Germaphobes 101: Expert tips to stay healthy

Clean kitchens
 According to the National Sanitation Foundation, more than 20 percent of foodborne illnesses come from mistakes in the kitchen. The bacteria that could be in the raw chicken you’re cutting up for tonight’s casserole can instantly spread once you wipe your hands on the dish towel. So here’s how to stay vigilant:

* Stop sponges from spreading bacteria-that you just cleaned up. Replace sponges regularly and wash them thoroughly with soap after using. You can also kill harmful bacteria by tossing a damp sponge in the dishwasher or by zapping it in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds.

* Wipe down countertops, faucets, refrigerator and oven handles, cabinet knobs, light switches and the telephone regularly with soapy water or disinfectant wipes.

* To control the spread of bacteria in and around the kitchen sink, a hands-free faucet, like the Moen Haysfield pulldown kitchen faucet with MotionSense technology, will make a significant difference by limiting the number of surfaces you’ll have to touch, especially while cooking. Simply wave your hand over the ready sensor or place your hands below the spout to start the flow of water. Bacteria are instantly washed away – rather than lingering on the faucet handle.

* Often overlooked, the ice dispenser is a proven area of concern for yeast and mold, which are a problem for those with allergies. To properly clean, turn the icemaker off, empty the ice and wash the bin with mild dish soap and warm water.

Bacteria-free bathroom
 Hot and humid areas like bathrooms are breeding grounds for bacteria. In fact, even small surfaces like the bathroom faucet handle can be home to 6,267 bacteria per square inch, according to WebMD. Keep the bathroom cleaner by taking the following steps:

* Before mold takes hold, launch an attack on shower gunk by cleaning tiles, shower curtains and doors with an all-natural cleanser; not bleach which can eat away at grout. For extra cleaning power, heat diluted vinegar in a bowl and pour into a spray bottle. To prevent mildew and mold build-up in the shower, leave the shower doors open when not in use.

* Keep surfaces clean and disinfected-to reduce the spread of stain- and odor-causing bacteria. Did you know, on an unprotected surface, bacteria can double in number every 20 minutes? Luckily, the new Moen Ashville two-handle bathroom faucet featuring Microban antimicrobial protection will help guard against stain- and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. Microban technology is built into the faucet finish, so it works continuously, even between cleanings.

Healthy home
 It’s also important to tackle the rest of the house with the same consciousness. Here are a few tips that will keep harmful germs and allergens from spreading room to room:

* Clean your cleaners. You may clean out the dust container routinely, but when was the last time you cleaned the vacuum upholstery tool or brush roll? Rather than sucking up allergens, these attachments could be spreading them throughout your home.

* The washing machine is actually swarming with bacteria that can find their way onto your clothes – and eventually you. Kitchen towels and undergarments are the biggest culprits and can harbor bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, which detergent doesn’t kill. To prevent harmful germs from spreading, combine these items together and wash with hot water and non-chlorine bleach. Take extra precaution by cleaning the washer out with a disinfecting wipe after washing a load in hot water.

* A dusty ceiling fan can send dust mites scattering to bedding and furniture, contributing to allergies and sinus infections. Ceiling-fan dusters are a quick and easy way to get this job done. This should be done every other month if you use the fan year-round.

This season channel your inner germaphobe and take a few extra steps to prepare your home to fight off bacteria.

For more information about Moen products, visit or call 800-BUY-MOEN.

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Fall into great tabletop decorating ideas

(BPT) – Saying goodbye to summer doesn’t have to be a sentimental ending when you consider it’s also a beginning – the kick off to autumn and the holiday season. The promise of fall is in the air. It’s a great time to dress up your home for fall entertaining; whether that means friends gathered around the television rooting for your favorite team or the ultimate traditional Thanksgiving feast.

“Decorating trends for this fall are really fun and functional,” says visual merchandiser John Griffith. “Colors that evoke a sense of nostalgia and family are a really big part of the visual design message for autumn. Reds, golds and oranges are trending this fall. These hues are not only warm and comforting; they’re reflective of the season.”

