Posted on Apr 27, 2016
Today, time is an incredible luxury – one that we too rarely have. Between family responsibilities, work commitments and everyday stresses, it can often be hard to accomplish everything on the to-do list, let alone carve out time for oneself. A mainstay on the to-do list has always been laundry, and with the average household doing 7.5 loads per week, the time spent washing, drying and folding really adds up.
* Opt for a large-capacity washer. Getting more items into the washer equates to getting more done – and faster. But overloading an outdated, standard model can leave you with clothes that aren’t fully clean. Today’s washers are better equipped for the job, and the new mega-capacity front-loader from LG is great for handling huge laundry tasks. “It can accommodate a king-size bedding set, including a comforter, and its TurboWash technology – which combines the “spin” and “rinse” cycles – saves 20 minutes per load, even on larger loads,” he says.
Posted on Apr 26, 2016
“Investment strategies must evolve to accommodate complex modern markets,” says David Giunta, president and CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management – U.S. Distribution, creators of Durable Portfolio Construction, an investment philosophy that draws on a variety of asset classes in an effort to produce reasonable returns and avoid dramatic losses. “The ultimate goal is to pursue returns in a way that carefully considers the risks.” According to Giunta, there are five pillars of smart investing that can help limit risk caused by unexpected market swings and position portfolios for consistent long-term returns. These are the founding principles of durable portfolio construction:
1. Put risk first
Rather than first considering the potential rewards of an investment, start by making risk your top priority. Ask yourself how much you are willing to risk and base your investment decisions on this principle. When you understand risk and what to expect, you’ll be better positioned to weather difficult market conditions.
2. Maximize diversification
Diversification creates a solid foundation for building a more durable portfolio. Think of the simple adage we’ve heard since childhood: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” It can make a lot of sense for investors. If you include a wide range of asset classes in your portfolio, then you will be better prepared to handle the challenges that modern markets can present. When one type of investment is down, the losses may be offset by the potential gains in another. Overall it’s an approach that may provide a more consistent performance in all kinds of markets.
3. Use alternatives
When diversifying your portfolio, you may want to investigate alternative investments. Since markets around the globe often have high correlations – that is, they move up and down in synch with each other – it’s important to look for investments with low or no correlation to the broad markets. Keep in mind that some alternative investment techniques can amplify a gain or loss.
4. Make smarter use of traditional asset classes
Investors have often looked to stocks for growth and bonds for stability, but these two asset classes can play other roles in a portfolio. Equities have historically delivered growth that has outpaced inflation, but they can be volatile. Bonds, on the other hand, may not always be stable and can be volatile in periods of rising interest rates. Multisector bond funds may help address these concerns by diversifying bond holdings to include those that may be less interest rate sensitive and more focused on total return. However, keep in mind that multisector bond funds include a variety of fixed-income assets which may not always complement each other or provide the investment results desired.
5. Be consistent
In today’s world, there can be a lot of noise that may distract you from the big picture. That’s why staying consistent is one of the best things you can do for yourself as an investor. Setting your investment plan and sticking with it through market fluctuations can help you weather the storms and pursue your goals. To learn more, visit www.durableportfolios.com.
“It’s only human to watch the markets go up and down and want to react, but you shouldn’t let short-term market movements distract you from your long-term goals, ” says Giunta. “These five principles will help investors create a strategy that is timeless, and one that will accommodate the realities of today’s global markets.”
Posted on Apr 20, 2016
If you are unsatisfied with the space in your kitchen, but need lots of room in the fridge, you should consider counter depth refrigerators. This kind of appliance does not stick out any farther than your kitchen cabinets, which means that it takes up less room than a traditional fridge. However, it is often a bit taller than most refrigerators so that you do not lose much space when it comes to storing your food. Think about the details to consider before you start browsing counter depth refrigerators.
This kind of fridge usually has different measurements than most types, as it usually sticks out into the walkway a few inches less than most, but is a few inches taller. This means that you need an appropriately high ceiling in order to fit this fridge into your home, so be sure that you measure the height as well as the depth. Of course, you should also consider the width like you would before buying any fridge, but the width of most counter depth refrigerators is typically the same as other types.
If you want to add style to your kitchen while adding space, you should consider counter depth refrigerators that blend into the cabinetry. If you go this route, you will need a custom fridge company, but the results are often worth it since having matching cabinets and appliances is certainly unique. Keep in mind that many of the popular counter depth refrigerators on the market come in the French door style, adding to the classy appearance that most homeowners crave.
Of course, you can expect to pay a little more for this kind of fridge than most others, as the style is unique and up-to-date. Consider how important your kitchen’s image is to you. If you rarely use it or show it off and want to save money, you might be better off sticking to traditional top freezer or side-by-side styles. However, homeowners who spend a lot of time in their kitchen and enjoy showing it off to guests will likely find this a worthy investment in their home.
