Author: Computers Plus Service - page 225

Tips On Creating A First Class Landscape

Having a landscape that speaks to visitors about who you are is important.  It is important that the landscape is in sync with the home’s exterior.  If you are an avid health nut and love the natural taste of foods think about adding a space to garden fresh vegetables.  However if flowers are more your style choose a space in the yard to set up a seating nook with native wild flowers flooding the space.  Landscaping is all about making the space personal, functional, maintainable and yours.

I love the idea of adding a garden to a home’s landscape.  It is a great way to produce your own source of foods and gives families a sense of pride.  Harvesting vegetables from your yard instead of running to the grocery store is a terrific moment.  I love running out to the yard and grabbing a ripe tomato when guests are filling our home.  Nothing makes a salad fresher than adding fresh veggies from your very own space.

When designing your homes landscaping another option to consider is the use of deciduous shrubs, vines and trees that don’t start peaking until the fall.  They transform the garden with the bright reds, glowing yellows and fiery oranges they bring to the landscape. The reason these plants will change colors is that they will stop producing chlorophyll in colder weather, and thus the pigments within the leaves begin to change. Ensure your plants receive plenty of sunshine to increase the display of fall colors. Boston ivy, burning bush, maple, chestnut and barberry are popular choices for those who want to enjoy a spectacular fall bloom.

Another reason to take care of your landscape is the return it brings on your investment.  It is hard to believe but the more trees and landscaping dollars that are present wisely in a space the more the value of the home rises to potential buyers.  If possible purchase plants and shrubs when they are small and inexpensive.  As they grow you will be amazed at how the landscape matures and the aesthetic beauty that comes with it.

To keep the landscape and gardens growing well and quickly use a fertilizer designed for your location.  Many brands of fertilizer come custom and give you detailed plans on when and what fertilizers need to be applied during the season.  It is amazing but fertilizer is something that can be used year round and will increase the appeal of your landscape.

You can add some color in the spring and summer with annuals however this can turn costly if care is not sought. They do fill the gaps between shrubs and perennials.  Using a variety of annuals that range in height, color and style will add variety just be sure to use your resources wisely.  It really does not increase the value of your home in any manner so purchase wisely.

Landscaping is a fun way to express yourself with the exterior elements of your home.  It is important to remind yourself that landscaping works best when it flows naturally with the home’s exterior.  Think about it this way if you have an incredibly modern home with lots of white clean lines you don’t want a jungle in the yard.  The same thing is true for the opposite.  If you have an incredibly eclectic exterior a boxy, planned exterior does not really flow.

Tips To Follow When It Comes To Landscaping

For many of us the term landscaping basically means we cut the lawn and pull the large weeds.  The yard is basically kept neat and is groomed but not obsessed about.  Others, like the neighbors, take things super seriously; making sure the grass is never cut in the same direction twice in a row.  Below are some basic landscaping tips to consider regarding your homes landscaping.

One tip is to not become overwhelmed.   If you are planning on working on the entire yard break it up into sections.  Work diligently on one section at a time until it is complete and then move on to another.  Not only does this approach make the yard less intimidating it also breaks the financial obligation down into manageable pieces.

Another convenient, cost friendly improvement to your landscaping is to install a drip system.  This allows a continuous flow of water to your plants.  Unlike a sprinkler system that hogs water and doesn’t tend to distribute the water in a steady flow to the plants roots.  Water drips are a great way to ensure the plants in your landscaping are being adequately watered and that the roots as well are getting nourishment.

Using Native plants in your landscaping effort help with the maintenance and effort that goes into having a beautiful space.  Native plants thrive in the specific climate and are less care than ones that need the climate adjusted for them to live happily.  Using native plants also lessens your watering as the level of watering that is takes them to stay beautiful is the same amount as the environment is naturally spilling out.

Plants are one way to add privacy to your yard.  Another way to add privacy and spruce up the landscape is with decorative fencing.  If you are looking to add elegance to your yard and landscaping design an automatic electronic gate with an access entry system adds class and really spruces up a yards appeal.  They can also easily incorporate climbing plants that make the gate and fence appear a natural part of the space.

