New siding can increase the value of your home
Tired of that old run down looking house you’ve been living in? Why not upgrade your home to a new look and increase the value of your home in the process. You can have the home of your dreams and it’s not as hard as you think. Your old home may be run down and the paint may be thirty years old and peeling off, but you can have the best looking house in your neighborhood.
How? Just give it a new face lift with colorful and easy to maintain vinyl siding. Vinyl siding comes in a variety of colors and you can choose the one that’s right for you. Your 100 year old house can look new again and the cost won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Vinyl siding can be applied over brick structures and it can also be applied over wood and concrete structures. Vinyl siding looks great and its insulation qualities wrap the entire home in warmth and comfort. The entire project will be completed in a short amount of time if done by a reputable contractor of your choosing.
You can have your old home looking brand new and bright and shiny with new siding. Your entire home will match with the same bold colors you select and your window and door trim will match also. The value of your old home will sky rocket and if you ever decide to sell your home, you’ll receive higher offers for it.
You may be wondering why you’ll want to put up new vinyl siding as compared to aluminum siding. There are a lot of good reasons to choose vinyl, but the final decision is yours. There are a lot of differences between aluminum siding and vinyl. Vinyl siding is manufactured from a continuous formed plastic material and usually has a thickness between .040 to.046 inches. Aluminum siding is a continuous formed material that is usually around .019 inches thick.
Vinyl siding is manufactured with a solid color, while aluminum siding is manufactured with a baked on enamel paint finish. Since vinyl siding has a manufactured solid color, the color will remain solid even when scratched.
Not so however with aluminum siding. The paint is baked on so if aluminum siding is scratched; the paint peels off and leaves a shiny bare metal finish exposed. The choice is yours; however, your home will look newer and have a higher value when it is finished. You’ll love the added warmth and comfort that your new siding will bring you.
Your neighbors won’t believe the big difference they’ll see in your home and you’ll have a hard time believing that is the same house yourself. Energy efficient, stylish and modern, your new siding will give your home that personal touch and feel it had when you first purchased it. You have everything to gain with new siding and the new look it gives your home and property is amazing.
Five tips for creating a stadium-style lawn in your own backyard
With summer on the horizon, families will be heading to backyards across the country for picnics, sports games and to simply soak up the sun. A lush green lawn is the perfect setting for these activities and will be the envy of the neighborhood. How does one achieve that well-manicured, stadium-style lawn?
Many homeowners think a professional-looking lawn requires a stringent water and fertilizer regimen. While both water and fertilizer play their part, neither is the stand-alone key to a perfect lawn. The following five tips offer homeowners simple solutions to achieving a great yard.
* Know your region. Grass seed is not one size fits all. Select the right grass seed or sod based on where you live. It’s also important to consider how you plan to use your lawn. Do you have children and pets that will be playing on it regularly, or will the purpose be primarily curb appeal? To determine the right grass, talk to your local garden center or contact the turf grass specialist at your state agriculture school.
* Only feed as needed. According to Grass Seed, a coalition of grass seed farmers, many homeowners over water their lawns, which does more harm than good. A simple trick to determine whether your lawn needs watering is to stick a screwdriver into the grass. If it enters the dirt easily, your lawn has plenty of water already. If you have trouble getting the screwdriver into the ground, it is time to give the grass a drink. It is also recommended to fertilize your lawn at least once a year. However, putting your lawn on a quarterly schedule will help achieve optimal health.
* Break out the ruler. The maintenance crews for professional sports fields are meticulous about the height of their grass because it ensures a uniform look. Grass Seed recommends maintaining a lawn height of about 2 inches. It’s important not to cut more than one-third of the grass height at a time to minimize damage, so aim to mow when your lawn is about 3 inches in height.
* Arm yourself with the right tools. The proper equipment can take a lawn from looking well-manicured to professional. When selecting a mower, don’t jump straight to those that pick up the grass clippings. Allowing the clippings to decompose in the lawn will add to the overall health of your yard, and when you mow often, the shavings are small and less noticeable. Adding an edger to your arsenal is another great trick for cleaning up the lines and defining your yard.
