Tips for a Smooth Home Renovation

agatherHome renovations can be a big project and must be well planned. While most people do not realize it, a home renovation is not as easy as it sounds.  Just ask people who have refurbished their homes recently, and you will understand that a renovation is often a huge time and money commitment. While renovation is probably a lot more cost-effective than building a whole new structure, it creates problems of its own.  Here are some thoughts about renovation for your edification.


Some people believe that spending money on a quality renovation instead of being cheap is acceptable since the necessary funds will magically appear. In reality, that isn’t true! Talk to people who have renovated their homes and do as much cost-comparison and window shopping as possible. Check your budget with your contractor regularly to make sure you’re on track. Determine needs vs. wants. Is a granite countertop really necessary?

Length of project

It’s important to determine how long a renovation project will take. Can you afford or do you want to be out of your home for six months or more? Most homeowners come to realize that building in a financial cushion will be necessary. For most, renovations take more time and money than initially thought or planned. It is important to plan accordingly.

 Find a Contractor

We’ve all heard the horror stories about contractors that cost a fortune and let renovations go on forever.  The best contractors can be found through word of mouth, but if you can’t come up with a good referral, find them on the Internet. Make sure you get several estimates before signing any agreements.


List the items that you, along with family and friends, can do yourselves. Perhaps you can paint and tear down a wall, or sew new linens, curtains and throw pillows. Measure all spaces, windows, walls and more.

 Find Bargains

Begin watching for sales and discounts. Upcoming weekends can now be spent visiting thrift stores and yard sales. Appliances can be purchased at the scratch-and-dent. Tile and flooring may be found at the discount supplier in town.


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Rick Dover of Knoxville: The Value of Environmental Responsibility

020712OakwoodRick Dover, a Knoxville business manager, is proud of all Family Pride Corporation has achieved in its two decades in business. The company specializes in repurposing historic buildings for senior care communities and other uses, according to Rick Dover, and Knoxville organizations have taken notice. The company is the recipient of several historic preservation awards for its efforts, says Rick Dover of Knoxville.

Rick Dover, a Knoxville resident, has always worked with environmental consciousness in mind. Acknowledging that many people believe environmentally friendly development is almost impossible, Rick Dover of Knoxville has noticed that many people are successfully achieving sustainability in building development.

According to Rick Dover, Knoxville is one area where the opportunity to be environmentally friendly exists. Through Family Pride Corporation, Rick Dover and Knoxville builders are able to work together to find buildings that have either been abandoned or are not being heavily used. These buildings have years of history and stored energy that is wasted when a building is torn down, according to Rick Dover. Knoxville, in particular, has quite a few empty buildings that would make great senior care facilities, Rick Dover of Knoxville has found.

As Rick Dover, a Knoxville businessman, says, this energy is renewed when Family Pride Corporation comes in and restores a building. The building can then be filled with people once again, giving seniors a great place to live while allowing the community to enjoy a historic structure for many years, adds Rick Dover of Knoxville.

In addition to repurposing structures, Rick Dover and Knoxville staff of Family Pride Corporation use today’s best environment-saving features. Family Pride Corporation adds solar power and energy-efficient HVAC systems to preserve the environment, according to Rick Dover. Knoxville is also the ideal place to implement reflective roofs to save on electricity by keeping a building cooler, Rick Dover of Knoxville adds.

With each project, Family Pride Corporation strives to be as green as possibly, according to Rick Dover. Knoxville has noticed the hard work the company is doing, and Rick Dover and Knoxville staff members believe this sets a good example for the rest of the city. Rick Dover hopes Knoxville businesses will join the movement and find ways to reuse historic buildings for modern purposes.

Family Pride Corporation’s many projects include the remodeling and reuse of a 1908 school, a 1970s hospital, and a hotel that once housed VIPs during the Manhattan Project, according to Rick Dover. Knoxville and East Tennessee aren’t the only areas Rick Dover has affected with his remodeling projects. According to Rick Dover, the Knoxville businessman has also repurposed buildings in Florida and North Carolina, as well as other areas of Tennessee.

A former real estate developer, Rick Dover of Knoxville has been acknowledged by the mayor of Lenoir City and the Loudon County Preservation Society. With each new project, Family Pride Corporation staff members strive to enhance communities while preserving landmarks for those who most appreciate them.

Proposed 2013 Tax Changes in Congress

agatheringofexpertsSome major tax changes have been proposed in 2013, and they may affect taxpayers across the country. For individuals who want to make sure that their financial futures are secure, it is important to stay aware of these changes so that proper measures are taken.

