Good Reads

With tax extensions up, October tax deadline nears

(BPT) - The IRS projected that more people than ever before — 14.6 million — would file an extension. That estimate may have been conservative, given how tax reform influenced people to delay filing as they figured out what tax reform meant for them.

Now, those who still haven’t filed are running out of time, because the tax filing extension deadline is Oct. 15, 2019. Once Oct. 16 rolls around, those who still haven’t filed and owe the IRS will face a 5 percent monthly failure-to-file penalty on unpaid tax. The penalty adds up each month until the taxpayer files, up to a maximum of 25 percent. For those who did not file for an extension before the April deadline, the 5 percent monthly penalty kicked in immediately after the deadline.

The good news is people due a refund don’t pay a late filing penalty. In fact, most taxpayers (53 percent) filing after the April deadline get a refund. But the longer they wait to file, the later and later they will get their refunds, which average more than $4,000.

If that’s not reason enough to file, taxpayers who filed an extension have indicated to the IRS they need to file a return, essentially putting themselves on the IRS’ radar. These taxpayers will be easy targets for an IRS notice if they don’t file by the October tax deadline.

Taxpayers who still haven’t finished their taxes are more likely to be looking for help: 85 percent of them get professional help from a tax preparer, compared to 58 percent of taxpayers who file during tax season. They may be afraid of owing the IRS, uncertain about the tax outcome, missing documents, or just procrastinating. Whatever the reason, anyone who wants help filing a tax return to meet the October tax deadline can make an appointment with an H&R Block tax professional by calling 800-HRBLOCK or finding a local, year-round H&R Block office online. Online tax filing and DIY tax software are available 24/7.

Tips for getting your family organized this fall

(BPT) - Fall marks the beginning of a new school year and a perfect time to get you and your family organized. Use this fresh start as an opportunity to establish clear routines for scheduling, sorting papers and organizing everything your family needs for your work, school and home lives to run more smoothly.

The right tools plus the right approach will help to get everyone more organized.

1. Post a central calendar

Developing a central calendar in one of the common rooms in your home to track activity provides your family with a quick and easy way to stay organized and in the know. A large reusable monthly calendar in the kitchen or other key area of your home allows all family members to mark appointments, lessons and deadlines, plus special occasions so you'll know what's coming up at all times. Try the Staples Magnetic Calendar, a dry-erase calendar that comes with self-stick tape for posting on the wall, and two magnets to highlight special dates. There’s even a cork board at the bottom for pinning tickets or other important papers.

2. Find easy ways to leave notes

Whether you need to remind your family about lunches in the fridge or feeding the dog, Post-it Super Sticky Notes make it easy for everyone to communicate throughout the house. Using brightly colored notes means family members won't miss them and you'll be one step closer to your fall organization goal.

3. Focus on planning ahead

For your own goal-setting and scheduling, find a planner that helps keep track of monthly appointments and goals while also offering tips to help you de-clutter and streamline processes. The Emily Ley Simplified Pineapple Planner is as stylish and attractive as it is useful and inspiring. Check out the handy tips on quick clean-up routines — and even a page for your bucket list!

4. Crush your to-do list

To stay on top of long-term goals, it's important to focus on what "to do" every day. Using a small tear-off pad with a to-do checklist helps you conquer your goals. The Martha Stewart Daily Goals Tracker fits the bill, dividing daily to-dos into a.m. and p.m., with space for overall daily goals and tomorrow's focus. There's even a place to check off your daily glasses of water.

5. Use color coding methods

Visual cues are key to organizing, so use color to help keep track of what's what. You can use differently colored pens for various reminders in your planner or items on your to-do list (red means urgent!). Assign a different colored pen to each family member so you'll know at a glance who each item is for. With TRU RED retractable pens, everyone can choose their favorite color. The ink in these gel pens dries quickly for smudge-proof writing, making them ideal for lefties.

To further organize papers, use a color-coding principle. Staples Top-Tab File Folders in pastel colors separate different types of papers into clear categories before filing them away. One hundred folders in a variety of pastels come in each box, with three tabs for easy labeling.

6. Stay organized on-the-go

When you're running around doing errands, what could be better than a simple way to stash your papers, pens, keys and phone with an Emily Ley Simplified Seersucker Storage Pouch? Measuring 10 by 7 1/2 inches, the pouch can secure important items, and the navy cotton lining helps it stand up to daily use.

7. Clear your desk

Even if it's just a section of your kitchen counter, free up space by sorting your "home office" items. Find an organizer (or two, or three) with different-sized compartments to fit what you and your family regularly need: stapler, scissors, pens, paper clips, etc. Try the sturdy plastic TRU RED desk organizers, in different sizes and configurations. Mix and match pieces to set it up just the way you want it.

8. Sort papers by type

It's easier to find papers if you group them by category. Separate magazines or newspapers from brochures, kids' homework or bills. Get boxes that fit the kinds of papers you most need to store, like Martha Stewart StackFit Magazine Files, which look stylish and fit neatly on a shelf. You can use them for magazines, catalogs, notebooks or any other papers. Label contents clearly using the metal bookplate on the side.

9. Box it up

A neat storage solution brings peace of mind to your home. To store kids' artwork, papers, cards, photos or craft supplies neatly on shelves, stock up on these medium style boxes with lids. These sturdy, rattan-look storage baskets have integrated handles and reinforced corners. They're also scratch resistant and easy to clean with a damp cloth.

Getting organized can be stressful, but having the right tools and supplies to get the job done will make the process go smoothly. Kids and parents alike can use these tips and tricks to organize their rooms and stay on track. Visit Staples.com for more ideas on how to get organized and meet your goals this fall.

How at-home allergy treatment is changing lives

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(BPT) - More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and as pollen production grows in intensity and duration due to longer freeze-free periods, that number is expected to rise. For chronic allergy sufferers, this can mean battling symptoms year-round, year after year.

Allergies pose health risks beyond stuffy noses and itchy, watery eyes. Those with intense symptoms find their quality of life drastically affected, leading to missed school and work days, or even emergency room visits. Severe allergy sufferers may experience intense congestion, sneezing, hives or eczema, plus difficulty breathing.

Of the 26 million Americans who suffer from asthma, around 60% have allergic asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, meaning that the serious, life-threatening respiratory distress of asthma is triggered by allergic reactions to pollen and other substances.

Over-the-counter antihistamines and other allergy medications can provide temporary relief, but long-term relief requires finding a specialist for inconvenient office treatments, often multiple times a week for years. Or does it?

Immunotherapy at home

The standard of care for allergy treatment, immunotherapy, was introduced in 1911 based on the positive results of vaccines that produced protection against infectious diseases such as smallpox. Scientists recognized that they could induce immunity and build tolerance to allergens by injecting hay fever patients with pollen they were allergic to.

