The Similarities and Differences of Pilates and Yoga

You can barely turn on the TV nowadays without hearing about Pilates or Yoga. When you take up a magazine, you are bound to find articles about these two exercise methods and it seems like everyone is doing either one or the other. What is all of the excitement about? Why are these techniques so special? What are the differences and similarities between Pilates and Yoga?

Yoga aims to unite the body, mind, and spirit. The person who aspires to do Yoga views that the body and mind are one. They believe that if the body is given the right tools and is taken to the proper environment then the body can find harmony and will be able to heal itself. Yoga is considered to be therapeutic. You will have a heightened awareness of your body’s alignment, posture, and patterns of movement. Yoga tends to make your body more flexible and it will help you to relax even if you are in the middle of a stress stricken environment. Therefore, one of the most important reasons as to why people start practicing Yoga is that they want to feel more energetic, be more happy, feel more fit and be at peace.

One performs Yoga mainly in a group setting on a special Yoga mat with the help of a Yoga instructor. You use your body’s own weight for resistance. You must also focus a great deal of your attention to the flow from one posture into that of another. Yoga styles are varied and there is not one style that is considered to be better than another. These styles also vary in their emphasis, and the style you choose is a matter of personal preference.

Pilates also seeks to reach many of the same goals as does Yoga by way of a series of movements that are very controlled. The major difference between Pilates and Yoga is that while doing Pilates exercises not only makes use of a mat, but it also incorporates work on different Pilates machines. The main thrust of the Pilates exercises is to improve posture, strengthen the abdominal muscles, improve balance, lengthen and stabilize the spine and improve overall strength. Pilates will tend to give you a leaner, longer, dancer-like line.

A Whole Body Workout

Unlike a variety of other training programs, Pilates makes an effort to work the whole body and places its emphasis on precision, control, and concentration in both the body as well as the mind. There is no attempt made at doing many repetitions at a time in a rapid, haphazard fashion. Instead, the focus is placed on quality and not the amount of reps you do. The “powerhouse” that consists of the lower back, abdominal muscles and the buttocks are at the center of all movement and this allows the rest of your body to move fluidly and freely. When one focuses on core stabilization, it makes the student stronger from the inside out.

This is critical for the advancement of the Pilates student. Pilates is low impact by nature and, therefore, it is ideal for the prevention of injury and for rehabilitation. Pilates has six guiding principles – concentration, centering, flow, control, breathing and precision. These principles train the body to move more efficiently while placing minimal impact on the body. With Pilates, there is a definite balance between flexibility and strength that creates a vigorous, symmetrical and health workout for all of the different muscle groups, which will result in a more balanced, leaner, and stronger body.

Facts About Berber Rugs and Carpets

There is a frequent misunderstanding to Berber rugs and carpets about what Berber really means. Some people think the phrase means a particular kind of fiber used to create the rugs and carpeting.

Initially, we had been guilty of making exactly the same oversight. Then, we learned that Berber in fact is the term for a unique kind of weave used in the process for the rugs and carpeting that bear that name.

The term itself reflects back to the Berbers, a group of people that are indigenous to Northern Africa (particularly Morocco) together with the Nile Valley.

The Berbers have already been creating woven textiles for hundreds of years. The majority of the traditional Berber weavers have been females. There is a rich history of the women showing their personality in their woven works of art.

The original Berber weavers used a variety of colorings and designs consisting of abstract patterns. The more contemporary Western variety of Berber rugs and carpets is also available in several colors, however they do not have the assorted patterns of the genuine weave.

Western area rugs created using a Berber weave frequently feature variants of a color to give the completed item a speckled look. This speckled look might help hide dirt, vacuum cleaner tracks, and a number of unsightly stains, making it a great choice for areas of high foot traffic as well as light commercial applications.

Floor coverings created using the Berber weave are generally recognized by tightly looped fibers that have been woven in parallel lines. The low low pile that is produced is renowned for strength and durability.

A Berber weave is different from other weaves because of loops of different levels. This kind of weave makes use of both large and small tufts of material and this produces a less regular pattern than area rugs produced with similar size loops.

