Tips

Flu-fighting tips to keep you and others healthy

Sniffles, sore throat, fever, and aches and pains may accompany a number of illnesses, but during the wintertime such symptoms are typically indicative of influenza.

Throughout much of North America, flu season peaks between December and February. But flu season can occur anywhere from October to March, advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu is contagious and can sideline people for extended periods of time. The CDC says that each year one in five Americans gets the flu. Taking steps to fend off the flu can help men and women and the people they routinely come in contact with.

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Foods

Food can be used to fend of the flu. Common foods that many people already have in their pantries can be powerful flu-fighters. Garlic, for example, contains compounds that have direct antiviral effects and may help destroy the flu before it affects the body. Raw garlic is best. In addition to garlic, citrus fruits, ginger, yogurt, and dark leafy greens can boost immunity and fight the flu, according to Mother Nature’s Network. The British Journal of Nutrition notes that dark chocolate  supports T-helper cells, which increase the immune system’s ability to defend against infection. A study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that carnosine, a compound found in chicken soup, can help strengthen the body’s immune system and help fight off the flu in its early stages.

Flu shot and medications

Annual flu shots administered in advance of flu season can help protect people and their families from getting the flu. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that, in select situations, antiviral medications — which are usually prescribed to treat the flu and lessen symptoms — can reduce the chance of illness in people exposed to influenza. Many over-the-counter medicines can alleviate symptoms of the flu, but cannot fend it off.

Stop germ proliferation

Germs can be spread easily between persons through direct contact and indirect contact with surfaces sick individuals have touched. Doctors recommend staying home for at least 24 hours after a flu-induced fever has dissipated. Well individuals should avoid contact with sick people. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water can stop germs from spreading. When soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help. People also should avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths after being in public places or around someone who is ill.

Rest and restore

Those who feel symptoms coming on should begin drinking more liquids to keep the respiratory system hydrated and make mucus less viscous. Remember to get adequate sleep, as a tired body cannot effectively fight the flu virus. People of all ages should take steps to protect themselves from the flu.

Black Friday safety tips

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The unofficial beginning to the holiday shopping season, Black Friday compels many people to get out of bed in the middle of the night in the hopes of landing great deals on gifts for their loved ones. The competition to find deals on Black Friday can sometimes get heated. As a result, some shoppers have found themselves in unsafe situations in the past.

Many retailers have taken steps to make the atmosphere in their stores on Black Friday less hectic and more consumer-friendly. Shoppers can follow suit and take the following precautions to ensure this Black Friday is as safe as possible.

• Recognize you might not get everything on your list. Inventory may be limited in regard to sale items on Black Friday. Make a list of the items you hope to buy and where you hope to buy them, ranking each item in terms of importance. Then calmly move from store to store, recognizing that you may not end up with every item on your list. Accepting this ahead of time can make the day seem less hectic and more safe.

• Protect and conceal your purchases. Shoppers might not be as sharp when shopping Black Friday sales in the wee hours of the morning. That could make them more vulnerable to thieves. Protect and conceal purchases at all times. If necessary, bring items to the car after each purchase, making sure to place them in a concealed vehicle trunk where they are not visible to prospective thieves.

• Leave small children at home. While horror stories of Black Friday holiday shoppers stampeding through stores are few and far between, malls may not be the safest places for small children to spend the day after Thanksgiving. Overstressed shoppers running on fumes and long lines at the checkout counters can make things unsafe for small kids and try their patience. Shoppers who plan to shop on Black Friday should leave their small children home with a spouse or relative to avoid accident or injury.

• Park in well-lit areas. Parking can be hard to find on Black Friday. But shoppers should not give in and park far away from stores in poorly lit areas of parking lots. Doing so makes shoppers vulnerable to theft or attack.

• Be attentive in the parking lot. In addition to keeping an eye out for prospective thieves or attackers, Black Friday shoppers should be mindful of motorists in the parking lots. Tired shoppers may be focused on getting home and speed through parking lots. Stay alert to avoid exhausted drivers.

Finding deals might be the ultimate goal of Black Friday, but shoppers also must be mindful of safety when shopping during the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season.

The benefits to shopping on Black Friday

Black Friday is a holiday season phenomenon that entices shoppers out of their homes, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. Many stores begin their Black Friday promotions on Thanksgiving night, while others may wait until midnight to open their doors to deal-hungry holiday shoppers.

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Thanks to the crowds, some shoppers may be intimidated by Black Friday and opt to avoid stores entirely on the day after Thanksgiving. But there are a host of benefits to shopping on Black Friday that can compel hesitant shoppers to join the festive fray.

• Deals: Black Friday is a consumer-friendly day on which savvy shoppers can find great deals on big-ticket items. Big-ticket items like electronics, including televisions, smartphones and tablets, are often heavily discounted on Black Friday. Such deals may only be for a certain period of time or until a predetermined amount of inventory has been sold, so shoppers should do their research and prioritize which items are most important to them in advance of Black Friday. While Black Friday occurs during the holiday season when many people are busy looking for gifts for their loved ones, shoppers who need new big-ticket items can save money by shopping for themselves as well as their friends and family members in the initial hours after Thanksgiving.

• Shopping done early: Shoppers who tend to procrastinate during the holiday shopping season may find that shopping on Black Friday increases the chance they’ll get their shopping done early. Getting shopping done early leaves more time to celebrate with family and friends throughout December.

