Real Estate News

    • Pop-able Snack Hacks

      27 May 2020

      (Family Features) If spending more time at home than usual has you reaching for snacks more often, keep some quick, flavorful options on-hand to help fuel you and your family throughout the day when hunger pangs strike.

      One versatile pantry staple that can fit a variety of snack cravings: popcorn. With no artificial additives or preservatives, light and airy popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO and gluten free, making it a sensible option to enjoy one handful at a time or sprinkled with seasonings that satisfy your taste buds. A whole-grain food, popcorn has energy-producing carbohydrates and fiber, which can help keep you satisfied longer. Plus, it's simple enough to make that kids can help in the kitchen by popping it themselves or adding toppings.

      Whether you're craving something sweet, salty, spicy – or nearly anything else – freshly popped popcorn can serve as the perfect base ingredient to simply mix in your favorite toppings or create more unique tastes by combining a variety of herbs and spices. For example, consider these hacks to add easy flavor:

      Pop it on the stove. Stovetop popping allows you to choose your toppings. Cover the bottom of a pot with a thin layer of oil and popcorn kernels, shake to coat, cover with a lid then turn on the heat. Once popping has slowed to 2-second intervals, remove from heat and add toppings.

      Add some sweetness. When you're in the mood for something sweet, add a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar (or more to meet your taste) to a bowl of popcorn. Or add sugar to the pan before it’s popped, like this recipe for Sugar Corn.

      Melt some butter. For a classic taste treat, melt a little butter and pour over your bowl of popped corn.

      Satisfy multiple cravings. Pop a large pot of popcorn and divide it in half; top one half with sweeter toppings like honey and the other with something savory, like nutritional yeast or dill. When hunger strikes, you're ready, regardless of the flavor craving.

      Spice it up. Cayenne pepper and a blend of other spices can be sprinkled on popcorn to create a spicier snack like Cajun Corn.

      Add mix-ins. Add dried fruits, nuts or candies to a bowl of popcorn to make your own trail mix.

      Cheese, please. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese can make your snack a bit more substantial.

      For more snack ideas that deliver on both flavor and nutrition, visit

      Sugar Corn
      Yield: 8 cups

      • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for popping
      • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
      • 1 pinch white sugar, plus additional, to taste
      In medium pan, heat oil until hot.

      Add popcorn to pan and sprinkle sugar over it. Add more sugar, if desired, to taste.

      Cover and shake pan continuously until popcorn is popped.

      Cajun Corn
      Yield: 2 1/2 quarts
      • 1/4 cup butter, melted
      • 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn, warm
      • 1 teaspoon paprika
      • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
      • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
      Heat oven to 300 F.

      In bowl, pour butter over warm popcorn.

      In separate bowl, combine paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and lemon pepper; sprinkle over popcorn. Toss to mix.

      Bake 5-10 minutes for crispy popcorn.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?

      27 May 2020

      Smartphone addiction has become a problem for many Americans, both adults and children. With so much information available and so many ways to interact with others online, some people spend so much time on their phones that their real lives and relationships suffer as a result.

      What Causes Smartphone Addiction?
      Overreliance on a smartphone often starts out as a way of trying to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness or problems with real-world relationships. Using a smartphone releases dopamine in the brain, which can create a feeling similar to that caused by drugs or alcohol. Over time, a person can build up a tolerance and need more screen time to trigger the same positive feeling.

      How Smartphone Addiction Can Affect Real Life
      Trying to remedy emotional problems with a smartphone tends to make them worse. Spending hours a day looking at a screen keeps people from interacting with others face to face and forming meaningful connections in real life. People with smartphone addiction often find themselves feeling more stressed, anxious, and alone, but they continue to seek help from the devices that are contributing to the problem.

      Excessive use of a smartphone can make it difficult to concentrate. The endless stream of texts, emails, and social media alerts, or the desire to constantly check to avoid missing out, can prevent people from focusing on work, school, their families and friends, and household tasks.

      A smartphone in the bedroom can interfere with sleep. Many people check their phones when they have trouble falling asleep, but the blue light from a smartphone can make sleeping even harder.

      Are You Addicted?
      There is no specific amount of time per day spent using a smartphone that means someone is addicted. For many people, a smartphone is required for work and to keep in touch with family and friends. Using a phone becomes a problem when it interferes with real-world relationships and responsibilities.

      If you think you may be addicted to your smartphone, recognizing the problem is the first step. It can help to keep track of how much time you spend using your phone, the time of day, and your emotional state when you reach for it to identify any triggers.

      How to Deal with Smartphone Addiction
      With our reliance on smartphones, addiction to the devices has become a serious problem. If your phone has started to interfere with your life, you can reduce your reliance on it and engage more with others in real life. If you aren’t sure if you have a problem, ask your family and friends for their impressions and insights.