Adding natural elements to your yard and landscape are nice ways to add interest.  Large boulders strategically placed in the yard can be turned into seating areas.  We have been known to use fallen trees to make benches and tables for quaint sitting areas.  We also took natural elements, stones, to build a unique fire pit.  The small side tables around the pit area to hold beverages are from tree trunks that we have dried out and sealed.  They are beautiful natural elements that add to the natural landscape instead of creating something artificial.

As you may know, landscaping can mean different things to different people. Some of those who landscape it view it as routine maintenance to their yard, while others may see it as an artistic process. Try a few of these tips. They will help you to make whatever you wish to do look amazing to you!

Age In Place Remodeling Improves Upon The Quality Of Life For Seniors

As we age our bodies and the things we are able to do on our own change.  This is a natural part of aging.  It does often require some upfront planning to ensure the transition into our later years easier.  Age in place remodeling is one way to help retain confidence aging within one’s home environment.  Allowing barrier free living renovations to take place keeps you in control of the changing environment, your quality of life and the independence you desire.

Aging in place is a fairly new concept to remodeling.  It takes into consideration aging adults that are interested in maintaining their lifestyle and independence later in life.  Barrier free consultants can ensure a transition into the later years that is smooth and non-invasive.  Small tweaks and home improvements can keep you living on your own longer.  Even once support services are needed for certain tasks in life if you are still able to maintain the independence of living in your own home you are sure to feel better about the aging process.

Age in place remodeling is often less expensive than moving loved ones into retirement communities and care centers.  Many home health care services are offered with the convenience that having nursing on site brings but from the comfort of your own home.  These are things to look at when considering the future.  It is inevitable that we all get older.  How we handle moving forward with the process is what will keep us growing independently.

Waiting until the inevitable happens is not the best way to approach age in place living.  As we age our balance becomes a bit more unstable and our mobility a bit wobbly.  This requires changes to be made before we take a fall that can result in permanent damage to our aging bodies.  One important addition to a home has to do with the ability to enter and exit the home environment. Installation of a handicap ramp to ease the transition in and out can greatly benefit aging bodies.  Even if you are in a wheelchair or using a walker to help with mobility, wheelchair accessible ramps can alleviate the joint pain felt from stairs.

As your home is in need of repairs and renovations your should talk with an age in place specialist to figure out exactly what changes will make life easier on aging joints and slower abilities.  Kitchens and bathrooms are two areas that it is incredibly important to be able to navigate easily and without hindering knobs, levers, draw pulls and faucets.   The tub area is another place that needs to be able to freely gotten into and out of.  Ask for recommendations as to where to begin so that your home is not transformed into something unrecognizable.  You want to stay in your home because it is familiar.  Changes should be made that help make life easier not completely transform the home.

Your home age in place remodeling focus will center on entering, exiting and moving about the home.  Your everyday life will be made simpler and adding safety features will take on new level of priority.  You will find a variety of items that look and feel like ordinary home items but improved to ease the aging process.  Toilets are a few inches higher, tubs a bit wider and lights a bit brighter but all in and all it is still the comfort of home.


Improving Your Rankings With Up To Date SEO Techniques

The world of online marketing continues to change weekly.  Search engine optimization techniques are constantly being changed to ensure that only natural efforts are recognized.  One thing can be said to be constant and true with SEO and that is that it is constantly evolving.  You must keep up with the trends in SEO to maximize your websites online presence.  One way that can help you achieve this is taking part in the variety of social media aspects that surround our current marketing efforts.