* Replenish as necessary. Grass is a natural carpet that cleans and repairs itself. It’s equipped to withstand a number of elements yet is impacted over time. If you’ve noticed that your lawn is sparse in areas, or not as full and lush as you’d like, it may be time to add more seed. The best time to plant new seed is in the fall when the temperatures are more temperate. But reseeding may be done throughout the year. The important thing is to avoid drastic temperature changes and water regularly, yet moderately, to give the seed time to absorb moisture and build roots.
Growing and maintaining a lush green lawn doesn’t have to come with a backache. Basic planning and these five quick tips will have you well on your way to a backyard prime for the summer season.
Courtesy of BPT
High temperatures increase health risks for people with diabetes
For the nearly 26 million Americans living with diabetes, high temperatures and increased sun exposure can pose particularly dangerous health risks. During warm weather, experts caution that people with diabetes must take extra care to avoid serious, heat-related conditions.
“Heading to the beach, the pool or the park is a great way to cool down and stay in shape when the temperature rises, but people with diabetes may not realize the heat can place them at greater risk for serious, heat-related illness,” says Dr. Deneen Vojta, senior vice president and chief clinical officer of UnitedHealth Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA). “Diabetes actually impairs a person’s ability to sweat, which means that hot, humid weather can dangerously reduce the body’s regulation of blood sugar levels. That’s why it is critical that people with this disease take proper precautions to avoid conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”
Vojta offers seven simple tips that may help people with this disease to stay active, healthy and safe when temperatures are high:
1. Check your blood sugar levels often. Changes in activity and heat levels can affect your body’s insulin needs.
2. Wear sunblock. Sunburn can tax your body and trigger increased blood glucose levels.
3. Stay cool. Take regular breaks from the heat in air-conditioned areas or designated cooling centers, if possible. Make sure to exercise in an air-conditioned place or exercise during early morning and evening hours when temperatures are cooler.
4. Keep medication and supplies cool and away from direct sunlight. Extreme temperatures and sunlight can have a damaging effect on diabetes medication such as insulin, causing the drug to break down or become less effective.
5. Stay hydrated. Dehydration stresses the body and affects glucose levels.
6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in high temperatures. Both alcohol and caffeine have diuretic effects that can increase risks of dehydration.
7. Be alert for common signs of heat exhaustion. Signs of serious health-related illnesses can include: heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and fainting.
Vojta advises that people with diabetes should be on the lookout for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke and seek medical attention right away if they experience symptoms.
Additional resources on managing and preventing diabetes can be found by visiting the websites of the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org
) and the National Diabetes Education Program (ndep.nih.gov/resources). UnitedHealth Group also offers a range of helpful tips and information on the disease at www.unitedhealthgroup.com/diabetes.
Courtesy of BPT
Bow wow chow: How to make easy, healthy treats for your dog at home
- Sixty-two percent of U.S. households include a pet, and 78.2 million of those pets are dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association’s most recent survey. Dog lovers want good nutrition and flavor to ensure happy, healthy animal members of the family.
Today, professional chefs are creating delicious, healthy foods and treats for dogs as well as people. “Understanding nutrition for dogs - and how it differs from what is right for humans - is key,” says Chef Jim Gallivan, department chair of culinary arts at The Art Institute of Atlanta. Here are some tips to ensure a healthy diet for your canine friend.
* Provide the right balance of fats, minerals, carbohydrates, vitamins, protein, and - especially during the summer months - lots of water.
* Understand that the right balance for dogs is different from what’s right for humans. Dogs have different dental capabilities and a shorter digestive tract so foods need to be able to be processed quickly.
* Avoid foods toxic to dogs, including chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, caffeine and fruit seeds.
Dogs love treats, but be sure you don’t undermine your dog’s healthy diet with the wrong treats. “One way to ensure an overall healthy diet for our dogs,” says Gallivan, “is to prepare dog treats at home from healthy ingredients. And it’s not very difficult.”
These easy recipes for healthy dog treats were created by chefs at The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes. For instance, Gallivan prepares “Pup-sicles” in the summer for his dog, Cammie (short for Camembert). They take only a few minutes to make and your dog is sure to rank Pup-sicles high on the list of favorite treats, just as Cammie does.
