Consumer Real Estate News

    • Attract More Birds to Your Backyard

      11 June 2021

      (Family Features) With all the constraints people lived through in 2020, many turned to their own backyards – nature, in particular – for hope, solace, wonder and even entertainment. Despite the worldwide crisis, nature’s normalcy remained intact; flowers continued to bloom, bees continued to pollinate and birds continued to fly and forage food.

      Feeding birds can be enjoyable for any age group and provide stress relief for all who partake. A University of Exeter study, focused on nature’s impact on humans in suburban and urban areas, found lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people saw during afternoons at home. The benefits of birdwatching come from seeing lots of birds – quantity not “quality” – the study found. 

      People “felt relaxed and connected to nature when they watched birds in their gardens,” researchers said. These feelings increased with the level of bird feeding in the yard. For millions working and schooling from home, this stress reduction was an unintended bonus.

      Data from 2020 shows sales of bird feed, feeders, nesting boxes and bird houses spiked as interest in backyard birds soared while people spent more time at home.

      Interest in birding isn’t slowing down. If you haven’t tried attracting birds to your backyard, now is a perfect opportunity to start. The experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products Co. offer these bird feed and feeder basics to attract more birds to your backyard.

      Feeders
      A variety of bird feeder types placed at different heights attract more birds than one feeder featuring one seed type. Start with two feeder types that accommodate most feed options. Bowl feeders serve not only seeds but also dried mealworms, fruit and suet. An option like Cole’s Bountiful Bowl Feeder comes with an adjustable dome cover you can raise or lower to prevent larger birds and squirrels from getting to food and protect it from rain.

      Traditional tube feeders are all-purpose options for bird feeding, especially for small birds that cling. For example, the Terrific Tube Feeder is made with state-of-the-art materials to prevent warping and discoloration and includes a quick-clean, removable base to make cleaning fast and easy. Just push a button and the bottom of the feeder pops off for easy access to the inside. Rinse the feeder with soapy water, dunk it into a water-bleach solution at a concentration of 9-to-1, rinse, dry and reattach the bottom. Regular cleaning of feeders is essential for preventing mold, germs and disease. 

      Popular Foods 
      Birdseed: Not all birdseed is created equal. Look for quality blends without cheap filler like red millet and oats. All-natural seed containing no chemicals or mineral oil is safe and more appealing to birds. Top seed picks include all-natural black oil sunflower and Cole’s “Hot Meats” (sunflower meats infused with habanero chili peppers that birds love and squirrels dislike). Or an option like Special Feeder blend, packed with favorites including black oil sunflower, sunflower meats and pecans, attracts the greatest number of wild birds. Offering a wide variety, Cole’s feed is researched and specifically formulated to attract certain bird species, the largest number of birds and the greatest variety of birds. 

      Insects and Worms: A healthy, lush lawn is one of the best ways to feed birds that prefer insects and worms. You can supplement birds’ diets by serving dried mealworms in a packaged variety that’s easier to feed and less messy than live mealworms. Mealworms are packed with energy and contain essential nutrients, fat and protein. 

      Fresh Fruit: Apples, orange halves and bananas are favored fruits.

      Suet: Perfect for insect-eating birds, suet is a high-fat food that provides abundant calories, rich nutrition and is a high-energy treat.

      Using the right feeders and high-quality feed can enhance your backyard and entice more birds, bringing stress relief and enjoyment. For more information on attracting birds to your backyard, visit coleswildbird.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Talking Money With Your Kids

      11 June 2021

      Chances are, you picked up your attitudes about money from the adults around when you were a child. Phrases like, “Make it last. We can’t afford a new one,” or, “Let’s go ahead and buy this. We can put it on a credit card.” probably made a lasting impression on how you view your own money management.

      Today, your children are taking cues from you, and it’s important for them to understand where money comes from and how best to earn and spend it. From money managing experts, here are five ways you can be sure you are giving your kids the right money messages.