Berber rugs and carpets can be produced from various types of supplies, such as wool, nylon, polyester or olefin. They can even be produced from a blend of two or more materials.

Rug professionals we have spoken to convey that 100-percent wool or 100-percent nylon are the most effective material options for Berber rugs and carpets. Other materials utilized in a Berber weave might not be as durable as wool or nylon. However, there will be exceptions, depending on the producer and specifically if they used any type of stain-resistant treatment method.

Usually the one disadvantage to Berber rugs and carpet is because they might be difficult to thoroughly clean. This is due to dirt gets into the dense fibers and many vacuum cleaners are simply just inadequate to get that dirt out very well. Many times, it requires specialized cleaning regularly to help keep the larger Berber floor covers looking the most beautiful. Some individuals with Berber rugs say it will help very much to give the rug an old-fashioned rug beating from time to time.

You will still find numerous Berber families in a number of the Northern Africa countries that rely on the revenue created from the selling of hand crafted rugs and carpets. The creations are offered in local marketplaces and tourist shops. Some of the woven products find their way to other locations to the delight of folks in search of Berber originals.

How To Become A Collage Artist

The procedure will be as basic or as complicated as you would like it to be.

As a new collage artist creating a collage is not really something you need step-by-step instructions for. There can be, however, a few elementary methods you must stick to make a collage.

First, select a base for your collage. The base for your collage can be as uncomplicated as a piece of paper or a quite heavy paper, which is suggested because you will be using plenty of glue to create your collage. Here are some resources you can use as a base poster board, cardboard, canvas, empty picture frame, or any flat item. As soon as you have determined the first step you’re three steps away from being a collage artist.

Second step is to pull together those things to glue onto the bottom of your collage. You can utilize almost anything you wish to create your collage. Collage artist use the common items like magazine photos, images, or fancy paper. Go through your craft cupboards, magazine racks, or go through your junk container to get unique items you can use. Again, you’re one step away from being a collage artist.

Third step is to decide what glue to use. The glue you decide to use for your collage project depends on what stuff you are using in your collage. In most cases you might use a couple different kinds of glue in your collage. Here are some typical glues that work right for you: glue stick, zip dry glue or craft glue. One additional step and you’ll become a collage artist.

Now it’s time for you to create your collage. You have your bottom, the items you will use to make your collage, and right glue, and you can begin making your collage. You can start organizing your collage objects on the foundation before you glue it together. This will help you to plan on exactly how you would like your collage to appear. And then start sticking them down all over the bottom. You can use a pair of scissors or utility knife to cut those items you’re using into the ideal designs and sizes. You can also experiment with tearing your items. Once your collage items are all in place, set it aside and allow it to dry.

Collage artist could be anybody who would like to create a collage. Bear in mind, collage is more of trying out different mediums, colors, and images than following step-by-step directions. The more you play around with creating collages, the more ideas you’re going to get. Great job you are now a collage artist!

Apartment Complex Reviews – Can Reviews Really Help Prospective Tenants?

You want to rent a place to live. Now you can go over many online apartment complex reviews before you actually go and visit a place that you plan to rent. These reviews save time and effort. However, it is worth asking whether they are really helpful.

There is the issue of whether online apartment complex reviews are genuine. Anyone can post a review online including the landlord, the property manager and any other people who work in the rental industry. The good news is that there are independent review hubs which offer a guarantee on the source of the information. They guarantee that the opinions and details come from real tenants who live or have lived in the respective complex. This is possible as there are effective ways in which the reviewers can be verified.

What apartment information do reviews typically contain? It is perfectly possible for a person to say that the place is horrible to live and nothing more. It is best not to rely on such opinions as they are usually expressed due to brief frustration or personal conflict with the landlord.

Useful apartment complex reviews answer all of the questions that you may have. These include questions on location and building structure, security and utilities, to start with. You would want to know how safe the area and the building are. Maintenance and repairs are things that all prospective tenants must consider. You need information of the timeliness, quality and reliability of these services which must be provided by the landlord either directly or through a property manager.

