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Courtesy of Eric Gage - RE/MAX Cityview

River cruises: Allowing travel to lesser known intimate destinations

River%20cruises%3A%20Allowing%20travel%20to%20lesser%20known%20intimate%20destinationsThere’s a groundswell movement among today’s travelers. They are no longer satisfied with seeing the standard sights in the standard way; these travelers are a part of that movement which seeks richer knowledge, new perspectives and one-of-a-kind experiences. Travelers who identify with this type of movement are finding that river cruises are one of the best ways to see the world.
River cruises allow travelers to see the most notable sights in their chosen destination, but they also offer the opportunity to experience daily life in places where tourism is secondary to authentic culture. Award-winning tour operator Tauck, a leader in European river cruising, takes travelers around the world with carefully planned itineraries that make it easier to see some of Europe’s hottest destinations in-depth, at costs savings often up to 40 percent over independent planning.
Seeing the world atop the flow of a river gives travelers a fresh perspective, no matter the destination. And that’s perhaps the best part: picking out the destination. With Tauck offering river cruises through Europe, as well as a river cruise component on land trips in the Middle East and Asia, an unlimited number of adventures are there for the choosing. 
* Western Europe. The classic destinations of the Old World get a new coat of polish when viewed from river cruises. Explore the romantic landscape and medieval castles of Germany’s Rhine and Moselle rivers, or be charmed by the bucolic countryside in Belgium and the Netherlands. Themed river cruises like A Taste of France, which features an array of food-related excursions and experiences, give travelers the opportunity to indulge one’s interests in unique settings.
* Eastern Europe. A river voyage from the Black Sea to Budapest will have travelers sailing through beautiful scenery as well as dramatic history. Many of the destinations on the journey, like towns and cities in Bulgaria and Romania, are hidden gems that only in-the-know travelers count among the must-see destinations in Europe. Danube River cruises will also provide a glimpse of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, along with destinations in Austria, Germany and Hungary.
* The Middle East. What river could be more considered famous than the Nile? Taking a cruise on this legendary waterway counts among life’s ultimate experiences, and Tauck’s river cruises ensure that travelers can take this trip in style. The austere allure of the desert landscape is an attraction in its own right, but travelers will also be able to see the ancient monuments that have made Egypt a travel destination for generations of adventurous spirits. Land experiences include four nights in Jordan where guests see the majestic ruins at Petra and the desolate beauty of Wadi Rum.
* Asia. China’s powerful Yangtze is one of the world’s great rivers, and cruising down it onboard one of Tauck’s river cruises will be the travel experience of a lifetime. Its atmospheric landscape of gorges and green hills are spellbinding, compelling travelers to visit pavilions and pagodas in riverside towns and villages. Another river, the Li, is the perfect place to observe fishermen plying their trade from onboard bamboo rafts - an unforgettable glimpse into the old-world cultural heart of China.
Spin the globe and pick a destination - no matter the destination, river cruises offer travelers the chance to see the world from a different point of view. 


Courtesy of BPT

Five modern bathroom design ideas

Would you say your overall design style is sleek and chic? Do you enjoy the true architecture of a space with its linear simplicity rather than an overly adorned and accessorized space? If you’d like to translate your modern vision into your Master Bath here are a few design ideas to help get you started.

1. Cabinetry - When it comes time to selecting the design of your cabinetry lean toward clean, crisp and streamlined furniture. To create a lighter and sleek bathroom environment consider cantilevered cabinetry secured to the wall creating a minimal look to the vanity piece. Create some drama with strip lighting added to the bottom side of the cabinet which will cast a warm glow to the floor below.  Provide additional built in wall-to-wall storage elsewhere in the bathroom to compensate for the reduced storage in the vanity area. Deep dark rich woods evoke a sense of warmth to the clean lines of contemporary design.

2. Fixtures - Crisp clean and sleek white fixtures speak to the contemporary/modern design.  If space allows introduce one of the hottest trends - a free-standing bathtub. They are available in all shapes and sizes, and nothing creates a more dramatic focal point in the bathroom than an exquisite free-standing tub. Simply position it in front of a spectacular picture window with a breathtaking view as the backdrop.

