Follow the trend and give your kitchen and bath a mend


give%20your%20kitchen%20and%20bath%20a%20mend
Does your home feel tired, worn or outdated? Do you walk into rooms and wish they looked more like the pictures in magazines? You’re not alone. Many homeowners who have put off home improvement projects for some time have decided to turn their dreaming into reality – especially in the kitchen and bathroom. 

 
Bathroom bliss
Bathroom remodels have moved into the top spot as the most common remodeling project, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.  What are most homeowners looking to accomplish first? According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, adding a linen closet, marble or granite double vanity and a shower with multiple showerheads top the list.
“It makes sense,” adds Jack Suvak, senior director of market research and insights at Moen. “The bathroom is often the only room for ‘you time,’ so homeowners want to create a luxurious and relaxing retreat." 

 
To add a bit of beauty and bliss in the bath, start with the countertop. Updating the current material with a solid-surface option will make an instant visual update. Next, choose a stylish new faucet, such as the Moen Boardwalk faucet, to accentuate the area. The elegant collection, available at Lowe’s, features a blend of vintage design and classic lines. The suite is available in some of today’s most popular finishes, Chrome and Spot Resist Brushed Nickel which is a unique finish from Moen which does exactly what it says – resists fingerprints and water spots.

 
Next, think storage. While a linen closet tops the "wanted” list, bath accessories are an easier and more affordable way to add additional storage and organization. The Boardwalk collection features towel bars, towel rings, robe hooks and paper holders in coordinating designs to complete the look of your new bath.  
Finally, update your shower to create a relaxing and spa-like environment.  Depending on your budget, you can create the ultimate retreat with a vertical spa, or simply upgrade your current showerhead.  Moen offers a variety of showering choices, so whether you prefer a rainshower, handheld shower, wall-mount showerhead – or even a combination – there’s an option in any price range.

 

give%20your%20kitchen%20and%20bath%20a%20mend
Form and function in the kitchen 
Once you’ve updated your bath; the kitchen, not far behind in appeal, is a rewarding home upgrade.   Similar to the bath, upgrading countertops – which consume a large area of the kitchen – is an ideal place to start. While laminate is the most cost-effective choice, options such as solid-surface, marble or granite, offer an upscale look, added durability and functionality. In addition, these upgrades allow you to enhance your sink with an under-mount version, such as the Moen Caldwell double bowl sink, for a seamless look.  

 
Finish off the counter area with a high-end kitchen faucet. High-arc pulldown styles are the fastest growing kitchen faucet category – and the new Harlon faucet is one of the first at Lowe’s to feature Moen’s Reflex pulldown system, which offers high-quality performance with secure retraction, exceptional range of motion and generous reach.  Plus, it’s available in the exclusive Moen Spot Resist Stainless finish.

 
“Reflex is the result of a two-year, in-home research study,” explains Suvak. “The new system allows homeowners to experience a truly intuitive kitchen faucet that responds to their movements and helps them to accomplish everyday tasks, while maintaining its beautiful form.”

 
Finally, flooring, as one of the largest surface areas in the kitchen, is an ideal upgrade that can set the tone of the room from the bottom up. And, today’s flooring manufacturers offer resilient flooring in a variety of materials, colors and patterns to meet your functionality, style and price needs. 

 
So, no matter what your vision, follow the trend like other homeowners, and soon you can turn your dreams of a new kitchen or bath into a reality. For more information visit www.moen.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Summer entertaining made easy



(BPT) – The weather is warming up and summer is right around the corner. From holiday celebrations to road trips, family vacations to block parties, it’s the time of year for cookouts. Make all of your summer cuisine extraordinary no matter what the occasion with these five simple tips:

* Kick seasoning up a notch – Spice up your main dish and sides by adding bold flavors through marinades and dips. Pair grilled shrimp with a homemade barbecue sauce or create a delicious horseradish sour cream for seasoned waffle fries.