Today, only 20% of allergy sufferers see an allergy specialist. And those that do must stick to a regimented schedule of frequent in-office visits for treatment for it to be effective. But innovation in allergy immunotherapy means patients can be tested by their general practitioner instead of seeking out a specialist, and then conduct their own treatment at home. That makes it more convenient to seek treatment and commit to the immunotherapy protocol as it helps their bodies build up resistance to the allergens that affect their lives. At-home immunotherapy allows allergy sufferers to treat themselves over time.

“The biggest challenge is getting a patient to stay consistent with treatment. With the traditional method, it’s a huge inconvenience and time commitment to have to go to an allergist’s office sometimes hundreds of times over the course of years to make a difference,” says Dr. Hormazd Sanjana, of Castle Hills Family Practice in San Antonio, who has incorporated allergy immunotherapy treatment into his practice.

“To be able to provide better access to treatment to my patients, and a way for them to conveniently administer it to themselves on their time, where they are most comfortable, is a game changer.”

How does immunotherapy treatment work?

The largest provider of immunotherapy services, United Allergy Services, has been working with physicians to create and administer custom treatments for patients since 2009. More than 500 primary care providers offer UAS testing and treatment in their offices.

  1. First, an onsite allergy specialist tests for the 48 most common allergens.
  2. After triggers are identified, doses of the allergen are mixed for the patient to gradually expose him or her to very small amounts.
  3. The physician and Clinical Allergy Specialist guide the patient through at-home immunotherapy administration and the myAllergyPal app helps patients see test results, track doses and receive helpful tips between check-in visits.
  4. With exposure to increasing amounts at regular intervals over the course of treatment, the body is gradually desensitized to those triggers that once caused uncomfortable or debilitating symptoms.

Up to 85% of patients on United Allergy Services’ treatment program start seeing results within 12 months, some in half that time. With continued treatment for up to three years, patients can then discontinue doses and experience long-term relief.

"I have lived with allergies my entire life and now I have almost no symptoms,” said Tiffany Conner of North Carolina. Going through at-home immunotherapy treatment was the best decision I could have made.”

For help finding a primary physician in your area that offers UAS testing and treatment, visit unitedallergyservices.com.

Beef basics: Everything you need to become a pit master

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(BPT) - Grilling is an American staple, and many home grill masters yearn to take it to the next level, impressing their friends and families with tasty, mouthwatering smoked beef. Smoking is a timeless technique that elevates the beef people crave by delivering rich flavor and tenderness.

What do you need to become a pit master? Here are the basics from the Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Culinary Center, funded by the Beef Checkoff.

Selecting your beef

Large cuts, such as brisket, roasts and ribs, are prime candidates for smoking, but even a burger can benefit from a hint of smoke. Some of the most popular cuts of beef for smoking are:

  • Back ribs — A barbecue must, these ribs are flavorful and a great value.
  • Brisket — This smoking classic is a fan favorite — sliced or shredded, can’t go wrong here.
  • Rib-eye steak — Rich and juicy, rib-eye is known for exceptional taste and generous marbling.
  • Tri-tip roast — Boneless and tender, this rising star is growing in popularity.

Regardless of the cut you select, always remember that time, patience and practice pay off — don’t be afraid to tweak your technique to suit your tools and tastes.

Choosing a smoker

Your smoker should fit your space, budget and preferred heat source. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Kamado or ceramic smokers use lump charcoal and are very versatile, providing heat retention and consistent high temperatures.
  • Pellet smokers use an electric-powered auger to feed wood pellets into the smoker. They have a grilling area big enough for large cuts of meat.
  • Electric gas smokers are great for beginners, making it easy to select and gauge temperatures.
  • Charcoal smokers are favored for the low, slow cook many pit masters prefer. They offer a more natural flavor, but also need more temperature monitoring.

Picking the right wood

Once you’ve selected your smoker, you can further customize your smoking experience with different types of wood. Some variations to choose from include:

  • Hickory is popular for smoking due to its strong, hearty flavor.
  • Mesquite offers a very smoky flavor, great for cooking smaller cuts for shorter periods.
  • Oak has a subtle flavor that's great for larger cuts of meat.
  • Apple smoke provides a sweeter taste.
  • Pecan has a rich, sweet, nutty flavor.
  • Cherry offers a hint of fruitiness.
  • Maple leads to a sweet, mild smoky flavor.

Experimenting with types of wood allows you to add your signature twist.

Deciding on a rub

Next up is creating a rub to complement the flavors provided by the beef and smoke. There are two main types of rubs to consider:

  • A dry rub typically starts with a base of sugar and salt and incorporates a variety of bold spices and herbs to create a flavorful crust on the outside of the meat.
  • Wet rubs contain wet ingredients, such as oil, vinegar, citrus juice, Worcestershire sauce or even molasses, combined with dry herbs and spices. One benefit of a wet rub is that the seasonings can have an easier time adhering to the meat.

When creating your rub, keep in mind your beef should always be the star of the show. Rubs play a supporting role by enhancing the taste beef innately brings to a smoker.

Ready to put your skills to the test?

Try this recipe for Classic Smoked Beef Brisket from the chefs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Culinary Center, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, who develop recipes for BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Classic Smoked Beef Brisket

Ingredients

  • 1 whole beef brisket (approximately 12-13 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

Directions

Add wood chunks, chips, pellets or charcoal to smoker according to manufacturer's instructions. Preheat smoker to 225°F.

Combine spices in small bowl. Press spices into brisket on all sides and edges.

Tip: Brisket may require trimming fat to ensure the rub contacts the beef.

Place beef on rack in smoker. Set timer for 12 hours.

Tip: To prevent dryness and accelerate the cooking process, try the “Texas Crutch” — wrap aluminum foil around the meat along with a little liquid, such as water, juice or beer.

Carefully remove beef from smoker after 10 and 1/2 to 11 hours or when temperature reaches 195°F for beef that slices easily. For beef that can be shredded or chunked, carefully remove from smoker at 12 hours or when temperature reaches 205°F.

For more smoking recipes and tips, visit beefitswhatsfordinner.com/cooking/smoking-basics.

Would you like the power to own your own home? Here are 4 steps to follow if you want to make your dream a reality

(BPT) - For many people, a monthly mortgage payment may be manageable, but their biggest obstacle is the upfront expense — namely down payment and closing costs — of buying a home. In fact, according to the Bank of America Spring 2019 Homebuyer Insights Report, 69% of prospective homeowners say saving enough money for a down payment and closing costs is the biggest challenge they face.