3. Surfaces and Materials - Utilize solid surfaces for countertops, whether quartz, limestone, granite, concrete or glass to give it a clean contemporary look. Keep the edges simple and square for easy maintenance and sophisticated style.  Always introduce an interesting backsplash material in contrast to the counter top color and material. Whatever the surface I like to apply it on all walls from floor to ceiling. It creates instant architecture and adds great detail and drama to the space. Glass tile, mosaic, stone or ceramic details are just a few of the highly decorative backsplash products out on the market today that create a sense of modern style.  Keep geometry in mind when selecting the material for your contemporary backsplash. Consider tile shapes that are rectangular, oversized, or small mosaics to create detail in the pattern of the application. If the tile is oversized and rectilinear install it in a brick pattern. If it’s shape is longer and thinner then stacking the tile creates a very interesting modern vibe. Stay away from the common square tile in any size.

4. Luxurious Shower - Create a steam shower with multiple rain heads, and body sprays. If your budget allows, add chromatherapy and aromatherapy to your master bath wish list as well. These fittings represent the epitome of modern luxury design. Don’t forget a built in bench and access panel to hide the steam system.  Design a full seamless glass enclosure from floor to ceiling and finish the interior with complimentary mosaics or stone tile to set it apart from the rest of the space. This glass enclosure creates a more visually open space within the overall space.

5. Accessories - Remember to keep clutter and display to a minimum. - Accessorize with towels in a bright color for punch or stainless steel and woods. Keep everything to a minimum and clutter free.  Select chrome, nickel or silver toned drawer/door pulls, towel bars, towel hooks and paper holders for sparkle.  Frame vanity mirrors in woods or silver tones  in similar finishes to the other accessories adorning your modern bath.

Draw the bath and enjoy the modern luxuries of your new space.

 by: Lori Gilder

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_6145.shtml

Lower summer energy costs and get a facelift for your home

Lower%20summer%20energy%20costsDuring summer, many of us look forward to fun-filled days at the pool or beach, but we definitely don’t look forward to exorbitantly high cooling bills during the heat of the season.

A typical single-family home shells out $2,200 in annual energy costs, according a recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. And according to the Laboratory’s website, if a house has central air conditioning, even though the system is only used a few months out of the year, it is most likely the single biggest consumer of electricity, driving annual air conditioning costs that can exceed a shocking $1,000.

However, there are a number of ways you can improve the energy-efficient aspects of your home and save on electricity costs.

Seal the deal
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one of the most cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency in homes is to seal and insulate windows and doors. Often, this means replacing old, leaky, sticky, poorly performing windows and doors. A typical home that replaces its single-paned, clear glass windows with energy-efficient windows can realize up to $494 in annual savings, according to the EPA.
"Windows are a wonderful source of natural light, but if they are old, they can act as giant heat lamps in the summer, allowing the sun’s heat into a home," says David Harrison, chief marketing office of Champion Windows, one of the nation’s leading home improvement companies. "By installing our Comfort 365 Replacement Windows, homeowners can help shrink their cooling bills. Champion’s Double hung replacement windows exceed ENERGY STAR rating requirements by an average of 42 percent for Solar Heat Gain, which is the measure of the sun’s heat that comes through your window. Champion windows also help keep the cool air in and still let in natural sunlight - without the heat."
For more energy saving window tips check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s website or Champion Window’s Energy Efficient Replacement Windows.
On the side
Another great way to cut costs is to increase insulation by installing energy-efficient siding. Vinyl siding and energy-efficient underlayment can increase a home’s R-value, a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-value, the better the thermal performance of the insulation. By increasing the R-value, homeowners can save more than 20 percent on their electricity bills, according to energysavers.gov.
"Installing an energy-efficient siding system, including ENERGY STAR rated insulation board, can help insulate your home against the heat, reduce the amount of air flow into your house, making it easier to keep cool air in during the summer," says Harrison. "At Champion, our customers have told us they were pleasantly surprised to see a decrease in their energy bills after their siding installation."
Other ways to improve energy efficiency and lower summer electric bills include:
* Increasing insulation in attics
* Making sure you have proper roof ventilation
* Sealing air conditioner ducts
* Keeping your blinds closed when the sun is shining in
* Using a programmable thermostat
By making a few of these changes, you won’t cringe when you open those utility bills, and you might even be able to reap benefits beyond the summer.
"If homes are not properly insulated or sealed, cool air is leaking out and homeowners are throwing money out of the window," says Harrison. "By making a few energy-efficient changes to your home, you can help keep electric bills in check and even increase the value of your home."


