Richard Parke
Richard Parke

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Business Owners: Draw in Millennials with Workplace Design

November 1, 2017 1:39 am

If you're a business owner or manager looking to attract more millennial employees, look closely at your office layout. According to a new study by IPSOS, on behalf of National Business Furniture, the way you layout your workspace can predict who will want to work there. Below are a handful of tips.

Customize spaces to fit departments and jobs. While employees in finance will want personal offices to manage sensitive information, more collaborative groups like marketing may work better in the open with desks clustered closer together for creative brainstorming.

Add portable wall panels to open cubicle spaces. Noise is one negative side effect of today's contemporary open office floor plan. Today, there are a wide range of creative portable screens and walls that can be quickly added for privacy and to act as a sound barrier.

Go green. Researchers in the Netherlands conducted a study that measured a 15 percent increase in productivity when "lean" workplaces with a bare-bones aesthetic were spruced up with green plant life. Introducing plants to an office environment has been reported to reduce absenteeism by up to 50 percent, and reduce minor illness by 30 percent.

Create an active workplace. Recent studies have found that prolonged sitting can increase health risks such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Employers can create more active workplaces today by incorporating standing-height or adjustable-height tables that allow workers to rotate between sitting and standing during the day.

Source: IPSOS, National Business Furniture

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How to Get Your Family On Board for Your Destination Wedding

November 1, 2017 1:39 am

While having a destination wedding may sound like a dream, it can be difficult to convey that dream to your family and friends, who may be shy of making that kind of time and monetary commitment. Below are a handful of helpful conversation keys from Vacation.com.

- A destination wedding's guest list is typically smaller than a wedding at home. This really forces you to decide whose attendance is non-negotiable. If there is someone who might have trouble traveling long distances, don't forget that "destination" doesn't necessarily mean halfway across the world. A destination wedding travel professional can be invaluable with helping you figure out how those with special needs can travel safely.

- Weddings can bring up a lot of feelings—and not just for the couple. It can be hard for families to let go of their own visions for your wedding. But it's your wedding – and this is a great chance to explain why a destination wedding is so important to you.

- A destination wedding sounds so expensive, right? Wrong! Any wedding will have costs associated with it. However, research shows that a destination wedding can be more cost-effective than a traditional wedding: a destination wedding typically costs $17,000 for the ceremony and reception as compared to the average $32,600 price for a traditional wedding in a mid-sized U.S. city.

- Some people start thinking about their future wedding years before their partner is on the scene. And they talk about it, too, leading family members to believe that a destination wedding isn't really your choice. But people change, and your childhood dream wedding at the local country club might not fit your current vision. This is a great opportunity to explain to loved ones that a destination wedding is something that will give you wonderful memories for anniversaries to come.

- For any type of wedding, experts recommend sitting down and mapping out no-go dates, like cousin Jane's wedding the second weekend of April, and your brother's college graduation the first weekend of June. But listen, there will never be a single perfect time where no one in your family has anything going on. Choose what works best for you and remember: this is an issue that can affect weddings at home, too.

- It can be a leap of faith to have a wedding in a venue you might not be able to visit beforehand. This is the time to lean on a travel professional who can recommend venues they have worked with who have ultra-professional wedding coordinators.

- Getting a group from many places to one spot can be tricky. And that's why Vacation.com recommends you don't do it on your own. An experienced destination wedding travel agent will keep track of everyone's preferences, be a point of contact for your travelers, and even secure group rates for air, hotel and ground transportation. You're getting married – you've got enough on your mind; let your travel professional take the logistics challenges off your shoulders.

Source: Vacation.com.

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How to Get Ready for House Guests

November 1, 2017 1:39 am

Whether it's a pile of extended family members coming over for a holiday meal, or a week-long family reunion, prepping for guests can be a busy, dizzying time. Read on for a handful of ways you can get your home ready for guests.

- Start by running your washing machine and dishwasher empty. Clean machines make double-duty holiday cleaning more efficient and effective.

- Stash clutter when company is on the way by filling the family laundry basket. That way, important items don't get lost in the shuffle – you'll find them by your next laundry day.

- Wash all blankets, linens and towels your guests will need for a nice fresh feel.

- Put a "Forgot This?" box in the guest bathroom with extra toothbrushes, razors, antacids, cotton balls and other toiletries they may have forgotten to pack.

- Make room for holiday foods by taking everything out of the fridge, and discard anything expired, spoiled or unknown.

- Plan the serving pieces, utensils and cookware you'll need. Set them out to make sure they're clean and polished so nothing is left to the last minute.

