Houzzers on Houzz.com Say

Houzzers on Houzz.com Say: Dream Kitchen Must-Haves


by Becky Harris

Houzzers on Houzz.com Say


The kitchen above one among many must have for kitchens. This kitchen features a Pot filler. This handy faucet means no more having to schlep a heavy pasta pot full of water from the sink to the stove-top.

Bianco Antico: Granite

Bianco Antico: Granite used in kitchen above

The Granite counter top featured in this display is called Bianco Antico and isoffered in our Jackson Stoneworks Stoneyard, located on 1111 SW 22nd Ave, Gainesville, FL.



Hidden knife storageThe Kitchen below features a Hidden knife storage. These boxes pop up from the counter. Similar systems exist for storing other items, like herbs and even iPod devices.

Big cabinet drawers. Houzzers want to make the most of every square inch of storage space. Big drawers, especially those with dish racks and other inserts, maximize bottom cabinets’ storage potential.

Kitchen and Bath

Kitchen Remodel Costs: The Mid- to-Upper-Range Kitchen Remodel

by Bud Dietrich, Houzz.com contributor 

Kitchen and BathSeems that whenever I meet a potential new client, the first question is, “How much will this project cost?” I then try to explain that this is like asking, “How long is a piece of string?”

You see, there are just too many things that will influence a project’s cost. From basic construction issues, such as repairing what may need repairs, to client selections for cabinets, appliances and everything else, to whether or not we plan on moving things around or adding space, there are so many variables that come into play.

What if the existing kitchen layout doesn’t work? Maybe you want more space because you really love to bake and want a place to roll and cut out all those holiday cookies. Or a kitchen island is something you’ve always wanted so that friends and family can sit nearby as you display your culinary skills.

A $40,000 to $75,000 kitchen remodel might include:

 1. A total rework of the space. Everything, including the kitchen sink, may need to be moved, which means new plumbing, electrical, air ducts and so on. 

2. Professional-style appliances. From the 48-inch built-in stainless steel refrigerator to the 48-inch cooktop with grille and griddle to the 30-inch double convection ovens, this kitchen is all about creating wonderful meals.

3. Custom island. And if you want an island, why not make it like some large piece of furniture with legs and beadboard? It’s a perfect place for the kids to sit and do homework while the evening meal is being prepared.


4. Custom cabinetry. Beaded, inset doors of clear alder with a custom stain and glaze in nonstandard sizes with all the accessories make for a beautiful and functional kitchen at a cost.

5. Designer hardware. Forget about using big-box knobs and handles. Take the time to find the pieces that are special. After all, you will be using these things constantly.

6. Wood flooring. Wood or porcelain tile or a stone floor will be more costly than a vinyl tile or sheet.


7. Stone counters and a glass tile backsplash. A quartz or natural stone material such as granite will certainly be more costly than a laminate top. For some, the look and feel of these materials is worth the extra cost. And while laminate may start to look used and nicked up in a few years, stone will be fresh and new looking for years, even decades, after first being installed.


8. Custom storage. With custom cabinets, you don’t have to settle for what’s stocked. So if you want a cabinet designed to handle small appliances with drop-down doors that become extra counter space, custom is the only way to go. 

Design 101

What size island is the right size for you?

Design 101

Kitchen fads come and go (remember trashmashers?) but homeowners will always want an island   in their kitchen. The kitchen island is the perfect place to balance congregation and separation,   ensuring that hosts can cook and clean while they socialize with their guests. And they can be a great place for kids to do homework under the parents’ watchful eyes.

“Why would you want to prep food with a wall or a cabinet door a few inches from your nose, or eyes for that matter?” says Johnny Grey, renowned British kitchen designer. “An island that faces into the center of the room is the place for prepping and cooking. Sociability is not possible without eye contact.”

There is no hard and fast rule for size, but architect Duo Dickinson recommends that an island be at least 4 feet long and a little more than 2 feet deep, with ample room to move around it. “Unless your kitchen is at least 8 feet wide and more than 12 feet long, don’t even think about an island,” he says. That means there should be at least 36 inches between and island’s     the perimeter and the cabinetry or appliances that surround it. The National Kitchen and Bath     Association recommends 42 inches, or 48 inches if two cooks are using the room—not an uncommon situation in many families.