      If you’re using your phone too much, make an effort to put it down, schedule visits with family and friends, and find ways to meet new people. A therapist or support group can help you deal with underlying issues that led to your smartphone addiction and help you cope with withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, restlessness, and trouble sleeping and concentrating.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should You Repair or Replace a Broken Home Appliance?

      27 May 2020

      There are many advantages of homeownership, but the burden of maintaining, repairing and replacing home appliances goes right along with it. The decision to repair or replace a broken or failing appliance is often made under pressure and without adequate knowledge about the nature of the appliance or its expected lifetime.

      Water Heaters
      Unless the water heater isn’t working properly because of a part that’s easy to replace, it’s almost never a good idea to repair it. The primary causes of water heater failure are tank leaks or corrosion, neither of which can be repaired.

      Many repairs for refrigerators are easy and affordable, especially if the problem is a bad motor, a refrigerant leak or issues with electronic controls. However, door seals can fail, causing the appliance to run overtime or build frost in the freezer section. Between the cost of replacement seals and the labor to install them, it often makes sense to replace the refrigerator instead of repairing it.

      Mechanically, dishwashers are fairly simple appliances that are easily repaired. Problems associated with the door seal or holes inside the tub often prompt a replacement rather than a repair, though.

      Stoves and Ovens
      Because stoves and ovens have few moving parts, they break down less often and replacement is typically a matter of personal preference rather than necessity. However, stove and oven heating elements do fail, and unless the appliance is too old, replacement burners and elements are readily available. Newer ovens and ranges may have control panels built into them that can fail. Prices for parts vary, and it may be better to replace the unit rather than the component, especially if there’s an active home warranty.

      Washers and Dryers
      Water leaks and broken belts are common problems associated with washing machines and easy to repair. A burned-out motor may prompt a replacement, depending on the washer’s age and condition. Clothes dryers create a good deal of heat, and when they malfunction, it can be dangerous if their safety switches malfunction. A dryer that overheats clothing is a fire hazard, and unless the breakdown results from a failed motor or timer, it’s probably a good idea to consider replacing it.

      Major appliances do make life easier and more comfortable, but they’re often a mystery to homeowners. When making a repair-or-replace decision, consult the manufacturers or representatives that service them.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • After the Armed Forces

      26 May 2020

      (Family Features) Once their service ends, veterans often expect to start a new career. In many cases, the same skills and characteristics that helped make them successful in the military, such as ambition and a drive to succeed, make veterans uniquely suited for entrepreneurial endeavors like business ownership.

      Franchising is a path toward business ownership that requires strong leadership skills, so veterans are often some of the most qualified and successful prospective franchise owners. According to the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran), a strategic initiative of the International Franchise Association and the Franchise Education and Research Foundation, at least 97% of franchisors believe veterans would make excellent franchisees; 70% have brought on a veteran franchisee or employee in the last year alone.

      “The skills veterans develop through their military experience are integral to pursuing a new career,” said Tim Davis, president of The UPS Store, Inc. and former U.S. Marine Corps captain and Gulf War veteran. “Franchising presents a great opportunity for veterans to utilize the unique skillsets they developed in the service while also developing additional traits necessary for business ownership.”

      • Leadership. Work ethic. Discipline. These qualities are exactly what help more than 200 veteran The UPS Store franchisees succeed.
      • Working as a team: The success of an organization relies on its members working together and a recognition that the business is greater than the sum of its parts. Many veterans learn to rely on their fellow service men and women; franchise owners must embrace teamwork at multiple levels, from employees of the local franchise to the franchise’s national and regional leadership team.
      • Executing a plan: Although a franchise owner typically has access to a proven business model and ongoing support, executing the plan is the franchisee’s responsibility. Putting the pieces together and developing a working business plan requires an entrepreneurial approach similar to the military training veterans received.
      • Thriving under pressure: Things don’t always go according to plan, and service members possess the training and discipline to remain calm in pressure-filled situations. For best results when navigating situations like disgruntled customers or employees, a level-headed approach often prevails.
      • Working hard to accomplish a goal: Not all business owners have the level of commitment and work ethic necessary to accomplish their entrepreneurial goals. Service members are trained to understand the requirements of a mission and work diligently to achieve them.
      Financing a franchise dream
      Through its participation in VetFran, The UPS Store, Inc., makes it easier for veterans to attain their post-military professional goals.

      For example, its “Mission: Veteran Entrepreneurship” program offers nearly $300,000 in financial incentives to assist qualified U.S. military veterans in opening their own franchise locations. In addition, the first 10 eligible veterans to submit a complete buyer’s application packet and initial application fee by Nov. 11 will receive a waiver for their franchise license fees.

