November 21, 2011 5:38 pm
Children are magnets for colds. But when the “cold” won’t go away for weeks, the culprit may be allergies. Long-lasting sneezing with a stuffy or runny nose may signal the presence of allergic rhinitis—the collection of symptoms that affect the nose when you have an allergic reaction to something you breathe in that lands on the lining inside the nose.
Allergies may be seasonal or they can strike year-round (perennial). In most parts of the United States, plant pollens are often the cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis—more commonly called hay fever. Indoor substances, such as mold, dust mites, and pet dander, may cause the perennial kind.
Up to 40% of children suffer from allergic rhinitis, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). And children are more likely to develop allergies if one or both parents have allergies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines that offer allergy relief as well as allergen extracts used to diagnose and treat allergies.
Immune System Reaction
An allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a specific substance, or allergen. The immune system responds to the invading allergen by releasing histamine and other chemicals that typically trigger symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, eyes, skin, or stomach lining, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. In some children, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma—a disease that causes wheezing or difficulty breathing.
Avoiding the Culprit
If your child has seasonal allergies, you may want to pay attention to pollen counts and try to keep your child inside when the levels are high.
• In the late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the morning.
• In the spring and summer, during the grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening.
• Some molds, another allergy trigger, may also be seasonal. For example, leaf mold is more common in the fall.
• Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome for pollen allergy sufferers.
It may also help to keep windows closed in your house and car, and run the air conditioner when pollen counts are high.
For most children, symptoms may be controlled by avoiding the allergen, if known, and using OTC medicines. However, if a child’s symptoms are persistent and not relieved by OTC medicines, it is wise to see a health care professional to assess your child’s symptoms and see if other treatments, including prescription medicines, may be appropriate.
While some allergy medicines are approved for use in children as young as six months, Dianne Murphy, M.D., director of FDA’s Office of Pediatric Therapeutics, cautions, “Always read the label to make sure the product is appropriate for your child’s age. Just because a product’s box says that it is intended for children does not mean it is intended for children of all ages."
Children who don't respond to either OTC or prescription medications, or who suffer from frequent complications of allergic rhinitis, may be candidates for allergen immunotherapy—commonly known as allergy shots. According to NIAID, about 80% of people with allergic rhinitis will see their symptoms and need for medicine drop significantly within a year of starting allergy shots.
After allergy testing, typically by skin testing to detect what allergens your child may react to, a health care professional injects the child with “extracts”—small amounts of the allergens that trigger a reaction. The doses are gradually increased so that the body builds up immunity to these allergens.
Allergen extracts are manufactured from natural substances, such as pollens, insect venoms, animal hair, and foods. More than 1,200 extracts are licensed by FDA.
For more information, visit www.fda.gov.
November 21, 2011 5:38 pm
For those cooking the bird this holiday or for those who regularly host events on other special days, we all know what it feels like when something goes wrong. Although some things are out of your control, being prepared is a surefire way to avoid any dire mistakes when you have a houseful of hungry guests and limited time to throw a meal together. Now that the holidays have officially arrived, here are a few dangerous mistakes to avoid:
When cooking a turkey or a pig, be sure to cook in a properly sized pan. When cooking large roasts, make sure you have the cookware necessary to pull it off. Oftentimes, excess fat can drip in the oven putting you in danger of starting a kitchen fire. Make sure no part of the meal is hanging over the pan and keep your eye on the clock to prevent from overcooking.
Avoid decorating desserts with fresh flowers. Although decorating foods with fresh flowers may seem like a good idea, beware! You never know what insects or bugs may be lingering among the fresh bouquet. Play it safe. Go artificial.
Keep your pets at bay. Even if your beloved pet is well-behaved, sometimes even the most mannered dogs or cats can be tempted from delicious smelling foods. Avoid a scene (and spoiled meal!) by keeping your pets secluded from the kitchen and dining area, at least until the end of the meal.
One oven, one turkey. For households having a large amount of guests for Thanksgiving, think about using a second oven or portable cooker if you are cooking more than one bird. With two birds in the same spot, the meat will not cook as well or as fast, as it should.
Take out the necessary ingredients ahead of time. Save yourself some time and stress by lining up your ingredients before you start cooking. Too many times have eager novices used salt in place of sugar, or cornstarch instead of powdered sugar. Be careful, slow yourself down and always read the label!
When entertaining guests, mishaps can and do happen. With a little bit of planning and the ability to laugh when things go slightly askew, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable night for everyone.
