Creating a Spa Oasis

(Family Features) Transforming your bathroom into a personal home spa allows you to come home to a relaxing environment every day. By making space and removing clutter, along with adding decorative touches, you can achieve a stylish spa-like atmosphere in the comfort of your own home.

Whether you enjoy the understated, nature-inspired colors or the calming atmosphere, a spa-like bathroom can be beautiful, welcoming and relaxing. Escape the ordinary with these cabinetry ideas from the experts at Wellborn Cabinet.

Float your vanity

When it’s time to retreat, a spa-like bathroom promises sanctuary in its design. Floating vanities mount directly to the wall, providing more floor space and creating a streamlined look. By mounting the vanity to a wall, the space is broadened, naturally making the bathroom look and feel larger while also allowing the homeowners to customize the height.

Although the aesthetic benefits often come at the cost of limited under-sink storage space, this potential pitfall can be overcome with a customizable U-shaped drawer option designed to fit around the sink plumbing in your bath, allowing you to use all that under-counter space.

Clever, concealed storage

Style and functionality combine in bath cabinets and vanities designed to create your own private retreat where your space is serenely ordered and uncluttered. Common amongst spa-like bathroom styling is a clutter-free space, and in doing so, everything is hidden behind the cabinet doors, making storage solutions vital.

To get the spa-like bathroom look, consider adding organizational solutions like a tiered spice rack, sliding shelves and vanity appliance pullouts from Wellborn Cabinet. A tiered spice rack keeps your cabinets organized and makes your morning routine easier. Sliding shelves can make your mornings less hectic with a gentle pull that brings bath essentials right to you. Conveniently store hairstyling tools in one location without compromising design or space with a vanity appliance pullout.

Incorporate ample lighting

Design with relaxation in mind; the calm, warmer natural-color tones and ambient lighting help lend a relaxing vibe. Cabinet lighting adds depth, dimension and visual interest to a bathroom. An ideal lighting design goes beyond a centralized ceiling fixture and includes multiple layers of light.

Lighting in the bathroom is essential; illumination for everyday tasks can make your bath appear larger, add warmth and set the right mood. It may also be designed to tuck cleanly inside and under cabinets to provide well-placed light without visible fixtures or distracting wires.

Infuse natural elements

Nature can be infused into the design by playing on textures with metals, earthy color tones, the graining in the cabinetry and the addition of a subtle waterfall separating the his-and-her vanity to provide a relaxing retreat. For example, Wellborn Cabinet’s Biscotti Cherry and Terra Oak embossed melamine show off the wood-graining to highlight the natural aspects of the wood.

For more bathroom remodeling ideas, visit wellborn.com.   (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Wellborn Cabinet

Making the Back-to-School Transition Easy from Kindergarten to College

It’s time to get your household organized for another school year and all that comes with it.

Whether your child is headed off to kindergarten or going away to college, these useful tips can help make the transition back to the regimented school year easier and get your busy household organized for the upcoming season.

Kindergarten

  • Tour the school. It is important to visit the school with your kids so they can get familiar with their new environment.
  • Meet the teacher. Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher and discuss the best ways to communicate with him or her throughout the school year. Some teachers prefer to keep the conversation going through email while others are more casual and utilize phone calls or in-person meetings.

Elementary School

  • Get into a routine. Set your kids’ sleep schedules back to “school time” at least two weeks before the first day.
  • Get your kids involved in sports or other activities they can do after school to keep them active. An option like ‘all Free & Clear Liquid Detergent can help you remove stains while still being gentle on skin.

Middle and High School

  • Have a conversation about technology. In thisday and age, it’s nearly impossible to avoid tech. Many students probably have schoolwork that requires use of the internet. It’s important to have a conversation with your children about reducing time spent on their laptops to educational purposes during the week.
  • Keep track of everyone’s schedule. There are plenty of free family calendar applications available for smartphones and other devices that can help you keep up with all members of the family and stay organized.

College

  • Simplify the laundry routine. When it’s your child’s first time living on his or her own, you’ll want to do everything you can to make things easier. Consider detergent pacs like ‘all Free & Clear Mighty Pacs Laundry Detergent, which fights tough stains while also being dye- and perfume-free, hypoallergenic and gentle on skin.

