Using an Interior Designer
Making a mistake in designing your home's interior can be costly. Furniture, wallpaper and accessories can add up to thousands of dollars. An interior designer can save frustration, time and money. Designers have been trained to put together interiors that are both pleasing and functional. A good designer will find out what you are hoping to achieve in the room, what you have to work with, and how much money you have to spend on the project.
After searching for just the right things, the designer will present you with several choices. Having the designer make the selection saves a great deal of time since there are literally thousands of choices for any one type of article.
There are several ways, in which designers work. A retail store has designers on staff. They will come to your home to coordinate and assist in your selections
Color Trends for the New Millennium
Earth tones and natural materials are again the rage! But don't think you can get away with that old green refrigerator of the 70's, or macramé plant hangers. Why? This time around, the trend is about earthiness as well as simplicity. Earthy colors but a new style.
The earthy colors abound. Some of the most popular hues going are paprika, similar to rich russet, baby blue, and translucent green sage. Also, watch out for the return of yellow with it's warming quality, along with greens, browns and reds.
Soft blues, purples, and grays will offer a cooling balance. Why is the trend moving toward these earthy colors? We are trying to make our homes as we would like the world to be, peaceful but also familiar.
Paying for Remodeling
So you'd like to start some remodeling projects, but you don't know where to get the funds. There are several options to choose from. Two of the most popular ways are to borrow from company profit sharing plans, or to borrow against the cash value of your whole life insurance policy.
The advantages to these options are lower than normal interest rates and no loan origination costs.
If these are not options, then consider a second mortgage, or a home equity loan. You can generally borrow up to 80% of your home's value, minus the unpaid principal of the mortgage. With these loans you generally have to pay closing costs, and often the loan is an adjustable rate mortgage, that varies monthly depending on the fluctuation of the index it's tied to.
Keep in mind that credit unions usually offer lower interest rates than banks, so shop around when looking for a loan. You will need to have a good credit rating to qualify for a home equity loan, so check into clearing up anything that may hinder your loan being accepted before applying.
Goal Setting For Every Type of Family
One Income Families...
Establish an emergency fund of cash that is equal to 3-6 months of pay.
Start saving for college. Any little bit helps. At 7% interest, money doubles every ten years. So by starting when kids are young, you can make one dollar at their birth worth $2 at age 7, $4 at age 14, and $8 at age 21.
Buy term life insurance for at least twice your mortgage amount. More is better, especially if you have more than one child. A $200,000 policy for a 35 year old male costs about $200 a year. Your objective is to be sure that the mortgage would be paid, that living expenses would be available for a period of transition, and there would be a downpayment made on the children's education. Some planners suggest much more insurance, knowing that in a one income family the other parent would need time to train, seek a job, etc.
As your children get to age 14 and beyond, you may wish to encourage after - school employment. Not just for the character building potential, but because they can earn almost $4000 without paying federal income tax. Single / Single Parent
Set aside three months take home pay for your emergency fund. If you are a single parent you'll want to strive for six months on hand.
As you accumulate savings, look for mutual funds or other alternatives to provide a higher return than money market accounts, with measured risk. If you are a single parent, decide when to start saving for college. As little as fifty dollars per month in EE bonds can make a big difference. Ask your banker.
Protect your credit rating. Perfect credit will be helpful in moving, refinancing, or even obtaining a credit line or home improvement loan, when needed. If you have recently divorced you will want to open accounts in your own name with credit cards, department stores, and credit unions.
Check your homeowner's insurance to be sure you have sufficient coverage to replace your belongings.
Collect child support if you're entitled to it. Get the handbook on Child Support Enforcement from: Dept. 633B, Consumer Info. Center Pueblo, CO 81009.
Two Income Families...
Buy a home or a second home, if appropriate. The wealth created though long term ownership of real estate is unmatched. The tax deductible nature of your real estate payments make for another bonus.
Use and maximize your 401K, SEP, IRA, or other retirement options. As much as retirement seems far off in the future, it is coming. Anything you can do now can make a big difference in 20 to 30 years.
Maximize your savings for retirement
Consider reducing your life insurance if your mortgage is paid off.
Triple check your long-term health care insurance options while you're still healthy.
Check your social security benefits by filling out the proper forms. Call 1-800-772-1213 to get the form.
Ink On Your Favorite Shirt?
Here's how to remove it...
Using non-aeresol hairspray, first test an inconspicuous area of the fabric by placing a drop or 2 of the hairspray
on it and then
lightly rub the area with a white terry-cloth rag. If the fabric withstands this test proceed with stain removal.
Place a white terry-cloth rag on a flat surface. Then place your garment with the ink stain face down so the inked area is on the cloth.
