What Does ("PID") Mean in The Real Estate Industry?

A Public Improvement District (“PID”) is a financing tool created by the Public Improvement District Assessment Act as found in Chapter 372 of the Texas Local Government Code. The PID enables any city to levy and collect special assessments on property that is within the city or within the city’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (“ETJ”). A county may also form a PID,but must obtain approval from a city if the proposed PID is within the city’s ETJ. The PID establishes a mechanism to finance improvement projects through the issuance of bonds secured by special assessments levied on all benefited properties. Because PID bonds can be used to reimburse the developer for eligible infrastructure early in the development process, often before the closing of the first home.

Public Improvements Eligible for PID Financing are; Acquisition of Right of Ways, Art, Creation of pedestrian malls, Erection of foundations, Landscaping and other aesthetics, Library, Mass transit, Parks & Recreational or Cultural Facilities, Parking, Street and sidewalk. Supplemental safety services for the improvement of the district, including public safety and security services. Supplemental business-related services for the improvement of the district. Water, wastewater, health and sanitation or drainage.

Benefits of a PID

A PID may be established early in the development process allowing the developer to be a reimbursed upon completion of the public infrastructure. Furthermore, unlike a Municipal Utility District (“MUD”), Water Control and Improvement District (“WCID”), or Fresh Water District (“FWSD”), PIDs do not require TCEQ approval, and are governed by the governing body of the city or county, thereby alleviating concerns regarding board turnover and the integrity of the board. If the city chooses to annex property that is within the boundaries of a PID, the city is not forced to pay off the assessments, and the assessments do not affect the city’s debt capacity or rating.

Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) Explained

RDSP stands for Registered Disability Savings Plan. The RDSP works as a Canadian savings plan similar to the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). To be eligible for an RDSP, an individual must qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, and be under the age of 60. The disabled individual who receives the funds invested in the RDSP is called the beneficiary.

Contribution to a disabled individual’s RDSP can be made by anyone with written permission from the plan holder. The plan holder can be the disabled individual (if they are of legal age, and are legally able to enter into a contract), a legal parent, a guardian who the beneficiary has authorized to act on his/her behalf, or a public agency that is legally authorized to act for the beneficiary.

Contributions to the plan can be made until the year in which the beneficiary turns 59. There is an overall lifetime limit of $200,000 on the contributions that can be made to a plan, but there is no annual limit on the amount that can be contributed.

Government Grants & Bonds

A unique feature of the RDSP, and something it has in common with an RESP, is that contributions made are matched by the government of Canada. This comes in the form on the Canada disability savings grants (CDSG) and the Canada disability savings bonds (CDSB). The CDSG and CDSB can received until the year in which the beneficiary turns 49.

The CDSG has a lifetime limit of $70,000. An individual can receive up to $3,500 of matching grants, with a contribution of $1,500. The schedule for matching, for the year 2010, can be found at this CRA link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/rdsp-reei/cdsg-eng.html.

The CDSB has a lifetime limit of $20,000. The bond does not require contributions to be made. The schedule, for the year 2010, can be found at the previously posted link.

Grants and bonds received in any of the ten preceding years of the following events must be repaid to the government:

  • the RDSP is voluntarily closed
  • the plan is deregistered
  • a Disability Assistance Payment (DAP) is made from the plan
  • the beneficiary is no longer eligible for the Disability Tax Credit
  • the beneficiary dies

Is an RDSP Better than a TFSA or an RRSP?

In some cases, a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) may be more lucrative than an RDSP. This is due to the fact that individuals receive a tax break when withdrawing from a TFSA and when contributing to an RRSP. There is no such tax break for an RDSP, which instead has the grants and bonds, which the other plans do not.

RDSPs are also more restrictive than TFSAs in when and how you can withdraw the funds within the plan. A reliable financial planner would perform calculations based on the grants, bonds and tax considerations, to see which plan is the most beneficial.


RDSPs are a great alternative for disabled Canadians, although they are not the only option. One must weigh the pros and cons of all savings plans, considering factors such as rate of return and the accessibility of invested funds.

Still, RDSPs are a great option for family members of disabled individuals, who would like to set up a trust for their disabled relative, and the grants and bonds can be lucrative to a low-income taxpayer.

How to Make A Cheap and Easy Chocolate Lover’s Gift Basket

Gift baskets will always be popular and a great idea to give as a gift. People love to receive gift baskets. Making your own chocolate lover’s gift basket is cheap and easy.

You can fill it with a variety of inexpensive items and there are lots of choices.ou can easily customize each chocolate theme gift basket to your recipient.

I’ve put together a few great ideas for making a chocolate lover’s gift basket, complete with instructions on how to make them. You can make inexpensive gift baskets or expensive gift baskets depending on your budget.

First make a list of your recipient’s hobbies and interests. List everything you can think of.

Suggestions: sports, books, television shows, in-house hobbies, outdoor recreation, camping, workshop, enjoy working with tools, golf, fishing, computer-related, environment friendly, golf, and tennis.

Also relaxation, food, wine, spa, bath and body, fruit, cookie, crafts, gardening, etc. You can tie in any interests into your chocolate theme. These are just a few ideas.

You can find many inexpensive items for use in making your gift baskets or filling your gift baskets, at ‘dollar’ stores, craft stores, party stores, discount outlets, flea markets, close-out stores, etc.

For gift containers you can use: any type of basket, wicker basket, straw basket, bucket, laundry basket, plastic container, toy dump truck or other large toy truck, purse, tin, Christmas tin, seasonal container, large tea pot, large upside-down hat, or plastic storage container-put lid underneath.

Other items might be: extra-large coffee mug, boot, potted plant holder, wire basket, large pasta bowl, large popcorn bowl, cooking pot, clay pot, tackle box, colander, small wagon, skillet, antique trunk, champagne bucket, hamper, Asian-style trunk or picnic basket.

For gift basket liner you can use: tissue paper, shredded paper, shredded newspaper, tea towels, dish towels, hand towels, kitchen towels, colored towels, colored napkins, placemats, diapers, baby blankets or fabric pieces.

For gift basket filler you can use: shredded colored paper, straw, Easter basket grass, crumpled newspaper comics, a bed of wrapped chocolates or other wrapped candy.

For items in the container it’ll depend on the specialty or theme of the gift basket – in this case Chocolate! With chocolate it’s best not to include any fragrant items, unless they are wrapped in such a way that they don’t give off any fragrance. Here’s a small random sampling to give you some good ideas:

Gift certificate for massage or spa visit, gift certificate to favorite store, gift certificate for restaurant, loofah, CD of nature sounds, favorite artist CD, DVD of newer release movie, how-to video or CD, handwritten poem, watch, framed photo, inspirational book, spa pillows, bath pillows, spa supplies, or a small fluffy towel.