Source: Cooking Light
November 21, 2011 5:38 pm
For homeowners with kids, mornings can be a brutal challenge. As you attempt to get children up and ready for school, there's teeth to be brushed and bellies to fill before rushing off to beat the morning school bell. With an organized plan in place, you can make your morning less stressful and maybe even enjoyable! Be sure to do the following:
Create a plan the night before. Make all of the decisions before bedtime. Help your child decide what he or she wants to wear the next day and lay everything out the night before. Have backpacks packed and ready to go by the door. For girls, choose all accessories the night before as well. Doing so will save precious minutes the following morning.
Pack lunches the night before as well. Stick them in the fridge for an easy grab-and-go tomorrow.
Wake up 15 minutes earlier. Try to enforce an earlier bedtime without your child knowing. Wake him or her up earlier as well. While being careful not to skimp on your child's much needed sleep, waking up a bit earlier can really do wonders and get your family moving faster than ever.
Play up-beat music in the morning. Playing your children's favorite music can really jump-start their brains. This positive energy will trickle down to their feet and really get them moving.
Never skip out on a healthy breakfast. Eggs, bananas and healthy cereals are most recommended to benefit your child's physical and mental health as well as his or her school performance. Plastic baggies are great to use in a worst-case scenario, just in case you have to eat on the run.
With a little extra planning and attention, you can save valuable time in the morning, which will benefit and de-stress your entire family.
November 18, 2011 5:34 pm
According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the average consumer spends about $630 each year on household supplies. In fact, a recent study reveals that many Americans are letting their money go down the drain—literally—by spending too much on items like laundry detergent. In these tough economic times, families are looking for smart, new ways to save money without sacrificing quality, and the laundry room is a great place to start.
Finding the right detergent is the first step toward clean, bright laundry. Look for a brand that provides the clean you need, at a fraction of the cost. Find what works best for your needs, from liquid or powder, to scented or free of perfume.
Here are more ways to keep clothes, floors and household surfaces in tip-top shape, without breaking the bank.
Keep it Cool
Save on energy costs by using cold water whenever possible. Most detergents are powerful enough to get a deep-down clean regardless of the water temperature. Whether running the dish washer or loading the laundry machine, turn the dial to cold for savings.
Use, Wash, Repeat
Laundry rooms are often dubbed mud rooms. When cleaning these floors and surfaces, use reusable products like cloth towels whenever possible. In addition to being a green option, you'll save money by not going through rolls and rolls of pricey paper towels.
Turn to Homemade Solutions
Forego costly cleaners and reduce cupboard clutter by making your own products with common household ingredients. A simple mix of baking soda and water creates a useful all-purpose cleaner; lemon juice cuts through grease; and an old toothbrush is perfect for scrubbing hard-to-reach places.
Stock Up on Essentials
Everyone should have one go-to product that addresses a multitude of messy situations at home. One can find countless cleaning and deodorizing products, some even costing less than one dollar a box. Baking soda, for example, freshens carpets, cleans tiles and walls, polishes silver, deodorizes diaper pails, boosts laundry, and much more.
For more information about getting the clean you need on a budget, visit www.armandhammer.com.
November 18, 2011 5:34 pm
Every year, Americans stock up on lemon tea, vitamin C, and herbal remedies to brace for another long flu season. But what really works? Protecting yourself (and your friends, family and community) from influenza is as easy as taking these three simple steps:
1. Get a flu shot. Two-thirds of Americans plan to get the flu vaccine this year, but following through on this pledge can be difficult. Be sure to make an appointment and get your shot so you’re ready to take on the season.
2. Stop the spread of germs. Common-sense germ precautions are one of the most powerful steps you can take to stop the flu in its tracks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this means washing your hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; avoiding close contact with sick people; and limiting contact with healthy people if you fall ill.
3. Seek help if you are under the weather. If you do become sick, it's important to see your doctor right away. Although many people think of the flu as just a nuisance illness, it can be very serious -- especially for the very young, the elderly, and anyone with a weak immune system. Every year, the flu is responsible for hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and countless hours of lost work.
For more information, visit www.ZocDoc.com.
November 18, 2011 5:34 pm
Some use the terms interior designer and interior decorator interchangeably. However, in general, designers tend to produce more drawn information and plans, whereas decorators are more associated with personal presentations to clients on space planning, furnishings, palette, and finishes, often in residential settings and sometimes including drawings. Clearly, there is a broad area of overlap.
Interior design is a multi–faceted profession whereby creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to enhance interior environments. Clients are often corporate committees or executive boards, but can also be homeowners.