- Have job assignments, such as taking out the trash or setting the table, ready for anyone who asks if they can help.Source: Lemi Shine

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How-to Serve up Style in Your Bathroom

October 30, 2017 1:39 am

Looking to add some of your own personal style to your bathroom? Below are a few ways you can add a little oomph to your powder room.

Climbing plants. Climbing vines indoors can add a jungly, naturalistic element to your space. Some of the coolest vines for interiors are ivy, heartleaf philodendron, jasmine and betel leaf plant.

Art. Don't be afraid to add some unique art to your bathroom! A cool painting or sculpture can make a great focus piece.

Lighting options. From an interesting lighting fixture to a colored bulb or recessed lighting beneath, don't be afraid to get funky with your lights.

Mirroring. Add an expressive picture frame to the edge of your vanity mirror, or create an entire mirrored wall to open up the space and add light.

Playful patterns. If you're a fan of patterns, consider placing a bold pattern on your ceiling, floor, or one wall to make the space more interesting.

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6 Signs Your Heating System Is on Its Way Out

October 30, 2017 1:39 am

During fall and winter, your heating system is your lifeline. So if it fails in the middle of the cold season, it can feel physically, mentally and financially uncomfortable. Below, 128 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric, gives tips to homeowners about signs to look for that indicate a heating system is failing.

Age of the system. The average lifespan of a heating system is 15 - 20 years. As a heating unit ages, it falls behind in terms of efficiency. A high-efficiency system uses less energy to run than a system that isn't, which typically means a lower monthly gas or oil bill. Band-Aid repairs on old units can easily waste money.      

Strange and unusual noises. Noises, particularly metallic or scraping sounds, can be an indicator that a service call is needed for repair. In the event that the homeowner detects such a sound, the unit needs to be turned off immediately for further inspection to prevent any further damage.

Uneven heating of the home. This can indicate a number of things, some of which can be solved by the homeowner. Furniture blocking vents can obstruct air flow, and dirty filters can restrict flow to the entire home. However, if these are checked and the issue still exists, a service call may be needed to clear obstructed ductwork or repair of the unit. When homeowners have one room that gets too hot while another doesn't heat, there is an unbalanced distribution of heat that could be very costly depending on the location of the thermostat.     
Increasing energy bills. Once your energy costs increase without a reasonable explanation, chances are your heating system isn't working as efficiently anymore. This is usually the case with older heating systems, but newer systems can also start to fail and become less efficient.     

Increasing runtime. If your heating system runs constantly, beyond adjusting for winter temperatures, it can be an indication of loss of efficiency or a thermostat issue. Excessive repairs. If repairs are becoming more frequent, expenses are increasing, and the same problems are reoccurring, it is most likely time to replace the entire unit. Replacing the entire unit with a current model will not only cut down on time and money spent on repairs and service calls, but will also help save on monthly energy bills thanks to newer energy-saving standards.

Source: www.call128.com.

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Make Mealtime Meaningful for Families and Furry Friends

October 30, 2017 1:39 am

(Family Features)--Coming together for a shared meal is a simple yet important way for families to bond and create memories with one another. There's no better time than right now to bring everyone together around the dinner table - including your four-legged friends - for a delicious, healthy meal.

These tips can help make mealtime even more meaningful for everyone:

Have the family help with the meal prep. Pick a recipe everyone can help prepare, such as build-your-own pizzas, to make the dinner both a bonding activity and a rewarding experience when you get to eat your own creation.

Schedule mealtime for the whole family, including your pup. Your furry friend can enjoy sharing in the family experience, and with his own food bowl, he'll be gobbling that up, making it less tempting to ask for human food.

Establish a no-devices-at-the-dinner-table policy to encourage kids and adults alike to talk, engage and bond with each other. This quality time spent in the company of family can build cherished memories for years to come.

Opt for healthy options to keep everyone's energy levels up. This means working in plenty of fruits, veggies and quality proteins like chicken or salmon, sweet potatoes, lentils and more. These ingredients are also great for your pup and are included in many high-quality dog foods.

Whether it's once a week or every night, coming together for a shared meal is a simple gesture that can help bring families - and even furry family members - together. So grab a plate (or bowl) and enjoy your shared mealtime with the entire family.

Source: Nutro

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Cleaning House on the Quick and Cheap

October 27, 2017 1:39 am

We once met a woman who loved to clean house. She said it gave her a feeling of accomplishment. For many, however, it’s a thankless chore, and the sooner done, the better.

Consumer editors at Woman’s Day Magazine and the DIY Network offer seven ways to save time and money and still keep your home sparkling clean:

All-purpose cleaners – No need to buy cleaning solutions for a single purpose. Fill a squirt bottle with four tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of warm water. Use it to clean kitchen counters, appliances, inside the fridge and more – or add one-third cup vinegar to a quart of water to clean glass, countertops and even floors.

