15 Tips & Tricks for a Super Clean Home

We all hate to clean – well, most of us – so it’s no surprise we often look for ways to make it simpler and easier. Thankfully, there are some such ways – here are at least 15!

Contributor: Bob Tom

We all hate to clean – well, most of us – so it’s no surprise we often look for ways to make it simpler and easier. Thankfully, there are some such ways – here are at least 15!

Whether you constantly clean your home or only need to do it because you’re expecting visitors, these easy tricks can make the process much faster and less painful.

You’ll also save money on a host of useless cleaning products. Without further ado, here are our cheap and easy hacks for a super clean home.

1. Cleaning the blender

Fill the blender with warm water and a drop of dish soap, then turn it on for several seconds and leave it, then rinse it out with warm water. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t use your sponge after that – but remember; practically everything around the house can be cleaned with a sponge.

Of course, now you need to clean the sponge itself because it can hold on to a lot of bacteria, especially after it’s been in the sink for a long time. To clean it easily, put it in the microwave for half a minute to get rid of the bacteria (and make sure you wait a few minutes before taking it out because it’s hot).

2. Use dryer sheets

Even after they’ve been used, dryer sheets are magic. You can use them to buff water spots from mirrors and shower doors, wipe baseboards clean, and clean kitchen fixtures. We recommend adding a little vinegar to get rid of hard water spots – they can work miracles for fixtures like kitchen faucets.

3. How to clean air vents

If you’ve neglected them, your air vents are probably full of dirt and dust. This sends dust into the rooms and keeps the filthy air from escaping. First, use a soft vacuum brush tool to try to get rid of the dust.

If that doesn’t work, soak a rag with any detergent you have around the house and wrap it around a butter knife. This will get the vents squeaky clean.

4. Clean blinds with vinegar

There’s a reason our grandmas always had vinegar and baking soda around the house. Vinegar has a wide array of applications, from cleaning hard water spots, as mentioned above, to cleaning blinds.

Your blinds can get dirty and dusty easily, so here’s a quick fix – combine equal parts water and vinegar in a bowl and get a cloth to put over your hand. This is important because the vinegar can damage the skin. Dip the cloth in the mix and then run it over each slat of the blinds to remove any dirt or dust.

5. How to clean your shower in a jiffy

You can also clean the shower using vinegar – after all, you don’t want to spend all day in the bathroom. Just fill a dish wand with half dish soap and half vinegar and start scrubbing. You can also use a toothbrush or sponge for this, with the same solution.

6. Use baking soda for cleaner fabrics

A cup of baking soda will do wonders – you won’t believe how dazzlingly white your clothes will get. Just put it in the washing machine before you do laundry and add a little bit of salt to remove fabric stains.

7. Clean your couch fast

You can also use baking soda to clean your couch. It helps get rid of any lingering smells and stains on all kinds of fabric. First dust the couch off, then sprinkle baking soda on the area you want to clean.

After about 15 minutes, vacuum the baking soda using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

8. How to clean stainless steel

Stainless steel appliances are always getting stained. To make them shine, get a soft cloth and some rubbing alcohol.

Alternatively, you can use dish soap and water to clean the surface and rub in some olive oil (a few drops will do) to make the steel shine. Baby or mineral oil on a second cloth works too.

9. How to clean your computer safely

Never use acetone, ethanol, ammonia, toluene, or methyl chloride in the vicinity of your computer. Also, avoid harsh chemicals and paper products and don’t spray anything directly on the screen.

The best way to clean your computer? Dab a bit of white vinegar on a microfiber cloth and scrub the keyboard thoroughly. Then, clean dirtier areas with a cotton swab soaked in vinegar.

Take a microfiber cloth and wipe gently in a circular motion to clean your screen. If needed, apply a mixture of vinegar and water, gently.

10. Pesky grease stains

Mix rubbing alcohol and salt in a ratio of 4:1 to clean grease stains from carpets or other surfaces. Simply rub the mixture into the stain and let the surface dry. If needed, vacuum up any remaining salt.

11. Use tape to clean up dust, dirt and crumbs

A strong adhesive tape will pick up crumbs, dust, and dirt anywhere in the house – fabrics, lamp shades, you name it.

12. Clean sneakers with toothpaste

Use toothpaste and an old toothbrush to get the white parts of your shoes looking like new again – this really works great! I always get asked if I just bought a new pair.

13. Cleaning burnt dishes

we know how annoying burnt pans and pots can be. Again, baking soda and vinegar come to the rescue. Fill the burnt dish with water and a cup of white vinegar, boil the mixture, then add two tablespoons of baking soda. Wait for it to cool, then just wipe the burnt stuff out.

14. Use a dry rag or broom to sweep baseboards

If you haven’t cleaned the baseboards in a while, sweep off the dust using a broom or dry rag, and then vacuum the area. Remove any leftover dirt or dust using a wet cloth or sock.

15. The best way to clean wooden floorboards

You can clean wooden floorboards using a sponge and a bucket of water with a little bit of dishwashing liquid. Use a wet rag to remove any leftover soap residue when you’re done washing.

Conclusion

One last tip – use a sponge to get spots off tiles after you’ve vacuumed them. Alternatively, you can get a bucket of water, a rag and some light detergent, and start scrubbing.

Make sure you wash the rag out and change the water now and then. If not, you’re just pushing more dirt around. Use a toothbrush to get really tough spots out.

