "Red Plum" are routinely inserted in the paper. About once a month Procter & Gamble will run their "PG Brand Saver." For those who have not yet subscribed to newspaper delive ry, p u rc h a s i n g Sunday subscription service will yield coupons for the week.

TIP #3. Coupons are also available online. S ma rt Source, Red Plum, Catalina, among others offer printable coupons right from their Web sites. It may be necessary to download a small application

that will properly configure and print barcode coupons to a personal printer.

TIP #4. Shop at a store that offers coupon doubling. M a ny stores will double coupons up to $.99. That means a $.50 coupon will double up to $1.00. If the item being purchased is $1.00, that item is then free.

TIP #5. Use the available resources to get even more savings by purchasing items that are on sale in stores and also have an available coupon. There are Web sites, such as and, that will match up coupons offered for the week with sales being run in particular stores or states.

TIP #6. Realize that not all the best sales occur at gro c e ry stores. Sometimes area pharmacies offer deals on items at prices lower than the supermarket. Check circulars for the pharmacy on items needed before purchasing them with the rest of your food shopping.

TIP #7. While many coupons and stores limit purchases to one coupon per item, t h e re are exceptions. If mu l t i p l e coupons can be used, then there is a greater chance to get a particular purchase for no cost.

TIP #8. T h e re are services that will clip coupons and mail them to subscribers

for a small fee. Those interested in being more aggressive with couponing can sign up. There are also services that can automatically load coupon discounts right onto shopper loyalty cards. The discount credits will come off at the register when the card is swiped. TIP #9.. It is important to have the discount loyalty card at stores. Although it can open you up to promotional e-mails and some junk snail mail, you won't get in-store promotions without the card.

TIP #10. Remember, coupons are only good on the items frequently bought and used. Don't purchase an item simply because you have a coupon for it, particularly if you won't use or like that item. That adds up to wasted money.

TIP #11. Figure out a coupon organizational system that works for you. Coupons are only good if they are with you when you enter the store. Also, don't miss out on deals due to an expired coupon. Routinely review the coupons you have to ensure discounted items are purchased before the coupons expire.

TIP #12. Some manufacturers will e-mail or mail coupons simply by signing up as a customer on their Web site. Others will do so if you fill out a short survey. "Liking"a brand on Facebook is another way to get coupon deals. Couponing is one way to save money at stores. It's relatively free, and with the abundance of resources available, it's become even easier to use coupons on many levels.

Saturday | September 17 | 2011



Warm-weather days will soon be a thing of the past and that means prepping the home and landscape for the arrival of winter weather. Even though it may be blanketed first by leaves and snow, lawns need treatment now to be sure they overwinter successfully. In fact, lawn experts say there is significant root growth that takes place during the winter -- growth homeowners won't necessarily see. People should continue to water their lawns throughout the autumn if there isn't significant rain and to aerate it as well. Applying a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen can help foster strong root growth. Also, keep up on removing leaves that have fallen. Not only will they stifle the lawn, but they may cause excessive moisture and mold to grow while inhibiting sunlight from reaching the grass as well. Before winter arrives, take the time to sow some grass seeds into the bald patches, if any. By late fall the lawn will stop taking up nutrients in preparation for winter.





Saturday | September 17 | 2011

Saturday | September 17 | 2011





Saturday | September 17 | 2011



Great food, wine and a little design are the perfect ingredients for creating a special date night. HGTV host and interior designer Monica Pedersen, of Dream Home and Designed to Sell fame, is the perfect guide to help you design a memorable date night. Whether your budget is big or small, the secret to a fabulous date is making the extra effort to show someone that you think they're special.

Light the Scene Create a special atmosphere by bringing out the candles. If large pillars or candelabras are out of the budget, simply mass inexpensive tea light candles in small glass votives on a table or around a room. In the world of design, nothing sets the tone faster than lighting. Wine by candlelight is an easy goto for any date night.