If you use the services of a website specialized in offering apartment complex reviews, you will find the same questions answered about each and every building reviewed. This can be invaluable when it comes to comparing different options. You will be able to evaluate any number of buildings based on what they have to offer and on the flaws that they have.

Can you go without reviews? Even if you move from one building to another in the same neighborhood, these will be useful to you. Every landlord invests a lot in marketing their properties and this involves concealing any imperfections. When you read the opinion of a genuine tenant, you will find apartment information that will allow you to base your decision on things that are really important for you.

It is a good idea to consider not only apartment complex reviews, especially if you are moving to a new neighborhood or to a new city. You may also want to look at the quality of education services offered in the area, if you have kids, and at the crime rate as well. Do not miss to consider the infrastructure. Pay special attention to transportation and shopping facilities.

How to Treat Flat Feet

Flat feet do not generally cause problems unless they cause pain or lead to other more serious medical conditions. Also, flat feet do make a person slower as some people tend to believe. However the instant that it causes pain, it can be very uncomfortable and it can hinder a person’s ability to move around. This is the usual signal that flat feet treatment must be acquired at once.

Any flat feet treatment starts by the examination of the feet to determine the severity and type of flat foot. This can be done at home by wetting your feet and stepping on a piece of paper. The wider your footprint is, the more severe it is. However, try to get more specific results by a undergoing your feet in a medical examination.

Knowing the cause is also essential in prescribing the best possible treatment. In children, this is often caused by the type of shoes that a child wears, the sleeping, sitting or standing posture that he or she tend to follow, the presence of other foot abnormalities or deficiencies like a tight Achilles Tendon and injury.

In adults, flat feet are commonly caused by aging which leads to the weakening of the ligaments and muscles that support the arch. In time this causes the arch to eventually collapse. Being overweight can also be a primary cause as this puts tremendous stress on the feet. Couple this with standing on a hard, flat surface for long periods of time and flat feet will eventually result. Other causes are ill – fitting shoes and lack of sufficient rest.

A treatment is then recommended based on the findings of the medical examination. Cases that are not that serious often only require the use of specialized shoes to support the arch and provide cushioning for the feet. Creams are also recommended to deal with the pain or inflammation. In most cases, orthotics is often prescribed.

These are special devices that are also used as feet support. The very effective especially if they are custom – made or made to fit the specific needs of the individual. Surgery is also a very effective treatment. However, this should only be done only on the worst cases or if any of the first treatments are not effective.

In any case, prevention is always better than any form of treatment. You can achieve this by counteracting any of the causes that can ultimately lead to flat feet.

It can be done initially by maintaining a proper weight. This can help avoid flat feet as well other obese – related sicknesses. Wearing proper shoes and giving your feet sufficient time to rest between activities is always encouraged. Proper exercise must also be done regularly as help the feet maintain its top condition.

This helps it adjust to any form of activity that you expose it to which makes it prone to less stress and injury. All in all, loving your feet is the best type of flat feet treatment that you will ever need.

Are You A Candidate For A Reverse Mortgage?

Reverse mortgages are financial products that have been around for a while, but just recently started taking off with the population of homeowners who are 62 years of age or older. Chances are you have seen several different newspaper advertisements and commercials that discuss how this type of funding could be the right retirement solution for the right individuals. Determine if you or your parents are the right individuals for reverse mortgages and make the right financial move for your situation.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is one of the many financial products in the mortgage industry, but works in a very unique way. Also referred to as a lifetime mortgage, it is a loan that is available to seniors 62 or older who own their home and want to use a portion of their home equity as collateral. The borrowers can use the funds from the loan as a source of retirement income. Typically, the loan does not have to be repaid until the last survivor on the loan passes away or leaves the property. At that time, the estate or the borrower has 6 months to pay off the balance of the loan due to the lender.

Are You a Good Candidate for a Reverse Mortgage?