Then put a few drops of hair spray on the wrong side of the fabric and rub lightly with another white cloth. After a 30 seconds or so look at
the pen mark to see if it is completely gone. It should have been transferred to your base cloth. Repeat until completely removed.
Is Your Family Ready for Disney?
There comes a time in just about every family's life when they finally say, "Are the kids ready for Disney?" Here are a few tips to consider before you make that decision, as well as ideas on how to enjoy the parks at Disney.
Let's start with the basics. Are your kids done with naps? Can they make it through a big day without losing it, and needing rest? Usually children that are 6 and up can handle a full day of walking and riding. Also, this age can generally handle most of the attractions Disney has to offer; so they benefit more from the experience.
Consider going 'off season' to avoid the unbelievable crowds. If your children are young enough to miss a few days of school without hurting their education, then go that route. Look at the school calendar and find where there are 2 or 3 days off and add to them to make it a week.
You will find Disney much more pleasant if you don't have to battle lots of lines and extra people. Prices are lower in the off season as well, for hotel and airfares.
If you can swing it, stay at a Disney Property. You will have unlimited use of the parks, early admission on certain days, and in and out privileges. You can go to Magic Kingdom in the morning, take the bus back to your hotel for lunch and a swim, and then go back to Epcot or MGM in the afternoon or evening. Disney has made it very affordable with the addition of 'economy' hotels. Check with your travel agent for details. There's no substitution for staying on a Disney property.
If you decide it's time to go on your first Disney trip, go to the bookstore and buy Birnbaum's book on Walt Disney World. Take time with your children, reading and planning the trip. Map out what you know you won't want to miss. You'll enjoy this as much as the children. Getting there is more than half the fun and the planning of this magical vacation is just as important as being there.
Super Potato Soup
Hot Soups for those Cold Winter Days
6 potatoes, grated
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 stalk celery, chopped
5 chicken bouillon cubes
4 cups water
1/2 cup butter
1 pint whipping cream or half and half
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Grated cheddar cheese
Prepare vegetables and cook with water and bouillon cubes. It will take several hours to cook vegetables down. Stir often as it can burn or stick to bottom of the pan. Before serving, add seasonings, butter and whipping cream or half and half. Heat to eating temperature. When serving, sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese.
Extraordinary Chicken Soup
Mmmm! Homemade chicken soup may or may not cure the common cold, but to have it on hand with fresh bread, salad, and a fine dessert is to be prepared for anything!
5 Ideas to Perk Up Your Chicken Soup...
Vegetable Beef Soup
- Use bones, fat and scraps from 1-2 chickens to create stock. Boil for 2 hours with favorite herbs, chopped onion, carrots etc. Remove bones, etc., and reduce to concentrate as desired.
- For adventure and flavor, add tomatoes (canned) or V-8 juice, or garlic cooked carrots.
- Homemade noodles or fresh pasta, such as fettucini or farfalle, will add personality to the dish.
- Top soup with herbs, mozzarella cheese, even shredded carrot for color and texture.
- If soup needs more flavor, add sauteed celery, onion, and garlic. Run through a food processor.
1 lb. ground round
1 (46 oz.) can V-8 juice
4 cups water
4 cubes beef bouillon
1 package dried onion soup mix
1/2 cup diced green pepper
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced celery
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup diced potatoes
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Place beef in 1 chunk in large kettle. Add rest of ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours. Break up beef into smaller pieces as it is simmering.
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs|
2 (8 - oz.) tubs light process cream cheese spread|
1 cup sugar|
2/3 cup frozen cholesterol free egg product, thawed|
1 3/4 to 2 cups vanilla yogurt cheese (see recipe below)|
2 teaspoons vanilla|
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel|
1 tablespoon lemon juice|
Sliced fresh fruit (strawberries, oranges, and / or kiwifruit)|
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 -inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle bottom
with crumbs. Refrigerate. In large bowl, beat cream cheese spread
until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until smooth. Add remaining ingredients except sliced fruit for topping; beat until smooth. Pour into crumb coated pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes or until edges are set. (To minimize cracking, place shallow pan half full of hot water on lower oven rack during baking.) Remove from oven; cool to room temperature on wire rack. Remove sides of pan.
Refrigerate cheesecake for 6 hours or overnight. Just before serving, top with fruit. Store in refrigerator. 16 servings.
Vanilla Yogurt Cheese
4 cartons (8 oz each) nonfat vanilla yogurt
Spoon yogurt into a strainer lined with a coffee filter or cheese cloth.
Place strainer over bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate and allow to
drain overnight. Discard liquid. Cover, store in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.
Spring Newsletter Lineup Includes...
- Container Gardens for Small Spaces
- The History of Mother's Day
- Planning a Family Reunion
- Succulent Lobster Thermidor
- Old Time Sunday Supper Ideas
- Planning a Family Vacation
- Plus a few surprises!