Burnt food on burners – Remove burnt-on food from stove burners by soaking them overnight in a zip-lock bag filled with a cup of ammonia.

Burnt food in pans – No need to throw out or replace that badly burnt pan. Heat a cup of white vinegar in it until warm. Remove from the heat and mix in two tablespoons of baking powder. After 15 minutes, rinse with warm water and voila!

Microwave magic – To degrease and clean the inside of your microwave, cook ½ cup of water mixed with ½ cup of vinegar in it for two minutes. A clean rag should wipe the mess right off.

Forget paper towels – They’re expensive and they often leave a residue. Buy a pack of micro-fiber cleaning rags that will clean better and can be used over and over again.

Zap the sponge – It’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Disinfect it often by squeezing it out and microwaving it on high for a minute. No need to replace it until it is shredding or smelly.

Shower curtain bath – If mold or mildew are attacking the shower curtain, throw it in the washing machine with a few towels, which will help scrub it, then hang it back up to dry.

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Halloween Safety Tips

October 27, 2017 1:39 am

From long hours outdoors after dark, to strings of lights and choke-sized candy, Halloween can be a safety minefield. Below are some top safety tips from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:

- Don't use open flames in jack o' lanterns or other Halloween decorations. Battery or electric-powered tea lights or glow sticks in jack o' lanterns are much safer than candles.
- Wear flame-resistant costumes and never walk near lit candles or other open flames.
- Keep walking areas, steps and porches well-lit and free of obstacles to avoid falls.
- Wherever possible, use established crosswalks and look both ways before crossing the street.
- Inspect all treats before consuming to assure they have not been tampered with.
- Decorative lights should be approved by Underwriter's Laboratory and carry a UL seal on the tag. Red UL marks indicate the lights are approved for indoor or outdoor use, while green UL tags indicate approval for indoor use only.
- Outdoor lights and decorations should be plugged into outlets that feature Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
- Indoor lights should not touch window treatments, carpet or furniture.
- Place all lights on a timer if you'll be away from home, and turn off all lights before you go to bed.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Making the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

October 27, 2017 1:39 am

(Family Features)--Eating well and regular exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, and so is making sure you have the right health care coverage. Medicare's annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs.

During Medicare Open Enrollment, which runs Oct. 15 - Dec. 7, 2017, you can enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2018. If you miss the deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your plan.  

To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps:

1. Review your current plan notice. Read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your "Annual Notice of Change" letter. Look at your plan's information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.

2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Does your current plan cover your new medication? Does another plan offer the same coverage at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.

3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums (through Medicare Savings Programs), your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs (through Extra Help). Visit Medicare.gov or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more.

4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting each October, you can use Medicare's Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see what plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:

- Cost less
- Cover your drugs
- Let you go to the providers you want, like your doctor or pharmacy

If you find your current coverage still meets your needs, then you're done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you're already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.

5. Check your plan's Star Rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder is up-to-date with the Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a 1 - 5 star scale, with 1 being the lowest performing and 5 stars representing excellent performance. You can use Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

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Tips for a Safe and Happy Halloween

October 25, 2017 1:36 am

Americans love Halloween. According to a recent survey, Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of how much we spend on decorations. But before the Great Pumpkin sends a host of little ghosts and goblins trick-or-treating on your street, the cautious underwriters at Traveler’s Insurance urge us to do what we can to make sure the evening is safe and happy:

Clear the way – Walk your property to minimize potential accidents. Roll up hoses and get them out of the way, and make sure the walkway is well-lighted and clear of obstacles.

Place decorations carefully – Set up lawn displays with foot traffic in mind and place them to prevent tipping over, blowing away, or becoming a tripping hazard.

Choose safe décor - Avoid dried flowers, cornstalks and crêpe paper because they are highly combustible – and keep decorations away from heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.

Take care with lighting – Avoid open flames. Use LED lighting or battery-operated candles, and never drape fabric over light bulbs, which can generate heat and start a fire.

Minimize electrical risk – Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to help reduce the risk of electric shock. Avoid daisy-chaining extension cords when plugging in decorations, which can cause overheating – and never staple, nail through, or fasten electrical wires or extension cords in any way as that can damage the wire or insulation and cause electrical shock or fire.

Drive with extra care – Parents everywhere will be rushing home in time to get their kids ready for Halloween. Drive neighborhoods slowly and with caution, looking out for less cautious drivers and/or costumed kids crossing the street.

Choose costumes wisely – Utilize bright colors and or flashlights to make sure your child is easily visible in darkened streets. Young children should trick-or-treat in small groups with parents supervising nearby.

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