Posted on Jul 1, 2015
For many of us, summer is a time of vacations, day trips across the state and family reunions with loved ones we haven’t seen all year. It’s also a time when we tend to overextend our budgets in order to do as much as possible and pay little attention to how it affects our overall financial plan.
“Just like you plan for that summer vacation – you need to prepare your finances as well,” says Dean Athanasia, preferred and small business executive at Bank of America. “Taking a moment to get your finances in order before you start planning those summer vacations is a great way to ensure you stay within the guidelines of your ultimate financial goals.”
Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 4 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Posted on Jun 30, 2015
More and more people are choosing to live solo. While there are plenty of resources for home improvement, a new survey shows singles could use some help getting their financial house in order.
You can find more information about disability insurance at The Hartford’s MyTomorrow website www.thehartford.com/mytomorrow
Posted on Jun 24, 2015
Backyard sanctuaries incorporate peace of mind with a spa-like atmosphere. Some do this with plant features, others with water. Here are some tips to build an outdoor sanctuary in your own backyard.
1. Create a walkway – A beautiful walkway around your backyard, through different scenic zones, can help you to clear your mind of troubled thoughts. This walkway can be a paved path, or composed of stepping stones or gravel and woodchips. Consider planting different gardens close to the walkway, inviting walkers to immerse themselves within the blooms and scents wafting from the flowers.
2. Incorporate a seating area – This space doesn’t have to be large, but give it a sense of ambiance with an arbor made of cedar to allow plants to grow taller, or a pergola to provide shade and that wonderful natural aroma that cedar gives off. Natural materials like Western Red Cedar weather naturally, and are rot-resistant, giving homeowners a durable and long-lasting material to enjoy for years to come.
“Using Western Red Cedar for backyard sanctuary seating areas gives homeowners a variety of design options to work around,” says Mark Clement, a building expert and co-host of “My Fix It Up Life” which airs nationally on iTunes, Blog Talk Radio and myfixituplife.com. “This wood is sustainable, environmentally friendly, easy to work with, ages beautifully, and, when incorporated into an arbor or pergola design, makes a stunning visual element to the space.”
In this seating space, place a bench, outdoor patio furniture or even comfortable lawn chairs to encourage family members to stop for a rest and settle their thoughts for the day. If the family is into yoga or meditation, consider keeping mats in a nearby storage container for quick and easy access.
3. Design for both night and day – Sometimes a sanctuary space is most needed when the moon is shining brightly. Plan for this with a lighting design in the backyard. Provide illumination to pathways, the deck area, and in garden clusters to give a new sense of beauty to the plants. When designing your lighting scheme, be careful to avoid creating any scary shadows. If you notice this occurring, adjust the lighting to come from a different direction, or try using a different light. Also consider what form of light you would like. Would you prefer low watt electric lights, or candlelight, which would require a person to spend time preparing?
Once your backyard sanctuary is built, your family will have a place handy where they can escape for some peace of mind.
Posted on Jun 17, 2015
Nowhere else in the home must design and function marry as harmoniously as in the kitchen. The most-used room in the house is also the one where we spend the most work and leisure time, the one that gets the most scrutiny from potential buyers and the spot where most renovation dollars get spent.
Posted on Jun 16, 2015
With more than 100 scenic byways throughout America, there is plenty to see and do on the road no matter the time of year. So, as the seasons roll by, jump in the car and take in fall’s vibrant leaves, winter’s snowy wonderland, spring’s wildflowers and summer’s long hours of light.
White Mountains Trail Scenic Byway (N.H.)
The 100-mile White Mountains Trail will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of New Hampshire. It passes through the famous White Mountains and goes past Mount Washington, which is stunning in both the fall and spring for scenic drives or hiking. Moose are plentiful in the White Mountains, so whether you’re on four wheels, two wheels, or two feet, keep a watchful eye.
Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway (Va., N.C., Tenn.)
Skyline Drive, which starts in the Shenandoah National Park, winds 105 miles through the western mountains of Virginia and links up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Away.com, a travel inspiration site, says to check out the wildflowers, ferns and mountain laurel in bloom in the late spring. The 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway then link Virginia to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina and Smokey Mountains in southern Tennessee. Since the elevation ranges from 650 to 6,000 feet, there is a wide range of time to see fall color.
State Route A1A (Fla.)
The historic Florida A1A byway runs almost the length of the eastern coast of Florida from Amelia Island at the Georgia state line to Key West. Along this route you’ll pass through seemingly endless beachfront towns, including St. Augustine, which is the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the United States, Cocoa Beach, which was the site of NASA shuttle launches, and Miami’s famous South Beach.
Natchez Trace Parkway (Tenn., Ala., Miss.)
The Natchez Trace Parkway was long ago created by Native Americans and was later used as a link between the Mississippi Territory and what is now Nashville. With a little more than 440 miles to explore, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails to be found. Camping is a budget-friendly option for a multiday trip, too.