3 cups plain yogurt
1 ripe banana
1 cup smooth peanut butter (Cammie prefers Reese’s)
1 tablespoon honey
1. Puree all of the above until smooth in texture with a food processor or blender.
2. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
3. Pop one out and reward your best canine friend.
Chef Richard Matthews, a culinary arts faculty member at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, adapted this recipe from his sister. Since it bakes in the microwave, it’s great for summer.
Homemade Dog Treats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup beef or chicken broth, plus 1/4 cup to adjust consistency
1. Combine all dry ingredients and 3/4 cup of broth.
2. Mix until it forms a firm paste and all is moist. Use the remaining 1/4 cup broth to adjust the moisture if needed.
3. Roll out to a 1/2-inch thick, cut into 1-inch squares and place on an ungreased glass baking dish.
4. Microwave 4 minutes. Turn each piece over. Cook one additional minute.
5. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Note: Microwave ovens vary in power. Watch the treats closely for the last minute.
This produces a very hard biscuit. It can be flavored with bacon, cheese, peanut butter, cooked carrots, fruit or any other non-toxic flavor your dog enjoys.
Chef Jeffrey Floyd, department chair of Culinary Arts at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, says that although table scraps are a no-no, our dogs can still celebrate important holidays with their human families. His most recent canine friend, a cocker spaniel named Jordan, loved hot weather inspired treats like this one.
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups skim milk (or coconut milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Combine all ingredients, roll into small balls, place on greased or non-stick cookie sheet and flatten to about 1/4-inch thick.
3. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 30 minutes.
4. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Your dog will love these treats - and you will feel good about giving them to your best friend.
To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu.
Courtesy of BPT
Accountants: the backbone of the business world
(When you think about the backbone of a business, it’s not the owner, CEO or board of directors who keep everything trucking along. Instead, it’s the accountant who leads the finances of small and larger companies into the future.
“Accounting has always been a crucial part of running a business. You simply can’t run an efficient or profitable company if you aren’t keeping an eye on your books,” says Debbie Nelson, business accounting instructor at Everest Institute in Kalamazoo, Mich.
The old days of accountants running around in brown suits, pocket protectors and gnawed-off pencils are long gone. Today’s accounting professionals are completely digitized, allowing them to concentrate their job more on financially strengthening a business, rather than only handling paychecks and invoices.
“The role of an accountant is being transformed from simply helping a business run to helping a business envision its future,” Nelson says.
* Estimating and evaluating risk management
“Businesses need accountants to identify and manage risk. They are increasingly part of the team that helps a CEO decide which investments are worth the risk,” says Nelson. “In fact, a degree in accounting has always been a great way to get into the business world.”
Globalization is another factor changing the accounting field. “Due to the growth of international trade and business, companies are increasingly looking for accountants who have a good understanding of international business, who speak a foreign language or who are available to work overseas,” says Nelson.
* Fair value accounting
Fair value accounting recognizes the current worth of assets, instead of the cost of acquiring them. It seems like a simple premise, but it is actually challenging the very foundations of traditional accounting. Fair value accounting is helping CEOs re-evaluate the current worth of their companies and better assess where they can afford to invest.
* Forensic accounting
Recent media attention from corporate accounting scandals has also increased the demand for accountants with experience in fraud detection, making forensic accounting degrees in high demand. “In the past, businesses waited until an ethics breach was suspected before investigating, but today, many companies are realizing they can’t afford to wait,” says Nelson. “They are bringing in forensic accounting specialists to tighten procedures and prevent fraud before it happens.”
Nelson explains the need for accounting schools to adapt to these changes. “In our accounting courses at Everest Institute, we realize that if we really want to prepare our graduates to be the next wave of accountants, then we have to stay abreast of recent developments in the accounting field.”
Nelson says that even if students aren’t interested in a specific kind of accounting, they are interested in the job security. “At the very least, our students know they will be in high demand upon graduating. For some students, that’s all they need to know.”
Courtesy of BPT
Escape from reality by creating at-home getaways
Life is hectic. And although technology has made our lives easier to multitask and stay connected, it also means that no matter where you go, it’s hard to fully escape. While traveling to a remote island to get away for peace and relaxation would be a wonderful retreat, you can easily avoid the hustle and bustle of your daily routine by creating peaceful escapes throughout your own home.