Also flavored teas, green tea, specialty tea, herbal tea, biscotti, tea infuser, healthy snacks, fancy chocolates, boxed chocolates, chocolate bars, hot chocolate mix, specialty coffee mix, homemade chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies, chocolate fudge, and Ghirardelli chocolates.

Or chocolate covered raisins, chocolate covered strawberries, Hershey chocolates, dark chocolates, white chocolates, chocolate bars, chocolate covered cherries, Belgian chocolates, chocolate mints, and chocolate covered pretzels.

How about miniature or giant-size chocolate animals, gourmet chocolate candies, Tootsie Rolls, nuts, homemade chocolate-based cookies, pre-packaged chocolate food items, brownie mixes,and chocolate chip cookie mixes.

And wooden spoons, your best chocolate chip cookie recipe, your favorite hand-written chocolate recipes, chocolate dessert recipes, chocolate fudge recipes, hot chocolate or cocoa mixes in fancy packets, coffee mug for cocoa, movie tickets and cinnamon sticks.

You can use as many chocolate items as you like. You can make your basket with all chocolate items or mix in a few non-chocolate items.

For gift basket wrapping you can use tulle netting or I like to use cellophane wrap. You can buy it in large rolls. Look for specialty packaging outlets where you can buy it wholesale.

Tie off the wrapped basket with ribbon. Wired fabric ribbon is best if you have it. For bows: You can use pre-packaged bows but making your own bows is easy and the best if you can do it. Use a large or huge bow.

Assemble all your gift basket items, tools you need, etc. Now line your selected gift container. Now stuff the selected filler into the gift basket to give added height to your items. Place, layer and arrange your selected items on the filler in the gift container. Put the larger items in the back, the smaller items in front.

Fill in the holes or prop up with more filler (shredded paper, Easter basket grass, wrapped chocolates, napkins or holiday napkins etc. Also you can use ‘picks’ of artificial flowers to fill in space.

Place your cellophane or other wrap under the gift basket. Center the gift basket on the wrap. Bring the cellophane or other wrap over the top of the gift basket and tie it with ribbon and or a beautiful bow! Use ribbon and bows to match your theme colors. Tuck a card in the ribbon and that’s it!

You can find fabric or wired ribbon cheaply at Costco– especially in the fall prior to Christmas but often throughout the year in some stores. You can shred paper in a paper shredder. If you’re going to need a lot of cellophane you can purchase it wholesale through the packaging specialty stores throughout the U.S. but should be easily found in craft stores.

General tips: Try to use non-perishable items. Use freshly packaged food items, because even packaged crackers and cookies can go stale in a couple of months. You can find filler flower ‘picks’ at garage sales for pennies. If you buy wholesale they are usually around a dollar each.

Also there’s nothing like learning how to make gift baskets from a video or DVD for making cheap and easy gift baskets. You can view it over and over again and share with your children, other family members and friends.

You can even charge for classes with your new-found knowledge and/or start a home based business if you so desire. In any event, making a chocolate lover’s gift basket is cheap and easy and will be thoroughly appreciated by the chocolate lover recipient.

Asphalt Road Construction

Everyone is aware about the benefits and advantages of a good constructed road. Roads play a very serious role in modern society providing services and goods for modern people. Today a vast majority of roads are constructed using Asphalt. Now question arises in your mind is "What is Asphalt"? Asphalt is the sticky dark brown viscous liquid present in some natural deposits like crude petroleum. It is the name given to technically or natural mixture used in road construction for road surfacing and compact.

We see many roads daily and when we talk about the road construction, all are equally constructed but there is a difference arising in the finishing of the road or the surface material used for finishing. Asphalt, also known as bitumen concrete in engineering language is used to give flexible surface to roads. Asphalt road offers many benefits such as smooth and flexible surface including cost efficiency, improved safety and comfort, durability, recyclability and reduction in noise pollution. Sometimes Asphalt or bitumen are confused with tar. Although they are the same in color, they have distinct chemical properties. Tar was early used in road Asphalt, but now has been replaced by refined bitumen or Asphalt. Today Asphalt is more commonly produced as a byproduct of the refining process in the petroleum industry.

Road construction is not as easy as it looks to be, it includes various steps and it starts with its designing and structure including the traffic volume consideration. Then base layer is done by bulldozers and levelers and after base surface coating has to be done. For giving road a smooth surface with flexibility, Asphalt concrete is used. Asphalt requires an aggregate sub base material layer, and then a base layer to be put into first place. Asphalt road construction is configured to support the heavy traffic load and climatic conditions. It is 100% recyclable and saving non renewable natural resources.

With the advancement of technology, Asphalt technology gives assurance about the good drainage system and with skid resistance it can be used where safety is necessary such as outside the schools. The largest use of Asphalt is for making asphalt concrete for road surfaces. It is widely used in airports around the world due to the sturdiness and ability to be repaired quickly, it is widely used for runways dedicated to aircraft landing and taking off. Asphalt is normally stored and transported at 150'C or 300'F temperature. Over 70% of all highways areaved using Asphalt today, according to the US Department of Transportation.

Weight Lifting Benches – How to Find the Best Ones

When you are looking for weight lifting benches that you can use, there are a number of different features you will need to understand and then determine which you consider as must haves and which would be nice added extras. Trying to find the best bench for your workout can be a little bit difficult because of all of the different ones that are available to choose from. Here are a few tips that will help make the decision a little easier for you to make.

1. One thing that you will want to do is decide on the type of bench you are going to use. A preacher curl bench is one that will allow you to do curls which work out your biceps while a flat bench will allow you to do bench press and other exercises that you can do lying on your back or stomach. There are also other benches that you can use to workout other muscles such as an incline bench that will work out your shoulders or a decline bench which can be used to work out your stomach muscles and others. If you are only trying to concentrate on one muscle group then you will want to choose a bench that will be the most beneficial to you.

2. An option that you might consider is buying a weight lifting bench that is adjustable. You will be able to find one that can be adjusted to suit all of your needs. Whether you want to use it as a flat bench, incline bench, or a decline bench you will be able to use a weight pin or other options to make it stay in the position you need for it to be in.

3. Inclusion of weight racks for storage of plates or dumbbells is a great feature to keep you exercise area tidy and safe, but if space is at a premium, these can become all the more useful.

4. The robustness of the build, especially if you are lifting serious weights, and if you are in for the long haul, will obviously be important. If you buy a bench which allows you to move up through the weights as your performance levels improve, you are more likely to retain this for the long term, so again build quality will be a key factor.

5. Going for adjustable uprights that support the barbell will allow users of different heights and reaches to comfortably work out. So if a few member of the family are going to be involved, this could be vital.

Finding the best weight lifting benches does not have to be something that is hard to do. Once you know which type you are looking for, all you have to do is compare all of the different features. You will want to make sure that the adjustments are ones that are easy for you to make, that the padding is sufficient, and other features that will be important to you. If you take the time to look at a few, you will be able to find the one that will help you to get the best workout.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Expert Witness

An expert witness is an individual that is an expert in their particular field and they are called to testify at a trial. There is something about that trial that suggests this individual could be helpful in establishing the guilt or the innocence of the defendant. For instance, a dentist may be called upon to talk about bite patterns or to testify regarding the dental records of a victim. A neurologist could be called to testify about abnormalities in the defendant’s brain that caused them to commit the crime. There are so many types of expert witnesses that could be called to the stand.

