5 Steps That Can Improve Your Credit Score in 100 Days or Less

Low interest rates, a strong economy and the turn of the seasons are all causing the real estate market to heat up. More homes on the market bring more competition to buy the inventory that is out there. And one way to stand apart from other buyers who are vying for their dream home is to take steps to improve your credit score now.

“Preparing your finances is a must before the busy real estate season,” says Barrett Burns, president and CEO of credit score model developer VantageScore Solutions. “Knowing your credit scores and making improvements is essential to getting the best loan at the best rates. This also makes you a more attractive home buyer, especially in a competitive market.”

With limited time, you may think there’s nothing you can do to improve your score. Burns says that’s an incorrect assumption. While you can’t make dramatic jumps in just a couple months, there are several steps you can take that may influence your score to increase enough to get you prequalified for the loan you want.

Keep in mind, lenders will pull your scores from all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), so it’s wise to check your credit report from each of them. You can do so for free once every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. For best results, monitor at least one credit score from each of the bureaus. You also can check your credit score for free through a large number of online services, such as CreditKarma.com, NerdWallet.com or Credit.com. Other sites offering free VantageScore credit scores can be found at VantageScore.com/free.

Once you have your reports in hand, you can take steps that may have a positive impact on your scores.

Step 1: Check for errors

A credit report gives a comprehensive list of your lines of credit and payment history. The first step is to review your credit report for errors and take steps to make corrections, including past and present names, loan amounts and credit cards in your name.

When checking your credit score, bear in mind that some differences in credit scores across bureaus is normal. But if one of the three credit scores is an extreme outlier, it could be worth double-checking your credit report from that bureau to make sure it doesn’t reflect any questionable or erroneous activity.

Step 2: Don’t miss a payment

Creditors are interested in seeing how you manage credit, and the consistency of behavior counts. You should always pay at least the minimum amount due on bills on time every month. An easy way to ensure you don’t miss a payment is to sign up for automatic bill pay when available.

Step 3: Lower credit utilization levels

Credit utilization is the ratio of a credit card balance to the credit limit. If your balance is $5,000 and your credit limit is $10,000, then your credit utilization for that credit card is 50 percent. In general, a good credit utilization is less than 30 percent, so if you have a higher ratio, consider using your tax refund to pay down this debt.

Step 4: Don’t close old credit cards

If you have a credit card that is no longer used but was previously paid off on time each month, don’t close the account. Not only is this good for your credit utilization ratio, but it also is another indicator you’re a responsible candidate for a loan.

Step 5: Don’t apply for new credit

Avoid applying for any new credit, such as an auto loan or a new credit card account, between now and the time you will close on a home purchase. Lenders considering your loan application request your credit score from one or more credit bureaus. And these lender “inquiries” are recorded with one or more of the three national credit bureaus, which may lower your credit score by 10 to 20 points. The score decreases typically only last a few months, as long as you continue to make payments on time. But unless they’re absolutely necessary, try to avoid additional inquiries until after you’ve secured your mortgage.

If you follow these five steps, you may see an increase in your score within a few months so you can get a loan and be an attractive buyer when it comes time to put in a bid for your dream home.

Keep in mind, the more you can put toward the down payment, the more instant equity you’ll have, the lower your monthly payment will be, and the better your chances are of not needing private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly payment.

Plus, if you’re able to put down more than a lender requires, a mortgage company may be willing to give you a pass on other issues on your application, such as a less-than-stellar credit score. (BPT)

Easy Breezy: 5 Ways to Make Summer Lawn Care Projects Easier

Summer is here and your lawn is a source of pride. However, it can also be a source of hard work, sweat and even frustration. So ask yourself this question: Would you be interested in maintaining your yard’s beauty with fewer headaches?

If the answer is yes, then you’re in luck, because this article is all about helping you find ways to maintain a beautiful lawn without all the unnecessary effort. Apply these five tips today and you’ll have more time to enjoy your well-cared-for yard.

