Consumer Real Estate News

    • Why You Should Test a Few Paint Colors Before Choosing One

      22 April 2021

      The colors that you see on paint cans or cards in a store may not reflect the way the paint would look on your walls under different lighting. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a few samples and test them all in your home before you make a choice.

      Lighting and Décor Can Impact Perception of Color
      The lighting in a room will influence the way you see a paint color. Even if you use the same paint and the same number of coats on each wall, the shade on one wall may look different than those on other walls depending on the way light hits each section of the room. Those differences may be more pronounced than you would expect.

      Natural lighting can change throughout the day, and the types of artificial lights, their locations and the brightness of the bulbs can affect the way the paint color looks. The furniture, curtains and artwork in a room can also affect your perception of paint colors and may therefore influence your choice. It’s important to take all those factors into account.

      How to Choose a Color
      Get at least three paint colors that are close to what you want. You can paint sections side by side on a wall to see differences between the shades and make comparisons. Make the sections at least 1 square foot and use two coats of paint. Painting swatches on walls that get different amounts of natural light and arranging furniture, lighting and other décor the way you plan to have it after you finish painting can help you see how everything looks together.

      If you would rather not paint directly on the walls, you can paint sample boards or sample sizes of drywall and tape them to a wall. One of the benefits of that approach is that you can easily move sample boards from wall to wall to see how colors look under different conditions.

      Don’t Rush to Make a Decision
      Think about when you are most likely to be in the room and the amount and type of lighting that will be present. If you will spend a lot of time in the room during the day, focus on how each paint color looks in differing amounts of natural light. If you plan to use the room more at night, pay attention to how artificial lighting influences the way you perceive each color. Taking your time will help you be confident that you’re making the right decision.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 6 Foods That Can Help You Shed the ‘Quarantine 15’

      22 April 2021

      If you are one of the millions of Americans who have been working remotely, missing the gym and snacking for the pure comfort of it during the months of coronavirus chaos, you may be among those who’ve packed on 15 pounds or more.

      If you’re looking to drop the weight now, as the world tilts back to normal, you need to get those steps in, add some cardio exercise and eat healthy foods known to be fat-burners.

      • Avocados - In addition to their high complement of antioxidants, copper, magnesium, manganese, niacin and riboflavin, avocados are full of healthy fats—the kind that helps your heart and may increase the rate at which body fat is burned. The high-fiber content also keeps you full to help reduce your appetite.
      • Eggs - Remember all the bad press egg yolks once got? As it turns out, not only is there no established link between cholesterol in foods and cholesterol levels in your body, but the yolks contain metabolism-boosting nutrients that can help reduce both body fat and bad cholesterol. Plus, they’re low in calories and high in protein to fill you up and promote muscle growth.
      • Beans - Besides being high in fiber and protein, beans, especially white and kidney beans, contain resistant starches that can potentially increase the amount of fat used for energy and prevent new fat cells from forming.
      • Blueberries - Berries are loaded with vitamin C, potassium and fiber. The latter will help fill you up without extra calories. Studies have shown that blueberries, in particular, may affect genes that regulate fat burning and fat storage, possibly due to their high levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins. Blueberries can also help lower cholesterol and control glucose levels.
      • Fish - Fish including salmon, tuna, cod, herring and sardines, are chock full of vitamin D. That’s key because D intake has been linked to weight loss in many studies. Fish are also a lean source of protein that is rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
      • Cardamom - A spice available ground or in pods, cardamom is known to reduce bloating and curb cravings. Studies also suggest it can boost metabolism and reduce water retention. Its melatonin content also encourages the burning of fat. Add it to soups, stews, fish and more.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Advice on Confusing Tax Situations Created by the Pandemic

      22 April 2021

      (Family Features) In 2020, Americans experienced firsts across virtually every aspect of life. Now, with an extended tax deadline of May 17 approaching, the implications for such an unusual year have some people wondering how all those changes might affect their tax refund.

      From job loss to new tax breaks for unemployment benefits, plus three economic stimulus payments, many Americans will see an impact to their tax refund. According to a survey by H&R Block, most tax filers have more questions about taxes than they did last year. The No. 1 concern on most taxpayers’ minds is how stimulus checks will impact their refunds (52%), followed by questions related to unemployment.

      If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you can find answers to some of this year’s most pressing tax questions with help from the experts at H&R Block.

      Stimulus Payments
      The first thing to know about the 2020 stimulus payments is they are not taxable income, so you don’t need to report them as income on your tax return.

      However, some life changes could mean even more money for you through the Recovery Rebate Credit. If you added a child to your family in 2020 or you’re filing taxes for the first time on your own, not as a dependent, you may be eligible for an additional stimulus payment when you file your return. 

