Posted on Dec 4, 2013
(BPT) – Reduce, reuse, recycle – it’s the mantra we’ve heard for decades, and it appears Americans are taking the message to heart and making efforts to go green in all aspects of their lives. Whether it’s in their own home or at their place of work, being earth-friendly isn’t just a trend; it’s the new modern way of life.
If you’re looking to make your life a little greener – whether during the nine-to-five or the five-to-nine – consider a few simple ways you can save Mother Earth and feel pretty good about yourself too:
* Watch your water footprint and conserve H2O
Water is an important part of daily life and Americans are lucky to have a reliable supply on hand at the simple flip of the faucet handle. The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home, according to the EPA. We use even more at work or school. It’s time we take a closer look at our water footprint.
You can reduce your water usage in numerous ways. At home and work, you should use WaterSense-labeled toilets, sinks and showerheads. Because both businesses and homeowners like to save, check out epa.gov to find rebates for water-wise improvements. Additionally, remember to turn off water when appropriate – such as when you brush your teeth or are rubbing your hands together to generate soap bubbles. Keep showers to 10 minutes or less.
* Look for products that use reclaimed materials
Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash, and recycled and composted almost 87 million tons of this material, which is equivalent to a 34.7 percent recycling rate, the EPA reports. This rate is pretty impressive, and with waste now being employed as the primary ingredient for things we use every day, this number is likely to rise.
Reclaimed rubber is one such example. Ecore, a rubber flooring company, uses reclaimed rubber tires to make commercial flooring, and has been doing so for more than 25 years. Old, exhausted treads of tractor-trailer tires are ground, screened and separated to remove contaminants – creating a durable flooring option for businesses.
* Go green with your greenery
Being strategic about what plants you use for landscaping at home and work can help you conserve water and reduce maintenance requirements. Use natural vegetation appropriate for the region where you live. Ask your nursery or state’s extension service about shrubs, trees and ground covers that are good alternatives to grass. Native plants quickly adapt to changing climate conditions, so you’ll spend less time trimming and watering.
While you have your green thumb out, consider placing a few houseplants in your office and throughout your home. As part of plants’ natural photosynthesis process, they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which helps to naturally clean the air around us. Some houseplants have even been shown to remove formaldehyde and benzene pollutants from the air. Increase your indoor air quality with a few good greens. Try houseplant varieties like philodendron, spider plants, (chlorophytum comosum) or peace lilies (spathiphyllum).
These are just a few simple ways to green your life at home and at work – so you can make a difference for our earth all day long. Adopting an eco-friendly mindset for you and your family helps ensure the future is bright (and green) for everyone.
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Nov 27, 2013
(BPT) – TV’s best-fed hedonist, Anthony Bourdain, is keeping busy these days with his hit travel series “Parts Unknown,” his publishing career and an upcoming appearance at this year’s National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago. Love him or hate him, Bourdain is the biggest, baddest food dude on the planet. The self-proclaimed “chef slacker” shares his advice for restaurateurs and new chefs, and talks about his desired last meal on Earth and love of old-school cocktails.
Q. You have 24 hours left on Earth: Where would you go, and what would you eat?
A. “Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. I would sit down in front of the greatest sushi master that I’ve ever met and eat whatever he puts down in front of me. That would probably take about 22 minutes, if past experiences are my guide. I’ve had it before, and it’s one of the greatest meals of my life. If I’m going to be shot in the back of the head after a meal, that would be a good way to go.”
Q. You’ve made it well-known that you started in the restaurant industry by washing dishes. What’s one piece of advice that you wish you could tell your former self about the restaurant industry?
A. “I was a very happy dishwasher! I just wanted to be part of it. I didn’t want to necessarily rule the world. I made a lot of decisions along the way where I chose to have fun rather than to excel. I chose to be a chef rather than the student of a really talented first-rate chef. I made a conscious decision not be the best that I can be. I was pretty set in my ways about the kinds of kitchens that I felt comfortable in and wanted to work in, and that was not conducive to me ever becoming a Michelin-starred chef. I think that the greatest lesson I ever learned in the restaurant business (and I learned it early) was: Show up on time. Whatever work, whatever commitment, you have, always show up on time to show the people who you work with the respect that you can at least do that.”
Q. Which chefs are most exciting to you now that you could see establishing future partnerships within your publishing career?
A. “For the chefs that I’ve published and hope to publish, it’s not just about the food. It’s people who are doing interesting things and who have an interesting story and point of view. The recent chef books I would have loved to publish would be Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir (Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef) of The Joe Beef Guys. There are real voices there of people who are saying something new and interesting to create a whole world and mindset that explains the food. Generally speaking, I look for someone who has a powerful voice and can explain why they cook the way that they cook in a personal and dynamic way. Roy Choi’s book is coming out soon, and I think that he will be a good example of that.”