But when hiring an expert witness, it is important that the lawyer doing the hiring asks certain questions before telling that person that they can testify. Those questions include:

– They should be asked to clarify their profession, which is the field they are an expert in. They should also be asked to show their credentials if the lawyer is not already familiar with them.

– They should also be asked to clarify how long they have been in their profession. Longevity can help quite a bit. Then again, there are some individuals just leaving college who have fresher knowledge on the field that they are in.

– The potential expert witness should be asked if they have any personal involvement with the case. It is important that they don’t have some sort of relationship with the defendant. If they do, they will not be called to be an expert witness. It is important that they are in an unbiased situation so that they may present an unbiased opinion on the case. They are expected to give their expert opinion and that is it.

– They should be asked if they have received any information on the case before the interview. This is because being given any advanced information can cause bias. That is why jurors tend to be asked if they have any information regarding the case before the interview. That information can cause an opinion that could compromise the case.

– They could be asked if they have participated in cases such as this before. Experience always helps when trying to find someone who will be comfortable enough to give their opinion on the witness stand. They should also be aware of how to give the necessary details when asked.

– They should also be asked if they have an issue being under oath. Some individuals do have an issue with being under oath due to specific beliefs that they may have. Most do not have an issue with it, though.

– There may be questions specific to their specialization that may be asked to ensure that the potential expert witness does know what they are talking about. It is important to have questions ready that prevents them from pretending that they are the expert.

It is very important to ensure that the potential expert witness is someone who can make some sort of impact on the case. Whether they are working behind the scenes as a non-testifying witness or they are a testifying witness, they have to know what they are talking about. They can’t just pretend that they know what they are talking about just because they want to be involved in the case in some way. Sure, they may get some publicity for it, but that is not a reason to get involved with a case. It is important to ensure that the potential expert witness wants to testify because they genuinely want to help the case. They want to offer some insight that will determine the guilt or innocence of the individual at trial.

Want to See Blue Gourami in Best Colors? Keep Their Mood in Top Condition

Blue Gouramis, like any other fish from the Gourami family, have labyrinth organ. So they can take oxygen bought from the water as well as from the open air. Naturally, they can survive in water with low oxygen. In case if they are out of water for some time, they can easily survive by gulping air from the atmosphere.

As their name suggests, Blue Gouramis are silvery blue in color. Their color changes according to their moods. So if you provide them good environment and feed them with appropriate food, these playful pet fish will swim around with elegant movements and bright colors.

Although they are not demanding any particular temperature of water, you should keep the temperature of the water in the range of 70-85° F. You should also take precaution of cleaning the water regularly so that it will not get contaminated. For this purpose, you should also install some filtration system which will prevent the growth of unwanted elements in the water.

As Blue Gouramis hail from Far East, their preference goes for thickly planted environment. They are usually found in canals, lakes, ditches and swamps in the nature so still water is ideally suitable for them. The water should be slightly acidic, especially during the breeding period.

They can live with almost all other species of fish but you should take care while introducing other types of fish. Any fish which is bigger in size should not be introduced with them. You should also avoid species famous for aggressive behavior.

There is one more important suggestion from me – you should keep one male in the tank along with many females. The males are famous for their territorial behavior and they may start fighting with each other over the area. If the pond is large and if you are keeping other species also in the same pond, then you can keep more males. In such situations, their tendency to fight over an area will be diminished.

The food habits of Blue Gouramis are not complicated. Usually they will eat flaked food as well as live food. However during the breeding period, you should provide them as much live food as possible. They are famous for eating hydra voraciously, which is any trouble making pest in any aquarium. For this reason, many fish-keepers are prepared to pay a higher price to get them.

The spawning of Blue Gouramis is very interesting to watch. The males will start building a bubble-nest for protecting eggs. This is a starting point of their breeding process. Once it is built, the male will force the female to go under it. Once the female shows her willingness, the male will develop his body around her in order to ensure that the sperms will meet the eggs without any problem. As the sperms can survive only for a few minutes, it is important to bring the female ask close to the bubble-nest as possible.

The hatching will start within about two days and you will see the small young ones coming out and swimming around freely. At this point, you should remove the male from the breeding tank. The young ones will grow very fast and they will become fully fledged adults within a period of two months. During this time, you should provide them good food and keep the water the aquarium very clean. You can safely shift the adults to the main aquarium after this time.

Blue Gouramis love to stay in an environment which is calm and quiet. Excessive noise or light disturbs them and they develop stress very quickly. So you should set up your aquarium in a quiet area and you should also avoid direct sunlight over it.

Trust-Owned Annuities

IRC Section 72 governs the income taxation of annuity contracts. IRC Section 72(u)(1) taxes the income on an annuity contract owned by a “non-natural” person by treating it as though it was received by the non-natural owner. If, however, a non-natural person is merely holding the contract as an “agent” for a natural person, the income on the contract will not be so treated. Unfortunately, neither the Internal Revenue Code nor the regulations explain when an agency arrangement will be deemed to exist.

For 2010, irrevocable trusts reach the highest income tax rate (35%) at $11,200 of taxable income. In comparison, married couples filing jointly and single taxpayers do not reach the 35% income tax rate until $357,700 of taxable income! Thus, wealthier individuals tend to invest in trusts for growth rather than for income. This is particularly true for credit shelter trusts (also known as family trusts and residuary trusts) where the surviving spouse neither needs nor wants current income, but wants to allow the trust assets to grow – estate tax free – for the benefit of children and grandchildren. If an annuity contract is to be used as a trust investment, the critical question to avoid current income taxation becomes whether the trust, a non-natural person, can be an agent for its natural person beneficiaries.

Single Beneficiary Trusts

In PLRs 9204010 and 9204014, the IRS determined that a trust was acting as an agent for a natural person when it purchased an annuity for the sole beneficiary of the trust. Under the terms of the trust, the trustee had discretion to pay income and corpus to the beneficiary until the beneficiary attains age 40, at which point the entire trust corpus (including the annuity contract) was to be distributed to the beneficiary. The IRS simply concluded that the trustee’s ownership of the annuity contract was nominal compared to that of the beneficiary and, consequently, the beneficiary was the beneficial owner of the annuity contract. The PLRs did not address what bearing, if any, there would be on the ruling if the beneficiary died prior to age 40 and the trust property passed to a contingent remainder beneficiary.

In PLRs 200449011, 200449013, 200449014, 200449015, 200449016 and 200449017, with almost identical facts, the IRS determined that the trust was acting as an agent for a natural person when it purchased an annuity contract for the sole benefit of the grantor’s grandchild. In those rulings, the annuity contracts were to be distributed in-kind. The PLRs did not address, however, what the tax consequences would be under IRC Section 72 if any distribution from the trusts were in cash.