More tips for effective SEO:

  • Content Of Value:  It is important that your original website is filled with useful content and kept up to date.  Quality content is one way that helps search engine rank your site and build links.  One great way to keep the information on your site is to add quality content to an onsite blog.  This shows search engines that your site is being built upon weekly and that it is being kept fresh and the information viable.
  • Title Tags:  Title tags should not be viewed as a minor element to your website.  It is important that they are effective at describing the page in ten words or less.  The most effective title tags contain small, easy to understand words that are useful in telling visitors about the site page before even clicking into the page.
  • Performing Keywords:  Short keyword phrases that highlight what you hope to be known online for should be highlighted throughout the content, tags and META descriptions of your website.  The les general the term the more effective your search engine results will be.  For instance, if you are someone who specializes in handicap construction for the home a search for home improvement could send a number of visitors to your site but not seeking the specialized home improvements you specialize in.  Instead a good keyword phrase would be barrier free handicap ramps.  Anyone typing in this key phrase is looking exactly for you and not for a kitchen handyman which could come up if only using the phrase home improvements.
  • Build Quality Links: The one thing you don’t want is to build the links to your site in a manner that the search engines could contrive as unnatural.  It is important that the growth and linking of your site happens naturally.  It is not wise to take part in schemes that promise to have your site ranked within weeks.  Companies promising this probably use unnatural ranking techniques that give quick results which later disappear when the site has been black listed for using unfair ranking techniques.
  • Social Media:  As previously mentioned, participation in social media is not optional in today’s business world.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google plus are all musts.  It is not only important to have them but to use them and update them frequently.  Onsite blogs that are followed by other sites and people via their social media outlets also improve your search rankings.

Search engine optimization is a must for the survival and growth of your online presence.  Ranking well within top search engines will get increased traffic to your site.  The more targeted prospects are when they reach your site the more likely they are to need and want your product or service.  Keep up on target keywords to ensure you are maximizing this type of traffic while minimizing the general traffic to your site.  You want people visiting that are specifically looking for you.  With target keywords/phrases, improved content, quality title tags and social media success should be yours.

Secrets To Keeping Your Roof Intact For Longer

How often to you look up to check out your home’s roof?  For me the answer is rarely.  Life is busy when I am outside I am playing with kids, jumping in the car to shuttle kids to sports or doing work in the yard.  Occasionally I glance up at the roof as I am pulling in after work but I never truly inspect the roof.  This is a mistake for sure.  I have learned that small damage left unnoticed takes something that could have been repaired simply into a new roof having to be installed.

A question I often ask is where do I start with maintaining my roof?  Finally when replacing my roof I decided I could take the opportunity to ask the professionals.  The roofing contractor explained that it is important for families to start by understanding that roof inspections were something that needed to occur two times a year.  The perfect times being the spring and fall seasons.

The first thing he told me to do was to grab a flashlight and head up into the attic area of the home.  From there I was to look for four basic things:

1)      The first thing I was looking for areas where the roof was sagging inward.  He said I would be able to visually see where the plywood was sagging.

2)      The next thing is to look for water damage and leaking throughout the interior of the roof.  Water for sure can cause issues that are expensive to fix, not only with your roof but ceilings and installation as well.

3)      Another thing to look for is dark spots, which could signal water had been there and dried.  Also trails of water where spots could have started leaking and been trickling down.

4)      Another thing to look from on the inside of the home is light peeking in.  This would signify a hole in the roofing materials.

The next step is to check the exterior of the roof.  It is important to pay attention to damage in the flashing, missing shingles, any shingles that are curled, buckled or rotted.  Here are some basics to pay particular attention to:

1)      Twice a year head up top on the roof to check visually for cracks in the roofing material, bald shingles or missing shingles as well.

2)      While you are on the roof scan the roof the roof lines for loose materials and wear around the chimney, vents and pipes.

3)      Check your gutters for extra granules from the composite shingling.  This is a sign of progressive wear.

It is so important that any signs of wear are immediately taken care of and repaired to avoid the need for total roof replacement.  Many roofing contractors will come out to your home access the extent of the damage and give the homeowner a written estimate to repair the roof and prevent further damage to the roof.  Just make sure to take in all of your options before committing to the expense of a new roof.  Many times even water damage can be repaired and prevented from happening again.  New roofs are expensive.  Make sure the roof you have has lived it’s life out to the fullest before investing in a new roof.