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What have you tried in the past that has worked well?

Thanks To Affordable and Reliable In-home Caregiver Service Plus Technology Life Is Much Brighter

It’s often a tough choice for families to make when helping an elderly family member. You’d sure feel guilty if you made the wrong decision and you’d never want anyone making the wrong decision for you, if you were the one needing care. So when it comes to facility care or in-home care, the choice must be made with compassion, it must come from the heart – what’s best, and if it were me, what would I want?

Contributor: Lance Winslow

It’s often a tough choice for families to make when helping an elderly family member. You’d sure feel guilty if you made the wrong decision and you’d never want anyone making the wrong decision for you, if you were the one needing care. So when it comes to facility care or in-home care, the choice must be made with compassion, it must come from the heart – what’s best, and if it were me, what would I want?

We’d all like to believe that in-home care would be the top option, but what if there are rather severe medical issues and you are worried about that? Well, maybe a physician recommended medical monitoring device might provide that extra layer of safety and peace of mind. Let me explain, because today’s innovative medical devices seem to be ready to bridge the gap.

In fact, there was a great article in the Wall Street Journal on July 26, 2018 titled; “A Tech Test to Keep Seniors In Their Homes Longer” by James Moore. The article noted how new medical monitoring and the “Internet of Things’ (IoT) was allowing doctors to feel safe about their patients being at home rather than in an expensive Board and Care Facility, Nursing Home or Assisted Living Location. The article went into several new technologies on the horizon and many that have already hit the market.

The article makes a great point. You see, if you have an in-home caregiver that is treating your family member like family, then you have companionship and less chance for depression. You also have someone doing meal planning, and reminding the client when it’s medication time. Someone is there helping out. Meanwhile, if you have health monitoring devices too, those alert the physician if something is amiss just as one of the nurses might do in a nursing home. When you think about it, isn’t that the same thing that’s done in a nursing home or senior assisted living facility?

Sure it is, and think about it for a second; what is the ratio of nurses or helpers in a board and care facility; six-to-one or more? So, if you have a caregiver the ratio is one-to-one and your mom or dad gets to stay in their home – and we all know transitioning from one’s home to a facility completely disrupts one’s quality of life.

Now then, does this mean that nursing homes, assisted living facilities or board and care facilities are going to be a thing of the past? Well, not likely as there is a waiting list at most of these types of care facilities and they are still commanding a very high price. So, of course, they are not going away anytime soon. Still, the article does make a lot of sense, and it sure makes you think. And, I guess I’d like to leave you with that thought of the day. Be Well, Live Well and By All Means Live Longest!

Lance Winslow is the Founder of the Online Think Tank, a diverse group of achievers, experts, innovators, entrepreneurs, thinkers, futurists, academics, dreamers, leaders, and general all around brilliant minds. http://www.WorldThinkTank.net – Have an important subject to discuss, contact Lance Winslow. Lance also writes eBooks on all sorts of topics including this one, check out the selection.

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Get Rid of It and Get On With It

Haven’t we all been here?! Ah, yes, and this is exactly what I teach you all, here and as clients, about ridding yourself of such things, but I also have a bit of ‘me, too’ about all this. My coaching tells you that you have an ever-changing, every-evolving persona, and we need to be ready for that and embrace these changes. That includes adjusting your space and everything in it to suit The New You!

Contributor: Rhonda McNett

I ran across a great old cartoon recently which tells you where I’m going with this month’s newsletter. Two ladies are talking and one shares that she has a sweater that she has never worn. Her friend says, “So, get rid of it.” Her friend replies that she can’t, because as long as she has it, she doesn’t have to admit she paid good money for it!

Haven’t we all been here?! Ah, yes, and this is exactly what I teach you all, here and as clients, about ridding yourself of such things, but I also have a bit of ‘me, too’ about all this. My coaching tells you that you have an ever-changing, every-evolving persona, and we need to be ready for that and embrace these changes. That includes adjusting your space and everything in it to suit The New You!

One of the biggest changes for me was the realization, many years ago now, that I was no longer going to reside in the Corporate World. I gladly donated/sold my beautiful suits, got rid of the high heels and nylons and all the paraphernalia that goes along with that. One last thing, though, took me a long time to finally ditch: my brass name plate! Can you just imagine how silly that is? Sheesh…

It was, truly, acknowledging that part of my life was over and done with, and I most certainly didn’t need it on my desk as a solo-preneur! Can’t remember what I did with it – it’s probably in a landfill somewhere (my bad) – but I remember the relief in acknowledging that a ‘new me’ was now ready to blossom and grow. Hooray!

So, one more pile to deal with now, related to the above cartoon: years ago, I purchased and enrolled in a productivity certification system that seemed like it might take my business to ‘the next level.’ Not only did dole out over a $1000 for the program, related books and materials, but I convinced a colleague to do the same! And, then? The team involved decided to retire and all was for naught! UGH!

While we might have been allowed to profer some of the materials and coaching within specific parameters, just the thought of presenting any bit of it out of those parameters was legally daunting. I did not need a lawsuit over something that like! So, for years the pile has sat in my bookshelf, taking up needed space!

OK, heed my lesson here: GET RID of stuff that causes you any sense of negativity or angst! Meet the New You with excitement and have the space allowed to do just that! I’m doing that today, before I even get showered and into my day, and then can rearrange the books I do refer to, read and reread in the space I’ve so needed, instead of being on top of other books!