Multiple Beneficiary Trusts

In PLR 9752035, the IRS determined, with no discussion, that a trust was acting as an agent for a natural person when it purchased an annuity contract. In PLR 9752035, there was a life income beneficiary (who was also the annuitant) and remaindermen. Although the outcome of PLR 9752035 was favorable, it provides little guidance as to when a trust is acting as an agent for a natural person.

Trust Distributions

IRC Section 72(e)(4)(C) provides, in part, that if an individual transfers an annuity contract without full and adequate consideration, the individual will be taxed on the amount in excess of the contract’s surrender value. However, in PLR 199905015 and PLR 9204014, the IRS ruled that IRC Section 72(e)(4)(C) does not apply when an annuity is transferred in-kind from a trust to the beneficiary. The trust beneficiary would simply become the owner of the annuity contract, would inherit its cost basis, and would continue to enjoy its tax-deferred status.

Other Section 72 Issues

Required Distributions. IRC Section 72(s) sets forth the required distribution rules which an annuity contract must satisfy upon the death of the holder of the annuity contract. Following is a summary of those rules:

  • If the holder dies after the annuity starting date, the remaining interest must be distributed at least as rapidly as the method of distributions being used at the date of the holder’s death.
  • Generally, if the holder dies before the annuity starting date, the entire interest must be distributed within 5 years of the holder’s death.
  • An exception to the 5-year rule allows a designated beneficiary to elect, within 1 year of the holder’s death, to take distribution of the proceeds over his/her life expectancy. A designated beneficiary is an individual named by the holder as the beneficiary of the annuity contract. A trust does not qualify as a designated beneficiary.
  • If the holder’s surviving spouse is the designated beneficiary, the surviving spouse has the ability to continue the decedent’s contract as though it were his/her own.

With a trust-owned annuity contract, the annuitant is defined to be the holder. Thus, it is the annuitant’s death that triggers a required distribution under IRC Section 72(s)(6). If, as is usual, the trust is the beneficiary of the contract, then the 5-year rule applies. Since a designated beneficiary must be an individual, the opportunity for a life expectancy pay-out appears to be unavailable. But under IRC Section 401(a)(9), which governs distributions from qualified retirement plans and IRAs, the beneficiaries of a properly designed trust which name trusts as beneficiaries (called a “see-through trust” by the IRS) will be treated as having been designated as the beneficiaries of the plan or IRA. Does the same hold true for trust-owned annuities, thereby allowing a life expectancy payout for annuities that name see-through trusts as the beneficiaries? Unfortunately, this issue has not yet been addressed by the courts or the IRS.

What if the irrevocable trust is a “grantor” trust for income tax purposes and the grantor and annuitant (normally the trust beneficiary) are not the same person? While not clear, arguably the grantor should be treated as the holder of the contract. If so, then it would be the grantor’s death (not the annuitant’s) that would determine when distributions from the contract must be made.

Penalty for Premature Distributions. IRC Section 72(q) imposes a 10% penalty tax on premature distributions from an annuity contract. Generally, the penalty tax applies to distributions to the “taxpayer” prior to attaining age 59 ½. If the annuity contract is owned by a trust, then who is the “taxpayer” for purposes of IRC Section 72(q)?

As discussed above, the annuitant is treated as the holder of a trust-owned annuity for purposes of the required distributions upon the death of the holder. Thus, it is logical to look at the annuitant for purposes of applying the age 59 1/2 exception for the premature distribution penalty. Assuming the annuitant’s age is not the relevant measure, then presumably it must be the beneficiary’s or beneficiaries’ age. If so, must all the beneficiaries be over age 59 1/2 for the exception to apply? Moreover, if the irrevocable trust is a grantor trust, is the penalty then based on the grantor’s age? Unfortunately, each of these questions remains unanswered. To avoid these issues, consideration should be given to distributing the contract outright to the beneficiary before the date withdrawals are to begin.

Designing the Trust

Keeping in mind that the PLRs cited above are only binding on taxpayers who requested the ruling, they do suggest that an annuity contract acquired by an irrevocable trust or credit shelter trust can provide tax deferral. But great care must be exercised to make sure that both the trust and annuity contract are properly structured. Consider these factors when setting up a trust-owned annuity:

  • The trust agreement should not require its assets be invested in income-producing property.
  • The trust agreement should specifically authorize the trustee to invest in an annuity contract.
  • The trust agreement should specifically allow distribution of the annuity contract in-kind to avoid adverse income tax consequences. If separate contracts are established for each trust beneficiary, with each beneficiary named as the annuitant for his or her respective contract, the in-kind distribution of the contract to the beneficiary-annuitant should be a non-taxable event.
  • To avoid gift taxes, the trust should purchase the annuity contract directly.
  • The trust should be the owner and beneficiary of the annuity contract.
  • If the grantor of the trust is named the annuitant, his or her death will likely trigger a complete and taxable liquidation of the contract within five years.
  • If the annuitant were to die while the annuity contract was still held in trust, the contract will likely have to be liquidated in five years. Thus, consideration should be given to distributing the annuity contract to the beneficiary-annuitant before his or her death. By doing so, the beneficiary-annuitant, as the new owner, will continue to enjoy all of the contract’s benefits and guarantees, and can name a new designated beneficiary.
  • Avoid the 10% early distribution penalty when possible.
  • The named annuitant should never be changed. Otherwise, the contract must be liquidated within 5 years.

Although trust-owned annuities involve a significant degree of complexity and uncertainty, they can be extremely beneficial. This is particularly so for credit shelter trusts where it’s possible to pass on an inheritance and not an income tax bill.


Handling & Storage of Lobster Before Cooking

Lobsters are widely known as the King of the crustaceans and they should be treated accordingly. To successfully purchase or catch a lobster and maintain of the highest quality until it hits the dinner table, we must treat it with respect. As lobsters tend to be more expensive than other crustaceans it’s not good economics to be trashing a lobster due to poor care, so let’s have a look at the best ways to handle and store our lobster.

Lobsters breathe through their gills and these must be kept moist in order for them to stay alive. You really want to keep your fresh live lobster out of the sunlight or heat in general and maintain moisture around them.

Transport lobsters in a container like a heavy duty cardboard box or foam cooler box but ideally without a lid. Keep some wet straw or damp newspaper on base of box and cover the lobster with a damp cloth as they will easily diffuse the moisture from the air and sucking the oxygen in through their gills.

Don’t immerse live lobsters in salt water or on ice that could melt and submerge them as they will suffocate in a very short period of time. When they are in saltwater tanks at seafood shops, realize that the tanks are filtered and the lobster is frequently getting fresh oxygen. If in a small container immersed in water their oxygen will be depleted quickly.