Griffith and teammate Julie Robbins add their own unique spin on the latest trends to create seasonal design vignettes for Replacements, Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. Whether you are planning a casual family gathering or an elegant dinner party, Robbins suggests easy ways to mix in great fall colors. This can be as simple as adding a charger plate or colorful serving pieces.

“Using colored glass is fantastic way of infusing autumn colors to create a seasonal feel,” says Robbins. “Amber colored glass is really popular this fall because the rich, warm color goes with so many patterns and designs. I’m big on the pressed vintage patterns; depression glass, coin glass and sandwich glass are all very lovely and nostalgic. We’re actually mixing and matching patterns from historic American glassmakers including Federal, Indiana Glass and Fostoria on our tables. It looks great to mix designs which share the same colors or combine an array of colors within a place setting.”

Metal serveware is another popular trend this fall.

“We’re incorporating metal serveware into many of our displays because you can do so much with it from a design standpoint,” says Griffith. “These are great accent pieces you can dress up or down, plus it is family- and football-season friendly. Metal serveware is also very functional. Once heated, the alloy retains warmth to keep food warmer longer or cooler if you chill these pieces. Plus it is easy to clean and doesn’t have to be polished. We’re using a lot of fun shapes, like leaf-shaped pieces and turkey platters.”

Fall’s bountiful harvest translates into the home this season. Robbins is using natural elements in her table designs that evoke a sense of the first Thanksgiving.

“I suggest filling vases, glasses or serving bowls with dried beans, acorns or even kernels of dried deer corn. Not only does this look pretty, you can also mix in candles or flowers and use these natural elements to hold those items in place.”

Robbins adds apples, gourds, pumpkins and green pears are among fruits and vegetables you can use on your table or anywhere in your home to create a brilliant splash of color. She says you can find more decorating ideas at Replacements’ YouTube channel and Facebook page.

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Living with depression – What you need to know about treatment

Do you or does someone you know constantly feel sad, empty, tired, or have difficulty concentrating? Have you lost interest in activities that once made you happy? Do you think you may be depressed but don’t know how to talk about it? If so, you are not alone. More than 15 million Americans suffer from a serious condition known as Major Depressive Disorder. Dr. Prakash Masand, Consulting Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, has answered some important questions to help you or a loved one determine if talking to a healthcare provider about your depression symptoms is needed.

Q: What is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)?

A: Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, is a serious medical condition requiring treatment. More than 15 million Americans suffer from MDD, about 7.3%; of the adult U.S. population. Despite the seriousness of the condition, nearly 50%;  of people with MDD do not receive treatment.

Q: How do you get MDD?

A: There is no known single cause of MDD. Psychological, biological, and environmental factors may all contribute, but whatever the cause, scientific research has firmly established that MDD is a biological, medical illness. Scientists believe that people who suffer from MDD have an imbalance in certain brain chemicals. However, MDD is treatable with antidepressant medications that improve the function of these neurotransmitters. There may also be an increased risk for developing depression when there is a family history of the illness, but not everyone with a family history develops depression.

Q: How can I tell if I have MDD, or if someone I know has it?

A: Sufferers of MDD may display a lack of interest in or pleasure from activities they once enjoyed, and may be persistently sad or in an irritable mood with noticeable changes in sleep, appetite, and energy. They may have difficulty thinking, concentrating, or remembering. They may think or talk about feelings of guilt, worthlessness and emptiness, or death. Sometimes these feelings can be so severe they turn into physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, that do not respond well to treatment.

Q: How do I get help?

A: There are a number of treatment options for MDD. The majority of people diagnosed with MDD can be effectively treated. Speak with your healthcare provider to determine if you are a candidate for antidepressant treatment. Along with medication, seeking the help of a healthcare provider for talk therapy treatment can help many individuals manage symptoms of depression.

Q: Are there any recently approved antidepressants?