Courtesy of BPT

Common outdoor lighting mistakes and their solutions

Upgrading your home’s exterior lighting is a surefire way to increase your home’s curb appeal and resell value. And a well-lit front lawn can also deter would-be burglars. Most of  the outdoor lighting of one’s home adds a welcoming touch for family and guests. Here you can learn about outdoor lighting trends, common lighting problems and their solutions, and things to consider when selecting outdoor lighting fixtures.

First and foremost, it’s important to give a considerable amount of thought to the placement of your outdoor lights. Just as you would not place several lighting fixtures like table lamps or wall sconces in a single area of your living room, you don’t want to place exterior fixtures too close together either. This is a common problem when integrating pathlights into your outdoor lighting solution. Too many pathlights, too close together can make your walkway look more like the runway at an airport. Instead of placing the lights directly opposite one another on either end, try a staggered approach. The light will flow less harshly.

Another common mistake in selecting outdoor lights is in finding the proper lighting direction, or limiting “light pollution”. Outdoor lights should not obstruct one’s vision or interfere with one being able to see the entire landscape of a yard or area clearly. On a similar note, the lights should not shine directly into the road or a neighboring yard either. To avoid such issues, look for spotlights with glare guards.

Just as it would be boring to find the same exact lamp in every room of one’s home, it’s boring to see the same outdoor lighting fixture repeated throughout the yard. It can make the home appear institutional as opposed to personal. Use a wide variety of fixtures to light your yard; it will enhance the character and charm of your home.

Be sure to balance your home’s exterior lighting. Another common mistake in outdoor lighting placement, is to inadvertently divide the yard by placing too many lights in one area and too little in another. You want to evenly distribute light throughout the canvas of your home. You don’t want your yard looking like a parking lot.

Finally, like most things in home décor, less is more. Outdoor lighting should call attention to the beautiful and unique features of your home. It should not be intrusive. Proper outdoor lighting calls attention to various parts of your home’s exterior, not the entire surface area. Over illumination is never attractive indoor or outdoor.

by: Melinda Cayetano 
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7064.shtml 

Traveling made simple: easy, convenient snacks to tag along on your next trip

Traveling%20made%20simple%3A%20easy%2C%20convenient%20snacks%20to%20tag%20along%20on%20your%20next%20tripWith family vacation time nearly here and plans for road trips underway, it’s tempting to give in to quick, unhealthy solutions while packing snacks for the road. Here are some creative ways to revitalize your family’s snack routine and help you enjoy delicious and nutritious snacks on the go.

Crunch time

Crunchy snacks are a must-have when hitting the road or catching a flight to your favorite family vacation spot. Snack bags full of granola, cereal and other crunchy favorites can be just the ticket to getting a healthier treat and can even help stave off a temper tantrum. Try making homemade granola, pretzels or even combining your kids’ favorite cereals and pretzels to give them a salty-sweet mix they will love. You can even add a dash of cinnamon to liven up the flavor of granola. Pack it in small plastic bags for easy portion control and access - important when you’re running through the airport.

Get your squeeze on

There are a number of fun, grab-and-go snacks on the market today that make it more convenient than ever to get your kids the nutrition they need when you’re on-the-go, like Mott’s Snack & Go pouches. Kids love these delicious apple sauce filled pouches, which are easy to open and are an excellent source of vitamin C. The convenient pouches can be chilled or eaten at room temperature, making them perfect for traveling with kids of all ages.

