Five reasons why buying a home is still a good idea

%20buying%20a%20home%20is%20still%20a%20good%20ideaYou may be wondering if buying a home is a good idea. Whether you’re thinking about buying, or already have and just need some affirmation, you may find it comforting to know there are still plenty of good reasons for financially stable people to buy a house. Here are a few:
* Homeownership can help make good credit even better. If your credit is in poor shape, you’ll want to monitor it before seeking a mortgage. But if you have good credit, live within your means, and consistently make good financial decisions, a mortgage can be the kind of “good debt” that helps your overall financial health. Making regular payments on a mortgage shows potential lenders that you’re a less risky candidate for a home loan. Before you begin home shopping, it’s a good idea to check your credit. Enrolling in a product like can help you better understand and leverage your credit.
* A mortgage can function like an automatic savings plan. By now, you’ve read the news reports about how little we Americans save these days. Well, every year you pay on your fixed-rate mortgage, is a year of building equity, and equity is like money in the bank. When it’s time to sell – whether you’ve stayed in your home seven years or the full 30 year term – you’ll have created equity and should be able to sell your house for more than you owe.
* Homeownership comes with plenty of financial perks, including an income tax credit for property taxes you pay on your home. For detailed information on tax breaks check out Buying a home also affords you the opportunity to halt your housing costs. Rent will always go up from year to year, but if you have a fixed-rate mortgage (avoid adjustable rates) your biggest annual expense – housing costs – will be locked-in.
* Mortgage interest is a good deal when stacked up against other types of interest that don’t do much for you – such as high credit card interest rates or low rates on savings accounts and CDs. Mortgage rates are low right now, meaning you can pay less over the life of a loan than at practically any other time in recent history. Plus, it’s the only kind of interest that you can deduct from your taxes.
* Prices are still relatively low and inventory is high. It’s been a buyer’s market for a long time, but that’s going to change. The question is: when will the market start to improve in your area, taking home prices with it? You’ll have to do some legwork and astute research to determine when is the best time for you to buy.
If you monitor your credit and are on a sound financial footing, buying a home can still be a good idea. And now is as good a time as any to make your purchase.

Courtesy of BPT

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Decorating your home with chandelier lighting and other accessories

If you are planning on making some decorative changes around the home this year, there are many lighting accessories that you can choose from. From installing elegant and regal chandeliers to simple table lamps and everything in between, finding the right pieces for the best price is easy once you know where to look and what to look for. There are many sites online that offer an amazing array of products that can light up the mood in any home, but not all are created equal.

Before you are ready to shop, consider how you want your home to look once your design ideas have come to life. The last thing you need is to have a chandelier that does not fit well in the space you intended for it to go. Taking measurements, deciding on style, color and effect are all part of the planning process when it comes to finding the right lighting accessories for your home, but it is especially important to do with chandeliers.

Of course, not every lighting remodeling project is limited to chandeliers, but can include a wide range of other options to consider as well. Table lamps, wall lights and standing floor lamps all work to add their own effect in the space they are going to be used. While light is simply light, how it is reflected in the house depends on anything from the color of the lampshade to the tint of chandelier crystals. You can change one crystal to red, and end up having a red lighting effect on the entire room.

This is just one example of things to consider when deciding how to develop a lighting scheme for the home. It is not just brightness, but effect, mood, comfort and feel as well. Lighting accessories can do wonders when it comes to the way in which light beams throughout the home as well as the mood it creates.

With table lamps, the process isn’t as involved and it is pretty easy to decide what will look good and what will not. Taking a picture of some of the table lamps that interest you can help to pick the right one for your particular layout and the effect you want to create. Consider color and shade as well as the impact it has on the lighting of the entire room.

So, from easy to involved, the type of lighting you choose for your home will determine the amount of planning and visualizing that it will require. While the process is not that complicated or time consuming, skipping the preparation and research phase of any remodeling project can lead to unsatisfactory results. Making the effort now will save a lot of trouble down the line as well as ensure that you are happy with the look that you created for your home.

