Consumer Real Estate News


    • Installing Bathroom Tile Like a Pro

      14 June 2021

      (Family Features) Updating the flooring can help infuse new life into tired, outdated bathrooms. For an upscale, polished look that doesn’t have to break the bank, consider installing tile flooring.

      Before you get started, you’ll want to make some decisions about the look and feel of your flooring:

      Ceramic or stone? Weigh factors such as porosity, how slippery the surface may be when wet and how well it retains heat or cold. Ultimately, your decision hinges on the needs and uses of your family.

      Complement or contrast? Define the overall style you want as well as the colors and tones that will help best achieve your vision.

      Big or small? Generally, the larger the tile, the fewer grout lines, and too many grout lines in a smaller space can create the illusion of clutter. However, smaller tiles can eliminate the need to make multiple awkward cuts, and small tiles are perfect for creating accent patterns or introducing a splash of color.

      When you’ve got your overall look and materials selected, keep these steps in mind as you begin laying the flooring:

      1. Prepare your subfloor. Use a level to check for uneven spots; you need an even surface to prevent cracks in the tile or grout as well as rough spots that could pose tripping hazards. Use patching and leveling material to create a consistent surface. Apply a thin layer of mortar then attach your cement backer board with screws. Cover joints with cement board tape, apply another thin layer of mortar, smooth and allow to dry.
      2. To ensure square placement, draw reference lines on the subfloor using a level and carpenter square. Tile should start in the middle of the room and move out toward the walls, so make your initial reference lines as close to the center as possible. Mark additional reference lines as space allows, such as 2-foot-by-2-foot squares.
      3. Do a test run with your chosen tile by laying it out on the floor. There are color variations in most tile patterns, so you’ll want to verify each tile blends well with the next.
      4. Mix tile mortar and use the thin side of a trowel to apply mortar at a 45-degree angle. Use the combed side to spread evenly and return excess mortar to the bucket. Remember to apply mortar in small areas, working as you go, so it doesn’t dry before you’re ready to lay the tile.
      5. When laying tile, use your reference lines as guides. Press and wiggle tile slightly for the best adherence.
      6. Use spacers to create even lines between one tile and the next, removing excess mortar with a damp sponge or rag.
      7. As you complete a section of tile, use a level and mallet to verify the tiles are sitting evenly.
      8. Let mortar dry 24 hours before grouting.
      9. Remove spacers then apply grout to joints, removing excess as you go.
      10. Allow grout to dry per the manufacturer’s instructions then go back over tile with a damp sponge to set grout lines and clean grout residue.

      Once the grout has cured – usually at least a couple weeks – apply sealer to protect it.Find more ideas and tips for updating your bathroom at eLivingtoday.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Deal With Sibling Rivalry

      14 June 2021

      Hearing your kids argue with each other can be frustrating and aggravating. Some rivalry between siblings is to be expected due to factors such as birth order, but if it escalates to the point that your kids are frequently yelling at each other, calling each other names or physically hurting each other, you may have to step in to calm them down and teach them healthier ways to interact.

      What to Do When Your Kids are Fighting
      Kids often fight with each other to get their parents’ attention. If you ignore an argument, your kids may stop fighting when they realize that it isn’t achieving their desired result.

      If the conflict is serious, you may have to step in to defuse the situation. Don’t immediately take sides. You may not have seen or heard everything that led up to the argument. Your kids may be fighting about a toy right now, but they may actually be angry at each other for a completely unrelated reason. The toy may simply be an excuse to take out their frustrations. 

      Ask what the argument is about and give each child an opportunity to speak without being interrupted. It’s normal for kids to get emotional if they feel that they aren’t being treated fairly. Encourage them to be calm, but don’t cut them off if they’re upset because not being heard will probably make them even angrier.

      Once you have determined what the fight was about, figure out if anyone should be punished. You may have to apply the same consequence to both children. For example, if they refuse to share a toy, you can put it away so neither can play with it. Whenever possible, help your kids find a solution instead of doling out punishments.