A: Yes. VIIBRYD® (vilazadone HCl) received approval from the FDA in 2011 and is available in pharmacies. VIIBRYD is the first and only FDA-approved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist for the treatment of adults with Major Depressive Disorder. The mechanism of the antidepressant effect is not fully understood but is thought to be related to its enhancement of serotonergic activity in the central nervous system (CNS) through selective inhibition of serotonin reuptake. VIIBRYD is also a partial agonist at serotonergic 5-HT1A receptors; however, the net result of this action on serotonergic transmission and its role in antidepressant effect of VIIBRYD are unknown. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of treatment with VIIBRYD and visit the website

Important Risk Information

What is the most important information I should know about VIIBRYD?

VIIBRYD and other antidepressant medicines may cause serious side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms described below, or call 911 if there is an emergency.

Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs

Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, teens, and young adults. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. VIIBRYD is not approved for use in patients under 18.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms as they may be signs of rare but potentially life-threatening conditions: Agitation, hallucinations, coma or other changes in mental status, muscle twitching or coordination problems, fast heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, fever or sweating, muscle stiffness or tightness, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Who should not take VIIBRYD?Do not take any drugs known as MAOIs within 14 days of stopping VIIBRYDDo not start VIIBRYD if you stopped taking an MAOI in the last 14 daysPeople who take VIIBRYD close in time to taking an MAOI may have serious or even life-threatening side effects.

What should I talk to my healthcare provider about?VIIBRYD may increase suicidal thoughts or actions, especially when starting treatment or when the dose is changed. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have suicidal thoughts, or if you become agitated, irritable, hostile, aggressive, impulsive or restless, or if your condition gets worse.Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking or plan to take, including: – Medicines to treat migraines, anxiety, psychotic or thought disorders, or mood disorders, including triptans, tricyclics, lithium, SSRIs, SNRIs, buspirone, or antipsychotics; this is necessary to avoid a potentially life-threatening condition – Aspirin, NSAID pain relievers, or blood thinners (warfarin, Coumadin or Jantoven) because they may increase the risk of bleeding – Tramadol, mephenytoin (Mesantoin) or over-the-counter supplements such as tryptophan or St. John’s Wort

Before starting VIIBRYD, tell your doctor if you: –  Have kidney or liver problems – Have or had mania, bipolar disorder, seizures or convulsions – Have or had bleeding problems. VIIBRYD may increase your risk of bleeding or bruising – Have low salt (sodium) levels in your blood. Elderly people may be at greater risk – Are nursing, pregnant, or are planning to become pregnantCall your healthcare provider right away if any of these symptoms or conditions occur while you are taking VIIBRYD. Some may be signs of serious side effects.

Do not stop VIIBRYD without first talking to your healthcare provider.

Stopping VIIBRYD suddenly may cause serious symptoms including: anxiety, irritability, high or low mood, feeling restless or sleepy, headache, sweating, nausea, dizziness, electric shock-like sensations, tremor, and confusion.

What should I avoid when taking VIIBRYD?Until you know how VIIBRYD affects you, be careful driving a car, operating heavy machinery or engaging in other dangerous activities. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking VIIBRYD.

What are the most common side effects of VIIBRYD?The most common side effects in people taking VIIBRYD include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and trouble sleeping.Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of VIIBRYD. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

Please also see the Medication Guide within the full Prescribing Information.

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Lights, camera – applause! How to edit great videos at home

When you assemble family and friends to see the video of your latest vacation, do they groan or fall asleep before the end? Here’s how to create an exciting video – right at home – that will make everyone sit up and watch.

“The basic concepts of how to edit video are simple,” says Anthony Pires, academic director of digital filmmaking and video production at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. “First, move recorded video from the camera to your computer. Second, use a video editing program to pull out the scenes you want and rearrange them on a timeline. Then use the program to add transitions, effects, titles, narration, music and sound effects. Finally, save the edited content as a new video file.”


Start with great video footage

It’s essential that you get to know your video camera. Read the instructions and practice so you are comfortable with its operation and features. There’s nothing worse than shooting your family at grandma’s birthday party or your child’s high school graduation, only to find that the camera was not recording.