By implementing some of these simple tips, you and your kids can look and feel your best, setting up a seamless, stress-free transition back to the school year. Find more information at all-laundry.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
‘all

Get the Most Out of Your Benefits Enrollment

A lackadaisical approach to benefits enrollment could leave you short on coverage or end up costing you more than it should. Gathering information and making time to thoroughly consider your options and needs can help ensure you’re getting the best value from your employer’s benefits package.

Approach this year’s open enrollment with these tips from the experts at Colonial Life in mind:

Take life changes into account. A major event like a birth or marriage makes you eligible to adjust your benefits between enrollment periods, but there are many other factors that may affect your coverage needs. For example, you may not bother with dental coverage for a newborn, but once that child has some teeth and is mobile, it’s a good idea to add coverage in the event a fall damages a tooth.

Be conscious of changes. It’s quite common to allow your benefits to renew automatically when the enrollment period rolls around. This can create problems as plans and coverages often change from year to year. Deductible amounts, office visit co-pays and even categories of coverage can shift from one year to the next. Even if there aren’t changes to the coverage, there may be a new pricing structure or additions to coverage that could benefit you.

Dedicate some time. When signing up for benefits for the first time, most people spend at least a little time reviewing each plan option. If you have your premiums deducted from your paycheck automatically, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to your benefits, especially if you’re relatively healthy. Open enrollment is the time to give them more than a passing thought.

A survey by Colonial Life showed 69% of employees spend less than 60 minutes learning about their benefits choices, but that limited time commitment can ultimately affect overall job satisfaction.

“This can be a huge problem for both employees and their employers, because a lack of engagement with the benefits program leads to lower morale and higher turnover,” said Steven Johnson, vice president of enrollment solutions at Colonial Life.

Instead of a cursory flip through the materials, dedicate some time to thoroughly review all the information and make notes about areas you have questions.

Discuss your options. Benefits can be complicated, and there are a lot of terms and jargon in the insurance world that can make it hard to understand exactly what your benefits will cover. That’s why it’s a good idea to sit down with a knowledgeable benefits counselor to discuss your family and personal financial situation.

Technology may be king for many aspects of life, but the survey found just 11% of employees name the internet as the place they turn to learn about benefits during enrollment each year. However, 76% of employees turn to humans including HR professionals, coworkers, family and friends.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for benefits, but a one-on-one counseling session can help simplify the entire benefits process. A private consultation may help you understand how each benefit election impacts your paycheck, as well as simplifying complex benefit concepts, answering your questions and walking you through the enrollment process.

Learn more about how to maximize your benefits at ColonialLife.com.

Benefits Glossary

To gain a better understanding of your benefits, these definitions from HealthCare.gov can help you identify and recognize some common terms.

Benefits: The health care items or services covered under a health insurance plan.

Coinsurance: The percentage of costs of a covered health care service you pay (20%, for example) after you’ve paid your deductible.

Copayment: A fixed amount ($20, for example) you pay for a covered health care service after you’ve paid your deductible.

Deductible: The amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan starts to pay.

Flexible Spending Account: An arrangement through your employer that lets you pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars.

Health Savings Account: A type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses.

Network: The facilities, providers and suppliers your health insurer or plan has contracted with to provide health care services. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Colonial Life

Tips for Maintaining an Organized Home

This time of year, family life can get a little messy. School schedules and sports activities mix with work commitments, and before long the house is as cluttered as the calendar.

Fall is the perfect time of year to recommit to an organized household so you can keep the chaos contained. With these tips, you can make small changes to help you get organized and stay that way.

Embrace routines. The idea of dedicating large chunks of time to organizing and tidying the house can be overwhelming. However, making time to clean as you progress through the day can help control clutter and keep the time commitment more manageable. Commit to cleaning up the kitchen after dinner each night. Set expectations for kids to pick up their rooms before bed. Before long, routines become productive habits that make a visible difference.

Purge the excess. Over time, nearly everyone collects too much stuff, and clutter is often more an indication of too much volume than poor organization. Items are purchased to replace outdated things, but the old pieces sometimes don’t actually get discarded. Getting control of your clutter starts with eliminating the things you no longer want or need. A good strategy is to create piles of items: keep, sell, donate and discard.