Q. What’s the best advice that you have for restaurateurs facing the challenges of today?
A. “Today’s restaurants need to have a concise vision of what they are good at and what they have to offer that is different from the guy across the street. Restaurateurs need to speak in a strong confident voice, saying, ‘I might not be good at some things, but I’m good at this, and this is what I’m going to do.’ I think the days of trying to be everything to everybody are over now. We have an empowered chef class now and a much more curious, daring and younger dining public. I think the future is going to be chefs who speak with a coherent, concise voice with a real identity. Own that this is what I do. More of like in Asia where you have the roast duck guy and the chicken and rice guy.”
Q. What do you look for in your favorite cocktail?-
A. “I am a big fan of cocktails, but if takes you more than 10 minutes to make it, there’s a problem. I’m an old-school guy: Give me a good Manhattan, old fashioned, or the perfect Negroni with the finest gin, vermouth and campari with maybe a slightly toasted almond zest, and I’m a happy guy. I think the standard for me is, is the drink that I’m about to make with bourbon better than bourbon?”
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Nov 27, 2013
“The most important thing you can do is to make your home look welcoming when people drive by,” says Kimber Powell, Realtor and sales manager for Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group in Altoona, Iowa.
“You want to invite them in. Make sure your front door looks nice. Trim and landscape your yard. Accent your entryway with a new door mat and pots of flowers that contrast with the color of your home,” she says.
Follow these tips to position your house for a successful sale:
Enhance curb appeal
A well-maintained house appeals to more buyers and can sell faster and may sell for a higher price, according to Realtor.com.
Maximize your home’s exterior appearance. Keep the lawn and landscaping edged, cut and watered. Inspect doors, windows, trim, foundation and siding for peeling paint. Repaint and replace items as needed. Clean out gutters and replace missing caulk and shingles.
Make your home look bigger by removing clutter and storing personal items and extra furniture before prospective buyers arrive. Make repairs where needed, Powell advises.
“Repairs are ongoing maintenance needs that show your home has been well-cared-for and kept up-to-date,” she says. “Most potential buyers want turn-key homes that are easy to move into.”
Repaint dingy or stained walls with a neutral shade of paint. Repair cracks or holes in walls, ceilings, tile and woodwork. Replace broken items and consider updating worn-out cabinet knobs, dated curtains and battered bath and kitchen hardware.
Show lifestyle possibilities
Create a lifestyle story to help buyers envision themselves living in your home. Have a small kitchen but a big deck? Focus on outdoor entertaining by adding lights, comfy cushions and showcasing grilling areas, Powell recommends. If you love your neighborhood, highlight a front porch with wicker furniture and window boxes.
“You want to show buyers the ways they can use the entire home and yard,” Powell says. “If you don’t have outdoor furniture or decorations, work with a stager to borrow those items.” Or consider borrowing items from friends or family to get your home staged for sale.
Highlight quality brands
If your home features or you’ve replaced items with high-quality brands, like Pella Windows and Doors, include their names in your home’s sell sheet, Powell says.
“People are very conscious of name brands and high-quality products. They also want to know about energy-saving benefits and warranties that may transfer to them,” she says.
Windows, door replacement
Projects like window and door replacements can recoup more than 70 percent of their cost at resale, according to the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling magazine’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report.
Whether you’re preparing your home to sell, or updating it to live in longer, Pella offers low-maintenance, energy-efficient vinyl, wood, and fiberglass replacement windows and doors that can help improve your home’s curb appeal, and help lower utility bills.
“Stylish exterior doors that look like wood, with the minimal maintenance of fiberglass, are popular replacement options,” says Kathy Krafka Harkema, Pella spokesperson. “Plus, fiberglass offers exceptional energy efficiency, weather resistance and outstanding durability.”
Pella fiberglass entry doors offer many prefinished options, as well as custom colors so you can design a door that truly reflects your home’s style.
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Nov 20, 2013
(BPT) – When it comes to simple, low-cost home improvements that can add value and completely change the look of a room, you just can’t beat painting. From giving a room a whole new look to protecting the walls and boosting the value of your home, painting delivers many benefits – all at a fraction of the cost of other improvements.
Tackle the job yourself, rather than hiring a professional painter, and you can save even more money.
“Any do-it-yourselfer can achieve professional-looking painting results when they follow the right steps and use the right painting tools,” says Arti Lyde, a product director with Wagner, manufacturer of painting products. “Painting can dramatically improve the look and style of your home.”
Follow these four guidelines and you can achieve professional-looking results with your own hands:
Prepping is paramount
Professionals know that properly preparing their work space is a key factor in achieving a good end result. Before you crack open that paint can, take these preparatory steps:
* Gather all the tools you will need in one place.
* Protect surfaces such as baseboards, woodwork and windows by taping off with a good quality painter’s tape.
* Completely cover carpets with a good quality drop cloth that will resist punctures and rips.
