How to Choose What Size TV to Get

July 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Technology

how to decide what size of a tv to getLooking for a new TV? Sometimes bigger isn’t better, but often times it can be more fun. When you need a TV, choose the size wisely to avoid wasting money on too much television or straining your eyes to try and see your bargain buy.

Consider Your Location

Where is the television going to be used? This can make the most important distinction in television size. A TV for the kitchen is usually small, twenty inches or less, as it sits on the countertop and you don’t want it blocking any cabinets or hanging off. A television for the living room, on the other hand, should be large enough to be enjoyed by everyone. At the minimum, a family television should be twenty seven inches.

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Consider Your Space

If you’re planning on putting your television on top of your dresser in the bedroom, you’ll want something small enough to fit the space easily, but large enough to see while laying in bed. You can opt for a larger television if you plan to use TV shelves to store cable boxes and DVD players as the shelves will put these bulky items above the television rather than beside it. If you have a television niche built in to your living room, find the size of television that fits more comfortably. Be sure to include the dimensions of any stands or carts as well.

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Consider Your Budget

Smaller budgets will most likely be buying a smaller television. Of course, you might be able to buy a larger television with a less quality picture, but you’ll have to decide which is more important to you – size or graininess. Look around for televisions on sale to find a bargain on a high quality television in the exact size you need. If you’re forced to buy a small television now, never fear. There is always a place for a small TV somewhere in your home when you’re able to upgrade to the big screen.

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How to File for Divorce

July 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Relationships

how to file for divorceNo matter how well things are going, sometimes things just don’t work out as well as we’d like. If your marriage is crumbling and you’ve done what you can to save it without success, it might just be time to cut your losses and consider divorce. You can work with a lawyer to file for divorce or you can use do it yourself divorce papers to file quickly and with less expense.

Organize Yourself

The first step to filing for divorce is not to trot down to the county courthouse. Instead you need to trot over to the filing cabinet and organize all of your records. You need records of your home ownership, bank accounts, debt and assets. If you’re suspicious, or feel like checking for your own good, dig around to be sure your spouse hasn’t hidden any funds or assets from you that he or she might be sheltering from pending divorce proceedings.

Find the Right Documents

If you work with a lawyer, she’ll arrange documents on your behalf making the process as simple as reviewing standard paperwork and signing on the dotted line. Doing your own divorce paperwork isn’t much more complicated, but you’ll need to double check that you have everything you need and take care of the filing and data entry on your own.

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Divorce criteria and documents vary by state. California divorce papers and terms are very different from New York divorce papers – especially as California is a community property state and New York is not. (Community property states are those that treat income earned and assets acquired during the marriage as the property of both parties, regardless of who earned more.) You’ll need to be sure you have all of the right forms and follow the rules of your state.

Complete the Paperwork

If you’re divorcing amicably, work with your spouse to set the terms of the divorce and complete paperwork together if possible. Ironing out agreements pleasantly is far less stressful and takes less time than legal battles. Otherwise, fill out the paperwork according to the terms set by the state. A lawyer can be helpful at this point, especially if you have many assets and children.

The more special situations in a relationship, the more likely it will be that you’ll need assistance – child custody and alimony are especially tricky in a do-it-yourself situation. But if you and your spouse are both employed with no children or complicated asset distribution, a do-it-yourself divorce is not much trickier than a break-up.

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File and Document

A divorce, even the simplest one, takes time and money. Filing for divorce costs anywhere from $100 to $350 depending on where you live. The lawyer fees will be much more, but these might be covered by your spouse – especially if you file a fault divorce. The forms and documents might incur additional costs as well.

While you work through the proceedings, be sure you document everything in writing. Take notes of every phone call and get every promise made by your spouse in writing. Keep meticulous records as divorce can turn nasty or just get complicated, and you’ll need evidence to support your claims and statements.

Nobody seeks a divorce when they marry, but sometimes the break-up just seems inevitable. It takes time and will drain you of energy both physically and emotionally, but a finalized divorce might just be the fresh start you need to find a better life.

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How to Maximize Space in an Apartment

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to maximize space in an apartmentApartments are often a bit short on space, especially in critical locations such as kitchens and bathrooms. Maximizing this space can be an exercise in patience or simply a task for someone ready to use their creativity to earn extra space and a bit of extra organization as well.

Maximize Space in an Apartment Closet

Apartment closets are often too small for all of your clothes. If this is the case in your closet, take the clothes that are currently out of season and store them in large storage bags or totes. You may be able to fit the totes on the top shelf of the closet or you can buy specialty totes that slide under the bed. When the seasons change, simply switch out the clothes you are currently storing.

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You can also maximize apartment closet space by investing in a closet organization system. Find one that hangs on an existing closet bar so that you can take the system with you when you move on rather than being forced to leave it behind for the new tenants.

