Consumer Real Estate News

    • Houseplants Can Brighten Winter Blues

      15 November 2019

      No matter the size of your home, there’s nothing like a mix of well-chosen houseplants to add style to your living space and brighten your mood, especially in the dark days of winter.

      Positioned on a windowsill, perched on top of a bookcase, or purposefully placed on a counter or in a corner, a healthy plant adds visual interest and pop to any room. Better yet, many houseplants—even flowering plants—are easy to maintain with very little time and effort. Some moisture, a bit of potting soil and plant food, and just a little light is all it takes to keep them happy.

      Gardening experts suggest a few varieties that tend to do well in most environments:
      - Pothos, heartleaf philodendron, snake plant and dieffenbachia do well in low-light conditions. 

      - Jade plants, most species of cactus and the variegated leaf croton will thrive with a few hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis.

      - If you’re looking for color, choose begonia, bromeliads, African violet, poinsettia or peace lily, all of which produce brightly colored blooms in all but the darkest environments.

      - Plants that likely won’t die on you despite minimal care include English ivy, ficus trees, philodendron and peperomia.

      Choose pots in various colors and shapes to complement the look of your home, and pay attention to the potting and care instructions that accompany most houseplants. The less time you have to nurture your plants, the more important it is to choose varieties well suited to light and water limitations. In fact, most houseplants require watering only once every one to three weeks.

      Finally, gardening experts remind us, houseplants are good for your health. Studies have shown that indoor plants reduce stress and improve concentration and productivity by as much as 15 percent—making them perfect for not just your home, but also your workspace. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • A Chef's Advice for Stress-Free Holiday Cooking

      15 November 2019

      (Family Features)--How many times have you heard someone say they've slaved away in the kitchen all day? Stress in the kitchen can easily arise for a variety of reasons, especially when you're strapped for time and have a never-ending to-do list. 

      As a survivor of Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef competition, Caitlin Meade—a top 4 finalist on season 8—understands the pressure all too well. To decrease the stress and make your hosting experience more enjoyable, consider putting these tips from Chef Meade into practice. 

      Prep before you begin
      Practice the "mise en place" method—a French term alluding to having everything in place before cooking. Measure ingredients, chop vegetables and prepare utensils to create a steady workflow. 

      Plan in a chef
      Prep the main dish the night before, have easy appetizers assembled ahead of guests' arrival and outsource sides to family and friends.

      Save money by getting spicy
      Before it's time to cook, pre-make spices. Since many store-bought blends can be overpriced, this is a way to save both time and money while personalizing your own flavors.

      Save table wine for drinking and use cooking wine
      A secret ingredient and important pantry staple for Chef Meade, cooking wine is perfect for when she needs to make a pan sauce or add flavor. It's even saved her from having to open a nice bottle of table wine, as most recipes call for less than a cup. An option like Holland House Cooking Wines delivers consistent, bold flavor while standing up to high temperatures. Available in sherry, marsala, red and white, there are plenty of flavor-boosting options that will have your friends and family wondering what your secret ingredient is. 

      Create your own stock
      Many recipes call for chicken stock. One way to save money and time at the store is to create your own. Save any leftover poultry carcasses, wing tips, neck and bones. Add onion peels, celery tips, carrot tops and other vegetable scraps. When you're ready to make a batch, fill a large pot with the leftovers, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer 1 - 2 hours for stock that can last up to one year. 

      Source: Holland House

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Have Smarter, Safer Shopping Sprees

      15 November 2019

      You likely keep safety top of mind while driving, or playing a sport, but what about when you're shopping? With the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, and thousands of consumers hitting the streets, things can become hectic.

      To stay safe, here are five tips from Erie Insurance:

      Take with you only what you need. Leave the purse at home if you can, and bring only keys, phone and a means to pay. Keep your credit card and cash in your front pocket to make it more difficult for pickpockets in crowded spaces to swipe.

      Safe parking. While shopping during daylight hours is safer, especially when you're heading out to the parking lot with your bags of gifts, night shopping is often a necessity. Park your car in a well-lit area as close to the entrance as possible.