Economic uncertainties have affected hundreds of thousands of seniors who were once looking forward to retirement. Many retirees have found that their retirement accounts do not contain all of the money they need to live comfortably and enjoy their current lifestyle. A reverse mortgage is designed for homeowners who cannot enjoy financial freedom with their other retirement accounts. By taking out this loan, borrowers can regain financial freedom and and live their Golden Years like they had always imagined.

Typically, the best candidates are those who are older and have more equity in their home. A 75 year old applicant will receive a higher payout than a 65 year old applicant because the lender must pay for a longer period of time when the borrower is younger. If you are planning on staying in your home throughout your retirement, this may be the right financial option for you. You can use the funds from the loan to finance your active retirement or even to do home repairs that you could not afford to do otherwise.

A reverse mortgage calculator will help you determine how much of a lump sum payment or how much in monthly payments you will receive based on your age and the value of your home. Determine how much you can receive, get the financial freedom you deserve, and decide if this is the is right solution for you or your parents.

Why Hire An Interior Designer?

With the rising popularity of home-related style, design and do-it-yourself shows on television, many creative homeowners have a new appreciation of how interior design can make a dramatic difference in the appearance and functionality of their homes. Although many of these shows make big projects look fast and easy, savvy homeowners know there is a lot of planning, skill and effort that goes on behind the scenes.

There is a worthy value in hiring a professional interior designer when you are contemplating a home redesign or decorating project. Although many of us are capable of doing competent design work, an interior designer will take your project to the next level. They are likely to come up with ideas that you never thought of, save you from costly or silly mistakes, and better integrate the changes with the overall character and layout of your home. A good designer will see the big picture aspect of the process while still understanding all of the little details that are equally important.

A locally based interior design consultant will have working knowledge and understanding of the design styles that are appropriate for the area in which you live.

For example, someone in Florida may want to consider styles such as Key West, Mediterranean or Contemporary, although there are certainly many other options.

If you like having a relaxed, island vibe to your home, a Key West design style could be an appropriate choice. It often features colorful, tropical fabrics, rattan or wicker furniture and even pine wood interior walls. Key West houses usually have some unique and artistic details.

For a Mediterranean feel, your designer might use earth and water-inspired colors, ceramic or stone tile, sturdy wood or fabric furniture and light, breezy drapes. The Mediterranean home will be comfortable and practical.

A Contemporary design style may be more appropriate if you like a formal look with clean lines and bold statements. The Contemporary home will have fewer frilly or ornament accessories in order to create a minimalist, uncluttered feel. Works of art may serve as focal points within each room, or individual pieces of furniture may be featured.

In Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, on the other hand, families may feel at home in a South Western style decor. Every place is different, and who better to understand those differences than someone who works with them day in and day out. That being considered, you may be inspired by a decor that has nothing to do with the area in which you live. You may live in Minnesota and be in love with an African themed home or have no theme in mind, but love a certain color. Consult with your designer for great ideas on any theme.

It is important that your interior design style works well with the architecture of your house. Your interior design consultant can help integrate the interior and exterior design of your home so that it seamlessly blends together. Careful selection of materials, color, furnishings and accents will help to make a transition in character or reinforce the primary, overall style of the house.

Even simple design changes and style improvements in your home involve many decisions and considerations. An interior design consultant can help you navigate the process from concept to completion, whether it is remodeling one room, updating your lighting or a whole house makeover. You are likely to be less stressed as the work takes place and be happier with the final result.

NLP: Discover Confidence Inside You

I am not going to tell you that you can easily find confidence within you. Allow me to show you how, let me know how it works for you.

You have been around, you have heard the saying that you "find happiness within." OK, sure. Well, where exactly? Usually the person giving this suggestion does not have a method, just the saying. Actually NLP contains the practical solution to this enigmatic challenge. It follows that if one can find happiness within, there should be other resources "within" as well.

Let's get started.

Confidence requires relaxation. Start being aware of the nuances of confident people. How do they hold themselves? How do they express themselves? They are at ease, especially when everyone around them are in some form of organized state. This may seem to be a simple matter of no importance, but let's go deeper.