The most significant proposed change relates to top dividend tax rates. It has been suggested that top dividend tax rates increase from 15 percent to 44 percent, a significant increase. This proposed increase is because of the impending expiration of Bush tax cuts.

On capital gains, the current top tax rate is 15 percent. Those who fall within the 10-15 percent income bracket are not required to pay. The income cap may rise to 20 percent.

If Congress does not vote to extend certain tax cuts, dividends could possibly return to being taxed as income. Individuals who are in a higher income bracket will bear the brunt of the impact, with tax increases on dividend income that could total up to 39.6 percent.

It is also possible that investors may experience a significant increase with other investment incomes. The proposed increase bumps up the tax rate from 35 percent up to 44 percent. Other investment income includes a wide range of assets—among them trade income, dividends, interests and property net gains.

If an individual inherits a property from a relative who has passed away, that property is still subject to an estate tax. The new owner can be exempt from the estate tax if the value of the home is less than $5 million. Under the proposed tax laws, the exemption amount would drop to $1 million.

One more proposed adjustment in 2013 is a Medicare contribution tax, which is currently at 3.8 percent. This tax will be issued on a specified amount of unearned income. This change would mostly affect individuals who hold investment income in excess of a certain amount.

Seeking out a trusted financial adviser is an essential step before filing taxes. A financial adviser is able to work with clients and their tax professionals to review any tax cuts and exemptions that apply to their estates.


Integrity Spas: Frequently Asked Questions About Keeping Hot Tub Spas Clean

Integrity-Spas-BromineLocated in Leawood, Kansas, Integrity Spas is the nation’s premier online retailer of luxury, custom-built spas. Integrity Spas provides a full line of luxurious portable spas. Here, an Integrity Spas spokesperson answers frequently asked questions about the chemicals and systems required to keep a spa in good sanitary condition.

Q. First of all, is there a recommended frequency to change your hot tub’s water?

Integrity Spas: It depends somewhat on how often the spa is used and how many people use it, but generally Integrity Spas recommends changing the water every three to four months.

Q. Since chemicals are required to keep hot tubs safe, is there one best type to choose?

Integrity Spas: Not really, there are a number of good methods Integrity Spas recommends today.

Q. Can you give us a quick primer on the top ones?

Integrity Spas: Most people are familiar with chlorine as the primary sanitizer used in pools. There are chlorine tablets and granules specifically designed for hot tubs.  However, Integrity Spas does not recommend the use of Chlorine in our spas.

Q. Are there other, less familiar options?

Integrity Spas: Bromine tablets are a combination of sodium bromide and chlorine. Many people prefer them because the chlorine smell is not quite as strong. They are available in tablet-form and are generally distributed via a floating feeder. Another option we really like at Integrity Spas is mineral purifiers that assist, but don’t entirely replace, other sanitizers in keeping a hot tub contamination-free. Mineral purifiers are typically placed inside a filter cartridge or contained in a floating dispenser, which slowly disperses them into the tub.

Q. Why else do you prefer mineral purifiers?

Integrity Spas: Well, they’re extremely easy to handle and use, they really work and they reduce the need for either bromine or chlorine. And they’re naturally occurring elements. At Integrity Spas, we prefer a brand called Nature 2.

Q. Are there special devices designed for spa sanitization?

Integrity Spas: You might be thinking of something called an “ozonator,” which is a device that generates ozone gas and injects it into the water to help keep water clean and clear. Ozone is pH neutral and kills bacteria safely and naturally. However, Integrity Spas considers it a myth to think an ozonater and minerals alone will keep a spa sufficiently sanitized. Owners still need chlorine or bromine to really do the job.

Q. UV lighting devices are often used in hot tubs. How do they work?

Integrity Spas: Ultraviolet light systems are an exciting new development for us at Integrity Spas. They generate high intensity UV-C or germicidal ultraviolet light that destroys 99.9 percent of the waterborne pathogens. UV systems are relatively inexpensive and are available as an additional option on all Integrity Spas.

Q. Is there anything else you’d recommend?

Integrity Spas: Salt systems take salt that is added into the hot tub water and turn it into pure bromine to sanitize the spa. Integrity Spas offers the ISIS Bromine Generator as an upgrade on our spas.