The bathroom is the only place where you can shut the door and have complete “you time” with little to no interruptions. With 54 percent of respondents to a recent Moen survey of showering behaviors saying they have children living at home, a shower means a bit of precious alone time, and people take full advantage of the peace to think about the day, their lives and more.
To add a bit of bliss in the bath, add a spa-like shower with multiple spray settings to meet every mood. The Moen Caldwell Shower Combination offers a spa of multiple sprays and a variety of spray patterns – creating the perfect shower retreat. The collection features an incredible selection of options – both a five-setting wallmount shower head and a five-setting handheld shower head with five unique spray settings. And the best part is it won’t cost a fortune.
It’s time to truly enjoy your shower and create the ultimate getaway. After all, you deserve it. And the multiple spray settings of the Caldwell collection are perfect for everyone in the house.
Zen in the Den
The TV is blaring, the phone is ringing off the hook, and power cords from everything from the Blu-ray, to the Wii, to the table lamp are refusing to stay neatly tucked away. Your den area might be a go-to hangout place, but it’s still easy to create peace among the chaos.
De-cluttering is one of the simplest things you can do to create order and a sense of calm. Remove items that haven’t been used in months and get rid of furniture that serves little to no function. The less clutter your den has, the better you’ll feel. It’s also important to open the windows whenever possible. Less mess and fresh air can easily change the outlook of a room.
Courtesy of Newscanada
Simple projects to spruce up the look of your home
As the days get longer and things get a little brighter inside your house, it becomes easier to notice the places that could use a little extra TLC. It’s also the perfect time to work on simple home improvement projects as you wait for warm weather to come.
Here’s a checklist you can work on now so your home will be vibrant and welcoming once long summer days roll around.
Once the light begins to reflect off your floors, you really start to notice some imperfections. If you’ve been waiting to screen and recoat your hardwood floor to give it a new shine, now’s the perfect time to do it. If you’re replacing tile, vinyl or linoleum flooring, a heat gun is a great tool to help soften the adhesive for easy removal. The Wagner HT3500 digital heat gun offers 12 precise temperature settings, making it an easy-to-use tool for do-it-yourselfers.
One of the easiest ways fill your rooms with warmth is to give them a fresh coat of paint. Increased sunlight will help you choose the color that works best with your room, and you can finish painting before the weather gets really nice and you want to spend more time outside.
Spring is a great time to take a look at your window treatments and see if they could use a little love. Cleaning your blinds and washing your curtains can give your indoor space a little extra life. If you’re repainting, you may also want to consider repainting or restaining your window frames. You can also use a heat gun to help you remove old paint or varnish from your frames.
As the weather warms up and you’re again ready to use your deck, you’ll probably notice plenty of debris that’s collected over the winter. Start by giving it a good spray with the hose to clear away everything. If you plan on staining or repainting your deck, mild temperatures are ideal. If you get it done in the spring, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it throughout the year.
Since you’re freshening up the rest of your house, don’t forget the bathrooms. Besides simply scrubbing your tub, cleaning bathroom tile and regrouting is an easy way to get your bathroom looking clean and bright. This project can be done over a weekend and is simple enough for most homeowners to handle.
By taking some time to tackle these projects now, you’ll give yourself a whole summer of relaxing in the warmth of your newly refreshed home. For more project ideas, how-to videos and information on tolls for painting, staining and other home improvement tasks, visit www.wagnerspraytech.com.
Courtesy of BPT
How to flip a house using project managers
With framing subcontractors coming in as scheduled, I all of a sudden realized that the floor that they would be framing over had some very serious issues.
Pounding on my cell phone to find someone… Anyone to help me on literally zero notice, I realized the only person I had that could do it… Was me.
So I dusted off the flooring toolbox, started pulling out the old flooring tools and began ripping up floorboards with my trusty Wonderbar.
Not having done this kind of work in a few years, one of the boards I ripped up broke loose and smashed me square in the jaw.
Dazed and bloodied… And luckily not having to call the emergency crew… I realized something…
When you’re first learning how to flip a house, there’s lots of different ways to do it.
