How to Make Your Relocation Smooth

If you’re in the early stages of relocating to a new community you probably have many questions. It can be hard to know where to begin. That’s why I’ve compiled a short list of tips that can help you remember key steps to a successful relocation.

Relocation

Tip#1: Start Early

While time constraints are often beyond your control, it’s critical to get the ball rolling as soon as you become aware of the future move. If you currently own a home, you should begin the selling process. If renting, you need to check with your landlord regarding the status of your lease and potential penalties you may incur by moving. And of course you will need to look for a home in your new city. If pressed for time it might be more appropriate to search for a rental before committing to the purchase of a home. A trained real estate professional can be of great assistance in all of these areas.

Tip#2: Clear Clutter

Arrange a garage sale, give unwanted items to friends, or donate them to charity. Start organizing for your move and purchase boxes and other moving supplies.

Tip#3: Details, Details, Details

File change of address forms and make the necessary arrangements for your children at school. Call all your utility companies and schedule the cancellation of service for at least 1-2 days after your planned move date. Remember, many utility companies will charge you an extra billing cycle if not given enough notice.

Tip#4: Pick the Right Moving Company

Decide how much involvement you need from your moving company (packing, unpacking, etc.) and investigate moving companies. Your real estate agent can provide suggestions. Get a full estimate and ask the moving company representative any questions you may have. Consider the benefits of moving insurance and check with your insurance provider to see what protection they recommend.

Tip#5: Don’t Forget the Kids

Moving can be very hard on your children, but there are steps you can take to help alleviate your children’s fears. Communicate with them as to exactly what’s going on, and get them involved in the moving process and the search for a new home. If they have a favorite toy, pack it last.

Tip#6: Moving Your Pet

Maintain your pet’s daily routine until the day of the move. Take your pet for a routine veterinary appointment and obtain all necessary records. Moving by car is the least upsetting for the animal, but if flying is the only option be sure to plan early. Space for pets on commercial airliners is often limited. You may wish to consider a pet transportation service, which can greatly help your pet with the transition.

Tip#7: What About Your Car(s)?

Your moving company may be able to accommodate your car, but it can be costly given the fact that most general moving companies charge based on gross weight. There are companies that specialize in car shipping. Other services can have your car driven to its destination. Check with your auto insurance company about coverage during transport.

Tip#8: Get Settled

Make a move-in shopping list, check all smoke and security alarms, set up utilities, and start unpacking!

These are just a few pointers to help you organize your relocation. My website has additional resources available, and I’d be happy to help you with any and all aspects of your relocation. Please call me and let me know how I can be of assistance.

Four common photography mistakes to avoid


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If your photos seem too bright, cluttered or ordinary, you can take simple steps to avoid these and other common photography mistakes.”Photographers know it takes a good eye, practice and patience to make the most out of every moment,” says Bill Robbins, an award-winning advertising photographer, commercial film director and current program chair of professional photography at Brooks Institute, a leading provider of higher education for film, graphic design, and photography. “Whether you’re a professional or amateur photographer, it’s also about trying new techniques and experimenting with everything from lighting to composition.”

Robbins offers these tips for overcoming four common photography errors and turning any good photo into a great photo:

* No focal point. Ask yourself this simple question before you snap a picture: What are you taking a photo of and why? Your answer will ensure you capture the right elements for the viewer to easily understand the photograph’s subject and purpose. Less is usually more when it comes to photo composition. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a beautiful landscape, what’s the main focal point – is it the rock formation, sunset or covered bridge? You may need to move in closer to fill the frame with your subject and eliminate any distractions in the background or foreground. In addition, consider turning around to see if there’s a more interesting image or focal point in that direction.

* Too much or too little light. Getting the right exposure – the amount of light that passes through your camera lens – is critical to capturing the sharpest photos. If you’re shooting in a dimly lit space or standing too far away from your subject, your photo may be underexposed or appear too dark. Quick fixes: Add extra light if you’re indoors, move closer to your subject, or manually adjust your camera’s shutter speed to be slower or the aperture to a wider lens opening, thus allowing in more light. When there’s too much natural or indoor light, your photos may look washed out or have unwanted shadows. Consider using a flash to even out the lighting, moving the subject (or yourself) out of the brighter light, or waiting for a time of day when the lighting is better. For outdoor pictures, overcast days work well. When you get in the habit of focusing on the light, you’ll find the best places and times to use light to your advantage.

