Good Reads

Should I Be Worried About That Condensation on My Windows?

(StatePoint) If you take a look at your home’s windows and doors in winter, you may notice condensation. As temperatures drop, it often appears on the inside and outside of these surfaces.

Here’s what you need to know about why condensation occurs, when it matters and what you can do about it:

Interior Condensation

When the heat is on inside the home in wintertime, a certain amount of humidity feels good -- we breathe easier, our skin is less dry and there’s less static in the air. This is fine usually, but when temperatures outside get extremely low, problems can arise. Under these circumstances, humidity can generate condensation on your windows -- whether they’re old or new -- and this should be managed.

While there’s no problem with condensation on the window glass itself, (except for the fact that visibility can be obscured) that condensation could affect wood trim around the windows and lead to mold and rot. Perhaps even worse, it could be an indicator that condensation is also occurring within your walls, which can lead to unhealthy mold.

Unfortunately, the most common sources of home humidity are everyday parts of life, including showers, cooking, doing laundry and even fish tanks. However, if you see condensation on your windows there are two actions that experts recommend. One, if you have a humidifier, turn it down. The second, use a dehumidifier.

Exterior Condensation

Exterior condensation occurs when the dew point temperature approaches the outside air temperature. When the air is saturated and can’t hold any more moisture, water vapor forms droplets on surfaces -- including your roof, siding, windows and doors.

If you have energy-efficient windows, you may notice exterior condensation occur more than you did when you had older, less energy-efficient windows that allowed warmth from inside the home to reach the outside glass pane and dissipate the condensation. Unlike with interior condensation, there’s nothing to worry about in the case of exterior condensation. Moisture on the outside pane of glass is normal and a good sign that your windows are functioning correctly to prevent warmth from reaching the outside glass. The condensation will dissipate when the outside air temperature rises.

Next Steps

If there’s no condensation on the exterior of your windows but there’s moisture on adjacent exterior surfaces, this would be a good indicator that it’s time for new windows. Also, if you get constant internal condensation on your windows in very cold weather and your humidity is low, then upgrading to a more thermally efficient window would be a good idea.

Look for high-performing replacement windows with the latest technological advances that offer maximum efficiency and comfort. Third-party recognition for a particular brand or product is a strong indicator that you’re investing in a quality product. A recent “Remodeling” magazine survey of remodeling contractors ranked ProVia vinyl windows as number one in window quality in part because of their features that are tested against the most stringent requirements for air and water infiltration.

This winter, pay attention to your home windows, glass doors and other surfaces. Understanding the ins and outs of interior and exterior condensation can help you address potential issues.

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Photo Credit: (c) Youril / stock.Adobe.com and ProVia

Pre-Party Rituals to Look & Feel Your Best This Holiday Season

(BPT) - With the drastic drop in temperatures also comes the most festive time of the year. The holiday season isn’t just the cheeriest time, but also the busiest. With so many upcoming holiday celebrations to look forward to, you’ll want to make sure you not only look your best, but also feel your best! We can all use some extra fuel during the holiday season, so here are a few tips to help you create your own pre-party ritual this holiday season to help you do more all season long!

PLAN AHEAD

Taking the time to plan ahead will alleviate last-minute stress and make you feel super organized as you get ready. Best practices to consider adding to your pre-party ritual include:

Drink More Water: Staying hydrated helps maintain both your energy levels and mood, so that you can feel your best.

Eat Clean: Trying to eat clean the day before or on the days leading up to your event will allow you to feel less bloated, more energized and overall healthier.

Get Enough Sleep: Hitting the hay early the night before a big party is a must-do. Getting enough sleep will help prevent dull and dehydrated skin, dark circles and a fuzzy brain — it’s something you will thank yourself later for!

Pick Your Look Ahead of Time: No one wants to be running around before an event finding nothing to wear, so pulling your final look together in advance of the party is crucial to your pre-party ritual!

THE DAY OF

The things you decide to do or the items that you use on the day of your event can really set the tone for how much you enjoy your holidays — so be selective! Recommended must-haves for your pre-party ritual include:

Me-Time: Incorporating me-time when you wake up in the morning is a must. A 20-minute yoga or meditation session will help you feel centered and refreshed and provide you with a clear mind to take on the rest of your day.

Choose Makeup Fueled by Skincare: Using makeup with added skincare benefits can go a long way when it comes to looking good this holiday season, and for your overall skin health. The new Neutrogena Healthy Skin Radiant Cream Concealer is the flawless fix to your skin’s imperfections!

This lightweight, skin-perfecting concealer covers dark circles, acne and blemishes and blurs the look of fine lines for a smooth, creaseless finish for those moments that you need a little more as you’re bouncing from holiday party to holiday party. Use it as you get ready or throw it in your clutch and take it along for a mid-celebration touch-up!

The Perfect Ensemble: Dressing for the holidays is always fun because you can step away from your everyday look and wear your finest for some extra glitz and glam. From festive attire to a classic LBD paired with favorite festive jewelry, to a standout red dress with fun heels — pick out an outfit that expresses your personality or your mood.

RIGHT BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT

As you head out for the night, make sure you’re ready with the necessities and for emergencies. Pack mints or gum, pain meds, bandages and remember to bring a phone charger. Make sure you’ve packed your concealer and all necessary beauty products for quick touch-ups throughout the night.

Creating your own pre-party ritual for this holiday season will help you relax and enjoy the celebration.

To learn more about the new Neutrogena Healthy Skin Radiant Cream Concealer and the latest Makeup Fueled by Skincare, visit Neutrogena.com.

5 ways to refresh your home for the holidays

(BPT) - Tis the season for festive holiday gatherings with family and friends. Whether hosting your first or fifteenth celebration, you want your home to be ready to impress. Here are five simple ways to make sure your home is merry and bright for the holidays.

1. Refresh kitchen counters

Since the kitchen is where people mingle the most, don’t leave old, dirty caulk to be the focal point behind your delicious holiday spread! Spruce up your countertop and backsplash by removing and replacing the old caulk. Consider using a caulk that’s formulated specifically to ward off dirt and mold, like DAP Kwik Seal Ultra Sealant. It not only repels water, liquids, soap scum, stains and dirt, but it’s backed by a lifetime mold and mildew resistance guarantee so the sealant stays clean and keeps the area looking fresh and new.

2. Repair imperfections and paint on walls

It’s inevitable that scuffs and scratches will appear on walls over time. A fresh coat of paint in key areas, like the living room, bathroom and guest bedroom, will help the entire home feel clean and fresh. Be sure to first prep walls by filling holes and cracks with a spackling for a smooth finished surface. DAP DryDex Spackling takes the guess work out of dry time with a unique indicator that goes on pink and dries white so you know when it’s ready to sand and paint.