Unfortunately, many assume the hurdle of upfront costs can’t be overcome, and they self-select themselves out of taking the next steps towards owning a home. However, there is good news: through smart planning and research, you may uncover new ways to turn your dream into a reality.

While everyone’s situation is unique, here are four helpful tips to get you ready to buy a home of your own.

It’s never too late to start saving: Take control of your finances by creating a budget to track your spending and discover areas where you can cut back and boost your savings. Even if it’s only $50 every month, every little bit gets you one step closer to your dream.

Understand what you can afford: It’s always important to get a sense of what your budget can handle — comfortably — every month, before you start looking. Put together a detailed budget so you can get a full picture of your finances and understand how much you can afford each month for a mortgage. A mortgage calculator lets you estimate housing costs given your income, debt, savings and other financial obligations. Don’t forget taxes and insurance.

Talk to an expert and get prequalified: Understanding your budget is just one piece of the financial puzzle when it comes to homebuying. To learn about the loan options that make sense for you, meet with a lending expert who can provide more information on current interest rates and how much you can borrow. Once you find a loan that fits your needs, get a prequalification letter, which estimates your borrowing power based on your financial information and shows sellers you are serious and gives you some negotiating leverage.

Take advantage of available help: To help afford your dream home (and all the associated costs), keep your eyes open for available grants and programs designed to help prospective homeowners like you. Through its Community Homeownership Commitment, Bank of America is providing up to $17,500 to eligible buyers in select markets to help with upfront costs. Specifically, to assist with down payments, Bank of America will give eligible homebuyers 3% of the home purchase price (up to $10,000) when they use a specific low down payment loan product. Homebuyers may also qualify to receive up to $7,500 for non-recurring closing costs or to buy down their interest rate.

To get on the right track to affordable and sustainable homeownership, keep these tips and programs in mind and talk to a Bank of America lending specialist to learn what programs and offerings you may qualify for. Visit bankofamerica.com/firsthome or text “mortgage” to 226526 to learn more.

7 Traits to Look for in a Financial Planner

(StatePoint) When looking for a financial planner who can bring all the pieces of your financial life together and put you in the driver’s seat of your own financial future, experts say it’s important to look beyond his or her resume.

While a financial planner’s background and experience are important, so are some of the intangibles. Here are seven traits you should look for when choosing a financial planner:

• Competence. A financial planner should be able to demonstrate an appropriate level of experience. In order to obtain Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification, professionals must have a minimum of two years professional experience related to financial planning, in addition to meeting rigorous education requirements.

• Objectivity. Your needs should be at the heart of all your financial planner’s recommendations. He or she should use experience and judgment to carefully consider your personal and financial situation, and then provide advice that best meets your individual goals. CFP professionals are always required to act in your best interests when providing financial planning services.

• Integrity. Trust is central to a successful financial planning relationship. When you know your planner takes his or her duties seriously and places principles over personal gain, you can form a good working partnership. The strict practice standards and code of ethics of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) are designed to ensure CFP professionals act in a professionally responsible manner.

• Fair Treatment. A good financial planner clearly defines the services he or she will provide and will communicate the costs and risks associated with each financial recommendation. A good financial planner will also disclose potential conflicts of interest. CFP professionals are required to make full disclosure of conflicts and compensation methods to their clients.

• Diligence. A diligent financial planner will reasonably examine recommended products or services to ensure they are suitable for you, and will closely supervise any staff or related professionals working with you.

• Professionalism. Trustworthy financial planners will not provide investment advice or stock brokerage services unless qualified and licensed to do so, as required by state or federal law. If your situation requires expertise that your planner does not possess, he or she should suggest other professionals who could assist you.

• Privacy. To get the best results from your financial planning relationship, you’ll need to regularly divulge relevant personal and financial information to your financial planner, who will keep this information in confidence, only sharing it to conduct business on your behalf, at your consent or when ordered to do so by a court.

To find a CFP professional near you, visit letsmakeaplan.org.

Partnering with a financial planner will provide you with confidence today and a more secure tomorrow. Be sure you work with a trustworthy, competent professional.

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

5 new ways to bring the beauty of nature into your home

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(BPT) - (BPT) - There’s nothing like being outdoors. It soothes the soul, calms the spirit and delights the senses. Most of us can’t spend as much time as we’d like outside, but many clever methods can bring the serenity and beauty of nature into your home. Take a look at a few of the innovative ways that you can introduce nature’s beauty, from a lush garden to a forest of birch trees, into your interior spaces.

1. Air plant terrarium

A terrarium, with sand, stones and other decorative elements, is an easy option for displaying a collection of air plants. Perfect for small, indoor spaces, these amazingly versatile plants can grow on any surface because they take in nutrients and moisture from the air.'

2. Beautiful blooms wall mural

What better way to give your space some style and a pop of color? This sweet, vintage-inspired floral print makes for an elegant feature wall.

3. Custom wall mural


Display your favorite family vacation or travel photos in a big way. Create a custom, one-of-a-kind wall mural for the ultimate statement. Upload your own image to get started.

4. Zen garden

A peaceful Zen garden of carefully placed objects and smooth, flowing lines of sand can be a beautiful addition to any space. Your garden can be small enough to sit on a coffee table, or grace a large area in your home.

5. Branch out with birch trees

Transform your room into a woodland wonderland. With its simple and natural palette, this birch tree wall mural can be easily styled to fit any décor.
For more information on decorative wall murals, please visit muralsyourway.com.

5 step fire safety checklist

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(BPT) - When flames engulfed his 1940s beach bungalow without warning, actor Taylor Kinney was thankful to make it out alive. That experience, paired with his role as one of America’s favorite TV firefighters, inspired him to advocate for fire safety and is why he’s partnering with First Alert this fall to share important messages about fire safety preparedness.

“In my role as a firefighter on TV, I help portray very serious and dangerous fire emergency situations,” said Kinney. “But one of the most dangerous of all is the lack of fire safety precautions among a majority of Americans, including having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to provide early warning in the event of a real home emergency.”

Recent research shows that more than 60% of consumers do not test their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms regularly. That, along with other easy-to-perform tasks, can mean the difference between a safe home and a dangerous home.

This simple fire safety checklist can help ensure your home and family are protected from the threats of smoke, fire and carbon monoxide.

1) Install smoke alarms on every level and in every bedroom. Three out of every five home fire deaths result from fires in homes without smoke alarms or with no working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). For maximum protection, install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

2) Testing and maintaining alarms is key. Alarms should be tested regularly and replaced at least every 10 years. Help ensure your alarms remain in good, working order by changing the batteries at least every six months. For hassle-free protection, install alarms like the First Alert 10-Year Smoke and CO Alarm available at Lowe’s, which has a sealed 10-year battery — rendering battery removal and replacement a thing of the past. Many cities and states require sealed 10-year battery alarms, so check with your local fire department if you do not know what to install.