Make It a Tradition Uncork a great bottle of wine, and toast the person you're with by telling them how special you think they are. I'm a fan of Rutherford Hill Merlot from Napa Valley, which was served at my wedding. Try writing your toast ahead of time and reading it to your date. It really shows that you put some thought into the special moment, which is what matters most! Then date the cork from that night and tuck it away, or put it on display to start a new tradition. I have a collection of corks ma rking special date nights in a glass box on my coffee table. Putting them in a footed glass bowl is a great way to feature the corks, as well.

Create the Perfect Pair If dinner is part of your date night, make a dish that you know is special to the one you love, and serve it with a wine that pairs perfectly ( has an easy-touse wine pairing guide). Don't forget to bring out the fancy table settings, if you have them. Make date night the special occasion you have been waiting for by pulling out the good stuff.

The right bottle of wine is an essential element for a memorable date night.

Add a Thoughtful Touch Since money and time are tight for most of us right now, inexpensive takeout and a mixed bouquet of fresh flowers can make a simple date night feel like a special occasion. These kinds of bouquets are usually under $10 at most grocery stores. Remember, it's making the effort that counts. If you are near a grocery store, pick up a bouquet of their fresh cut roses. They are a serious bang for the buck.

Invite the Crew If getting a babysitter for date night is a problem, include the kids, and let them read a list out loud of all the reasons that Mom loves Dad, and Dad loves Mom. All the while, Mom and Dad get to sit back and enjoy a glass of Rutherford Hill.


Saturday | September 17 | 2011

How To THROW When children enter school their circle of friends expands. This means that when their next birthday arrives, there may be requests to invite the entire class to the party. Parents facing the prospect of 20 or more children may wonder what to do in this instance. Parents and children have no doubt heard the tales of extravagant parties. Reality shows follow families who throw sweet 16 parties that rival weddings or those who spend thousands on their kids' party regardless of the child's age. The average family may feel torn over what to do to celebrate important milestones. Smaller parties are typically best for younger kids. The children won't be overwhelmed or overtaxed by smaller parties with less guests. However, some parents fret over which classmates to invite and which to leave off the guest list. But there are ways around this dilemma.

☛ Check with the school before making any concrete plans to see if they have any policies regarding




birthday parties. Some schools require that all students from the class be invited or none at all. Others suggest inviting either all of the girls or all of the boys. Knowing the regulations can make the process easier. ☛ Think about having a class party and a separate party for the family and close friends. Many schools will allow parents to bring in snacks so that the class can celebrate. If this is likely to disrupt the class, consult the teacher to find out if lunch can be donated to the class or supplies in honor of the birthday child. ☛ If only select students from the class are on the guest list, mail invitations home or personally deliver them to the parents. Offer an explanation as to why all kids in the class cannot be invited. Budget and available space are often the culprit. ☛ If the entire class is invited, include a note about gifts on the invitation. Suggest a book exchange so that the birthday child is not left with 30 gifts.

With a book exchange, each child brings a wrapped book, including the birthday girl or boy. Then the kids swap and each take home a present. Another idea is to let parents know that gifts will be donated to charity. ☛ When inviting the entire class, keep in mind not everyone will be able to attend. Perhaps 30 to 50 percent of the class may show up. Plan accordingly using these numbers. ☛ Use the space and the locale to determine the guest list. If the child wants to have the party at a spa or a craft store that limits the guest list, this will make it easier to enforce a smaller guest list. ☛ Look at locations that can accommodate a big crowd if you cannot pare down the list. Parks, pools, restaurants and party places can often fit a crowd. The more you do yourself, the less expensive the party will be. Confusion typically reigns when navigating the etiquette of having a birthday party for school children. While

there are no hard-fast rules, common sense and personal preference can rule the day when planning the party.