      To learn more about franchise opportunities and special incentives for veterans, visit

      Before You Buy a Franchise
      Becoming a franchise owner is a big decision, which means it’s important to thoroughly research potential opportunities and carefully review all the available documents. In most cases, you will have an interview with the franchisor, which is not only a chance for him or her to assess your abilities but also for you to ask questions like these that can give you more perspective.

      1. How mature is the brand?
      Some franchise systems are backed by a nationally renowned brand name and decades of franchise experience. A mature brand with a proven track record of success can be especially beneficial for a first-time business owner.

      2. Will training be provided?
      A good franchise will be committed to helping you succeed by providing the tools and training necessary to get you started on the right foot. The best franchise opportunities will offer a comprehensive training program that covers more than just basic operational procedures, but also provides ongoing assistance. Ask if there is a support team you can reach out to with questions. Also find out how the brand’s franchisees work collaboratively to learn from one another and help each other succeed.

      3. How stable is the industry?
      It’s impossible to guarantee the success of a business regardless of the state of the economy. However, some industries are more recession-resistant than others. Those that offer essential products and services that remain in demand or those that flourish due to tough economic conditions are typically among the best franchise opportunities. If you’re exploring opening a franchise business as a means of controlling your own employment and financial security, consider an industry that can thrive even in the face of market volatility.

      4. What type of marketing, advertising and promotion do you provide?
      While you can generally expect to receive marketing assistance and grand opening guidance when first opening a franchise business, the type of marketing and advertising support provided beyond that can vary greatly among franchisors.

      5. What is the total short and long-term financial commitment?
      It’s important to discuss all initial and ongoing fees in depth with the franchisor before committing to buy. Keep in mind that you will also need enough operating capital to support the business until it breaks even. The franchisor should be able to give you an idea of how long it typically takes franchisees in the network to become profitable.

      6. Do you offer funding, incentives or deals?
      The costs associated with opening a franchise business can be a significant factor in finding the right opportunity. Some franchisors offer financing options, as well as special incentives for veterans, women and minorities; certain business models; or opening a location in specific geographic areas.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Warm Weather Skin Care Tips

      26 May 2020

      (Family Features) If you've ever noticed how thirsty you get when it's hot outside, that's because your body's natural water content evaporates more quickly in warm weather. It's not just your mouth that gets parched, however; your entire body, including your skin, can feel the impact of climbing temperatures.

      Although it's often overlooked, skin is an essential organ that needs special attention and care. After all, not only does your skin tell the true story of your health and age, it provides a protective barrier to the rest of your body.

      Keeping your skin supple, soft and well-hydrated helps ensure it doesn't dry and crack, which is just as possible during the warm summer months as winter. Use these tips to create a healthy summer skin care regimen.

      Use proper sunscreen. The sun can dry out and damage your skin quickly even on an overcast day, and more so if you're near water, where reflections can magnify its intensity. Protect your skin from burning and drying out by using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 any time you venture outdoors. Also remember to check the sunscreen's expiration date to ensure you're actually being protected.

      Moisturize often. Make moisture part of your daily routine, not just when you get out of the shower, but throughout the day. An option like Remedy Dermatology Series Moisturizing Lotion contains a proprietary botanical blend of nutrients, emollients and antioxidants, including green tea, clove and safflower oleosomes. Its smooth, rich formula absorbs quickly, leaving skin feeling soft with no greasy or oily residue. Formulated by skin care experts, the lotion helps skin stay moisturized for up to 24 hours and is free of 80 of the most common allergens that contribute to irritation and skin sensitivity. For more information, visit

      Shorten bathtub and shower time. It may seem contradictory that spending more time in the tub or shower strips your skin of moisture, but prolonged heat does exactly that. Keep your bathing time brief to minimize the chance of dehydration.

      "Although a long, hot shower or a nice soak in a tub is very relaxing, hot water can really dry out your skin," said board-certified dermatologist and Medline Remedy consultant Dr. Jeanine Downie. "Damp skin helps hydration from your moisturizer lock in, so the best time to apply moisturizer is not when your skin feels the driest but rather after a bath or shower. Be sure to apply a thick coat of lotion immediately after getting out while skin is still wet to help keep skin soft and supple."

      Exfoliate. Take time to regularly exfoliate, which removes dead skin cells and makes it easier for moisturizer to penetrate and reveal healthy-looking skin. Be sure to exfoliate gently and adjust your exfoliation schedule to your skin's unique needs so you don't irritate it.

      Hydrate frequently. Applying lotion is an external strategy for maintaining your skin's natural barrier, but you can also keep your skin hydrated from the inside out. When you're dehydrated, the body pulls water from any source it can, including your skin. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 8-11 8-ounce glasses of water a day, and keeping a bottle of water on-hand at all times can provide easy, on-the-go hydration.

      Consume hydrating foods. Similar to upping your water intake, you can increase your body's overall water content by eating the right kinds of foods. Many types of produce have a high percentage of water, like berries, melon, cucumbers and zucchini.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.