3. Clean and prep the floors

If you have the time, schedule a carpet cleaning for the week before your guests are scheduled to arrive. And, consider applying a fast-drying polish to hardwood floors for a squeaky clean finish. It’s also a good idea to keep a multi-surface vacuum in an easy-to-access location for quick spot cleans and pick-ups.

4. Salvage broken holiday décor

Don’t fret when you pull out holiday décor and ornaments from storage and find a few have broken. Instead, grab a strong, fast-setting glue to make simple, long-lasting repairs before guests arrive. DAP’s RapidFuse All Purpose Adhesive is perfect because it sets in just 30 seconds and is two times more durable than other super glues — there’s even a plastic primer available that will help with hard-to-fix plastic décor. Making these quick fixes yourself is worth it to save these cherished items!

5. Update decorative accessories

Small updates like adding plants, rugs and throws to your space are low-cost but high-impact. Lighting is another quick change that can really help warm a space. Consider swapping out the shades on your lamps or installing updated light fixtures for an entirely new look, but for a fraction of the cost.

With these easy tips, there’s still plenty of time to have your home feeling festive and fresh all the way through the New Year!

Children’s Book Holiday Gift Ideas

(NAPSI)—Animals disappearing without a trace? In the first book of the critically acclaimed four-book middle-grade series “The Nocturnals,” we meet three unlikely friends—Dawn, a serious fox; Tobin, a sweet pangolin; and Bismark, the pint-sized sugar glider. When the animals go missing, it’s up to Dawn, Tobin and Bismark to find out why.

With the help of a gentle wombat, a jittery jerboa, a band of coyotes and some kooky bats, the brigade finds itself in a wacky, high-stakes game that will determine their survival. Discover the friendships, teamwork, and humor as the brigade solves the unpredictable mysteries of the night. From Fabled Films Press, buy at https://amzn.to/2C3opOQ.

San Diego Zoo Global Press “Hope and Inspiration Series” by Georgeanne Irvine

A collection of heartwarming tales of animals that survived challenges and thrived under the loving care of humans. Author Georgeanne Irvine has devoted more than four decades to raising awareness about animals and wildlife conservation. Now, in a four-book series, she connects children with animals to teach important life lessons of perseverance, empathy, and friendship.

Children and grownups will read the true stories of: “Fabulous Floyd,” the flamingo who never gave up; “Karen’s Heart,” the brave orangutan; “Ruuxa & Raina,” a cheetah and dog’s true story of miracles and friendship; and “Mosi Musa,” a baby monkey raised by his grandma. Accompanying plush toys also available. Buy at http://bit.ly/2BYMVk1.

“Jenny’s Pennies: A Nantucket Tradition” by Peter Saverine

“Do you believe in mermaids and wishes that come true? Do you believe in lucky days when someone’s watching over you?” So begins this whimsical tale of Nantucket’s tradition of throwing a penny near the Brant Point lighthouse. This inspirational book is filled with colorful illustrations and verse. Meet a mermaid named Jenny who collects the pennies thrown off the ferry by visitors, young and old, as they leave the quaint New England island, hoping to return.

With the help of her seaside friends, Jenny re-scatters the pennies throughout the island to bring good luck to the finders. It’s a great read-aloud that will inspire you to pick up lucky pennies wherever you travel and believe in their magical powers. Purchase at https://etsy.me/34RMUux.

“If You Were Me and Lived In…” Cultural series by Carole P. Roman

As Santa gets ready to make holiday stops to all parts of the globe, it’s never too early to start teaching children about that world around them. In her years as a teacher, parent and grandparent, author Carole P. Roman noticed there were few, if any, books about other cultures for young children. Roman has remedied that with a 22-book series covering cultures in every corner of the world.

Roman knows children love to discover the differences and similarities of other people and places in far-off lands. Tailored to children 3 to 8 years old, her writing is simple but does not talk down to youngsters. Get on board and discover the world through the eyes of a young person. Buy at http://bit.ly/2OTqpCc.

• BookBites is a continuing series bringing readers information and ideas for their next read. For more reading ideas, visit BookTrib.com and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.

clicktotweet “Books are great kids’ gifts, especially, “The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions,” the “Hope and Inspiration Series,” “Jenny’s Pennies: A Nantucket Tradition,” and the “If You Were Me and Lived In…” series. http://bit.ly/2P99ObZ

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

Holiday Season Jobs For Students

(NAPSI)—If you or someone you care about is among America’s estimated 20 million college students, the holidays could include a particular present for you: a great seasonal job.

The Job Picture

The holidays are often a time students seek seasonal work, as a way to earn extra money to put towards tuition, or just have extra spending money. A recent survey of Americans who hold, have held or would consider taking a seasonal job shows that of potential seasonal workers, over 40% plan to put their earnings towards holiday gifts, over 20% for school expenses, and over 20% for paying student loans.

Fortunately for these young people, a global leader in package delivery and logistics—UPS—anticipates a very busy holiday shipping season, and is hiring about 100,000 seasonal employees to deal with the extra packages.

“We expect another record Peak Season this year, with daily package deliveries nearly doubling compared to our average of 20 million per day,” said Danelle McCusker, UPS’s head of U.S. human resources. “In order to make that happen, once again we’re recruiting about 100,000 people for some of the country’s best seasonal jobs.”

What You Can Get

Perks at UPS for students home for the holidays include:

1. Flexible hours, including multiple shifts, so you can fit work into your schedule

2. Competitive hourly pay

3. The UPS Earn and Learn program, which offers eligible seasonal student employees the ability to earn up to $1,300 towards college expenses, in addition to their hourly pay.

Planning For Your Future

Applicants thinking about getting a permanent job should know these seasonal and part-time jobs have long served as a foot in the door to a career at UPS. In fact, 35 percent of the people UPS hired in the past four years for seasonal package handler jobs stayed with the company on a permanent basis after the holidays, and nearly a third of the company’s current global workforce started in seasonal positions.

That’s important to many students. Nearly 70% want their seasonal job to turn into a full-time position, according to the recent survey. And nearly all agreed that seasonal and temporary jobs are a good way to move into a permanent, full-time career. Permanent UPS jobs—including part-time jobs—come with great pay and benefits, including healthcare and retirement benefits.

Learn More

Further facts and an online application are available at www.upsjobs.com.

clicktotweet ““We expect a record season,” said Jim Barber, chief operating officer at UPS. Many college students may be glad to know: “We’re recruiting about 100,000 people for some of the country’s best seasonal jobs.” http://bit.ly/35aMvE1

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

Giving The Gift Of Love

(NAPSI)—Most people would agree, the best gift during the holidays—and all year round—is the gift of love. For thousands of families, that means welcoming a puppy into their home. For those considering getting a new best friend for themselves or someone else, remember that choosing a puppy is a big decision. It’s also one you should think about carefully—for both your sake and the dog’s.