Create a drop zone. In most homes, the entryway is a catchall for family belongings that get shed with each pass through the door. It’s convenient to have shoes, coats, backpacks and other essentials ready to grab as you head out, so instead of fighting the inevitable jumble, find a way to organize it. A stylish drop zone using ClosetMaid’s Space Creations organizers is a solution that attractively contains all those essentials. The line includes a range shelving kits, complementing drawers, baskets, rods and more so you can customize the storage unit to your exact space and needs.

Avoid junk piles. Nearly every home has at least one junk pile, drawer or even room. In most cases, the reason is that the contents are a mish-mash of items that don’t really have any place else to go. Make a point to identify ways to create order, whether it’s adding drawer inserts to contain all the odds and ends or buying a standing file to capture bills and mail.

Be mindful about use. When you’re on a mission to eliminate excess clutter, it can be tempting to go overboard putting things away. It’s important to be realistic about where you store the things you need and err on the side of keeping the things you use regularly within reach. This may mean getting creative about how you organize or even adding new storage containers or furniture, but remember being organized is only helpful if it’s also practical.

Find more ideas for better home organization this busy season at ClosetMaid.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
ClosetMaid

Boat Safe

Ensure your boat is ready for the water with this checklist

No matter how much experience you have on the water, prepping your boat – and your passengers – before leaving the dock can make for a more enjoyable experience.

To prepare for a safe and comfortable trip, review this pre-departure checklist to ensure your vessel is in good working order and well-stocked for the adventure:

  • Documentation – Have all required documentation for planned activities, including boat registration, fishing permits and boater education cards readily accessible.
  • Float Plan – File a float plan with a responsible party who will remain on land. Provide contact info, explain where you’re going, when you intend to return and what to do in case he or she doesn’t hear from you.
  • Weather Forecast – Always check the forecast before you head out on the water. To regularly monitor any changes, keep a handheld radio onboard.
  • Fuel – Before leaving, check that your fuel level is adequate for the trip and that other fluids, like oil and coolant, are at the proper levels.
  • Batteries – Check to make sure the boat’s battery, as well as battery-operated items like flashlights and handheld radios, are fully charged and operational.
  • Lights – Check to make sure you have properly functioning navigation and instrument lights and pack a flashlight, as well.
  • Life Jackets – Ensure you have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device per passenger with a minimum of two onboard. If your boat is longer than 16 feet, you’ll also need a throwable device.
  • Anchor – Keep at least one anchor, attached to an anchor line, and at least two fenders for docking onboard.
  • Bilge – Before launching your boat, ensure the bilge is dry, clear of waste and has a properly functioning pump.
  • Fire Extinguisher – Keep a U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher securely mounted in an accessible place.
  • Distress Signals – Store flares and day signals in a dry, accessible location and ensure all passengers onboard know how to use them. Also have a noise-making device, such as an air horn, bell or whistle, capable of producing a 4-second blast audible for at least 1/2 mile readily available.
  • Tools – Keep a basic toolbox onboard with commonly used tools and spare parts like wrenches, screwdrivers, batteries, fuel filters, hull plugs and light bulbs.
  • First-Aid Kit – Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit – and extra sunscreen – in an accessible location in case of accidents.

Find more tips for safely enjoying time on the water at eLivingtoday.com. (eLivingtoday.com)

SOURCE:
eLivingtoday.com

4 Qualities of a Pet-Friendly City

When pets are present, people and communities thrive. The benefits of pets have long been discussed, but surveys and studies have started to prove their positive impact.

A consumer survey conducted by Mars Petcare revealed that 82% of pet owners believe their furry friends have made a positive impact on their lives. From helping facilitate social connections to increasing levels of daily exercise and improving mental health, pets can make a difference in communities.

As people look to spend more time with their pets, city officials are taking steps to become more accommodating for people and pets.

“We know pets make our lives better and can bring so much to our communities, which is why we launched the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program,” said Lisa Campbell, Mars Petcare director of external affairs. “Through the program, we’ve partnered with government officials and citizens all across the country – providing tools, resources and grant dollars to help make their cities more pet-friendly.”

As part of the program, cities across North America are being recognized for pet-friendly efforts through the BETTER CITY FOR PETS certification, which evaluates cities based on pet-friendliness in businesses, parks, shelters and homes. Consider these ways communities are making pets more welcome:

Shelter Spruce Ups

Pet-friendly cities are attentive to local shelter needs. Offering homeless pets a warm and welcome environment not only improves their quality of life, but encourages pets to relax and show shelter visitors their authentic personalities. An inviting environment can lead to more visits from potential pet owners and engaged volunteers.