When you are in a relaxed state, you have more of your resources available to you. By the choice of being relaxed, you have more of the tools to warrant your confidence. Sooner or later, after you practice being in a relaxed state, you will start to "get" it. Simply by knowing that you have a choice, you realize that an anxious state does not serve any purpose, it works against you.

The first step in relaxation is to start to breathe intentionally in a slow, measured and calm manner. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, this is a martial arts technique that keeps you centered. Focus your energy on the space just below where you are standing or sitting. This is another martial arts technique called "grounding." Go ahead and slow down your thoughts and simply ask to connect with your inner wisdom. If you are spiritual, ask to connect with the Universal Mind, or whatever you may call that.

Another powerful way to access your inner genius is to be aware of what is in your peripheral vision. It is amazing how this simple technique can instantly shift perception from "tunnel vision" to a greater access to your own neurology, your own mind.

Confidence is the knowingness that you can trust yourself in a given situation. When you have your own best tools available, you will make your best decisions.

A great confidence builder is to imagine succeeding in the activity that is giving you a challenge. The more realistic your visualization of you succeeding, the better chance you have of making it happen.

These tips are very simple, yet the simplicity of water can carve rock. The power is in taking your time and trying something new. It is in trying something new that we can change our lives, change our destiny.

After you try out these techniques, let me know how they worked for you.

Getting An Appropriate Appraisal For Your Homes For Sale

Once homeowners have decided to make their homes for sale, getting an accurate appraisal for it is the best thing to do next. However, that may not be as easy as it sounds. Property appraisal can be complex and may be hard to comprehend especially for the novice laymen. House appraisal is one of the most important thing on this process to be able to attract probable buyers.

House appraisal has a lot at stake, inappropriate ones may not sell to the market or one might sell it for a price which is a lesser worth to its value. To be able to avoid these mistakes, one has to consider some options that could help one get the most accurate valuation or appraisal to house and be able to sell it with the proper price.

Contrary to what the majority think, not all real estate agents practice a detailed house appraisal on a constant manner. They may however, suggest a good selling or rental process. However, when one is considering to put their house in the market, real estate agents are probably the ones that are able to assist in the whole process.

Real estate agents help one to get the most accurate appraisal and determine how much one can sell his property for, they can also find the most probable buyer. Appraisal do involve a lot of factors and all it has to be properly valued so as to get the most appropriate valuation of the house such factors including the age and type of the house, the accommodations inside it.

Moreover, it also includes the fixtures on the house and its features. The property's state of repair and construction materials. The locality may also be a great factor and the amenities surrounding it if there are any has to be considered as well. The more detailed the appraisal is the better, this will ensure that the house is properly appraised and lesser chances for error.

After getting the appraisal to the property, these professionals will then assess the market value which will affect the strength of the local market, supply and demand and of course the selling and rental price in the local area. They might probably check the prices on some houses being sold so as to get the most competitive price.

Keep in mind that house appraisal are provided to be given for free for the agent to win one's approval. This is why it is highly recommended for one to get at least three appraisal and choose which one among them is very appropriate. Although everyone wants to maximize the value of their house, though an overpriced house may be very difficult to sell.

With the economy the world has today, most consumers would go to anyone what offers the cheapest. This is why one has to make a competitive price yet with a great house value so as to get the most suitable buyer.

However, when one decides to appraise their homes for sale, it should be very accurate. Be prepared as some buyers may want to get to have one's house be independently appraised by a chartered surveyor so as to rule out any bias.

Guide Your Guests To Your Accommodation Step By Step

Here is another simple way to receive more direct bookings on your website. This simple method has to do with the transportation process to reach your accommodation from a specific location. As you know, guests love clean rooms, delicious breakfast and useful amenities; however, what they love most is a very kind and supportive staff.

The staff have the ability and power to shift guests. They can make guests smile and make them feel very comfortable while they stay in their accommodation. Being aware of the fact that the staff of an accommodation have the energy and creativity to add that indescribable emotional feeling to their guests, would it not be awesome to use this preferred way even before the guests stay in your accommodation? Imagine how potential new guests would no longer hesitate to make a booking in your accommodation, instead just doing it without even thinking about it.