Kitchen Details: The Right Edge for Your Countertop

Rebekah Zaveloff
Houzz contributor & founder/ principal designer at KitchenLab
It’s the details that make a kitchen unique. Every small choice intersects to create the finished product — and as many who have endured a remodel know, the small choices can be agonizing. Selecting an edge profile for your countertops is one of these choices. Here’s a quick study in a few of the options and what they look like as part of a greater whole.
Square and standard thicknessSquare and standard thickness. Less is often more. In a clean-lined and simple kitchen, a basic 3cm-square profile works best. Each kitchen has something that stands out and says “look at me.” Sometimes it’s the tile, sometimes it’s the lighting, and sometimes it’s the countertop material.I make it a rule to avoid having everything shout for attention; that away there’s some breathing room. In this kitchen the countertops are more quiet while the tile takes a bit more of center stage.
Square and mitered
Square and mitered. Most of the time when you see an extra-thick countertop, it’s a mitered edge. Meaning that the thickness is standard either 2cm or 3cm with a mitered frame around the sides, making the slab look thicker. This is a great way to make your kitchen countertops the focal point, and it can work well in either a modern or traditional kitchen.
Eased and mitered edge
Eased and mitered edge. This mitered stone top has a slightly eased edge and rounded corners. As you can see, the smallest change in detail makes the stone look very different.
Square with a waterfall edge
Square with a waterfall edge. Another way to make your stone countertops a focal point is to run them vertically down the edge of the island.
Bullnose. This rounded edge detail is a timeless classic, great for traditional kitchens.
Marine edge. This is profile is more often seen on stainless steel countertops. It’s a built-up thickness, but rather than mitered, the outside edge is raised. I’m assuming the term “marine edge” refers to how this detail keeps liquids from running off the countertop.
Unique variations
Unique variations. This edge profile almost looks like a square Dupont. Take a look at the profile drawings at the end of this ideabook.
Dupont Square
This intricate profile looks like a Dupont Square with a rounded-top edge.
 custom edge profile
This custom edge profile looks a bit like a mini French Cove mixed with an Offset Dupont. I love the contrast of the modern sink and the more traditional cabinetry and edge profile on the stone.
Here are a few line drawings of countertop edge profiles for reference. As you can see the options are almost limitless.
edge profile
Feel free to get creative by starting with one of the basic profiles and asking your stone fabricator to modify it.

Fight Stress with Healthy Habits

Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress. Here are 10 positive healthy habits you may want to develop.

Fight Stress

  1. Talk with family and friends.
    A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or writer friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys and ask them to share theirs.
  2. Engage in daily physical activity.
    Regular physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.
  3. Embrace the things you are able to change.
    While we may not be able to do some of the things we once enjoyed, we are never too old to learn a new skill, work toward a goal, or love and help others.
  4. Remember to laugh.
    Laughter makes us feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when we’re alone.
  5. Give up the bad habits.
    Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase blood pressure. If you smoke, decide to quit now. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  6. Slow down.
    Try to “pace” instead of “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done without having to rush.
  7. Get enough sleep.
    Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.
  8. Get organized. 
    Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.
  9. Practice giving back.
    Volunteer your time or spend time helping out a friend. Helping others helps you.
  10. Try not to worry.
    The world won’t end if your grass isn’t mowed or your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to do these things, but right now might not be the right time.

Meet Susan Davenport

For many years Austin, Texas was very similar to Gainesville, Florida; a medium sized college town in the Southeastern United States with a lot of potential. The multi-cultural feel of the city generated by the college environment and the beautiful setting provided a coveted quality of life; but the city was somewhat lacking in economic opportunities for residents. In 2004, however, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and Austin city leaders set out to solve that problem with an initiative called “Opportunity Austin”. Since then, an estimated 190,900 new jobs have been added to Austin’s regional economy and per capita income and average annual wages increased dramatically. Susan Davenport was a key team member for the Opportunity Austin strategy, and in 2013 she joined Tim Giuliani’s “Dream Team” at the Gainesville Area Chamber Commerce to help guide the development of Innovation Gainesville.

Now the Vice President of Economic Development at the Gainesville Chamber, Susan is a Texas native who attended the University of Texas, where she earned a Masters from the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Tim Giuliani, President of the Gainesville Area Chamber, recruited Davenport to assist existing businesses through the expansion of Innovation Gainesville and help grow new companies in our community, while also attracting new businesses to Alachua County.

“The addition of Susan Davenport solidifies the foundation from which the Gainesville Chamber and Council for Economic Outreach will build on for years to come,” said Giuliani. “A person of Susan’s abilities, leadership, and amazing track record will help accelerate the success of Alachua County.”

Susan spent 12 years with the Austin Chamber where she played an integral role in the success of their Opportunity Austin strategy which has created over 174,000 new jobs and enhanced regional payrolls by $8.7 billion over an 8-year period from 2004-2012.

Davenport believes Gainesville is in better position to initiate growth through Innovation Gainesville than Austin was when they began their Opportunity Austin project.