• Giveaways: Many stores offer giveaways to Black Friday shoppers. Such giveaways may include gift cards, free entries into raffles or totes bags full of goodies. Such giveaways make great stocking stuffers, enabling Black Friday shoppers to get some shopping done without spending a dime.

• Budget-friendly: Budget-conscious holiday shoppers may find that Black Friday allows them to give great gifts without compromising their personal finances. In its second annual holiday debt survey, MagnifyMoney found that consumers who took on debt during the 2016 holiday season were poised to begin the new year with an average of $1,003 worth of new debt. Shopping on Black Friday might help many shoppers reduce the amount of debt they take on during the holiday season.

Shoppers hesitant to join the Black Friday fray might want to consider the many benefits to shopping on one of the busiest shopping days of the year before making their final decision.

Tips for a healthy and happy kitten

New pets can make life at home more exciting. Cats are popular pets because of their curiosity, playfulness and size, which makes them great pets in private homes and apartments big and small. Many people prefer cats because they tend to require less maintenance than dogs and felines are relatively self-sufficient. According to a 2014 survey from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, 37 percent of Canadian households included one or more cats. In the United States, the American Pet Products Association says that 30 to 37 percent of households have a cat, and more than 35 percent of cats are acquired as strays. Kittens can be soft, fluffy and adorable to have around. However, to maintain a peaceful household and provide a safe environment for new felines, it’s important for pet owners to follow some key tips.

Kittens should not be separated from their mother or siblings until they’re at least 10 to 12 weeks of age, provided the litter has had significant human contact, offers Blue Buffalo Pet Food’s animal experts. If the kittens have not had much contact, it may be possible to bring them home earlier. The earlier cats are socialized, the easier the kitten-owner relationship and the less skittish the cat may be. Cats require some necessities from the start. These include feeding bowls, litter boxes or trays, toys, and scratching posts. Washable cat beds with warm blankets are also helpful. Position the litter tray in a corner away from food and water. The International Cat Care group says that a new home can be intimidating, so it’s best to introduce cats slowly to their new environments. Choose a room that’s quiet where the kitten can adjust. Outfit the room with toys and a place to snuggle or hide, and remove any hazards or breakable items. Gradually give the kitten time to venture out into the main living area to explore, watching how it behaves. If the cat dashes nervously, it may need more time to acclimate. Some kittens take up to two weeks to fully relax in a home. People should be introduced one at a time.

The animal guidance group VetStreet says handling and playing with kittens at least once per day will help owners form strong emotional bonds with their cats. Children should be monitored upon introduction to the new kitten to make sure it’s a positive experience for both the kitten and child. Veterinarians can offer a wealth of information for new cat owners. Ask many questions, including which foods to feed them and how often; illnesses to watch out for; suggestions on how to introduce the kitten to other pets; and guidelines for making litter box training easier. Remember to discuss having the kitten spayed or neutered right away to help combat cat overpopulation.

Kittens can be playful members of the family. Treat them right from the start and they can make loving and excellent pets.

Safety tips for female travelers

Many people have a passion for travel, which can provide wondrous new experiences and enrich travelers’ lives in ways they might never have imagined prior to their trips. While some may associate traveling with family vacations or backpacking excursions with friends, more and more travelers are flying solo.

In its 2015 Visa Global Travel Intentions Study, the market research firm Millward Brown found that 24 percent of people traveled solo on their most recent international vacations. That study examined travelers from 25 countries, illustrating that solo travel is a global trend.

Traveling alone can provide travelers with a greater sense of freedom, as such wanderers can pick and choose their trips and activities without having to consult with a partner or friend. But traveling solo also can be more risky than traveling with friends or family. The safety in numbers philosophy has long been applied to traveling overseas, but women traveling alone can employ a handful of safety strategies when planning their trips.

Lodging

Women should take various factors into consideration before choosing lodging for their trips. Small hotels or bed and breakfasts may not be as glamorous as larger alternatives, but it’s easier to become friendly with staff at such establishments and it’s easier for staff to recognize any suspicious characters loitering on the premises. Choose a hotel on a well-traveled street so you are not walking alone down a dark road late at night. If you plan to drive on your trip, inquire about valet parking and its availability throughout the day. A 24-hour parking service can keep you from having to park in dimly lit and/or faraway parking lots late at night.

Geography

Many travelers may enjoy “getting lost” on their trips, feeling that such wandering is a great way to discover areas of a city that are less populated by fellow tourists. But solo travelers must be mindful of their surroundings at all times. Study maps before departing on your trip so you can get a layout of any locales you plan to visit. Learn the landmarks and their locations within the city, using them as guides should you get lost during your travels. Employ the GPS technology on your smartphone if you find yourself getting lost, and ask the front desk attendant or concierge at your hotel to mark off any potentially dangerous neighborhoods to avoid.

Attire

While it can be difficult to blend in with the locals when traveling overseas, try to avoid dressing too flashy or wearing lots of jewelry. Jewelry may draw the attention of pickpockets or thieves, while overdressing may announce to criminals that you’re a tourist. Blending in as much as possible can make you less noticeable to criminals and reduce your risk of being targeted. More and more travelers are going solo. Female travelers who embrace this trend must exercise caution to ensure their trip is as safe as it is enjoyable.