      How to Prevent Fights
      Sibling rivalry often occurs because kids feel that parents favor one child over another. Spend time with each child individually every day doing things that that child wants to do. 

      Recognize and Celebrate What Makes Your Kids Unique 
      Focus on praising each child’s positive qualities, whatever they may be, rather than using labels or comparing siblings. Encourage each child to pursue his or her goals, even if they are completely different from those of other family members. 

      Spend Time Doing Fun Things as a Family 
      Forging happy memories of shared experiences can help siblings bond. Those positive emotional connections can make siblings more willing to share, look at things from the other person’s point of view, cooperate and work together to find mutually agreeable solutions when a conflict arises. 

      Set a Positive Example For Your Kids 
      When you get upset at a child or at your spouse, stay calm and communicate in a way that focuses on finding solutions. Modeling that type of behavior will teach your children how to handle stress and conflict in positive ways. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Make Moving as Stress Free as Possible for Your Pet

      14 June 2021

      Moving can feel overwhelming to members of your family, but you may not realize how the controlled chaos is affecting your pet. Here are some tips to help your pet cope with the changes.

      Comfort Your Pet While You’re Packing
      Let your pet get used to boxes and other packing materials before you actually start the packing process. An animal can pick up on your emotional state and will react accordingly. While you’re packing, talk to your pet in a cheerful voice so it doesn’t get stressed out. If you feel frustrated, anxious or overwhelmed, take a break to unwind. Be sure to pet and play with the animal from time to time during the packing process.

      Make Your Pet Feel Safe
      Animals feel safe when they know what to expect. Keep your pet’s routine as consistent as possible, both before and after the move. Obviously, there will be some disruptions, but the more you can keep things the same, the smoother the transition will be.

      On moving day, put your pet in a safe place. If you’re moving locally, ask a friend or family member to take care of your pet so you can get settled a bit before you bring them into the new house. If you’re moving a long distance, you will have to transport your pet with you. Make sure that the place where the animal will be staying or the carrier or crate that they will be transported in is familiar before the day of the move to avoid creating additional stress. 

      Bring along essentials, such as food and water bowls, bags for waste and any medications your pet needs. Give your pet some objects that make them feel safe, such as a blanket, toys and treats, and speak to them in a calm and reassuring voice. 

      Help Your Pet Settle Into Their New Home
      When you get to the new house, set up a safe, relatively quiet place for your pet right away. That may mean putting their bed in a quiet room or putting the animal in the laundry room with the door shut while you begin unpacking.

      Let your pet adjust to the new house gradually. Depending on their personality, it may be a good idea to walk through the house and explore together, or it may be better to allow your pet to venture out on their own and retreat to a safe space if they feel overwhelmed. 

      If you have a dog, take it for walks around the neighborhood so they can get used to the new sights, sounds and people. Pay attention to their reactions and demeanor and return home if they seem frightened or stressed. 

      Anticipate and Respond to Your Pet’s Needs
      Animals can be frightened by change. Do as much as you can to comfort your pet before and after moving day. Pay attention to how your pet is responding and make adjustments as needed to help them cope.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Attract More Birds to Your Backyard

      11 June 2021

      (Family Features) With all the constraints people lived through in 2020, many turned to their own backyards – nature, in particular – for hope, solace, wonder and even entertainment. Despite the worldwide crisis, nature’s normalcy remained intact; flowers continued to bloom, bees continued to pollinate and birds continued to fly and forage food.

      Feeding birds can be enjoyable for any age group and provide stress relief for all who partake. A University of Exeter study, focused on nature’s impact on humans in suburban and urban areas, found lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people saw during afternoons at home. The benefits of birdwatching come from seeing lots of birds – quantity not “quality” – the study found. 

      People “felt relaxed and connected to nature when they watched birds in their gardens,” researchers said. These feelings increased with the level of bird feeding in the yard. For millions working and schooling from home, this stress reduction was an unintended bonus.

      Data from 2020 shows sales of bird feed, feeders, nesting boxes and bird houses spiked as interest in backyard birds soared while people spent more time at home.