David Contarino Describes Lake Cabins as Retreats from a Busy Life

David ContarinoNear Danville, Ky., lies picturesque Herrington Lake. For David Contarino, the lake is the perfect place to get a sense of peace and solitude. As a busy political strategist and consultant, David Contarino likes to spend the lazy days of summer at Lake Herrington. Today, David Contarino explains how the lake serves as a retreat during the busy moments in his busy political life.

A Gathering of Experts: Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to talk to us, Mr. David Contarino.

David Contarino: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

A Gathering of Experts: The charm of Herrington Lake lures vacationers year in and year out. Tell us a more about the area.

David Contarino: Herrington Lake is a playground for many outdoor and recreational sports. Visitors can water ski, and swimming, tubing and even cliff jumping is popular. Great fishing is also abundant. Herrington Lake produces some of the finest fish.

A Gathering of Experts: What types of fish?

David Contarino: The lake contains catfish, bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass and some others that I can’t think of right now.

A Gathering of Experts: What do you like about coming to the lake?

David Contarino: My family and I have a cabin on the southern part of the lake. The house sits on a steep slope overlooking the water. We’ve been coming here for years and every time a similar feeling always hits me.

A Gathering of Experts: What feeling is that?

David Contarino: I always know that it’s going to be low key, peaceful and relaxed. Everything we want is right here at the lake.

 A Gathering of Experts: What is your favorite thing to do at the cabin?

David Contarino: I often sit on one of our decks—either off the house or down below on the edge, sipping Kentucky bourbon or smoking an occasional cigar. I can just sit outside and take in the nature surrounding me.

A Gathering of Experts: As a political strategist, you have played a critical role in many successful campaigns over the last 25 years. Is the lake a getaway from your busy political life?

David Contarino: Absolutely. I can fully relax at the lake and just enjoy the simple things in life.  My smart phone does not even work there! We go on hikes, fish and swim. It’s far from the craziness of political life.

A Gathering of Experts: Give us one interesting fact about Lake Herrington.

David Contarino: Herrington Lake is the deepest lake in Kentucky. It’s maximum depth is 249 feet.

A Gathering of Experts: What do you look for in a vacation?

David Contarino: I prefer a relaxing, not too touristy vacation. I’m more interested in atmosphere and quality than quantity.

A Gathering of Experts: Describe one of your best moments at the cabin.

David Contarino: I have a few, but landing a 15 pound catfish with my daughter’s rod from Wal-Mart was one of the best.

A Gathering of Experts: How does a good day end for David Contarino at the lake?

David Contarino: Returning from a day of kayaking just as the stars come out. I know how good that feels.

David Contarino is currently president of Contarino & Associates, LLC, where he consults with small and large companies, political campaigns, and other organizations. David Contarino is based in Louisville, Ky. According to David Contarino, Kentucky is known for a lot of things— Herrington Lake and the Derby are among the most special.

Kosher Supervision of America (KSA Kosher) on the Benefits of Eating Kosher

KSA KosherAt Kosher Supervision of America (KSA Kosher), kosher products are treated with the utmost respect and care. For the entire staff of Kosher Supervision of America (KSA Kosher), kosher certification is the top priority. As an industry leader, KSA Kosher has noticed the numerous benefits for consumers who keep kosher.

A Gathering of Experts: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

KSA Kosher: Thank you, it is our pleasure.

A Gathering of Experts: What is the biggest benefit of eating kosher?

KSA Kosher: Many consumers choose to eat kosher because it leads to a healthier lifestyle.

A Gathering of Experts: What makes kosher foods healthy?

KSA Kosher: Kosher foods traditionally lower the cholesterol of those who eat them.

A Gathering of Experts: Is eating kosher a difficult habit?

KSA Kosher: Eating kosher is not as challenging as one might expect. Many foods that people eat on a regular basis are already kosher.

A Gathering of Experts: Like…?

KSA Kosher: Beef, poultry and certain types of fish are generally kosher, provided that they undergo proper preparation. Even Oreos are kosher!

A Gathering of Experts: What are some non-kosher examples?

KSA Kosher: Eagle, rabbit, owl, pork, catfish and sturgeon are non-kosher. Any reptiles, insects and shellfish also fall into this category.

A Gathering of Experts: How does a consumer know these kosher foods are safe?

KSA Kosher: Kosher foods undergo a rigorous and very strict evaluation before being certified.

A Gathering of Experts: Can eating kosher trigger any allergies?

KSA Kosher: On the contrary, eating kosher actually alleviates certain allergies.

A Gathering of Experts: How so?