  • Be smart about seeding. The dog days of summer are not the ideal time to reseed your lawn, so don’t waste the effort. Seed growth is more successful during cooler months, so if you didn’t seed in the early spring, wait until later in the season before doing so. You’ll get the same results without wasting the effort on an inefficient seeding.
  • The perfect cut. Your lawn is the centerpiece of your yard, and nothing improves its overall appearance like the perfect cut, especially when that cut comes easy. Greenworks 60-Volt Mower is a lithium-ion battery-powered mower that eliminates the need to mix and pour gas, letting you put that time back into making your lawn look great. Finding the perfect cutting height is easy with its seven different blade positions, while Patented Smart Cut Technology maximizes run-time by keeping the blade speed at an optimal level based on the thickness of the turf.
  • Water smart. Just as with seeding, successfully watering your lawn is all about timing. And, like seeding, dragging a sprinkler around your yard during the peak hours of the day will result in the water you expend being burned off before it does any good. To make the most of your watering sessions, water your lawn at dawn or dusk when temperatures are cooler. This increases the possibility that the water will stick around long enough for the grass to absorb it.
  • Trimming made easy. A well-cut lawn is perfectly complemented by manicured bushes and shrubs, and tackling these tasks with the Greenworks 60-Volt Cordless String Trimmer and Hedge Trimmer is easy. Each tool utilizes push button start technology, eliminating the need for pull cords, while the battery-powered brushless motor offers an environmentally friendly, gas-alternative, and neither lacks for power or options. Tackle large projects with the string trimmer’s 16-inch cut path or use the hedge trimmer’s lightweight, rotating handle to reach every angle and you’ll get the perfect trim in no time.
  • Add mulch to control weeds. The most beautiful planting beds lose their luster if their base is crowded with weeds. To eliminate this problem — and to save on the wear and tear of pulling the weeds yourself — add a 4-inch layer of mulch to the top of your beds. This mulch blocks out the sun, making it hard for weeds to grow. It also reduces your need to water these beds by slowing water’s evaporation rate.

Summer is here, and while your lawn care is ongoing, there’s still plenty of time to make those chores more efficient to benefit yourself and your lawn. To learn more about the lawn care tools available from Greenworks, visit www.greenworkstools.com. (BPT)

Julia Faye West, There’s Something About Her That Just Stands Out!

We’re pleased to feature in our May / June Issue, an Exclusive Feature on the amazing woman who is Julia Faye West.

May / June 2017 Issue of InFluential Magazine Starring Julia Faye West.

May / June 2017 Issue of InFluential Magazine Starring Julia Faye West.

Written by William Jackson, our Chief Business Officer, the Exclusive takes an inside look into the life of Ms. West.  There’s something about Julia Faye West that just stands out.  In the flesh, Julia is so much more than beautiful.  She sparkles and is simply breathtaking, yet her beauty is not the only quality which shines. She exudes confidence and a sense of humor which is refreshing and endearing.

Read our Exclusive Feature with photography from the great Brian B Hayes, here.

Julia Faye West. Photography courtesy of Brian B Hayes.

We invite you to our May / June Issue and hope you come away InSpired, InFormed, and InLivened.

Julia Faye West.  Photography courtesy of Brian B Hayes.

Julia Faye West. Photography courtesy of Brian B Hayes.

The Mess is the Best: Cooking with Family Creates Lifelong Memories

Preparing a family dinner doesn’t have to be a solo chore when there are helping hands nearby. Getting the kids involved in the kitchen not only teaches them valuable lessons, but it’s also an opportunity to create fun family memories with a few spills and messes along the way.

There is no doubt that splatters, splashes and spills are a mess, but these messy moments can lead to laughter and unforgettable memories. To encourage families to make time for fun in the kitchen, Prinze Jr. has created a series of “Messipes,” kid-friendly messy recipes that are tasty, simple to prepare, with handy cleanup tips along the way.

