Real Estate Tips

    • 3 Fun, Easy Ways to Keep Kids Learning During Summer

      23 May 2022

      (Family Features) With school out, summertime brings long, carefree days of play and fun. It can be easy to forget how much children learn through play, but they have a natural sense of curiosity. With a little thought and a few supplies, summer is a perfect opportunity to revitalize their innate love of learning that may be a bit squashed after a year of academic pressures, tests and schedules.

      “At this time of year, we often hear families express concern about children losing academic skills during summer break,” said Sue-Ann Lively from KinderCare’s education team. “The pressure to add academic learning to summer can lead to increased anxiety, which isn’t helpful for parents or children. Children retain what they learned best when they’re engaged and interested in what they’re doing. As we head into summer, think about the skills your child learned during the school year and how you could incorporate those skills into activities your child enjoys doing.”

      Consider these three tips to help your family incorporate learning classroom concepts in summer fun and nurture your children’s love of learning through real-life applications. 

      1. Build on classroom skills
      Practicing writing may not be at the top of your children’s summer activities lists. However, writing might be more appealing if it led to something fun, like a card or letter from a relative or friend. By encouraging your children to write to pen pals, like friends or family members, they will not only practice their literacy skills by writing letters and reading replies, but also work on important executive function skills by learning to manage anticipation while waiting for a response. Even children who are too young to write can participate by drawing pictures and dictating the captions to family members.

      2. Go outside
      A walk around the neighborhood can turn into an opportunity to build STEM skills by observing changes over time. As you and your children walk, ask questions, make predictions and discuss what you see. This way, you’ll be forming hypotheses and analyzing your results, just like scientists.

      3. Find learning opportunities in regular activities
      Cooking provides a variety of opportunities to work on math skills. For younger children, that could mean getting two carrots and one apple for a recipe. For children who are learning fractions and multiplication, that might mean figuring out how much of an ingredient to add, such as “If the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of flour and we’re doubling the recipe, how much flour do we need?”

      Board games are another opportunity to build academic skills, like math and literacy; executive function skills, like waiting for their turn; and social skills, such as being a gracious winner.

      Additionally, read with your children daily and help them find opportunities to practice reading skills, such as reading signs aloud at the park or reading books out loud to other family members.

      For more ideas to help children learn through play, visit

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Shake Up Summer Snacks

      23 May 2022

      (Family Features) Power up for summer adventures by shaking up your snacking routine with homemade recipes inspired by childhood favorites.

      Tasty and versatile, California walnuts are easy to swap into your favorite snack recipes and work hard to keep you energized and full. Kick off summer with some irresistible plant-forward Walnut Chorizo Pizza Bites and Strawberry Walnut Hand Pies for delicious summer snacks loaded with the nutrition benefits of walnuts.

      Visit for more snack recipes.

      Strawberry Walnut Hand Pies

      1/4 cup California walnuts
      1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      1 teaspoon cane sugar
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
      4-5 tablespoons ice cold water
      1 egg, beaten

      Strawberry Walnut Filling:
      1 cup strawberries, tops removed, halved
      1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      1 teaspoon cornstarch
      2 tablespoons cane sugar
      1/3 cup finely chopped California walnuts
      1/2 cup powdered sugar
      2 tablespoons 2% milk
      1/2 teaspoon beetroot powder
      2 tablespoons finely chopped California walnuts

      To make dough: In a food processor, pulse walnuts until fine and evenly ground. Add flour, sugar and salt to ground walnuts; pulse to combine. Add cubed butter; pulse until butter is in small pieces. Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing while adding, until dough starts sticking together.

      Transfer dough to a clean surface; shape into two 4-inch discs. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

      To make filling: In a food processor, pulse strawberries and lemon juice until slightly chunky.

      Transfer to saucepan and gradually whisk in cornstarch until dissolved. Stir in sugar.

      Heat over low heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Turn heat off and stir in chopped walnuts. Transfer mixture to a small bowl; refrigerate.

      To assemble hand pies: Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator. Lightly flour work surface and rolling pin. Roll out dough into a large rectangle. Slice dough into six 4-by-2-inch rectangles. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

      In a bowl, mix water and egg. Brush perimeter of dough rectangles with egg wash. Place 1 tablespoon filling on the center of the dough.

      Roll out the second dough disc, creating six rectangles of dough. Place on top of jam and crimp edges with fork to seal. Freeze hand pies for 20 minutes.