3) Equip your home with fire extinguishers. Beyond alarms, having fire extinguishers — and knowing how to use them — is an important part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family. Every 24 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire, according to the NFPA, so being prepared to fight small fires is critical. Place extinguishers in convenient locations on every level of the home, in the kitchen and in the garage.

4) Protect against the “silent killer.” An odorless and invisible gas, CO is the number one cause of accidental poisoning and can only be detected with an alarm — yet only 47% of homeowners report owning a CO alarm. Consider hassle-free protection by installing 10-year sealed battery alarms and, just like smoke alarms, be sure to check all CO alarms regularly using the “test” button for continued protection.

5) Plan. Practice. Repeat. Recent consumer research reveals that less than 50% of homeowners have an escape plan — and even fewer practice a plan regularly. Make sure to involve everyone in your household in creating a plan and practice it at least twice every year. As part of this plan, equip second-floor bedrooms with escape ladders and discuss how to use them. Identify two ways out of each room and a meeting place outside. Emphasize that once at the predesignated meeting area, call 911 and wait until officials clear your home to re-enter it safely.

For more information, visit www.firstalert.com.

CDC Foundation program makes a difference for people with cancer

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(BPT) - Imagine being diagnosed with cancer, going through chemotherapy, and then getting sidelined by an infection.

Unfortunately for people with cancer, this is a serious potential side effect of chemotherapy. Each year, more than half a million people with cancer are treated with chemotherapy, which may weaken their immune system (a condition known as neutropenia), making them more vulnerable to getting an infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an infection linked to neutropenia is one of the most dangerous side effects of chemotherapy that can put a patient in the hospital, delay their treatments or even cause death. That’s why back in 2009, CDC and the CDC Foundation, with financial support from Amgen Oncology, set out to develop innovative ways to educate people about this side effect and steps they can take to reduce their risk of infections during chemotherapy.

The Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients (PICP) program is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary, and continues to provide evidence-based resources for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals. To celebrate this milestone, the program has developed its first-ever public service announcement (PSA) highlighting the importance of infection prevention during chemotherapy and tips on how people with cancer can lower their infection risk.

“The CDC Foundation is honored to have been part of this program that has helped educate and inform cancer patients about their increased risk of an infection during chemotherapy since 2009,” said Dr. Judith Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The PICP program has been strengthened over time as a result of our strong and lasting partnerships that allow these innovative tools to be disseminated to patients.”

“These resources are working,” said Dr. Lisa Richardson, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “By providing patients and oncology providers with simple, evidence-based materials, cancer patients and caregivers report that they understand their risk for neutropenia and infection better after visiting our website.”

As part of the program’s evolution, PICP recently launched new educational tools using virtual human technology: TINA. Housed in a free mobile app and on PreventCancerInfections.org, our fully animated virtual provider TINA (Talking about Infection and Neutropenia Awareness) is an interactive tool for patients and providers. For patients, TINA will ask and answer the user’s questions about infection risk and the steps they can take to protect themselves. For oncology providers, TINA allows the user to role-play and practice a conversation with an emotionally responsive and interactive virtual patient. This training tool was developed to help providers improve their conversations with patients about a topic that can be difficult to explain.

The PICP program is also available in Spanish, including a Spanish-language version of TINA (TINA en Español). One in three Hispanic men and women are diagnosed with cancer each year, yet there are few Spanish-language resources available, according to the American Cancer Society. Based on the fundamental belief that every person should have information tailored to their needs, 3 Pasos Para Prevenir infecciones durante el tratamiento del cancer was launched to meet the needs of the Spanish-speaking community.

“An infection during chemotherapy is serious, yet many cancer patients are not aware of what they can do to lower that risk,” said Dr. Darryl Sleep, senior vice president, Global Medical and Chief Medical Officer at Amgen. “I couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve done with CDC and the CDC Foundation over the past 10 years to provide evidence-based, educational resources to patients and their families.”

For more information about PICP and its English and Spanish resources available for patients, caregivers and providers, visit https://www.preventcancerinfections.org/. TINA and TINA en Español are also available online or as a free mobile app.

The secret to recruiting top talent? Next-level office amenities

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(BPT) - A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that U.S. employment is projected to grow by 8.4 million jobs from 2018 to 2028. At the same time, employers are battling an ultra-competitive job market, in which candidates are being wooed by increased pay and enhanced medical benefits.

Today’s smartest employers are thinking more creatively about how to attract talented workers and encourage them to stay. Many are partnering with large landlords to include next-level amenities into their workspaces.

Specific areas today’s employers are focused on include:

Transportation

A well-located workplace is a major selling point for attracting potential employees and retaining existing ones. Employers with a central location, easily accessible by public transportation, already have an advantage. For example, The Legacy Town Center office in Plano, Texas boasts transit drop-off and pick-up right at the building.

For environmentally-minded employees who bike to work, secure bike storage is a real plus. The office tower at 201 Spear St. in San Francisco anticipates the needs of the area’s environmentally-conscious workforce with bike storage and EV car charging stations, plus easy access to light rail.

Accenture Tower in Chicago sits above Ogilvie Transportation Center, one of the main suburban train stations connecting downtown Chicago to the suburbs, providing direct access to city trains, buses and expressways. The first two levels of the property are comprised of 80,000 square feet of retail space, with more than 45 stores and restaurants.

Wellness

Beyond providing competitive healthcare plans, employers are seeking new ways to encourage and support employees’ health-related activities — a focus that contributes to less absenteeism and greater productivity. For example, Park Place Village in Leawood, Kansas has massage therapy on-site for all of its tenants.

Many major office owners are adding state-of-the-art fitness centers. 3001 Washington Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia features workout studios offering barre, yoga and HIIT performance classes in its 8-story, LEED Gold-certified Class A office building. And at Accenture Tower, the building includes a two-level fitness center spanning 14,000 square feet, with a basketball court, group exercise classes and new tenant lounge with air hockey, shuffle board and wine lockers.

Convenience

For employees with busy schedules, it can be tough to find enough time in the day to take care of necessary errands. Workers are especially drawn to locales that provide day-to-day services everyone needs without even having to walk outside.

Some office buildings go a step beyond. For businesses located at RBC Plaza in Minneapolis, employees can use the U.S. Postal Service, on-site bank, a sundry shop and even a shoe repair/shoe shine service. But it doesn’t stop there. Other services offered in the building include a car wash and detailing service, and private wine lockers. And in the Carillon office tower in Charlotte, North Carolina, there's an on-site daycare for parents.