“One thing I’ve learned from cooking with my kids is to appreciate the time spent together and not worry about the mess,” he says. “Of course, the clean-up has to happen at some point, so I like to add a few cleaning steps to encourage my kids to help while we’re in the kitchen.”

A trick he uses is to ask the kids to fill a large bowl with warm water and a few drops of dish liquid, such as Palmolive Ultra Strength, to quickly cut through the grease. Then, the kids help by collecting the used dishes and place them in the bowl to make cleanup easier.

The first step to family fun in the kitchen is selecting the “Messipe.” One of Prinze Jr.’s favorite “Messipes” is: The Sauce. This tasty tomato-based sauce has enough steps and ingredients to get the whole family involved, yet it is also easy to make and delicious.

“Between the prep, taste tests, stirring and adding the Parmesan cheese at the end, the whole family works together,” he says. “This time spent with family is just as good as the meals we make.”

The Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground veal or beef

4 ounces diced pancetta

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup red wine (something you would drink)

3 small to medium cloves of garlic

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 box or can (26 ounces) tomato sauce

1 box linguine

Instructions:

1. Start off with a clean slate. Ask the kids to quickly help empty the dishwasher and sink to de-clutter the kitchen. Before you start cooking, have the kids guess how long they think the “Messipe” cleanup will take and time it. The winner gets to try the first bite!

2. In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium low heat.

3. Add your diced pancetta to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.

4. “Messipe” moment: Roll up your sleeves, it’s time to get messy! In a bowl, take turns mixing the veal and pork with washed, clean hands. Add your salt and pepper, then add to the pan, browning the meat with the pancetta. Stir occasionally, with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, breaking the meat up as you go.

5. Increase the heat to medium and add the wine, simmering until it reduces by half.

6. Add the garlic, parsley, basil and tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.

7. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more (aka walk away till it’s done). Take turns tasting for salt and pepper and serve hot. “I like to pair the sauce with linguine pasta — and it’s also my kids’ favorite,” Prinze says.

8. Cleanup tip: If sauce spills, quickly drop some flour on the spill to stop the spill from spreading. This way, you can keep cooking and not worry about cleaning up the mess right away. When you’re ready, fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of Palmolive Ultra Strength dish liquid. Let the kids squirt the bottle over the mess … or maybe even at each other!

For more kid-friendly “Messipes” and cleanup tips, visit www.facebook.com/palmolive. (BPT)

Gather the Family in the Kitchen for a Magical Mother’s Day

She’s your biggest fan and the one you call whenever you need advice. Moms should be celebrated every day of the year, but there’s no better time to show her you care than on Mother’s Day!

This year, rather than going with the tried-and-true gift of flowers and chocolate, surprise Mom with a day of activities she’s sure to remember for years to come. Esteemed celebrity chef and Iron Chef America judge Donatella Arpaia says to make Mom smile, turn to the kitchen for food, fun and a dash of love, and follow these five tips to create new Mother’s Day traditions:

Tip 1: Find activities for the entire family to actively partake in.

“Start Mother’s Day off right with breakfast in bed,” says Arpaia. “Try something new this year that the entire family can indulge in together — my ‘Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza’! It’s absolutely delish and you can personalize it to reflect Mom’s favorite ingredients. Also, don’t forget her favorite coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. It’s all about the details for Mom’s special day!”

Tip 2: Create divine dishes by stocking up on delicious ingredients and storing them correctly.

“If you have little helpers assisting with the preparation of Mom’s breakfast pizza, assemble ingredients ahead of time and store them in the LG InstaView Refrigerator’s Door-in-Door compartment, which makes them easily accessible without having to open the entire fridge,” says Arpaia. “You can also knock twice on the glass InstaView panel and it lights up, letting you see what’s inside without having to open the door and helping you keep your prized cooking ingredients front and center. Go the extra mile and write simple recipe instructions on Post-it notes for your little ones. This will make them feel so proud knowing that they made breakfast themselves … with a little help from Dad.”