There are many sources online to find the best lighting accessories for your needs as well as for your budget. A good retailer will not only have a wide range of fixtures and other items available for sale, but they should also include a section for tips, suggestions and product information that will help you to make the best decision. They should also have a solid return policy as well as product guarantee in case you are unsatisfied with your purchase.

That being said, there are limitless options available online for anything from chandeliers to table lamps or red chandelier crystals, and it is easier than ever to order and have them delivered to your house. Keep in mind that you will need to wait a little while for the items to be shipped to your home, but that can be a benefit in and of itself because you can do the work necessary to prepare for installation. Whether you are ordering lighting accessories for the first time, or are a seasoned decorator, you will be amazed at the quality, selection and prices of a wide range of products found at an online chandelier store today.

by: Kathryn Dawson 

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How to score the perfect internship

The growth of a college student from the first year of instruction to the final days as an undergraduate is immeasurable. But what happens in the time between these two milestones? Book reading, paper writing and party going generally make the list, but employers are telling us to add another item – practical on-the-job training. 

Internships have become an essential key to compete post-graduation, so make your work count. Start building your company “wish list” early on and you’ll be able to find the right spot to gain true hands-on training, says Jennifer Mleko, director of career services at The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg. 
“You should be identifying potential employers, reading industry publications in your field of interest and building a network of contacts starting the first or second quarter of school,” according to Mleko.

Julianne Pelfrey, director of career services at The Art Institute of Ohio – Cincinnati, advises students to start the research process as early as six months prior to the anticipated start date. “You should eye small to mid-sized businesses,” according to Pelfrey. “Internships with smaller companies typically provide more opportunities for junior employees to gain practical experience.

There’s a greater chance for involvement in a project from conception to production with these organizations.”

Both Pelfrey and Mleko caution against limiting options by solely seeking paid internships. Students should focus on job duties, experience gained and opportunity for growth – in your education and your career. No amount of cash flow trumps the chance to vet out potential career paths.

But what about the actual application process? How are you to compete with other star students vying for the same role? These simple steps may land you in a recruiter’s office sooner than expected:

First is the cover letter. While we would love to think these have become a thing of the past, the introductory notes fill an employer in on what students are hoping to gain from the work stint and which past experiences will serve them best in the desired post. Passion, drive and desire to learn are what managers are yearning to see. 

Next step is the resume; Pelfrey says it’s time for students to pull away from traditional business templates and up the ante with personality-driven resumes. “Design should never overcome content, but employers love seeing ingenuity and creativity from their future proteges,” she says. 

If you’re light on employment history, bulk up the resume with applicable classroom projects, freelance samples and pro-bono work. And don’t forget to highlight transferable skills. Mleko says, “The purpose of a resume is to emphasize experience by showing variety and a diverse skill set. Whet the recruiter’s appetite by showing what you can bring to the table and tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying for.” 

The last piece of the puzzle might be the most important tip for workforce newcomers: professional portfolio. Yours should be stocked full of writing samples, design projects and inspired original pieces. Even works in progress will get hiring managers going, so invest the time in selecting a collection that represents range and competencies.

Pelfrey and Mleko stress the importance of having at least one internship under your belt come commencement time, but the more the better. With the “wish list” made, a target in mind and submissions ready to go, students can lock down invaluable internships. Forget making copies, your internship is about making career connections.

Courtesy of BPT

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How to ease arthritis pain

For the 50 million American adults currently suffering from arthritis, symptom management is the name of the game. Although it’s the leading cause of disability in the U.S., and the second most frequently reported chronic condition, there are currently no cures for the family of musculoskeletal disorders known as arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Therefore, arthritis treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving joint function.

The most common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout and fibromyalgia.
Traditionally, the common signs and symptoms of arthritis (literally meaning “joint inflammation”) may include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and a decreased range of motion. There are numerous types of arthritis – more than 100 in all – and therefore many treatments, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, physical therapy, lifestyle and home remedies, surgery and alternative medicine. Many arthritis sufferers will benefit from some combination of these options.