Consumer groups report receiving nearly 10,000 complaints about puppy/dog businesses in just the last three years, with 60 percent of consumers indicating they never got the pets they purchased, received pets that had health or genetic problems, or got no documentation for their pet. Just as concerning, most people don’t know how to make sure they are getting their pet from a reputable breeder and not an inhumane and substandard puppy mill. While everyone is encouraged to look to their local shelters and rescues, roughly a quarter of new pet parents obtain their puppies from breeders, whether because of allergies, size or temperament, or just because they have their hearts set on a particular breed of dog.

Whatever your motivation, you should make sure you know that the organization you use to find your new best friend is legitimate and will secure you a happy, healthy and responsibly bred pet.

To help you avoid scams and find properly raised puppies, here are some important tips from the experts at American Humane—the country’s first national humane organization and the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world—and PuppySpot, a placement service committed to helping responsible breeders place healthy, happy puppies with caring individuals and families:

• INTEGRITY: Find a source you can trust.

• SUSPICIOUS PHOTOS: Don’t be swayed by a fancy website or puppy photos that look like stock photos that are perfectly posed, don’t look real, or are found on multiple websites.

• PRICING: If the price looks too good to be true, it generally is. People should avoid buying from a company that says it will transport a dog by air if the full purchase price seems to be less than or similar to the price of a flight.

• WIRING MONEY: Never wire money to anyone you have met only online and avoid major money wiring companies and mobile payment service apps.

• BAD GRAMMAR OR MISSPELLINGS: Be sensitive to strange language choices in puppy listings or communications. The vast majority of scammers are from foreign countries.

• BOGUS STORIES/EXCUSES: Scammers often come up with complicated reasons they need immediate wire transfers or can’t deliver the puppy to you based on current events. Be on alert for bogus stories or excuses for why more money is requested after initial payment.

• REFUSAL TO SUPPLY DOCUMENTATION: A responsible breeder, shelter or rescue organization will provide registration, vaccination and veterinary health records on request. Refusal to supply medical records or pedigree documentation is a red flag.

Bringing a new best friend into your home should be a positive and joyous experience. By following these guidelines and using diligence and common sense, you and your family may avoid unnecessary heartache and find the healthy, happy puppy of your dreams.

Learn More

For further information, please visit www.AmericanHumane.org and www.PuppySpot.com.

clicktotweet “Bringing a new best friend into your home should be a positive and joyous experience. By using diligence and common sense, you and your family may avoid unnecessary heartache and find the healthy, happy puppy of your dreams. http://bit.ly/2YxtAAU

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

7 tips for holiday road trips with kids

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(BPT) - Whether the length of your drive is three hours or 30 minutes, it can seem an eternity with a bored child in the car. If you’re planning a road trip with one or more children, plan ahead so you'll have a happy and safe trip, no matter where you’re going.

Here's how you and your kids can stay safe and enjoy the journey almost as much as the destination.

1. Factor in time for pit stops

Don’t try to crush a several-hour driving marathon to get there quickly. Children need frequent breaks to use the restroom, have a healthy meal — and release their pent-up energy. Look for signs of restlessness and stop before kids get too out of sorts.

When you stop, find a safe spot where your kids can stretch their legs and run around a little. If they’re sluggish, organize a quick game of tag or catch, or encourage them to do a jumping-jack competition.

If frequent stops are making you later than expected, call ahead to let people know you’re off schedule. Better to take your time and arrive both safe and happy.

2. Make sure kids stay buckled up, the whole time

Help keep your kids safe by making sure your child is buckled up every time, for every ride. As older kids get restless, they may unbuckle themselves during a long drive. Make sure you’re checking periodically throughout the trip, not just when you first pull out of the driveway. After every rest stop or meal, ensure kids are buckled up before you head back on the road.

3. Bring games — and dust off your creativity

Age-appropriate hand-held games and books can be good diversions for your children on long trips. Find audiobooks the whole family can listen to during the trip.

Recall games you played during road trips with your parents. Did you spot license plates from different states? Say a certain word when you saw an animal or certain type of car? How about a game of I Spy? Start a guessing game like 20 Questions, or use yes-or-no questions to guess a famous person one of you thinks up. Stock up on knock-knock jokes or silly riddles to keep kids engaged with you and each other.

4. Keep kids under 13 in the back seat

No matter how long your trip is, children under 13 should never sit up front, for their own safety. Car safety standards and features, like air bags, are developed and tested with adult bodies in mind. Air bags can be inflated at speeds of up to 200 to 400 miles per hour, and because kids’ bodies are still developing, they are safest in the back seat. Additionally, most crashes impact the front of the car, and the back seat is farthest from this impact.

5. Pack healthy snacks

Make sure each child has a refillable water bottle for the journey, plus healthy snacks they enjoy, like fruit, cheese sticks or yogurt. Choose age-appropriate snacks that won't be a choking hazard, so you can focus on the road.

6. Bundle up safely

For the best protection in a car seat, your child's harness should fit snugly. A bulky winter coat can create extra space between the child and their harness, increasing risk of injury in a crash. To keep your child both safe and warm on the ride, dress your child in a lighter jacket and place a blanket over the harness if needed. Pack the warmer coat for when you arrive.

7. Before you go: Check that they’re in the right seat

A car crash can happen anywhere, anytime — so the right car seat for your children’s age and size is always important. Any upcoming road trip can be a good reminder to double-check that they’re in the right seat for their safety — and that it’s installed correctly.

Enter your child’s age, weight and height at NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat to check if they’re in the right seat. On the website you can also get installation tips and find a location near you where a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician can help you check the seat’s installation.

Enjoy your road trip with the family using these tips, and you’ll all be safer and happier. Trips like these can be memorable for all the right reasons, and you and your kids may even have fun along the way.

4 things to do when the tire pressure warning light turns on

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(BPT) - It’ll happen to every driver and likely at the most inopportune moment — like when you’re running late, on a family road trip or commuting to work. A familiar light will flick on in your car’s dashboard. Sometimes, the low tire pressure indicator can mean it’s time to add more air, caused by regular wear-and-tear or a sudden change in the weather. But other times, the light leads drivers down a road that requires them to buy a new set of tires. So how do you know?

Hankook Tire offers four things to consider when the tire light turns on to help determine the next steps to get you back on your way:

1. Kick the tires

Seventy-eight percent of drivers say that checking their tires is a regular part of their maintenance routine, according to Hankook’s latest Gauge Index survey. If it’s been awhile since the last time you checked your tire pressure, the light could just be indicating that it’s time for a top-up. Luckily, 86% of drivers consider themselves confident in putting air in their tires in a proper manner with the right amount of pressure. If you aren’t in that majority, look for a tire dealer that offers a free air check, and refer to the panel of your driver’s side door, or your owner’s manual, for your vehicle’s ideal pressure reading.