“The potential of Alachua County is exceptionally strong, and the momentum is just beginning to build here. I look forward to helping take this community to the next level in fostering innovation, creating jobs, and growing this economy.” said Davenport.

Davenport encourages all area businesses to join the chamber and participate in the growth that is already occurring thanks to the Innovation Gainesville initiative.

“We want all voices to be heard and you want to have a seat at that table so that you can be part of what is happening in the business community” Susan stated.

You can contact Susan Davenport at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce at susan@gceo.com or visit the Chamber website at www.gainesvillechamber.com to join.

Meet Susan Davenport at Jackson Stoneworks “Encore Realtor Forum” December 4, 2014 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Learn first-hand what Susan and the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce are doing for Business in Gainesville.

You can also watch an interview that Jackson Stoneworks conducted with Davenport on the Chamber’s website at http://www.gainesvillechamber.com/about-us/chamber/leadership-team/

Moderate to Vigorous – What is your level of intensity?

To improve overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week – or a combination of the two for adults.

What is your level of intensity?

But what exactly do moderate and vigorous exercise mean and how do you know if you’re working out at the right intensity?

There are a couple different ways to measure the level of intensity at which you are exercising and that level is based on your individual fitness level and overall health.

The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
As defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this is a way of measuring physical activity intensity level. Perceived exertion is how hard you feel like your body is working. The RPE is based on the physical sensations you experience during physical activity, including:
increased heart rate,
increased respiration or breathing rate,
increased sweating, and
muscle fatigue.
A high correlation exists between a person’s perceived exertion rating times 10 and the actual heart rate during physical activity; so a person’s exertion rating may provide a fairly good estimate of the actual heart rate during activity (Borg, 1998). For example, if a person’s rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is 12, then 12 x 10 = 120; so the heart rate should be approximately 120 beats per minute.

Note that this calculation is only an approximation of heart rate, and the actual heart rate can vary quite a bit depending on age and physical condition. The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion is also the preferred method to assess intensity among those individuals who take medications that affect heart rate or pulse.

During your workout, use the RPE Scale to assign numbers to how you feel. Self-monitoring how hard your body is working can help you adjust the intensity of the activity by speeding up or slowing down your movements.

Through experience of monitoring how your body feels, it will become easier to know when to adjust your intensity.
Moderate-intensity physical activity is defined as – physical activity done on a scale relative to an individual’s personal capacity, moderate-intensity physical activity is usually 11-14 on a scale of 1 to 20.

Vigorous-intensity physical activity is defined as – physical activity done on a scale relative to an individual’s personal capacity, vigorous-intensity physical activity is usually 17-19 on a scale of 1 to 20.
Examples of Moderate Intensity:
Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
Water aerobics
Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
Tennis (doubles)
Ballroom dancing
General gardening
Examples of Vigorous Intensity:
Race walking, jogging, or running
Swimming laps
Tennis (singles)
Aerobic dancing
Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
Jumping rope
Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)
Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
For example, if you are a walker and you want to get moderate-intensity activity, you would aim for a RPE level of 12-13 to get the recommended level of activity by the AHA. If your muscle fatigue and breathing seems about an 8, then you would want to increase your intensity. On the other hand, if your exertion was about a 15, you would need to slow down to achieve the moderate-to-vigorous intensity range.

Ratings are on a scale from 0 to 10. Zero (“0”) expresses how hard you’d be working if you were lying in bed and “10” relates to sprinting as fast as you possibly can. The break between RPE of 4 and 5 is known as the “talk test”, where you are still able to talk, but it is now a little challenging. The second marker between RPE of 6 and 7 is where talking becomes very difficult and you are able to say only a couple words at a time.

Ratings of Perceived Exertion:

6 No exertion at all
7 Extremely light (7.5)
9 Very light
11 Light
13 Somewhat hard
15 Hard (heavy)
17 Very hard

Jackson Stoneworks hosts area realtors at Fall Realtor Forum

On Tuesday, a group of nearly fifty members of GACAR (Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors) and other Real Estate professionals from the Gainesville area got a special behind-the-scenes look at the high-tech ways in which granite countertops are made, when they visited a local granite countertop factory.

Jackson Stoneworks, a national supplier of granite countertops for Lowe’s stores and local Kitchen and Bath Remodeler located in SE Gainesville, hosted area Realtors for an afternoon tour of Gainesville’s granite factory at their Fall Realtor Forum event that included two Guest Speakers and demonstrations of the latest digital equipment and design software, followed by a light catered lunch.

            Jackson Stoneworks organized the event for Realtors to provide them with first-hand knowledge of the amenities that they will be discussing with clients who are interested in buying or selling a home. Saveela Asad of Pepine Realty found the event informative and believes the knowledge will be useful.