Maximize Space in an Apartment Kitchen

Maximize space in your apartment kitchen by eliminating waste such as a junk drawer. The items usually kept in a junk drawer can be organized into other areas by using gadgets such as a battery organizer, desk organizer, and a series of small containers to keep rubber bands, tie-tabs and other small items.

Store large kitchen items on top of the refrigerator or in a hall closet to leave the cabinets free for dishes and glasses. If you buy kitchen items or groceries in bulk, use the space under the table or above a washing machine to keep large boxes out of the way.

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Maximize Space in an Apartment Bedroom and Bath

You can save space in an apartment bedroom by using shelves to store items up rather than along walls. You can also buy platforms for your bed to give yourself additional space for storage underneath. If you have a large bed, consider moving your dresser into the closet if it will fit to give yourself extra wall and traffic space in the bedroom.

In an apartment bathroom, maximize cabinet space, buy placing shelves inside the cabinet. You can buy shelves that don’t require installation so you can use them in other apartments down the road. You may also consider a series of stacking baskets for towel storage or a system of shelves or cabinets that can be arranged over the toilet. Again, look for ways to store up the walls rather than across them to maximize the height of the room as the width will be severely limited.


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How to Decorate a Guest Room

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to decorate a guest roomGuests should be welcomed into a warm and inviting space, and your decoration in a guest room can help make guests feel welcome or more like an intrusion. When you decorate a guest room, be sure to think of as many small touches as you can to ensure your guests know you are delighted to have them – even if that’s stretching the truth a bit.

Accommodations

When decorating your guest room start first with furniture that is accommodating for your guests. If most of your guests will be young single friends or young couples, a futon and blankets may suffice. But if your elderly grandmother is coming to stay, consider a raised daybed or full sized bed to ensure her comfort (and safety.) Two twin beds are also more accommodating than a full size or queen size bed. A couple can easily stay in a full bed, but two brothers may be more comfortable in separate beds.

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Welcoming Décor

The décor in the room should be tasteful and welcoming. You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with bright colors and odd lighting. Stick with the most traditional welcoming accents when you use pineapple décor – the pineapple was a sign of a home friendly to visitors historically, or use something more exotic but try to keep colors and accessories tame.

Thoughtful Touches

Be sure to include as many thoughtful touches as you can. For example, put black out curtains under the drapes in the room to keep it dark should your visitors be battling jet lag or fatigue from a long journey. If you have a coordinating bathroom, leave plenty of towels and washcloths out for guests to use. Also prepare a guest basket of travel sized soaps, shampoos and lotions you can leave in the bathroom cabinet until needed.

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Be sure to offer guests a place to put their luggage. Keep an inexpensive luggage rack in the closet or clear a dresser or desk and cover it with a towel so that guests don’t have to dig into their bags on the floor which may be challenging for that elderly granny. Finally, be sure you provide an alarm clock in the room along with a bottle or two of water so that guests don’t have to feel their way around your kitchen or bathroom at night when they are ready for a drink.

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How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to paint kitchen cabinetsNowhere else in your house is such a large amount of woodwork subjected to such harsh treatment than in your kitchen. Your kitchen cabinets are opened and closed countless times a day, oftentimes by hands covered with butter, melted popsicles, or other food residue. Not only that, but the air in the kitchen is constantly changing, from high humidity resulting from boiling water or steaming vegetables, to hot and dry heat from an oven baking at a high temperature for a long time.

It is no wonder this highly visible part of your kitchen may be in need of a makeover. By simply painting your kitchen cabinets, you can completely transform the look of your kitchen.

Clean the Cabinets

Before you begin, it is important to clean the cabinets. Years of accumulated dust, grease, and grime can build up and prevent a quality job of repainting. You will probably find this process is easier if you remove the cabinet doors and find a place where you can lay them all out flat. Simply use an all-purpose cleaner, a few rags, and a little elbow grease to get the job done.

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Sand the Cabinets

After the cabinets have thoroughly dried from their cleaning, use a fine grit sandpaper to lightly sand the flat surfaces of your cabinet doors. By preparing the surface for the primer you will put on next, your cabinets will look better longer. If you skip this step, you’ll have to go through the whole painting process sooner than you would have to otherwise.

Apply Primer

If you are repainting your cabinets with the same color, you may choose to skip this step. However, particularly if you are painting over wood varnish, priming will help form a better bond between the wood and the paint. This means that the paint will be less likely to chip away when the doors are bumped against each other or hit with a pot. The type of primer you use is primarily determined by the type of paint you plan to use. An oil-based paint necessitates an oil-based primer, whereas a latex top coat will need a shellac primer. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area, and cover anything that you don’t want to get paint on.

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Paint Cabinets

Use either a sprayer or a high quality paint brush to apply the paint to the cabinets in several thin layers. It may be tempting to lay it on thick so you can finish faster, but you will achieve a much better look if you can be patient and use thin layers of paint. You may choose to lightly sand the cabinets’ flat surfaces between coats to get a really professional-looking finish. Once they are completely dry, hang them carefully back up in your kitchen and enjoy your new kitchen décor!