* Create cutting-edge comfort food – When menu planning for summer get-togethers, add a twist to a classic recipe. It doesn’t have to be a large departure from a family favorite; try swapping out a regular hamburger bun with artisanal bread or include sweet potato fries as a side dish rather than traditional french fries.

* Add some color to your meal – Never underestimate the importance of an aesthetically pleasing meal. For an easy summertime side, try Alexia Sauté Reds – a delicious combination of roasted red potatoes, baby portabella mushrooms, whole green beans and onions bathed in thyme-infused 100 percent olive oil. This tasty side is made on the stovetop in less than 12 minutes.

* Incorporate the flavors of the season into your cocktails – Use seasonally fresh fruits and vegetables as more than a garnish to create memorable cocktails. Start with your spirit of choice and try the following refreshing flavor combinations: basil and grapefruit, apple and sage or rosemary and lime.

* Fill the grill – Simplify cooking – and clean-up – by doing as much cooking as possible in your outdoor kitchen. Sides such as Alexia Waffle Fries or Panko Breaded Onion Rings make summer entertaining a breeze when prepared on the grill and are delectable complements to a variety of grill-friendly fare, from steaks and sweet corn to barbecue chicken and asparagus (and beyond). To prepare, simply create a foil grilling tray using two pieces of aluminum foil by crumpling the top piece, creating an edge around the bottom smooth piece to make a tray, and grilling on medium for about 20 minutes.

Sophisticated summer menus are easy to create with help from Alexia Foods, a line of premium, all-natural frozen potatoes, breads and side dishes. For delicious seasonal recipes, visit www.alexiafoods.com.

Grilled Shrimp with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Grilled Shrimp Ingredients:

16 large jumbo shrimp

½ cup olive oil

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

Homemade Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:

1 slice bacon

1 bunch fresh thyme

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups ketchup

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika (or smoked paprika if available)

Shrimp Directions:

Use a pair of scissors or paring knife to slit the backs of the shrimp and remove the vein. Combine the shrimp and olive oil in a bowl and toss evenly to coat. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to grill. Prepare homemade barbecue sauce (directions below).

Prior to heating, spray grates of a large outdoor grill using PAM® Grilling, specially formulated for no-stick performance at higher temperatures. Next, heat the grill to medium-hot. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and place on the grill. Baste with the homemade barbecue sauce and grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Brush with more sauce just before serving.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce Directions:

Wrap the bacon slice around the bunch of thyme and tie with kitchen twine so you have a nice bundle. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon-wrapped thyme and cook slowly for 3 to 4 minutes to render the bacon fat and give the sauce a nice smoky taste. Add the remaining ingredients, give the sauce a stir and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Once the sauce is done cooking, remove the thyme bundle and discard. Take about 1 ½ cups of the sauce and reserve for serving alongside the shrimp. Pair with Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs or try grilling Alexia Waffle Cut Sweet Potato Seasoned Fries.

Grilling Directions for Alexia Waffle Fries:

Preheat gas grill to medium (400-450 F.). Next, create a foil grilling tray using two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil – crumple one sheet of foil and place it top of the second piece of smooth foil, folding up the edges of the bottom smooth piece to create a tray. Arrange waffle fries in a single layer on the grilling tray, place on grill and close the lid. Cook to desired color and texture, turning once or twice during the cook time, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Courtesy of BPT

Tips to navigate the real estate landscape and find the perfect home


(BPT) – For most Americans your home is the biggest ticket item you will ever purchase. It’s no wonder that people can take months, and sometimes even years, to find the perfect home. When you walk into a house that’s on the market, many times the homeowner or real estate agent has “staged” it to ensure that you focus on the home’s greatest assets and overlook its flaws. Your job is to look past all that to see if this house is right for you.

Annette Lawrence, academic director of design programs, at The Art Institute of Ohio – Cincinnati, and Marissa Alexander, interior design program coordinator at The Art Institutes International Minnesota, offer these tips to navigate the real estate landscape.

Before you ever step out of your current home, make a list says Alexander. Your list should include one column for “must haves” and another for “wants.” “The wants you can compromise on,” advises Alexander. If you know what you are looking for and what you can’t live without, it’s a lot easier to find it.