Talimena Scenic Drive (Ark., Okla.)
The 54-mile Talimena Scenic Drive takes you through Arkansas and Oklahoma. You’ll drive along some of the highest ridges between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains in the Winding Stair and Rich mountains. This area experiences four distinct seasons and can be a great spot to see wildlife such as black bears.
Sky Island Scenic Byway (Ariz.)
Just 27 miles long, the Sky Island Scenic Byway is literally a climb from desert to forest. Take a photo of a cactus at the beginning of your drive, and then, 9,000 feet up, take a photo of yourself in the forest. This route is one of the only paved roads to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Enjoy this area for hiking, backpacking and even skiing.
Top of the Rockies (Colo.)
Feel like you’re on top of the world as you drive the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway. At 10,424 feet, the Tennessee Pass is breathtaking. Plenty of wildlife can be seen along this 75-mile stretch before you wind up in the old mining town of Leadville, which is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
Beartooth Scenic Byway (Mont., Wyo.)
Providing a path to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park, Beartooth Scenic Byway in Montana and Wyoming reaches some of the highest heights in the northern Rockies. In fewer than 54 miles you’ll see snowcapped peaks, lakes and even glaciers. Plan ahead; this road is only open weather permitting, so check with the DOT before heading out on your trip.
Seward Highway (Alaska)
This 125-mile highway links the Alaskan cities of Seward and Anchorage. Starting at the Gulf of Alaska and winding through scenic areas like Chugach National Forest, this road trip is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This highway gives visitors a way to see both the water and interior of southern Alaska.
Highway 101/California State Route 1 (Calif., Ore., Wash.)
Both Highway 101 and California State Route 1 run north-south along the California, Oregon and Washington coastline. These routes are also known as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Pacific Highway and the Oregon Coast Highway. Start in southern California, and when Hwy 101 branches off inland, take SR 1 along the magnificent California coastline. Plenty of views of both the coast and forests, like Redwood National Forest, will be captured.
Posted on Jun 10, 2015
Some do-it-yourself experts recommend a fresh coat of paint, new tile, a shiny new sink and great cabinets to transform an ordinary bathroom into an extraordinary spa – but that’s just what the eye can see. Yes, your refinished bathroom will look different but will it hold its value? Not unless you think first of what’s behind the paint and tile and consider how to protect it from the greatest threat in a bathroom: moisture, mold and mildew.
Upgrading your walls, ceilings and subfloors before you paint, install tile or hang a fancy new mirror can ensure your new bathroom will stand up to everyday splashes, showers and relaxing tub soaks, as well as dreaded mold and mildew that can come from these steamy, wet environments.
Anitra Mecadon, host of DIY Network’s “Mega Dens” and spokesperson for National Gypsum, is on a mission to prevent major mold and mildew problems by recommending homeowners start at the studs. Here’s her advice when it comes to the No. 1 room people remodel in their homes – bathrooms:
Look for ideas
Popular upgrades include decorative tile or stone in the tub and shower areas. You can also consider multiple showerheads or steam enclosures to give your bathroom “spa appeal” without the worry.
Budget and plan
* The average cost of a bathroom remodel is around $16,000, so create a budget so you know how much you can comfortably spend.
* If you plan to have someone do it for you, get an estimate from a contractor before you start.
* Shop on your own, with a contractor or interior designer to select building materials, fixtures and appliances.
* Remember that bathrooms require two kinds of materials to help protect walls and floors: mold- and moisture-resistant drywall for areas behind mirrors, sinks or vanities, and cement board for the critically wet areas, such as tubs and showers.
* Prepare for a demolition phase to tear out the tub, sink, tile, walls and flooring.
* Be careful of pipes, air ducts and electrical wires behind the walls, ceilings and under the floors.
* Measure twice, cut once.
* You can never be too safe – use appropriate safety gear.
Add value with walls and floors
* After adding insulation, install mold- and moisture-resistant PURPLE XP drywall in your bathroom.
* The PURPLE color is easy to spot in the drywall aisle of your local home improvement stores, and provides value and peace of mind that lasts.
* For a strong base that stands behind every great finish – like tile, slate or marble – use one of National Gypsum’s PermaBase Cement Board options in critically wet areas around tubs and showers.
Other notes to consider
* Ask a friend to help for easier installation.
* Forget traditional green board because it’s no longer approved by most building codes.
* Instead, ask for PURPLE XP drywall to ensure yours is moisture-, mold- and mildew-resistant.
* Remember that PermaBase Cement Board provides a hard, durable surface underneath ceramic tile or decorative stone and can withstand prolonged exposure to moisture.
* Seal areas around the tub and sink with mildew-resistant caulk and grout to discourage discoloration.
* Paint walls with mildew-resistant primer and paint, which can cut down on future maintenance.
* Add an exhaust fan for additional moisture control.