      • Make It Tangible - Debit and credit cards, Venmo and home delivery are all useful tools. But they obscure the way money is exchanged from your kids. Give them some tangible practice. Ask your child to count the change in your piggy bank-in exchange for a 10% commission. Take them to the store and ask them to read the price of each item going into your basket. Point out how much you can buy for $10 or what it costs to buy the ingredients for one family dinner.
      • Make It Visual - Have your kids count the money in your wallet. That is how much you have to spend. If you pay your bills electronically, show them how each bill you pay reduces the money in your wallet. When you write a check, explain how that does the same thing.
      • Explain Why You Work - Your children see you leave for work every day or attend Zoom sessions at home. The next time they ask why you can’t play with them, explain how the money you earn from working at your job helps to take care of the family.
      • Find a Simple Explanation for Budgeting - Your child asks for an iPad or a new toy, but isn’t in the budget. Instead of just saying no, help them understand that money only goes so far. “We can afford soccer camp or the iPad, but not both” is a good way to make the point that prioritizing is a necessary option.
      • Encourage Them to Save - Giving your kids an allowance in exchange for jobs around the house, and encouraging them to save part of that allowance, is the easiest way for children to learn that working equals money in your pocket and a means to pay for what you want.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How Parents Can Help Children Build Social Skills

      11 June 2021

      (Family Features) While adults may joke about needing to relearn how to be around others in a post-pandemic world, children can also benefit from a refresh of certain soft skills – especially young children who may not remember pre-pandemic life. 

      Building on these skills can also help children prepare for a successful return to school. In fact, data from Mintel shows parents’ top learning priorities for their children prior to entering grade school are how to play well with others (67%) and good manners (66%).

      “Summertime is a great time for families to help their children focus on social skills that may not have gotten much attention this past year, particularly if families were social distancing or in quarantine,” said Taunya Banta, inclusion services manager for KinderCare Learning Centers. “Parents can set their children up for success when school starts again in the fall by helping them work on these soft skills in relaxed settings like family gatherings and on the neighborhood playground.”

      Consider these ways parents can help their children build social skills.

      Name Emotions: Naming emotions is an important part of learning how to regulate them. If your children don’t understand what emotions they’re experiencing, they may be confused or upset by how they feel and that could amplify the feelings and make it more difficult to regulate the emotions. 

      Talk with your children about your own feelings, or the feelings of characters in books, to help them learn to identify emotions and appropriate ways to address those feelings. For example, “I’m sad, but I know a hug will help me feel better,” or “I’m mad and that’s OK. It’s not OK to hit, but I can punch a pillow or stomp my feet to get the feelings out of my body.” As a family, try practicing some simple emotion regulation strategies like deep breathing. To help younger children breathe deep, hold up two fingers and ask them to smell the flower as they inhale (one finger) and blow out the candle as they exhale (the other).

      Play With Other Children: Play gives children an opportunity to freely express their emotions and thoughts, work out feelings and explore relationships in a safe, lighthearted way. If you feel comfortable and can follow health and safety guidelines, visit a playground or set up playdates with other children of similar ages then take a step back to let the children play together. If your children aren’t ready to play with others, allow them to stay close to you until they feel ready to join the other children. 

      Once the children are playing together, observe their interactions and talk with your children (in the moment or later) about how they felt. If they had fun, ask what they enjoyed. If disagreements or awkward moments come up, help your children problem-solve ways they could address those situations next time.

      “Most importantly, remember children of all ages have an incredible capacity for resiliency,” Banta said. “Just knowing they have a steady base to return to, a safe place where they’re loved and appreciated for who they are, can give children the courage they need to face the challenge of a new or uncertain social situation with self-confidence and courage.”

      For more tips to help your children build or improve their social skills, visit kindercare.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Fun Facts About America‚Äôs Favorite Dessert

      10 June 2021

      We all scream for ice cream—arguably the nation’s most wanted dessert. With warm weather and peak ice cream season on the way, here are some fun facts about America’s favorite frozen treat.