3 ways to tackle spring cleaning projects in a single weekend

Spring cleaning is an annual rite of passage in many households. Because winter weather tends to encourage people to stay indoors more than they would during other times of the year, clutter can slowly but surely accumulate in a home over the course of a typical winter. That makes spring cleaning a necessity. Few homeowners likely enjoy spring cleaning. The warm weather associated with the arrival of spring makes many people who have spent the previous months indoors less than enthusiastic about spending a spring weekend indoors cleaning and clearing away a season’s worth of clutter. But homeowners who organize their spring cleaning projects can ensure such efforts take just a weekend or less.

1. Enlist the whole family.

Chances are everyone who lives in the home can lay claim to some of the dirt, grime and clutter that built up over the winter. So it only makes sense that everyone then pitches in to clean the home come springtime. Parents and heads of household can delegate tasks to everyone, incentivizing cooperation with the promise of rewards if the cleaning is completed in a single weekend.

2. Clear your schedule.

Another way for homeowners to ensure their spring cleaning projects are started and finished in a single weekend is to clear their schedules for the entire weekend. Homeowners who expect to spend part of their day away from home and still finish their spring cleaning projects will likely find the job unfinished come Sunday night. When planning a spring cleaning weekend, schedule projects for a weekend when you have no prior commitments or plan far enough in advance that you can avoid making plans on a given weekend. While it might not make for the most eventful weekend, it will greatly increase your chances of getting everything cleaned and cleared out in two days.

3. Do your homework.

Homeowners who want to complete their spring cleaning in a single weekend should do their homework with regard to finding local recycling centers or charitable organizations to whom they intend to donate items. Many charitable organizations will come to private homes to pick up donations, but such pickups often must be arranged in advance rather than on the morning of the day homeowners want items to be taken away. In addition, if recycling will be a part of your spring cleaning efforts, familiarize yourself with the weekend hours of nearby recycling plants so you can drop items off on your cleaning weekend instead of leaving them lying around to be donated later. Spring cleaning might not make for the most enjoyable way for homeowners to spend a weekend. But planning ahead and making efficient use of the time available to them can help homeowners tackle their spring cleaning projects in a single weekend. 

Spring break adventures that stray from the norm

Spring is a time of year when students plan their annual treks to warmer climates. Areas such as Florida's Daytona Beach and Cancun, Mexico, attract hundreds of thousands of revelers each spring break.

It is wise for students to plan their trips as early as possible to beat the rush. In addition, savvy students can educate themselves about potential spring break pitfalls. Spring break has earned a reputation as a potentially dangerous excursion, in part due to bad behavior and criminals preying on young students. But spring break doesn't have to be a lesson in debauchery. There are many ways revelers can enjoy their extended vacations from school.

  • Lend a helping hand. Many college students spend their spring breaks giving back to the less fortunate. In 2015, more than 10,000 high school and college students signed up to spend their spring breaks building houses with Habitat for Humanity. Many organizations sponsor spring break programs for youngsters.
  • Explore foreign culture. Make spring break an opportunity to travel internationally and learn something new about a country's history and impact on the world. Research the country's legal system before traveling, however. Foreign laws can be quite different from the American and Canadian law, and roughly 2,500 Americans are arrested on spring break trips to foreign countries each year. Also, be aware of political turmoil or unrest at your destination. You may inadvertently put yourself in harm's way.
  • Try something new. Rather than spend spring break letting loose, you may want to get together with like-minded friends and try a new hobby or project. Enroll in a music or art class. If your interests lean toward the daring, try skydiving or trapeze lessons. You will likely save money on travel expenses in the process and still come away with lasting memories.
  • Be unique. There's no need to follow the masses to the nearest beach town. A vacation from school and home can be enjoyable no matter where you head. Cruises are attractive because you pay one fee that includes food and accommodations. In addition, cruise ships have a number of guided excursions available to guests. While many cruise lines travel to tropical waters, there are some that hug the eastern and western coasts of North America northward to Alaska or Novia Scotia.
  • Visit family. While spring break is often a time for letting loose, for some it can present the ideal opportunity to catch up with distant relatives they do not often see. Accepting their hospitality can stretch vacation budgets even further.
  • Take advantage of last-minute specials. If you can't decide where to go, pay close attention to travel Web sites and any specials they may offer in the months and weeks leading up to spring break season. Inexpensive last-minute packages may become available as spring draws near. You just may locate a destination that wasn't what you had imagined, but it can turn into an exciting and memorable experience.

Road trip tips for spring drivers

Spring is a season of rebirth for many people, who welcome the warm weather with open arms, especially those who just endured a harsh winter. Spending time outdoors when the weather warms up is a popular pastime for many people each spring.

Road trips taken by college kids or high schoolers hitting the road for spring break or professionals and parents packing up the car for a weekend getaway have become synonymous with spring. A road trip is a great way to get outdoors and make the most of a warm day, but there are a few tricks of the trade drivers can employ to ensure their road trips are as enjoyable as possible.

* Give your car a good wash. Drivers who live in areas with heavy snowfall should give their vehicles a thorough cleaning before hitting the road for a spring road trip. Salt and sand can build up on a vehicle over the course of a snowy winter, so a power washing will help remove excess salt, sand or dirt and help the car run more smoothly.

* Get the vehicle a tune-up. A tune-up, including an oil change, should be part of your pre-trip planning. Make sure winter hasn't caused any damage to the vehicle's body and ask your mechanic to perform a thorough inspection of the vehicle's suspension and brakes. If any problems arise, address them before embarking on your road trip.