2. Don’t pause after pressure

Tire pressure checks can be an opportune time to examine the overall health of your tires, so don’t stop inspecting just because your pressure is perfect. Take a look at your tread, too. An easy way to check the tread is to insert a penny upside down into the groove of your tire. If Lincoln’s head is fully visible, it’s time to drive to the dealer to buy new tires. Many drivers need to purchase a set of tires at some point; one-in-four has had to purchase new tires more than four times!

3. Know what you’re looking for

If your pressure light eventually leads you toward a point of sale, there’s plenty to consider, like where to make the purchase, and what is most important for your vehicle, and your wallet. The survey found that when deciding where to go to buy their tires, consumers most consider price (45%), where they can get their preferred brand (20%), and the tire dealer’s product knowledge (14%). And once they find a dealer they like, most Americans (78%) will return to the same location when they have to make another purchase in the future.

4. Talk it out

Once you’re at the dealer, knowing which tires to buy can be an overwhelming choice. Over a third of drivers (35%) do their own research on brands and where to get the best deal. But the tire dealer and its repair team can also be a great resource — in fact, a quarter of Americans base their decision on the recommendation of a mechanic. Regardless of who influences your decision, it’s important to communicate your priorities: whether that’s getting the best price, ensuring that your tires have a top safety rating or that they’re the right tires for your driving habits.

Of course, it’s also important to consider that the tire pressure indicator could have gone on for a completely different reason: It could be a sign that your vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) needs replacing. Your owner’s manual will provide specific details on what that alert looks like for your vehicle, but oftentimes, if the low-pressure light is blinking, it’s an indicator for the system, not necessarily the tire itself. And while 30% of drivers say the TPMS sensors are the element of their vehicle they’d be least likely to replace, Hankook recommends getting any issue checked out by a certified mechanic before hitting the road.

From Seed to Supplement: Behind the Label

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(BPT) - More than ever before, consumers today are demanding transparency on product labels. As news about food adulteration and contamination continues to appear in the headlines, the concern for food and product safety is rising.

If nutritional supplements have ever been an important part of your daily routine, no doubt you’ve wondered what’s behind the label. You may be among the growing ranks of consumers questioning where their products come from and how they’re developed. These are key questions — it’s important to know where your supplement’s ingredients are sourced to guarantee purity, safety and efficacy.

Here's some tips to help ensure you’re making smart and safe decisions when purchasing vitamins and supplements.

Ask the Right Questions

Start with asking the right questions. Protect your health and wellbeing by being inquisitive about the intricacies of supplement development and production.

  • How and why are product ingredients selected?
  • Where are the farms located and who is operating them?
  • Are chemicals and pesticides used in the growing process?
  • Are the right parts of the plants being used and are they harvested to maximize the nutrients our bodies need?
  • Will the package keep the supplements fresh and how is the packaging tested before distribution?

These questions should be easily found and answered by researching companies and their processes.

Trace the Source

Consumers have a right to know where their supplements come from. Do you know where your products originated? Can you trace them to the source? Understanding not just how ingredients were cultivated but where and by whom your supplements are produced also matters.

But how can you be sure? Confirm the brand you’re purchasing from is truly transparent and offers insight into each step of its process from start to finish.

“Nothing matters more than your health and the health of your family. That’s why it’s important to know as much as you can about the products you consume,” said Sam Kilgore, quality engineering manager at Nutrilite, the world's number 1 selling vitamin, supplement and minerals brand. “At Nutrilite, we meticulously track each step of the journey — from seed to supplement. Every one of our botanicals goes through a detailed nine-step traceability process and we have rigorous rules in place to help protect our products from even the slightest threat of contamination at any point in the process. This ensures that our supplements contain exactly what we say they do.”

According to Kilgore, who is also known as Nutrilite's "chief traceability officer," Nutrilite offers insight and transparency into every step of its process, tracing ingredients down to the last detail as highlighted by the Nutrilite™ Double X™ Vitamin/Mineral/Phytonutrient Supplement.

Verify Then Trust

Most vitamins and dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. As a conscious consumer, however, you want to ensure you know exactly what’s going in or on your body. Verifying a product’s safety and reliability is an important part of your due diligence. One way you can do this is by consulting EcoCert, a global leader in certification in organic farming, sustainability and safety.

NSF International is also an independent organization to check. NSF conducts product testing to confirm the actual contents of the supplement match those printed on the label. Its testing also confirms that there are no unsafe levels of contaminants, such as heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides in the product.

Knowing for certain the supplements you and your family are consuming are safe, pure and effective will give you the peace of mind you deserve.

Lighting Up The Holidays For Children In The Hospital

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(NAPSI)—The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the reality is, many children won’t be able to enjoy time with family at home. Instead of shopping for gifts and trimming the tree, countless children will be in the hospital, fighting to get stronger. Missing family traditions. Missing holiday events. Missing waking up to see that Santa has visited.

However, thanks to dedicated doctors, nurses, child life specialists and more at pediatric hospitals across the country, there’s still a bit of holiday magic to help brighten the days of patients and their families.

One Child’s Journey

After two rounds of chemotherapy and more than 130 days in the hospital, there’s a lot 12-year-old Meg doesn’t like about the hospital. But there are also a lot of things that help make her fight easier.

Meg’s journey began on vacation this past summer when her parents noticed bruises and red pin holes covering her legs. Concerned, they brought Meg to Children’s National Hospital, the premier pediatric hospital in nearby Washington, D.C., where the doctors diagnosed her with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. After months of aggressive treatment, Meg will continue her care through the holidays this year.

“There were not words to describe the feeling when you learn you have cancer. You go from complete childhood freedom to living in a hospital room,” says Meg. “After receiving my diagnosis, I started learning about my treatment and was crushed to learn I was probably going to be in the hospital for treatment through all my favorite holidays.”

One of the most challenging parts of any hospital stay is finding ways for kids like Meg to still be kids. It’s especially difficult during the holiday season when the last place they want to be is in a hospital bed. Pediatric hospitals establish programs such as art and music therapy, play time with therapy dogs, and access to video games and teen lounges that help make the hospital feel more like home. Unfortunately, these efforts aren’t covered by insurance, and Children’s National relies on the support of donors to fund programs like these that help treat the whole child and help them grow up stronger.

For Meg, art therapy is particularly impactful. Even on her roughest days of intense treatment, art reminds her of home. It gives her something to look forward to and a sense of self and the ability to express how she’s feeling, while also providing opportunities to spend time with visiting friends. Art time is a way Meg can bond with her sister Ashlee, who visits often. Meg also enjoys playing soccer in the Healing Garden at Children’s National, goofing around with therapy dogs and getting massages each Wednesday.

“It is hard to not have my freedom, but I could not imagine my stay here without having these types of programs. They allow me to focus on something else and not just sit in a room all day thinking about my diagnosis,” says Meg.