Second, make a plan. Know beforehand what story you want to tell and plan the shots you will need.

Third, make sure the footage is interesting and tells the story. “Use a variety of shots,” recommends Alex Buffalo, department chair of digital filmmaking and video production at The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design. “Start with a shot that establishes the location – a sign or recognizable landmark. Include close, medium and wide shots. Shoot from different angles and positions, such as high and low, or the front, side and back of the subject. Include some cutaway shots, such as others reacting to the activity in the main shot. And be sure to hold each shot for at least 10 seconds.”

Other tips include minimizing the use of pan and zoom (and pan slowly if at all), getting the best natural sound possible (and don’t narrate while you shoot) and keeping the camera as still as possible, using a tripod where you can.

“Check your plan during the shoot to make sure you get everything you’ll need to tell your story,” Buffalo adds.

Edit to tell your story

Once you have your footage, you’re ready to edit. Video editing programs have become more sophisticated and more user friendly.
“Most computers come with a built-in video editing program,” says Nadia Ramoutar, faculty member in digital filmmaking and video production at The Art Institute of Jacksonville, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design. “Go ahead and start with whatever is provided. You’ll often find Windows Movie Maker on PCs and iMovie on Macs. Both software programs are frequently included at no extra charge with your computer purchase and are easy to use. If you are not happy with the software that comes with your computer, consider purchasing PowerDirector 10 for the PC or Final Cut Pro X for the Mac. They are easier to use than the professional-grade programs we teach at The Art Institutes schools, but offer plenty of power for most home users.”

The user’s guide for your editing program can tell you how to move the video from your camera to the computer. Select your scenes using the program’s cutting tool and arrange them in sequence on a timeline. Choose your transitions and any special effects from the library offered by your editing program. You’ll also have the opportunity to create a title screen and titles for some of your shots or sections. Music can be selected and narration recorded. And if the waves crashing doesn’t sound as crisp as you’d like it? Just add in a sound effect or two.

Once you’ve previewed and saved your video into its final form, you’re ready to share it. Show your video story on the big screen TV in your home, send DVDs to family and friends or post it to YouTube – the choice is yours.To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit
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New job skills can increase your chances of being hired

Tammy Newsom, Director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College – Birmingham, guides graduates through the process of searching for employment every day. “Employers can be picky. There’s a large pool of applicants to choose from,” she says. “Candidates must be sure to offer a well-rounded skill set, not just technical knowledge.”
Newsom reveals several must-have attributes employment candidates should possess. One skill that cannot be overlooked is computer competency. If you don’t know how a right click can help, or you can’t find a drop down menu on the browser, you need to take a class in basic computer skills and learn the programs used in your field. You’ll be glad you did; you will definitely become more marketable. Many companies require candidates to complete the employment application online. “In nearly every industry, everything from scheduling appointments to ordering lunch happens on a computer,” Newsom says. “Colleges have adopted technology, too. Many colleges, including Brown Mackie College – Birmingham, utilize iPads for classroom lectures, and assign eBook reading, to help students keep up with technology.”
Communication skills go hand in hand with computer skills. This includes both written and oral communications. Investopedia, a financial business website, names this as a top-rated skill that employers seek. If you can’t write a good cover letter, you won’t get the coveted interview. After all, every company depends on employees to be able to write at least a memo, if not lengthier reports. “During the interview, if you can’t speak well, you won’t get the job,” Newsom says. “Every sector of business looks for articulate employees who can effectively communicate with co-workers and clients and customers.”
Another competency that many employers seek as they evaluate qualified job candidates? “A positive attitude,” says Newsom. Quintessential Careers, a website dedicated to helping people find employment, includes this attribute in their list of top skills for job candidates. “A positive attitude is an essential skill to master,” Newsom adds. “A bad one affects everyone around you.” This isn’t something you can fake. “Body language reflects your true attitude, and people can read body language,” she continues. “A good attitude is especially important for managers, who must be approachable by the staff.”
Many unemployed people consider going back to school to beef up credentials or train for a different career. “I recommend mapping a detailed plan for finding a place in the job market,” says Newsom. “Education can be costly. Knowing what you want enables you to examine the rewards of gaining job skills versus the financial risk.”
“Taking a class or attending a seminar can be extremely helpful,” Newsom says. “It offers the reward of supporting your professional goal. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, no matter how long you have been out of school.” Additional knowledge not only strengthens your skill set and resume, the experience often provides optimal networking opportunities. Colleagues in the workforce can be invaluable to your search for a job.
Once you have quantified your skills, take ownership of all you have to offer a prospective employer. “Find your own motivation and passion, and look for creative ways to express your qualifications. Employers look for not only technical capabilities, but also for a good fit into the company culture.” Many well-qualified people don’t get the job because of fit. This is where research on a company can give you a leg up on other applicants.
After landing a job, Newsom recommends staying focused on motivation to succeed. “Go above and beyond the scope of your job duties,” she says. “When you see a lack, follow up on it, even if not asked to do so. Maybe you have a suggestion to streamline a process. Maybe you take it upon yourself to wash the office coffee pot. 
Why take time to perform duties not assigned to you? “For advancement and promotion,” Newsom says. “It demonstrates willingness, thoughtfulness and dedication. It shows you are motivated to be successful.” This type of passion is what employers look for. Whether you’re looking for a job, or you are employed, it pays to grow these qualities within yourself and maintain them. “You can’t be an ‘average Joe’ anymore. He doesn’t stand out,” Newsom says.
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Advanced breast cancer diagnoses lack sustainable support

