Easy kitchen updates that won’t break the bank

Easy%20kitchen%20updates%20that%20won%27t%20break%20the%20bankIt goes without saying that the kitchen is one of the hardest-working rooms in the home. For most, it’s the heart of family life and usually the one room where everyone gathers together. With so much hustle and bustle, it’s no wonder that the kitchen runs the risk of looking overworked.
A remodeled kitchen not only reinvigorates the space, but the home overall. This isn’t always easy to accomplish though, as a full-blown renovation can be quite expensive and time-consuming. However, even on a tight budget, there are plenty of ways to spruce up the room without breaking the bank. 
As dirt and grease build up over time, appliances around the kitchen can appear old and dull. The easiest way to rejuvenate those appliances without spending a fortune on new ones is by giving them a thorough cleaning. Since the stove is often used most, it’s a good place to start. Clean the entire surface inside and out using a product that is safe for all surfaces. Try Goo Gone Foaming Kitchen Grease Cleaner to cut through the baked-on grease and stuck-on grime clinging to your stove without needing to scrub. Get into every nook and cranny until it sparkles. 
After the stove is clean, repeat the process for the microwave, backsplash, oven hood, sink and countertops. All of your kitchen appliances will begin to look like new again, and your kitchen won’t seem so worn and outdated. 
Once finished with the kitchen surfaces, consider some other affordable updates that can make a huge impact:
Paint the cabinets – A lackluster room can quickly become re-energized with a vibrant new color. Repaint the cabinets a lively hue to brighten the space or freshen the existing paint color with a new coat. 
Update fixtures – Don’t expect that the faucet handles you installed more than 10 years ago will last another 10. In addition to being practical, kitchen fixtures can add style and enhance overall design. Look for fixtures that fit your kitchen motif, whether it’s modern and sleek or shabby chic. 
Change existing hardware – Think of hardware as jewelry for the kitchen. Add new glass or metal knobs, or bars to highlight cabinets and enhance the overall style of the room. If using metal hardware, choose one type and stick to it for a clean, uniform look.
Create shelving – Removing cabinet doors to create shelving can provide a sense of openness and additional space. Simply remove cabinet doors and fill in holes with wood filler. Then, sand until smooth and paint as desired. You can also paint the inside of the newly open cabinets as a decorative treatment.
Introduce new fabric – Are your cushions looking dingy and outdated? Re-cover chairs or stools with bright, patterned fabric that reflects your personality. Also consider framing the space with new curtains that liven up your “new” kitchen.
Find your green thumb – Instead of buying fresh herbs at the grocery store or farmers market, plant them in pots in your kitchen. They will help add freshness to both the atmosphere and your food (while saving you money).
Don’t forget about the floor – Update floors without the significant cost associated with new flooring by simply adding a rug. Find a rug that’s durable to high foot traffic, but also complements your kitchen style.
Complete all the updates, or pick and choose to make a difference even on the smallest budget. This process will certainly work on other areas of the home as well. Just as with the kitchen, always start with a good cleaning to instantly revitalize the items in your home. To save time and money, use products designed to clean multiple surfaces – including carpeting, upholstery, hard surfaces and morE. Then, look around to see what can be updated without a complete renovation. Your home will have a fresh appeal in no time. 