Tip 3: Make sure your kitchen is well-equipped.

The right tools — including your appliances — not only make cooking more fun, but also allow novice chefs to cook like professionals in their own homes. “Make technology work hardest for you, even in the kitchen,” says Arpaia. “Think like a chef and choose appliances that make every meal unforgettable. I am loving LG’s ProBake Convection ovens because the heating element can be found on the back wall versus the bottom, guaranteeing even cooking on every rack, every time. Your breakfast pizza will definitely come out crispy and delicious when baked using ProBake Convection technology!”

Tip 4: Relax, enjoy a slice and give the gift of time.

“As a busy, working mom, what I treasure most is a day without cooking and cleaning — and simply being present with my family,” says Arpaia. “After making breakfast pizza for Mom, give her the gift of your time and engage in your favorite family activity. Keep technology at bay — unless it’s in the kitchen working for you! Go for a hike, play a board game, relax and enjoy! It’s essential to slow down and savor those sweet moments with your whole family.”

Tip 5: Give her a gourmet experience with a celebrity chef-approved recipe.

To really wow Mom, Arpaia developed a Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza recipe you can bake at home. Given her success with the Prova Pizzabar restaurant in NYC, Mom is certain to be impressed.

Donatella Arpaia’s Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza

Ingredients:

1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature (store bought or recipe for dough attached)
1/4 cup prepared pesto
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
1/4 cup thick chunks of ham
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
Parmesan cheese, to taste

Directions:

About 30 minutes before baking the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 F and place a large, rimless baking sheet in the lower third of the oven; for the most even cooking and optimal heat distribution, use an LG ProBake Convection oven. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a work surface and dust the parchment lightly with flour.

Stretch dough using hands or rolling pin. Pierce the dough firmly all over with the tines of a fork.

Slide pizza with parchment onto a baking sheet, then slide it onto the hot rimless baking sheet in the oven.

When the dough is slightly puffed, at about 7 minutes, take out of oven and spread on pesto mixture, top with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan and ham. Be sure to keep your toppings stored in a secure compartment separate from the main refrigerator, like the LG InstaView refrigerator’s Door-in-Door; this provides easy access to your ingredients without having to open the entire fridge and ensures they stay fresh while prepping. Place back in oven for another 3 minutes until cheese is melted. Slide pizza out, crack four eggs (one on each quarter of pizza), place back in oven and broil for about 4 minutes or until egg cooks to over easy (LG ProBake Convection will ensure consistent heating on the top and bottom of the pizza pan).

Grab the edge of the parchment and transfer the pizza from the oven to a cutting board, again using a rimless baking sheet or back of a rimmed pan to facilitate moving it. Drop ricotta cheese by rounded teaspoonful over top, cut and serve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Donatella’s Homemade Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

2 3/4 teaspoons fresh yeast or active dry yeast
4 1/8 cups fresh water
2 3/4 tablespoons sea salt
12 1/3 cups type “00” flour
Olive oil

Directions:

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand until the yeast is creamy, about 1 minute. Stir until the yeast dissolves. In a large bowl, add the sea salt, yeast mixture and the flour; stir until a soft dough forms.

Transfer the dough ball to a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Lightly coat another large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap and store someplace warm; let rise until it doubles in size, about 6 hours.

Shape the dough into a 20-ounce ball. Place the ball on a nonstick surface or parchment paper, and then cover with plastic wrap, allowing room for the dough to expand. Let the dough rise until doubled, 8-12 hours.