One effective way to reach this outcome is through a video of you. In this video you explain step by step how to reach your accommodation business from a specific location (e.g. from the airport / main station / bus station / highway). Through this video your audience gets to know you. They see you in person, they see your personality, your character, your gestures, and so much more. They realize that providing service to your guests even before they are standing in front of you is very important to you. The video that explains the transportation process step by step is much more than just a video that tells your potential new guests how to reach your accommodation. Your potential new guests actually absorb you, your brand, your accommodation and your services. Your audience is automatically and instantly creating an image of you and your business. When your guests arrive at your accommodation and watched this video, they will know you already. At the reception they will recognize you and perhaps tell you that they watched your video. Thus, you are not a stranger to them and your accommodation is not unfamiliar to them either.

A short video on how to reach your accommodation has a massive impact on your potential new guests. At the beginning it does not look like something special or something that moves the needle, but if you look behind the scenes and go a little bit deeper you realize how much potential this video really has. People want to be a part of great energy and they want to experience awesome locations and hosts.

Therefore, I challenge you to shoot a video within one week.

Considerations for the Floor in Any Container Home

The wooden floors constructed into shipping containers have grown to be a hotly contested matter within the last few years. As people find ever more inventive uses for retired shipping containers they’re proclaiming a positive environmental effect for their recycling efforts. On the other side of the equation, many container floors are manufactured utilizing exotic hardwood trees. While still a renewable resource, it takes fifty to sixty years to grow one of these trees that was cut down to make container floors.

An even bigger problem for consideration is the chemicals impregnated into the container floors during production. Australia has very strict specifications for treating shipping container floors; they are treated with serious pesticides and fungicides to prevent alien bugs and rodents from hitching a ride into Australia. Wood preservatives containing a variety of organochlorine pesticides, like aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane and lindane that have been approved in Australia for treating lumber used as structural parts in cargo containers. Consequently, manufactures treat all containers to the Australian specifications, they decided it is difficult to separate the units for any single country out of the fleet and risk the fines and sanctions possible if an unapproved container is caught going into Australia.

Analyses done on these floors and determined that insecticides might be transferred on to the products sitting on the container floors. The physical pick-up of insecticide from the surface of the floor is considered to be the major origin of toxins. The greatest insecticide residue levels were found in products that were stored on recently treated laminated sawn timber. Toxins like these earlier mentioned do dissipate greatly after a couple of years, so with special prepping, cleanup, and sealing using epoxy finishes the chemicals can be isolated. Experts concur, when the out-gassing of substances is inhibited by a barrier then there is virtually no risk. This is comparable to lead paint hazards in the past which have been corrected in older houses.

If the data plate is still on the container, it should indicate the types of chemicals the floor was originally treated with. Naturally if the flooring was damaged and changed somewhere along the line the data plate will not help you. Nor will you ever learn what was shipped in as well as leaking on your container floor during its high seas career. If a container will be utilized for any type of permanent habitation, like a portion of a container house for instance, the advisable course of action is to eliminate the original flooring, have it properly disposed of and install new flooring. You’re looking at ten sheets of plywood in a 40′ container plus labor; if you’re planning to live in or serve food out of a container then you should include these expenses in your budget.

The Buy-to-Let Mortgage ARLA Panel

Property investment first came into existence in the UK in the 1990s and has boomed specifically in recent years.

In the beginning buy-to-let mortgages were only available from several different lenders. Now that investing in property has become so popular there are now dozens of lenders offering hundreds of buy-to-let mortgages to property investors.

Several lenders who first bought buy-to-let mortgages to the public have combined with other established UK mortgage providers to combine the Association of Rental Letting Agents, or the ARLA.

In all, six of the largest specialist lenders of buy-to-let mortgages make up the ARLA panel and between them they approve more than half of all investment property loans in the UK. The lenders are – Mortgage Express, Paragon Mortgages, The Mortgage Business (TMB), Birmingham Midshires, GMAC RFC, Natwest.