            “I wanted to actually see the slabs with all the color options and walk through the process myself so that I have a better understanding what my clients will experience when upgrading their home.” said Asad.

Specific goals for the event included providing Realtors with an understanding of practical considerations, such as which materials are generally more or less expensive and what accounts for the differences in costs. During the showroom tour portion of the morning, Jackson Stoneworks President, Tyler Ryals addressed just that while speaking with several attendees.

“One of the key factors in the difference in price among the granite colors is how scarce that particular stone is in comparison to other stones. For example, if a quarry mines a block of the stone but only one third of that block is actually useable for countertops in terms of quality, that material will be more expensive because less of it is readily available,” explained Ryals.

Another goal of the event was to provide the Realtors with answers to questions frequently asked by their clients, such as differences in materials and pricing. During the Q&A session, Ryals was able to educate the Realtors on the materials their clients are choosing.

“It is important to keep in mind the properties of the materials you are selecting and the specific application you will be using them for. For example, marble is not recommended for use in the kitchen because it is softer than granite or quartz and more susceptible to scratches.” stated Ryals.

The showroom tour concluded with a demonstration of the newest innovation in laser templating technology by Project Manager Christian Benway. Benway demonstrated the hi-tech process that creates a digital rendering of the countertop surface by shooting an actual template of the Kitchen vignette in the showroom using lasers that mark various points on the countertop.

In the Design Center office the group later observed the stone layout process being performed by Programmer Steve Farrar, in which the digital template created by Benway was overlaid onto a digital photograph of the customers slab. Using digital design software, Farrar demonstrated how the digital template rendering is superimposed on the slab and can then be manipulated to create a layout on the stone that is both esthetically pleasing to the client and also minimizes waste.

“Using this software, we can line up the pieces so that the pattern of the stone flows smoothly through any required seams, and also make sure that the customer gets the most out of each slab.” Farrar explained.

Standing safely outside the stone fabrication area, the group later observed as the granite slab was then moved across the factory by a vacuum-lift overhead crane system and lowered onto the Fusion WaterJet CNC machine. The Realtors watched as the automated stone cutting machine sprang to life, cutting the stone according to the program created by the digital template using a sawblade and a highly pressurized stream of water.

“The circular and radius cuts are performed by a Waterjet that operates at over 90,000 PSI, and uses fine grains of garnet as a cutting agent to create greater friction.” event organizer, Gordon Weidler explained to the group.

After witnessing the entire digital stone manufacturing process from design to fabrication first-hand, the group sat down to a light lunch where Guest Speaker Jon Hetzler presented the latest “super-surface” material for countertops, developed by Cosentino.

“Dekton [Cosentino’s new countertop material] is stronger than granite, stronger than quartz, and requires no maintenance. You could place logs on top of it, douse them with lighter fluid and burn the logs to ash on the Dekton material and then wash it away with a hose and the surface would never show a mark.” Hetzler explained of the material’s durability.

 Jackson Stoneworks also invited Kristin Hawkins of FBC Mortgage to speak to the group about financing options for homebuyers, including FBC’s Home Style Renovation Mortgage program, which allows borrowers to purchase or refinance a home and renovate or rehab it after closing.

“It’s a less cumbersome than say an FHA loan, and the borrower only needs 5% down. I like to say that it’s the fastest way to make a great home your dream home”, remarked Hawkins.

            The positive response to the event has prompted Jackson Stoneworks to schedule an encore presentation of the Fall Realtor Forum on December 3rd for those who were unable to attend or wish to attend again.

Real Estate professionals interested in attending may RSVP for the event via email to rsvp@jacksonstoneworks.com or by calling 352-372-6600.

Uncramp Your Small Bathroom

by Pangaea
Houzz Contributor. houzz.com

When you think about your bathroom, do phrases like “itsy-bitsy,” “minuscule” and “claustrophobic” pop into your head? Or perhaps you’re going to add a new bathroom with limited square footage. Not sure how to fit everything you need into the space? Not to worry. This ideabook will show you how to get the most out of whatever room you do have.

vessel sink1. Claim as much space as possible. Creating niches is a great way to utilize space you might not even know you have. Inside your walls are studs, and they are usually 16 inches apart, while the depth of the stud plus the drywall on the front of it gives you a little over 4 inches in depth. If this is an interior wall that does not have insulation or plumbing running through it, that is space you can use.

This long niche next to the vanity pictured here has glass shelves and lighting at the top. It provides a handy place for a towel or toiletries, and it looks beautiful at the same time.