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How To Increase Your Home Value

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how do I increase the value of a homeRead a home decorating magazine or watch a cable-TV home improvement show, and you might easily conclude that any upgrade will pay off when you sell. This is simply not so because even in good times, not all projects have widespread appeal. You’ll earn back virtually your entire investment in a kitchen or deck, but less than 75 cents on the dollar if you add a home office or sunroom, according to "Remodeling" magazine’s annual cost vs. value survey.

What’s worse, some renovations can even hurt you in the eyes of home buyers, a costly problem if you hope to sell in a softening market like today’s.

The Swimming Pool:

In some areas, especially hot-weather spots like Arizona and Florida, a pool is a must-have. In the Southwest, adding one boosts your home’s value by 11 percent on average, according to a National Association of Realtors study. But elsewhere it can just as easily turn off buyers, who worry about affording the upkeep and insurance. And if the most likely buyer of your home is a family with small children, think long and hard before installing a pool.

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"People with younger children may be leery of houses with pools for safety reasons," says Barry Graziano, a real estate agent with Prudential Rand Realty in White Plains, N. Y. "I’ve had families walk away. A pool can cut down on the number of people who will want to buy your house."

The Addition:

You’ve thought about how that great room and master bedroom wing will let the family spread out. But what you probably haven’t considered is what the space will look like from the outside.

"A badly designed addition can kill your resale value," says Sal Alfano, the editorial director of Remodeling. "People focus on the floor plan and the flow, but not on how it fits into the neighborhood or even the house itself."

Watch out for boxy, poorly detailed additions and be careful of a style that will look dated when you throw your open house. Spotting the trend that’s on its way out is trickier than you think. While it is easy to assume that sleek red European kitchen cabinetry is tomorrow’s harvest gold fridge, other design staples that seem like sure bets can quickly drift into obscurity too.

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That’s what Mark Johnson, a Whirlpool design manager, says is happening to stainless-steel appliances. "For a period of time, people aspired to a commercial kitchen" he says. "What I am seeing is more interest in warmer finishes."

You want a design trend with legs. Johnson says custom panels that dress appliances in maple or mahogany finishes are likely to remain popular for several years. Also, think about the materials for hardware like hinges and light fixtures. Polished brass or anything shiny is out. Brushed nickel is a better option. Johnson is betting that oiled-bronze finishes will take off next.

The Jacuzzi:

The elaborate master bath is okay, but the big circular tub with 15 jets that can pulse or massage is risky.

According to Holly Slaughter, brand manager at RealEstate.com, you’re better off with an oversize shower that has a rain showerhead and multiple jets (think of it as a car wash for humans).

Baby boomers have little time to spend hanging out in the bathtub, and parents with small kids prefer a conventional tub. Ultimately, don’t expect a future buyer to pay up for the luxury you considered an essential.

How to Reduce Stress

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to reduce stressStress is a nasty burden that can come into your life uninvited and wreak havoc. Stress has been tied to any number of conditions including hypertension and obesity from stress related eating. If you’re dealing with stress and would like to reduce it, here’s how.

Find Stressors

The first step to reduce stress is to find the items that are actually causing the problem. What makes you stress – your in-laws? A dirty house? Bills? Only when you understand what is causing the problem can you work on resolving it. Spend time charting your stress. Every time you feel tension and stress, make a note on a running list as to what caused it. Even when you begin dealing with stressors, keep track as this will help you reduce stress in the future as well.

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Resolve Issues

If you have unresolved issues causing you stress such as credit card debt, broken relationships or a list of things you need to do that you can’t seem to start, take a day off work and make a list of things to actually accomplish. Call your banker to get started on a debt consolidation loan or set up payments so that you can pay off the debt on your own.

Make some phone calls to help mend broken fences or have a picture burning ceremony to finalize a break-up. Pull out that list of things to do and make a goal to accomplish at least three of them. Then, once you get rolling, you’ll likely feel so good, you’ll just keep going until your life is back in shape again.

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Organize and Simplify

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to eliminate chaos. Organize and simplify your life. If you hate climbing out of bed to turn off the lights, a simple device such as the Clapper Plus can eliminate that annoyance. Desk organizers can help you find stamps, batteries and rubber bands when you need them. A coat and key rack can eliminate the five minutes of stress every morning while you search for your keys.

Beat Stress the Natural Way

Finally, when you have your life back under control and you’ve simplified your surroundings, you can work to actively reduce the remaining stress. You may find that just cleaning out cabinets is enough to help you relax again, but you should set up a regular fitness and nutrition program.

Exercise, even walking, has been shown time and time again to help reduce stress. Take your pet or child on a walk in the evenings to get some fresh air, exercise and time together. All three of those things will help to eliminate crippling stress.

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