Counter depth refrigerators are not for everyone, and if this style does not appeal to you, remember that there are several other types of fridges on the market. Before you browse counter depth refrigerators, you should first decide if this is the style you really want and can afford. The next step is to measure your kitchen and make sure that it will fit, and then determine whether you want a counter depth fridge from the store or from a custom refrigerator builder. Thinking about these details first can ensure that you are satisfied with this major purchase.
by: Heather Mills
Posted on Apr 13, 2016
Heating, cooling and water heating are the top three energy drains in a home, accounting for 60 percent of a home’s energy bill according to ENERGY STAR, so it’s wise to focus your home improvement efforts on those areas. A few simple steps and some strategic investments can lower your monthly bill significantly, plus you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some tips for giving your home an energy-efficient facelift:
Change your home’s air filter regularly
Smart homeowners will check their home’s air filter every month to see if it needs replacing. How can you tell if it’s time to swap in a new one? Look at the color – if it appears gray or brown, or you can visibly see particles or pet fur, it’s time for a fresh one. A filter helps keep air flowing in your home and takes out dust, dander and other microscopic debris floating in the air. A dirty filter slows air flow, making your heating and cooling system work harder, costing you more money. Air filters should be replaced every one to three months.
Go beyond tankless: consider an integrated heating and water heating system
Many homeowners have heard about the advantages of tankless water heaters, but now there’s a way to be even more efficient by using the Rheem Integrated Heating & Water Heating System, which uses a Rheem tankless water heater to heat both the air and water in your home with maximum efficiency. How does it work? The system matches a hydronic air handler with a tankless gas water heater.- When there’s a demand for heat, hot water is circulated through the air handler to produce heat and is then re-circulated back to the tankless water heater to ensure that no water is wasted. This pairing of products provides a soft, comfortable heat to the home while maintaining comfortable humidity levels regardless of the climate. Also, the heating function of the system operates at the same efficiency as the tankless water heater – which could be as high as 94 percent efficient.
Lower the temperature on your water heater
To lower energy costs, consider lowering your water heater’s temperature setting. Try somewhere around 120 degrees Fahrenheit and see if that is sufficient in supplying your home with hot water for showers, laundry, dishes, etc. Each 10 degree reduction in water temperature can save 3 to 5 percent, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. If you go on vacation, remember you can turn your water heater down to the lowest setting to save even more while you’re gone and it’s not in use.
Install a programmable thermostat
Adjusting your thermostat a few degrees during the day can have a big impact on your utility bill. For example, during cold months, turn your thermostat down when you’re away from the house, such as during work. Programmable thermostats work perfectly for this – you can set your preferred temperatures throughout the week to fit your schedule and it adjusts automatically. About one-third of American homes have programmable thermostats, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. If you turn back your thermostat 10 or 15 degrees for periods of 8 hours or more, such as when you’re at work, you can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
From changing your air filter on a regular basis to selecting an integrated system to heat your home’s water and air supply, these changes can have a big impact on your utility bill, plus they’re environmentally friendly too.
Posted on Apr 12, 2016
The perfect home has a perfect green lawn. This perfect green lawn is like a living carpet: it has a uniform texture of grass with no daisies, dandelions or worm casts, it is perfectly smooth and flat (perfect for croquet or lawn bowls), and it is a consistent shade of pure emerald green. It is always clipped to an exact height of about an inch or so long. And when it is mown, a subtle damask-like pattern of stripes running back and forth should appear.
Now it’s time to wake up. This sort of lawn was the ideal set down in the days when stately homes employed a small army of full-time domestic cleaners, including several gardeners. This idealized lawn is a full-time job, requiring weekly (or even twice-weekly) mowing, not to mention watering, rolling and careful weeding. Most of us – even if we hire a professional gardener to take care of our lawns – can’t afford the time to do this. These days, you should only put this sort of effort into a lawn if you are a full time gardener at a stately home, or if you are the groundsman/woman for your local country club – and even then, only the pitch needs quite such grooming.
The first thing most of us can do to make life a bit easier for ourselves when it comes to lawns is to stop worrying about having a perfect even texture. You will save yourself a world of bother – not to mention problems with chemicals – if you leave lawn “weeds” in their place. Daisies, for example should be left. As somebody once said, if daisies were sold in bunches, we’d appreciate them more and go to great lengths to have them on our lawns. The same goes for other things like dandelions and clover. Besides, a lawn with more than one species of plant growing in it is more resistant to diseases and is more natural.
However, if things get too weedy, it could be good to re-sow your lawn just to readdress the balance of things. Grasses are tough plants and will take over, given a bit of encouragement.