Lighting Up the Holidays

To ensure children like Meg have what they need to grow up stronger and let brave children and their families know they’re not fighting alone, Children’s National Hospital Foundation recently launched its annual Light Up Dr. Bear holiday campaign. Every time someone makes a gift to Children’s National, more than 300 light-up bears shine simultaneously in the hospital, at outpatient centers and at locations across the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region.

For more information about Children’s National and how you can donate, visit www.ChildrensNational.org/Lights2.

clicktotweet “Every time you make a gift to @childrenshealth, you light up hundreds of Dr. Bears in our hospital and across the region, brightening the holidays for patients and the entire community while helping provide exceptional care for kids. Give today. Show them you care. #LightUpDrBear. www.ChildrensNational.org/Light2 http://bit.ly/2DZJOcr

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

Holiday Hot Chocolate Made Easy

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(BPT) - For a warm and cozy moment of holiday relaxation, froth up some delicious hot chocolate spiced with flavors of the season. The Capresso froth Select makes it easy to create rich, frothy hot chocolate using chocolate chips, chunks, syrup or powder.

Celebrate the season with Peppermint Hot Chocolate, garnished with festive marshmallows and a candy cane — or a Frothy Hot Butterscotch Cocktail with Oat Milk. Or indulge in the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter in this recipe for Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate. From sweet to sophisticated, the possibilities are endless — create your own personalized beverage with your favorite flavorings, toppings, type of chocolate, and type of regular or non-dairy milk.

The froth Select is easy to use, with simple one-button operation and illuminated control. There are four settings to choose from: cold froth, hot froth, hot milk or hot chocolate. Capresso’s special hot chocolate function sets this frother apart by allowing you to add chocolate chips or chunks directly into the pitcher during the frothing process.

This versatile countertop appliance comes with a premium stainless steel pitcher and can also prepare café quality frothed milk for rich cappuccinos, lattes, flat whites and other specialty beverages. Or use the froth Select to make flavored steamers, chai tea latte, matcha latte, hot cider and iced fruit lattes. With so many beverage options — froth or steamed, hot or cold, a world of flavors — the froth Select makes a welcome gift that will be used and appreciated all throughout the year.

Attention to detail is a hallmark of Capresso design. The removable stainless steel milk pitcher comes with a large and comfortable stay-cool handle, and it holds up to 20 ounces for heating or 16 ounces for frothing. It is dishwasher safe, for everyday convenience.

Dual auto shut-off ensures safety. The froth Select turns off automatically when frothing or heating is complete, or when the pitcher is removed from the base. Two frothing disks and one heating disk are included, and they store securely in the bottom of the base. By using different disks with different settings, you can control and vary milk texture for a variety of specialty beverages.

Capresso offers innovative coffeemakers, espresso machines, grinders and other kitchen electrics for those who want the best. For more information, visit capresso.com. For hot chocolate and other beverage recipes, visit capressoblog.com.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

4 servings

16 oz. chocolate milk

4 oz. white chocolate chips

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

Marshmallows and candy cane, for garnish

Insert the frothing disk in the Capresso froth Select. Add milk to frothing pitcher and choose the CHOC setting. Start the cycle by pressing the center of the selector dial. After a few minutes, the illuminated light around the selector dial will start to blink, then remove the lid and add all the white chocolate chips before the illuminated light stops blinking. Add 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract, replace the lid, and wait for the froth to complete the frothing process and then automatically shut off. Pour into glasses, top with marshmallows and garnish with a candy cane.

7 Tips for Using Credit Cards Safely

(StatePoint) Credit cards are a useful tool for managing personal finances and building credit, but they also expose you to a number of risks -- including identity theft and credit card fraud. Thankfully, experts say there are many simple, proactive steps you can take to help protect yourself when using a credit card. Here are seven tips for guarding your credit.

1. Monitor your credit reports. To identify any suspicious activity, periodically request and review your credit reports and your children’s from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These companies will provide you with a free credit report once per year. Consider requesting a different agency’s report every four months at no charge for more frequent monitoring. If you see any signs of identity theft, credit card fraud or other scams, contact the credit bureaus right away.

2. Activate fraud alerts. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion also offer free credit fraud alerts. When a potential creditor sees a fraud alert on your credit file, they will take additional steps to verify your identity before authorizing new credit. Fraud alerts last for 90 days but can easily be renewed. You only need to contact one credit bureau to set up alerts -- that company will notify the other two.

3. Freeze your credit. Placing a freeze on your credit reports will prevent anyone from opening new accounts in your name. You will need to contact all three credit bureaus to freeze your reports. Note that it may take several days to lift a freeze if you need to apply for credit. Also, credit freezes do not prevent fraudulent transactions on your existing credit accounts.

4. Review credit card statements carefully. Check your statements as soon as you receive them to make sure there are no fraudulent charges. Contact your card issuer if you see anything suspicious.

5. Enroll in bank notification programs. Most banks offer a credit card notification program which will alert you to account charges over a preset amount.

6. Protect your passwords. Change logins and passwords monthly, use password generators and sign up for two-factor authentication. Security experts recommend a minimum of 14 characters for creating a secure password.

7. Shop online carefully. Avoid making payments or accessing financial information on unsecured wireless networks, such as those at coffee shops, hotels and restaurants. Your phone should be treated like your computer: password protect it, too.

A Certified Financial Planner professional can help you protect your assets from this type of risk and pick up the financial pieces if your information falls into the wrong hands. To find a CFP professional near you, visit www.letsmakeaplan.org.

With a few simple tools and a bit of diligence, you can safely use and continue to build your credit.

Photo Credit: (c) PavelVinnik / iStock via Getty Images Plus

How to find the right balance with pain management

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(BPT) - If you're facing surgery soon, you may have concerns about pain management. In a 2018 Mayo Clinic survey, 94% of the adults surveyed said that they would choose an alternative to opioids for treatment after surgery, but only 1 in 4 actually talked to their healthcare professional about those alternatives. Successfully managing pain involves much more than treating it with either prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. Recent research has shown that the most effective approach to pain relief is achieved by combining more than one method or therapy.

Coming up with a successful pain management plan requires having a frank discussion with your healthcare professional, but it also helps to consider your own preferences for treatment before having that conversation.

Create a plan

Take the first step in creating your pain management plan at PainManagementPlan.com. This is a new pain management tool developed by the Get Relief Responsibly initiative from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. The tool is a short interactive questionnaire — with just seven questions — that you can easily fill out online or on your mobile device.

After responding to basic questions about your goals, concerns and preferences about treatment options for pain, the tool then creates a customized discussion guide for you to review with your healthcare professional.

Using the tool may help you feel more informed about your choices and potential solutions, and together you can develop a strategy using a variety of methods and therapies. These could include prescription medicines, OTC pain relievers or non-drug methods like acupuncture, massage and/or physical therapy.