Tip: When using open storage like this, transfer toiletries out of their ho-hum, mishmash plastic bottles and into decorative containers. It will instantly make the room feel less cluttered and more stylish.

bath remodelOkay, I know this is a huge bathroom, but big bathrooms often offer ideas that work in smaller spaces too. The towel niche next to the shower here would work very well in a tiny bathroom, since towel bars normally protrude 4 inches from the wall and can prevent doors from opening all the way. This type of niche gives you extra storage without taking up space, and it frames the towels so they look neat and tidy, even when hanging on a hook.

mirror glassReflected in this mirror here is another towel niche. This one had to be framed out because it is wider than the space between the studs. But it gives room to store four full sets of towels and washcloths. If you look closely, you’ll see that the bathroom door opens onto that wall. There would have been no room to even hang a towel bar without it interfering with fully opening the door.

Tip: Using white towels in this all-white bathroom provides a minimalist, soothing look. You don’t have to go completely monochromatic, but a minimalist color scheme will help to keep a small bathroom from looking busy.

vessel sink bathA low privacy wall is another spot where a niche can be installed. In this case it happens to provide a spot for soap next to a pedestal sink. Another niche below that one on the other side could hold extra toilet paper.








grey bay

If you are serious about gaining some space, then consider taking your shower niche to the extreme in size. The black band to the left is a niche that runs the entire length of the wall. This is a very custom way to go and involves framing out that space, so it increases the cost of creating this shower. But wow! You would have room to place everything you need in the shower or bath.

bath shower head

If you put shelves in your niche, then you can go the extreme vertically instead of horizontally. This is a little more affordable option when it comes to the work of constructing the wall.



2. Reclaim door space. This bathroom has a pocket door that takes up zero space in the room. And what I particularly love about this pocket door is that it is beautiful and has a handle that is easy to get hold of. Most pocket doors have a tiny, circular depression to hold so that it can slide all the way inside the wall. If you can make your pocket door opening a little wider, then you can spare a few inches for a skinny, vertical handle like this.


bath wood

Notice that in this bathroom, if the door had been a swinging type, it would bang into the tub. The pocket door was the perfect solution here.

bath renovation

Pocket doors slide within the wall, while barn door hardware lets you slide a door along the outside of a wall. Sometimes you have wall space where you can slide a door, but there are pipes or electrical within the wall that would be hard to reroute. A barn door– style slider might then be a good option for you.

Using a translucent material is a great way to allow extra light into the room and still provide privacy. It also is a great style statement in this home.

modern bathBifold doors are an option you don’t see very often. When people think about those, they usually picture those louvered ones hiding laundry facilities. But these beautiful wood and frosted-glass bifold doors are a great way to minimize the space taken up by a door that swings its full width into a room. These take up half the space when folded.

granite sink

If your bathroom door swings inward and a pocket door isn’t an option, consider flipping it around so that it opens out away from the room. Yes, it will require some work on the framing around the door, but it can be worth it to not have to try to scoot around the door when it is open and taking up space in your room. You also might need to open your door with a little more caution to avoid whacking someone coming down the hall — but this may be an acceptable trade-off when you are desperate for a little extra room.

Tip: Let your door do double duty as a message center or a full-length mirror. If family members get ready at different times of the morning, this is a perfect spot for everyone to post messages. If you need a full-length mirror and don’t have wall space for one, then putting a mirror on the door also would be a great idea.

granite cabinetry3. Think “wall mounted” to make great use of space. The tank of a wall-mounted toilet is inside the wall behind it, so it uses the depth of the wall to reduce how far it protrudes into the room. For the carrier system inside the wall, you can get one that either fits into a wall with 2-by-6-inch studs or one that recesses into a wall with standard 2-by-4 studs.

I’m not a contractor, but in general, exterior walls have 6-inch studs and interior walls have 4-inch studs. Once in awhile you may have things already inside the wall that would be problematic to reroute, so installing your wall-hung toilet recessed into the wall may not be right for you. But consider building out a section of wall specifically to house the carrier system. Although it won’t reduce how far the toilet protrudes into the room, you can create storage above it for a seamless look that is highly functional.

Capturing all of that storage space above the carrier system definitely costs a lot more than installing a cabinet on stilts that straddles your toilet tank, but it looks so much nicer.

glass enclosureThis is one more bathroom with the same idea of using that space that would normally not be fully used above a toilet tank. It’s a very clean-lined and uncluttered look.








toilet bath

A wall-mounted vanity will give you some undersink storage while visually opening up your bathroom space, since you can see the floor all the way back. If storage isn’t such a huge issue, but the feeling of being crowded is what’s bothering you in your small bathroom, this solution is still better than a pedestal sink because of the storage space. And it isn’t any harder than hanging wall cabinets in the kitchen.