Ambiance

Beyond location and service-based amenities, today’s employees are increasingly demanding a workplace with a beautiful atmosphere, which often includes access to outdoor spaces. Building designers are taking note, providing more open spaces, skylights and/or atriums for a lighter, more welcoming work environment.

For example, The McEwen Building in the Cool Springs submarket of Nashville, Tennessee offers employees and visitors an outdoor sitting area complete with a fountain and plush landscaping, while 3003 Washington Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of Washington, D.C.

Employee engagement

With Generation Z workers about to enter the workforce, today’s employers also understand the power of creating engagement within their team, especially among young professionals. Next-level office amenities can increase employee satisfaction and deepen their connection to their employer.

For instance, RBC Plaza in Minneapolis offers a billiards lounge, as well as a cafe and coffee shop, while Preston Commons in Dallas, Texas and 201 Spear Street in San Francisco both have on-site bars, giving office workers places to unwind and congregate after work.

KBS, one of the largest owners of premier office buildings in the nation, has partnered with many of America’s most prominent companies to support recruitment and retention by buying well-located offices and infusing them with state-of-the-art amenities — many of which go well beyond the “traditional,” elevating the office experience to the next level. To learn more, visit kbs.com.

Escape to the Caribbean for Stress-Free Holidays

(NewsUSA) - Summer vacation season may be over, but it is never too soon to start planning a Christmas- season getaway.

Christmas in the Caribbean means a stress-free change of scenery with warm weather and a serene setting.

Calabash Cove, a secluded boutique resort on the island of Saint Lucia, welcomes adults of all ages, such as empty-nesters who want to relax and reconnect, young adults looking to establish their own holiday travel traditions, or anyone looking for a unique Christmas vacation.

Visitors to Calabash Cove at Christmas can enjoy discounts of up to 53 percent, and the longer you stay, the more you save. A stay of seven paid nights or longer includes a complimentary car service to meet you at the airport in Saint Lucia. The resort's unconditional all-inclusive package covers all meals including room service, and all beverages including premium liquors and a variety of wines from an extensive wine list.

An all-inclusive holiday package at Calabash Cove includes Christmas dinner with ham or turkey, a New Year's Eve gala dinner, and complimentary champagne. New Year's at Calabash Cove features a stunning fireworks display that can be seen from the resort's restaurant or bar, or from the private balconies of the elegant guest rooms.

Other reasons to consider visiting the Caribbean for Christmas:

- Romance: The holidays are prime time for proposals, and what better place to pop the question than a tropical island? Planning a holiday wedding? A Caribbean destination is an ideal option, and resorts such as Calabash Cove work with couples to plan the ideal ceremony and other events. And wedding guests feel pampered, too. Holiday honeymoon? The intimate setting of Calabash Cove lends itself to honeymoons and anniversary trips.

- Restoration. A boutique resort offers the ultimate setting to recharge your batteries and prepare for the new year. Calabash Cove's Ti Spa treatments, including massage, facials, and mani/pedis, are a popular way for guests to relax. Meanwhile, those who want to burn off stress with exercise can take advantage of the infinity pool and cardiovascular fitness center with inspiring ocean views. In addition, Calabash Cove staff can help arrange off-site activities, including kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, and diving.

For more information, visit https://calabashcove.com/news-usa/ to discover how you can make the most of a Caribbean Christmas that you'll never forget.

Virologist's Book Warns of Coming Lethal Flu Pandemic

(NewsUSA) - Scientists have long held that it will not be weapons of mass destruction that kills the human race, but rather a biological one.

Case in point: the flu pandemic of 1918, colloquially known as the Spanish flu, occurred during World War I and spread worldwide during 1918-1919. Published research suggests the final death toll may have been as high as 100 million.

Despite decades of developments in biology and virology at the cost of more than $80 billion, the U.S. is unprepared to handle a flu pandemic of a similar scale if one should occur, contends Dr. Steven Hatfill, a specialist physician and virologist with additional training in medical biochemistry, and experimental pathology.

After more than a decade of study, Dr. Hatfill and his team have published a book, Three Seconds Until Midnight, in which he revisits the challenges of the 1918 pandemic and highlights the limitations of the current public health system in the U.S. in the event of a serious pandemic on the scale of the 1918 event.

"There are worse viruses out there in nature than another 1918-type pandemic. They are simply waiting for the right conditions to jump into man," says Dr. Hatfill.

In addition, "the overwhelming majority of Americans assume that the CDC and public health authorities are capable of rapidly detecting when a new outbreak of infectious disease is occurring and that they will quickly respond with a vaccine, drugs, and other measures to contain the event. In reality, none of this is true with respect to a serious pandemic," he emphasizes.

In the book, Dr. Hatfill and his team point out how the U.S. has an insufficient public health workforce and lacks the "surge" medical capacity needed for a pandemic situation with mass casualties, and that no programs are currently in place to train personnel how to handle a pandemic.

Vaccine distribution is another problem, says Dr. Hatfill. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) documents show that in a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 event, a minimum of 123 to 125 million Americans will not receive any anti-viral drugs or vaccine until at or near the peak period of infection and death. Historically, the poor, socially disadvantaged urban communities will be hit the hardest.

Citizens are uninformed on how to care for family members at home if they contract a contagious and possibly lethal infection, and entire households can become ill, Dr. Hatfill says.

Dr. Hatfill's book outlines how the government can salvage its preparedness plan by considering more involvement by the military in a disaster response mode, similar to the role played by the Armed Forces after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The major problems in pandemic preparedness occur not with the federal government but with the local city authorities who continue to be unprepared to manage an outbreak of a serious lethal infectious disease on a 1918-type scale. This includes having rational methods to manage worker absenteeism, organizing alternate care sites, expanding mortuary capabilities and teaching non-pharmaceutical interventions to the public.

"We now live under population densities that are a new phenomenon in human civilization and we have no precedent to indicate if we are nearing a threshold or not". As a consequence, every individual alive today is participating in a great on-going global biological experiment," says Dr. Hatfill.

Three Seconds Until Midnight will be available for purchase online via Amazon or Kindle in approximately mid-October. For more information, visit www.ThreeSecondsUntilMidnight.com.

Transforming Your Under-Stair Space

(NewsUSA) - If you live in a multi-story house, chances are you've looked at the no-man's-land under a set of stairs and thought: That space could be made to look and function much better. The classic solution is to fill the unattractive void with a closet, which is a perfectly serviceable idea. But there are other, more imaginative possibilities - home office, mini-library, powder room, wet bar, dog kennel, to name a few - creative hardwood built-ins that can transform those formerly awkward architectural cul-de-sacs into a visually interesting, highly practical, value-adding features in your home.