Especially when it comes to the rehab, there are a number of different paths to take:
Some like to do all the rehab work themselves.
Some don’t want to do any of the rehab work themselves.
And some pick the middle path, doing some work and then having others do the rest.
Which way is best?
How to Flip A House – Do It Yourself?
Personally, I don’t mind doing some of the rehab work…just as long as I don’t have to do all of it.
Unless I feel the overwhelming need to pound a sledgehammer through a few walls in the demo… I’d much rather pay someone else to do it.
Personally, I’d rather spend my time looking for the next deal.
I used to be a flooring guy for years, so if I have to do some of the work on a rehab, I will. And if my experience this past week tells me anything, I think its best to stick to overseeing the rehab work instead of doing the rehab work.
However, when you’re learning the basics of how to flip a house, there’s no doubt that getting your hands dirty on your first house flip is a great way of really getting to know the business.
Doing at least some of the rehab work yourself to start off isn’t a bad idea… But then getting others to do it for you afterward is a great way to scale things… As well as limit potential trips to the Emergency Room.
The Pros and Cons of Hiring a GC to Do Your Flips
In an ideal world, hiring a general contractor (or “GC”) to do all your rehab work is the best possible way to go when you’re house flipping.
But that’s only if you can make the numbers work.
It’s certainly nice to have one single point of contact to do all the dirty work for your house flips and rehabs while you’re out looking for the next deal or rounding up potential buyers.
This way is far easier on you (and your chin), especially if you’re doing it part time or have other real estate deals to tend to.
On the flip side, in many areas of the country it’s extremely difficult to get a contractor to do the work for you and still stick to your 70% Rule in hopes of getting the ARV and profit margin to make the deal work.
The issue is that the really good general contractors out there tend to use the same subcontractors and don’t bid out each job they do. They have “their guys” who do the subcontracting and they’re oftentimes reluctant to try to negotiate with them.
On top of that, remember that a GC adds on 10-20% over what his subcontractors charge him. There’s nothing wrong with that because everyone needs to make a profit here.
And believe me, on many jobs, your GC really earns that wage!
A good tip here is if you are dead set on using a specific contractor, you might be able to negotiate a lower management percent or even none at all for a percentage of the profits on the deal. General contractors also can be good sources of potential funding as well.
If you are just learning how to flip a house…everything is negotiable in house flipping!
Should I Do The Rehab Myself?
To answer this question, it’s going to depend on a lot of different factors, but the biggest factor of all is you.
For me, it was a logical step to do the rehab on my first few house flips. As I said before, I was in the building trades full time and was used to being on job sites. I love construction and to me, turning a run-down shack into a beautiful place to live is one of the coolest things around.
So I went out and got my state contractor’s license, ready to GC my first house flip all on my own.
As I look back on it, despite the challenges, it was great experience. Primarily because I could see firsthand how the whole operation runs. This on the job experience has really helped me in my house flipping career - so much so that when I hired the job out in the future, I knew exactly how to set the rules and how to follow the whole house flipping process.
There’s nothing like firsthand experience to teach you that.
In House Flipping…Know Thyself
Do you absolutely need to do it this way?
I don’t think so. But think of general contracting your first house flip as a bit of “on the job training”. It’s not necessary – but it’s surely an experience you’ll refer back to many times in your house flipping and real estate investing career.
If you have a full time job and are rehabbing one house at a time, then you may very well have the time, but this largely depends on the kind of job you have as well.
If you have a fair amount of flexibility with your job hours, then perhaps it may work.
If you’re tied to a desk all day and an hour commute away from the geographic area you do your flip in, then perhaps not.
However, only you can answer that.
Do understand this though; in order to effectively manage any real estate investing rehab, you will have to be available to manage the sub-contractors by phone, early in the mornings or in the evenings. And if you have other things on your plate, like a job, a wife, kids… This gets tiresome.
There will be times when you’ll need to go on site and if you are on a business trip a thousand miles away at the time, it might be tough to pull this off.
For me, my flooring business allowed me the flexibility to stop in on the job site and check on things whenever I needed so I was fortunate enough to have the flexibility.
You on the other hand, may not.
Ideally, if you have enough money saved up to quit your day job and become a full time Real Estate Investor then this will be much easier for you to manage. Plus at that point, it IS your job!