      There’s also good news if your stimulus payments were too high because your income increased, or your kids turned 17 in 2020. You do not have to repay any overpayments and your refund won’t be reduced. 

      For the third stimulus payment, there are two ways you could receive additional stimulus money. Depending on when or if your 2020 tax return was processed, your third stimulus payment might not have reflected a new child or significantly lower income from 2019 to 2020. This could be fixed through a “plus up” payment later this year or on your 2021 return. For the “plus up” payment, the IRS will re-determine your eligibility for an additional payment after you file your 2020 tax return. If you are due more, you’ll receive another payment from the IRS for the difference. 

      When you file taxes next year, you could receive an additional payment on your tax return with the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit if in 2021 you have a child, your income drops significantly or you file for the first time.

      Unemployment Income
      The American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in March gave tax breaks to the record number of people who received unemployment income in 2020. You can exclude up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits as income if your household income is less than $150,000. 

      If you already filed your 2020 taxes and your return included unemployment income, there is no need to file an amended return in most cases. In May, the IRS will begin calculating and issuing refunds for overpayments.

      However, because everyone’s situation will be unique, this benefit may make some people eligible for additional credits or deductions, including the Earned Income Credit. Working with a tax professional to evaluate if you have become newly eligible for a credit or to understand if your state tax return(s) will be impacted will help you know what actions you may need to take to ensure the best tax outcome. 

      Newly Self-Employed
      Many Americans got creative to overcome uncertainty in 2020 and generate more income. You may not realize it, but if you earned money through gig work last year, like driving for a ride-sharing app, you’re likely self-employed. 

      It might surprise you to learn that unlike a paycheck from an employer, no taxes are withheld from income received from gig work. That means federal income taxes and self-employment taxes are due on your self-employment income and you are responsible for paying estimated payments or face penalties. Working with an H&R Block tax pro can help you understand your situation, explain the outcomes and help plan for the year ahead. 

      Getting Help
      With so many changes in the past year and many people experiencing firsts like unemployment or gig work, it is important to understand your situation and file an accurate tax return. Getting help is easy with H&R Block, whether you prefer filing on your own or working with a tax pro – virtually, online or in-person. If you’re used to meeting your tax professional in person but want to stay socially distant, there are digital tools available. 

      You can drop off documents at a local office or send scans or photos of essential documents, and when forms are finished, you can review and approve them online. You can also use the myBlock app to get updates on your tax return, to connect with a tax pro year-round, explore mobile banking and plan for next year.

      Visit hrblock.com for more help navigating this tax season.

      Get Answers to Your Tax Questions
      Andrew East, a former professional long snapper in the National Football League, and now entrepreneur, husband and father, has partnered with H&R Block to help answer questions tax filers may have this tax season. 

      “Making sure people have access to financial information and being able to help bridge the gap between what they don’t know and need to know is so important to me,” East said. “Filing taxes can create a lot of confusion and uncertainty for many, especially during a year when so many people’s lifestyles have changed. H&R Block can help reduce this uncertainty and build confidence by helping filers through digital experiences blended with human expertise and care.”

      For answers to more tax filing questions, visit hrblock.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Go Gluten-Free With Family Favorites

      21 April 2021

      (Family Features) Time available to cook, your family’s preferred dishes, ingredients you have in the pantry – there are plenty of considerations that may limit your options for an at-home menu. Add in a gluten allergy, or simply a desire to avoid it, and it may feel impossible to appease everyone.

      However, all it takes is simple ingredient swaps to turn a family favorite into a gluten-free recipe. From pizza at dinnertime to a chocolatey dessert, these dishes offer easy, flavorful ways to make your menu gluten-free. 

      A Healthier Homemade Pizza
      Creating a gluten-free dinner can be as easy as tweaking some of your loved ones’ favorite meals. Even pizza can offer a gluten-free solution when you rethink the ingredients included. 

      Satisfy your family’s needs with an option like Toufayan Gluten-Free Wraps in place of traditional crust in this Gluten-Free Barbecue Skillet Pizza. Made from wholesome, all-natural ingredients with no cholesterol or trans fats, these easily foldable wraps are available in four flavors, making them perfect for homemade pizza. 

      Visit Toufayan.com to find more mealtime solutions. 

      Gluten-Free Barbecue Skillet Pizza
      1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
      1 Toufayan Gluten-Free Original Wrap 
      3 tablespoons gluten-free barbecue sauce
      4 cooked sausage links, crumbled
      2 cups diced Mozzarella cheese
      2 tablespoons chopped green onion
      fresh Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
      fresh fennel fronds, for garnish (optional)
      crushed red pepper, for garnish (optional)
      salt, to taste
      pepper, to taste

      Heat oven to broil.