"Today's homeowners look on such unused square footage as a wasted resource," says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center, www.hardwoodinfo.com. "Solid hardwood built-ins not only provide the customization needed in an awkwardly configured space, but also bring the warmth and character of natural wood to a gloomy, uninviting spot."

"If you do it right, an under-stairs hardwood built-in becomes a combination of a fine piece of furniture and a strong, reliable workhorse that should last a long time and be a sound investment," says Laura Bohn, a New York interior designer. "Make sure that whatever you install addresses some real requirement in your daily life. Storage is usually a good choice, but think about what kind you need most - for wine, maybe, or a collection of vintage LP records. Functionality never goes out of style, so make sure it works for you."

"No matter how thoughtfully designed, any type of under-stairs hardwood built-in should be well-made and carefully installed," advises Melissa Morgan of San Antonio-based M Interiors. "And don't forget the details. Make sure moldings, trims, and other decorative elements match existing millwork. Hinges, handles, or any other hardware should be chosen for beauty and stylistic appropriateness as well as functionality and durability."

Finally, look for inspiration in books, magazines, and online. For example, staircases are often built against external walls. Architect Matthew Kerr of SOK Design Studio in Sandpoint, Idaho, took advantage of this fact by installing a fan-shaped window under a stair to create a naturally illuminated nook. He then designed a simple built-in daybed comprising a full-length twin mattress on a painted hardwood base with pullout drawers, like a cozy bunk on some old sailing ship. Even though the nook is small, it doesn't look or feel claustrophobic, thanks to the window. The result is a delightful spot to relax, read a book, take a nap, or even accommodate an overnight guest.

Visit www.hardwoodinfo.com for more about under-stairs built-ins and other applications and products using American hardwoods.

 

A Thrilling Book Trilogy And More—Megalomaniacs Battle Zealots, With America Caught In The Middle

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(NAPSI)—This issue of BookBites introduces readers to Eric C. Anderson’s New Caliphate trilogy, a saga ripped from today’s headlines that could leave tomorrow’s Europe on the brink of a new Dark Age, as well as a fourth thriller depicting the use of cryptocurrency as a tool for political regime change. Anderson is a former member of the U.S. intelligence community.

“Osiris” (Book 1) by Eric C. Anderson (Dunn Books)

It’s a dilemma no Washington politician wants to confront: rescuing 5,000 Americans trapped in Baghdad. Taking on the challenge is a crusty Marine, an embattled Army officer, two Turkish spies and the ultimate cyber-warrior.

Their enemy? An ISIS regime intent on carving out a new caliphate. Can they rescue an American embassy under siege by a weapon that even Washington’s military can’t defeat?

Buy Book 1 of the New Caliphate trilogy at http://bit.ly/2SJft8J.

“Anubis” (Book 2) by Eric C. Anderson (Dunn Books)

As if the slaughter of thousands of U.S. citizens in Baghdad wasn’t enough, now the Caliphate has a new plan in Book 2 of the trilogy. “Anubis” picks up where “Osiris” left off, on an incendiary mission of soldiers, spies, statesmen and sellouts, all thrown together to either save the world—or see it destroyed.

Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant More and U.S. Army Special Forces Major Faheem are thrust to the front as the world braces for a hurricane of terror.

With the enigmatic U.S. President dead, his hated political opponent about to be inaugurated and ISIS attacking on multiple fronts, will America and her allies surrender to terrorists and withdraw from the Middle East? The clock is ticking.

Buy at https://amzn.to/2K7s4yH.

“Horus” (Book 3) by Eric C. Anderson (Dunn Books)

Recovering from the last round of terror, an exhausted U.S. President deals with the specter of nuclear horror. In the trilogy’s thrilling conclusion, More and Faheem hoped to never see one other again. But warlords and fanatics on the march in the Middle East have no regard for others.

With ISIS on its heels and the Caliph on the run, Turkish strongman Recep Erdogan revives the Ottoman Empire. The Kurds refuse to get out of his way. More and Faheem discover that North Korea has sold cruise missiles to terrorists. Can they stop these madmen before mushroom clouds light up the world?

Buy at http://bit.ly/2Y7UfY8.

“Byte” by Eric C. Anderson (Dunn Books)

In a fourth book by Anderson, “Roller” is the wise-cracking, pistol-packing agent known at the CIA as “the Veterinarian,” dispatched to cage big dogs and bring the bits and bytes to heel.

When Roller’s superiors discover the balance of power between the U.S. and Russia is about to run off the rails, she’s called upon to head a cyber strike team and face off with her arch-nemesis. There’s $50 billion of oligarch money at play, Bitcoins to intercept and evidence of a surging cyberattack on the global infrastructure that could kill thousands.

Buy at http://bit.ly/2Ywqz6d.

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

clicktotweet “Readers will thrill to Eric C. Anderson’s New Caliphate trilogy, from Dunn Books—a saga ripped from today’s headlines—as well as a fourth novel on cryptocurrency as a political tool. http://bit.ly/2ksIaKs

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

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Say goodbye to shaving forever

(BPT) - “I love shaving and am so glad I get to do it every day,” said no woman ever.

Yet, we spend 72 days shaving our legs over the course of our lifetime, which is approximately 1,728 hours — and that’s just our legs, according to a survey from Escentual.com. These numbers don’t take other areas such as underarms and bikini line into account, nor do they factor in the waxing, tweezing and threading we must suffer through to get rid of unwanted facial hair.

It makes perfect sense that laser hair removal consistently ranks in the top 5 most popular noninvasive cosmetic surgery procedures. There were 385,000 laser hair removal procedures performed in 2018, according to the newest numbers from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.[1] That’s a lot of hair!

The main reason? Laser hair removal offers permanent results and a lifetime’s reprieve from shaving, waxing, tweezing or threading. And Cutera’s Excel HR takes laser hair removal to a whole new level, offering permanent results for all skin and hair types.

In the past, laser hair removal wasn’t considered an option for lighter, finer hair and it also wasn’t recommended for skin of color due to the risk of permanent scarring and discoloration, but not anymore.

“Excel HR is safe for all skin types because it offers treatment with two wavelengths (1064 nm Nd:YAG and 755 nm Alexandrite) that we can tailor based on your skin type for maximum hair removal results,” says Boca Raton, FL, dermatologist Jeffrey Fromowitz. “We can treat hair on the face, legs, arms, underarms and back as well as more sensitive areas like the chest, nipples and bikini line. Several treatments, typically 3-6, are needed to achieve desired results,” he says.