Cheese, please

Cheese is a staple when it comes to keeping kids satiated since it’s loaded with protein, and an added bonus - calcium. String cheese is often the most popular among small children, since they can either bite into it or peel it off piece by piece, which helps keep them entertained. It’s available in a variety of flavors, from cheddar to mozzarella, so there’s something for every little one. Cheese also pairs well with sliced apples, grapes or crackers.

Hydration on the highway

It can be tempting to skip the beverages when you’re on long trips to avoid bathroom breaks, but staying hydrated is key to staying healthy and happy. Pack juice boxes or small bottles of water for car trips - the small size is perfect for your little one, but it also helps to keep track of how much everyone is drinking. For plane travel, pack empty reusable water bottles and fill them up at a water fountain or restaurant once you’re through security.

Courtesy of BPT

Creating super summer snacks with grapes is a breeze

Creating%20super%20summer%20snacksEarly summer marks the beginning of the California grape season. These bite-size treats are the perfect snack - crisp, sweet and only 90 calories per 3/4 cup serving. Grapes are also very juicy, making them a welcome source of hydration as outdoor activities and temperatures increase.
 
Always ripe and ready-to-eat, convenient (no peeling, no seeds), and packable for a picnic or day camp, grapes are really today’s super snack.  And there’s more good news: grapes of all colors are a delicious source of antioxidants and other polyphenols, and research suggests that grapes support heart health and may help defend against a variety of age-related and other diseases.  
Selecting grapes is a breeze, since all grapes are fully ripe when they arrive at the supermarket.  Simply look for plump grapes with pliable green stems. Once home, keep your grapes unwashed and refrigerated in a plastic bag until ready to use, then rinse with cold water and serve.
 
While fresh grapes are most often enjoyed as a snack, more and more people have discovered the versatility of grapes as an ingredient. Why? Fresh grapes from California add color, crunch and a light touch of sweetness to snacks and meals. Toss them into yogurt, or nearly any kind of salad: fruit, green, grain, chicken or tuna. Create grape and cheese skewers for an easy appetizer. For a cool summer treat, freeze your grapes: just rinse them, pat them dry, and place them in the freezer for two hours. The result is like sweet bursts of sorbet.
 
Here are a couple more tasty snacks for kids and adults. These wholesome and easy-breezy treats show off grapes’ natural pairing potential with all things dairy.
 
Grape, Honey and Yogurt Pops
 
Makes eight standard size frozen treats.
Ingredients:
1 pound red or black seedless California grapes, rinsed and stemmed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 container (16 ounces) vanilla or honey Greek yogurt or a combination
 
Directions:
 
Puree the grapes in a food processor or blender (you’ll have about 2 cups). Transfer to a medium-size pot and bring to a boil. Boil the grapes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the sugar and honey and let cool to room temperature.
Creating%20super%20summer%20snacksFold in the yogurt just until nicely swirled, then spoon into frozen treat molds. Cover with foil, insert sticks and freeze for 4 to 6 hours or until set.
Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 127; protein 4.2 g; carbohydrate 27 g; fat 1 g;  7 percent calories from fat; cholesterol 2 mg; sodium 16 mg; fiber .5 g.
 
Grape Snack Bites 
 
Makes eight snack bites.
Ingredients:
2 full graham crackers (to yield 8 small rectangles)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lowfat cream cheese
8 seedless California grapes, sliced
 
Directions:
 
Break each graham cracker into its four small rectangles. Spread 1 teaspoon cream cheese on each cracker and top with sliced grapes. Serve immediately.
Nutritional analysis per snack: calories 28; protein .7 g; carbohydrate 4 g; fat 1 g; 35 percent calories from fat; cholesterol 3 mg; sodium 40 mg; fiber .1 g.
 
For more grape snack and recipe ideas, visit www.grapesfromcalifornia.com or Facebook at www.facebook.com/GrapesFromCalifornia.


