Home Dreams Magazine

Home Dreams Magazine

Online Magazine and Real Estate Resources

An online resource for everything homes and living in South Orange County


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Getting a Good Night’s Sleep:
Insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleep-disrupting conditions prevent more than 40 million Americans from getting restful sleep. Sleepless nights are not only frustrating, they can put you at risk for obesity, high blood pressure and make you more prone to depression. If you suffer from a sleep disorder, there are some steps you can take to get a few extra hours of rest.
Remove such distractions as the television and office equipment from your bedroom. Take a warm bath, drink a cup of herbal tea or warm milk, and turn down the lights. This will cue your body that it’s time to sleep.

Don’t consume anything with caffeine, including chocolate, within four to six hours of bedtime and don't exercise within two hours of bedtime. Exercising raises your heart rate and body temperature – both of which can keep you awake.
Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids. While they might help you fall asleep, your body can build a tolerance in only a few nights. If, despite your preparations, you wake up in the middle of the night, consider this advice: Get out of bed and read or find something relaxing to do, but don’t do housework or office work, and don’t turn on the television. Have a snack if you’re hungry. A banana or glass of milk provides a bit of tryptophan, an amino acid which acts as a mild sleep inducer. Move your pets off the bed. In a Mayo Clinic survey of 300 people with sleeping disorders, half of the individuals had pets – and half of those pets slept in the survey participant’s bed. Write in a journal. By writing down what's on your mind you may be able to stop worrying.

Visualize a relaxing scene such as a waterfall or quiet beach. You may want to purchase a CD of white noise to tune out any background sounds.


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Green Cleaning:
You want your home to look its best, but some products used to clean your home may be doing more harm than good. Some cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that may cause skin irritation, difficulty breathing or damage to the environment. Green cleaning is using products that don’t endanger you, your family or the environment. So why not "think green" and select from these safe and effective natural alternatives:

•    Baking soda – may be the most versatile item in your kitchen cabinet; it can be used to deodorize your refrigerator, carpeting and upholstery, remove acidic stains, and safely scour sinks and countertops.
•    White distilled vinegar – is excellent for killing mold and bacteria. Its acidic properties also dissolve soap scum on bathroom fixtures.
•    Lemon juice – acts as a stain remover and its crisp, citrus scent freshens the air.
Be sure to clearly label any solutions you mix and spot test each solution before using it on a large area.

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Question and Answer:
I feel like I am constantly on the go, but I want to be able to prepare lunches for my family. Do you have any suggestions?

If you are a busy parent and would like to make nutritious lunches for your family, remember that the key is to plan ahead. And changing the plan each week will eliminate boredom, as well as the temptation to stray from healthy eating habits.

You can start by creating a menu plan at the beginning of each week and taking it along when you shop. Avoid prepackaged junk food, and opt for snacks like dried or fresh fruit and low-fat granola.

It will help if you prepare all the lunches in the evening before bedtime. Most people are too rushed in the morning.
Include old favorites along with new variations. Spice up a plain salad by adding chopped apples, raisins, nuts, peppers, chickpeas, cauliflower or pine nuts. Or make a sandwich with whole-grain pita bread, bean sprouts and cucumbers instead of traditional white bread and lettuce.

On days when you don't have time for a homemade lunch, opt for something such as a broiled chicken breast or visit a salad bar. And make sure your children know what wholesome choices they should make at their school cafeteria.

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Smart Shopping for Appliances:
Buying new appliances can be an expensive investment, especially if you’ve just purchased a home. Whether you’re furnishing your home for the first time or need to update your old appliances, the following tips can help you stretch your shopping dollars and get the most for your money.

Before buying any appliances, measure the height, width and depth of the space where they will be placed. Also measure any doorways or halls the appliance will have to move through to ensure it will fit.
Kitchen

Because it holds most of your appliances, the kitchen can be the most costly room, but it also tends to be the room where friends and family gather, so you want to buy the best you can afford.

Consider your lifestyle. Do you have a large family or entertain often? Do you enjoy gourmet cooking or will you regularly “pop” something in the microwave?

There are many styles and finishes from which to choose. Do you want a side-by-side, top-mount or bottom-mount style of refrigerator? Models with a water and ice dispenser in the door are handy, but decrease your refrigerator’s energy efficiency.

Should you buy a gas or an electric range? Keep in mind that sealed gas or smooth top electric ranges are easier to clean than ones with open burners. Self-cleaning ovens eliminate the need for chemical cleaners and are typically more energy efficient.

Compare the inside of dishwashers before selecting one; they may look the same size on the outside, but different models accommodate large pans and serving dishes more easily than others. If you are limited on space, you may want to buy a portable dishwasher.

For the Utility Room; On the other hand, if space isn’t an issue, a large capacity washer may be more economical because you have to wash fewer loads. Front-loading machines are typically gentler on clothing and more energy and water efficient than top-loading washers.

You also have a choice between electric and gas when it comes to clothes dryers. Electric dryers may cost less initially, but gas tends to be cheaper to operate.
When buying any appliance, decide on the make and model you want, then do some comparison-shopping. Contact at least three stores, mention the lowest price you’ve seen, and ask if the manager will beat that price. Be sure to inquire about delivery and installation charges before making your purchase.