* Subscribe to a roadside assistance program. Roadside assistance programs, whether it's AAA or a program offered through your insurance company, provide a measure of security to road-trippers. Many roadside assistance programs provide variety of emergency assistance for members, including: towing service if your vehicle cannot start or operate safely, battery service if your car's battery needs a jump, flat tire service if you get a flat tire and don't have a spare or cannot change the tire yourself, fuel delivery service if your car runs out of gas, and lockout service if you lock your keys in the car. These services can act as a safety net should an issue arise when you're on the road and far away from home or far away from a service station. Keep your membership card in your wallet and store their customer service number in your cellular phone should you accidentally lose your membership card or lock it inside your car.

* Bring cash as well as credit cards on the trip. When embarking on a road trip, don't assume you will have ready access to an ATM on your trip or at your destination. This means you may reach a point when you have no cash on hand. While it's a good idea to bring some cash along on the trip, bring a credit card or cards as well should you find yourself with no cash. A major credit card, such as a Mastercard, American Express or Visa, is likely to be accepted at most filling stations.

* Invest in a road navigation system. A road navigation system can be your best friend, helping you find your way in places with which you are unfamiliar. Road navigation systems can alert you to traffic conditions while providing directions and alternate routes. Some systems will even alert you to nearby filling stations, lodging or restaurants.

Post-winter garden prep

Lawns and gardens can bear the brunt of winter weather and are often in need of tender loving care by the time spring arrives. Preparing a garden for spring and summer involves assessing any damage that harsh weather might have caused. As temperatures climb, gardeners can heed the following post-winter garden preparation tips in an effort to ensure some successful gardening in the months ahead.

• Assess the damage. Even if winter was mild, gardens might still have suffered some damage. Inspect garden beds and any fencing or barriers designed to keep wildlife from getting into the garden. Before planting anew, fix any damage that Mother Nature or local wildlife might have caused over the past several months.

• Clear debris. Garden beds and surrounding landscapes that survived winter without being damaged might still be littered with debris. Remove fallen leaves, branches and even litter that blew about on windy winter days before planting season. Make sure to discard any debris effectively so it does not find its way back into the garden.

• Turn the greenhouse into a clean house. Spring cleaning is not just for the interior of a home. Cleaning a greenhouse in advance of spring can help gardeners evict any overwintering pests that can threaten plant life once spring gardening season arrives. A thorough cleaning, which should include cleaning the inside of greenhouse glass and washing flower pots and plant trays, also can prevent plant diseases from surviving into spring.

• Check for pests. Speak with a local gardening professional to determine if there are any local pests to look out for and how to recognize and remove these pets from gardens. Pests may hibernate in the soil over the winter, and such unwelcome visitors can make it difficult for gardens to thrive come spring and summer.

• Assess plant location. If plants, flowers or gardens have struggled in recent years or never grew especially vibrant, then gardeners may want to assess the location of their plant life before spring gardening season begins. Some plants may not be getting enough sunlight in certain locations on a property, while others might be overexposed to the sun during spring and summer. Moving plants that are not thriving prior to the start of spring gardening season may be just what gardens need to flourish in the coming weeks. Spring gardening season is right around the corner, so now is an ideal time to prepare gardens for the warmer seasons ahead.

Learn how to write a classic love letter

Today’s digital world has given rise to fast, stinted communications. According to the Pew Research Center, texting is the most widely used smartphone app, with 97 percent of Americans using it at least once a day. Across the globe, 8.3 trillion text messages are sent each year. That translates to roughly 16 million messages per minute. In addition to text messaging, social media posts are generally concise and short on depth. The written form of communication has changed dramatically in the last decade,  as letter-writing and other forms of prose have all but faded away.

But come Valentine’s Day, it can be special to dust off that pen and paper to express oneself via the written word in the name of love. Love letters are cherished keepsakes that can be kept for years. Such couples can illustrate a couple’s present-day love for one another and shed insight on their relationship years later. Here are some steps for writing a romantic love letter or note.

  • Jot down ideas and inspiration. Make a list of attributes and qualities in a spouse or romantic interest that you would like to highlight. Write down phrases and terms that come to mind. These words can serve as the foundation for the letter.
  • Categorize your thoughts into three areas. Jot down things that you like and love about the person, things that the person may do for you or your family that you appreciate, and various memories from throughout the years.
  • Write what you know. Do not feel pressured to make this letter more complicated than it has to be. The words will come when you write from the heart. While you can use other letters to spur ideas, do not lose your voice or try to mimic someone else’s work.
  • Make the letter personal and specific. Small details are important and make love letters more meaningful. Such details illustrate to a significant other that this letter was specifically written with them in mind.
  • Disregard length. The letter does not have to be a certain length. Whether it is a paragraph or several pages, the letter will be a success if it says what you want to express. It doesn’t have to be long if that’s not your style. Writing a love letter can be a wonderful way to express romantic sentiments this Valentine’s Day. 

Throw a hauntingly good Halloween party

Halloween is a special day that delights children of all ages and helps adults feel like kids at heart. Few people want the fun to end once trick-or-treating is over. By throwing a Halloween party, revelers can continue celebrating well into the evening.
When hosting a Halloween party, it helps to determine who will be in attendance before making any plans. Parties that include children should be PG in nature, and hosts should find the right balance between scary and fun. While you want to have a certain measure of the macabre, make sure you don’t send young guests home with nightmares. Reserve gruesome decorations and details for adult-only parties. 