Courtesy of BPT

Selecting a trustworthy mover is the first step in avoiding moving day headaches

Americans are on the move. The United States Census Bureau estimates that 12.5 percent of Americans - nearly 40 million people - changed residences each of the past two years. While many turned to moving professionals for assistance, some learned the hard way that not all moving companies are created equally. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received nearly 3,000 complaints about moving companies last year alone - a double-digit increase from the prior year.

Some good news arrived in October in the form of a new law that provides additional protection for victims of rogue moving companies that hold belongings hostage in the interest of scamming consumers to pay unexpected fees. The new law gives FMCSA the authority to force the return of consumer belongings in addition to the ability to levy fines of up to $10,000 per day.

Unfortunately, our industry has been plagued by moving ‘companies’ that advertise unbelievable ‘deals’ that turn out to be consumer scams, says Jon Sorber, executive vice president of Two Men And A Truck, the nation’s largest franchise moving company. The new regulations are a welcome change for those of us committed to operating legitimate moving companies, but they are just a start. Education is really the key to making sure consumers avoid the hassle of a moving scam in the first place.

Sorber suggests consumers ask the following questions before hiring a mover:

1. Can your family, friends and co-workers make a referral? It’s likely that you know several people who’ve hired a moving company in the past year. Why not tap the resources of people you trust to share their experiences?

2. Does your mover have a brick and mortar facility you can visit? Often the “rogue” mover operates from a storage unit or perhaps with no office at all. If you are dealing with a legitimate moving company, they will have an office with trucks, employees, boxes, supplies, etc.

3. Is your mover licensed in your state? The majority of states require a formal license to operate as a mover, and selecting a licensed, insured mover is your best bet in guaranteeing a hassle-free experience.

4. What community or industry associations does the moving company have? Is your mover in good standing with the Better Business Bureau? Are they active members of the local Chamber of Commerce? Choose a mover who is valued and trusted within your community and you’ll likely eliminate any concern of questionable practices.

5. Does your mover offer free moving quotes? A legitimate mover is going to provide free estimates of your move before a single item is moved. If they refuse to do so, keep shopping regardless of how good the deal sounds.

Paul Oakley is senior vice president for Government Affairs at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), the moving industry’s largest trade association. He and his team began working with Congress to develop the new regulatory provisions. Like Sorber, he believes the new laws provide some measure of safety, but cautions that more work must be done to eliminate dishonest moving practices.

The laws going into effect directly impact policing of the industry, says Oakley, but ultimately we must have safeguards that make entry into the industry more difficult, tougher enforcement against bad actors, and a greater effort needs to be made to educate consumers on how to choose a proper moving company.

Two Men And A Truck offers more questions consumers should ask before hiring a mover at www.twomenandatruck.com/moving-questions. Consumers might also consider AMSA’s Before You Move checklist at www.moving.org.

Courtesy of BPT

Room to spare

What do you do with that extra room in the house? The one that has no real purpose except to collect things? Or you may have an empty room or two when the last of the kids have moved out or gone away to school. We end up with lots of remnants of their lives, but no kids. This room becomes either a shrine with no real purpose or a place to collect all the things we don’t know where to put.

We are so often cluttered with the stuff from grown children that gets left behind as they get established elsewhere on their own. They like to have the unpaid additional storage space in a parent’s home or they just don’t want to make any decision about what to do with their things. So, their things are left taking up lots of precious space, even though the stuff may not be so precious to anyone anymore.

What to do with a spare room:

1. Dump the junk- Don’t waste that spare room with an accumulation of junk. It won’t go away on its own. Make a plan to clear out the clutter and disperse of the goods to people who can better use them. Your home’s square footage is too valuable not to be using it.

2. Guestroom– Create a spa-like retreat for your guests. Include reading materials and brochures for local activities. Have some hotel-like amenities ready to go in a decorative basket so they feel welcome, knowing you have thought of their needs.

3. Craft or hobby room– You finally have a place to do your scrapbooking, sewing, or painting! Let this room be your private studio where creativity flows.