So if you’re not sure if being the general contractor is right for you, then you may want to try it to see if you like it.
But if you’d rather play it a bit safer, then there is another choice that may be right for you.
Behind Door Number 3: The Project Manager
Short of hiring a full blown general contractor, you could use a project manager instead. We’ve found this to be a very effective way to rehab house flips, especially where hiring a GC is cost prohibitive.
For example, you could approach a smaller, hands-on type of licensed carpenter who has experience working with other subcontractors. You could then negotiate a fee based on his involvement in the project.
I’ve found carpenters and other subs very receptive to this arrangement. On top of the money they make doing the other work on the property, he’s getting paid an override on how well he manages others.
Like I said before, everything is negotiable in real estate investing and house flipping, so be creative here. And remember it’s about “win-win”.
For example, you could do any number of these financial arrangements:
Flat Fee: Simple enough. Pay a flat fee to oversee the job. No real creativity here.
Partnership: Work out a partnership or an equity stake in the property. This is a very creative way to handle things. I wouldn’t suggest this strategy on your first flip, but its one to consider.
Percentage: Pay a percentage of the overall job that may be smaller than a typical general contractors cut. If he’s good, this could really save you.
Flat Fee and Performance Bonus: Pay the project manager a project management fee of around $2,000 and then assign bonuses for meeting timelines and budgets. The bonuses really keep the project manager motivated because he has a skin in the game. You pay some money upfront, but even more when they hit performance metrics.
Whatever you do though, do your best to establish a fee that works for the both of you. The fee you pay is largely dependent on your location and the going rates that project managers are typically paid.
You can get this kind of information from your real estate investment mentors, from other real estate investors in the area, or at your local REIA meetings.
Where to Find Project Managers
We’ve found that finding someone young, hungry and motivated is the best profile for success. It may differ for you, but these are the kind of guys (it’s usually guys here ladies) who will put in the extra hours and get things moving in the right direction. Young, ambitious and smart is always a good profile to look for.
There may be some ideal project manager candidates in our backyard at technical colleges. These newly graduated students are typically hungry and have a good background that could be ideal for your project. In some cases, if you find a good one and your budget allows it, put them on your payroll and keep them working for you full time.
More often than not, freshly minted students for what they may lack in “real world experience” may more than make up for it with all the background knowledge from school in addition to the computer and technical knowledge for running budgets and keeping things humming smoothly.
Of course, before you go and hire a full time person to manage your flips, make sure you’re in the position to afford it as well as have enough projects going on to keep him or her busy on a regular basis.
So whether you do the rehab on your own, hire a general contractor or get a project manager, you can do well and make money any of these three ways.
Author: Mike LaCava
Mike’s Website: http://www.houseflippingschool.com
Pack a school lunch they won’t want to trade
Packing school lunches filled with healthy, appealing and creative foods is an excellent start to encouraging children to make sensible food choices now and in the future. But if lunch items you pack are less than appetizing, it could be the next item of trade in the cafeteria: a risk not worth taking in the age of nutrient-deficient and calorie-heavy school lunches.
Break up the mundane sandwich routine with well-rounded lunch combinations that will have kids eating well and growing strong with every bite. Here are some important components to a lunch they’ll think is worth keeping and eating:
* A main meal - Taste is important to children, and feeding the occasional “picky” eater can be quite a challenge. A tortilla roll-up with enticing ingredients like avocado, tomato or cucumbers with turkey, fish or chicken will show even the finickiest of eaters that there is more to lunch than the same old sandwich. Use the main meal as an opportunity to offer kids different textures and flavors and make a lasting impression about the many possibilities of food.
* A fun food - Making lunch food exciting is the first step to discourage trading and motivate kids to try something new. A well-thought-out presentation can inspire a healthy curiosity, and kids will naturally want to give it a taste. Cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls and fresh basil alternating on a toothpick is a fun and healthy salad-on-a-stick with easily-controlled portions. Sweet potato chips are another fun make-at-home option that are packed with vitamins A, B6, C and more. Bake up a batch on Sunday and pack them in lunches all week.