Halloween parties do not necessarily need to be ghoulish to be fun. Try a glittery gala masquerade party or decorate exclusively in orange and black. Classically eerie parties may feature ravens and crows, or they can be subtlety spooky with red candles and heavy curtains.
Many people can’t wait to dress up for a Halloween party, even picking  out their costumes months in advance. Still, not everyone feels comfortable donning a costume. To welcome all guests, don’t make costumes mandatory. One way around this is to set up a Halloween Disguise Table full of accessories that anyone can borrow and use to alter their appearance. Goofy glasses, strange hats, adhesive mustaches, or masks can be fun. If someone didn’t feel comfortable dressing in full costume, he or she may be more apt to pop in a set of plastic fangs or put on a spinning bow tie.

Food is an integral part of any party and can enhance Halloween soirées. Candy is a pivotal component of Halloween and you can play off that theme at your party. Set up a candy bar full of appropriately hued candies of all shapes and sizes. Put them on display in clear glass or plastic canisters so they add to your Halloween décor.
Some people like to get creative with Halloween cuisine, crafting foods into items that may look like parts of the body or other symbols of the holiday. Cookie cutters can turn sandwiches, desserts, biscuits, and many other foods into different shapes. However, foods also can be made a tad more spooky simply by renaming them or presenting them in interesting containers. Why not serve punch out of a fish aquarium? Other beverages can be housed in jugs or old bottles and labeled “potions.” Use laboratory instruments, such as petri dishes, vials and beakers, to serve snacks. 

A Halloween party makes for a fun night, and there is no limit to what hosts can do when planning their scary soirées. 

Tips on Carpet From Ihab at Chic Floors

Carpet Advise from Ihab with Chic Floors 

Carpets provide both practical and aesthetic appeal inside a home. In winter, carpets help keep homes warm, and the right color carpet can add to design schemes. 


While rugs may have originated in the Far East, North America also has some rich carpet history. According to The Carpet and Rug Institute, the United States carpet industry began in 1791 when the first woven carpet mill opened in Philadelphia. Others soon followed suit. Tufted carpets and machine-powered manufacturing helped churn out yards upon yards of carpeting, making it a popular, affordable and common addition to homes, especially after the post-World War II housing boom.


Carpeting remains a go-to flooring material in modern homes. In fact, many homes offer a blend of both carpeting in some rooms and different flooring choices in others.
Upon choosing carpet, it is important that homeowners follow some guidelines to prolong a carpet’s longevity and maintain its style. The following are some common carpeting dos and don’ts.


DO consider the room’s purpose and foot traffic before shopping for carpeting. Make a list of the attributes desired (e.g., soundproofing, easy care, high pile) and present these to the salesperson so he or she can help you make the best choice.
DON’T rush into flooring choices. Unlike paint colors, flooring materials are more permanent choices that are only updated every several years or more. Weigh all of your options before diving in.
DO consider conservative colors and styles. Neutral hues and patterns will blend better with furniture options. This means you can change furniture out and still keep the existing carpeting, which complements any new pieces. Also, if there’s a chance you might sell your home in the near future, buyers tend to look for a neutral color scheme they can make their own.
DON’T skimp on padding to save a few dollars on the carpet installation. The carpeting needs a solid foundation to last and look its best. Inadequate padding can lead to extra and noticeable wear and tear. Invest in a good foundation for the carpeting, like firm, dense padding in high-traffic areas.
DO become knowledgeable about different carpet styles, such as frieze, Berber, Saxony, textured, and more. This will help ensure you make the most educated decision.
DON’T purchase at the first store you visit. Shop around to investigate different pricing and specials. Also, consider the professionalism and expertise of the staff responsible for carpet installation. High-cost carpet may not look very good if it isn’t installed correctly.
DO stain-protect rugs and carpeting, which can help repel stains that would otherwise become permanent and can prolong the longevity of the flooring.
DON’T forget to vacuum carpets frequently to prevent ground-in dirt and debris.
DO pick textured carpets to conceal footprints and vacuum track marks.

Chic Floors is located on 4711 Louetta Road Suite 120 in Spring Texas 77388 

832-299-6432

WWW.ChicFloors.com

 

Boost energy at the office

Maintaining energy throughout the workday can sometimes be difficult. For busy professionals, compromised energy levels can be especially problematic, causing workers to fall behind and maybe even forcing them to work extra hours just to catch up.
While infrequent days of low energy should not pose too great a threat, working professionals who routinely find their energy levels sagging by the end of the workday might want to take certain steps to boost their energy and ensure their productivity doesn’t wane.