Safely use your medicines

In addition to the completed plan that captures your goals and the pain relief techniques you want to explore, the Pain Management Tool provides a clear one-page description of several common OTC pain relief medicines, listing their ingredients, dosing information and clear instructions for which medications should not be combined with others. Always read the drug facts label and instructions of any medication carefully before taking it. Make sure to tell your healthcare professional about all medications or supplements you're taking, including prescriptions, OTC medicines and vitamins, to avoid potentially harmful interactions.

Talk to a healthcare professional

The purpose of any pain management plan is to establish your goals, like getting back to work or going for walks, and to help you manage pain so you can get back to activities that mean the most to you. The tool can help you openly discuss concerns you have regarding treatment with your healthcare professional, and to gain a better understanding of your options.

For more information about the importance of pain management plans and your role in developing a care plan, visit GetReliefResponsibly.com. To use the mobile-friendly tool, visit PainManagementPlan.com.

5 tech-forward innovations every holiday traveler can look forward to

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(BPT) - If you're like most, you shudder at the idea of traveling during the holiday season. With all those long lines, tight timetables and crowded spaces, who wouldn’t feel like a Grinch? To add more comfort and joy to your journey, the travel and hospitality industries are quick to embrace innovation and new technology. From the time you hail the airport ride-share to the moment you step outside your hotel for an evening of holiday wonder, here are some travel tech advances to look for this season.

Nail the airport arrival: While you obviously don’t want to be late for takeoff, waiting an hour or more for boarding is wasted time you can’t get back. The good news is your mobile device can get you in touch with real-time updates on traffic, parking availability and security lines, so you can time your airport arrival with precision! A few days before your trip, do your homework and find out where that information lives, starting with the websites for the airport and your airline. Don’t forget to sign up for automatic flight check-ins.

Preserve comfort and cleanliness along the way: Airport restrooms appear high on the list of things that are awful about holiday travel. With all those large crowds, it’s hard for cleaning crews to keep dispensers well-stocked and restrooms clean and tidy. The emergence of the smart, fully connected restroom is about to change that. Thanks to the innovations of TOTO and GP PRO, travelers passing through one of the largest and busiest international airports can now count on a clean, comfortable experience — every time! The KOLO™ Smart Monitoring System harnesses the Internet of Things to ensure custodial staff receive real-time alerts right on their mobile devices when something needs attention. Whether there's an empty soap dispenser, a jammed paper towel or even a toilet leak, they'll get it fixed quickly with the help of cloud-based wireless technologies and cutting-edge sensors and sensing technology.

Make check-in a breeze: Now that you've arrived to your destination, you’re ready to relax. The good news is, many hotels are transforming what it means to take care of their guests through technology. For example, mobile check-ins and app-enabled locks mean you can walk past the long line in the lobby, and have your feet up in the comfort of your room in no time.

Redefine luxury through the everyday: The finest hotels are always early adopters of things that elevate your daily routine. For example, top establishments across the U.S. and Canada feature WASHLET in the bathroom of every guest. Warm, aerated water followed by warm air drying offers guests the unique comfort of hands-free personal cleansing. WASHLETS feature the latest in responsive touchless technology so you don’t even have to raise the lid or flush. To discover a hotel with these high-tech, luxury bidet seats, use the resource guide at washlet.TOTOusa.com/experience-it.

Connect to the celebration: Digital connectedness can also help your traveling self get the most from your getaway. Tune in during the holidays, and you’ll discover no shortage of fun and festivities at your destination of choice. Opt in to apps with location-based notifications and alerts about all the holly-jolly events, seasonal dining experience and winter wonderlands taking place all around you.

Technology and innovation have the power to enhance our lives with more comfort and better convenience, changing what it means to live and make our way around the world. Discover more about the luxury that TOTO brings into everyday life through its cutting-edge technology by visiting TOTOusa.com.

Fuel Your Adventures with Great Coffee on The Road

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News -Whether you are in a hotel room, at your desk, in an RV, or by a campfire, it can be difficult to get a good cup of coffee away from home. With the holiday travel season in full swing, travelers are wondering how best to enjoy their morning java while on the go.

Most away-from-home coffee options have major drawbacks. Hotel room coffee makers are convenient and cheap, but the coffee they brew means a major compromise on taste. Local cafes often offer good coffee, but the cost of all those to-go cups can really add up. Existing travel coffee presses offer a way to brew while on the go, but they typically brew slowly and therefore brew a bitter and very acidic cup.

Travelers benefit from being able to brew delicious coffee quickly and easily wherever they are. Luckily there is a perfect way to do just that. The AeroPress Go travel coffee press brews up to three cups of delicious hot or cold brew coffee that is richer, smoother, and lower in acidity than coffee brewed by other travel presses. Simply add ground coffee and water, stir briskly, press, and enjoy a cup of hot or cold brew coffee in just a minute or two.

The AeroPress Go travels self- contained in its own mug with a lid, making it easy to fit in a suitcase, in a desk, with camping gear, in an RV or in a backpack. It is compact, lightweight, and durable, making it easy to transport. And it cleans up in just a few seconds with a quick rinse.

The AeroPress Go's ability to make cold brew coffee is a big additional advantage because it can be used where there is no access to hot water. Wherever you go, there is almost always a source of water, but often no way to heat it. Use the AeroPress Go to join the hot new trend of drinking coffee that's an amazingly smooth, rich cold brew. With the AeroPress Go, it's easy to brew a cup of cold brew using unheated water in about two minutes.

Visit https://aeropress.com/ for more information about how to brew great coffee on the road.

 

How to avoid falling for sweepstakes scams

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(BPT) - The holiday season brings with it a flurry of cards, ads, email offers and more. It's also a prime time for sweepstakes, giveaways, contests and shopping sprees. Scammers are looking to take advantage of your good cheer, as well as your cluttered mailboxes and inboxes. Be on the lookout for elaborate and realistic-looking messages convincing you that you are the lucky winner of the grand prize.

What do you do if you get a message or email telling you that you're a jackpot winner?

Before you assume you've just won big, check out the following facts and watch the video at youtu.be/LkYm2EWIPWg to understand how some sweepstakes scams work.

FACT #1: You can’t win a sweepstakes or lottery you never signed up for or bought a ticket from.

If you enjoy entering sweepstakes and contests, make sure you only sign up for contests from reputable companies that you’ve heard of, or that have a good rating with a consumer protection agency like the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission or another trusted source.

Be sure to read the fine print — legitimate offers clearly disclose the terms and conditions of the promotion, including the rules, how the entry process works, and your odds of winning.

Keep track of any contests or sweepstakes that you actually do sign up for, so you can check your list in case you’re contacted about winning a big jackpot. If a giveaway isn't on your list, then you didn't really win. When you buy lottery tickets, keep them in a safe place so you can check them in a timely fashion.

FACT #2: A reputable sweepstakes or contest will NOT ask you for money to claim your prize.