Make sure that the lobster’s claws have been tied with string or an elastic band to avoid being nipped. You need to handle lobsters gently and the less frequent, the better. Lobsters can easily be stressed and weakened by all the jostling, do remember that they really are at home when they are within the sea.

You can expect the lobster to stay in good condition out of the sea or its saltwater tank for one to two days. Sometimes in the wild they get caught out with low tides and get stuck on open rocks and have to wait for tidal shifts again so they have adjusted naturally, but they are still in a weakened state so treat them with care.

Lobsters come as either soft shelled or hard shelled versions; it just depends on where in the moulting stage that the lobster is at. If you’ve done your checks and squeezed the lobsters side concluding that you have a hard shelled version, well they are going to travel much better than a soft shelled version.

Once they are home, make some room in the refrigerator and store them covered with a damp cloth still allowing them to breathe. Stored this way, they will have a realistic shelf life of one to two days. You should consider cooking them quicker than this though for the ultimate in freshness.

The Difference Between Buying Cranes And Crane Rental Services

The construction business is one of the pillars of the world’s economy. But despite being such a lucrative job, a contractor’s work and responsibilities are not easy. They oversee everything that’s going on – from the biggest to smallest detail of every project. And to add more complications to their tasks, they also need to decide on how they spend money on equipment. Do they go for buying machines like cranes or just get a crane rental? If you’re hoping to join their ranks soon, you should know the highs and lows of the business.

The advantages of buying equipment

Regardless of the nature, businesses all share the same goal: profits. And as a contractor, your job is to make money by finishing a project on time and within the budget set by clients. Therefore it makes sense to invest in every piece of machinery that you’re going to use.

And so we shed light on whether buying equipment is more profitable than going to crane rental companies. Here are the advantages of owning your own machines:

1. Unlike selling products, the price of services depends on the amount of work to be done and how fast it’s finished. Contractors who have their own equipment can do work faster thus they get paid immediately.

2. No lining up for available machine rentals. There are many contractors out there and chances are most of them rely on crane rentals which means you can’t accept rush jobs.

3. Work instantly. To cut down overhead costs, most if not all contractors want to speed up the pace of workers but they won’t be able to do that without the necessary tools.

Disadvantages of owning equipment

Machines need to be taken care of in order to extend its life and its potential for earning more money. If you want to own machines and equipment you have to be ready to spend on maintenance. And it’s one of the biggest drawbacks of having your own machinery. Even without projects, you need to keep them in good condition and it will cost you money you haven’t earned yet.

Machines used for crane rental require special skills and you need to hire somebody to operate yours if you decide to buy them. And just like investing on maintenance, you also need to have a crew ready to go once you get a project.

Why Getting Crane Rental is Better

Getting a crane rental eliminates the need for expensive machine maintenance and you don’t have to pay salaries to workers to operate them. Rental companies can provide you with professional machine operators and drivers that you don’t have to pay because it comes with the rent. It’s certainly a better way to make more profits and getting the job done right.

HUD-1 As A Marketing Tool – For Realtors

How Can HUD-1 Help You Generate Business?


HUD-1 is a standard form you use very often. The form serves not just as a settlement closing statement, but also as a proof of payment of different tax deductions. Understanding the form and the tax deductible items and communicating them to your clients will help your clients to minimize their taxes and help you to build trust and get more business exposure.

What is the HUD-1


HUD-1 is a form used by the settlement agent (closing agent) to itemize all incoming funds and all charges paid and accrued by a borrower and seller for a real estate transaction.

When is the HUD-1 Issued?

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) requires that the form be issued in all real estate transactions in the United States which involve federally related mortgage loans. RESPA states you should be given a copy of the HUD-1 at least one day prior to settlement.

When Do Clients Need HUD-1 For Taxes?


Clients use the information included in the form when they file their annual taxes. The filing deadline is normally April 15 of every year for the proceeding year. To allow the client enough time to file taxes using the HUD-1 information, it is recommended that a copy of the HUD-1 will be sent to the client in January.

Because the real estate transaction takes place during the year, usually long before filing the tax return, the HUD-1 given to the client at closing time could be lost or misplace. Sending the client a copy of the HUD-1 with a cover letter will be very helpful and time savings to the client.

HUD-1 Client Sample Letter


The following is a sample letter you can use to send your clients:



Dear [Client’s Name]:

Tax time indeed is just around the corner, and the first thing you will need is a copy of the Closing Statement on your property. Moving can be a very busy time, and you may have misplaced this very important document.

I would like to be sure you avail yourself of all the tax advantages possible from our transaction. If your accountant has any questions, please have him or her call me (if you need a referral to an accounting you can trust, I’d be happy to provide you with one).

I look forward to continuing as your realtor and providing you the highest level of service possible.

Yours sincerely,

[your name]

Oh, by the way… If any of your friends or relatives are thinking about buying or selling a home, I’d love to be of service to them. So, when you think of these people, just give me a call with their name and number. I’ll be happy to follow up and tend to their Real Estate needs.

Which HUD-1 Information Is Important For Your Client’s Taxes?

The information reported in the HUD-1 relates to the following tax statements and schedules:

Tax form HUD-1 line

Schedule A (itemized deductions), Line 10 – Annual mortgage interest deduction Line 901

Schedule A (itemized deductions), Line 10 – Points deduction Line 802

Schedule A (itemized deductions), Line 6 – Real estate taxes deduction Line 1003, 1004

Schedule E (rental income), Line 20 – Depreciation (cost of property is required) Line 101, 102

Schedule E (rental income), Line 12a – Mortgage Interest Deduction Line 901, 802

Schedule E (rental income), Line 9 – Insurance 903, 1001, 1002

Schedule E (rental income), Line 16a – Real state taxes 1003, 1004

Schedule E (rental income), Line 18 – Other deductions 703, 801-811, 1005, 1101-1110, 1201-3, 1301-1302

Schedule D (capital gain) Part I, II, Column d – Sales Price 401, 402

Schedule D (capital gain) – Part I, II, Column e – Cost or other basis 101, 102

Form 6252 (installment sale), Line 8 – Selling price 401, 402

Form 6252 (installment sale), Line 8 – Cost or other basis 101, 102

Form 4797 (sale of business property), Part I, Column d – Cost or other basis 401, 402

Form 4797 (sale of business property), Part I, Column f – 101, 102

HUD-1’s two sections


Section J, Summary of Borrower’s Transaction

This section contains 6 sections, and basically summarizes the entries made to the section L (Settlement charges, see below).

o Section 100, Gross Amount Due from Borrower

o Section 200, Amounts Paid By or In Behalf of Borrower

o Section 300, Cash at Settlement From/To Borrower

o Section 400, Gross Amount Due to Seller

o Section 500, Reductions in Amount Due to Seller

o Section 600, Cash at Settlement To/From Seller

Section L, Settlement Charges

That’s where many entries are tabulated before being brought forward to page 1. Columns contain charges that are paid from either the borrower’s or the seller’s funds. Your closing statement probably won’t have entries in all lines.

o Section 700, Agency Commissions

o Section 800, Items Payable in Connection with Loan

o Section 900, Items Required by Lender to be Paid in Advance

o Section 1000, Reserves Deposited with Lender

o Section 1100, Title Charges

o Section 1200, Government Recording and Transfer Charges

o Sections 1300 & 1400, Additional Settlement Charges and Totals

Line By Line Description

Section 700, Agency Commissions

701 Commissions paid to real estate agencies

702 Commissions paid to real estate agencies

Section 800, Items Payable in Connection with Loan

801 Processing or originating loan fees. If the fee is a percentage of the loan amount, the percentage will be stated.

802 “Points” charged by the lender. Each point is 1% of the loan amount.