* Something that goes “crunch” - Carrots, apples and pretzels provide a lunch box with plenty of crunch to keep things fresh. Crunchy snacks are the secret to waking up your child’s brain before afternoon lessons begin, allowing them to finish off the day strong. Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels are available in more than three dozen shapes, flavors and gluten-free varieties so everyone can have their own favorite. Grab a 10-count of single 100-calorie snack packs in sticks, snaps or minis to change it up from day-to-day and keep kids wondering, “what’s next?”
* A thirst quencher - Many kid-friendly drinks are loaded with empty calories like sodas and sweetened iced tea. It’s important for a school lunch to include liquids that keep kids hydrated so they can think, move and perform at their best. Limit caffeinated and sugary beverages like sodas and iced teas, and instead encourage your children to get in the habit of drinking water, milk or real fruit juice.
* A love note - Lunchbox food is important, but so is a reminder that the menu was made with love. Encourage your children to do well in class by slipping a note inside their lunchboxes. Consider painting the inside of a lunch box with chalkboard paint so you can write and erase messages daily. Include a hand-written note or draw a picture for a sack lunch bag.
* After-school energy boosters - Kids experience the afternoon slump just as much as parents. With smaller stomachs, children are often in need of snacks to keep their energy levels going strong - especially after school. Keep some Snyder’s of Hanover 100 calorie packs handy. Kids can pair the snaps or minis with cheese or meat slices for an extra energy boost. With less fat and less sodium than many other salty snacks, these portion-controlled packs are the perfect snack that won’t spoil any appetites before dinner.
These essentials will have you thinking outside the (lunch) box and make your lunches the envy inside the cafeteria. Try planning a menu with your kids at the beginning of each week and let them choose what meals and snacks they want to eat on which day. Homemade lunches are an easy way to control what your children eat and you’ll know that they’re getting the healthy nutrition needed to perform well in school. Not only will they not want to trade it, they’ll keep coming back for more.
Courtesy of BPT
Delaying treatment for minor health issues could cost more in the long run
Many families go through a check and balance process when it comes to their health. They try to determine if avoiding the cost of medical bills as well as time off from work is worth the risk of delaying medical treatment for a problem - especially when they question how serious the problem is for their long term health.
Many health experts agree that delaying needed and recommended treatments will end up costing individuals and the country far more in the long run. Some relatively minor problems, including high blood pressure, hearing loss, joint pain and carpal tunnel syndrome tend to escalate if left untreated, putting a patient at risk for more serious (and expensive) health consequences.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a good example of an ailment you might think you can live with rather than pay the cost of treating it. It’s surprisingly common, with up to 5 percent of the workforce affected, according to the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal. On average, affected workers lost 27 days of work to recuperate from CTS last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With people spending more time on their computer or online, more people are likely to be exposed to the repetitive motions that can lead to CTS.
While severe cases may require surgical treatment, studies have shown that early treatment with splinting and massage can help alleviate this painful condition. Appropriate splinting (or bracing) helps keep the affected wrist in a neutral position, minimizing pressure on the irritated nerve, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Massage can also be effective, researchers have found. A report in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies indicates massage can reduce CTS symptoms. While only your doctor can make an actual diagnosis, once you know you have carpal tunnel syndrome there are simple, low-cost steps you can take to supplement your own treatment, including:
* Adjust your posture to minimize strain. Sit up straight and don’t rest your wrists on the edge of your keyboard tray while typing; try to maintain a straight wrist position.
* Stay hydrated. Proper hydration is essential to the healthy functioning of all our tissues.
* Ask your doctor to recommend appropriate exercises to keep the wrist flexible.
* Wear a wrist brace, even when you sleep. A special night brace is best.
While you can purchase a low-cost brace in most drugstores, a better option might be one that combines bracing and massage benefits, such as the IMAK SmartGlove. Made of washable, breathable cotton material, the SmartGlove encourages proper hand and wrist position to help alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms, and an ergoBeads pad cushions your wrist and improves circulation with a massaging effect.
It makes sense to save yourself long-term pain and money by addressing the problem early. Consult your doctor if you experience wrist pain that might be carpal tunnel syndrome. To learn more about CTS relief, visit www.Imakproducts.com
Courtesy of BPT
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