Never send money to pay for "taxes" or "fees" on lottery or prize winnings. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning, or to pay taxes or processing fees to receive your prize.

Be especially wary of “international” contests that claim the fees are necessary due to international law. On top of that, you should never play the foreign lottery. It’s illegal.

FACT #3: Your personal info is way more valuable than any prizes you could win

Anyone who has ever had their identity stolen will tell you what a major hassle it is — identity theft can cost you money, ruin your credit rating and wreck your sense of safety and security. Giving anyone — or any contest — your personal information can lead to identity theft that will cost you, big time. If a sweepstakes asks you for sensitive information like your bank account or your Social Security number, it is a scam.

Guard your personal info like the treasure that it is. Don’t let the lure of an exciting “prize” cloud your judgment. #ThinkTwice before filling out any sweepstakes or contest entry form. And when you do sign up for sweepstakes, read the find print first to be sure your personal info won’t be shared or sold to a third party. Never give your banking information to unknown individuals or businesses.

FACT #4: Not all “checks” are legit

If you receive what looks like a real check in the mail, made out as payable to you, do your research before running to the bank to cash it in. Check out the company or sweepstakes name first. Never withdraw or send funds from a check in your account until it officially clears, which can take weeks.

Do your research. Check out the company that contacted you with local law enforcement or a consumer protection agency like the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission or other trusted sources. Basically, if you weren't expecting a check, do not cash it.

FACT #5: Surveys or prize giveaways can be phishing scams

Phishing can happen through surveys, contests, lotteries or prize giveaways. A scammer will post on a social network asking for people to “like,” “follow” or endorse a product or service, offering to send money or other incentives in return. Criminals can embed these messages into social media posts that look legitimate because they have a normal-looking profile picture and innocent-looking link (thanks to URL shorteners). This scam is designed to get answers to personal questions that fraudsters can use and sell later.

If you think you’re being scammed, call Western Union’s fraud hotline at 800-448-1492. Or to learn more about how to protect yourself from common sweepstakes and lottery scams, visit wu.com/fraudawareness or follow @WUStopFraud on Twitter.

Hiring the next-gen employee

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(BPT) - The U.S. workforce is in the midst of an influx with 65 million workers from Generation Z beginning to look for jobs, according to BridgeWorks Consulting. This group of workers, born after 1997, do not remember a time without the internet and have grown up in a post-2008 recession era of financial responsibility, meaning what motivates them differs greatly from previous generations.

The combination of Gen Zers’ financially savvy, entrepreneurial spirit and their deeply rooted relationship with technology means employers need to reassess and diversify the ways they interact with and what they offer candidates. This also creates challenges in identifying the groups’ reason for choosing a field or job, placing the pressure on the hiring business or brand to stand out as an attractive experience.

“With this generation, the onus is on employers to learn how to relate to and attract their next employees,” said Kristen Wahl, director of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, the current Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and MathWorks.

EcoCAR’s recent study of college students participating in the competition revealed two key insights that translate across industries and may help employers of all types better understand who their co-workers and employees of the future will be.

Tech is integral to all aspects of their lives

Gen Z hasn’t known a time without access to infinite information at their fingertips as smartphones debuted when many were infants. Easy access to information has allowed Gen Zers to be curious learners and interact with companies and brands much earlier than generations past.

The study shows job seekers are likely to engage with online articles (62 percent) and videos (61 percent) along with other content on social media, which can be a great starting point for hiring companies to build their relationship with the Gen Z workforce. These insights apply to all companies — from large national companies to local small businesses — and are easily attainable through a variety of online channels.

“Our insights show interaction between Gen Z and employers must start before the next hiring cycle or career fairs,” said Wahl. “Employers of all sizes should be aware how their future employees interact with their brand before they are looking to hire.”

Personal and career growth are imperative

Gen Zers are seen as self-starters that take pride and responsibility for their own career paths with 76 percent believing they are culpable for driving their own career trajectory and 42 percent with hopes of self-employment, according to Concordia University-St. Paul. The entrepreneurial work ethic and concerns of financial security can explain the emphasis placed on professional and personal growth. Our research shows young job seekers agree on the importance of career advancement opportunities (98 percent), competitive wages (97 percent) and personal learning and development opportunities (96 percent). Regardless of industry or job-level, Gen Zers see a link between personal and professional growth and seek employers who share that thinking.

“Employers who can reach prospective job seekers early in their process and then deliver a fulfilling day-to-day experience with proper compensation will be prepared to both attract and retain the incoming wave of young workers,” said Wahl.

Tips for surviving the Medicare annual enrollment period

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(BPT) - Annual enrollment for Medicare ends Dec. 7, so now is the time to check your plan and update coverage for the coming year. While many people stick to the same plan they have used in the past, subtle changes can leave you second guessing what is best for your personal situation.

Some of the most common questions Medicare participants ask during open enrollment include:

  • Will this plan meet my health needs and budget?
  • Will this plan cover the prescription drugs I need?
  • Will I be covered to visit the health care providers I want?

If you have these or other questions, you’re not alone. Take a deep breath and consider these four tips to help you navigate open enrollment with ease.

1. Don't miss the deadline

Plan to enroll by Dec. 7, 2019. The exception is if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan and want to return to Original Medicare and a standalone Part D plan. If so, you can do that from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14 of each year.

2. Ensure your Medicare plan is offered next year

Plans vary from year to year. Medicare updates terms and changes to how they pay the plans, so it's important to explore what's available. If you can't get your current plan, start researching alternatives to fit your needs.

3. Verify coverage

Many things can change in a Medicare plan, from benefits to provider networks. You’ll receive an annual notice of change that explains adjustments, but you should still take time to compare your existing plan to next year's offering during enrollment. Questions you may want to keep in mind are:

  • What are monthly premiums and annual deductibles?
  • How much do doctors' visits cost (co-pays and co-insurance)?
  • Which prescriptions are covered and which are not?
  • Do your current doctors accept this plan?
  • Does the plan include additional coverage, such as dental and vision?

Because your eyes are important, consider complementing your Original Medicare coverage with a VSP Individual Vision Plan. These plans cover glasses or contacts and eye exams, which can help detect glaucoma and other eye problems, as well as health issues like diabetes and hypertension. Overall, VSP typically saves people more than $200 per year on their eye care, and has the largest network of independent doctors, so it’s likely you can keep seeing the doctor you trust.

4. Do your research

If you decide to switch plans, you can use the tools on www.Medicare.gov to get answers to your questions before enrolling. On the website you can enter prescriptions, your pharmacy preference and other details and you'll learn which plans are right for you. This makes it easy to compare plans and associated costs. Once you decide, you can begin enrollment.

5 tips for stress-less holiday cleaning

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(BPT) - Each year, the holiday season brings a flurry of entertaining. From hosting a houseful of out-of-town relatives to formal sit-down dinners to impromptu get-togethers, chances are your schedule — and your home — is brimming with activity.