Saturday | September 17 | 2011

How To HANDLE STUDENT LOAN DEBT AFTER COLLEGE Today's college graduates face numerous challenges. With the global economy still struggling, the job market for recent graduates is less than ideal. Competition for jobs is also heated, as high rates of unemployment have created a job market in which out-of-work yet experienced professionals are routinely competing over entry-level jobs with recent graduates, many of whom have little or no experience in their chosen fields. But the difficult job market is only part of the troubles recent graduates must face. Mounting debt is a major issue for many college grads. In Canada, for example, the average debt for a university graduate more than doubled between 1990 and 2000. By the 2009, Canadian students' collective debt f rom the Canada Student Loan Program exceeded $13 billion for the first time in history. Across the border in the United States, the Class of 2011 earned the distinction of being the most indebted graduating class in the country's history. A c c o rding to esti-

mates from student-aid Web sites and, the average 2011 graduate was $22,900 in debt upon graduation. In addition to finding work in a job market that's overcrowded with applicants, recent graduates must also find a way to handle their now historic amount of debt. Those facing loan repayment while struggling to find a job should consider the following tips. ☛ Don't delay requests for help. Pro c rastination isn't a good ap p roach to dealing with debt, whether that debt is from student loans, credit cards or personal loans. Recent graduates who cannot find work or who were laid off should contact their lenders right away and inquire about lowering or postponing monthly payments. It's never good to miss a payment, which will negatively impact an individual's credit rating and is almost certain to draw a financial penalty. If trouble is on the horizon, consult the lender as early as possible. The lender will likely grant a deferment or forbear-

ance, neither of which will tarnish an individual's credit. ☛ Don't ignore it. Simply ignoring a student loan and not repaying it is not a good approach. The loan will still be there, and even bankruptcy court is not likely to discharge a student loan. In other words, individuals are going to have to repay their student loans, so ignoring them is not going to work. If an individual stops repaying his or her loan without being granted a deferment or forbearance, eventually wages might be garnished and private lenders might even sue their borrowers. ☛ Don't panic. The current economy could seem daunting to recent graduates. Some may wonder if they will ever find work in their fields or if they will ever be able to repay their loans. But panicking won't help. Lenders will be willing to work with borrowers who are honest and straightforward. Avoiding lenders and missing payments will only make the situation worse.

Saturday | September 17 | 2011


How To SHOP FALL SALES FOR GREAT DEALS Consumers have the potential to save quite a lot of money if they shop the sales calendar on popular items. Many retailers discount items during certain times of the year. Autumn is one season when shoppers can find deals on many popular items.

FURNITURE As summertime winds down, sales on furniture tend to wane. To drum up extra excitement, many furniture stores start slashing prices in September. For consumers who have been waiting for deals on big-ticket items, like dining sets or sofas, now could be the ideal time to shop around for discounts. This time of year is also a great opportunity to get deeply discounted prices on outdoor furniture. End-of-season sales abound on patio furniture, umbrellas, ga z e b o s, sheds, and awnings. Savings can be as much as 70 percent during October and November because stores need to make room for Christmas displays. That means the longer you wait, the better the deal to be had.

CLOTHING In the fall, consumers can shop for two season's worth of clothes at once to get better deals. In general, stores offer low prices on winter essentials, like hats, gloves, coats, and scarves.They're also cutting prices on the last of summer apparel. This is the perfect time to stock up on some summer basics to use next season. Parents may want to calculate the sizes their children will wear next season and load up on basics, such as swimsuits and shorts.

AUTOMOBILES & BOATS Dealerships are making room on their lots for the new model ye a r. Therefore, come October, they're looking to liquidate their stock of the current model year, benefitting consumers as a result. Keep in mind that you will have to choose among current stock, so you may have to compromise on colors and accessories available. This time of year can also be ideal for buying a boat, as marine experts say that the off-season is the time to get deals on boats. Late November is a good time to start browsing for a boat.

Autumn is a good time to get low prices on cars and other items.

The lowest prices may come in the winter, however.

OUTDOOR HOBBIES September and October can be good months to purchase a new bicycle, as the outdoor recreation season tends to wane in the late autumn. This is also a good time to stock up on fishing poles and lures. Shop around to see if there is the o p p o rtunity to score low prices on campers, tents, inflatable mattresses, outdoor sporting equipment, and other items that are associated with having fun in the sun. It's likely stores will be looking to reduce their inventory on these products.