* Some jobs require a primer before putting the final color on the wall. Primer preps the surface and helps the final coat adhere better.
Pick the right paint
The quality of the paint you choose will directly affect how good the job looks when you’re done. For a good quality finish it is important to select quality paint, which adheres better, gives a uniform finish and will last longer. Also, look at the latest color trends and select a color that will meet your style.
Before you buy, research the brands available at your local home improvement store. Check out consumer review websites, giving particular attention to those that feature reviews from homeowners who’ve actually used the products. These independent, real-life reviewers can offer valuable insight into how well a paint might work.
Use the right tools
Many professionals use paint sprayers to achieve smooth, fast results. Now homeowners can achieve professional results. Two new sprayers, the Flexio 570 and Flexio 590 from Wagner, are designed to help DIYers achieve the same speed and good looks as the professionals do. The sprayers allow you to cover an 8-by-10-foot surface in just two to six minutes, and they can be used inside the house or outside on decks, fences, sheds or any other surface you need to paint quickly and easily.
Because both sprayers feature nozzles that allow you to precisely adjust the flow of paint, overspray is minimal – meaning that since you’ve already prepped by taping and draping, you can use the sprayer indoors with confidence that you won’t get overspray on areas where you don’t want paint. Another bonus that makes these sprayers great for indoor use – they’re quieter than traditional sprayers, making about as much noise as a hair dryer. Finally, unlike other sprayers, the Flexio models don’t require you to thin the paint with water; thinning can hinder the performance of even the best quality paint. To learn more, log on to www.wagnerspraytech.com.
Pay attention to the details
Details such as painting baseboards, woodwork and ceilings are the crowning touch on any paint job. Professionals know it’s these finishing touches that pull together the look of a room.
With the right tools and professional approach, you can save money by doing your own painting – and enjoy the pride and satisfaction of a job well done.
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Nov 13, 2013
Having been born and raised in SoCal, doing business there for over three decades, many of the lessons learned in nearly a decade of working in other states have been informative – an understatement if ever there was one. I’ll bet if you’re invested in a midwestern state, the thought of a last quarter vacancy freezes you in your tracks, pun intended. A November vacancy in San Diego is irritating, even a tad worrisome, but it gets filled. Instead of happening in a couple days or weeks, it might be a month. That’s an eternity around these parts. Yet that’s relatively overnight compared to dealing with having to rent up a unit in chillier climates, especially when it’s cold, wet, and holiday season. However, if escrow is closing on your latest acquisition in the winter, or you find yourself taking over units with leases rolling over then, what to do?
As usual – it’s all about planning.
It varies a little from market to market for local reasons, but there’s always a range of months when having leases roll over is preferred. Yeah, I know, Duh. Still, when closing on vacant units this time of year, or when taking over leases expiring now, it’s easy enough to eliminate the problem. Simply give new tenants or tell existing tenants they have a choice. They can sign say, a six month lease, or an 18 month lease. Either way you’ve eliminated the problem. The lease(s) will be timed to expire within the prime leasing season. But what if you own a couple dozen doors or more, maybe a lot more?
Do what builders and developers have been doing forever. Understand your market’s absorption rate. That is, the rate at which it can absorb vacant units – how many at a time? How many units can you or your management firm lease in 30 days? Is it a different figure just one neighborhood over? Maybe, maybe not. It’s almost a matter of sanity maintenance, isn’t it? Even if you’re in a market in which everything rents overnight with a 3 X 5 card on the front yard tree, having to mess with 10 new vacancies simultaneously isn’t any less of a pain. I know, because I’ve seen me do it.
Many members here talk about how they’ve learned to specialize in various markets for their long term investments. Using this method of staggering rollover times is, for most, a practical matter of self defense. By spreading out a bunch of leases over six months, you’ve created for yourself an orderly process in which you haven’t antagonized the local absorption rate. This also aids tremendously, your ability to plan various work projects around vacant units. Getting work done in the winter in potentially extreme weather is to be avoided when possible. By ensuring your vacancies will pop up during the prime rental season, and during reasonably decent weather, you’ve gone a long way towards eliminating logistical pains in the rear, not to mention your bank account. Also (Captain Obvious alert!!), by scheduling any vacancies for the best renting season, you’ve also virtually guaranteed yourself a far greater slice of the tenant pie. You think you don’t want dead of winter vacancies? Tenants aren’t exactly out in droves, looking for their next place right after finishing their second piece of pumpkin pie.
Now’s the perfect time to address this problem. Give your tenants notice that rollover time will mean a shorter or longer term lease. You’ll quickly find out that for the most part, they’ll be grateful for the change.
Author: Jeff Brown
Jeff’s Website: http://www.bawldguy.com
Posted on Nov 13, 2013
Food experts know that the right wine or spirit can enhance the enjoyment of any dish. The perfect marriage of the right wine and a flavorful meal creates a combination that celebrates and enhances the experience of both.
Courtesy of BPT