Consumer Real Estate News

  • Tips for Maintaining Your Marble Countertops

    29 May 2020

    With marble countertops being all the rage, it’s time we talk about how to care for this stunning surface. While it lends a timeless and elegant look to your kitchen and bathrooms, truth be told, the beloved stone can be rather high maintenance. Take the proper measures, however, and it’s totally worth it for a classic look that isn’t going out of style any time soon.

    Here are a few tips to keep your marble countertops looking as new as the day you got them.

    Use a Sealer
    Unlike quartz or granite, marble is a porous surface. That means that a spilled glass of red wine could potentially be the end of your all-white kitchen. To avoid that from happening, you’re going to have to apply a marble sealer. Your supplier can likely do this upon installation, as well as provide advice on how often to reapply the sealer. Typically, once a month will do the trick.

    Avoid Acids
    Acidic substances, like lemons, should never be in direct contact with marble because they will etch the surface. Be sure to use a cutting board and stay away from cleaning agents that may have vinegar or lemon in them. Although marble is heat resistant, it’s also a good idea to always use a trivet or pot holder when placing a hot pan on the countertop.

    Clean Carefully
    For daily cleaning, you can use a mild dish or stone soap, then rinse with water to keep marble spick and span. If you do end up with a stubborn stain that refuses to come out, a mixture of hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of ammonia can be applied to the surface and repeated as necessary. One major benefit of marble is that, unlike other surfaces, it can be sanded down to remove the impossible stain if necessary.

    Whether you go with a classic Calacatta or a sophisticated Statuario, take these proper precautions and you’ll be enjoying a flawless kitchen for years to come!

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 10 Tips to Stretch Your Food Budget

    29 May 2020

    Food is a major expense in any household, and for those on a tight budget, a few dollars saved can make a big difference. offers 10 tips based on planning and smart shopping to help you feed your family while keeping more money in your wallet.

    1. Plan, plan, plan. Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Include meals like stews, casseroles or stir fries, which “stretch” expensive items into more portions. Check to see what foods you already have, and make a list for what you need to buy.

    2. Get the best price. Check the local newspaper, online and at the store for sales and coupons. Ask about a loyalty card for extra savings at stores where you shop. Look for specials or sales on meat and seafood, which are often the most expensive items on your shopping list.

    3. Compare and contrast. Locate the “unit price” listed on the store shelf directly below the product. Use the price to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is more economical.

    4. Buy in bulk. It’s almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Smart choices are family packs of chicken, steak, or fish and larger bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables. Before you shop, remember to check if you have enough freezer space to store the extra food.

    5. Buy in season. Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness. If you aren’t going to use them all right away, buy some that still need time to ripen.

    6. Ditch the convenience costs. Convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables, and instant rice, oatmeal, or grits will cost you more than if you were to make them from scratch. Take the time to prepare your own, and you’ll save.

    7. Choose cheaper. Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens or potatoes. As for fruits, apples and bananas are good choices.

    8. Cook once to eat all week. Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes on your day off (double or triple the recipe). Freeze the portions in individual containers. Use them throughout the week, and you won’t have to spend money on take-out meals.

    9. Get your creative juices flowing. Spice up your leftovers by using them in new ways. For example, try leftover chicken in a stir fry or over a garden salad, or use it to make chicken chili. Remember, throwing away edible food is throwing away your money.

    10. Be savvy at restaurants. Eating out can be expensive. Save money by getting the early bird special, going out for lunch instead of dinner or looking for “2 for 1” deals. Stick to water instead of ordering other beverages, which add to the bill.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Choose Age-Appropriate Chores for Your Kids

    29 May 2020

    Completing chores teaches children responsibility and makes them feel like they’re important contributors to the family. Parents sometimes don’t ask their kids to help out because they think they’re too young, but children deserve more credit. Kids are often capable of much more than adults think they are.

    When and How to Teach Kids to Do Chores
    Start having your children complete chores when they’re toddlers. The earlier they learn that they’re expected to help out at home, the easier it’ll be to get them on board. A child who’s expected to pitch in at a very young age will think it’s completely normal and be less likely to resist doing chores later.