Caring For Your Jewelry Purchases

Jewelry is something that makes the hearts of most for women melt.  From that first special piece we were given to an upgrade in the diamond setting of our beloved wedding ring, jewelry is worn as an expression of ourselves.  When a women steps out wearing a cherished piece of jewelry there is not a person that sees her that does not notice a difference in the way she is carrying herself.  That is just what a cherished piece does.

It is important to care for your pieces to keep them looking pristine.  One thing to remember is to take pieces off when you are in water.  Be it swimming, washing dishes or babies water can damage sentimental pieces.  Chlorinated water, salt water and even soapy water can cause residue build up.  If you are interested in keeping the luster of your jewelry it is important to keep it out of water as much as possible.

Each material used in your jewelry collection needs to be cared for in a unique manner. Each metal and stone type uses a special cleanser.  A good jeweler will ensure you have proper care instructions when you purchase a new piece.  If you have any doubt on how to properly care for your pieces ask a professional jeweler.

Another good tip in retaining the natural presence of your jewelry is to clean the piece often with a damp cloth and then drying it with a dry soft cloth.  Steam and harsh chemicals will ruin jewelry so use caution and care when handling either.

When purchasing expensive pieces, such as an engagement ring or diamond bridal set, most professional jewelers offer bi-yearly examinations of your stones and pieces.  When they are examining the jewelry they will look for loose prongs, metal tarnishing and other flaws.  Many imperfection and flaws caught early enough can be repaired before damage becomes permanent.

Caring for your pieces is as equally important as actually purchasing them.  One important thing to remember when picking out a piece of jewelry is to think about the longevity of the style the piece offers.  If it is a trendier piece that will fall out of style quickly think about alternative materials that are easy to take care of and less expensive.  Silver copper are often great alternatives for purchasing trendy pieces.  Purchasing unique jewelry from artists is a way to get a piece that is unique without spending a ton.

Of course there are times when purchasing a unique piece that is classic and will withstand the test of time with care of course is called for.  One of these times is with the purchase of engagement and bridal jewelry.  These items should be purchased with the best possible materials and stones available within your budget. You need to examine the quality of the stone for a diamond engagement ring as well as the material of the metal part of the ring.

So much goes into the purchase and care of your jewelry.  Heirloom pieces are created without even knowing it.  Taking care of your pieces of jewelry today will make it an incredible piece to hand down for generations.

Tips For Energy Savings For Your Home

It is so important to be comfortable within your home. With the temperatures reaching into the high nineties comfort has come from our central air conditioning unit.  The same is true when the temperatures dip into negative digits in the winter.  It is important for us to keep the temperature within our home constant to keep comfortable.  For us in the winter we are good at or above sixty-four and the summer seventy-four is just right.  There are some basic common sense tips we have implemented in our home to help us in this effort.

The first step in home heating and cooling efficiency is having a professional come in and evaluate your current furnace and air conditioning units.  Professionals come in and see that the units are truly energy efficient and might only recommend yearly maintenance to keep them tuned up and running smooth.  They also come in and explain if your system is outdated and could use an upgrade. It is important to take their advice.  An update heating and cooling system will save you money and increase the value of your home.

Additional Tips To Energy Savings:

  • It is important to use weather stripping to keep drafts at a minimum.  Adding weather stripping is a cheap and easy to install heating and cooling efficiency product.
  • The next tip is something we practice as our children are culprits of not shutting doors.  We have installed automatic door closers on all of the doors leading outside of our home.  This prevents us from yelling about the doors not being fully shut and keeps the kids out of trouble. I am sure this saves us several dollars a week, at least.
  • We have added blackout shades and room darkening blinds to door walls and windows.  This keeps the weather outside out and the inside temperatures in.  This makes a huge difference in the sleep we get without the sun peeking in our windows in the summer months as well.
  • In the winter months keep blankets handy.  Wrapping up and taking the chill out of your skin helps reduce the likely hood you will reach the furnace dial to turn the heat up.
  • Another tip I strongly suggest is to change the room’s temperature by one degree from what you would usually set it on.  Believe it or not this can save you as much as seven percent off the heating and cooling bill.
  • The location of your thermostat is important as well.  If your thermostat is in a very drafty space it will run even when other rooms in the house are at a decent temperature.
  • Another great tip for heating and cooling comes more from basic care of one’s self.  Don’t layer clothes on in the summer when you are cooling the house and the opposite is true in the winter.  It is not smart to walk around half dressed when you are trying to heat the home.  In the summer you can cool your body easily by jumping in the shower.  In the winter warm up with some cocoa or hot soup.  Trust me it really works!