American women with stage IV metastatic breast cancer and stage III locally advanced breast cancer – collectively known as advanced breast cancer – must cope with feelings of isolation when their disease progresses – a time when, conceivably, support is needed most. Findings from the survey provide insight as to why and how the experiences of women with advanced breast cancer differ from those with earlier stages.

“People diagnosed with earlier stages of breast cancer focus on completing treatment as quickly as possible, putting the experience behind them and becoming a survivor,” says Shirley Mertz, president of Metastatic Breast Cancer Network and an advisory board member for Count Us, Know Us, Join Us, a program created by Novartis Oncology and 13 cancer advocacy organizations for people impacted by advanced breast cancer.- “In a stage IV diagnosis where cancer spreads or metastasizes, patients must learn to cope with ongoing, never-ending treatments and uncertainty that comes with disease progression.”

An estimated 220,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and as many as 30 percent will develop metastatic disease. For these women, whereas support seems to be strong surrounding their original breast cancer diagnosis, some express difficulty in explaining to their loved ones what it means now that their disease has progressed. According to three-quarters of women who participated in the survey, the differences are severe enough that they feel that no one understands what they are going through.

“Many women whose disease has progressed feel isolated from broader breast cancer support groups that focus on early detection and survivorship, because their cancer will not go away,” says Christine Benjamin, breast cancer program director at SHARE Cancer Support, and also an advisory board member for Count Us, Know Us, Join Us. “This is why it is critical for women with advanced breast cancer and their loved ones to receive additional emotional support and resources in order to cope with what has become their new normal.”

Benjamin explained that the same type of emotional support and informational resources are especially critical for the approximately 38,000 American women each year who receive an initial diagnosis of advanced breast cancer. Unfortunately, while nearly all of those surveyed in the U.S. say that they actively seek out information about their diagnosis on their own (97 percent), exactly 50 percent say that what is available does not address their needs. What’s more, 70 percent of women say it is hard to find support groups for advanced breast cancer.

According to Mertz and Benjamin, providing support tailored to the needs of women living with advanced breast cancer plays a huge factor in helping them to live better lives. For that reason, Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, SHARE and other advocacy organizations work to create programs specifically for women with advanced and metastatic breast cancer and help to provide resources such as Count Us, Know Us, Join Us which offers information and support on its website,, for people impacted by the disease.

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