With all the extra foot traffic and activity can also come stress. Stress from shopping and decorating is expected, but what about holiday stress related to cleaning? Fortunately, with a little prep work and proactive thinking, you can make your holidays and your home shine all season long. Here are a few tips to keep your home ready for holiday joy.

1. Divide and conquer

An online survey commissioned by Bona® and conducted by The Harris Poll in October 2019 reported that nearly 2 in 3 U.S. adults (63%) agree preparing their home for house guests is as stressful as holiday gift shopping. But it doesn't have to be.

  • Optimize your time by compartmentalizing each room in your house. Clean a small, focused portion of the room before moving on to the next, so you can see your progress. Try cleaning each room in a clockwise, top-to-bottom motion so you don’t miss a spot.

  • Prep entryways and clear space in at least one closet for guests' coats. If you're using a bedroom for coats, make sure it is clean, since this area will be seen by your visitors.

  • The kitchen and bathrooms are crucial areas to clean before guests arrive. Besides wiping down counters and sinks, and sweeping and mopping floors, spend time clearing out the fridge to make room for holiday goodies and leftovers. Minimize after-party cleanup by starting with a clean sink and an empty dishwasher.

2. Clean and protect floors

The survey also found that six in ten adults agree that their favorite part of holiday gatherings is when the living room or family room floor is cleared for group games or dancing. Using a product like Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner will ensure the dance floor is sparkling clean and ready for the party.

  • Clean welcome mats and place them inside and outside entryways to help prevent guests from tracking in dirt, mud or snow, further protecting your freshly cleaned floors.

  • Set up a bench and shoe rack so guests can remove footwear upon entering your home.

3. Be prepared for anything

The survey found that along with holiday visitors come unanticipated messes — and 76% of adults agree that house guests appreciate clean accommodations, but don't always leave them in the same condition when they depart.

Respondents shared colorful stories of house guests who left a lasting impression — and not in a good way. One guest left the water in the bathtub running overnight, causing damage to the bathroom floor, while another dropped a frying pan full of hot grease all over the kitchen floor.

  • Collect a shortlist of local handyman and cleanup services for minor calamities. Post this list on the fridge so you and your guests know exactly who to call if emergency help is needed before or after guests visit.

4. It's OK to set ground rules

Be proactive and communicate with guests to prevent unnecessary mishaps and hassles over the holidays. In the survey, 85% of adults agree that following household rules while visiting someone else's home isn’t too much to ask. Posting a list of "golden" rules for each room of your home is an easy way to ensure your house is kept neat and tidy for all your holiday guests.

As you're posting rules, ensure that guests can find everything they need easily, such as towels and paper products, without having to rummage through drawers and cabinets for supplies and other necessities.

5. A quick clean-up is better than nothing

Over half of adults (51%) claim that if given a choice, they might forgo hosting holiday guests to avoid extra home cleaning. However, even a quick tidying-up can help. Just 15 minutes can spruce up a messy entryway or clean kitchen surfaces. Especially for impromptu gatherings of friends or family, it's important to allow yourself to relax and enjoy everyone's company without stressing that your home isn't clean enough.

Enjoy your holiday festivities and your beautiful home this year with less stress by following these tips. Visit bona.com for a range of hard surface floor cleaning and care products to help relieve stress and keep your home shiny and bright, all season long.

How to protect your most valuable asset

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(BPT) - If you're like many Americans, your home may be your most valuable asset. That's why it's so important to protect it with homeowners insurance. Plus, it's probably a requirement of your mortgage. Setting up your coverage the right way starts with understanding the major parts of a homeowners policy.

Consider the following information and tips from the USAA Home Learning Center:

Dwelling protection

This protection covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it's damaged or destroyed. When you select the amount, keep in mind the cost to rebuild your home is different from its market value.

It's important to get the dwelling coverage right and to monitor it over time to make sure it keeps up with construction costs to rebuild. Under most homeowners policies, if you file a claim and have underinsured your home, your payout may be reduced.

Some insurers will help you estimate the rebuilding cost. They take into account the features, materials and finishes that make your home unique.

Personal property protection

This protection covers your furniture, clothing and pretty much everything else inside your home. Most policies set the amount of personal property protection as a percentage of the dwelling coverage.

It may not be enough, though. Homeowners plans set limits on certain high-value items. If you own expensive jewelry, art, guns, stamps, furs, cameras, computers, silver or collectibles, you'll want to consider buying valuable personal property insurance. This is sometimes called a "personal articles floater."

When you set up your homeowners policy, you may have to make an important choice about how to reimburse losses. There are two approaches:

  • Replacement cost. This coverage is the amount needed to replace the property with a comparable, new item.
  • Actual cash value. This coverage considers depreciation in the value of your property. If your 10-year-old couch is destroyed, you'd receive what it was worth at the time of loss, not the money you'd need to buy a new one.

To make your recovery from a loss as smooth as possible, replacement cost coverage is recommended.

Liability coverage

This is one of the most important and least appreciated forms of protection offered through homeowners coverage. It protects you if you're found to be at fault for someone's injury or property damage. It even covers you for non-automobile incidents away from your home. Generally, it also covers your legal costs associated with such claims against you.

As a rule, your liability coverage should at least be equal to the total value of your assets for both your homeowners and auto insurance. If your assets are higher than the maximum coverage allowed under the policy, consider purchasing umbrella insurance to cover the difference. This is important to protect the savings and other assets you've worked hard to acquire.

Deductibles

As with other types of insurance, a deductible is the part of a loss that you're responsible for covering out of your own pocket. The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium.

Choosing a higher deductible can save you money with a lower monthly premium but increases the risk you take. Consider the amount of cash you typically have on hand in your emergency fund or checking and savings accounts. Make sure you can cover the deductible amount comfortably.

What may not be covered

Your policy's basic coverage won't cover some special risks.

  • Floods: While a standard policy covers most weather-related events, floods aren't one of them. Flood insurance is inexpensive and the federal government offers it through insurers. While it's mandatory when you have a mortgage and live in a flood zone, you should give it strong consideration no matter where you live. Whether it's a flash flood or a few inches of excess water, flooding can cause massive damage to your dwelling and its contents.
  • Earthquakes: You can add coverage for earth movements to your policy with an extra premium. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, consider reinforcing your home protection with this coverage.
  • Home businesses: Homeowners plans provide limited coverage for business equipment. If you run your business from home or have expensive office equipment, you may need to consider additional coverage. Your homeowners policy may not cover injuries to someone if they're related to your business.

For additional information on protecting your home, visit USAA.com/Homeowners.

Headlines

At least six people, including a police officer and the two suspects, were killed in a shootout around a New Jersey grocery store across the Hudson River from Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, prompting a security lockdown of area schools, officials and local media said.

Republican US Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida, a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, said on Tuesday he will not seek re-election after four terms on Capitol Hill.