Many people get caught up on the basic aesthetics of a home. “The paint is not a big deal,” says Lawrence. “Countertops are not a reason to choose a home or cross it off your list.” The shag carpeting can be ripped out and replaced. These are all easy fixes.

You should beware of the fixes that can break the bank. Will the roof need to be replaced? What about other big-ticket items like the heating and cooling system? Does the perimeter of the house slope toward it? That could mean flooding during a heavy rain. And what about the structural integrity of the foundation? A good inspector will spot the red flags and could keep you from making a costly mistake. That inspector will also check the chimney, the insulation in the attic and the gutters and spouts.

And there are things you can check on before you call in an inspector. “If you want to know whether a floor is warping, just take a ball and roll it across the room,” says Alexander. If it doesn’t roll straight across, it could signal issues with the foundation.

Figure out what kind of layout you want for your house. “Ask yourself what kind of floor plan you like,” says Lawrence. “Those are the kinds of things that are costly to change.” If the floor plan is right for you, the cosmetics will be a fairly easy and inexpensive fix.

While you may think that this home purchase will be one of many, you should consider the possibility that this could be your home for decades to come. That’s why Lawrence is a big proponent of finding a home that allows you to “age in place.” She suggests you find a home with a first floor master bedroom and laundry room. Also consider how many steps there are from the driveway into the home. Are the hallways and doorways wide enough for a wheelchair or a walker?

Even if you do not think you’ll need these accommodations, consider your home’s “visitability.” If you have elderly relatives or friends with disabilities, are they going to be able to come to your new home? “My grandmother was one of my most frequent guests,” explains Lawrence. “I had low lighting and had painted the walls dark colors. Consequently, she couldn’t see too well when visiting.”

Courtesy of BPT

How to turn must-do home improvements into things of beauty

When it comes to home improvement, you can spend money in two basic ways: on things that make your home look better and things that make it function better. Under the first category, you’ll find all the things you want to do, like replacing narrow casement windows with a lovely bay window. Under the second, falls all the things you must do, like replacing those drafty windows with something more energy-efficient.

When “want to” and “have to” meet, they create the opportunity to make a smart buying decision – and choose an upgrade that will look good and improve the livability of your home. The key to making smart home improvement decisions is to recognize these opportunities and take full advantage of them.

Here are a few “have to” improvements that have the potential to turn into a good-looking, energy-efficient, enjoyment-enhancing “want to.”

Replacing the hot water heater.

You probably don’t care what a new hot water heater looks like sitting in your garage or basement – or wherever it resides in your home. But the right replacement water heater can help your house achieve a lovely shade of green. High energy-efficiency water heaters can help reduce energy usage, thereby trimming your energy bills and your home’s environmental impact. Solar water heating systems take the beauty a step further by using the power of the sun, collected through low-profile solar panels on the roof, to heat water – at a monthly savings that’s about 80 percent less than the cost of traditional heaters.

Getting some light in here.

Do you really need a bunch of scientific studies to tell you that a home filled with natural light just feels better? Probably not. Illuminating your home with natural light is a smart buying decision on multiple levels. First, you don’t pay to power the sun. Second, natural light delivers a host of mood-enhancing benefits. If you have the wall space, by all means add some windows.

But for rooms where a window is impossible (like a powder room) or where you don’t want to sacrifice privacy (like a master bathroom) a tubular skylight is a good alternative. Some are easy enough to install that a seasoned do-it-yourselfer could accomplish the task. They cost less than traditional skylights and bring natural light to hard-to-light areas like closets, hallways and other small spaces.

Getting some air in here.

Just as natural sun is good for your mood, ventilation can be good for your health. An Energy Star qualified venting skylight is a great way to passively vent stale, moist air from inside your home, especially from baths and kitchens. While some skylights are “fixed,” those that do open can be controlled by a remote to open when you want fresh air and close when you want to retain warmth. They can also close automatically in case of rain. In addition, they introduce free light into your home. Adding blinds – also remote-controlled – can help you better control the amount of sun a skylight admits into your home. And blinds are not just functional – you can get them in colors and patterns to complement your decor while increasing energy efficiency. Compared to other venting solutions, a skylight is a relatively low-cost, great-looking way to address ventilation issues while adding drama to a space. Log on to www.veluxusa.com to learn more about skylights.