Through their contribution to the ARLA the above lenders have displayed their commitment to the buy-to-let mortgages industry. The ARLA regularly gathers and produces information about the private rental market and publishes it for the general public to consume.

The institution also engages the Government regarding issues that are important to landlords and to the buy-to-let industry itself. Without the ARLA, the mortgage industry and private landlords would not be able to express their views to the government in one voice.

One of the ARLA's initiatives was the ARLA Buy-to-Let scheme which persuaded lenders to reduce interest rates for investors wishing to purchase and rent out properties.

The scheme was also designed to encourage people to participate in property investment and benefit from its advantages, such as a high certainty of capital growth over the long term.

It is there easy to see how important this body is to the private rented market and for buy-to-let mortgages.

Buy-to-let investing has boomed over the past decade so it is important for the industry to offer some form of protection to participants. The Financial Services Authority does not currently regulate buy-to-let mortgages, which is another reason why the ARLA panel is so important.

If you are looking to invest in buy-to-lets it is a good idea to gather as much information as possible regarding buying-to-let mortgages before you purchase a property. The internet is a good place to start, and mortgage brokers who offer buy-to-let mortgages are also a good source of information.

Bathroom Remodeling Tips

Over the years, I’ve remodeled dozens of bathrooms. And the more I remodel, the more I see some important guidelines repeated over and over: the general rules for keeping costs down and getting the most bang for your buck. Now if money is no object, simply hire the best bathroom designer you can find and write them a blank check. For the rest of us, I offer the following tips.

Whenever possible, leave fixtures in their existing locations. Moving the plumbing lines for a bathtub, shower, toilet or sink can be expensive and messy. A better solution is to upgrade these fixtures for a new look or a new feature.

When selecting new fixtures for your bathroom, stick with white, off-white, bone or biscuit. Lighter-colored fixtures do a couple of things for you. First, white means clean. So white fixtures appear cleaner than colored fixtures. Second, white fixtures have less impact on the overall look of the room. As a general rule of thumb, they tend to make a small bathroom look bigger. Colored fixtures – especially black – tend to make a bathroom look smaller.

Light colors are also best for walls and floors – especially in small bathrooms – as these tend to make the room look larger. Dark colors give the appearance of a smaller bathroom. Leave the ceiling white. Period.

If you want to add a splash of color to a bathroom, do it modestly with a wallpaper border, decorative tiles, etc. Better yet, color your bathroom with accessories like throw rugs, towels, soap dispensers, and pictures. This way if you get tired of the accent color, it’s just a matter of changing out your accessories.

Planning on replacing your sink? Like the look of a pedestal sink? If you do, there are a couple of important things you should know about these popular sink upgrades. For starters, you’ll lose any storage space that you had with a vanity sink. And in a small bathroom, this can be a big deal. Second, most homeowners don’t realize that the pedestal portion of the sink is primarily decorative; the sink itself is actually mounted to wall. For a secure mounting, this means removing your existing wall covering, installing a support cleat and repairing the wall. A pedestal sink also frequently requires modifying/moving the supply and waste lines to the sink – typically with very tight tolerances.

If a new toilet is in your future, consider upgrading to a toilet that features an elongated bowl or raised height. Both of these can add comfort to your daily routine. It’s important to note, however, that in small bathrooms, an elongated toilet can cause clearance problems. Check with the toilet manufacturer for recommended clearance before purchasing one of these. It’s surprising how much difference a couple of inches can make in the height of toilet. That’s all the difference in height there is between a standard and a raised height toilet. Those few inches make a significant difference in the ease of sitting on or rising from a toilet. Raised height toilets have become so popular that many fixture manufacturers offer most of their styles at this height.

When you’ve had enough of that old tub or shower you’ll be surprised at all the choices available. Lightweight materials (like fiberglass) make installing a new unit easier. You should know that there are two broad categories of new tubs and shower units: remodel and new construction. Single-piece shower/tub units are designed for new construction only – they are designed for installation before drywall is installed. If you buy one of these for a remodel project, two things are likely: you won’t be able to get it into your home, or if you can, the unit won’t fit in your bathroom without removing the drywall and all the fixtures. Stick with multiple-piece remodel units. They’re made to go into tight spaces and are a snap to install.