* Centered subject. The best photos may not be perfectly centered in your frame. When eyeing any photo opportunity, consider the tried-and-true “rule of thirds.” As you’re framing your photo, imagine two vertical and two horizontal lines spaced evenly, creating a grid of nine rectangular boxes. Try placing the main subject near the points along these lines or where the lines intersect.  This creates more visual interest than centering the subject. In a landscape shot, for example, it prevents the horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half. Instead, the horizon might appear in the lower third of the photo. You can also consider framing the image from a different position rather than always shooting at eye level. With digital cameras, it’s easy to experiment and be creative with your composition.

* Red-eye. This is one of the most common – and annoying – issues with photos. Red-eye is caused by the flash reflecting off the person’s retina, in which blood vessels cause the red glow. The easiest solution is to turn off the flash. You can also activate the red-eye reduction feature on many digital cameras, or, if a flash is necessary, ask the subject to avoid looking directly into the camera lens.

Courtesy of BPT

Affordable decorating tips to take your home from ho-hum to high style


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Feeling uninspired in your space? Updating the decor in your home is an easy way to add more color, style and personality to rejuvenate your residence. Whether you’re making a few updates, like new artwork or wall colors, or renovating an entire room with a completely new look, decorating should be fun, not stressful. With a few simple tips, you can up the design ante in your home without breaking the bank.

 
Decorative painting for design

 
Painting can consist of much more than simple strokes of one color. Take things to the next level with decorative painting. Create different patterns on your walls with textured rollers to achieve an artistic design. Sponge and fabric paint rollers provide unique patterns to give your walls a one-of-a-kind look. Low in price and high in design, using textured rollers is a great option for redecorating on a budget.

 
Painting stripes in your room is a refreshing way to update your current color scheme. A sequence of wide and narrow stripes in complementing colors is a stylish option. To achieve crisp, clean lines between each stripe, painter’s tape will get the job done. It will also help to prevent paint bleed, leaving precise lines and keeping the transition between your colors looking sharp.

 
A plethora of plates

 
Artwork is a great way to change things up and give any room a boost. Expensive traditional framed pieces of artwork aren’t your only option anymore. Instead, create an eclectic art piece with plates you already own, or find them at garage sales and antique stores. Opt for various sizes and shapes and attach each one to your wall with plate hooks. You can cover an entire wall, or focus on a smaller area – but before you get started, be sure to lay out your design on the floor first. This way, you’ll achieve your desired look, without extra nail holes on the wall from hanging as you go. 
Perk-up hallways with runners; rooms with rugs
While re-energizing your home, the hallways may seem a little drab. Add a pick-me-up to your walkway by hanging portraits with funky frames along the walls. Add a runner along the length of the floor for a touch of pizzazz. Runners come in a multitude of lengths, patterns and colors – not to mention price ranges. Updating the flooring will keep your feet cozy and help to diminish the sound of footsteps during the night. 

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If you have a space you want to update, but a full room makeover isn’t in your budget, consider an area rug to spruce things up. If the color in your room is dull, the rug can add visual interest and a pop of color, serving as an aesthetically pleasing addition. Area rugs also help to break up the space of a larger room and can add grandeur to a small space. A new rug will also protect your pre-existing carpet, vinyl and hardwood floors, keeping them looking newer, longer. 

 
Opt for accents as design elements

 
No home redecorating project is complete without a few perfectly placed accents. These interesting items stand out from your primary colors and furniture pieces, offering a fresh look to any space. Accent pieces – like chairs, frames or vases – will spice up a monotonous color scheme, while harmonizing with everything else you may already have in a room. Consider a bright beanbag chair for your child’s bedroom, a bold lawn chair on your patio to enthrall while entertaining or a lamp base in a complementary color on your console. Keep in mind accents are meant to speak for themselves; so there’s no need to have another elaborate piece in the room to pair with an accent piece. Just one affordable piece is all it takes.

 
When the redecorating bug bites, embrace the opportunity to freshen up your home inexpensively. With a pinch of creativity and a dash of design inspiration, you can easily make over any space into one that’s perfect for you.
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
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Caption 1: Create different patterns on your walls with textured rollers to achieve an artistic design.
Caption 2: Painting stripes in your room is a refreshing way to update your current color scheme.