“Excel HR is the safest and most effective device for hair removal. The state-of-the-art chill tip makes it virtually painless,” says Dr. Steven Swengel of Refined Dermatology in Los Gatos, CA. “The laser disables the hair in its active growth phase, which is one of three stages of the hair follicle cycle. Other hairs will enter this phase at different times so additional treatments are necessary. Between treatments you should not wax or pluck your hair, but you can shave,” Dr. Swengel explains.

Downtime is minimal. “The treated area may be red or swollen after being treated, but it subsides quickly. The Excel HR technology can also be used to target and diminish pigmented lesions and vascular lesions,” says. Dr. Fromowitz.

Fall is the ideal season to get started with a permanent solution for unwanted hair. So, what are you waiting for, ladies? Don’t waste another precious minute shaving.

Schedule an appointment with an Excel HR provider near you at https://cutera.com/patients/find-a-provider.

Mother Nature inspires 'new neutral' home design trends

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(BPT) - Many interior designers gravitate toward grays or whites as a starting point when building a home’s look and feel, but a new trend is emerging. Homeowners are getting back to basics and finding ways to bring the outdoors in by using neutral earth tones as their blank slate. These wood tones have become the “new neutral” for those beginning their brand-new home design.

No matter your style — modern, eclectic or anything in between — the toned-down hues of natural-looking wood surfaces are the perfect starting point for building a versatile, relaxing and high-end look in your home.

It’s all natural

Finding inspiration from nature can create a more calming retreat in our hectic, constantly connected lives. Start with a neutral and natural palette in the home as the first step to designing your oasis. Incorporating colors found in nature can act as a reminder to disconnect and recharge in your home.

Stay grounded

Include a variety of textures from the ground up to transform your space and make it unique. From flooring to décor, finding ways to pull in elements from Mother Nature will turn your home into your haven. Bring out your home’s natural beauty with flooring like Lumber Liquidators’ Claire Gardens Oak hardwood, which features an organic oak grain where no two boards look the same. The textured grains pair beautifully with greenery (faux or natural), and the neutral color complements a variety of earthy paint palettes.

Woodland oasis

Wood is the perfect element when deciding to bring nature into your home — whether on the floor or on the walls, as an accent or as a headboard. Featuring a variety of wood elements in the décor itself can also allow you to play with mixing different grains, colors and textures throughout the home while still maintaining a seamless overall design.

Light and airy

To make small spaces feel more open, be sure to accentuate natural light by incorporating mirrors. Try and keep your space clear of clutter and add natural foliage and plants to improve air quality and mood. Installing long, wide planks of flooring will also make your room feel larger.

Branch out

Starting with a neutral, earthy color palette means you have plenty of room to play with color — be it bold, muted or a reflection of the world around you. Include colorful accent pieces that remind you of the perfect fall foliage, a day at the beach or spring’s first blooms. Natural inspiration provides a world of possibilities.

Tips for a Vintage Kitchen Remodel

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(Family Features) When you renovate an older home, the goal is not always to replace old with new. In fact, some renovations are all about preserving the past with a design that reflects and pays respect to the yesteryear features that make your home unique.

Whether you’re planning a renovation for a 60-year-old home, or working to infuse some retro charm into a newer place, the ultimate goal is capturing the nostalgic feel of older homes: the classic lines, hardwood, moldings and woodwork, and features like fireplaces or stonework, bannisters or windows and doors.

The kitchen can be a particularly challenging room to renovate because the blend of old charm with modern convenience and functionality can seem at complete odds. These ideas from the design experts at Elmira Stove Works can help you combine practical function with timeless features for a room filled with character and purpose.

Keep cabinet facades true to the era. Updating the cabinets is practically a necessity for any vintage kitchen remodel. Although many older kitchens lacked the cabinet space modern homeowners desire, you can still achieve a retro look with ample storage by focusing more on the shape and style than on the quantity. With this approach, you can add as much storage and as many functional amenities as your space allows while still capturing the right look for the era. Opt for sleek and understated styles, or for some extra flair incorporate exaggerated angles and curves common to mid-century design. Material and color options abound, so you’re free to go bold and glossy or more subdued.

Design with a focal point in mind. In a retro kitchen, standout elements such as colorful appliances can enhance the space and act as a focal point in the room. Stainless steel has become almost “default” in kitchens from coast to coast. Whether your home is on the beach, in the mountains or in a suburban neighborhood, for those who find beauty in the past, choosing a retro refrigerator or a vintage stove might be a better choice. These appliances act as a major design element in the space, and fortunately there are plenty of options when it comes to retro appliances with exciting pops of color. One example is the Northstar line offered by Elmira Stove Works, which offers the ideal blend of form plus function: soft lines, rounded corners and refreshing colors – including a dazzling Robin’s Egg Blue – along with the premium performance you'd expect from the most modern appliances. Visit elmirastoveworks.com to explore a product catalog and find more design inspiration.

Let the details bring it all together. Vibrant color is the signature of any retro kitchen, so don’t forget to carry that design element through the space with accessories like dishes, cookbooks and vintage relics that celebrate bygone days. Other details like hardware, small appliances and utensils that harken the past can bring a cohesive look to the kitchen for a seamless style that feels like stepping back in time.

Bringing old character to life can be a tricky proposition when it comes to remodeling, however, with the proper focus on appliances, major features like the cabinetry and small details that make a big difference, you can confidently create a new space that takes you to another time.

5 Common Questions for Memorializing a Loved One

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(Family Features) One of the most difficult conversations in a person’s life typically takes place near the end of that life. Planning for a funeral can put an emotional strain on family members and friends, but some of the stress can be relieved when the most common questions have answers.

Start by examining your options. While funeral homes generally have similar offerings, they can also vary quite a bit in pricing and other amenities. It’s important to choose a funeral home you feel comfortable will meet the emotional needs of your family members and be sensitive to your budget.

Speaking with a funeral director to assist in planning and preparing for memorial services once you’ve settled on a funeral home is one of the easiest ways to find clarity during a stressful, often confusing, period of time. Consider these five common questions funeral directors are asked, along with advice and direction from the experts at the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA):

How much does a funeral cost?

The value of a funeral is often more important than cost for families, as it should provide an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones. While the national median cost of a funeral is $7,360, the most meaningful service isn’t necessarily the most expensive. The price is determined by the elements a family chooses to incorporate. There are meaningful touches that cost little to nothing to add. A licensed funeral director can provide guidance about all of the options available to make a tribute meaningful.

How do I ensure my family knows my end-of-life wishes?

A survey conducted by Remembering A Life found nearly 3 in 5 Americans aren’t confident they could plan a funeral for themselves. A funeral is an important life event that helps those grieving a death take the first steps toward healing. Having discussions with those close to you can help ensure the service reflects your wishes and is meaningful and healing for loved ones.

How can my loved ones celebrate my life in a more personal way?