Bathrooms are constantly exposed to water, so when you select flooring, go with a material that can stand up to moisture. My top picks are sheet vinyl and ceramic tile. Avoid materials that swell and buckle when exposed to water, like laminate flooring and wood planks or strips.

Finally, invest in quality products – especially sink and tub/shower faucets – as they get used every day. Buy from a quality manufacturer and consider picking up a faucet repair kit when you buy your faucet. Even the best-made faucets will require maintenance in the future.

By following these time-tested guidelines, you’ll save money and have a beautiful new bathroom in no time.

How to Choose a Dental Plan

There are many different dental plans in today's market place. The main types are PPO, DMHO and Discount. Each offer advantages and disadvantages. You will need to decide which of the advantages work best for you. I will offer a brief explanation of the plans and some of the pros and cons of each.

PPO dental plans function very similar to PPO health plans. These will have an annual deductible, an annual maximum, benefit percentage for each of the three levels (preventive, basic and major) and a network of doctors. Some plans will offer orthodontics coverage. The advantages of these plans are in-network discounts, out-of-network coverage and a higher benefit level for preventative services. The disadvantages are meeting a new deductible each year, being subject to a possible waiting period for major coverage, being limited by an annual maximum and they can be expensive.

DMHO plans are similar to the old HMO health plans that are being phased out. These plans will have an annual deductible and usually a fee for service schedule and a network of doctors. The advantages are good benefit for all procedures, especially preventive and the promotions are reasonable. The disadvantages are usually a small network, no out-of-network coverage and having to select a primary care dentist who usually has to refer you to a specialist.

Discount plans are NOT insurance and simply offer a discount if you use a network dentist. The advantages of these plans are no deductibles, no waiting periods, no annual maximums and are very inexpensive. You simply go to a network dentist and he provides the service at a set fee or discount percentage. Many dentists prefer these types of plans, because they do not have to file a claim. Some plans offer orthodontics discounts as well. Although you pay a discounted fee for most every procedure, some plans offer free exams and free bitewing x-rays.

Memory Upgrades – How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade My Laptop's Memory?

Every computer to ship in 2012 – be it a brand new notebook computer or even one of the new and lighter ultrabooks to arrive from various manufacturers this year ship with one glaring flaw and that's too little RAM installed.

This is usually due to the cost cutting required as computers, especially notebooks are constricted in the cost of the parts and the room for those parts to go. So with that in mind, the computer manufacturers tend to ship the computers with just enough memory for the computers to boot up and sometimes some light tasks tasks such as word processing or facebook. On some of the newer ultrabooks the RAM is soldered directly to the motherboard with no chance of adding more memory later. But for the rest of us .. ram is cheap.

Most notebook computers today allow at minimum of 8GB of RAM and some of the more higher end notebooks ship from the factory with 8GB and allow for 16GB of notebook RAM to be installed.

Because the 16GB memory upgrade kits are still a bit on the expensive side, your best value for a notebook memory upgrade is the 8GB memory upgrade kit. It does not really matter where you buy your RAM, but you should be aware that the PC manufacturers will charge you more for a memory upgrade than you can buy ram online elsewhere. Current street prices for an 8GB memory kit hover around the $ 40 dollar mark, which means that for less than the cost of dinner for two you can max out the memory on your computer.

Reasons for a RAM upgrade are speed first of all and general performance improvements overall with more memory installed in you computer. This advice holds true for all popular and best selling computers from Acer, Apple, Dell, Sony and Toshiba just to name a few.

The best part of upgrading ram on modern computers is that with a bit of patience and care and common household tools you can perform the upgrade yourself and save the cost of an expensive computer repair bill that could have priced more than the ram upgrade itself. Add to the fact, and this holds especially true for notebook computers in most instances you will be replacing the memory upgrade with larger ram upgrades and you will have the original memory upgrade to either sell or donate.

To summarize, the 8GB memory upgrade kit is the cheapest method to increase the performance of your computer in 2012.