    Explain and demonstrate what you want your child to do. Make instructions as specific as possible. Then let the child try the task while you supervise and offer guidance. Don’t expect it to be done perfectly the first few times. The goal should be to teach your child to contribute and to clearly communicate your expectations. Praise the child for each step that’s done correctly. With time and practice, your child will become more skilled and confident.

    If a child is assigned a chore, make it clear when you expect it to be done. Don’t provide too many reminders, because that’ll feel like micromanaging to your child. On the other hand, you shouldn’t allow a child to put off doing a chore and then throw up your hands in frustration and do it yourself. Set clear expectations, and give your child the chance to get it done.

    What Types of Chores Can Your Kids Do?
    A preschooler can handle chores that have one or two steps, such as placing dirty clothes in a hamper, putting away toys or feeding a pet. Kids who are a little older can learn to make a bed, wash plastic dishes, help clear the table after meals and water plants. A first or second grader can help set the table, sweep the floor, sort laundry, and clean up his or her bedroom. A child a bit older can help by vacuuming, loading the dishwasher, putting away laundry, mopping the floor and helping with meal preparation. A child 10 or older can be responsible for washing and folding laundry, cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, and changing sheets.

    Teach Your Kids to Pitch in
    Chores can help kids learn responsibility and make them feel like they’re valued members of the family. The earlier you start assigning your children chores, the better. Don’t assume that your kids are incapable of doing things. They may be able to do a lot more than you think if you provide clear instructions, demonstrations and praise. Choose age-appropriate chores for your kids, and let them gradually take on more responsibility as they get older.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Weather the Storm

    28 May 2020

    (Family Features) Surging spring temperatures can bring volatility that translates into major weather events. The 2020 storm season could see above-average probability for major hurricanes hitting the United States coastline and the Caribbean, according to the annual Colorado State Tropical Meteorology Forecast.

    As those in the paths of seasonal storms know, property damage and power outages come with the territory. Being prepared for weather disasters and power outages is critical to protecting property, productivity and well-being.

    Assess external threats. Before storm season arrives, take inventory of potential problems outdoors that could be exacerbated by bad weather. For example, trees may need trimming if limbs threaten power lines, the house or other structures on your property. Also examine the house for necessary repairs, such as loose guttering, shutters or shingles that may need to be secured and torn screens, all of which can worsen in heavy weather and cause more damage.

    Another consideration is items that could topple in heavy winds, such as barbecue grills or lawn furniture. When possible, look for ways to secure these items so they don’t take flight, aren’t destroyed or cause additional damage.

    Assemble emergency resources. An overnight storm is no time to discover your flashlight batteries are dead or you don’t have the right size batteries to replace them. Making time to update your stash of storm supplies before weather hits can save some frustration and help ensure you’re prepared to safely wait out the storm.

    In addition to replacing flashlight batteries and checking that they’re in good working order, if you don’t have a light source in every room it’s a good plan to place flashlights or lanterns in rooms where you may need to be able to see in an emergency. The idea is to give everyone in the family the ability to illuminate their path and move safely through the house no matter where they are when the lights go out.

    Part of your preparation should also include restocking your first-aid kit. Some items in the kit, like ointments and medications, can expire so you’ll need to replenish anything you’ve used and double-check that the contents are still safe to use. If you don’t already have them, be sure to add a battery-operated radio and a portable power bank so you have access to news updates and can charge a low phone battery.

    Take inventory of your non-perishable food items to ensure you have plenty of options on hand in the event power stays off through one or more meals. You may also want to stockpile some books and board games for convenient access to entertainment while your power is down.

    Make power plans. Because power outages area near certainty during severe weather season, reliable electricity is a necessity for powering work, school and daily life. An appropriately sized standby generator can ensure your home power doesn’t miss a beat when faced with seasonal storms. Because standby generators are fueled by natural gas or liquid propane, the tank doesn’t require regular refueling with gasoline which means no last-minute trips to the gas station when your generator runs out of gas.

