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When you're selling your home, landscaping is key. After all, well-maintained trees and shrubs can increase property value by up to 14%. But excellent landscaping can do far more than fetch a higher selling price for your property. In fact, it could very well save your life.

Although 83% of Americans think having a yard is important, having an attractive and well-maintained grassy area isn't essential for mere aesthetics alone. According to experts, the way in which you choose to landscape could have an impact on your property's overall safety rating. That's especially true in places like California, where wildfires have continued to spread, destroying thousands of homes and threatening residents' lives. In just the past year, the National Interagency Fire Center has recorded 46,474 fires in these areas, which have burned nearly 9 million acres of land. And while 65% of homeowners report repairing their roofs following weather damage, there often is no other choice but to completely rebuild after these fires have ravaged the area.

It's possible that something simple could help to reduce the risk of damage caused by fires, however. Creating what's known as a defensible space can keep a fire from spreading through specific landscaping (or "firescaping") techniques. Essentially, firescaping is all about reducing a property's vulnerability through certain types of landscape design. It involves surrounding the structural areas with components that are less likely to burn while prioritizing the modification of nearby vegetation, proper plant selection, and utilizing fire safety zones and similar concepts.

For example, homeowners living in fire prone areas should choose plants that are known to be less flammable (like broadleaf and deciduous plants or those that produce sap or less fragrance). The property should also be divided up into zones, wherein detailed instructions involving proper maintenance and planting techniques should be followed. Within 30 feet of a structure, for example, the plants used in this "zone one" should have fire retardant qualities that will not produce a flame if touched by a blaze. Generally, it's best to have more hardscaping in these areas and ensure that any trees located here have a higher moisture content. Irrigated lawns, ground covers, and low-growing annuals and perennials are typically allowed here, too. However, evergreen trees and shrubs should not be placed in proximity to a home due to their high risk of flammability. In "zone two," located further out, fire resistant plants can be used, which require little maintenance but that have a reduced risk of catching fire. Tree limbs here should be trimmed to be at least 10 feet off the ground. Once you get 50 feet away from your home, the main focus should be on native plant diversity and erosion control. And, of course, it's essential to remove dead growth and debris on a regular basis.

Whether or not you live in an area known for frequent wildfires, these landscaping tips can allow you to make smart property choices. Although 48% of homeowners planned to decorate their homes in 2018, there are plenty of those who focus on outdoor improvements throughout the year. And if your aim is to safeguard your home and your family, you may want to consider safety, rather than mere visual appeal, when designing your landscaping this year.

Just about any parent you ask has run into this struggle: with the busy schedule of parenthood, working out tends to fall by the wayside until exercise becomes a boring and time-consuming chore. This leads many parents to skip or completely forego exercise altogether. However, this doesn't have to be the case; there are plenty of ways to fit regular exercise into your day without it feeling like extra work. Try a few of these strategies to stay strong and in shape, even with the stresses of parenting.

Get The Kids Involved

While the kids are younger, it can be tricky to keep them involved with your workout. Once they've gotten into school, though, there's a good chance that they'll develop an interest in sports or other active extracurricular activities. Not all schools will have athletics available to all ages, particularly if your child doesn’t go a private school, which only make up 25% of schools in the United States. That being said, if your child shows interest in athletics, do what you can to get involved in their activity of choice at home. For example, if your child is interested in tennis, take them to the local park to play with them on the tennis court. Playing tennis for fun can burn around 208 calories in 30 minutes for an average man, making it a great exercise for both you and your kids. 

Plus, exercising is always more fun when you do it with your kids. 

Try Something New

If your kid doesn't seem interested in athletics, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. You don't need to bring your kid with you to enjoy a new activity or sport, and there are some sports that are best done while the kids are still at school. Try something new and exciting while the weather's still nice and the kids are busy at school. As many as 19.6% of Millennials participate in water sports; why not try swimming at a local gym? If you live in a big city, you can probably find a local rock climbing gym. Making your exercise into an adventure and an opportunity to get out of the house for a break in routine could be what it takes to keep you active.

Look For Something Laid Back

If consistent exercise is a struggle because it seems like too much additional stress, maybe what you need is a way to work in exercise and relaxation at the same time. Recently, yoga and other isometric exercises have seen a surge in popularity, and for good reason. Yoga can be a great way to meditate and unwind from the stress of parenting while also strengthening your muscles and improving flexibility. Nowadays, there are about 36.7 million yoga participants in the United States. It might be worth seeing if there's a class near you to try it out, but if that's too much of an investment, you can always give this type of exercise a try in your own home while the kids are at school.

Use Daily Tasks As Exercise

If there's really no time in your schedule to squeeze in activity, why not turn your existing routine into your workout? Instead of taking the elevator next time you head to the office, try taking the stairs. Try to complete some of your regular chores around the house a bit faster to turn it into a cardio exercise. There are plenty of opportunities to be more active from day-to-day if you look at your regular routine in small pieces.