  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Failing to get adequate sleep can have an adverse impact on your career. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, failure to get enough sleep, even for just one night, can impair a person’s ability to function by affecting his or her ability to focus and access high-level cognitive functions. A panel of experts from sleep, anatomy and physiology, as well as pediatrics, neurology, gerontology and gynecology  convened by the National Sleep Foundation in 2015 recommended adults between the ages of 26 and 64 get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Make a concerted effort to get more sleep if you’re falling short of those recommended guidelines.
  • Eat a productivity-friendly lunch. If afternoons are when your productivity really starts to drop off, it might be time to reconsider what you eat for lunch. The body, which converts the foods we eat into glucose that energizes our brains and promotes alertness, processes different types of foods differently. So the food you eat for lunch may affect your energy levels for the rest of the day. For example, eating pasta provides a quick burst of energy because pasta releases glucose quickly. But that burst is often followed by a noticeable downturn in energy levels sparked by fading glucose levels that make it difficult for the brain to focus. In contrast, fruits and vegetables aid in the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps the brain stay motivated and engaged. Including some fruits and vegetables in your lunch or snacks may just lead to a more productive workday.
  • Squeeze in a midday workout. Numerous studies have shown the many benefits to daily exercise, but professionals may not know that exercise can help improve their productivity at the office. A 2005 study from researchers at the then-named Leeds Metropolitan University in England asked 200 workers to answer questions regarding their productivity on days when they exercised at lunchtime and days when they did not exercise. Sixty percent said their job performance, including their ability to meet deadlines and manage their time, improved by a considerable amount on the days when they exercised. 
  • Limit caffeine consumption. According to the Mayo Clinic, consuming more than 500 to 600 milligrams of caffeine per day can contribute to insomnia and lead to feelings of nervousness, restlessness and irritability, among others. While that afternoon cup of coffee might provide an immediate jolt, it could be contributing to sleeping problems that will affect your productivity in the days to come. 

Make the most of sale season

Fall can be an ideal time of year for homeowners to tackle home improvement projects, as the moderate temperatures make for ideal conditions to work in and around the house. In addition, many retailers offer consumer-friendly sales in autumn, helping homeowners to save money.
As early as September, many stores begin stocking their shelves in advance of the holiday season. As a result, stores look to unload summer and fall seasonal items. The following are just a few types of items homeowners might find at reduced prices this fall.

Lawn and garden
If you want to revamp your backyard, wait until late summer or early autumn to do so. At this time of year, you can find great deals on patio furniture, lawn mowers, perennials, shrubs, sheds, and many other lawn and garden items. In addition, check with local contractors to see if they will offer discounts late in the season. Tree-removal companies, landscapers, fence installers, masons, and others may cut prices in mid- to late-autumn as they look to earn a bit more money before the arrival of winter. 

Cooking appliances
Manufacturers typically introduce new stoves, cooktops and other cooking supplies in advance of the holiday season. Older models may be discounted to make room for the new arrivals, and you may be able to score even bigger savings on floor models. If renovating the kitchen is in the works, wait until early autumn to start appliance shopping.

Painting supplies
The weekends surrounding Labor Day and Columbus Day are also great times to find deals on home improvement, as retailers know customers have extra time to complete projects during these long weekends. Paint, rollers and other supplies may be discounted on such weekends, and you also may find discounts on power tools. 

Vehicles
If you are in the market for a new SUV or truck to transport your home improvement project supplies, autumn is a good time to visit a dealership. Many dealerships liquidate their inventory in autumn to free up space for new model releases about to hit the market. Come autumn, you may find it easier to negotiate financing and leasing deals.
Homeowners can save on home improvement projects and other needs by taking advantage of late-summer, early-autumn discounts. 

How to create a great study environment at home

A student’s academic performance is influenced by a host of factors, including the learning environment both inside the classroom and at home. While students may have only limited control over the environment in their classrooms, they and their parents can do much to create home study environments that are conducive to learning.

  • Create a “distraction-free” zone. Today’s students are inundated with distractions. Whereas students were once most distracted by radios, televisions and the great outdoors when studying at home, nowadays kids must also find time to focus on their studies with their tablets and smartphones just a stone’s throw away. When choosing a study area at home, parents can designate a “distraction-free” zone where no televisions, radios, tablets and smartphones are allowed. Children are increasingly dependent on their smartphones and tablets, and while such devices can sometimes prove useful to students, that benefit is often outweighed by the distraction they present. When kids study at night, be sure they turn off their smartphones and only use their tablets as study aids.
  • Emphasize organization. Various organization techniques can help kids be more efficient when studying. Encourage kids to separate their learning materials by subject, and keep a calendar or daily planner at home listing when their assignments are due and which days they will be tested. Encourage youngsters to keep their home study areas tidy as well, as unorganized areas can make it harder to focus or force kids to spend some of their study time cleaning up.
  • Establish quiet hours at home. Quiet hours at home while kids are studying can help them better absorb their coursework, and that may lead to improved performance in the classroom. While it’s important that a kids’ study areas remain distraction-free, it can also help if distractions outside those areas are minimized. Keep televisions and other potentially noisy distractions turned off while kids are studying. If you want to catch up on a favorite television show or watch a movie, do so on your tablet instead of the television, connecting earphones so kids are not overhearing anything while they’re trying to study.
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand. Hunger can be just as distracting as electronics or noisy housemates, so keep healthy snacks on hand. In lieu of unhealthy fare like potato chips or empty calories like pretzels, keep your home stocked with fruits and vegetables and protein-rich snacks like Greek yogurt. Such snacks will quell kids’ hunger pangs while also providing a boost of energy.

A strong home study environment can help students do their best in the classroom. 

Guide to end-of-summer sales

Labor Day is marked by mixed feelings. Come the end of summer, vacations may be coming to an end as children ready themselves for a new school year. But shoppers know the end of summer is an ideal time to find great deals on an array of items. 
Although back-to-school sales flood the marketplace this time of year, plenty of other sales take place in the final weeks of summer — and consumers can save substantial amounts of money if they know where to look. Especially this Labor Day weekend! 