Inexpensive Interior Design Tips

In the economic climate we live in today everyone is trying to cut corners and pinch pennies.  This is true in all aspects of our lives including interior decorating within our homes. Face it not all of us have a decorators touch but doing it yourself you can save a small fortune.  Here are some simple tips to help you become an expert interior decorator for your home without breaking the budget.

Tip One:  Often people are not thrilled with their homes flooring. However we all know this is an expensive replacement in home furnishings.  One instant change to a room be it carpeted, tiled or hardwood is using a large decorate rug.  This will instantly hide the flaws in your flooring and add flair to the room without having to completely redo the homes flooring.  Think about it at minimum you are looking at three thousand dollars to redo the flooring within your home.  A new area rug is at the most two hundred dollars.  That is a minimum savings of two thousand eight hundred dollars.

Tip Two: This tip requires absolutely no money only a bit of time and muscle.  Rearrange furniture in a living room area to divide the space up.  Have a space devoted to television, one area for reading and a cozy spot to sit back and talk with family and friends.  This is a terrific way to utilize a large space and give your room and furniture a more visual appeal.  It also makes the space more user friendly.

Tip Three: Add book shelves and not only for books.  A large book shelve unit is a great way to display pictures, art and memorabilia that you have accumulated that is too special to store in a box under the bed. This helps create a personalized feel to any room making it friendlier, more welcoming to guests and more special to you.

Tip Four: Purchase window treatments that fit your style and function for the space.  In bedrooms room darkening blinds and shades can be installed under designer roller shades or bamboo blinds.  This gives you the ability to have a stylish yet functional window treatment.  Homeowners can spice up a room using window treatments to play up their windows.  Just because you have a tiny window does not mean you have to stick with a mini blind.  You can transform the room using large curtains to add a focal point to the window, making it appear larger than it is. Layering window treatments is a must in interior design.  Don’t be afraid to combine textures and materials in your window coverings.

Tip Five:   I saved the best tip for last.  A big impact on a small budget can be had with the use of paint.  Painting a wall, ceiling or whole room can dramatically change the room overall look and feel.  Recently we added a deep brown wall into our otherwise beige living room and instantly the room was transformed.  It was amazing.  The colors you choose to paint with don’t always have to match exactly form room to room.  Adding color that plays well with other areas of the house if the key element to look for.


Don’t Be Afraid To Upgrade Your Home

As homeowners we often contemplate little things to spruce up the environment and simply change the atmosphere and add value to the home.   Homeowners paint, add decks, room additions and security to make their home valuable financially and personally.  Sometimes this is the only way to go about building equity into a home to refinance for a lower payment.  Whatever the reason you are updating your home consider what you want to get out of it in the end before beginning to avoid major money being spent on unnecessary upgrades and renovations.

One upgrade that we recently decided on was a home security and monitoring system for our home.  The summer is a time when our children are often left at home alone while we are working so we knew this upgrade would pay off in our peace of mind.  It is incredibly nice to know that the home is hooked into the central dispatch for the fire and police in our township.  We can also monitor their doing s while we are not at home.  Also when taking a week long trip North this past month we realized how much weight was lifted not having to worry about our home.  It was great not to have to hire a house sitter or ask the neighbors to come watch the home.  The home alarm system has paid for itself.