Dogs can burn patches in a lawn with their urine. To prevent this happening, dilute the urine after they have “been” to stop it burning the grass. Don’t worry about worm casts. Worms are vital for the health of the soil, so don’t try to kill them. Those worm casts are very rich in nutrients. If you absolutely can’t stand them, rake them off and put them into a flower patch or vegetable garden – the plants there will appreciate them.
A well aerated soil is a healthy one. An old trick for improving drainage and aerating the soil is a to drive long thin holes into it. In the past, gardeners used something like clogs with an inverted bed of nails on the bottom to drive in the holes. You could make your own out of pieces of wood and driving nails into them – tie these onto the bottoms of your shoes (point side downwards, of course!) and walk about the lawn in them – possibly while you’re mowing the lawn.
If you live in a drier area and hate mowing the lawns during summer, make life simpler for yourself and don’t water the lawn. In dry climates the lawn will not die off for lack of water. It won’t have the perfect emerald shade of a well-watered one and may look a more dusty khaki, but you won’t have to mow it in the heat.
The ultimate cheat for lawns is not to mow them at all. This is not recommended if you have children who like to play outside and will inevitably lose beloved toys in the result. It will also make outdoor games like croquet and petanque rather difficult, if not impossible (picnics, however, have a delightfully secluded nature in a long lawn). Long grass is quite beautiful, especially in the wind and/or with a mixture of wildflowers growing inside it. Cats and other small animals love lawns like this, as it gives them plenty of space to hide in.
To avoid people thinking that you’re slovenly and lazy and to show that you are leaving your lawn long by choice, mow a path or two through it and keep this neat and well maintained – it makes things easier for you to walk through, too.
by: Nick Vassilev
Posted on Apr 6, 2016
“Packing the perfect school lunch is about ensuring all five food groups are covered, choosing foods within those groups that kids like and adding variety to the lunch box to keep kids interested,” says Elizabeth Somer, a nationally-recognized registered dietitian and author. “Getting kids involved in the lunch packing process isn’t just a great way to ensure kids are getting a lunch they’re excited about, it’s also a good opportunity to begin to teach children about nutrition and health.”
To make the school lunch packing process fun and easy, Somer and Horizon Organic, a leading organic dairy brand, partnered to create a back-to-school resource called “5 Lunch Needs and 50 Ways to Please.” So what are the five lunch needs and why are they important? Somer outlines the essential food groups and explains why kids need all five for a balanced lunch.
Low-fat milk and calcium-rich foods (recommended 2 to 3 cups per day)
Why milk? Bones are the body’s “bank account,” and deposits can only be made until the early 30s. After that, it’s withdrawals only. So, the bigger the calcium bank account, the better off you are later in life. The biggest benefits come in the early years when the body is able to deposit the most calcium into the bones. A great option in this group is Horizon Organic Milk with 32 mg DHA Omega-3 Single Serve Milk Boxes, which are the only milk boxes with DHA Omega-3, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that has been studied for its role in supporting healthy brain development.
Whole grains (recommended 4 to 7 ounces per day)
Why whole grains? Diets that are rich in whole grains and fiber help fill kids up. Unlike processed refined grains, many 100 percent whole grains are low in fat, high-fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals. Between 100 percent whole grain bagels, tortillas and hamburger buns, there’s something to please any kid’s palate.
Vegetables (recommended 1 to 3 cups per day)
Why vegetables? It’s hard to have a healthy lifestyle without a plate heaped with colorful veggies. Veggies are where kids get things like vitamin C and folate, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. With significant numbers of phytonutrients now identified in veggies and fruits, these foods are important components of a child’s diet. Steamed edamame makes a great lunch box finger food.
Fruits (recommended 1.5 to 2 cups per day)
Why fruits? Fruits are also packed full of fiber, vitamins and minerals like veggies, but they come in a sweeter package. For example, a handful of dried apricots have more iron than a half cup of cooked mustard greens. Kids still need veggies, but on days when they turn up their noses at asparagus, slipping in a few more servings of fruit can make up the difference. Creative melon pieces thanks to fun-shaped cookie cutters are always a hit.
Meats, eggs, and legumes (recommended 3 to 6 ounces per day)
Besides protein, the foods in this group are sources of minerals, such as iron and zinc, and vitamins, such as B vitamins. Fatty seafood, such as salmon, contains omega-3 fats which are associated with brain development in children. It’s best to stick to lean and minimally-processed meats to cut back on saturated fats and sodium. Mini sliders made with organic, ground chicken or turkey and 100 percent whole-wheat buns are a great lunch box alternative to sandwiches.
The full “5 Lunch Needs and 50 Ways to Please resource,” is available at www.horizondairy.com/nutrition/dairy-nutrition.