Interior decoration can also be complex, depending upon the size and variety of building interiors to be considered. Many accomplished interior decorators have some form of interior design training, up to and including a degree, but because of state regulation, local habits, or a preference for residential design work, consider themselves to be "decorators."
Interior decorating typically involves space planning, color palette, floor and wall surfaces, window treatments, furniture, accessories and lighting—particularly for residential applications. It also incorporates elements of functionality and utility, as well as aesthetics.
Thus, residential designers and decorators often are involved with selling appropriate style and home furnishings rather than specifications and drawn plans for commercial spaces. The career focus is largely a matter of preference or interest, as is the nomenclature (unless regulated by the state).
Can a decorator do residential interior design? And vice-versa? Absolutely. With the broad overlap, it happens all the time. The practitioner needs mainly to be conversant with local rules and regulations.
Currently, only three states in the U.S. regulate the practice of interior design, although several have title acts covering who can refer to or advertise themselves as "registered" or "certified" interior designers—but those titling laws are completely voluntary and do not limit anyone's ability to work as an interior designer.
Homeowners are encouraged to seek out experience, competence, and personal compatibility to find the best design practitioner for themselves through webs searches, referrals, portfolio review, and personal interview—regardless of the nomenclature each professional applies to themselves.
For more information, please visit yourdesigncareerishere.wordpress.com.
November 17, 2011 5:34 pm
When snow and ice create dangerous conditions that can make driving a challenge, it’s important to be prepared and take extra precautions behind the wheel. Driving more carefully in winter weather will ensure drivers get to their destination safely and keep their car insurance rates down.
Slow Down, Be Careful
The simplest way to stay safe on winter roads is to drive slower than normal and with extra caution. Adjust driving speed to account for low visibility or slick conditions on the road. Remember to allow more braking time by following other cars at a larger distance than required on dry roads. The greater the speed, the more stopping distance that is required, and on icy and snowy roads this distance grows even more. Even if the driver is doing the speed limit, police can still give out tickets for driving too fast for the current road conditions.
Avoid over-steering by responding to a skid in a careful and controlled fashion. Although the instinct can be to panic, staying calm and keeping control of the car will help avoid an accident.
Watch For Pedestrians and Parked Cars
Especially in low visibility conditions when it is snowing and blowing, it’s important to keep an eye out for people and things you might not be able to see in the snow. Not every winter accident involves two vehicles. Single vehicle collisions with parked cars, or striking road signs and other objects are very common when visibility is poor and snow hides them. These accidents may have a big impact on your insurance rates.
Watch carefully for:
• Pedestrians crossing streets, especially at night
• Parked cars that might be hidden by snow
• Garbage cans and other objects that might be on the road
• Road signs (especially at street corners), where braking can lead to skidding
Remember that no matter what the road conditions, an accident in which a driver strikes an inanimate object or pedestrian is usually the driver’s responsibility. Drivers may be found at fault in the insurance claim even if situations where ice or snow is a factor.
Check the Conditions
Before heading out on the road, check the weather report and local road condition reports. Knowing what to expect on the road ahead means being prepared to respond to the conditions. Consider skipping the trip if conditions are bad and it is not necessary; it might better to stay home.
November 17, 2011 5:34 pm
With 118.2 million pet-owning households, according to the latest survey by the American Pet Products Association, many families will invite their four-legged family members to participate in the holiday festivities. Whether it’s lighting the menorah or decorating the Christmas tree, every family has their own customs that make the holidays special. Here are some easy ways to incorporate pets into the family traditions this season.
Counting Down the Days: Buy your pet a 12 Days of X-Mas calendar at your local pet store. These calendars give pets a toy or tasty treat during the 12 days leading up to Christmas. This durable calendar counts down the days to the big day and lets pets join in the advent calendar fun.
Dressed to the Nines: The holidays mean plenty of parties and shopping for the perfect party dress or festive Santa tie. Dressing the part is now more fun for cats. Holiday cat ties give your feline friend a comfortable, yet festive accessory for the holidays. The festive bow tie features Christmas colors in a hip checkered design so cats look their best this holiday.
Delicious Dinner: The National Turkey Federation estimates that Americans eat 18 pounds of turkey a year, 33% of which is consumed during the holidays. Whether the family is feasting on a turkey dinner or delicious latkes, food is always part of the holiday celebration. Let pets safely join in and give them a special treat this holiday. People food is for people, but you can purchase holiday dinners specifically for dogs providing them with their own turkey dinner packed with wholesome ingredients that won’t ruin their diet. Now they can truly be a true part of the family dinner.