REAL ESTATE Many people list their homes in the spring so that they get steady traffic from people spending warm-weather days shopping for their next homes. Come the autumn, if a property is still on the market or was just listed, there's a possibility that the seller will be motivated to sell at a lower price. Few people want to go through the hassle of moving when the weather is cold or right in the middle of the holiday season. October is a prime month for negotiating a lower price on a home.

MISCELLANEOUS There are a number of other items that go on sale during September, October and Nove m b e r. Barbecue grills, housewares, quilts and blankets, space heaters, crystal, silver, and glassware are just some of the items shoppers can snatch up at a bargain.






A HUNTING LICENSE The requirements to secure a hunting license vary depending on where a hunter lives. Different states, counties and even countries have their own rules, and hunters must adhere to these specific rules in order to secure their licenses in time for hunting season. As different as rules can be from state to state, there are certain ways hunters can ma ke the licensing process go more smoothly regardless of where they live. ✘ Determine which type of hunting you will be doing. Before applying for a license, determine where you will be hunting and which species of animals you hope to hunt. Different animals typically re q u i re diffe rent permits, so hunters can do themselves a favor and expedite the process by pinpointing the animals they hope to hunt before applying. ✘ Determine how licenses are issued. Depending on where you live, your state or municipality might have a Web site detailing each step of the licensing process. If not, visit a nearby sporting goods or outdoor shop and ask a member of the shop's staff if they can help with the process. An outdoor shop is often a great source of information and is likely to make the process much easier to understand. ✘ Determine if you're eligible for any discounts. Some hunters are eligible for discounts, while others might be charged more. Many states offer discounted rates to their own residents and might even extend those discounts to seniors, youths and military personnel. H oweve r, ma ny states


charge out-of-state hunters more. Do some research ahead of time to determine your eligibility for discounts or if your status will garner more fees. ✘ Buy only what you need. Hunters who can only get out to hunt for one day should only seek a one-day license. Such licenses are less expensive and available for many different types of hunting.

Saturday | September 17 | 2011


Many homeowners or renters wrestle with the question of whether to tackle a project as a do-it-yourself venture to save some money or simply leave it to a professional. Each situation is unique, but there are certain factors that must be considered regardless of a homeowner's particular situation. On the surface, a DIY task can seem a very good way to save some money. After all, a large percentage, sometimes as much as 50 percent, of the cost of hiring a contractor goes toward labor. For a DIY job with no such costs, the final financial tally can be substantially less. Although labor can be expensive, that cost is often justified. People who hire carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and the like are paying for the workers' experience. They're also paying with the expectation that the job will be done correctly. With jobs that require a building permit or must be done to specific code, the contractor often puts his reputation on the line and will be held accountable if the work doesn't meet requirements. That isn't to say an untrained individual can't tackle a specific job around the house. There are some guidelines that may make such projects go more smoothly and, as a result, more affordable. ☛ Read up and learn as much as you can about the particular work to be done. It's easier to make mistakes if you do not know where to start. ☛ Talk to others who have also done the work. They may have some tips or advice that can save you time and money.You may also want to ask if they can help and show you the ropes. ☛ Be sure to obtain all necessary permits before starting any work. Don't risk a fine for doing work without permits or having work inspected. ☛ When applying for permits, find out if there is a list of code-specific requirements that you can follow -- a cheatsheet of sorts. It may list rated materials required and any techniques. See if you can speak to an inspector who will be visiting your property later on to find out what he/she looks for specifically.

Installing a new deck may be a project best left to the professionals because of the skill level required.

☛ You must feel confident with the endeavor. If you are unsure about anything, you may risk injury or make a significant mistake and be forced to hire someone to clean up your mess. ☛ Consider re p u t able sources for information. While it's easy to go online and scour message boards for pointers on certain tasks, not all of the information is accurate. Trust only content from sources that are licensed or backed by certification in a certain area. These things being said, there are a number of DIY projects that regular people can try. Starting off small and building up as skills are developed are good ways to begin. For example: ★ Tile a small kitchen backsplash befo re tackling an entire bathro o m shower enclosure or floor. ★ Build an outdoor potting stand before attempting furniture or cabinetry work in a main room of the house. ★ Change out a ceiling fan or lighting fixture before re-running electrical lines through the home. ★ Succeed in repairing a leaky drain pipe befo re taking on a more advanced plumbing issue. ★ Use regular painting techniques first before experimenting with a trendy faux finish or plaster application. T h e re are ma ny diffe rent things individuals can do themselves that stretch beyond routine home maintenance. From ma n i c u res to pool upkeep, the potential to save money when budgets are tight can be a powerful motivator.