When one door opens …

Beat up, weathered garage and front doors not only look bad, they can be a source of air leaks that make your heating, ventilation and cooling system work harder. Exterior doors aren’t something you buy every day, but they can have a big impact on how your home looks and on its energy efficiency. They can definitely be a smart buying decision if you opt for doors that not only look good, but are also highly rated for energy efficiency. If you’re not sure how to choose, look online, where you’ll find guides for buying garage doors and front doors.

Courtesy of BPT

Dining outdoors? Tips for keeping food safe and delicious

(BPT) – Al fresco dining is one of the great pleasures of warm weather. Whether you’re hosting a neighborhood barbecue or an intimate dinner party on your deck, outdoor dining is a great way to savor good food, company and the great outdoors. To ensure your meals are safe and enjoyable, it’s important to know how to prepare, transport and store food for outdoor eating.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) offers some advice for safely handling food when you’re dining outdoors this summer:

Purchasing

Warm weather brings a bounty of fresh produce, and a trip to the local farmers market can make a nice addition to your outdoor meal. Food safety starts in the field. It’s important to get to know the growers selling produce at your local farm stand, and ask about their farming practices. How do they keep their products free from bacterial pathogens and other contaminants? Farmers may also have great tips for storing produce, testing for ripeness and even ways to prepare the fruits and veggies they sell.

IFT spokesperson and food safety expert, Don Schaffner, PhD, says that when you’re purchasing produce, make sure it’s free of mold, bruises or blemishes where bacterial pathogens can grow. Many grocery stores offer freshly cut, packaged produce for customers seeking nutritious convenience foods. Freshly cut vegetables and fruit need proper temperature control to prevent the growth of bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

Prepping

Before preparing food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure all prep utensils such as cutting boards, dishes and countertops are clean before preparing each food item.

Dirt, dust and pathogenic microbes can linger on produce. It’s important to wash fresh produce before consuming it. The only exception is are pre-bagged salads and leafy greens, as experts advise that additional washing of ready-to-eat green salads is not likely to enhance safety. Thoroughly washing in cold water will suffice for most fruits and vegetables, but some types of produce require special handling. Wash spinach or salad greens in a bowl of water and rinse them gently to remove dirt and other contaminants. –

Give extra attention to fruits with stems, such as apples, pears and peaches. You may be tempted to forego washing fruit with a rind, since you won’t be eating the rind. But, it’s still important to wash oranges, avocados, melons, cantaloupe, etc. – pathogens can linger in unwashed crevices and transfer to your hands or the knife you use to cut the fruit. In addition, wash items you’ll peel – such as carrots and cucumbers – for the same reason.

Grilling

If you’ll be grilling at home, remember to always marinate meat in the refrigerator, never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. Discard any extra marinade that’s touched raw meat.

Grill food thoroughly, using a thermometer to ensure the proper internal temperature: 145 F for steaks and fish, 160 F for pork, hot dogs and hamburgers, and 165 F for poultry. Keep finished meats hot until you serve by moving them to the side of the grill rack, away from the coals or highest flame on your gas grill. Avoid cross contamination by using separate serving plates and utensils for different meats and vegetables.

If you’ll be grilling away from home – in a park, tailgating at a sporting event or on a camping trip – consider purchasing pre-formed patties for burgers and pre-cut poultry. This minimizes the amount of handling meat requires and can help minimize the risk of bacteria and cross contamination.

Transporting

A picnic in the park can be great fun for everyone, but it’s important to assure your food arrives safely along with your family and guests. Follow smart food packing guidelines. Keep meats, including lunch meats and raw meats, cheeses and condiments cold in insulated, soft-sided bags or coolers with freezer gel packs.