Courtesy of BPT

Downshifting careers for a more fulfilling life

Downshifting%20careers%20for%20a%20more%20fulfilling%20lifeWhen 60-plus-hour weeks, expensive professional suits and excessive stress become too much, many high-powered professionals trade in their high-paying careers for a more fulfilling life. Called “downshifting,” the move allows former CEOs and company presidents to find more balance between work and life.
The phenomenon of downshifting is due in part to generational differences between baby boomers and older generations, says Catherine Mallozzi, director of career services for Everest University in Melbourne, Fla. While older generations saw work as something mandatory – yet not necessarily enjoyable – baby boomers have always believed they deserve fulfilling lives and careers.
“When you are stuck in the rat-race trying to climb the ladder to career success, you often have to put so much of your life on hold. You may end up sacrificing time with your family, not giving yourself time outdoors, or putting your hobbies and passions on pause,” Mallozzi says. “Downshifting is one way that professionals are redefining their priorities. They recognize that perhaps their new careers won’t be as lucrative, but they will be more fulfilling.”
Traditional working environments have dramatically changed over the past few decades. These work environments now include part-time, flex-time and work-from-home options, giving employees much more flexibility in balancing their interests in life. For example, workers can decline new projects, take on fewer projects or try to change work arrangements.
“If you aren’t ready for a complete career change, you still have a number of options. For example, bargain for more vacation time instead of that annual raise. Or see if you can work from home or move to part-time work,” says Mallozzi.
But for some, small changes in the working environment aren’t enough. Many wake-up calls can encourage a complete career change. Whether it is the death of a close friend, a divorce, or getting that dreaded pink slip because your company is downsizing, many professionals realize that life is too short to stay in a career that isn’t allowing them to enjoy a personal life on the side.
For those who might be considering downshifting, it’s important to weigh how a career change will alter their lives.
“You have to take your finances into consideration,” says Patrick Wehner, business department chairman at Everest University in Tampa. “A lot of planning needs to happen before you make any big changes. Specifically, you need to be thinking about how to meet costs of your insurance, children’s education, mortgage payments and retirement savings. That being said, with careful planning, changing careers can be done well and can be incredibly satisfying.”
In addition to financial planning, downshifting may also require going back to school.
“Many downshifters want to open a new business – perhaps a bed and breakfast, or local used book store or massage therapy business,” says Wehner. “Starting a new business in something you are passionate about is a great way to find a fulfilling career, but at the same time, you want to make sure you have the knowledge you need to be successful. For example, if you want to become a massage therapist or bed and breakfast owner, you may need to take massage therapy classes, or basic accounting and entrepreneurial courses before making that leap.”

Courtesy of BPT

Is kitchen remodeling cost-effective?


So, you have made the decision to remodel your home. Kitchen remodeling is one of the first rooms that homeowners explore with regard to renovations. The kitchen is the main gathering place in the home for families and friends. It is the area where socialization happens frequently, so it makes perfect sense to choose to remodel this room in your home first. The project can be extremely fun and should be looked upon as such. There are so many small changes that can be made to completely transform this room that it is mind boggling. Let us talk a bit about whether this remodeling project is a sound financial decision.

First, you should look at the long-term picture. Are you remodeling the kitchen for your own preferences, or will you be selling the home at any point in the future? In either case, renovations to the kitchen can help save money in the future, however,  if you are planning to stay in the home, your choices can help save on your monthly utility bills. You can opt for new energy efficient windows that can save you on your monthly electric payments. You can also install low flow faucets to save on water consumption. Buying appliances that are more energy efficient is a great investment and you will also experience personal satisfaction that your new kitchen is more operational and updated.

If you are planning on selling your home in the future, you can expect a very significant return on your investment. If you ask any realtor, they will tell you that one of the first things a potential buyer is interested in is the kitchen. If your kitchen is fresh and updated with contemporary finishes (counters, cabinets, flooring) it will make your home stand out against homes that have a more dated kitchen. You can expect to get a return of at least 40% of your remodeling investment when you go to list your home. 

A home kitchen makeover is a very prudent choice, especially if you can only remodel one room. The kitchen is central to the home and you spend a lot of time there cooking, eating and socializing. The benefits of new and updated appliances, and other elements far outweigh the costs you may incur. You will be surprised at how far you can get on your proposed budget, and you’ll be left with the feeling that it was money well spent.

by: Leonard Simmons

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7310.shtml