4. Gifting- Have a room just for gift giving. Keep ribbons, gift bags, tags, and wrapping paper in the room along with any items you have purchased ahead of time for gifts. Don’t forget the scissors and tape. So whenever you need a present, it will be a snap to put one together.

5. Exercise room- This does not mean you have to have all the big equipment that you find at a gym, but if the area is designated as a workout space, you are more likely to do your yoga, palates, and strength training. Clear out the room and put your yoga mat, weights, TV, audio equipment and workout DVDs in it.

6. Home office- Instead of letting paper pile up on your coffee table or kitchen counter, set up an area to pay bills and answer mail. Put everything you need for these activities in the room including a desk, stamps, stationary and pens. Create a simple filing system and get a jump on tax preparation for next year.

7. Mediation room– Oh to have some peace and quiet–create it! Don’t allow anything in this area that doesn’t bring you peace and tranquility. Some suggested contents include a water fountain, floor cushions, candles, incense, and chimes. Selected reading and audio materials will also set the mood. A serene start or end to you day, or a quick getaway to rejuvenate.

8. Room to spare, room to share– create that media room, music, pool, puzzle, card or board game room and invite friends over for a night of fun and hospitality.

9. Renovators rescue- Use the empty room as the spare room to hold addition furniture, etc. when you are renovating – flooring especially is difficult as you need room to move all your stuff. When all your renovations are complete, rework your spare room into one of the above suggestions.

Often your spare room can be used for several of these purposes. So next time you walk by that room, stop a moment to think about the possibilities. Take the next steps today to give that spare room some real purpose and turn it into a room that will give you a feeling of satisfaction and relaxation.

 

Working like a dog: Study confirms benefits of bringing pets to work

Working%20like%20a%20dogHarvey is no ordinary canine. The 3-year-old boxer has a full-time job, working almost every day at Greensboro, N.C.-based Replacements, Ltd.
"Every morning he’s standing by the front door, waiting to go to work," says Harvey’s owner, Sara Vestal, restoration manager. "He’s been coming with me since he was 6 weeks old, and he truly thinks this is his job. If he sees me taking something out of a box, he grabs a box too and is by my side trying to help."
 
Pets in this workplace may sound a bit farfetched, considering the company is known as the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. But among Replacements’ inventory of 13 million fragile items, you’ll find a pit bull in this china shop, along with a beagle, several miniature dachshunds and dozens of other canines every day. And look out for the cats, and yes, a fish. An opossum has even graced the company’s retail store with her visit.
 
Replacements implemented its pet-friendly policy more than 17 years ago, after Founder and CEO Bob Page received a dog for his birthday and couldn’t bear to leave him home alone. Once Page started bringing his dog, he realized his employees might enjoy having their pets as well, and opened the company to animal friends. In fact, the company’s front doors read, “All Well-Behaved Pets Welcome.” Replacements is one of the top tourist destinations for central North Carolina, encouraging customers to bring pets to shop, while its monthly employee pet feature is popular on the company’s website.
 
At a company known worldwide for its diversity and progressive workplace policies, many employees, including Vestal, believe this is one of the best benefits.
 
"Having Harvey here is a comfort; it relaxes me. If I have to stay late, I don’t have to worry about getting home to let him out or what he’s gotten into during the day.  If I’m having a bad day, doesn’t matter, he’s in my corner.  And taking him out for a walk on my break really allows me to catch a breath I generally wouldn’t allow myself, giving me the chance to refocus."
Scientific support
Working%20like%20a%20dogA recently released scientific study reinforces Vestal’s perceptions. Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University spent a week at Replacements delving deeper into the impact of dogs at work. The VCU team surveyed and monitored stress levels among three test groups: those who brought their dogs to work every day, dog owners who left their pets at home, and those who do not own any pets. Their work marks the first quantitative study conducted in the workplace on the psychological and physiological impact of pets.
 
