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3 great reasons to finish your basement



Are you wondering whether to invest time and money into finishing your basement? Here are three good reasons to go for it.

1. To lower your heating and cooling bills
An unfinished basement is often uninsulated, making the rest of your house more difficult to heat and cool. Since a key step to finishing a basement involves insulating the walls and floor, a positive side effect of undertaking this project is having a comfortable temperature throughout your home.

2. To expand your living space

Whether you want to make a playroom for the kids, an office for you, or a home theater for the whole family, the basement is the perfect location. If space allows for it, you can also convert it into a small apartment, which might be ideal for your adult children or elderly family members.

3. To add value to your property
If you decide to sell your home, a finished basement typically provides a 50 to 75 percent return on investment. In addition to the increase in value, your property will likely be more attractive to potential buyers.

Keep in mind that renovating a basement may not be as expensive as you think. This is because you can choose different materials than those used in the rest of your home. In fact, the same hardwood flooring that’s ideal for a living room is a terrible option for a basement due to the higher risk of moisture problems.

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4 tips to broaden your child’s palate



If your child’s a picky eater, getting them to try new dishes can be a challenge. Here are four things you can do to gradually increase the number of foods they’ll eat.

1. Serve new foods on a regular basis
It may take several attempts before your child gets used to a new taste or texture. If they don’t enjoy a particular food you serve, incorporate the ingredient into another recipe or cook it a different way next time.

2. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment

Threatening to withhold dessert unless your child eats a particular vegetable, for example, can pit one food against another and reinforce their preference for the high-fat, high-sugar option.

3. Be patient and a role model
Pressuring your child to try new foods can actually make them more resistant to eating. If your child pushes their plate away, just leave it in front of them. They may be inclined to try a new dish if they see you enjoying it.

4. Introduce new foods incrementally
At every meal, include at least one healthy food that you know your child enjoys. This can help make the new ingredient more tempting or at least ensure your child eats part of their meal.

Finally, a positive dining environment can contribute to your child’s enjoyment of food. Eat your meals as a family, turn off the TV and other distractions, and take time to ask your child about their day.

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Time for furnace inspections



A little frost on the pumpkin will call for some heat in the house. So before the chill hits, inspect your furnace, especially if it burns fossil fuel.

All appliances that burn propane, natural gas, wood, or heating oil, are potential sources of carbon monoxide (CO) leaks. CO, a colorless, odorless gas, is produced by incomplete combustion of fuel.

A qualified technician can check your heating system for these problems: A cracked heat exchanger, inadequate fresh air, blocked chimneys or flues or blocked appliance vents.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a form of slow suffocation. The gas attaches itself to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood. The blood carries less oxygen and the body suffocates. CO poisoning symptoms begin with sluggishness and headache. Later there is dizziness and loss of consciousness.

Although CO poisoning has been getting a lot of publicity lately, the fact is that CO poisoning leading to death is unusual. In fact, in the U.S. (with a population of more than 250 million), there are only 800 to 1,000 people who die from it each year, according to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Nonetheless, if you use any appliance that burns fossil fuel, a CO detector is a good idea. Be sure to buy an Underwriter Laboratories approved detector that has some following features:

* An audible alarm.

* Power-on light.

* A manual reset button to silence the alarm briefly.

* Test button to verify that it works.

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3 great reasons to dine locally



Whether you opt for table service, takeout or delivery, ordering dishes from your neighborhood restaurant can be beneficial. Here are three reasons to enjoy your next meal from a local eatery.

1. To support your community
Small family-run restaurants rely on people like you to prosper. When you choose to order from the pizzeria around the corner, take your partner to the bistro down the road, or hire a local caterer for your next event, you help ensure the businesses in your neighborhood continue to thrive.

2. To give yourself a break

Restaurants can offer you a well-deserved break when you don’t know what to cook or simply want a night off from washing the dishes. The opportunity to sample various types of cuisine and witness the passion of local chefs can also rekindle your love of cooking and inspire you to make meals using seasonal ingredients.

3. To satisfy everyone at the table
Ordering from a restaurant is a simple way to guarantee the entire family gets to eat what they want. Even restaurants that specialize in a particular type of cuisine offer varied menus. There’s sure to be something for everyone.

With so many advantages, there’s no need to wait for the next special occasion to treat your family to a lively night out or a relaxing night in.

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4 ways to be a good neighbor



Whether you share a fence or a wall, it’s in your best interest to cultivate amicable relationships with your neighbors. Here are four ways to get you started.

1. Introduce yourself
Be sure to greet your neighbors the first time you cross paths. Tell them your name and wish them a good day. These simple pleasantries set the right tone and may eventually lead to longer exchanges.

2. Offer your help

It’s a simple phrase: “If you need anything, just let me know.” While they might never take you up on the offer, it’s comforting to know there are people around willing to lend a hand.

3. Be discreet
Chatting with your neighbors is fine, but be careful not to hover or overstep your welcome. You should also be considerate when it comes to hosting gatherings and playing music.

4. Show goodwill
If tension builds between you and a neighbor, try to resolve the issue with a calm discussion before you call your landlord or the police. This approach is more likely to gain their cooperation.

Keep in mind that a good relationship with a neighbor might one day become a genuine friendship.

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Fall in love with the outdoors this autumn



From the golden hue of cornfields to the vibrant red of forest foliage, there’s immense beauty to be found in the fall. Are you ready to make the most of the season? Lace-up your hiking boots, put on a comfy knit sweater and set out to explore the wilderness.

Breathe in the crisp air and admire the changing scenery as you stroll through local green spaces. Gather your thoughts alone or enjoy the company of family, friends, or a pet. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are landscapes to discover by bike, car, motorcycle, or horseback.

From vineyards and orchards to mountain trails and lakeside parks, there’s no shortage of breathtaking backdrops for outdoor activities. Remember to slow down and take your time. Pack a picnic, unwind with a novel, ease your mind with meditation or fill the pages of a sketchbook.

Whether you’re a novice or dedicated birdwatcher, be sure to also listen for the signature calls of geese and other migratory species. Watch as they soar far overhead by the hundreds — a hallmark of this transitional season.

By the time you settle in for the evening with a bowl of hearty root vegetable stew or a warm mug of cider, you’ll have no doubt that fall is a magical time of the year.

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Unique finds from local artisans



The next time you want to treat yourself or someone special, consider choosing an item made by a local artisan. Here are some tips to help you find original, hand-crafted products.

What to look for
Artisans work in a variety of different mediums including wood, glass, leather, ceramic, metal and textiles. The kinds of products that these materials become, however, is limited only by the artisan’s imagination. Here’s just a sample:

• Jewelry (bracelets, rings, pendants, and earrings)

• Clothes and accessories (hats, belts, handbags, and shawls)

• Decorative art (paintings, sculptures, candles, and mobiles)

• Homeware (furniture, quilts, ceramics, and cutlery)

Where to shop
Artisans tend to be resourceful individuals, and they have multiple ways of showcasing their products. Here are some places you can find their wares:

• Online. Most local artisans have an online shop you can order from. Alternatively, they may sell their products through a digital marketplace like Etsy.

• Consignment shops. These stores sell a variety of products made by local artisans, which means you can often find an interesting assortment of goods and specialty items.

• Craft fairs and markets. Events like these are a chance to meet local artisans in person and learn more about their trade.

So, why settle for mass-produced items when you can purchase one-of-a-kind products made with love? Shop for local artisanal goods today.

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