Rest the dough in the LG InstaView refrigerator’s Door-in-Door compartment for 2-4 hours. Knock twice on the refrigerator’s glass panel to keep tabs on its progress without opening the fridge door, reducing cold air loss to keep the dough fresh. Your homemade dough is now ready to be baked. Remove dough and allow it to come to temperature for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to as high as it can go for 15 minutes. Take sheet pan tray and spread thin layer of oil all over. Put some flour on your hand and stretch dough on table, then transfer into tray and press the dough further into shape of pan. Drizzle dough with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. (BPT)

The Richardson at Tarrytown Announces May 25 Grand Opening

As published by the PR Boutique.

Exclusive Rental Community is One of a Kind in Central Austin

Austin-based developer Burlington Ventures announced the grand opening of its exclusive rental residential community, The Richardson at Tarrytown, on Thursday, May 25.

“The Richardson is a sophisticated boutique-style rental community that is the only one of its kind in Central Austin,” said Burlington Ventures President Steve Beuerlein. “We are providing a much-needed living option for maturing residents of the area who want to stay in Tarrytown, but desire stairless living, an array of amenities and an escape from the burdens of home ownership.”

Exterior

Exterior

Designed by the award-winning Austin-based architectural firm Dick Clark + Associates, The Richardson is located at 3215 Exposition Boulevard in the heart of Tarrytown. It is the only rental community of its kind in the central part of the city, offering superior quality and sophisticated design in the architectural spirit of contemporary Austin. Residents will enjoy carefree, stairless living in an urbane environment, all within a short distance of Tarrytown’s coffee houses, shops, grocers and more, and within close proximity to MoPac, downtown, The University of Texas, Lions Municipal Golf Course, Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, Seton Medical Center and a host of other prime Austin destinations.

Birds Eye View of the Pool

Birds Eye View of the Pool

The Richardson offers nine distinct one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans ranging from 1,209 to 2,957 square feet, all set in a park-like setting with lush landscaping and native plants. The single-level, open floor plan designs feature great rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto private balconies, solar shades, hardwood flooring throughout and custom tile flooring in bathrooms. Most residences boast large custom kitchens with quartz countertops, counter-depth refrigerators, built-in gas ranges, wall ovens and microwaves, under-counter wine refrigerators, and full-size washers and dryers. Each residence is fully accessible from the parking garage via elevator.

Unit D - Calacatta

Unit D – Calacatta

Burlington Ventures planned The Richardson with an active, sophisticated, hassle-free lifestyle in mind. The central amenity deck features an outdoor kitchen with gas grill, seasonally heated pool, outdoor fireplace and dog park for pet-lovers’ use.  The club room’s accordion glass doors open onto the outdoor amenity deck, providing a relaxing setting for gathering with family and friends, with a full kitchen, large-screen television and conference room at residents’ disposal. The fitness room is appointed with state-of-the-art equipment carefully selected by a local trainer to enable challenging, full-body workouts.

Unit F

Unit F

The Richardson’s cast-in-place concrete construction, floor plates and high-density wall insulation result in virtually zero noise transfer between homes. Energy-efficient, multi-zone HVAC systems allow residents to vary temperature by zone. Low-energy LED lighting delivers superior color rendering and boosts energy savings. Additionally, common area energy needs are supplied by rooftop solar panels.

The Richardson is now accepting leases for move-in dates beginning in June. Residents will enjoy the security of controlled-access parking garage with high-speed roller doors, electric vehicle charging station, mudroom with integrated dog-wash station, and direct elevator access to all floors from the garage. A variety of storage options are available, including climate-controlled wine cellars, and secure bike storage. A “Luxer One” secured parcel locker system enables convenient access to postal deliveries 24/7.

Reservations are now being taken for rental residences at The Richardson at Tarrytown. Only 27 exclusive rental homes are available, with leasing prices ranging from $3,300 to $8,800 per month.

“Once people get a look at these beautiful rental homes and are able to envision themselves leading The Richardson lifestyle, these 27 units will go fast,” said Beuerlein. “We are excited about meeting our new residents and beginning long, positive relationships with them and the Tarrytown community.”