"What surprised us most is the fact stress actually decreased throughout the day among those participants who brought their dogs to work, while stress levels significantly increased for those who left their dogs at home or don’t own pets," says principal researcher Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management at VCU’s School of Business. "We also found it very interesting that about half of those who bring their dogs to work said their productivity increased with their dog present. Additional findings indicate having pets in the workplace also increases cooperation among coworkers."
 
Barker also notes employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms. He believes establishing pet-friendly policies could be a great benefit that doesn’t hamper a company’s bottom line. 
 
"I think leadership in many organizations may be hesitant to allow animals in the workplace, but our study indicates pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many companies and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support." 
 
Getting started
Replacements’ formal pet policy requires all animals must be current on vaccinations, polite to people and other pets, and stay on a leash near their owners unless contained in an office or cubicle space. Owners are also required to clean up after any “accidents.”
"Companies interested in starting pet-friendly practices might want to start small," suggests Public Relations Manager Lisa Conklin. "Consider having a pilot day to gauge how pet presence works for your organization. You might try it for a half-day, on a slow day or even a Friday to determine the best fit for your employees and your business."
 
Conklin adds pet owners must be sensitive to the fact some people have allergies or may be fearful of animals. Likewise, other employees should not be permitted to aggravate or intimidate pets.
"We’ve seen many instances where employees actually got to know each other better through their pets. I do think it means a great deal to us here - it’s hard not to smile when you’re greeted by a wagging tail and friendly face!"
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
—————————————————————-
Caption 1: Harvey comes to work every day at Replacements, Ltd.
Caption 2: Callie rests while Amy Fisher works.


Courtesy of BPT

Five smart steps to maximize bathroom space

As homeowners fight the itch to move, many turn to renovation projects to improve their existing spaces. Look at a homeowner’s wish list, and the bathroom often tops the list. With its frequent use and endless potential, easy changes offer a big payoff.

In spite of its heavy use, bathrooms are often some of the smallest areas in a home. Cross tight square footage with limited storage, and it quickly becomes cluttered and cramped - far from a pleasant place to start and end each day. Adding function doesn’t require changing your bathroom’s footprint. To maximize your bathroom storage and make it work best for you, consider these design and organizational tips.

Tip 1: Install a floating vanity
A big trend in small bathroom design is the floating vanity; its wall-mount installation leaves floor space below open and uninterrupted, which tricks the human eye into reading the space as larger than it actually is. Floating vanities come in a variety of materials and designs that offer plenty of counter top space and storage solutions.

Tip 2: Make your mirror work harder
Is your bathroom sporting an old bulky medicine cabinet? Replace it with a smarter option designed with innovative storage that makes life easier. Robern, the industry leader in bathroom storage and grooming, recently introduced the R3 Series Mirrored Cabinets, a perfect solution for DIY-ers looking for a fast, affordable fix. The 1-inch flange around the cabinet’s perimeter covers imperfections, eliminating the hassle of re-tiling or re-plastering, making it a project you can easily complete in a day.

Tip 3: Use hidden space to your advantage
In a small bathroom it might be hard to imagine where you might find even an inch of extra space, but there’s one secret area you can access and use to your advantage. If you have a blank wall, the space between the studs offers a plethora of potential storage space. You can build shelves directly between the studs, which adds lots of extra space for items like washcloths and toiletries, all within the existing footprint.

Tip 4: Get wired for modern practicality
Your morning routine charges you for the day ahead, so make sure items like electric razors and toothbrushes are fully charged, too. Cabinets equipped with outlets keep personal care items fully juiced and concealed, leaving counter tops and sink surfaces clutter-free for a clean and organized space both you and guests to enjoy.

Tip 5: Revamp the storage drawer
Vanity drawers in disarray steal precious time from your morning and evening routine. First step to function: Purge. Toss old or unused cosmetics, personal supplies, grooming tools or other items you don’t use. Next, reorganize with inserts that transform drawers into organizational powerhouses. Look for inserts that will streamline how you use your bathroom, such as options with different sized compartments or even one made specifically for your hair dryer.

Courtesy of BPT


Eric Gage Eric Gage
2909 Baldwin St. 
Houston, TX 77006

(281) 703-9096

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