Bring your house up to date


It’s amazing how quickly our homes can start to look dated. Even if they were once the height of fashion, they can easily start to feel stuck in the past, and for many people it is enough to make them consider moving, unaware that it is simply the fact that things feel stale that is giving them such wanderlust.

There is plenty that can be done, easily and cheaply, to make a house feel more modern though. A change of paint is always a great way to start. Finding out the colors that are currently in vogue is a great way to instantly transform a room. On top that, interesting and modern artwork and contemporary knick knacks will also instantly bring a room up to date.

Home lighting is also a surprisingly date-specific kind of thing. Older light fittings will instantly date any room, and changing glaring halogens to more subtle accent lighting can instantly change the feel of a room without anything else being needed. Altering home lighting is also easy to research and cheap to achieve, making one of the perfect places to start if a house is starting to feel jaded. The more you can spend on lighting, the better.

Wooden floors are also a great way to stay modern. On top of this, utilizing a wooden floor gives you great scope to include under-floor heating, an investment that will almost certainly pay for itself in terms of how much money can be saved on energy bills. Under-floor heating also helps you remove what are usually unsightly radiators and give rooms more space – another way to make any room feel more modern.

If you can, make as much space as possible, knocking down walls to create more space if it is appropriate. Space and lighting combined will make even the dullest room feel fresh and new.

By: Allision Kraft

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7221.shtml

Beyond the beach: Great ideas for outdoor activities this summer

Beyond%20the%20beach%3A%20Great%20ideas%20for%20outdoor%20activities%20this%20summerBasking on the beach or playing in the surf are high points of summer vacation for many people. In fact, going to the beach is among the top five activities for American leisure travelers, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

While beach time will always have its place in the hearts of anyone who loves being outside in summer, there are plenty more ways to enjoy the great outdoors beyond the surf and sand. Consider these tips from the outdoor fun experts at the Myrtle Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau:

* Warm up to wildlife – Look for an outdoor destination that will afford the opportunity to see native wildlife in its natural habitat. From dolphin watching to critter spotting, getting an eyeful of the local wildlife can be a fun, exciting way to enjoy the outdoors. Choose a spot that offers variety. For example, Huntington Beach State Park in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina is home to more than 300 species of birds, making it a favorite birding spot for both beginners and dedicated birders. Further south, the Center for Birds of Prey also offers weekly flight demonstrations of wild birds.
* Play on and in the water – When you want to really enjoy all the water has to offer, look for a beach destination that offers an array of water sports, from windsurfing and parasailing to kayaking or fly fishing.
* Romp under the water – Splashing in the surf is great fun, but don’t overlook the cool things that wait beneath the surface. Snorkeling for brightly colored fish and coral is great for the whole family or, if you’re more adventurous, shipwrecks serve as homes to underwater sea creatures and make interesting viewing for explorers. Look for outfitters like Coastal Scuba in Murrells Inlet, S.C., that offer scuba adventures for divers of varying experience levels. 
Beyond%20the%20beach%3A%20Great%20ideas%20for%20outdoor%20activities%20this%20summer* Get the lay of the land – When you want to wander away from the water, look for a destination that offers interesting landscape beyond the beach. The best destinations will offer a variety of interesting hiking and biking trails, appropriate for people of varying skill levels.
* Go guided and organized – You can work up a sweat and enjoy the great outdoors with more sophisticated fun, too. Golf is the ultimate refined sport and a healthy way to savor time outside. It can even be an opportunity for family time. In Myrtle Beach, 46 courses offer free play for children during the summer months, including Arrowhead Country Club, which is renowned for its scenic Intracoastal Waterway views and all-day tee times. Another unique Myrtle Beach opportunity is “paddle board yoga.” Surf the Earth, a gear shop in Myrtle Beach, leads a paddle to a secluded beach where participants enjoy core-focused yoga.
When it comes to outdoor fun in the summer sun, no one wants to miss the beach. But when you’re ready to get off the beach towel, keep in mind the plethora of other activities and opportunities the great outdoors offer.

Courtesy of BPT

Essential insurance you can’t live without


Essential%20insurance%20you%20can%27t%20live%20without
Cutting back on vacations and entertainment is a wise move when money is tight, but don’t be tempted to forego car and homeowners insurance to make ends meet.
Some people appear to be doing just that. Statistics from the Insurance Research Council, for example, indicate 16 percent of American drivers are uninsured. Nearly half of those say the reason is they can’t afford insurance. And three out of every five U.S. homes are underinsured, with homeowners skimping by paying less for insurance, but running the risk they won’t be able to rebuild their homes if disaster strikes. 
You should resist the urge to eliminate car and homeowners insurance in tough times, advises Charles Valinotti, senior vice president with insurer QBE. “Not having insurance may save on premium payments, but it can cost you much more when the unexpected happens,” he says. “Insurance premiums are a bargain compared to the financial issues that could pile up if you have an accident, your house burns down or someone is injured on your property.”
Valinotti notes the insurance protections you can’t do without:
* For your auto – Laws in all states require drivers to either have auto insurance or be able prove they are financially able to pay for an accident. In addition, if you have a loan on your vehicle, your lender typically requires that you carry comprehensive insurance – which covers loss from theft or damage from something other than an accident – as well as collision insurance as part of the loan agreement.  
Valinotti says if you don’t carry minimum amounts of insurance or can’t provide proof of financial responsibility, you might face fines, license suspension or even jail time. “Make sure you know what you need to meet the minimums for auto insurance liability, bodily injury and property damage required in your state.”
If your budget allows, consider uninsured and underinsured driver coverage. “In these challenging economic times, chances are you could get hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance,” Valinotti says. “If that happens, you need to protect yourself.” 
* For your home – You can legally own a home without insuring it. But Valinotti says going without insurance is a huge risk you don’t want to take, especially in a bad economy. And, if you have a mortgage, your lender will most likely require you to carry insurance – and in some regions, additional flood and earthquake coverage – to protect its investment.
A standard homeowners policy comes with the coverage you need built in: for your home’s structure if you need to repair or rebuild it, for your personal belongings if they’re stolen or destroyed, for liability protection against lawsuits, and to pay for additional living expenses if you can’t live there due to damage from an insured disaster.
Valinotti says instead of thinking of dropping your homeowners insurance, look at ways to lower the cost. “Raise your deductible, or see about getting discounts, such as buying your homeowners and auto insurance from the same company,” he says. “You can also keep your premiums in line by reviewing your policies and the value of your possessions at least once a year.”

Courtesy of BPT