No-Fad Diet Tips

Tips – Think Smart: Find a New Start

  • Analyze your current situation, recognize obstacles (both real and in your thoughts), find positive solutions, and work toward modifying your lifestyle to make effective changes.
  • Think about something that represents inner strength to you. Use this image to boost your resolve whenever you need help in seeing your way through successful weight loss.
  • Close your eyes and picture how you want to look when you’ve reached your target weight. When you hit a hurdle, focus on this image and the feelings it evokes.
  • Be aware of your self-talk and listen critically to what it is saying. Rephrase negative self-talk with a positive message.
  • Set reasonable, realistic, and measurable short- and long-term weight-loss goals.
  • Write your goals in a weight-loss diary to make them real.
  • Reassess your progress every six weeks and make changes accordingly.
  • Anticipate situations, such as office birthday parties or dinner at a neighbor’s house, that can present bumps on the road to successful weight control. Plan how you want to react in these situations so you’ll be prepared.
  • Be persistent and practice new behaviors until they become habit.
  • Take action to cure procrastination. Don’t let fear of failure keep you from starting toward your weight-loss goals.
Healthy lifestyle eatingTips – Eat Well: A Personal Approach to a Healthful Weight

  • Set a personal weight-loss goal and write it down. Start with a goal of losing about 10 percent of your current body weight.
  • Keep a food diary for one week. Write down everything you eat and drink.
  • Pay attention to what you are eating now and why. Identify the sources of your personal “hidden” calories, such as eating your child’s leftovers.
  • Substitute fat-free or low-fat milk for whole milk, and save about 65 calories for each 8-ounce serving.
  • Watch nutrition labels: Products labeled “low-fat” can be high in calories. For example, low-fat yogurt can be high in calories. Enjoy fat-free, no-sugar-added yogurt instead for a fraction of the calories.
  • Include high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, in your diet. They take longer to digest, so they make you feel full longer. In addition, many fruits and vegetables contain water, which provides volume but not calories.
  • Cut your favorite candy bar into bite-size pieces. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and store the pieces in the freezer. When a sugar craving hits, unwrap and eat one piece. By the time the candy thaws in your mouth, your craving may be satisfied.
  • Identify the nonessential, high-calorie foods you buy out of habit. Stop buying them! If they’re not in your pantry, you won’t eat them.
  • Make extra amounts of your favorite low-calorie foods and freeze individual portions. It’s an easy way to control portion size and have handy options available for last-minute meals and snacks.
  • When eating out, consider having two low-calorie appetizers instead of an entrée. It will help you feel satisfied and full without splurging on calories.
Walking Family in RedTips – Move More: More Fit and Less Fat

  • Get moving! Research shows that just two 5-minute walks each day will get you started in the right direction.
  • Decide on a personal fitness goal and write it down. Start at 10 minutes each day, and progress to 30 to 60 minutes each day.
  • Choose an activity that fits into your lifestyle. That way, you’re more likely to stick to it.
  • Plan for inefficiency so you can fit more activity into your day. Take your clean laundry upstairs in several batches instead of one. Making one trip for each person’s room will get your heart pumping.
  • Wear a reliable pedometer for one week to establish a baseline value for the number of steps you take daily. Then try to add about 250 steps each day. Remember, each step counts toward your goal.
  • Wear your pedometer as you walk your usual path around the grocery store or through the mall. Include these measured segments of activity as part of your weekly routine.
  • Use simple checkpoints to measure your success. For example, ask yourself how much less time it took you today than last week to swim a lap or walk around the block. Determine whether you became less winded after riding a bike up the neighborhood hill this week.
  • Find a friend who will join you in your activity and keep you going when you’re tempted to skip a session.
  • Add variety to your fitness plan to help yourself stay motivated and make your activity program more fun.
  • Set aside a 30-minute block of time each day that you can devote to your activity plan without being interrupted. Make physical fitness a priority in your life.
  • Monitor your progress and reassess every six weeks.
Two women and a man walking in parkTips – Maintaining Momentum: Keep Up the Good Work

  • Pay less attention to the numbers on the scale and more to how you feel over time.
  • Keep a written record of your progress to help you focus better on your goals and remind you of your successes.
  • Try new combinations of eating plans and activity plans to keep your choice tailored to your current needs.
  • Find a reliable source of support. Family and friends can be a tremendous help as you strive to maintain momentum.
  • Consider joining a weight-loss group with goals and approaches similar to yours.
  • Reward yourself each time you reach a target, whether it is a short- or long-term goal.
  • Use your calendar to plan your weight-loss efforts. Schedule in your mealtimes and your workouts as you would meetings and other commitments.
  • Be prepared for life’s inevitable crises. If you now reach for food in times of stress, create an alternate plan so you will be ready to handle the problem without relying on food.
  • Stick to your plan and refocus when you hit a plateau. Think of it as a momentary stall, not a total breakdown. Try to find out what may no longer be working or may have changed. Look for new ways to cut back on calories or be more active.
Little boy and his father cookingTips – Pass It On: Food, Fitness, and the Family