    “Standby generators can power an entire home, and because they are wired to the home’s electrical system so there is minimal interruption,” said Brian Northway, Briggs & Stratton field service manager. “When a storm knocks out power, the generator automatically takes over to deliver power, allowing you to take care of family and accomplish what you need to rather than worry about the power outage.”

    Generators with a smart power management system, such as the line of units offered by Briggs & Stratton, can help manage high-wattage appliance priority. These power management technologies allow a homeowner to prioritize the power they need during an outage at a lower upfront acquisition cost.

    Learn more about standby power options at

    How Big of a Generator Do You Need?
    It can be easiest to determine which type of home standby generator system is right for your household by first thinking about what items your family needs to remain functioning normally during a power outage. The number of home appliances or electrical loads you want to power will determine the size and cost of the generator.

    There are generally three different types of standby generators, which vary based on how much your home needs to power:

    Select Circuit Home Generators: Power Essential Appliances
    A select-circuit generator system is a cost-effective way to power your home’s basics to get you comfortably through a power outage. These units can power up to 10 electrical loads in your home, including the fridge, some lights, television and the microwave.

    Managed Whole-House Power Generators: Smaller, More Power
    A standby generator equipped with a smart power management solution gives your family the benefits of whole-house power with a smaller, more affordable generator system. These home generator systems can power all your electrical needs, including up to two air conditioners.

    Whole-House Generators: Maximum Backup Power Needs
    Whole-house standby generator options are typically used as backup power solutions for extra-large and luxury homes. They power an array of high-wattage appliances, from double ovens to hot tubs with commercial-grade performance.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Preventing Mosquito and Tick Bites in Your Yard

    28 May 2020

    It’s summer–the season to fire up the grill, fill up the cooler, and invite family and friends over for a picnic or other get-together in your home’s yard. To stay safe and keep the outside fun going, however, you’ll want to avoid inviting two potential visitors: mosquitoes and ticks.

    Too many pesky insects can ruin a good time, and although most bug bites are annoying but harmless, some mosquitoes and ticks can spread dangerous diseases, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Fortunately, you can take steps to help prevent mosquitoes and ticks from joining a yard party this summer, and to keep you and your family safer.

    Make Your Yard Less Attractive
    Mosquitoes lay eggs in or near standing water. To help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, either empty and scrub, turn over, or cover outside items that hold water—including buckets, planters, birdbaths, flowerpots and trash containers—once a week. Also throw out things you don’t use that can collect water, such as tires or old toys. Add chemicals that kill mosquito eggs, called larvicides, to water that won’t be used for drinking and can’t be covered or dumped out, such as a pond or fountain.

    Because many types of ticks live in areas with woods, bushes or high grass, it’s important to keep your home’s yard tidy. Clear bushes, tall grass and fallen leaves from around your home, and mow the lawn often. Also use wood chips or gravel to separate your patio or play equipment from wooded or brushy areas. For even more protection, consider applying tick control products to your yard. You can do this yourself or hire a pest control company.

    Use Insect Repellent
    Insect repellent makes it harder for mosquitoes and ticks to find you. Use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered repellent with one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Always follow the product instructions, and don’t use repellent on babies under two months old; instead, cover their stroller or car seat with mosquito netting. If you have pets, talk with your veterinarian about the best way to protect them from ticks.

    Cover Up Your Skin
    To keep mosquitoes and ticks away from exposed skin, cover up as much as possible. When practical, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Wearing light-colored clothing will also allow you to see ticks more easily.

    Check for Ticks
    After spending time outside, check everybody in the family, including pets, for ticks. Search the entire body, especially under arms, in and around ears, behind knees, around the waist, and in and around hair. If you find a tick, remove it right away. Use tweezers—not your fingers or a hot match—to properly remove the entire insect. Talk to a doctor if you or a family member gets sick after a tick bite.


    Published with permission from RISMedia.