803 Appraisal fees. If paid with loan application before closing, it should be marked “POC,” (paid outside of closing). The amount would be shown, but would not be included in the total fees you bring to settlement.

804 Cost of the credit report if it is not included in the Origination Fee.

805 Inspections fee, done at the request of the lender.

806 Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) application fee.

807 Assumption fee, when buyer takes over seller’s existing mortgage.

808 Miscellaneous items connected with the loan, such as fees paid to a mortgage broker.

809 Miscellaneous items connected with the loan, such as fees paid to a mortgage broker.

810 Miscellaneous items connected with the loan, such as fees paid to a mortgage broker.

811 Miscellaneous items connected with the loan, such as fees paid to a mortgage broker.

Section 900, Items Required by Lender to be Paid in Advance

901 Interest collected at settlement for the time period between closing and the first monthly payment.

902 Mortgage insurance premiums due at settlement. Escrow reserves for mortgage insurance are recorded later. If your mortgage insurance is a lump sum payment good for the life of the loan it should be noted.

903 Hazard insurance premiums due at settlement. It is not used for insurance reserves that will go into escrow.

904 Miscellaneous items: flood insurance, mortgage life insurance, credit life insurance and disability insurance premiums.

905 Miscellaneous items: flood insurance, mortgage life insurance, credit life insurance and disability insurance premiums.

Section 1000 Reserves Deposited with Lender

1001-1007 Funds used to start the borrower’s escrow account, from which the lender will pay next year’s premiums. Each mortgage payment includes an amount that covers a portion of these recurring expenses.

1008 Escrow adjustment calculated by the settlement agent by comparing different escrow formulas to assure the lender does not collect more escrow funds than allowed.

Section 1100, Title Charges

1101 Settlement agent’s fee.

The fees for the abstract or title search and examination are entered in lines

1102 Abstract / title search fee

1103 Examination fee

1104 Title insurance binder (also called a commitment to insure). Payment for title insurance policies is entered later.

1105 Deed preparations record charges and work on mortgages and notes

1106 The fee charged by a notary public for authenticating the execution of the settlement documents

1107 Attorney’s fees.

1108 Title insurance (except the cost of the binder).

1109 Informational lines disclosing costs for the separate title insurance policies (Only line 1108 is carried forward.)

1110 Informational lines disclosing costs for the separate title insurance policies (Only line 1108 is carried forward.)

1111-1113 Other title-related charges which vary by location: tax certificate fee / private tax fee

Section 1200, Government Recording and Transfer Charges

1201 Recording fee

1202 City or County recording fee

1203 State recording fee

1204-1205 Miscellaneous recording fee items

Section 1300, Survey and inspections fees (for pests, lead-based paint, radon, structural inspections, inspections for heating, plumbing, or electrical equipment) and home warranty.

Line 1400 Total settlement charges paid from borrower’s and seller’s funds. They are also entered in Sections J and K,

lines 103 and 502.

Section J, Summary of Borrower’s Transaction

Section 100, Gross Amount Due from Borrower

Line 101 Gross sales price of the property.

Line 102 Personal property charges (draperies, washer, dryer, outdoor furniture, and decorative items purchased from the seller)

Line 103 Total settlement charges to borrower (from Line 1400 section L)

Lines 104-105 Amounts owed by the borrower or previously paid by the seller (include balance in the seller’s escrow account if the borrower is assuming the loan and uncollected rents borrower may owe the seller)

Lines 106-112 Item paid in advance by seller (Prorated portion of city/county taxes)

Line 120 Gross amount due from borrower. Total of Lines 101 through 112

Section 200, Amounts Paid By or In Behalf of Borrower

Line 201 Buyer’s credit for the earnest money paid when the offer was accepted.

Line 202 The new loan paid to the borrower by the lender.

Line 203 Loan borrower assumes or takes title subject to an existing loan or lien on the property.

Lines 204-209 Miscellaneous items paid by or on behalf of the buyer (allowance the seller is making for repairs or replacement of items or a note seller accepts from borrower for part of the purchase price)

Lines 210-219 Bills seller has not yet paid, but owes (taxes, assessments or rent collected in advance by the seller for a period extending beyond the settlement date)

Lines 220 Total for all items in Section 200. The total is added to the borrower’s proceeds.

Section 300, Cash at Settlement From/To Borrower

Lines 301 Summary of the total amount due from the borrower.

Lines 302 Summery of all items already paid by or for the borrower.

Lines 303 The difference between lines 301 and 302 representing the amount of money the borrower owes at closing. If negative number the borrower will receive funds back at closing.

Section K, Summary of Seller’s Transaction

Section 400, Gross Amount Due to Seller (amounts added to the seller’s funds)

Line 401 Gross sales price of the property.

Lines 404-405 Amounts owed by the borrower or previously paid by the seller (escrow account’s balance or uncollected rents)

Lines 406-412 Items paid in advance by the seller (prorated portion of city / county taxes)

line 420 is the gross amount due to the seller. Total of Lines 401 through 412.

Section 500, Reductions in Amount Due to Seller (amounts are subtracted from the seller’s funds)

line 501 When a third party holds the borrower’s earnest money deposit, and will pay it directly to the seller.

line 502 Total from line 1400, the seller’s total charges as computed in Section L.

line 503 When borrower assumes or takes title subject to existing liens which are deducted from the sales price.

line 504-505 First and/or second loans which will be paid-off as part of settlement (including accrued interest).

line 506-509 Miscellaneous entries

line 506 Deposits paid by the borrower to the seller or third party other than the settlement agent

line 510-519 Bills unpaid by seller (taxes, assessments or rent collected in advance )

line 520 Total of all items in Section 500. The total is deducted from the seller’s proceeds.

Section 600, Cash at Settlement To/From Seller

line line 601 Gross amount due to the seller, from line 420.

line 602 Total reductions in seller’s proceeds, from line 520.

line 603 Difference between lines 601 and 602. Cash amount paid to seller (if a negative number the seller owes money at closing)

Top 10 Tips on Buying a Trampoline

Buying a garden trampoline? Follow these top 10 trampoline buying tips and you will find the right trampoline for you and your children that will give years of fun.