Courtesy of ARA

Capturing outdoor travel moments: How to bring back great audio and video

Capturing%20outdoor%20travel%20momentsA vacation full of action and adventure creates fantastic memories that many travelers want to capture “on film” to share with friends and family. But how do you bring back great audio and video footage that captivatingly transports your viewers to your destination?
Media arts educators who work with budding audio and video production students from The Art Institute of California, a college of Argosy University, weigh in with some basic tips.
Start with sound
Joe Godfrey, Audio Production academic director at The Art Institute of California, San Diego, recommends that a beginning videographer on vacation first think about sound. 
“Sound can really bring you into an experience and tell a story, even without visuals,” says Godfrey. “So start by building a great narration track, then supplement it with your visual shots.”
Vacation guides and docents are great resources that can help you describe what you and your viewers are seeing. To make sure you catch all the insightful details, make the most of your camera’s built-in microphone. “Be conscious of where you stand, ideally close by the speaker,” advises Godfrey. “Then when the talking is done, feel free to get your video footage.”
Shoot at eye level – of your subjects
If you want to make that video footage memorable, think about where to put the camera, advises David Schreiber, Digital Filmmaking & Video Production academic director at The Art Institute of California, Los Angeles. 
“A common mistake beginners make is to shoot at his or her own eye level,” he says. After all, it is more comfortable to make movies while standing erect. “Kneel or squat down. Show the world from the point-of-view of that duck-billed platypus you come across in your outdoor adventures. You will find that towering over your photographic subject, whether it’s an exotic animal or your adorable three-year-old, keeps the viewer at arm’s length from the action. It’s more immersive to plunge the viewer into the world of your subject, at their eye level.”  
Try a variety of shots
To show your home audience the exhilaration of a more active experience like zip lining, for instance, incorporate a variety of shots. Enlist travel buddies to help you get more dynamic content. Schreiber recommends shots of your zip launch from the platform; from the ground midway through your journey and at the finish line with the camera zoomed in on your fast approach. He also suggests a medium-range shot that shows what you see as you zip along. 
“If you really want to help the viewer identify with the adrenaline rush you experienced, turn the camera around 180 degrees and give us a close-up on your face,” Schreiber adds. “Nothing is as magnetic on the movie screen as the human face.” 
Take it all in
Godfrey also notes that when recording sound, it is OK to just take it all in. “Natural sound is important and underrated,” he says. “Instantly recognizable, spontaneous sound like the roar of an elephant or the cheers and boos of spectators can effortlessly help you tell your story.” 
To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu.

Courtesy of ARA

Squeeze more savings out of the gas pump this summer

Squeeze%20more%20savings%20out%20of%20the%20gas%20pump%20this%20summerWith gas prices on an eternal upswing and the summer driving season in full force, drivers are looking for ways to alleviate the pain at the pump. Some simple steps can make a big difference in your fuel economy so you can save money and get the most out of every gallon.
Start with the type of tire you have, for example. Thanks to a mix of Mother Nature and clever eco-technology, there’s a new tire that uses the oil from orange peels to create a special rubber compound that makes it more fuel efficient and last longer.
“The mixture of orange oil and rubber in our new AVID Ascend improves grip and treadlife without giving up other gas-saving properties like low rolling resistance,” says Pat Keating, manager of technical engineering for Yokohama Tire Corporation, maker of a variety of truck and car tires. “Orange oil, a sustainable resource, is the differentiator.”
Keating explains that low rolling resistance (LRR) tires improve fuel efficiency because they provide less friction as the tire rolls down the road. Less energy is wasted, which is good for eco-conscious and budget-wary consumers who want to maximize their mileage.
“Studies show driving on LRR tires alone can save about $100 annually on gas. Add orange oil and the savings go even higher. It makes the Ascend about 20 percent more energy efficient than a standard touring tire – that means hundreds of dollars in fuel savings over the life of the tire.”
Thanks to the presence of orange oil in the manufacturing process, fuel efficiency is achieved as well as long life. How long? Up to 85,000 miles in the case of the Ascend so drivers can keep driving on this season. But consumers can also save money by simply driving smarter and checking/maintaining their tires regularly. Here are some of Keating’s money-saving tips:
Squeeze%20more%20savings%20out%20of%20the%20gas%20pump%20this%20summer* Keep your tires properly inflated. Once a month, when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage.
* Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel cost by 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save 13 percent.
* Turn off your engine if you’re stopped for more than a couple of minutes. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19 percent are possible by not letting your engine idle too long while stationary.
* Taking off from a stoplight like a drag racer and then slamming on the brakes to stop consumes gas at a faster rate. Accelerating less and slowing moderately can increase fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent. Also, many traffic lights are timed for efficient traffic flow, so you’ll hit more green lights in a row by maintaining the speed limit.
* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch. An easy test: place a penny into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you’re driving with the proper amount of tread. If you can see all of his head, you should buy a new tire.
* Tires should be rotated at least every 6,000 to 8,000 miles and the alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can cause the car to scrub, which lowers mileage and causes unnecessary tire wear.
For additional tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com or www.rma.org

Courtesy of ARA