WOW! Do I feel better? Do I feel powerful? Do I feel ready to meet new challenges and adventures, instead of grousing on ‘what might have been’? You bet! Regrets? Not a one!

Here’s to your success in jumping in and finding something that’s been bugging you! Onward toward positivity in change and owning your present, instead of being bogged down by your past!!! Yahoo!!!

Rhonda McNett, Sensible Organizing Strategies, https://www.sosbyrhonda.com: an organizing consultant committed to providing a supportive and rewarding organizing experience through client education, cooperative involvement and ongoing encouragement. Check out my website for tips, resources and workshop information.

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Making Sunday Dinner Special

We like Sundays and we desire Sunday dinner to be special. But due to the lack of time to cook, we resort to buying special food from a restaurant. There is nothing wrong with this of course. Although homemade or store-bought foods are not only limited to Sunday dinners, it is, however, the most common Sunday dinner food we are all so familiar of. For the kids, whether it is store-bought or home cooked they are carefree. Should you find time cooking for Sunday dinner, don’t you think you can spice things up and make a difference?

Contributor: Marie Antoinette Fornillos

We like Sundays and we desire Sunday dinner to be special. But due to the lack of time to cook, we resort to buying special food from a restaurant. There is nothing wrong with this of course. Although homemade or store-bought foods are not only limited to Sunday dinners, it is, however, the most common Sunday dinner food we are all so familiar of. For the kids, whether it is store-bought or home cooked they are carefree. Should you find time cooking for Sunday dinner, don’t you think you can spice things up and make a difference?

Yes you can!

A lot of us are inclined to put our best efforts when preparing the foods we appreciate rather than foods that we feel as though a chore to make. There are many healthy recipes and you have the options to choose non-calorie or no-fat dishes. All you need to do is to be creative so you do not make the same exact dish in the same exact platter during Sunday dinners that your kids will think it’s the only dish you can prepare. Since Mom cooked the food, kids are sure to love it, so you now have an edge to get started.

The best ones are casserole recipes. They are old-classic favorites. Start with cheesy ones and you’ll have them keep relishing. There are magazines that offer healthier eating options featuring casseroles, large salads, or even healthy desserts that are affordable and easy to prepare. You can even mix up the menu a bit for something fresh to the eyes, or let family members vote on what the menu will be. This is a fun way to find a special meal for Sunday dinner.

Know what your family enjoys. If they like stews, you can pick a wonderful crock-pot recipe that you can allow to cook while you take your beauty rest. It’s as simple as loading your slow cooker with the appropriate ingredients, turn it on and let it do the cooking. The delicious stuffing of your favorite ingredients slow-cooked together will fill your home with pleasant aroma and everyone will be excited for Sunday dinner. You can even ask your children to help slice and mince baked chicken recipe ingredients. They will be excited watching as the chicken bakes. Incorporating fresh ideas into your Sunday dinner can invite appetite among little ones and will make their every Sunday dinner unique and delicious.

Put your spirits high with a new-looking dessert. They are almost always a good bet and you will get very few, or even no complains at all about them regardless. Desserts are by far the best way to go in this effort which you can make on Saturday night to chill on the refrigerator. You can try non-alcoholic topical cocktails or punches. Make a combination of fruit essences and put them on your ice cubes. There are inexpensive designer trays that you can use to come up in a variety of fun shapes and sizes. This idea will fill your Sunday with the most flavorful beverage. Little efforts will let the kids feel this is something more than the everyday.

Sunday dinner cooking doesn’t have to be as nerve-racking as many of us make it out to be. We simply need to appreciate our efforts with the thought that it’s for the people we love. You and your family will not only enjoy good food and good times together but you’ll be relieved with leftovers as you can simply enjoy rotating those recipes for use at home. Children are amazed with new things, so they would grab your new dish down to the last bite. If you’re a mom, you’re used to this.

This tried and true technique is a great way to make Sunday dinner cooking quick and easy. The moment you’ll start collecting recipes that you love, it will also blossom your passion for cooking and in time turn you a master of your own guilt-free entrées.

Allow us to help you make the most of your Sunday dinner. Featuring our new product Terra Allegra Clay Bakers http://www.claybakerstore.com.

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Maximizing the Keurig 2.0

If your Keurig is starting to make your coffee taste more like gasoline than coffee, then you need to read this.

Contributor: Ann Poorboy

If your Keurig is starting to make your coffee taste more like gasoline than coffee, then you need to read this.

Often poor or stale coffee beans are to blame for bad coffee, but sometimes it’s just a matter of maintenance for your Keurig. Here are some additional tips to make your next cup of coffee the best it can be.

HOW TO MAKE KEURIG COFFEE STRONGER

Keurig coffee tastes watery? Is your Keurig making weak coffee? The easiest way to get a good, stronger brew is to use dark roasted k-cups. Light roasts in general (flavored coffee, breakfast blends) make weak coffee. However, if you love really bold, strong coffee, I suggest trying a dark roasted blends in a reusable k-cup. 

If your coffee cup is as big as mine (16 oz), try this after a thorough cleaning. Use setting 5.0 (which is a two step process). After the first run, clean out the k-cup and then refill and go to step two. This gives you almost Barista quality coffee – provided you’re using a quality coffee and your machine is clean.