A funeral director’s priority is to help families commemorate the lives of loved ones in meaningful ways by incorporating elements into the service that reflect the interests and legacy of the deceased. Whether you’re interested in a ceremony at a special location or would like your favorite music incorporated, there are many ways to make a service personal.

Can I have a funeral even if I choose to be cremated?

Cremation does not preclude funeral and memorial services. In fact, it can provide more options, such as a viewing and funeral before or a memorial service after cremation. When it comes to laying your cremated remains to rest, you also have options. According to the NFDA 2019 Cremation and Burial Report, about 42% of cremated remains are returned to families, 35.2% are buried at a cemetery, 16% are scattered at non-cemetery locations and 8.1% are placed in a columbarium.

Is it appropriate for children to be involved in funeral planning?

Regardless of age, the death of a loved one is painful and difficult. A funeral director can help you find age-appropriate ways to talk with children about funerals and include them, if they are comfortable, in a service. There are many ways for children to be involved, including greeting guests, sharing a reading, placing flowers at the casket and more.

Find more support for planning a funeral, and helpful tools for starting the conversation, at RememberingALife.com.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

5 Fall Tips for a Healthy Yard

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(eLivingtoday.com) While many homeowners think lawns need less care during the fall months, it’s actually the perfect time to give your yard the extra boost in needs to make it through a dormant winter.

Giving your lawn a little autumn attention as it works to absorb energy, moisture and nutrients to sustain it through the colder months can pay dividends with a lush, healthy yard next spring. Consider these tips to take advantage of the fall growing period:

Mow

Grass continues to grow until the first frost, so it’s important to keep mowing throughout the fall. Ideally, you should keep your yard at 2 1/2-3 inches in height, which is short enough to prevent matting and fungi like snow mold yet long enough to keep the root system deep enough to withstand the cold and dryness of winter. Leaving small clippings on the yard can also add organic matter, moisture and nutrients to the soil.

Aerate

Because your yard typically suffers some degree of soil compaction and heat stress, which can lead to brown or thinned grass, regular aeration can prevent soil from compacting and defend against thatch – a layer of roots, stems and debris – that blocks water, oxygen and fertilizer from reaching the roots. The process of aerating removes soil plugs from the yard to encourage root growth and free up passageways for nutrients.

Rake

When leaves fall on your lawn, they can block out sunlight and, if left too long, stick together to form a suffocating mat on your grass, potentially leading to fungal diseases. Start raking as soon as leaves begin to fall or blow into your yard, and rake at least weekly. Alternatively, use your lawnmower fitted with a collection bag attachment to remove leaves from your lawn’s surface.

Fertilize

Because grass grows slower as the weather cools, fall is the ideal time to fertilize. In mid-to-late-fall, apply a dry fertilizer to your grassy areas to provide necessary nutrients and encourage deep roots and denser growth that can better compete with weeds and tolerate disease and insects. For optimum coverage, use a drop spreader, though crank-style broadcast spreaders also work.

Over-seed

A dense lawn not only looks good, but also helps protect against weeds. Over-seeding your existing turf can help fill in any thin or bare spots and also introduces the resilient grass seed. For best results, over-seed immediately after aerating when the ground is still warm, nights are cooler and the sun is not as hot during the day.

For more strategies to build a healthy, better looking lawn, visit eLivingtoday.com .

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Find Some Time for Yourself

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5 self-care tips to improve your well-being

(Family Features) Between hectic schedules, ever-growing to-do lists and caring for others, it can be easy to put self-care on the backburner. Committing to a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, exercising regularly and unplugging from your devices can help keep you healthy, both mentally and physically.

Consider these self-care ideas from the sleep experts at Mattress Firm to help bolster your well-being.

Nourish Yourself

While eating well may seem like an obvious self-care tip, it’s not always easy to change your eating habits or replace fast food and sweet indulgences with healthier options. However, properly nourishing your body with the right foods, like fish, leafy green vegetables and berries, can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk for diseases such as diabetes, improve your memory and reduce inflammation, among other short- and long-term benefits.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

Getting a proper night’s sleep – most experts recommend 7-9 hours for the average adult – can have a positive impact on how you feel both mentally and physically. Having both the proper routine – limiting caffeine and sugar intake before bed and reducing distractions such as TV or smartphones – and the right mattress can be key to ensuring your bedroom is the sleep oasis you need for quality rest. If you need help when it comes to selecting a mattress, the experts at a retailer like Mattress Firm can help you find the right mattress based on your sleep position or aches and pains from a wide selection of mattress sizes, features and accessories that won’t break the bank.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Whether you have a few spare minutes or an entire afternoon of free time, finding a quiet place to relax and practice meditation or yoga can help you reduce stress and anxiety, become more self-aware and create a sense of calmness during even the busiest of days. Try setting up a secluded area in your home (or office) where you can concentrate on your practice and really listen to yourself.

Unplug and Unwind

With 24/7 access to the internet, social media and television, it can be easy to create bad habits associated with the always-connected, smartphone-obsessed world. However, screens – and the blue light they emit – have been proven to negatively impact sleep and mental performance. Setting aside some time – aim for a couple hours in succession – each day to unplug from your devices and their distractions can lead to better sleep, productivity, emotional wellness and creativity.

Make Sure to Move

While it’s important to take care of yourself mentally, taking care of your body can be just as important to provide peace of mind. Finding time each day to get in at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, whether it’s a full-blown workout, a walk around the neighborhood with your dog or a bike ride to a favorite destination, can boost your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and help keep your waistline trim. Find a regimen that works for you, be it multiple short active periods or one long gym session, and make it part of your daily routine for an easy way to boost both your physical and mental well-being.

Find more tips and ideas to take care of yourself at MattressFirm.com/blog.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Even your smartest friends won't solve these tricky riddles! Try to solve them separately and then check who got more right answers, you or your buddy! Some of the puzzles will make you think ahead before giving an answer. Pay attention to small details and finding the right answers to these…

Headlines

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Taiwan ended diplomatic relations with Kiribati on Friday after the island nation switched its official recognition of China from Taiwan to the mainland People's Republic of China. The move means Taiwan has lost another ally amid Chinese pressure on nations maintaining diplomatic relations w…

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday morning during MSNBC show "Morning Joe" he was ending his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. His White House run had struggled to gain traction nationally and quickly become a source of scorn from New Yorkers, who dismissed …

US President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against Iran on Friday for its alleged responsibility for drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities last weekend that cut the country's oil production in half. The president added they were the toughest sanctions ever while also indicatin…

President Donald Trump used Twitter on Wednesday to share an edited video made by conservative personality Terrence Williams that falsely accused Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN) of dancing and partying last week on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.