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Leisure activities: the key to a happy retirement

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Are you approaching retirement? You need to start thinking about what you’ll do with the priceless gift of time that you’ll be receiving. To fully appreciate this new stage of your life rather than dreading it, you just have to be well prepared. So take stock of your interests, and take control of the situation now by listing all the activities you would like to indulge in when you’re well rested.

Fun activities
Consider a variety of activities that you can do alone, as a couple, with family, or friends. This is a great opportunity to take up knitting in order to relax, try new restaurants with your spouse, go to shows or sports events with the family, or contact friends you haven’t seen for ages. Quilting, poker, reading, golf, movies, jigsaw puzzles, hiking, museums—the possibilities are endless and so you’re sure to find a hobby that is in tune with your interests.

Classes for enriching the mind
You never had time to pursue your passions? The time has come to remedy the situation; take a class in music, art, sports, computers, language, cooking, or sewing. Take classes to develop a long-neglected talent, to perfect an art that you’ve already familiar with, or to get acquainted with a new discipline.

Discussion groups
Will you miss all those discussions with your work colleagues? Join a group to share your passions or just to meet people and exchange ideas and opinions. You might want to join a book or bridge club, a bowling or hockey league, or do lawn bowling or sing in a choir.

If you take the time to plan your leisure activities, your retirement will be relaxing but never boring!

Make the most of your retirement by planning some leisure activities.

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Time for furnace inspections

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Are you uninsured or under-insured?

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Life comes at you fast. In your youth at the peak of your health, in middle age, at the height of responsibility, what if an accident or illness took you off the family map? We all know it can happen and few think it will.

As a matter of fact, about 40 percent of people have no life insurance at all. Of the people with life insurance, about half are under-insured.

But the cold fact remains: What happens to your family if you die? Will they be able to afford the house? How will their lifestyle change? Who will support the family? How will they support the family?

Life insurance answers many of those questions — and it answers them affordably.

The least expensive form of life insurance — term insurance — is very inexpensive. A healthy 30-year-old can get $250,000 of insurance for about $15 per month. The earlier you buy term insurance, the less expensive it is and many policies don’t even require a health check.

Many people have life coverage at work, but this should be reviewed because it may not be enough. Primary breadwinners should have coverage equal to six to 10 times their annual incomes. Term policies usually cover only your working life.

Whole life is another kind of life insurance. Unlike term policies, it covers you for life, as long as you make payments. It also has the benefit of building cash value. Although most experts say it shouldn’t be considered an investment, if you get a big policy at a young enough age, and keep it until retirement, you could have a nice nest egg to tap into at retirement. Whole life policies can also be cashed in by your Power of Attorney for some part of the face value if you enter a nursing home, for example. It could be considered a small inheritance. Whole life policies usually require a medical exam and are unlikely to cover smokers.

Many websites compare the costs of life insurance options.

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