Strong flavored coffee and blends similar to a Tanzania are too much for a 5 setting.

BEST WATER FOR KEURIG

Water is the second most important thing when it comes to brewing a good cup of coffee. Beans are first. I strongly recommend refilling your water tank each morning with filtered water. When it comes to great coffee you can’t filter enough. I use filtered cold water from the fridge and then my Keurig also has a filter.

The water filter should be replaced every 2 months or 60 tank refills. You can stretch this to three months to be a bit more environmentally conscious, but pushing it beyond that will impact the flavor of your coffee. Avoid using softened or distilled water in Keurig. The sensor in the water reservoir does not detect distilled water very well.

KEURIG COFFEE DOESN’T TASTE GOOD ANYMORE

When Keurig coffee doesn’t taste good anymore, thoroughly clean the k-cup holder, exit needles and the area around the holder thoroughly. I recommend doing this at least weekly.

If your Keurig coffee tastes burnt or bitter or has an unpleasant aftertaste, oil buildups might be the reason. It’s really important to clean coffee grounds and dirt from all parts that come in contact with coffee on a regular basis. Once a month, take out and wash the k-cup holder, clean both exit needles, clean coffee grounds around the k-cup holder, funnel where the holder goes and the bottom side of the handle – around the top exit needle. Use a soft brush or a paper towel to clean the area around the filter holder from any dirt or coffee grounds.

I don’t recommend using soap or cleaners for this process, just hot water and lots of it.

DESCALE YOUR MACHINE EVERY 3 MONTHS

I used to be guilty of skipping this step also. It always shows up when I’m in a hurry and am already in the process of trying to start my day. However, I highly recommend taking the time – you’ll be glad you did. Depending on your usage and mineral content of water in your area, it is recommended to descale every three months. Descaling helps clean mineral build-up inside your machine and can help with poor performance. 

KEURIG TEMPERATURE / KEURIG COFFEE NOT HOT ENOUGH

One of the biggest issues with Keurig coffee makers is that they don’t make a steaming cup of coffee. Classic K-cup models brew at 192°F and this can’t be changed. If you have a 2.0 series brewer K475 or K575, you can change the temperature but between 182° F and 192° F for k-cups and between 187° F and 197° F for other pod types. To do this, go to settings/ temperature and use arrows to move settings to the right. The default brew temperature on other 2.0 models is 192° F for k-cups and 197° F for other pods. Some prefer k-mugs and k-carafe pods because their brew temperature is a bit higher and closer to the optimal brewing temperature (195°–205°F).

If you have a classic 2.0 machine, try the various settings:: Here’s my personal menu:

  • 2.0 – Tanzania, and other blends with woodsy tasting notes
  • 3.0 – Flavored coffees
  • 4.0 – The key to the kingdom for Columbian
  • 5.0 – Twice for espresso blends or a 5.0 followed by a 4.0 for dark blends

You can also try this tip: With an empty reusable k-cup run hot water through first. This will both help clean up a little inside the machine and get the water hotter. Then insert the k-cup to brew your coffee. Rinsing your cup with hot water before you brew will also help keep your coffee hot longer.

HOW TO USE REUSABLE K-CUP

For a good, strong 8 ounce cup of coffee, you need about 14-15 grams of coffee. That’s about 2 full tablespoons. However, most reusable k-cup options don’t hold this much coffee (regular k-cups hold 10-12 g of coffee), so the easiest way to get a stronger cup is to use dark roasted ground coffee + brew at 8 or even 6-ounce cup setting.

If using a classic reusable k-cup filter (Elite, Mini, K15, K55), fill the filter basket with ground coffee, making sure not to fill past the top of the mesh. It’s even easier with the 2.0 k-cup filter (K250, K350, K450 and K550) because it has a nice Max fill line. Simply fill the filter with your desired amount of ground coffee and make sure not to fill past the MAX fill indicator.

Gently tap the filter on your counter and level the top. Do not press or tamp the coffee. Brew at 6 or 8 oz cup setting for the best result.

Best grind for Keurig filter is medium grind level (classic grind for drip coffee makers). If your coffee is watery, the grind might be too coarse. If the water takes a long time to brew or it gets clogged easily, the grind might be too fine.

BEST COFFEE FOR KEURIG

If you’re using reusable k-cups in your Keurig, choosing the right ground coffee is important. If you like your coffee strong or you normally use large cup settings, I recommend using dark roasts. Choose coffee that says dark or French roast. Some good medium roasts can also be a good choice (house blends are usually medium roasts).  Light, breakfast blends are bright and have a light body, and they do taste watery and diluted when brewed at large cup settings, so I would avoid them.

Understanding and Fixing Property Tax Assessments

Before any year’s tax assessment becomes “final,” it is sent to each homeowner to review. Each homeowner has an opportunity to dispute the assessment.

Contributor: Brian Blum

Imagine, if you will, Tinyville, a community of only ten houses. All ten houses were the same size and style, built at the same time on similarly-sized lots, using similar architectural drawings and building materials, each with comparable views and amenities, and each sold to its initial owner for the same price, $250,000. Assuming the fair market value of each of these houses was $250,000, (because after a reasonable amount of time that’s the price at which the sellers and buyers had meetings of the minds, neither being under duress,) Tinyville’s tax assessor valued each property at $250,000, resulting in an underlying total property value of $2.5M for all of Tinyville.