You’re Invited to the Peninsula at Rough Hollow Austin Parade

Legend Communities and Crescent Communities today announced The Peninsula at Rough Hollow will host the spring Spring 2017 Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Austin Parade of Homes™. 

The Spring 2017 HBA Parade of Homes™ will take place at The Peninsula at Rough Hollow May 12 through May 29. The annual event showcases the newest trends in construction, building design, interior décor and landscaping in one of the nation’s most vibrant real estate communities. This year will mark the third Parade of Homes tour to be held within Rough Hollow over the past 10 years and by far the most anticipated showing due to The Peninsula’s spectacular views of the Hill Country and Lake Travis. 

The tour will feature five custom-built homes by award-winning builders specifically chosen for the event—Arbogast Custom Homes, Jenkins Design + Build, Lake Travis Builders, Laurel Haven Homes and Triton Custom Homes Inc. During the tour, the homes will be open 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays and Memorial Day, May 29.

4 Simple Steps to a Lawn Mower Tune-up

You rely on your lawnmower to run all season long, and a little bit of time spent tuning your mower engine in spring can help keep it running at its peak performance.

A simple tune-up on a walk-behind mower can be done in 20 minutes or less and, if you do it yourself, is a cost-effective option. The key is having the right supplies on-hand. You may need a new air filter, spark plug, engine oil and fuel treatment. One simple way to take care of this task is with Briggs & Stratton’s all-in-one tune-up kit that has everything you need included.

You’ll also want to keep your operator’s manual handy. If you don’t know where yours is, many engine manufacturers make it easy to find the right one from the comfort of your own garage by visiting their websites.

There are four simple steps to keep your walk-behind mower humming:

  1. Change the oil. The easiest, most mess-free way to get rid of old oil is with an oil removal kit so that you won’t have to tip your mower over to drain the oil. As an added bonus, most local power equipment dealers make recycling your old oil easy. Simply drop it off in a closed container and they’ll take care of the rest.
  2. Replace the spark plug. Replacing the spark plug takes only minutes and helps ensure easy starts and smooth operation. Start by disconnecting the spark plug lead then clean the area around it. Remove the old spark plug with a socket wrench and install the new one, being careful to not over-tighten. Then simply re-attach the spark plug lead, checking the manual to make sure that the spark plug is gapped correctly.
  3. Clean or replace the air filter. Some types of air filters need cleaning, while others need replacing. Determine which type your mower uses and make sure to take care of it. A clean air filter helps keep dirt and debris out of your engine.
  4. Treat your fuel. Gas can go stale in as little as 30 days, which can clog and damage engine parts. Add a fuel treatment and stabilizer to keep gas fresh and protect your engine. Always use fresh fuel treated with a fuel stabilizer when filling your equipment’s fuel tank.

Find more tips for lawn mower maintenance, including common questions and solutions, at briggsandstratton.com, plus take a quiz to test your maintenance IQ at quiz.youpowered.com. (Family Features)

Recycle what? 5 Tips for Recycling Bathroom Products.

Most of us are used to recycling at home, but specifically in the bathroom? Not so much. However, your bathroom is home to a number of recyclable products, from shampoo and mouthwash bottles to bandage and tissue boxes. With families as busy as they are, it’s no wonder bathroom recycling is far from top of mind. A recent survey done on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. found 60 percent of moms wish they remembered to recycle more.

The more you know about what’s recyclable, the easier it is to incorporate it into your daily routine. So, this Earth Day – and every day – care for the planet the way you care for your family by following these five simple and creative ways to recycle and reuse your empty bathroom products.

1. Get a bathroom recycling bin.

Sixty percent of moms report they would be more likely to recycle bathroom products if they had a recycling bin in the room. Starting April 9, head to CVS.com/caretorecycle to learn how to get a bathroom recycling bin with qualifying purchase from Care To Recycle, a program of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. that provides fun tips and tools to increase recycling of personal care products. With a handy bin nearby, you’ll never have to think twice about recycling in the bathroom.