1. If I buy a trampoline, will it get used or ignored?

We find all parents are surprised once they have bought a trampoline just how much use it gets and we hear time and again them saying, “..the trampoline was the best thing we have ever bought for our children – they are on it every day”. These are the comments after just a week and also after several years.

2. Should I buy a circular or rectangular trampoline?

Circular trampolines are most common for use in the garden as they are less powerful than the rectangular trampolines which are used by experienced gymnasts. The circular trampolines naturally direct the jumper to the centre of the trampoline mat so making them safer. For most children it would be too dangerous for them to use a rectangular trampoline at home without constant expert supervision for them and their friends.

3. Does size matter?

Make sure you know how much room the trampoline will take up in the garden. Round trampolines sold in the UK have a size measured in feet which refers to the diameter (or overall width from the very outside of the frame, across the centre, to outside of frame the other side). Sizes can range from as small as 6ft up to a whopping 16ft. You will also need to allow approximately 18 inches around the trampoline to allow room for the enclosure net to flex when a user falls against it. The best site in your garden for your new trampoline will ideally be fairly level and free from overhanging cables and branches. Why not measure and lay rope out on your lawn to get an idea of the space it will take up before you buy a trampoline online to avoid a surprise when it arrives. It is always a good idea to get the biggest trampoline with enclosure that will fit and also that the budget will afford. Don’t forget – most adults love to be big kids and will definitely want to use the trampoline as well!

4. How long will they last?

Many modern trampolines are built to last and last and come with warranties of 5 years or so. With that in mind, don’t just choose a trampoline which is big enough for your child to use now – pick one that will still be ideal for your child to use in years to come. It will save you having to buy a bigger one after a couple of years.

5. How do I choose which supplier to use?

A trampoline package will be large and heavy so most people will not have a car big enough to collect one and take it home from a shop. The majority of trampolines are therefore home delivered by a mail order or internet supplier. You should pick one that specialises in trampolines as they can advise you on choice of trampoline, installation and ongoing product support will be invaluable. They will also hold a stock of parts and accessories that you may require in the future. Try phoning them to see how much they know about their own models. Some suppliers sell many different products and could well be selling something else next year just when you are in need of a spare part or an accessory. Find out how long they have been selling trampolines.

6. What features of the product should I look out for?

Frame – the frame of the trampoline is about the most important part, these are usually made of galvanised steel (a process that coats the metal against rust) and better quality ones will have the galvanised protection both on the inside and outside of the tubing. Frames that are powder-coated might be cheaper but provide much less protection against rust. The weakest part of the frame can be where the circular ring joins the uprights. On most trampolines this is a welded joint but these welds can be of poor quality and even good quality welds may crack in time and render the trampoline useless. Atlantic Trampolines, for example, use a patented T-joint for their trampolines which avoids the need for a weld and the difficulties that can result from this method of construction.

Bounce mat and Spring Padding – the bounce mat needs to be strong and hard wearing. It also needs to be smooth when a jumper falls against it with their bare skin. Better trampolines use a mat made of Permatron Polypropylene which is also UV resistant and will stand up to years of exposure to direct sunlight. The spring padding is also exposed to bright sunlight and the PE material used by many manufacturers will crack after a year or so of use. Atlantic Trampolines, for example, use Polyester on the top surface of their spring padding which provides a much longer life span.

Number of springs – manufacturers will normally state how many springs they use for each size of trampoline they sell. Larger trampolines will have more springs than smaller ones. However, when comparing similar size trampolines from different manufacturers the one with the most springs is not necessarily the best or most powerful. The number of springs needed for the optimum bounce is related to the weight of the user. A large number of springs can make it very hard or impossible for a young child to bounce. If in doubt ask your supplier’s advice.

Weight limit – most trampolines will specify a maximum safe weight limit. A weight limit of around 100kg (16 stone) should be ample for most families.

7. What accessories should I consider buying?

Safety enclosure – always pick a trampoline set that includes a safety enclosure. No matter what age the users are, or how careful they are, you can be sure that without one fitted there will be an accidental fall from the trampoline. If an enclosure is not fitted you will also have to allow extra space around the trampoline in case of falls. There are many different designs of safety enclosure on the market. As long as there is good safety padding over the springs then a net that secures on the outside of the trampoline circular frame is ideal. This will maximise the usable space inside and an adventurous somersaulter will not be hindered by a net located inside the springs.

Ladder – a trampoline ladder is essential as it allows easy access for older but especially younger children. They are also less likely to jump off the trampoline and risk an injury. If you have very young children you can stop them accessing the trampoline when you are not present by taking the ladder away. We recommend a ladder that has flat steps rather than tubular steps as these can be uncomfortable for children to use without shoes on. Some suppliers will automatically include a ladder with the trampoline but others will sell it as an extra item.

Weather cover – an all weather trampoline cover goes over the trampoline mat and protects it from leaves and bird droppings. It will usually have a hole in the centre to allow water to pass through.

Anchor Kit – a trampoline anchor kit is essential if you are leaving your trampoline out in the garden all year round. Although the trampoline is a heavy piece of equipment we have seen them lift off the ground, even in small gardens, where they have the potential to get damaged or cause damage to your house and other property. An anchor kit helps keep the trampoline secure to the ground during windy weather.

8. I’ve seen pictures of trampoline tents, what are they all about?

Special trampoline tents have been designed to sit like a dome on the trampoline and fold down like the roof on a convertible car so the user can bounce or use the tent with ease. Tents can provide a useful all-weather play area for younger children and protect them from strong sunlight. For older children they offer the flexibility to turn the trampoline into a den or space for a sleepover. Whatever reason they are bought for, it means the trampoline can be used in all weathers and at all stages of the year!

9. What about delivery?

When comparing prices of products online, don’t forget to check what the delivery charge would be. Some retailers add a fixed delivery price, some charge extra based on the weight of the packages and some even offer free delivery. Delivery of the product to your home will normally be during the working week but some will offer Saturday delivery for an additional payment. The product is heavy and the driver might require assistance. Make sure there is somewhere safe and undercover to store it until you are ready to put the trampoline together.

10. What if I need to know more?

If you are unsure about anything, ring or email the retailer and ask. It will help to clarify your point and will also give you a chance to see how well they know their products and if you feel you can buy from them with confidence.

What to Expect When Taking the IICRC Carpet Cleaning Technician Exam

IICRC stands for Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. Carpet Cleaning Technician, S100, is a designation that a carpet cleaner needs to prove that he or she is compiling with the most prevalent standards in the carpet cleaning industry. It has become increasingly important for a professional who is performing carpet cleaning services to have the “CCT” designation. There are some new carpets manufactured where the certification is not only suggested, but required. In other words, if you are cleaning carpets that require you to have the certification and you are not certified then the warranty on the carpet is void and you become liable.

I took my first class about 19 years ago and took my first test soon after. The material and the test have evolved greatly since that time. A new addition arrives this year. The CCT community has been working diligently on the new material for the past few years and it looks better than ever before.