Like any municipality, Tinyville has expenses: police & fire departments, schools & libraries, water & sewer, sanitation workers, judges & clerks, engineers & inspectors, tax assessors & collectors, officials, and secretaries. To keep the math simple, let’s imagine that Tinyville’s annual budget is a mere $100,000, and that it has no other sources of revenue (such as parking meters, local sales or income taxes, or hunting/fishing permits). In order to meet its annual expenses, Tinyville’s tax assessor divides its $100,000 of budgeted expenses (known as a total tax levy) by each property’s proportionate share of the $2.5M total assessed value of the community. Dividing $250,000 by $2.5M means that each house is responsible for 10% of Tinyville’s property tax levy. Each homeowner (or their mortgage bank) gets a tax bill for $10,000.

For years, everyone is happy in Tinyville. The families each have kids in Tinyville’s schools, they march in Tinyville’s parades, and compete in Tinyville’s pie-eating contests. In the natural course of events, two of the original families were more prosperous than others and moved into better digs in Mediumville, one retired to Southville, one got transferred to his company’s office in Westville, and one died in a tragic car accident, but their heirs in Bigville didn’t want to move back to their family homestead. Anyway, five of the homes went on the market and because the market had been doing well for the past several years, four were sold for $300,000… except the one belonging to the heirs of the deceased couple – they let the house fall into disrepair, stopped mowing the lawn, and eventually squatters moved in and started trashing the place. When they finally sold it as a “handyman special,” they got $150,000 for it.

Before any year’s tax assessment becomes “final,” it is sent to each homeowner to review. Each homeowner has an opportunity to dispute the assessment. The five original homeowners continued to be assessed at a rate commensurate with their $250,000 property value, and knowing that many of their neighbors sold their comparable homes for $300,000, they silently accepted this assessment. The four new owners who paid $300,000 each are also assessed at $250,000. Strangely, it is illegal for a municipality to perform a “spot assessment” of individual properties so although the “fair market value” of those four homes has increased by 20% since last appraised, they continue to be assessed at $250,000 each. The tenth home, purchased by the handyman for $150,000, is also assessed at $250,000, but he disputes his assessment. He argues that the fair market value of his home should be based on his recent purchase price, and through the various legal methods at his disposal, he has the house reassessed at $150,000.

Assuming the total tax levy is unchanged at $100,000, what happens to each homeowner’s property taxes? Nine of the ten houses are still assessed at $250,000 each, but the last is now assessed at only $150,000. One might quickly (and incorrectly) guess that the houses with unchanged assessed values would have no change in their $10,000 property tax bill, and that the tenth house would pay just $6,000, but that doesn’t add up correctly; Tinyville needs to collect $100,000 in taxes to balance its budget, and this formula only adds up to $96,000. What actually happens is that the denominator changes, too. Tinyville’s total assessed property value is recalculated based on each property’s assessed value, and now adds up to just $2.4M. That means that each of the $250,000 houses now accounts for just over 10.4% of the total, and is now responsible for that percentage of the $100,000 levy, increasing each of their assessments to $10,417. The handyman’s $150,000 assessed value accounts for 6.25% of the total, so he’s now responsible for just $6,250 of Tinyville’s tax levy.

Some (including the handyman) would argue that the handyman’s house is worth less, and consequently, he should pay less tax than his neighbors. Others (including his neighbors) would argue that his house is the same size and shape, takes up as much land, and places the same demand on Tinyville’s police, fire, schools, libraries, sewers, and other services, and that he should pay the same amount as the other houses. Some (including the original five families) would argue that the resold houses should be assessed at their new, higher market values, and that the new owners should pay proportionally more taxes. Others (including the four new owners) would argue that the fair market values of their homes (as evidenced by their sale prices) are indicative of the actual fair market value of the five unsold homes, despite the fact that those homes haven’t recently changed hands. These are the sort of issues that confound homeowners and plague tax assessors, assessment review boards, and courts in every municipality, every year.

In a perfect world, when the handyman files for building permits to repair and restore his home’s value, the new value he creates by the work he does should bring his tax assessment back in line with the other comparable houses, thereby reducing his neighbors’ percentage of the total tax, accordingly. Unfortunately, not everyone applies for building permits, and not every project even requires building permits. Upgrading your kitchen appliances improves the value of your home without requiring building permits. Many municipalities don’t require a building permit to add a new layer to your roof or to retile your bathrooms. Of course, there are also homeowners who build bedrooms in attics or lofts over their garages without permits, and not every new home buyer is savvy enough to realize that they are paying for such unpermitted improvements. If you complain to the tax assessor that your neighbor has an unpermitted finished basement, the tax assessor doesn’t have the same authority as a building inspector to knock and demand to see that basement so as to tax them appropriately… and not every building department inspector is willing to perform inspections on an anonymous tip, so you may have to go on record as the guy who ratted out his neighbor. Consequently, a lot of home improvements are not reflected on the tax assessment rolls.