      • The earliest versions of ice cream have been around since the second century B.C., when Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. It was reportedly Marco Polo, in the 16th century, who returned to Italy from his travels with a recipe that closely resembled modern sherbet.
      • The gelato Polo’s recipe engendered was soon being scooped up in England, where it appeared at the table of Charles I, and in France at the table of Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II.
      • The general public got its first taste of the frozen goodness in 1663, when a Sicilian proprietor blended milk, cream, butter and eggs and served it at his Café Procopio, said to be the first café in Paris.
      • Ice cream finally made its way to the New World when Maryland Governor Willima Bladen got wind of it in 1774. By 1777, New York confectioner Philip Lenzi advertised that ice cream was ‘available every day.’
      • George Washington may have been the nation’s first insatiable ice cream eater. Reports indicate he spent some $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. That’s about $5,800 in today's dollars.
      • Thomas Jefferson, another ice cream lover, developed one of the first recipes for Baked Alaska - and a recipe for cookies to accompany it.
      • Noted ‘hostess with the mostes’ Dolley Madison reportedly served ‘a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation’ in 1813 at President James Madison's second inaugural banquet at the White House. 
      • We can thank Baltimore milk dealer Jacob Fussell, dubbed the father of American ice cream, for bringing ice cream to the masses. He pioneered the industry around 1889 when he figured out how to insulate ice houses—and the rest is history.
      • Today, Americans eat more than 1.3 billion gallons of frozen dairy products every year - that's almost four gallons annually for every American. One who apparently eats her share is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who recently gave TV host James Corden a peek into her ice cream-filled home freezer.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Home Upgrades to Improve Indoor Air Quality

      10 June 2021

      (Family Features) When most people think about air quality, they’re typically thinking about outdoor pollution. However, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside your home can be as polluted, or even more so, than the air outside. The concentrations of some indoor pollutants can be as much as 2-5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

      The air inside your home also contains pollutants from everyday activities like cooking, bathing and cleaning. A family of four can produce the equivalent of 22-30 pounds of moisture per day from normal activities, according to the Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers, while household cleaners and products like paint, upholstery, carpeting and plastics can release chemicals containing volatile organic compounds.

      On average, Americans spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors, according to the EPA. All that time with minimal access to daylight and fresh air can take a toll on your health. These steps for managing indoor air quality can help you create a healthier home. 

      Support Your HVAC System
      Many homeowners assume their heating and cooling (HVAC) system is adequate to manage their home’s indoor air quality. Typically, these systems only circulate existing indoor air, so you’re missing out on the benefits of circulating fresher, cleaner air. 

      What’s more, without regular servicing and frequent filter replacements, it’s easy for standard HVAC systems to fall short. This is especially true in older homes or in households where there’s a high volume of allergens like dust or pet dander. Adding standalone or integrated devices can help give your HVAC system some extra support. Air purifiers can effectively help filter pollutants while ultraviolet lights purify the air and help control pollutants like bacteria, mold and mildew.

      Improve Fresh Air Ventilation
      When it comes to upgrades that improve air quality, better fresh air ventilation is near the top of the list for many homeowners. Improved ventilation allows you to clear out stale, polluted indoor air and circulate fresh, outdoor air in your home. 

      Polluted air tends to stagnate at the ceiling, so one effective and energy-efficient way to create natural ventilation is with skylights that open. Sometimes called venting or operable skylights, when you open skylights in combination with vertical windows, you create natural airflow that can help release indoor air pollutants and bring in fresh, clean air to keep your home healthy and pleasant. This concept is known as the chimney effect. Warm air naturally rises and escapes from open skylights while fresh air is drawn inside through the windows. This practice can reduce your reliance on air conditioning, improving your home’s overall efficiency and keeping a lid on cooling costs.

      Today’s skylights can also be automated to open and close at regular intervals or extend and retract shades to block light as needed. Many models, including those from Velux, can even connect to a smartphone app to combine convenience with a soothing mood booster that supports health and wellness.

      Keep Up With Cleaning
      Textiles like carpeting, rugs and window treatments can harbor a great deal of dust and dander that reduces air quality. It’s important to regularly clean and air out these decorative fabrics and surfaces, especially thick carpet that is likely to host dust mites and bacteria. Remember air quality while you’re cleaning, too, and opt for cleaning products with fewer chemicals. When possible, use microfiber cloths and natural materials like white vinegar and soap flakes.

      With proper upgrades, adjustments and care, you can enjoy a home filled with fresh, healthy air and comfortable surroundings year-round. Learn more at whyskylights.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.