These are some items you should know about the test:

Get the manual from your Instructor prior to attending the class (if possible). Read a few pages everyday. Usually the highlighted parts in the manual are extremely important to know and will probably be seen on your test. The test has a total of 160 multiple choice questions. The correct answer is not always the only right answer, but rather the best answer. Currently the answers need to be filled in on a Scan-tron sheet with a #2 pencil. There is no time limit for you to complete the test. You need to get 75% to pass. It may take up to six weeks to get your results and they are mailed directly to you. It is also available in Spanish if you request to take it Spanish when registering. The certification you get is a personal certification and stays with you regardless of who you work for. The cost of the test is currently $50. Cash, personal check, business check and credit cards are accepted. Checks need to be made to the IICRC.

Although I can’t tell you the questions on the test, I can give you a good example of what you will see on the test. Answering the questions below will also help you in figuring out how well you’ll perform on the test.

IICRC Test Examples:

1) Which of the following fibers are protein based: (A) Olefin (B) Wool and Silk (C) Polyester (D) Cotton and Jute

2) The temperature at which a dry solvent will ignite is called: (A) Explosion (B) Ignite (C) Flash point (D) Emulsion

3) When the primary backing and the secondary backing separate, what is it called? (A) Messed up (B) Delamination (C) Separation (D) Fluffing

4) What percentage of soil is insoluble in water? (A) 43 to 45% (B) 74 to 79% (C) 22 to 26% (D) Varies

5) Where should you empty your waste tank? (A) Storm drain (B) Street (C) Sanitary sewer (D) Your fresh water tank

6) TACT is an acronym for what? (A) Time Act Clean Truck (B) Time Agitation Chemical Temperature (C) Tufted carpet (D) 4th generation carpet

7) The process of drying is called? (A) Wicking (B) Capillary Action (C) A and B above (D) None of the above

The purpose of the test is to make sure that a technician learns as much as possible to do his/her job well. If you need carpet cleaning supplies or just want to talk, you are welcome to contact me. I would be happy to help you in your endeavor to learn. You can also find answers to these questions there under Articles Tab and then Test Answers.

Fabric Designs Using Nature As Inspiration

For your next decorating scheme why not take inspiration from nature for your curtain fabric. Use soft shades from the forest and woodland such as slate grey, muddy taupe and forest green. Look for curtain fabrics which have designs inspired by flora and fauna. There are many leaf designs around with a variety of shapes, scale of design and colours so there is something for all.

You can either choose a neutral scheme using creams, taupes and greys or a more colourful scheme using shades such as pinks and greens. Botanical prints can also be used and colours of fresh emerald greens and whites create a light and calming feel to a room.

In a bedroom use earthy hues, shades of dusty red, soft peat and pumice. Instead of colour use contrasting textures and surfaces to add interest. For instance layer rugs using flat weave rugs with different designs, textures and colours. Add a chunky cotton summer throw and cushions. For this scheme natural effect bed linen is best looking a little crumpled! Fabrics should be leaf or botanical inspired in neutral shades and use for curtains or blinds. One of these shades should also be used on the walls. This will create a very relaxing look, great for a bedroom.

Wood should be pale either in birch or clean limed oak. Upholstery fabrics should be simple in natural linens and can be used for sofas and chairs. If they look a little crumpled this only adds to the look which should be very comfortable and easy to live with. Accessorise with plain cushions and vases in tonal neutral shades.

If you use colourful prints in a living or dining room, use the printed fabric as a curtain or blind fabric and then pick out a colour to use for walls, this will probably be one of the paler background colours of the curtain fabric. Choose some of the brighter colours to use for plain cushions and accessories.

These designs are also ideal for bringing the outside in and would work well in a garden room or conservatory where you could use these prints as an upholstery fabric on furniture. You could also use fabric for cushions or a tablecloth. In these rooms more colourful prints can be used to reflect the colours of the garden.

These nature inspired prints are also great for using in the garden or a summerhouse for cushions on garden chairs.

There are many different designs to choose from so there is something for everyone.

Reduce Indoor Humidity in Your RV-Travel Trailer

Protect your valuable camping equipment by reducing the places water and moisture see into your RV, travel trailer or pop up camper. Over time water and moisture causing mold and rot will damage the structure creating costly repairs. It's a good idea to use the following camping comfort tips before each travel season. There is nothing worse than finding the cause of the problem after you had to replace the floor boards and the carpet. Trust me; I've had personal experience on this one! This is what the EPA has to say about indoor mold.

The US Environmental Protection Agency states in their recent Energy Star article:

Mold, Mildew, or Musty Odors

"Diagnosis: A water leak or high humidity can lead to mold, mildew, or other biological growth. your house from the outside through a leak in your roof, foundation, or small gaps around windows or doors. Water can also come from inside your house from a leaking water pipe, toilet, shower or bathtub. daily living such as showering cooking, and drying clothes, can also be a source of mold, mildew, or musty odors. Indoor humidity levels between 30% and 50% are ideal. "

Chasing leaks in the RV or travel trailer is no fun! We own a vintage, '77 Airstream and spent an entire travel season with wet carpet in the bedroom. We did not change our vacation schedule, but water problems did "dampen" our travel spirits. Every time it would rain, we would all groan, knowing we just added more work to our day; soaking up water out of the carpet and laundry for the towels afterwards. Post travel season we spent the winter removing walls, testing seals for leaks with a water hose and assessing water damage. We found five leaks, in various locations, but the water all traveled to one corner of the trailer. Aha! That's why all of our previous "fixes" had failed! There was a significant damage to the floor and we had to replace a third of the entire trailer's floor boards, along with the carpet. We have had a "dry" Airstream since, but we faithfully inspect the trailer each season for moisture and dampness so we can proactively address problems before they become destructive water / mold issues. We use several compact dehumidifiers to help us maintain a mold free trailer. No more damp stale smells, even after winter storage! I'm all about check lists with our Airstream! I hope this one will help you as much as it has us.

Reduce Indoor Humidity

RV Camping Comfort Top Tips:

1. Inspect and repair water pipes, toilet, bathtub or shower
2. Check and repair damaged or brittle window and vent seals
3. Inspect walls for evidence of hidden water problems annually
4. Inspect your roof annually, and seal if needed
5. Control moisture in your kitchen and bath with ventilation fans
6. Make sure refrigerator and air conditioner vents, typically vented outside, are clear of debris
7. Clean or replace all filters once a year
8. Professional inspection of your furnace and air conditioner ensures proper operation
9. Use moisture-thirsty micro-fiber cloths and towels whenever possible
10. Hang eva-dry E-500 High Capacity Humidifiers in closets, bathroom and any other small enclosed space (Even storage containers)

Reducing the places moisture collections keeps your camper from smelling damp, Promotes healthy air quality in your RV or trailer, and adds comfort to your travels.