Since buying a home in a market downturn gives you the ability to grieve your tax assessment based on its new apparent fair market value, other home owners can actually use your new “fair market value” to argue that their house is comparable to yours, and that their assessment should be lowered, too. This creates added burden on the assessors as they try to determine new values of homes that haven’t recently sold based on evidence created by comparable homes that did. As more and more homeowners grieve their assessments, it reduces the denominator in the municipality’s total assessed value, increasing the actual tax bills for houses for which assessments haven’t been grieved. Naturally, that reinforces the process, inciting more and more homeowners to grieve their taxes, creating more and more work for assessors. However, taken to the unimaginable extreme, in a community where home values have fallen, it may take a few years for all of the homeowners to realize that they are being unfairly assessed (as compared to their neighbors), but ultimately, when the last of them finally grieves his taxes, everyone’s proportion to the new denominator should be comparable to their proportion to the original denominator, meaning that they’ll all on average, eventually pay just about as much tax as they did before. In the intervening years, the ones who got onboard first and had the largest and earliest reductions in their assessed home values will reap the greatest short-term benefits. Some would go so far as to argue that this is fair, like so many other instances in life when the early bird gets the proverbial worm.

The intervening chaos and disparity, however, causes more work, thereby costing municipalities more in assessments, review boards, and grievance hearings. In the worst cases, when grievance processes fail and are left for courts to decide, municipalities have to pay unanticipated refunds to vindicated homeowners, which reduces their immediate coffers and further increases tax levies in subsequent years to make up for those losses. For scholars of economic theory, Keynes would argue that these machinations are a necessary and productive part of the system, and that they employ lawyers who otherwise would earn less; these lawyers rent offices, hire staff, and buy office supplies, and in effect, keep the economy’s wheel turning. Hayek would retort that these legal costs do not so much enrich the system, as they do redirect capital that would have been employed elsewhere, such as the tax savings permitting the homeowners to buy new furniture, hire a gardener, or take a vacation. He would consider these inefficiencies in the tax assessment process an unnecessary cost that allocated resources in a less-than-optimal manner… and I’d tend to agree with him. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that we should try to come up with a better one.

About the Author:

Brian Blum is the founder and operating manager of Maverick Structures LLC. Maverick Structures is a real estate investment and management company, with experience in buying, renting, selling, renovating, and financing residential and commercial real estate, and managing residential rentals. View our available listings or email us for information about investment and partnering opportunities.

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The Declaration of Independence of the United States

The Declaration of Independence of the United States was done by the Second Continental Congress, which was composed of thirteen American colonies which were at war with Great Britain. This document was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson and explains why the Congress, two days prior to the declaration, has voted to declare their freedom from Great Britain.

Contributor: Brian Jones, Jr.

The declaration of independence is the act of stating that a country, state or a certain territory is independent from another territory.

Reasons for the Declaration of Independence

The declaration of independence is done if a territory breaks away from being part of a nation. It may also be done if the nation has been dissolve and each territory will have its own independent government. The declaration of independence may also be done if a new territory separates from a larger state to form its own state and government.

The Declaration of US Independence from Great Britain

The most commonly known declaration of independence in the US is its freedom from Great Britain, which was declared on July 4, 1776. Up to the present, July 4 is celebrated as the Independence Day of the United States and is a national holiday.

The Declaration of Independence of the United States was done by the Second Continental Congress, which was composed of thirteen American colonies which were at war with Great Britain. This document was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson and explains why the Congress, two days prior to the declaration, has voted to declare their freedom from Great Britain.

When the text was finished, the Congress approved the wording of the Declaration on July 4, 1776 and distributed the declaration in different forms. It was first circulated to the public as a printed broadside. The famous version is the signed copy that is being displayed at the National Archives.

Although the declaration of independence was done on July 4, some historians believe that it was signed on August 2, almost a month after its declaration.

Declaration of Independence of Texas from Mexico

As various states began to join and form what is now known the United States of America, Texas also declares its independence from its neighbor, Mexico. This was done on March 2, 1836 at the Convention of 1836. This ended the Texas Revolution and formed the Republic of Texas.

Before the declaration of independence of Texas, many were unsure if the aim of the Texas Revolution is to become independent from Mexico or for the reimplementation of the Mexican Constitution of 1824, which gives them more freedom even though they remain under the Mexican rule. During the convention at the Washington-on-the-Brazos, the forty-one delegates agreed on the independence of Texas from Mexico.

Every nation and state that has become a colony of another has a declaration of independence that formally states its freedom. Knowing more on the circumstances during then declaration of independence helps one to understand the value of freedom.

Please click these links if you want to know more about why declaration of independence written or why declaration of independence important in general.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3665016

Plastic Bottles May Make it Harder to Lose Weight

Something they never taught us about in nutrition classes as that most everything we eat and drink and many of our cooking meetings put your food in or on plastic. Plastic contains toxic Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) (source). These chemicals also known as “xenoestrogens” mimic oestrogen, as well as other hormones. And hormone disruption can lead to weight gain. It’s not dissimilar to the weight gain found by other hormone disrupters like steriods. (source) (source).

Contributor: Ann Poorboy

Something they never taught us about in nutrition classes as that most everything we eat and drink and many of our cooking meetings put your food in or on plastic. Plastic contains toxic Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) (source). These chemicals also known as “xenoestrogens” mimic oestrogen, as well as other hormones. And hormone disruption can lead to weight gain. It’s not dissimilar to the weight gain found by other hormone disruptors like steroids. (source) (source).

Many of us remember when we learned that plastics containing BPA could lead to health problems. BPA just happens to be an extremely powerful xenoestrogen. (source). A study conducted and published in the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal is confirmation. (source) This evidence was backed up further in a study published by the University of Georgia. (source) Mainly known as “xenoestrogens” these EDC’s mimic oestrogen, as well as other hormones.