      Preheat the oven to 375 F.

      Trim uneven edges of dough with a sharp knife and brush tops and sides with egg wash.

      Bake for 20-24 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Cool at room temperature 5 minutes on a baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack until completely cooled.

      To make frosting: In a bowl, whisk sugar, milk and beetroot powder until thick but smooth. Drizzle frosting over hand pies and top with chopped walnuts. Cool for 15 minutes, or until frosting is set.

      Walnut Chorizo Pizza Bites

      Walnut Chorizo:
      1 1/2 cups California walnuts
      1 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
      2 tablespoons lime juice
      1 teaspoon smoked paprika
      1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
      1/2 teaspoon cumin
      1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
      1 tablespoon olive oil

      Pizza Bites:
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      1 cup sliced sweet onion
      5 mini bagels
      1 large zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch (10 slices)
      1 cup marinara sauce
      1 cup walnut chorizo
      1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
      1/2 cup chopped basil

      To make walnut chorizo: In a food processor, pulse walnuts until finely crumbled. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

      In a food processor, pulse pinto beans, lime juice, paprika, oregano, cumin, chipotle powder, salt and garlic powder until mixture resembles ground meat. Stir bean mixture with walnut pieces.

      In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add walnut chorizo and cook 5-7 minutes until lightly browned, using spatula to break into crumbles.

      To make pizza bites: In a pan over medium heat, heat olive oil and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes until onion is soft and golden brown.

      Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Halve bagels and place on a baking sheet. Place zucchini slices on a second baking sheet.

      Top each bagel and zucchini slice with 1 tablespoon marinara; spread with the back of the spoon. Add 1 tablespoon walnut chorizo crumbles to each bagel and zucchini slice. Sprinkle it with caramelized onion and goat cheese.

      Bake for 10 minutes.

      Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets. Top with basil.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Does a Down Payment Cover Closing Costs?

      23 May 2022

      When you buy a house, you will have to make a down payment and pay closing costs. Many people, especially first-time buyers, are confused about the differences between them and what each includes. They’re separate expenses, and one does not cover the other, although they may be paid at the same time.

      What Is a Down Payment?
      A down payment is a sum of money that you will have to pay before you buy a house. That amount will depend on your mortgage lender’s requirements and your financial circumstances. Your lender may require you to put down a minimum percentage of the purchase price, but you may decide to make a larger down payment. 

      If you put down less than 20% of the purchase price, you will probably have to buy mortgage insurance. That may add thousands of dollars per year to your total cost of homeownership. Making a low down payment may also cause you to have a higher interest rate than someone who puts more money down.

      You will have to pay earnest money after you make an offer to show that you’re serious about buying the house. Earnest money will be put in escrow while the sale is pending. The rest of your down payment will be paid at closing. The total down payment (earnest money plus the amount paid at closing) will count toward the cost of the house. The rest of the purchase price can be covered by a mortgage. 

      What Are Closing Costs?
      Closing costs are a series of fees associated with your mortgage application, inspection, appraisal, title search and other services that are required as part of the homebuying process. Those fees may depend on your lender or the companies providing other services. 

      Sometimes, the charges are fixed. In other cases, they are a percentage of either the loan amount or the total purchase price. Closing costs may also include prepaid expenses for property taxes and homeowners insurance. 

      You may be able to pay both the remainder of your down payment and your closing costs with a single certified or cashier’s check, but they’re separate expenses. Your closing costs cannot be counted toward your total down payment and will not influence the amount of your mortgage, and you can’t use money from your down payment to cover closing costs.

      Be Prepared for All Upfront Expenses
      Excited homebuyers often focus on how much money they have to put down and how much their monthly mortgage payments will be but don’t plan enough for closing costs. Understanding all the expenses associated with buying a house will help you prepare so you can avoid unpleasant surprises and unnecessary stress. If you have any questions about your down payment or closing costs, consult your real estate agent or mortgage lender.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Tips to Stretch Your Summer Travel Budget

      20 May 2022

      (Family Features) Many of the nation’s leading travel experts are predicting a surge in travel this summer. It’s no surprise that after months of restrictions, Americans are ready to set out on their next adventures. While popular destinations are likely to be open and welcoming visitors, the uptick in traffic combined with higher prices may translate into more expensive travel.