  • Introduce good eating habits early in your children’s life.
  • Pay attention to your children’s weight as he or she grows. Be sure to discuss your children’s situation with your pediatrician or other healthcare provider.
  • Let your children learn to respond to internal hunger cues rather than learned social ones. Don’t worry if your kids don’t eat as much as you think they should.
  • Encourage your children to be physically active. Remember that not all physical activity is competitive. Kids who choose not to participate in organized or team sports still can enjoy being active, and the benefits are the same.
  • Eat meals at home together. The time you spend at the table is a great way to help your children develop good eating habits and give them an opportunity to talk about the things that may trigger overeating.
  • Keep bikes, basketball hoops, and other outdoor play equipment available for your children to use and in good working order.
  • Teach your children to reach for water first to quench thirst. Fruit juices, such as orange and apple, are a source of calories that add up quickly.
  • Encourage your children to find activities that develop their own unique strengths. More time spent on hobbies and new interests means less time spent on passive entertainment such as television and video games.
  • Be a kid again and take time to play with your children—play catch, build a snowman, take a nature walk, go for a bike ride, or dance to your favorite music.
  • Get your children involved in making healthful eating choices. Letting them select recipes, shop for ingredients, and prepare food are a few ways.

This material is adapted with permission from American Heart Association No-Fad Diet: A Personal Plan for Healthy Weight Loss, Copyright © 2005 by the American Heart Association. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Available from booksellers everywhere.




Update Your Kitchen With These Colored Granite Countertops


Kitchen trends come and go, but granite remains the most popular countertop. Despite its expense, granite is durable, easy to maintain and most importantly, beautiful. It comes in a variety of colors, making it a perfect complement to any kitchen and cabinet style. However, deciding which color granite can be overwhelming.

To shorten your decision process, we’ve compiled a list of the five the most common granite countertop colors in America. Take a look and find the right color based on your kitchen size, style, and cabinet colors.

1. White Granite Makes Your Kitchen Look Bigger

Many homeowners shy away from white granite countertops because of a common misconception. They assume the white granite slab looks like a sheet of plain paper, which resembles a lack of character. In fact, due to the composition of granite, there is no such a thing as “plain” white granite. White granite countertops always come with different colors of flecks or veins that can add interest to a kitchen. You can pick different shades of white granite to coordinate with your cabinet color, whether it’s black, white, or neutral.

The clean-lined look of white granite countertops can also make a kitchen appear lighter and bigger. Therefore, interior designers will usually recommend using white granite countertops in small kitchens. Looking for more advice?

2. Beige Granite Gives You More Decorating Options

Although white and beige are similar in color, beige granite seems more attractive to many homeowners. Unlike white granite, beige granite has more brown, black, and gray colors mixed in. This color combination gives homeowners more flexibility to decorate. As you can imagine, beige granite counters can work well with any light to dark-colored or wood cabinets. That’s why beige granite countertops are prevalent in classic kitchen designs, such as traditional, country, and Victorian. If you are looking for a timeless piece in your kitchen, beige granite is a safe bet.

3. Brown Granite Creates a Warm, Rustic Kitchen Look

Since brown granite is much darker than beige, there are some limits in matching cabinet colors. However, brown is still one of the most popular colors of granite. Why? The reason is that no one can refuse the gentle contrast brown granite creates when pairing with lighter cabinetry.

Brown granite countertops can be a good fit for both country and rustic style kitchens. Yet many prefer to use brown granite countertops in a rustic kitchen. For one, a brown granite countertop with lots of veining can keep the warm feeling. Second, the shade of brown will help tie all the wooden crafts together. Can’t wait to install brown granite countertops in your kitchen?

The Top 5 Colors For Granite Kitchen Countertops-5

Source: DesignMine

4. Black Granite Shines

Not everyone appreciates the dramatic look of granite. Some people chose granite countertops just because granite is easy to keep up, not because they like the actual striations of granite. If you fall into this category, black granite will suit you best. The surfaces of most black granite are nearly solid black. Nonetheless, when you look closer, you will find some small silver specks throughout the surfaces. When the light hits it, the black granite countertop will sparkle and shine—just like a black diamond.

Don’t hide this gem with dark cabinetry. Instead, use it as a focal point in your kitchen with white cabinets to create a modern ambiance. This is absolutely the winning combination in today’s modern kitchens.