Where Do You Find Xenoestrogens?

According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics (5) and various other leading reports (source), xenoestrogens and other EDC’s can be found in most synthetic products, including:

  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastic bags
  • Cleaning products
  • Food containers
  • Soaps, shampoos and conditioners
  • PVC-based cling and plastic wraps
  • Pans treated with nonstick coatings, and
  • Pesticides and herbicides.

This may not seem that drastic, but try and paint a visual image of yourself in a supermarket. Each packet of apples you buy, every body soap and even that bottle of vitamins could in actual fact contain xenoestrogens. (source) And if we expand that thought to the plastic crisis in the world’s oceans, we know that the average American is consuming plastic now as part of their diet. It’s everywhere. The best we can do is to minimize our use of plastic wherever we can. A quick way to start is to prioritize removing plastic where it’s in a heated environment near your food. Such as replacing a plastic spoon with a wooden or silicon one. Silicone isn’t a perfect plastic replacement, but it is slightly better.

How to Avoid Them

6 Simple Tips to Cut Down on Endocrine Disruptors in Your Home

Ensuring an all-natural lifestyle is always going to be your best bet. Here are some things you can do:

  • Eat more plants. …particularly those you grow yourself without chemicals
  • Swap non-stick cookware for cast iron or stainless steel. …I’ve found this is also helping me tone my arms – an added benefit
  • Stay away from all plastics, not just BPA. …try wooden spoons and stoneware or glass
  • Filter your water. …I found this in the research but to filter it you’re running it through plastic so use your best justment here
  • Avoid the fake stuff… eat butter out of a paper wrapper instead of margarine out of a plastic tub
  • Ensure the produce is organic by checking labels, especially eggs and meat products
  • Use organic, natural soaps and toothpastes
  • Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden
  • Use glass whenever possible, try and avoid all plastic containers
  • Do not store hot food in plastic or microwave anything in plastic. (source)
  • Try and keep nail polish, acrylic nails and nail polish remover use to a minimum
  • Spend a little more and get beauty products that use natural ingredients
  • Use natural household cleaners and detergents such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemons.
  • Know the difference between plastics and polyolefins: A variety of consumer brands are aware that plasticizers such as phthalates, bisphenol A and DEHP are a risk to both human health and the environment and use more nontoxic, non-contaminating and lightweight substitutes called polyethylenes. (source)

Why to Avoid Them

According to a variety of studies done, including on in the Oxford Academic Journal, Endocrine Reviews (source), the proven issues associated with exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals include:

  • Infertility
  • hormone-related reproductive cancers (such as breast, ovarian and prostate cancer)
  • neurological issues
  • feminization in men (such as man boobs, loss of testosterone and low sperm count)
  • unnaturally early puberty in girls
  • type II diabetes
  • obesity
  • heart disease, and
  • thyroid problems

Don’t Think They Are Only In Plastic Products

Unfortunately xenoestrogens are not limited to plastic bottles. (source) (source) They are also found in commercially-raised dairy, meat and eggs. Though these are not synthetic products, commercially-raised livestock are actually fed a diet pumped with xenoestrogens. (source) Not only does it help to get them plumper, but it also helps to increase the amount of milk and eggs they produce. The dietary nightmare doesn’t end there, all livestock food is sprayed in pesticides, so usually they will ingest a double dose of xenoestrogens on a daily basis. (source)

The good news, at least for eggs, is that with so many hobby chicken farms popping up, you can find chickens raised more naturally for a healthier egg. Or raise them yourself.

Great Ways To Inhibit Xenoestrogens

Since it’s nearky impossible to escape them entirely, here are things you can eat to inhibit xenoestrogens from being absorbed in your body.

Some of the best xenoestrogen inhibiting foods include: broccoli, kale, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, cabbage, onions and garlic. Essential fatty acid, Omega 3 is not only a xenoestrogen inhibitor, but it is incredible at also balancing your oestrogen levels and your metabolism. (source) Don’t forget to eat organic greens, herbs and fruit. They have an antioxidant potential in the body and further protect and enhance your body’s natural balance.

Together, we’ll get healthier one step at a time. Tell me how you reduced plastic use in your life in the comments below.

Senior Independent Living, Bridging the Gap Between Wants and Needs

Maintaining one’s independent way of living is important for all individuals, and in particular seniors. As they get older, oftentimes seniors lose some of their abilities to function like they once did, but that doesn’t mean that they also lose their will to do so. A senior independent living facility provides the means for the elderly to maintain their independence while offering them access to the physical assistance they might need.

Contributor: C. Meyman

Maintaining one’s independent way of living is important for all individuals, and in particular seniors. As they get older, oftentimes seniors lose some of their abilities to function like they once did, but that doesn’t mean that they also lose their will to do so. A senior independent living facility provides the means for the elderly to maintain their independence while offering them access to the physical assistance they might need.

In California, in fact, senior independent living is such a hot button topic that it has been taken to the state legislature. As San Luis Obispo Times’ recently reported, among the top proposals being put up for consideration in California is “AP-10, which would require that all senior independent living facilities have at least one staff member trained in basic emergency treatment.”

The purpose of this proposal – and other ones like it – “is to help preserve and enhance the quality of life for older Californians and their families.” A high-quality senior living facility understands the importance of this quality of life for both its residents and their loved ones. To that end, it goes to great lengths to ensure its senior community residents enjoy all the amenities and creature comforts of home they are seeking.