Another home improvement that we recently embarked upon was new flooring in the kitchen area.  We eagerly ripped up the white ceramic tile; although incredibly pretty not a great choice for a house full of animals and kids.  We were sure we would find something wonderful in hardwood flooring but opted for bamboo once we heard all of the benefits it offers.  Bamboo is a very pliable flooring option.  We found that something heavy can be dropped without scuffing or denting the floor.  Yep, two kids, three cats and a dog something heavy drops on the floor a dozen times a day.  Another feature we liked was how strong it is and how well it holds up in high traffic areas.  It is also a great substance that withstands moisture and humidity which living on a river and the deck opening to the kitchen area, our floor had to do.

Another home improvement we are looking into is adding more lighting in the house.  We love natural lighting, adding skylights and adding a French door have been two options we are looking into.  Another option in lighting for us is to add wall sconces.  Many people look into recessed lighting but this option does not necessarily appeal to the rustic home we have.  Recessed lighting is a very modern, contemporary source of adding light.  It looks beautiful in the right home.  That is another thing we have learned with home improvements; everything you do must fit into the natural feel of your home to ensure the best outcome possible as far as resale value and your satisfaction.

Home upgrades and improvements should mainly be based upon what will bring the homeowner happiness.  Resale value is the second thing to consider but really the focus needs to be on making sure your needs as homeowners are met.  I love the color red.  My husband thinks red paint is overkill and will kill the natural feeling of our home so we compromised with red toned accessories.  Everything in your home, every feature be it a security system or gated drive way, should tell your guests something about you.  Don’t be afraid to upgrade!



Navigating The Medigap and Medicare Advantage Maze

The Medicare maze is long and twisting. Understanding the reason you are taking the path you are on is something that is necessary to ensure your coverage is up to par with your needs.  The reason Medicare is often confusing to many is because of the choices you are given in regards to health care plans.   One major obstacle is to determine if you would rather choose Medicare with Medigap Supplement Insurance plans or choose an all inclusive option such as Medicare Advantage.  It is important to understand both options thoroughly to know if you are making the right choice.

First let’s talk about Medicare Advantage.  Often times at first glance the Medicare Advantage program looks like a cheaper option for better coverage.  This may not always be the case though.  The one thing about the Medicare Advantage program is that the premiums may increase over time and you are locked into them.  Another item to think about is the often higher co-pays that come along with the Medicare Advantage plans.  This plan is ideal for candidates whom already have a doctor in the network caring for them.  With Medicare Advantage you need to choose who you see based upon who contracts with Medicare to provide you coverage.  Not all doctors are covered.  This is true in regards to specialists as well.  You must see a doctor that has a contract within the Medicare network of doctors.

Medigap refers to the plans that fill in the holes left with traditional Medicare Part A and Part B.  Medigap Supplemental Policies are identified using a letter of the alphabet.  It is insurance that is sold through private insurance companies.  Something to be aware of however is that the government has standardized each Medigap Plan.  This is important because although the health insurance companies may have a different price on the plan the coverage and benefits you receive are the exact same from company to company.

This makes comparing policies a bit easier because you know that no matter what the Medigap Plan is going to be the same no matter where it is purchased.  The decision really comes down to a company and price you are willing to purchase the insurance from and which plan out of the available plans fills in the holes left by Medicare that you need filled in.

When looking into insurance companies to purchase a Medigap policy from make sure to compare the rates of several companies. It is important to note that some insurance companies add in a clause that the premiums will or will not rise with age.  Many plans increase rates with inflation however it is best to find a company whom has a reasonable price for their coverage, good service and a clause that the premiums will not raise because of the participants age bracket.  Otherwise the limited income you are living on could need to feed a higher Medigap premium in the future.

Choosing a Medigap Supplement Insurance plan is not an easy thing to do.  Many online sources offer side by side comparisons of the different options available with not only a plan comparison but a cost comparison quote from several insurance companies.  IT is best to work online with a company that offers online support as well as telephone support when look into compare rates and view Medigap plans.  This was if a question come up you will be able to have it handled promptly.  It also helps remove impassable paths  to get you to the finish line sooner in the Medicare maze.