KSA Kosher: Although allergies of this nature are uncommon, some people experience reactions to pork or the chemicals that are used to prepare it. A much more common allergy is one to shellfish, which is also prohibited by kosher law.

A Gathering of Experts: Are all fish kosher?

KSA Kosher: Many species of fish are deemed kosher, most notably freshwater cod and tilapia.

A Gathering of Experts: Are foods from kosher animals safer?

KSA Kosher: Generally, yes. Animals do not get approved unless certification experts can determine that they have no lesions or illnesses.

A Gathering of Experts: Do kosher individuals eat more vegetables and fruits?

KSA Kosher: Often, consumers who stay kosher rely on eating vegetables and fruits as a major part of their diets to replace dairy and meats. This typically contributes to better overall health.

A Gathering of Experts: What is the main attribute that makes eating kosher healthy?

KSA Kosher: There are many, but the main one might be that meat and dairy must not be eaten together. This will eliminate a number of unhealthy and cholesterol laden foods from an individual’s diet.

A Gathering of Experts: What are a few examples?

KSA Kosher: Some of America’s favorite foods have been rendered non-kosher, including cheeseburgers, pizza and lasagna.

A Gathering of Experts: So I suppose fast food is out?

KSA Kosher: Consumers who strictly adhere to a kosher diet will find it difficult to make purchases at a fast food restaurant due to the lack of options.

A Gathering of Experts: This might be a good thing.

KSA Kosher: Indeed, it may be a big plus to those wishing to lose weight, burn fat and curb poor eating habits.

A Gathering of Experts: What else typically appeals to kosher consumers?

KSA Kosher: Eating kosher is also what many would call a “humane diet” because of the careful practice of slaughtering animals.

To learn more, visit Kosher Supervision of America online at

Predicting Earth’s Future – Perhaps it’s in the Stars

Is it possible to determine the fate of Planet Earth by studying the remnants of dead stars in other solar systems? Many scientists think it is.

The Sun and the planets that orbit it comprise our Solar System. Each of the planets in a Solar System attracts to itself other moons, minor planets, comets, asteroids, gas and dust. The Sun is the greatest entity in our Solar System and since larger masses have the greatest gravitational pull, it constantly tugs at the planets and their satellites. While the Sun is pulling on the planets, the planets are trying to fly off into outer space. The planets then become trapped between the two opposing forces. Poised between sailing toward the Sun and soaring off into space, they are perpetually revolving around their parent star.

Recently University of Cambridge scientists reported that they have examined two dead star systems situated about 150 light-years from Earth that may give us a glimpse of what Earth’s Solar System could look like one day. Using the Hubble Space Telescope to examine the chemical remains of the stars, it was discovered that these burnt-out solar systems are packed with silicon and carbon, the same components found in materials that make up planets like Earth and our Solar System. These dead stars, referred to in the scientific community as white dwarfs, are located in the constellation Taurus in a star cluster called Hyades. Computer simulations show us that as stars age and discard their outer layers they lose mass and destabilize the environments around them.  Instead of being surrounded by empty space as one would expect, the remnants of these stars are packed with asteroid-like debris. This debris falls onto these dead stars and contaminates them. When this happens, they are referred to as ‘dirty’ stars.

The previously mentioned burnt-out stars are very similar to our Sun. The scientists’ recent discovery gives us some indication as to how our Sun will die and what will happen in our Solar System when it does. When our Sun’s nuclear fuel is depleted or runs low, our Sun will gradually enlarge until its outer layers are blown free. A few of the inner planets will be engulfed by the eruption and their asteroids will be hurled out of their orbits. Asteroids that swerve too close to the sun will be broken up and the resulting debris will be drawn into a ring around our now-dead Sun. The resulting debris from these events will fall onto our Sun and turn it into a dirty star.

NOTE: It is never too early for the human race to start searching for a solution to a catastrophic natural occurrence such as this, but there is still time for experts to come up with a plan to save our world. Scientists speculate that this scenario involving our Sun and Solar System won’t occur for approximately five billion years.

Fashionista Mallory Fleming Says Clothes Affect Attitude and Confidence

Mallory Fleming

Mallory Fleming

Fashion maven Mallory Fleming believes that fashion can determine how people view and define themselves. With clothes we can create an identity that tells others who we are, says Mallory Fleming. 

Q: You believe that something as simple as how you dress could affect your self-confidence?

Mallory Fleming: Absolutely. If you feel good about what you’re wearing, you look poised and confident in all situations.

Q: Do you have a confidence trick?