Expanding Pet-Friendly Housing

There are more than 85 million pet-owning households in the United States today, but in many cities, pet-friendly housing is difficult to find. In fact, 77% of survey respondents said they would like to see more pet-friendly housing options. By enabling more pet-friendly housing, renters can be more confident in their decisions to prioritize their pet’s needs.

Designated Outdoor Spaces

When you find the perfect home for you and your pet, balancing time spent inside and outdoors is key. In the survey from Mars Petcare, 70% of pet owners said they interact with other pet parents at local pet-friendly green spaces at least weekly. To become more pet-friendly, cities can provide amenities like waste stations and signage to encourage visitors to keep areas clean for fellow community members. Additionally, offering designated green spaces for dogs is a way to give pet owners a place to socialize with their pups.

Welcoming Businesses

Allowing pets on patios and inside stores and restaurants makes spending time with pets easier and more enjoyable, and can increase foot traffic to local businesses. In fact, within the survey, 61% of pet owners said they would stay longer at a bar, cafe or restaurant if they could have their pets with them.

Workplaces, such as Mars Petcare, make it easy to bring pets to work by providing pet-friendly office features and amenities like Wi-Fi-enabled dog parks, furniture with pet-friendly fabric, indoor dog play areas with full-time pet-sitters and outdoor green spaces with pet-friendly landscaping. Find more information at BetterCitiesforPets.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Mars Petcare

7 Ways to Make Your Kitchen a More Personal Space

Written by Kevin Jefferson

Every kitchen needs to have some basic elements such as cabinets, sink, fridge, appliances, etc. and together with the necessity to boost functionality, adding a personal touch to this room can end up being a proper challenge. However, there’s always a way to make your kitchen more personal without making a mess. In case you’re interested in a personal kitchen makeover, the following ideas might come in handy.

1. Play with Colours

There are many ways you could utilise colours in your kitchen to leave traces of your personality and style. For starters, the shades you choose for your walls can make a lot of difference. In case you’re keen on keeping the main elements neutral, you can brighten up the space with vibrant chairs, cabinet hardware, cloths and towels, etc. In case you have a tile backsplash, adding patterned tiles randomly is a great decorative trick. For those of you looking for an impactful and effective yet budget-friendly backsplash solution, you can always go with waterproof vinyl wallpaper.

2. Interesting Lighting Solution

If you find it difficult to spot areas in your kitchen that have more room for personal décor, turn to your lighting. There are so many shade and cover options available on the market these days that you can turn your ordinary kitchen light fixture into a truly amazing and personal statement piece. Obviously, depending on what you want, you can make your lights stand out more or less, but still add a proper personal touch to this room.

3. The Cabinet Design

In case you find your kitchen cabinets a tad boring, you can always transform them, and your kitchen in the process, into something that truly fits your style and personality. The obvious answer is repainting them, but there’s so much more that you could do. Decoupage technique can turn out to be the ultimate makeover solution. You can also opt for an antique furniture DIY. Both of these are great for a more vintage or shabby chic look. With a self-adhesive vinyl wallpaper, you can give a completely new look to your countertops, as well. And if you feel really creative, you can draw or use stencils to add the more personal touch to your cabinetry.

4. Spice Up Your Storage

If you fancy the look of open shelves, you probably keep your spices and teas on there as well. But even if you don’t, you can start by introducing interesting containers such as jars and other personalised boxes where you would keep teas, spices, coffee, etc. instead in their usual cardboard packaging. Transparent jars are definitely the most popular trend but you can also get fully customised ceramic and plastic containers that already have an interesting design.

5. Add Art to Your Kitchen Walls

For those of you lucky enough to have free wall space, gallery walls would be the perfect addition to your kitchen. You can pretty much choose anything you want – and you definitely don’t have to stick to the typical kitchen wall art unless you want to. The eclectic style achieved with different style frames and art in general with regards to the setting is one of the most prominent and unique design ideas that has been trending lately.