5. Jewel-Toned Granite Adds an Exotic Touch

Looking to make an exotic statement in your kitchen? Consider installing jewel-toned granite countertops. Jewel-toned granites—e.g. reds and greens—can add an Oriental touch to your kitchen. However, most jewel-toned granites have a rich and striking appearance, and you should be careful when matching it with cabinetry. Only look to pair this granite with muted-colored cabinetry. This way, you can avoid overloading your kitchen with too many colors. Moreover, the unique granite countertops will stand out, becoming the most eye-catching element in your kitchen.


Do you have a preferred color when it comes to granite? Based on our data, most homeowners spent between $1,988 and $3,126 on countertop installation. Before you commit to granite countertops, make sure you get a fair price from your local pros.


Smoking: Do you really know the risks?

smokeYou probably know about  the relationship between smoking and lung cancer, but did you know smoking is also linked to heart disease, stroke and other chronic lung diseases?  Smoking can also increase your risk for cancer of the bladder, throat and mouth, kidneys, cervix and pancreas.  Thinking about quitting? Look at the facts!

Why you should quit?

  • Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • Smoking causes more than one in five deaths in America.
  • 90 percent of lung cancer in men is directly related to smoking and 80 percent of lung cancer in women is caused by cigarettes.
  • About 23 percent of adult men and about 18 percent of adult women smoke.
  • The highest percentage of people who smoke are between the ages of 25 and 44.
  • According to the American Heart Association, most adult smokers started smoking when they were preteens or teenagers. Unfortunately, many young people don’t fully understand the dangers of smoking.
  • About 60 percent of American children ages 4-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.
  • On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.
  • Since 1965, more than 45 percent of adults who have ever smoked have quit.
  • You can be one of the millions of people who successfully quit every year.

What makes cigarettes so toxic and dangerous?

There are 4,000 chemical components found in cigarettes and at least 250 of them are harmful to human health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are a few examples:

  • 1,3-Butadine is a chemical used to manufacture rubber.  According to the CDC, smoke2“it may increase risk of cancer in the stomach, blood and lymphatic system.”
  • Acrolein is a gas linked to lung cancer. It inhibits DNA repair and can destroy the lining in the lungs that protects you from lung disease.
  • Arsenic is used to preserve wood.  In humans, it can cause heart disease and cancer.
  • Benzene is used to manufacture other chemicals. It can cause cancer, particularly leukemia, in humans.
  • Cadmium is a metal used to make batteries.  Cadmium can interfere with the repair of damaged DNA, as well as damage the kidneys and the lining of the arteries.
  • Chromium VI is used to make alloy metals, paint and dyes.  It has been proven to be linked to lung cancer.
  • Formaldehyde is a chemical used to kill bacteria and preserve human and animal remains.  It’s a known cause of cancer, one of the main substances linked to chronic lung disease and a very toxic ingredient in secondhand smoke.
  • Polonium-210 is a radioactive element inhaled directly into the airway.  Some studies show that people who smoke a pack-and-a-half of cigarettes a day are receiving the same radiation they’d get from 300-plus X-rays per year!
  • Tar is solid, inhaled chemicals linked with an increased risk for cancer.  It also leaves a sticky, brown residue on your lungs, teeth and fingernails.

Carbon monoxide & nicotine: A dangerous duo

Carbon monoxide is a harmful gas you inhale when you smoke.  Once in your lungs, it’s transferred to your bloodstream.  Carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen that is carried in the red blood cells.  It also increases the amount of cholesterol that is deposited into the inner lining of the arteries which, over time, can cause the arteries to harden.  This leads to heart disease, artery disease and possibly heart attack.
Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical. It can cause an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, flow of blood to the heart and a narrowing of the arteries (vessels that carry blood). Nicotine may also contribute to the hardening of the arterial walls, which in turn, may lead to a heart attack. This chemical can stay in your body for six to eight hours depending on how often you smoke.  Also, as with most addictive substances, there are some side effects of withdrawal.

Second-Hand Smoke

Smokers aren’t the only ones affected by tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard for nonsmokers, especially children. Nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart diseases when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke.

Environmental tobacco smoke causes about 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths. Studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25-30 percent higher among people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home or work. Secondhand smoke promotes illness, too. Children of smokers have many more respiratory infections than do children of nonsmokers. Nonsmoking women exposed to tobacco smoke are also more likely to have low-birthweight babies. Excerpted and adapted from “When Risk Factors Unite,” appearing in the Stroke Connection Magazine January/February 2005 (Science update May 2008)

These are just a few of the dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes; there are many more.  But you do not have to spend the rest of your life giving in to your addiction! Thousands of people kick the habit every year, and you can be one of them.  It may not be easy, but you can do it!