One of the most commonly used arthritis medications is a category called NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce both pain and inflammation. Popular over-the-counter NSAIDs include naproxen sodium, as well as ibuprofen, both of which are available under a wide variety of retail “store-brand” labels.

“Pain and swelling have a serious impact on quality of life for many arthritis patients,” says Dr. John Tower, president and medical director of Arthritis Physicians LLC in Rochester Hills, Mich. “In combination with other therapies, NSAIDs like naproxen sodium and arthritis pain-relieving topical ointments can provide some symptomatic relief, and therefore can be an important part of a patient’s treatment plan.”

“For patients prescribed an NSAID by their physician, I would encourage them to purchase store-brand naproxen sodium or ibuprofen sold at leading retailers and pharmacies,” Tower continues. “These products are regulated by the FDA and use the same active ingredients, but cost significantly less than the brand names.”

Allegan, Mich.-based Perrigo is the largest manufacturer of over-the-counter medications found under store-brand labels at leading retailers, grocers and pharmacies. Perrigo offers consumers a variety of affordable store-brand NSAID choices, like naproxen sodium in caplet, tablet and liquid gel form, which compare with the active ingredients in brand names.

In addition to drugs for combating pain relief and inflammation, many arthritis patients find relief with physical therapy, lifestyle and home remedies and even alternative medicine.

“Arthritis patients need to work closely with their primary care physicians or rheumatologist to determine which combination of treatment options is best for them,” says Tower, who has been a practicing board certified rheumatologist for 21 years. “Appropriate management of symptoms can help people with arthritis to decrease pain, improve function and stay productive.”

Physical therapy and regular exercise help to keep joints flexible and strengthen muscle surrounding joints, which can result in improved range of motion for arthritis sufferers. Additionally, home remedies, such as hot and cold therapy, may help relieve arthritis pain, while use of assistive devices, such as a cane or walker, can help protect joints and improve a patient’s ability to perform daily tasks.

Alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, may offer some promise as a remedy for reducing symptoms of arthritis, but patients should bear in mind that there is still little reliable evidence to support the use of such treatments in managing arthritis.

“Arthritis is a complex disorder with many causes and no cure, but there are effective treatments to manage the symptoms,” says Tower. “Symptom management looks different for every patient, so arthritis sufferers should consider all of the options in partnership with their physician.”

Courtesy of BPT

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The career paths that lead to everyday acts of heroism

(BPT) – Often, we don’t think about heroism until we see it in action – when disaster strikes and ordinary people exhibit extraordinary courage and compassion to help victims in their time of need. The truth is, however, that the best of human nature is on display every day in the lives of millions of Americans who work in public service jobs across the country. Sometimes all it takes to tap that inner hero is an opportunity – and the education – to serve others.

“People may not realize how broad the opportunities are in public service fields,” says Connie Bosse, vice president of Kaplan University’s College of Public Service. “From law enforcement and emergency responders to teachers and child advocates and behavioral therapists who help children with developmental disabilities, thousands of career options offer people the chance to make a living and help others in a meaningful way.”

Numerous studies on job satisfaction show that workers in a broad range of fields say job satisfaction is important to them. Public service jobs such as firefighting, teaching and therapy consistently rank among the top most-satisfying careers in the General Social Survey conducted by the National Organization for Research.

Whether you’re a recent high school graduate looking for a direction in higher education or an established professional looking for a meaningful career change, public service holds many opportunities. The Kaplan University College of Public Service created a Network of Good video series which highlights alumni and their path to public service. As with any career, it’s important to receive the right training, education and degree to ensure professional success. Here are some degree paths that can lead to public service careers:

* Human services – A bachelor of science in human services can prepare you to work in a variety of fields, including mental health, social services, education, rehabilitation and even the courts. If you already have an associate or bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible for an accelerated degree path.