6. Feel Free to Mix the Textures

If you wish to introduce more warmth to your kitchen area, mixing the textures is a great idea. The easy way out is to add decorative table cloths, chair cushions and curtains. But, if you don’t mind going all out, you can achieve a truly amazing and personal look by mixing metal, wood, tile, granite and even brick. And since it’s very important to have a functional smoke alarm and top-quality fire ducts for safety reasons, this particular trend can help you make these plain amenities more balanced and minimise the cold and impersonal vibe they tend to give off.

7. Bring in the Statement Piece

There are many items that can end up being your kitchen’s statement piece thus allowing you to add your own personal touch. Actually, statement pieces are especially great for smaller kitchens where you don’t have a lot of room to express your creativity. This can be a really unique DIY for your accent lighting cover but also an interesting piece of furniture such as a dining table if you keep one in your kitchen. Essentially, even a DIY mosaic for the window (you can use small stones and/or coloured glass pieces with glue) in your kitchen can look absolutely amazing and help you create the personal focal point for this room.

As you can see, it’s more than possible to personalise your kitchen space without having to clutter things up. However, it’s important to decide what creative addition you’re going to choose before doing anything else. After all, planning in advance will allow you to make the most out of your particular kitchen, its layout, and its size.

About Kevin Jefferson

Kevin Jefferson

Kevin Jefferson

Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work at PlainHelp.

Judge Tanya Acker is on the Winning Side and That’s Important to Her

Photography courtesy of Annie Shak.

Welcome to our Exclusive Interview with Judge Tanya Acker of Hot Bench for our multi-award winning July – August 2019 edition.

Judge Tanya Acker

Judge Tanya Acker

What a thrilling honor to have the opportunity to dialogue with Tanya to discuss her unique perspectives as a go-to expert on headline news and gain insight into her story.

This riveting Exclusive written and conducted by our Founder, Chief Business Officer, and Publisher William Jackson is sure to inspire and motivate.

Judge Tanya Acker

Judge Tanya Acker

 

Be on the Winning Side with the July – August 2019 Edition of InFluential Magazine

We’re thrilled to invite you into the world of the July – August 2019 Edition of InFluential Magazine.  This edition is chocked full of awesome articles and exclusive interviews including one with Judge Tanya Acker of television’s successful Hot Bench.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Visit us at www.influential-magazine.com.

Save Money on Summer Road Trips

If financial constraints are keeping you from exploring the world, it may be time to reassess your approach to travel. From road trips across the country to jaunts across your state, there are plenty of ways to curb costs, so your biggest challenge is finding more days away from the office, not replenishing your bank account.

Make reservations in advance. Shopping early for lodging is one way to save. Give yourself plenty of time to watch deals so you can grab the best one, and if it’s possible, be flexible with the travel dates. Shifting your trip by even a day can sometimes make a difference in the rates.

Utilize rewards programs. Shopper loyalty programs make it easy to save money on essential purchases. Not only can you access exclusive card-holder discounts, but you can accumulate rewards points or even earn cash back. For example, with the Shell | Fuel Rewards® credit cards, you can save 10 cents per gallon (up to 20 gallons) every time you fill up at Shell, in addition to earning rebates on other qualifying purchases. See store for details or learn more at shell.us/roadtrip .

Share the journey. If your travel party consists of multiple families, consolidate into as few vehicles as you can. This helps minimize costs on everything from gas to per-vehicle admission fees at destinations like national parks.

Pack snacks. Next to lodging, food is the biggest expense you’re likely to encounter on a road trip. Consider packing snacks for the road so you can save money while managing your hunger. Alternatively, an option like the Shell | Fuel Rewards Mastercard lets you earn rebates on qualifying purchases made with the card.

Be conscious of your gas mileage. You may not have much of a choice when it comes to which vehicle you’ll drive, but paying more attention to your driving habits can stretch your gas tank a little further. Be sure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure. If your vehicle is a gas guzzler, consider renting a more efficient vehicle for the trip. Weigh the additional cost of the rental versus what you may spend in fuel for your personal car before making a decision.

Research attractions. Admission fees to various attractions can really add up, but a little pre-planning can help you capitalize on discount days and other special deals. If your plans are flexible, you can schedule your trip around those offers to capture the same experiences at a significantly lower price tag.

Travel doesn’t have to drain your wallet. Managing your trips with practical tips like these may even free up enough funds so you can fit in an extra adventure or two. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Shell