Outdoor furniture
As stores clear out their seasonal items, shoppers can score big deals on patio sets and other outdoor furniture. Retailers need to make room for snowblowers, rakes, shovels, and holiday merchandise, so shoppers are bound to find discounted tables, chairs, fire pits, umbrellas, and chaise lounges. Individuals can use this opportunity to update worn-out patio furniture and other seasonal items they can store over the winter.

Camping/hiking equipment
Only the most devoted campers camp out when the temperatures begin to dip, so consumers can use this opportunity to grab camping equipment before it’s gone for another season. Tents, flashlights, cooking gear, backpacks, outdoor recreational items, such as kayaks or fishing tackle, water bladders, and heaters may be available at steep discounts.

Grills
Backyard barbecues are a staple of summer. If your barbecue or outdoor cooking equipment experienced heavy use throughout the summer, now is a great time to shop sales on grills and outdoor cooking gear. 

Travel
Consumer Reports says that prices tend to drop on airfare, hotels and theme parks after Labor Day. Deals on luggage also can be had once summer travel season ends. Tuesdays are a great day to book airline tickets because they tend to be cheaper on Tuesday than other days of the week. Travelers can use this information to their advantage, booking trips to destinations that have super weather throughout the fall, such as Hawaii or the Mediterranean. Caribbean destinations also are good choices, though travelers should consider travel insurance to protect against hurricane-related cancellations. 

Vehicles
Many dealerships tend to begin discounting cars when new models begin to debut in August and September. The longer a dealership holds on to a vehicle, the more money it tends to lose. Prospective car buyers may be able to negotiate a good deal this time of year, ultimately walking away with a brand new vehicle with a solid warranty. It’s not unheard of to receive a discount of 15 percent or more on previous year models.

Spa treatments
Many spas have begun discounting massages and facials at the end of summer, according to the International Spa Association. Shoppers can use this opportunity to try out new spas and save some money in the process.
In addition to these discounts, bathing suits, summer clothing, lawn and garden equipment, and pool/spa items may be discounted come the fall.

6 ideas for rainy summer days

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Summer vacation means spending time outdoors and enjoying sunny skies. But not every day will be sunny and clear. For those banking on spending long summer days outside, rainy days can put a quick damper on those plans. However, poor weather doesn’t have to diminish all of the fun. The following are some go-to ideas that can keep summer vacationers happy even when the rain is falling.

  1. Visit area museums. It’s probably been a while since you’ve looked at the sights in your hometown, and rainy summer days provide the perfect opportunity to take them in from a tourist’s perspective. If you are away from home when the rain starts to fall, inquire about any unique indoor activities the area has to offer. Hotel lobbies and concierge offices typically have lots of brochures advertising nearby activities.
  2. Do a scavenger hunt. Make up clues and hide a prize to be discovered at the end of the hunt. Scavenger hunts can keep children or adults occupied until the rains subside.
  3. Have an indoor campout. If weather cancels your plans to camp out under the stars, pitch your tent indoors and camp under the ceiling. Tell scary stories and tinker with s’mores recipes to make your indoor camping seem more like the real thing. 
  4. Stock up on board games. Board games are the original boredom-busters. They’re portable, and they can quickly turn a rainy day into something much more tolerable. Up the ante and have winners from each game compete against one another in a game of a different type.
  5. Head to the theater. Catch that summer action flick or curl up next to a sweetheart and watch the latest romantic comedy. Some movie theaters even offer discount tickets at certain times during the summer.
  6. Don’t be afraid of the rain. Unless you’re a certain witch with a wicked streak, chances are you will not melt in the rain. Summer rain actually can be refreshing, so put on your rain jacket and enjoy a stroll or even find a way to have fun in the rain. It’s alright to get messy during a rainy day volleyball or football game. Just be sure to run inside the moment you see any lightning. 

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Fun ways to stay cool

Summertime heat can affect energy levels and take their toll as heat waves overstay their welcome. Days upon days of rising mercury require enterprising individuals to find ways to stay cool.
Summer heat and humidity can be both daunting and dangerous. People who are unable to cool down and stay hydrated run the risk of heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include a body temperature of 104 F or higher and feelings of confusion. The Mayo Clinic notes that heat stroke also may cause slurred speech, irritability and even seizures. Heat stroke is often identifiable by an absence of sweat, a rapid pulse and headache.
Staying cool should be a top priority when temperatures become extremely hot. Fortunately, there are fun ways to stay cool and beat the summer heat.

  • Visit the beach. Head to the seaside for a day of enjoyment on the coast. Temperatures tend to be cooler at the water’s edge, and there may be a nice breeze blowing in. In addition, you have water from the ocean, bay or lake to refresh you. Always use ample amounts of sunscreen and reapply often. Invest in a beach umbrella or pop-up tent that can shield you from the harsh rays of the sun. Bring a folding kiddie pool for young children and fill it up with ocean water close to your beach blanket so you can keep a close eye on youngsters as they do their best to stay cool.
  • Get wet in creative ways. Water balloon fights can be fun, and there are many additional and clever ways to get wet and cool off. If you have a trampoline, set a sprinkler or hose to mist and let the kids jump while getting wet. Jumping, in turn, will cause extra splashing. Give little kids a regular spray bottle they can use to spray plants, outdoor furniture, toys and even themselves. They’ll have a good time and stay cool in the process.
  • Transform your backyard into a waterpark. An old tarp coated with a little dish soap and water can make an impromptu water slide. Set up an obstacle course outdoors where kids must run through sprinklers, jump through hoops and dive into the pool. The more variety you can create, the more likely kids will forget the heat and have fun.
  • Set up an ice-cream making adventure. Invest in an ice cream maker and spend a particularly hot day making your own flavors. When the ice cream is set, create a fixings bar with sprinkles and toppings. 
  • Take a trip to the movies. Movie theaters often set their air conditioning systems to arctic levels, which can be just what the doctor ordered on a steamy day. Plan an excursion to the movies, taking advantage of matinee prices where available. 
  • Visit an indoor ice rink. What better way to stay cool than to spend an afternoon ice skating? Channel winter temperatures during the heart of the summer heat. Remember to dress warmly as it will be cold indoors, and have a change of clothes ready when it’s time to head back into the summer heat. 