      Interest in birding isn’t slowing down. If you haven’t tried attracting birds to your backyard, now is a perfect opportunity to start. The experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products Co. offer these bird feed and feeder basics to attract more birds to your backyard.

      Feeders
      A variety of bird feeder types placed at different heights attract more birds than one feeder featuring one seed type. Start with two feeder types that accommodate most feed options. Bowl feeders serve not only seeds but also dried mealworms, fruit and suet. An option like Cole’s Bountiful Bowl Feeder comes with an adjustable dome cover you can raise or lower to prevent larger birds and squirrels from getting to food and protect it from rain.

      Traditional tube feeders are all-purpose options for bird feeding, especially for small birds that cling. For example, the Terrific Tube Feeder is made with state-of-the-art materials to prevent warping and discoloration and includes a quick-clean, removable base to make cleaning fast and easy. Just push a button and the bottom of the feeder pops off for easy access to the inside. Rinse the feeder with soapy water, dunk it into a water-bleach solution at a concentration of 9-to-1, rinse, dry and reattach the bottom. Regular cleaning of feeders is essential for preventing mold, germs and disease. 

      Popular Foods 
      Birdseed: Not all birdseed is created equal. Look for quality blends without cheap filler like red millet and oats. All-natural seed containing no chemicals or mineral oil is safe and more appealing to birds. Top seed picks include all-natural black oil sunflower and Cole’s “Hot Meats” (sunflower meats infused with habanero chili peppers that birds love and squirrels dislike). Or an option like Special Feeder blend, packed with favorites including black oil sunflower, sunflower meats and pecans, attracts the greatest number of wild birds. Offering a wide variety, Cole’s feed is researched and specifically formulated to attract certain bird species, the largest number of birds and the greatest variety of birds. 

      Insects and Worms: A healthy, lush lawn is one of the best ways to feed birds that prefer insects and worms. You can supplement birds’ diets by serving dried mealworms in a packaged variety that’s easier to feed and less messy than live mealworms. Mealworms are packed with energy and contain essential nutrients, fat and protein. 

      Fresh Fruit: Apples, orange halves and bananas are favored fruits.

      Suet: Perfect for insect-eating birds, suet is a high-fat food that provides abundant calories, rich nutrition and is a high-energy treat.

      Using the right feeders and high-quality feed can enhance your backyard and entice more birds, bringing stress relief and enjoyment. For more information on attracting birds to your backyard, visit coleswildbird.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Talking Money With Your Kids

      11 June 2021

      Chances are, you picked up your attitudes about money from the adults around when you were a child. Phrases like, “Make it last. We can’t afford a new one,” or, “Let’s go ahead and buy this. We can put it on a credit card.” probably made a lasting impression on how you view your own money management.

      Today, your children are taking cues from you, and it’s important for them to understand where money comes from and how best to earn and spend it. From money managing experts, here are five ways you can be sure you are giving your kids the right money messages.

      • Make It Tangible - Debit and credit cards, Venmo and home delivery are all useful tools. But they obscure the way money is exchanged from your kids. Give them some tangible practice. Ask your child to count the change in your piggy bank-in exchange for a 10% commission. Take them to the store and ask them to read the price of each item going into your basket. Point out how much you can buy for $10 or what it costs to buy the ingredients for one family dinner.
      • Make It Visual - Have your kids count the money in your wallet. That is how much you have to spend. If you pay your bills electronically, show them how each bill you pay reduces the money in your wallet. When you write a check, explain how that does the same thing.
      • Explain Why You Work - Your children see you leave for work every day or attend Zoom sessions at home. The next time they ask why you can’t play with them, explain how the money you earn from working at your job helps to take care of the family.
      • Find a Simple Explanation for Budgeting - Your child asks for an iPad or a new toy, but isn’t in the budget. Instead of just saying no, help them understand that money only goes so far. “We can afford soccer camp or the iPad, but not both” is a good way to make the point that prioritizing is a necessary option.
      • Encourage Them to Save - Giving your kids an allowance in exchange for jobs around the house, and encouraging them to save part of that allowance, is the easiest way for children to learn that working equals money in your pocket and a means to pay for what you want.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.