Saturday | September 17 | 2011



How To AVOID COMMON INVESTMENT TRAPS When it comes to investing, many people approach their initial foray with a degree of trepidation. Much of that is due to the nature of investing, which involves a leap of faith even for the most conservative investments. The economic downturn that began near the end of the first decade of the 21st century has only added to the fears associated with investing. While investing is a risk, it's also a necessary step for men and women hoping to secure their financial futures. Whether an investment portfolio consists of just a 401(k) or an IRA, men and women who hope to retire need to find a way to balance their fear of investing with their desire to retire comfortably. Many of those fears can be count e red by watching out for some of these common investment traps. ☛ Environmental investments. The "go green" movement has opened the door for scores of investment traps that prey on an investor's desire to invest in ways that will improve their bottom line

and the environment at the same time. Such traps are especially prevalent in the aftermath of environmental disasters like oil spills. Investors should be wary of e-mail or telemarketing campaigns that promise investors they have the products needed to fix disasters, whether it's an oil spill or a hurricane. Whenever investing in green technologies, i nve s t o rs should do extensive research before agreeing to invest. ☛ "Hot tips." Nearly every investor has been offered a "hot tip" at one point or another. N ovice and even ve t e ran investors should be especially wary of such tips, which are often unfounded and could cost investors substantial amounts of money in the long run. ☛ Special deals. Some private deals are legitimate, though investors, particularly beginners, must be especially wary of "special" investment deals that often prey on unsuspecting investors. Typically framed as a chance to get in on the ground floor and invest in a busi-

ness that's trying to raise capital, these "special" deals are often f raudulent and inve s t o rs could lose a lot of money. ☛ Bewa re of online sales pitches. Social media has made it easier than ever before for con artists to victimize unsuspecting investors. This investment trap often boasts high-yield returns and might even suggest these returns are taxfree. Any investment that guarantees either of these things is too good to be true, and beginning investors should avoid them. ☛ Gold scams. Though some investors embraced gold as an investment opportunity during the economic downturn, beginners should be wary of investment pitches that offer to buy gold for investors and then sell it once the value of gold has risen. The North American Securities A d m i n i s t ra t o rs Association warns that in many of these

instances the gold does not exist. Investors who want to invest in gold should instead consider a gold fund. To learn more about investing, visit the NASAA at



How To CLEAR AWAY A cluttered home is one that is typically filled with memories. However, as the years and the memories pile up, clutter can take over a home. When that happens, residents can fe e l uncomfortable and boxed in. Clutter has even been linked to mental health issues, most notably depression, as some mental health professionals theorize that clutter indicates a preoccupation with the past and possibly a dim v i ew of both the present and the future. Those who don't have an issue with clutter might find it difficult to understand just how difficult it can be to address. But removing clutter is more than just boxing things up and leaving them at the curb. To clear a home of clutter, men and women should consider the following tips. ✔ Enlist a friend to help. When people work alone to conquer clutter, the process is far more likely to draw out. That's because individuals will likely find a reason to keep everything they have,

making decisions on each and every item very difficult. Enlist the help of friend who can help decide if an item should be kept. Someone who isn't attached to each knick k n a ck and keepsake can likely offer a more objective opinion on items cluttering up the home. ✔ Don't kid yourself about broken items. Clutter collectors often have several items around the house that they insist they'll get around to fixing. When it comes to bro ken items, men and women must be honest with themselves as to the reality most items will never be fixed. If an item has spent years lying around the house in need of patchwork, then it's realistic to assume it will remain broken. What's more, if a b ro ken item like a candy dish has already been replaced by a candy dish that isn't in disrepair, it's safe to discard the broken dish. ✔ Clean out the file cabinet. Clutter collectors are often renowned fo r keeping documents long after it's nec-