Mallory Fleming: I like to dress up nicely on a bad day. I actually trick myself into feeling good.

Q: How would you describe your style?

Mallory Fleming: My personal style is preppy with a little added glamour. I like the clean lines of Burberry, Lilly Pulitzer, and Ralph Lauren.

Q: What do you like about the preppy style?

Mallory Fleming: The colors are bright and happy, so you feel good about yourself. I do like a little bling also, and I like to wear sequined and shiny for a more glamorous look.

Q: Do you think it’s important to have your personal style?

Mallory Fleming: I believe that by finding your own personal style through clothing and accessories, you’re able to learn more about who you are as a person and gain more confidence.

Q: Is it easy to create a personal style?

Mallory Fleming: Yes, we can all do it. A little makeover can make your confidence level soar.

Q: What kind of makeover?

Mallory Fleming: A new outfit, a simple haircut or a new color, or even just a new eyeliner can go from plain to beautiful.

Q: The fashion industry affects consumers, but do consumers have an effect on the fashion industry?

Mallory Fleming: Absolutely. If we decide not to follow a particular trend, than the trend will die. Some of the things we see on the runaway we could never imagine wearing on the street.

Mallory Fleming is an 18-year-old honor student and part-time employee for fashion store Abercrombie & Fitch.

Proper Nutrition Can Ease Arthritis Pain, Says Kelley Hamilton of Bonaventure

Kelley Hamilton BonaventureAs chief executive officer, Kelley Hamilton of Bonaventure Senior Living knows that many seniors suffer from arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the joints and connective tissue. The disease can deform joints and render people immobile, says Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO. Due to inflammation, arthritis causes noticeable pain, heat and swelling of the joints. Women are three times more likely affected than men. Depending on the severity of the disease, morning stiffness can occur, which sometimes stays throughout the day. According to Kelley Hamilton of Bonaventure, a targeted selection of food can help relieve arthritis symptoms. Today, Kelley Hamilton of Bonaventure joins A Gathering of Experts to discuss how to create a diet for arthritis and which foods can ease aching joints.

A Gathering of Experts: Thank you for being with us today.

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: It’s my pleasure.

A Gathering of Experts: Arthritis is one of the most common health problems in the U.S. Is it just an older person’s condition?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: Arthritis can affect anyone at any age—not just seniors. It’s true that the incidence of arthritis increases with age, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 3 out of every 5 arthritis patients are younger than age 65.

A Gathering of Experts: What exactly is arthritis?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: A faulty immune system causes inflammation of the joints. Initially, mostly the small finger and toe joints are affected. They begin to ache suddenly, swell and feel warmer than usual. Usually, the pain in the second half of the night and morning are particularly strong.

A Gathering of Experts: Can arthritis be prevented or cured?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: You cannot prevent rheumatoid arthritis and it’s not yet curable. But more and more people can live with less pain through early treatment and a healthy lifestyle.

A Gathering of Experts: What is the relationship between diet and arthritis?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: Some scientific studies have demonstrated a general correlation between nutrition and arthritis. It is undisputed that foods containing arachidonic acid have an inflammation-promoting effect. These, for example, include eggs.

A Gathering of Experts: So certain foods can positively impact the course of the disease?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: Yes, nutrition is an important addition to the therapy protocol for arthritis. Anti-inflammatory foods such as the omega-3 fatty acids should be included in the diet. Herring, salmon or trout are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

A Gathering of Experts: What symptoms can be relieved with the right diet?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: Research studies have proven that swelling, excess heat and pain can be relieved with an appropriate diet.

A Gathering of Experts: What other foods should be included?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: Fruits and vegetables, because many of them contain antioxidants. The best effect is achieved if vitamins are absorbed through the consumption of plant foods vs. supplements.

A Gathering of Experts: What foods should be avoided?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: Consumption of fatty meat, processed foods, or sausages should be restricted.

A Gathering of Experts: Is weight a contributing factor to arthritis?

Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO: A change of diet can lead to weight loss, which means fewer pounds on the aching joints.


Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure CEO, makes sure that chefs at the senior living communities prepare meals rich in fruits and vegetables for their residents. Kelley Hamilton of Bonaventure says that low-fat dairy products are also on the daily menu. Alcohol and nicotine should be avoided at all costs, notes Kelley Hamilton of Bonaventure. According to Kelley Hamilton, Bonaventure residents and other patients can use good diet to support their drug therapy and improve the long-term course of the disease. Kelley Hamilton of Bonaventure lives in Oregon.