Giving and Getting Holiday Toys: A 2010 MSNBC report estimated that Americans spent $584.3 billion during the holidays. Giving and getting presents is one of the most popular holiday traditions. When waking up on Christmas morning, make sure cats and dogs have a little something under the tree. Make Hanukkah's eight crazy nights a little crazier with Hanukkah-themed pet toys from the same collection. These classy and classic holiday toys make the perfect gift for the family pet or a fantastic “thank you” to a pet-loving holiday party host or hostess.
Photos with Santa: Taking photos with Santa is a time old tradition. Luckily, pet parents won’t have to stand in line at the mall to let the family pet share in the fun. Petco stores nationwide will be offering pet photos with Santa on December 3 and 10, 2011.
For more information, visit www.petco.com/holiday.
November 17, 2011 5:34 pm
Saying that consumers deserve to know what they’re paying for, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers called on the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to require more transparency on home buyers’ forms.
The Appraisal Institute, in a joint letter with the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, asked the CFPB to separate appraisal fees from administration and processing fees on the settlement forms that consumers receive when purchasing a home. Created by Congress, the CFPB oversees consumer disclosure laws and is authorized to develop new forms to inform consumers of charges assessed in processing mortgage loans.
“We see no consumer benefit with continuing to bundle two separate services and not fully disclosing such information to borrowers,” the letter said. “We urge the CFPB to revise these forms with a separate line for Appraisal Management (or management fees in total) as Congress authorized last year when it enacted the Dodd-Frank Act.”
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama in July 2010, authorized the CFPB to separate appraisal and appraisal management fees to consumers on the HUD-1 settlement statement, the standard form used in the United States to itemize services and fees charged to the borrower by the lender or broker when applying for a loan for the purpose of purchasing or refinancing real estate.
However, the proposed form issued for comment by the CFPB still combines appraisal and appraisal management fees. (Management fees are those charged by an appraisal management company for administrative services; the appraisal fee refers to the actual cost of the appraisal itself.)
In their letter, the Appraisal Institute and the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers cited recent research from the National Association of REALTORS® that said borrowers are paying more for appraisal fees than they recently did, but noted that appraisers report their fees have been reduced by as much as 40 percent. This is because banks have passed through backroom administration expenses on the backs of consumers.
“The CFPB … has a unique opportunity to improve transparency for borrowers by requiring full disclosure of costs incurred for appraisal services and costs for appraisal management services,” the letter said, adding “…we believe that consumers deserve to know who is providing services relative to their loan and how much was paid. This is the spirit of transparency and the core presumption with development of a consumer disclosure form.”
To read the Appraisal Institute’s and American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers’ letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, go to http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/newsadvocacy/downloads/ltrs_tstmny/2011/AI_ASFMRA_CDF_final.pdf.
November 16, 2011 5:34 pm
With the rush of the holidays comes a slower-paced season for housing. Fear not, however! While there is typically less inventory around during the winter months, sellers have a unique opportunity to stand-out from their competition and truly shine. With the right staging and finesse, you can increase your chances of landing a sale and for the price you're looking for.
Don't neglect the basics. Just because the weather is colder doesn't mean you should neglect the outside of your home or the yard around it. Clean up the lawn in the fall to prepare for winter showings. If there are any repairs necessary for the outside of the house—roofing problems, a new paint job, etc.—plan ahead to complete these tasks before showing the home. Exterior curb appeal still counts for buyers rushing for the warmth of indoors.
Take advantage of a seasonal interior. Make the inside of your home feel as warm as possible. Crank up the heat or start a fire in the fireplace. The goal is to paint a picture for buyers to see themselves living in your home. Maximize the space of each room by cleaning up clutter or rearranging the furniture. Do anything and everything to make it feel warm and inviting.
Make sure to keep the home's paths clear. It may seem obvious, but it is crucially important to keep your walkways and driveway clear of snow, ice or debris. For homeowners who have already vacated, this may be a challenging aspect of the home-selling process. Keep in mind that many buyers and agents may not want to deal with a home that's difficult to get into.
Light it up. Make sure all of the home's lights are on. If the home is being showed during the day, open the curtains and let the natural light shine through. Make the home look as bright as possible and worry about the electricity bill later.
Keep holiday décor conservative. Although you will be tempted to make your home stand out, keep decorations in check and don't overdue it on outdoor lighting. Avoid overly religious decorations as to not offend anyone.
If your home is properly staged, fixed-up and ready to go, you won't suffer from a drought of interested buyers. Always putting your best foot forward is the best strategy to have no matter what the season.
Source: Associated Press