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Benefits of Solar Electricity
Solar-generated electricity has been gaining popularity among homeowners. For years, photovoltaic (or PV) systems, which convert sunlight into electricity, have been used to generate power. The most frequent application of PV can be seen in such consumer products as hand-held calculators, portable lights and watches. Recently, this alternative energy source has received attention from an increasing number of homeowners who are interested in protecting the environment.

According to one survey, the majority of today’s affluent households are in favor of utilizing renewable energy resources to produce electricity, and six out of 10 are in favor of self-generated clean power. Solar panels scored high on the list, followed by fuel cells and micro-turbine generators.

Many of today’s homeowners are already using, or are considering using, PV systems to generate much of the electricity used in their homes.

Less expensive systems feature fewer PV panels that offer supplemental or backup power. More costly systems can include mechanized panels that pivot to follow the sun to gather as much solar energy as possible. Consumers may find the price of these systems begin to drop as more homeowners add them to their existing homes and more new homes are built with them.

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Be Careful with Candles
Few things can make you feel quite as cozy as the warm glow and pleasant aroma of scented candles. While soft candlelight and a welcoming fragrance can enhance your home, you should be aware that burning candles could also be damaging it.

Insurance claims for soot damage have increased in the past several years, in direct relation to an increase in candle sales. In fact, the cleaning and replacement of household furnishings damaged by soot has been reported to cost some homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.

It's not just furnishings that can be damaged by candle use though. Soot from burning candles can collect in heating and air-conditioning systems as well. Damage can develop over a couple of days or several years, depending on the home’s airflow, the number of candles burned, and how long the candles are left burning.

In the past, some homeowners’ insurers paid for the damage because they weren’t aware of its cause. Many companies are now, however, denying such claims because the damage isn’t accidental or sudden.

If you burn candles regularly, never leave one unattended or placed in an unsteady location where it could possibly fall. In addition to fire safety, keep candle wicks trimmed to ¼-inch and avoid drafty locations to reduce soot emissions
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Reduce Noise in Your Home
Noise can raise your stress level, whether it's barking dogs or loud music. You can make your home into an oasis of peace and quiet by following these sound-reducing tips:

Noise enters your home in the same locations where air seeps in, so use weather stripping or caulk to seal around your doors and windows. You may also want to consider installing energy efficient windows and solid wood doors.

Have your heating and air conditioning ducts wrapped with high-quality, fiberglass insulation.
Install acoustical tile to ceilings in noisy areas of your home, like the kitchen or children's rooms.
Hard surfaces can amplify sound, so soften your home by adding pillows, carpets or area rugs.
Hang curtains rather than window blinds.

Place pads underneath your washing machine, stereo and television to help absorb sound.
Line the bottom of cabinet drawers with rubber mats.
Add shelves filled with books along a wall.

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Touches of Luxury
Indulge yourself and enhance the look and feel of your home by employing some of the same techniques used by luxury hotels.

Focus on your entryway. It can be both the first and last impression people will have of your home. Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, accessorize by updating the knocker and welcome mat, and decorate with planters filled with colorful flowers.

Add distinguished touches by using crisp linen sheets for the beds and soft, thick towels in the bathrooms.
Create a comfortable space to read and write in every bedroom. Also keep guestrooms stocked with such tools as a reading lamp, pens, pencils and stationery.

Increase the natural light in your home by keeping windows sparkling clean and hanging sheer curtains rather than heavy drapes.

For a fragrant treat, add sachets of cedar or lavender to dresser drawers and closets.

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Question and Answer
I have an opportunity to work from home but I'm not sure if I should take this step. How can I determine if I will enjoy it?
Many people yearn to work from home. This desire can become especially strong after a particularly hard day at the office or a miserable commute. But as dreamy as it may sound, not everyone is cut out to be their own boss.

Consider whether or not you have the type of personality to stay motivated without someone checking on your progress throughout the day. Will you be tempted to sneak off to the golf course or watch a couple hours of television?
People who tend to excel at working from home are highly independent and self-motivated individuals. If you enjoy being part of a team and getting constant feedback, you may miss the office environment.

If you decide to try working from home, draw both a mental and physical line between your work life and your home life. Have a spare room or at least a separate area that is devoted to work. Then, make sure you set and stick to office hours. If you don’t define clear working hours, you may find yourself taking small breaks during the day and having to make up your work later in the evening. This can make you feel as though you are always working and never have enough time to relax.

 


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Work Out in Your Home Gym
With busy schedules and expensive health club memberships, working out at home may save time and money. Here are some tips to make your home gym attractive, so you may be motivated to use it:

Make your home gym inviting by painting the walls an appealing color and hanging photos or other artwork.
Buy the best fitness equipment you can afford. Not only will this look nice, it will likely last longer and function better than less expensive equipment.

Arrange equipment with larger machines along the walls and smaller pieces more toward the center of the room. Maintain a clear path so you can move safely from one exercise to the next.

If you enjoy a little entertainment while you exercise, consider adding a television or stereo to your home gym.

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Contact Information

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Village Real Estate Services
For All Your Real Estate Needs
24365 El Toro Rd., Suite B
Laguna Woods CA 92637
Office: 949-215-1101
Toll Free: 800-777-1775

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