2. Make your own recycling bin.

A majority of moms (75 percent) believe that showing their kids how to place recyclable products in the appropriate bin is a teachable moment – and there’s no reason why teachable moments can’t be décor-friendly! There are plenty of quick and easy DIY hacks, from using a wicker basket to decorating a plain trash bin with wrapping paper that matches your taste.

3. Involve your kids.

Seventy-four percent of moms agree that involving their kids in their to-do lists helps them get more done, and 61 percent would be more likely to recycle if their kids helped out. You can start by creating a recycling chart that rewards kids with fun, earth-friendly prizes like camping or picnics when they remember to recycle in the bathroom.

4. Get crafty.

For items that can’t be recycled, instead of tossing them, why not remake them into something special? The Care To Recycle Pinterest page has fun and beautiful upcycling projects, like creating luminaries out of moisturizer jars, vases out of makeup remover bottles, and much more!

5. Create friendly reminders.

Two out of three moms admit to taking on too much during the day, and 80 percent report that forgetting tasks is a normal part of being a busy parent. Try leaving a framed note on your bathroom counter, or task your kids with creating a creative poem to help remind you (and your family and guests) to recycle every day!

By following these five simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to making bathroom recycling part of your family’s daily routine – and helping to raise the next generation of recyclers. Whether it’s Earth Day or any day, programs like Care To Recycle can offer inspiration for fun, creative ways for the entire family to reuse or recycle your bathroom products. Visit www.caretorecycle.com for more ideas. (BPT)

4 Design Upgrades for a Spring Refresh

With warm weather knocking at the door, it’s time to rejuvenate your space and rid the home of winter clutter. While it may be the perfect time of year for a refresh, it can be challenging to find exciting new ways to decorate. With top design trends in mind, here are four simple solutions to spring into a new look this season.

Mixed materials

To entertain the eye, coordinate mixed materials and beautiful textures in unexpected ways. From a warm Champagne Bronze finish juxtaposed against matte white tiles, to espresso-stained wood contrasted with clean marble, this trend is all about bringing the unexpected together to create a unified design aesthetic. Quick refreshes to any room can include accessories such as modern paintings or wall planters and potted succulents. These quick additions serve as simple ways to complement what is already in the room, eliminating the need for a full redesign.

Global inspiration

As an increasingly connected society, incorporating design inspiration from around the globe has become an ever-present trend that is sure to make an impact. Influenced by the most cosmopolitan cities around the world, the Pivotal single handle bath faucet serves as a beautiful centerpiece for the vanity. With clean lines and contemporary form, this collection is perfectly suited for all generations and all style preferences – from millennial to baby boomer. While simple in design, Pivotal makes a bold, modern statement with its sleek handles and angular spout. To further amplify the contemporary aesthetic, focus on simplicity by installing mirrored cabinets to store toiletries. For a more traditional look, pair a stainless faucet finish with warm cabinetry such as toasted almond oak.

Wallpaper wonder

For people who choose to rent instead of purchase, creating the warm, comfortable environment we all know and love can be a challenge. Removable wallpaper is a great way to implement a design refresh and make a temporary space feel like home. The beauty lies within the name – it’s removable! Intricate designs and lively patterns are now easily accessible; perfect for an accent wall that needs a pop of color. If you yearn for a new design, simply remove the existing paper and replace with a new pattern.

Bejeweled beauty

This spring, channel your inner artist and incorporate a sense of vibrancy into living spaces. Jeweled tones are experiencing a resurgence this year, proving there is no better way to energize a space than with a brilliant emerald green or a lively turquoise accent. If the idea of painting a room is too daunting, opt for smaller updates that bring a punch of color. Thrift stores are great places to find unique accessories or that perfect piece of furniture, such as an ottoman or tufted bench that can be re-covered with a rich magenta or sapphire blue fabric. These easy art projects serve as a great afternoon project that can refresh a neutral space. (BPT)