* Education – Graduate programs are designed to serve educators and instructors at every level, from colleges and universities to K-12 environments. There is also a bachelor in early childhood- development that encompasses caring for the educational needs of young children and can extend far beyond the elementary school classroom. This degree can open doors to careers in childcare centers, Head Start programs and other before- and after-school care settings.-

* Public administration – Strong leaders are vital to the success of any organization, whether public or private. A master’s in public administration can help you qualify to serve in leadership roles in local, state or federal government agencies, a variety of organizations and nonprofits.

* Homeland security – With natural disasters and terrorist threats making daily headlines, the federal government says demand for professionals qualified to work in homeland security and emergency response roles will increase. A master’s degree in homeland security and emergency management can help you find a career in emergency preparedness and response, border and transportation security, information analysis, homeland defense and more.

For those interested in learning more, there is a wealth of information, inspirational stories and videos about public service professionals at the Center for Public Service, an online information resource center created by Kaplan University. Visit the site at

Courtesy of BPT

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Time-pressed in the kitchen? Rediscover pressure cooking

(BPT) – There’s nothing like the smell of a home-cooked meal wafting through the kitchen for hours and hours – that is, if you have time to prepare such a meal. Since most of us don’t have that sort of time on a daily basis, many time-pressed cooks are rediscovering pressure cooking: an age-old cooking method that makes mealtime fast and easy.

You may recall your mother or even your grandmother talking about using the pressure cookers of old, sometimes with unexpected results. A pressure cooker uses steam to cook foods. Available in stovetop or electric models, they both work on the same principle: foods and liquids are placed inside a pot that has a pressurized chamber, and the steam transfers heat to the foods. The pressure builds up inside the pot to cook food at a high temperature, while allowing the food to retain its moisture and nutritional value. When cooking is complete, the steam can be vented using a release valve, before the lid is opened.

Recently, pressure cookers have evolved to include many built-in conveniences and safety features that simplify the cooking process. Today, more home cooks are taking advantage of these cooking marvels, not only because they cook foods faster than most conventional methods, but also because they bring out the delicious flavor of foods and preserve inherent nutrients.

Today’s advanced pressure cookers can be used to prepare anything from meats and main courses to fresh vegetables, potatoes or even desserts. And because they cook foods faster, they use less energy, providing a “greener” way of cooking. In short, a pressure cooker enables a user to prepare recipes in less than half the time, while locking in flavors and preserving vitamins and minerals. This means a pot roast, sweet potatoes, or even cheesecake recipe worthy of Julia Child can be done in record time, making pressure-cooking perfect for busy weeknight meals. -

Manufacturers are increasingly taking the guesswork out of pressure-cooking with intuitive features that make it easy to prepare delicious, nutritious meals in a flash. For example, Calphalon’s 6-quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker has a cover that locks on with the touch of a button, and a pop-up pressure indicator that makes it easy to monitor cooking times. The cooker also has a pressure release dial that lets you select from multiple settings for cooking, and to safely release the steam after you’re finished.-

If you’re new at using a pressure cooker, here are some general tips to get you started:

* Cut foods evenly: Uniform pieces cook most evenly.

* Don’t overfill: Aim for a pot no more than two-thirds full of food. Be sure to use the recommended amount of liquid called for in the recipe.

* Adjust spices: Flavors are more concentrated with this cooking method, so you may want to reduce the amount of spices you use in your favorite recipes.

* Brown meats first: For especially tasty pressure-cooked meats, sear and brown the meat before placing it in the pressure cooker to obtain the best flavor and texture.

* Secure the lid: Make sure it’s properly closed and locked before you begin cooking.

* Experiment with recipes you love. Try cooking in incremental stages, starting with the shortest recommended cooking time; you can always cook for a more minutes if needed.

* Consult the manufacturer’s manual: Read and follow the instructions for the specific model you purchased.

Courtesy of BPT

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