Saturday | September 17 | 2011


essary to do so. Though some documents, including tax returns, boast longer-than-average shelf lives, it's not necessary to retain all personal and financial documents for years. The rule of thumb with respect to keeping tax returns is to hold on to them for seven years. Additional documents, including mortgage papers, investment paperwork and other extraordinary documents, should be held on to as well. But there's no reason to hang on to documents like utility bills, phone bills and even bank statements for seve ra l years. Cleaning out the file cabinet could clear up a significant amount of space. When disposing of old documents, do so with a paper shredder to increase security. ✔ Embrace recycling. One way to turn clutter into a positive is to embrace recycling. One of the items clutter collectors commonly accumulate is periodicals, be it newspapers or magazines. For those who live in a c o m munity with curbside re cy c l i n g , consult the local recycling center to determine if they collect periodicals. If not, arrange a time when these items can be dropped off at the center. Recycling old periodicals is good for the environment and can help individuals living in clutter quickly and easily clear out a significant amount of it. ✔ Consider if there's a chance to make money. A home full of clutter isn't necessarily devoid of value. In fact, older items that have done little more than collect dust could actually be valuable. Cash can be a great motivator when it comes to clearing a home of clutter. Turning clutter into cash can be done in any number of ways. Yard

Shredding old and outdated documents is one way to significantly reduce clutter around the house.

sales, online auction sites, local newspaper classified ads, and even the local antique shop are a few of the options men and women have if they hope to turn their clutter into cash.

Saturday | September 17 | 2011





FIRE EXTINGUISHER BASICS Fire extinguishers are an important s a fety component in any home or building. They can mean the difference between a devastating fire or a minor incident. Although a fire extinguisher in the hands of a trained adult can be a life- and pro p e rt y - s a v i n g tool, many people are not properly skilled in the use of fire extinguishers. A large portion of the public has not received training on fire extinguisher use and when to use them. Sometimes the use of the wrong extinguisher can exacerbate a fire, as there are different fire extinguishers for different types of fires. Learning when and where to use an extinguisher can be a matter of life and death.

Type of Extinguisher Not all fires are alike, and fires started from different materials require the use of diffe rent extinguishing agents to safely and quickly put the fire out. There are five different types of extinguishers, and generally each will feature a symbol to show the applicable fire on which they can be used. ☛ Class A: These are used on ord i n a ry substances, like cloth, wood, paper, and plastics. ☛ Class B: These extinguishers are used on fires that feature flammable liquids, such as oil-based paints or gasoline. ☛ Class C: These extinguishers are used on electrical equipment, such as tools or appliances that are plugged in. ☛ Class D: Commonly found in specific factories, these extinguishers are used on flammable metals. ☛ Class K: Combustible cooking materials, like animal oils and fats, can be extinguished with this agent. They are commonly found in commercial kitchens, but are now infiltrating residential markets as well. ☛ Multipurpose: Some extinguishers combine different agents so they are applicable for a range of fires.

When to Use a Fire Extinguisher Small fires may be smothered with an

extinguisher. If the fire has spread or is already large in size, it's likely only a t rained fi re fig hter can handle the blaze. Only use a fire extinguisher in these circumstances. 1. The fire is small and contained. 2. You have already called the fire department. 3. There is little chance of being consumed by toxic smoke. 4. You can escape safely if necessary. 5. The fire is not between you and the escape route. 6. You are physically able to carry its weight and exert the necessary pressure to operate it. Fire extinguishers should be routinely inspected and maintained to ensure they will be effective. Some need to be shaken to keep the dry chemicals from settling. Others need to have the pressure at the correct level. An extinguisher may need to be re c h a rged or replaced if it is damaged. Individuals can talk with firefighters about possible training courses in the use of fire extinguishers. This will help a person know the correct way to handle and activate an extinguisher should it need to be used.




Saturday | September 17 | 2011

How To Guide, September 17, 2011  

2011 How To Guide, Everything you never knew you needed to know!

How To Guide, September 17, 2011  

2011 How To Guide, Everything you never knew you needed to know!