Food needs to be stored at 40 F or colder to reduce the risk of pathogen growth, so limit the number of times you open the cooler. Never allow food to sit for more than two hours at temperatures below 90 F, and no more than an hour when temperatures exceed 90 F. Throw away food that’s been sitting out too long.

Securely package raw meat, seafood and poultry to ensure the juices don’t contaminate other foods. Pack only the amount of perishable food that you think will be eaten. Beverages and perishable foods should travel in separate containers and coolers, especially if you’ll be transporting raw meat.

When it’s time to go home, don’t reuse packaging material that has touched raw meats or meat juices. Make sure perishable leftovers stay cold on the trip home. Avoid taking home uncooked leftovers.

Courtesy of BPT

Being a proactive patient goes a long way in the fight against breast cancer

(BPT) – The grim reality is that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. But women don’t need to sit back and wait for breast cancer to happen.

“Women can become proactive in their own health care to reduce their risks where possible and to increase their chances of early detection if breast cancer strikes,” says Jacqueline Ross, PhD., a registered nurse and senior clinical analyst in the Department of Patient Safety, The Doctors Company.

Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in causing cancer deaths among women, with 220,000 newly diagnosed cases and 40,000 deaths each year in the United States. Fortunately, death rates from breast cancer have been declining due to early detection, screening and increased awareness.

Women can be proactive by increasing their knowledge of the risks of breast cancer. The majority of women with breast cancer have no direct family history of breast cancer. The chance of getting breast cancer increases with age. Two-thirds of women diagnosed with breast cancer are ages 50 and older. Some other risk factors related to breast cancer include radiation exposure, never having been pregnant, having the first child after the age of 35, beginning menopause after 55, never having breast fed, obesity, drinking more than one alcoholic beverage a day and having dense breast tissue, which can mask the presence of a cancerous tumor.

As with any risk factor, some of these can be controlled, but many cannot. For example, hereditary factors cannot be controlled. A woman who has a sister, mother or daughter who had breast cancer – especially if cancer was in both breasts, was pre-menopausal or occurred in more than one first-degree relative – is two or three times more likely to develop breast cancer. If a woman has this history, she should consider genetic counseling.

Women can also be proactive by taking steps to help prevent adverse events in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Some 92 percent of breast cancer malpractice cases involved a delayed or missed diagnosis, according to six years of data on breast cancer claims from The Doctors Company, the nation’s leading physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. Both patients and physicians have a responsibility to take action to prevent adverse events. Patients can be proactive by communicating with their physicians and then adhering to their instructions. The following are other steps patients can take to help prevent adverse events:

* Discuss with your physician when and how often to get screened. Screening recommendations vary. The American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation recommend that women over 40 get annual mammograms, whereas the U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends screening mammograms should begin at 50 and younger patients should discuss with their physicians when to initiate screening mammography.

* Discuss with your physician whether to get a digital or traditional mammogram. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine compared traditional mammograms to digital mammograms. The digital mammogram is stored in a computer, can be manipulated better for visibility and clarity, has a lower average radiation dosage, but is more costly. The findings showed that digital mammograms were superior to traditional mammograms for three groups of women: those younger than 50, those with dense breasts (a risk factor in breast cancer), and those who were premenopausal or who were in their first year of menopause.

* Work closely with your physician on developing a comprehensive health history. -Many risk factors for breast cancer are known. Share any family history of cancer with your provider.

* Discuss with your physician how to do a self-breast exam. Often sudden changes can be discovered in-between annual exams. Let your physician know immediately if you notice any changes.

* If diagnosed with breast cancer, follow all your physician’s instructions for follow-up appointments and medications.

“While women can do nothing about the strongest risk factor for breast cancer – age – there is still a lot they can do to lessen other risks and increase their chances of successful treatment if diagnosed,” says Ross. “They can know the risk factors, get screened, be in touch with their bodies, make healthy lifestyle choices, communicate clearly with their physicians, and follow their doctor’s instructions.”

For more patient safety articles and practice tips, visit www.thedoctors.com.

Courtesy of BPT