      If you’re planning a trip this summer, learn how to incorporate some smart spending strategies with these tips from the financial experts at Credit One Bank:

      Be flexible on travel dates and destinations. Unless your travel is tied to a specific event or occasion, try searching with flexible dates to find the best available rates. Similarly, if you know you want to get away but you’re not particular about where, try looking for destinations offering special promotions or deals for travel during certain timeframes.

      Consider trip interruption and cancellation policies. Planning for the unexpected can help protect you if a trip needs to end early or be canceled altogether. Unless you have travel insurance, you’re likely to lose money on non-refundable expenses such as flights, event tickets or tours. However, some travel companies or your credit card provider may cover reimbursement for certain prepaid expenses. Look into what options are available before you travel to avoid extra headaches when the unexpected occurs during a trip.

      Get rewarded no matter how you travel. Using your credit card rewards to offset travel costs is a smart strategy, but not everyone wants or needs perks like miles or points that are exclusive to use with a single travel partner. With point-based travel reward cards, like the Credit One Bank Wander Card, the more places you visit, the more rewards you reap along the way that can be redeemed for future experiences, statement credits, gift cards and more. That means no matter what hotel chain you stay at, car rental agency you select or airline you fly with – or as you mix and match to get the best deals – everyday adventurers have opportunities to earn up to five times the rewards points for doing things they love.

      Come up with a realistic budget. When you’re planning a trip, it’s easy to focus on the big-ticket expenses like airfare and hotel rooms. The reality is, when you add up all the smaller expenses, you may spend significantly more than you realize. To plan a more accurate budget, be sure you account for expenses like dining out at restaurants, paying for fuel at the pump and tickets to attractions and events. Don’t forget fees that add up, too, like tips for housekeeping, checked bags, Wi-Fi access, parking and souvenirs.

      Research and book free and discounted attractions. Some attractions offer discounts for purchasing tickets in advance online, age-based discounts or free admission at certain times or dates, so be sure to look into any attractions you hope to visit ahead of time. If you’re a travel rewards credit card holder, start your search by looking into your redemption options. If your card offers flexible options by booking through a specific partner site or dedicated travel platform, you might be able to redeem points or make your spending dollars go further toward earning more rewards for the cost of experiences, entertainment and other expenses while you travel.

       Find more ways to make your money work for you at

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Use Green Building Practices When Renovating Your Home

      20 May 2022

      Making home improvements can allow you to have a house that better suits your family’s needs and lifestyle. It can also be an opportunity to make your house more energy efficient and to reduce your energy consumption and utility bills. The specific steps you take will depend on the nature and scope of your renovation plans. Here are some ideas to discuss with your contractor.

      Reduce Air Transfer
      If you’re planning to install new windows in your home, look for ones that are energy efficient and constructed with two or three panes of glass to prevent air leakage. Low-e windows have a protective layer that can block out UV rays and reduce the amount of sunlight that enters a house, which can keep it cooler in the summer. Choose windows with well-built frames and have them professionally installed. 

      Cracks and gaps around windows, doors, skylights, pipes and electrical wires can lead to air leakage and drafts. That can allow cold air to get inside the house and warm air to escape during the winter. In the summer, hot air can get in and cooled air can escape. Air transfer can lead to high utility bills throughout the year as the furnace or air conditioner struggles to reach and maintain a comfortable temperature. Having a contractor seal cracks and gaps may lower your utility bills immediately.

      Insulation can reduce air transfer and help you control the temperature in your home. If you’re going to have contractors build an addition, replace siding, or perform other types of improvements, discuss where to add insulation and which type to use to make your house more energy efficient.

      Choose an Appropriate HVAC System
      HVAC equipment is designed to work in houses of various sizes. It’s important to select a system that’s right for your home so it can operate efficiently and help you avoid problems.

      Energy-efficient furnaces and water heaters can reduce your energy usage and lower your monthly utility bills. A geothermal heat pump, solar water heater, or on-demand water heater may also save you money.

      Get a Home Energy Audit
      If you’re not sure what steps to take to make your house more energy efficient, a home energy audit can provide you with valuable insight. A professional can inspect your house and appliances to figure out where you’re wasting energy. 

      You can share the results of the energy audit with your contractor and discuss ways to address those issues while handling renovations. Some changes, such as adding insulation, will be easy if a contractor is planning to remove walls anyway to make upgrades.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.