At the same time, a top-notch facility takes immense strides to eliminate the isolation and/or loneliness that can arise at senior homes. Making senior residents’ and their loved ones’ concerns its number one priority is a mission all senior independent living centers should embrace. Above all else, the best ones incorporate the highest standards of personal dignity, respect, quality of life and compassion for seniors.

WebMD recently addressed the topic of independent living for people with dementia. Living on their own can be difficult enough for seniors without adding brain dysfunction to the mix. And the health experts stress that such a goal can still be accomplished: “Addressing safety, medical issues key to independent living” for people with dementia.

The article focused on keeping dementia patients home as long as possible, but when that option is no longer feasible, a senior independent living facility can help address the “numerous health, safety and supportive care needs that aren’t being met,” according to a new study in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Indeed, the study showed that just one percent of senior Alzheimer / dementia patients were having all of their needs met in terms of “safety, health, meaningful activities, legal issues and estate planning, assistance with activities of daily living and medication management.” That’s where a senior independent living center can bridge the gap. Such a facility expertly and compassionately attends to guests’ health and safety needs while, at the same time, allowing them to take advantage of a vibrant social scene as well as take part in a wide range of cultural activities.

When a safe, comfortable and convenient living arrangement is called for without surrendering one’s full independence, a senior independent living home is the ideal solution. What’s more, such a facility affords residents a place where memories can be made and friendships can be formed.

The McGregor Home offers several housing options for the retirement community including senior independent living.

Source: EZine

The New Look of Concrete

This new look comes as a result of advanced technology and products that allow us to embark on concrete grinding and polishing that creates a highly smooth and high-gloss surface with a professional finish. No longer simply used for structural purposes, concrete is now a desired aesthetic look that many now desire for their developments.

Contributor: Emma Riley

Concrete is a composite material of aggregates bonded together with cement that hardens over time. That’s the boring part. What people have used concrete for over the centuries is perhaps more interesting, using it to build our cities and most frequented event spaces. Today though, concrete has a brand new look that has become increasingly popular for both commercial and domestic purposes, used to create a stylish and unique finish for indoor spaces.

This new look comes as a result of advanced technology and products that allow us to embark on concrete grinding and polishing that creates a highly smooth and high-gloss surface with a professional finish. No longer simply used for structural purposes, concrete is now a desired aesthetic look that many now desire for their developments.

Benefits 
Concrete is highly durable material. This is the reason it is used so much in developments throughout any major city or town – stadiums, housing developments, roads and infrastructure all use concrete as an integral part of their design for its strength and durability. In addition to this, the polishing process initiates a densification of the material hardening the concrete slab and maximising its durability. The attraction of a floor surface that has an extremely long shelf life and resilience against scratches, cracking, water damage and blemishes is clear.

The aesthetic appeal is a large factor in the material’s increasingly common usage. Far from a simple grey floor space, polished concrete can be unique and elegant depending on the process and ingredients used to create it. Various colours and patterns are also available making it a surprisingly versatile flooring option. By using different variations of aggregates, sand, stains, dyes, decorative engravings and stencilled graphics, a beautiful floor finishing can be achieved.

Maintenance of this surface is incredibly easy. As a single solid unit, there are no areas where dirt or corrosive material can hide. This means that no unwanted areas of grime need to be handled with costly and expensive cleaning methods. Moderate cleaning products applied directly to the surface are all it takes to keep polished concrete looking fresh and clean. Other materials such as wood may need much more care and attention when it comes to long term maintenance. In order to achieve a desirable finish, waxing treatments and constant cleaning is sometimes necessary – but not with polished concrete flooring.

As a result of the easy maintenance of this product, hygiene levels are usually much higher in developments that integrate them into their designs. The cleaning process is much faster first of all, but also the material does not harbour any bacteria that can be transmitted to humans if not attended to. This is especially useful in kitchen layouts.

Downsides 
While there are many benefits to using polished concrete floors, there are of course some downsides that may not make it the perfect option for your home or development. The biggest one ironically is also one of its greatest attributes – due to the high strength and durability of the material, dropping anything delicate or expensive on this surface will likely result in damage. In contrast to carpet or linoleum, a phone, laptop, vase or chinaware may not survive a fall to the floor.

Another drawback is that it can be cold to the touch when not directly exposed to the sun or within a heated room. Those who like to walk around bare foot in their homes may find it uncomfortable. Also the consistency of the finish across the entire surface may vary slightly, especially with large scale spaces. The changes might not be drastic, with the floor probably being only slightly lighter around the perimeter, but if you are a perfectionist, or if you are designing a development where attention to detail must be exact, then you may want to think twice about using polished concrete flooring.

Our best advice is to go and experience it for yourself. Check out any new development that has integrated the material into their floor space and consider how it might be used in your own. There are also plenty of online examples that you can also browse to get a better sense of patterns, colours and textures.

Advance Group is the UK’s leading specialist in concrete floor management which includes grinding, maintenance, polishing and restoration. They are Safe Contractor approved and are qualified under the Retro Plate System. They are also members of the KSG Group and are IICRC accredited. Advanced Group’s valued clients have included BT, Warburtons, Hammerson, Balfour Beatty, Wilmot Dixon and Workman.