How to choose the right backpack

Upon hearing the word “backpack,” people naturally think of back-to-school season, when throngs of children board buses and head to classrooms across the country. However, the backpack need not be pigeonholed into such a narrow stereotype; there are many different uses for backpacks.

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Outdoor enthusiasts, particularly hikers and day-trippers, rely extensively on backpacks. Backpacks facilitate the transporting of supplies and other necessities, but not every backpack is the same, and some are more applicable to certain tasks than others. Choosing a backpack requires careful consideration, and the following tips can help consumers make the best choice. 

  • Identify its potential usage. What will the backpack need to do? Will you be hiking the mountains and looking for a lightweight pack to carry small supplies, or are you planning to camp out and need something capable of carrying larger items? Discuss your needs with a store employee when shopping for packs.
  • Choose the right volume. Backpacks are sold by volume, or how much stuff they can carry. This is measured in liters or square inches. The liter size may be included right in the product name. According to Eastern Mountain Sports, between 15 and 30 liters is good for day hikes or school usage. An overnight or weekend trip likely will have to be between 30 and 55 liters in volume.
  • Determine torso size. Whichever backpack you choose, it needs to fit you comfortably. That means measuring your torso length to find one that will sit on the right area of your back. The torso length on the pack will equate to the distance between the shoulder straps and where the pack hits your hips. For packs with hip straps, the right length will ensure the hip straps can fit comfortably in this area. Some packs are sold with an adjustable torso size. Some manufacturers also size packs specifically for women’s frames.
  • Decide if framing is necessary. After you have decided on size, you need to assess other features, including internal and external frames. External frames are original style, classic packs. Internal frame packs tend to be lighter and have a lower profile. If you need to maneuver through some tight areas, an internal frame pack might be best. Frames in packs help you carry more, and you can even strap things to the outside of the pack, says Backcountry, a gear and outdoors resource.
  • Consider additional features. Packs come with various features, including load-lifter straps and sternum straps, that can help balance the load and put less strain on your back. Also, choose shoulder straps that curve anatomically to fit the body closer. A ventilated back panel can help reduce sweating and protect your back from pointy gear.

In addition to these tips, consider if you want your pack to be waterproof and to have internal and external storage pockets or other pouches for carrying smaller items. For more help, speak with an outdoor gear retailer.

Transition your wardrbobe from one season to the next

People who put a lot of thought into their wardrobes know that one of the challenges presented by the changing seasons is figuring out what to wear and when. For example, as spring transitions into summer, the occasional chilly day is to be expected, removing summertime attire like shorts and sleeveless shirts from consideration.

Such sudden changes can be problematic, as not everyone has the room to store multiple seasons’ worth of clothing in their closets and drawers. Yet, with a little ingenuity, men and women can make their seasonal wardrobe transitions a little easier.

  • Layering: Layering is the key to keeping comfortable no matter the weather. Layering enables you to take off layers or put them on as needed. Lightweight sweaters or blazers can be worn over short sleeves or sleeveless ensembles when temperatures have yet to reach their midday highs. Layers also can prove invaluable in office settings where the air conditioning may make working environments especially chilly. Leggings can be worn under skirts or dresses and then removed as temperatures rise.
  • Long-sleeved shirts: Keep a few long-sleeved shirts at the ready. Simple sleeve length can mean the difference between comfort and discomfort. Covering shoulders and/or arms with a lightweight top also can protect against the rays of the sun. Choose among your most versatile long-sleeved shirts, meaning basic colors that will blend well with any outfit.
  • Bright colors: Bright colors go hand in hand with warm weather. Keep bright-colored items you typically wear during other seasons so they can be paired, if necessary, with summer staples. This may include a thick sweater for cooler nights on the beach or trousers for formal evenings out on the town.
  • Maxidresses: When shopping, invest in maxidresses. They’re easy and cool for hot days and nights, but they also can be refashioned if you wear them with long sleeves or knit sweaters. When covering up, use a waist-cinching belt or scarf to add structure to the look.
  • Vary shoes: While flip-flops and other sandals may be summer staples, have a few other pairs of more traditional shoes at the ready as well. One can get away with boots with a maxi-dress. Ballet-style slippers are delicate enough for the season and provide extra foot coverage for comfort. If you walk a lot, look for shoes with structure, as summer footwear tends to provide less support than footwear worn during other times of the year.

Transitioning clothing from one season to the next takes a little ingenuity. While it may not require a person to keep all of his or her clothing out of storage, transitioning from one season to the next may require reserving a couple of versatile items that can be worn throughout the year.