      Heat cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 teaspoons olive oil; spread to cover bottom of skillet.

      Place wrap in skillet, brush with barbecue sauce and add sausage, Mozzarella and green onion.
      Fry 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom of the wrap is golden and crispy.

      Place the skillet under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

      Remove from broiler, place on a cutting board and sprinkle with Parmesan, fennel fronds and crushed red pepper, if desired.

      Season with salt and pepper, to taste; drizzle with remaining olive oil, cut and serve. 

      Dish Up a Dynamic Dessert
      Going gluten-free isn’t just for meals from breakfast to dinner – you can cut gluten from delicious desserts, too. 
      This Cookie Brownie Supreme calls for layers of cookie dough, cookies and brownies for a taste bud tempting way to round out a meal with those you love. One of the key ingredients is Goodie Girl Chocolate Creme Sandwich Cookies, made with real cocoa and a sweet cream filling between two chocolate wafers.  They’re made without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives for a gluten-free, vegan and peanut-free treat. 

      Find more varieties and dessert ideas at goodiegirl.com. 

      Cookie Brownie Supreme 

      Cookie Dough Layer:

      1 stick softened butter
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1/4 cup sugar
      1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
      1 egg
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour 
      1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

      Cookie Layer:
      25 Goodie Girl Chocolate Creme Sandwich Cookies

      Brownie Layer:
      1 stick butter
      1 1/2 cups sugar
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      3/4 cup cocoa powder
      3 eggs
      3/4 cup gluten-free flour 
      1 teaspoon baking powder
      6 Goodie Girl Chocolate Creme Sandwich Cookies, crushed
      1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
      vanilla ice cream (optional)
      chocolate syrup (optional)

      Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Prepare a 9-by-9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. 

      To make cookie dough layer: In a large bowl, combine softened butter, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla. Mix with a handheld mixer until combined and creamy. Add egg and beat until combined. 

      In a small bowl, combine baking soda, salt and flour. Beat flour mixture gradually into sugar mixture. Once completely combined, fold in chocolate chips. Add cookie dough layer to bottom of prepared pan and spread evenly.

      To make cookie layer: Layer cookies on top of cookie dough layer. 

      To make the brownie layer: In a saucepan, melt butter, sugar and salt until completely combined. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add vanilla, cocoa and eggs; mix. Slowly add flour and baking powder. Mix until completely combined. 

      Pour brownie mixture over the cookie layer. Spread evenly. 

      Top with crushed cookies and chocolate chips.

      Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Slice and top with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup, if desired.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Reduce Clutter in Your Kitchen

      21 April 2021

      The kitchen is likely a place where members of your family spend a significant amount of time. It’s used for cooking and eating, and sometimes for working and doing homework. The kitchen therefore tends to attract and accumulate a lot of clutter. Here are some tips to help you tidy your kitchen and keep things organized.

      Ask Yourself What Is Truly Necessary
      Many homeowners have all sorts of kitchen tools and appliances that they bought themselves or were given as gifts. Often, people only use a fraction of what they own and the rest may take up valuable space. Go through your kitchen and sell or donate things you don’t use. Weeding out the items that you don’t need may free up a lot of usable space that you can use to more effectively organize what you have left. 

      Assign a Home to Everything That Belongs in the Kitchen
      The kitchen tends to be a place where people put things down when they come home. Your kitchen is a place to store items that you use for cooking and eating. It’s not a place to put your keys, mail, shoes and other items. Find places for those things in other parts of the house and designate a spot for every item that belongs in the kitchen. 

      Keep the Counters as Clear as Possible
      Clutter on the countertops can make the entire kitchen seem messy and disorganized. Clutter can also reduce the amount of available workspace and make it more difficult to cook. 

      Only keep things that you use regularly on the counters. For example, a cutting board and utensils can be kept out since those are items you use to prepare most meals. Small appliances that you use less often, such as a blender, can be stored in a cabinet and taken out as needed. Create an organizational system for cabinets and drawers and consider hanging pots and pans on wall hooks to take advantage of other available space.

      Clean and Put Things Away Immediately
      After you use something, put it back where it belongs right away or put it in the dishwasher or laundry basket, when appropriate. After you get the amount of an ingredient that you need, put the rest back in the refrigerator or in a cabinet. 

      Don’t leave an item on a counter or in the sink and tell yourself you’ll take care of it later. That’s how large messes get started. If you get in the habit of putting things back where they belong as soon as you finish using them, you will be able to prevent constant clutter.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.