      Safe return. Always check your surroundings as you return to your vehicle. If you see something that doesn't feel right, turn around and go back inside. It's also a good idea to have your keys ready—don't set your purse or packages on top of your car to fumble around for them. If you feel unsafe walking alone in the parking facilities, request a security guard to escort you.

      Slow down. Whether entering or exiting crowded parking lots or ramps, cars can pull out suddenly and people can appear from seemingly nowhere. Slow down and minimize distractions in the car to give driving your full attention.

      Smart storage. It's best to head straight home after your shopping trip, but that's not always practical. If you have more errands on your list, be conscious of where you store your gifts in your vehicle. If possible, clear room in your trunk and don't leave gifts or large items on your front seat.

      Source: Erie Insurance

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Understanding Medical Sharps and Safe Disposal Options

      13 November 2019

      (Family Features)--If you're among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use "sharps" to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. For example, many people with diabetes self-inject at least two insulin shots every day, and conditions including allergies, arthritis, cancer, infertility, migraines and psoriasis, among others, may also require the use of a sharp to administer medication.

      A medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin, sharps may be used at home, at work and while traveling to manage medical conditions. Examples of sharps include:

      - Needles. Fine, slender, hollow pieces of metal used to inject medication under the skin

      - Syringes. Devices to which needles are attached in order to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body

      - Lancets (aka "fingersticks"). Instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing

      - Auto injectors, including epinephrine pens. Syringes pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body

      - Infusion sets. Tubing system with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body

      - Connection needles. Needles that connect to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body

      Disposing of medical sharps safely may be a concern. In fact, in interviews conducted by with sharps users, people who use needles and lancets to manage their medical conditions believe it is their responsibility to dispose of sharps safely, but lack clear, factual information on how to do so. Existing information does not always personalize disposal guidelines for people in every state or locality.

      " helps people in the United States make sense of safe sharps disposal options nearest to their home, work or wherever is convenient," says Larry Ellingson, vice president of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council. "This resource is much needed for people who regularly use needles to manage health conditions like diabetes and want to do the right thing with their used sharps."  

      According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps not disposed of properly may cause injury. Consider these three steps for safe and proper sharps disposal:

      1. Place used sharps in an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container or a strong plastic container such as an empty laundry detergent or bleach bottle.

      2. Seal the container with duct tape and label it "do not recycle."

      3. For most sharps users, place the sealed container in the household trash, never the recycling. A resource like can be used to look up local disposal guidelines by zip code. For states that do not allow household disposal, the website provides zip code-specific information on convenient drop-off locations that will accept used sharps.

      Source: NeedyMeds

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Can You Recycle Used Paint?

      13 November 2019

      It's been a full decade since the PaintCare, a national nonprofit organization created by paint manufacturers, began providing consumers with a convenient network of locations where they can recycle postconsumer (leftover) paint, stain and varnish. Still, many homeowners don't know about this valuable outlet.

      The program is funded by a fee on sales of new paint and remitted to PaintCare by paint manufacturers to handle paint collection, transportation, processing and public education. 

      Part of that public education campaign involves providing the following tips to consumers:
      Buy right. Many people have leftover paint because it’s not easy to know how much to purchase in the first place, so get help estimating the right amount of paint needed for your projects by visiting for a list of paint calculators to help you paint smarter. 

      Store right. An unopened can of paint can last for decades if it is stored in a dry, cool (but not too cold), dark place. So even if you think you will get rid of your leftovers, head to for tips to keep your paint in better condition so someone else can use it.

      Use it up. Using up what you have is a great way to reduce leftover paint. Visit for a few ideas to get you started, like using light shades as primers for other paint projects, painting a small room like a bathroom or a closet, or even the insides of drawers.

      Give it away. Have your friends or relatives commented on how much they admire the colors you selected for your home? Offer them the leftovers. Churches, schools and nonprofits that do community projects (e.g., Habitat for Humanity) may be able to use leftover paint—or consider donating it to a school or group that creates murals or does community painting projects. 

      And when you're ready to recycle, find your closest drop-off locations at 

      A final tip: before dropping off paint, please call the site to check business hours and make sure they can accept the type and amount of paint you would like to recycle.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.