Staying active as a parent can sometimes be a challenge, but by looking carefully at your daily routine and integrating activity where you can, you'll soon be exercising on a daily basis without even realizing it. How do you stay active as a parent, and what activities would you recommend for staying healthy?

The Wizards of Winter are ready to rock another holiday season with a new album, The Christmas Dream.

Available now, the 10th anniversary set from the holiday rock ensemble includes 10 new tracks from the group comprised of former members of classic rock bands, such as The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Def Leppard, The Irish Tenors, Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper Band and more. In support of the new album, The Wizards of Winter will embark on a holiday tour across North America.

Few people would argue that ride sharing platforms rely on drivers to operate. But Uber maintains that its drivers aren't a central part of its business operations -- and that the company won't need to start classifying its workers as employees, regardless of what a new bill passed in California might say.

The passage of bill AB5, which further clarifies a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling that outlines a test used for employee classification, should theoretically have companies like Uber shaking in their boots. But according to Uber's top lawyer, its drivers will remain independent contractors -- meaning that they won't be given benefits and that the company can continue to shirk liability in a number of situations.

According to the 2018 ruling, workers are considered employees if they perform duties that are under a company's control; if the work they do is essential to the company's business; and if they do not have independent enterprises within that given trade. Interestingly, the company maintains that the drivers who pick up customers for Uber are somehow not integral to the organization's operations. According to chief legal officer for the company, the "drivers' work is outside the usual course of Uber's business, which is serving as a technology platform for several different types of digital marketplaces."

Whether anyone will buy that argument is a different story. Previously, Uber has noted that classifying their drivers as actual employees would completely change ride sharing as a whole, eliminating the flexibility of their current business model. They'd supposedly have to force shifts on drivers and hire fewer of them, along with restricting them from working during certain hours or in specific areas. Those claims have been debunked by California Labor Federation spokesperson Steve Smith, who pointed out to a local ABC news affiliate that there's nothing in the labor code that would prohibit driver flexibility and added that this line of thinking is nothing more than a "corporate scare tactic."

Furthermore, the company seems to want to have it both ways. Uber may protest that its drivers aren't an essential part of its business model, but the company also recently argued that its driver roster should be regarded as a closely guarded trade secret. Although over 85% of misappropriation cases involve the business partner or employee of a trade secret owner, this scenario played out a bit differently. When the leader of an academic project requested the names of Uber drivers from Chicago officials in 2018, the Freedom of Information Act request was denied on the grounds that releasing this information “would cause competitive harm specifically by allowing their competitors to target and 'poach' their drivers." A Loyola University Chicago business school assistant professor requested the information again this year, maintaining that the information should be publicly accessible considering that drivers are licensed by the city. And while the average citizen can easily look up taxi vehicles and their license holders, that same access is not granted for cases involving holders of ride hailing licenses.

According to documents acquired by Bloomberg, ride hailing companies are worried about drivers abandoning one platform for another; the potential for poaching would increase if those names became public, according to Uber, along with other safety liabilities. But -- depending on the state -- ride hailing companies cannot demand exclusivity from their drivers, as this is yet another point that would likely force Uber to reclassify their independent contractors as employees. That would make drivers "under the company's control," which falls in line with the first point of the bill recently passed in California. But judging by how important the identities of Uber drivers seem to be, many are skeptical that the company will be able to convince anyone that their role in the business structure is anything but essential.

Still, West is confident that Uber will win out in the end. In a conference call with media, the chief legal officer explained that they'd have no problem complying with the necessary criteria: "Just because the test is hard does not mean we will not be able to pass it. We continue to believe that drivers are properly classified as independent... We expect we will continue to respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court, as necessary, just as we do now."

Wrigleyville's Gallagher Way continues to be a growing destination for families in Chicago, and this holiday season, the festive activities are bigger and more plentiful than ever.

Winterland programs at Wrigleyville hot spot begin on Nov. 22, and run through Feb. 16, 2020.

This year, Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville returns alongside an 8,000-square-foot ice rink, curling and skating lessons, Santa’s Workshop, wreath making classes, oversized decorative winter characters, holiday movies and more. The holiday transformation will also include a 30-foot holiday tree underneath the Wrigley Field Marquee, a tree lot at Big Star Wrigleyville, holiday programming at Hotel Zachary, Hush Money, Lucky Dorr, Smoke Daddy Wrigleyville and other restaurants around Gallagher Way, plus a dazzling display of decorative lights around Gallagher Way.

When it comes to buying a home, Millennials far outpace Baby Boomers in their interest. In fact, 96% of Millennial investors are interested in making a real estate investment, compared to 83% of Baby Boomers. While Millennials might be the ones buying the homes more often, that doesn't mean they're the only ones living in them.

More and more frequently, this generation finds themselves living in a multi-generational home with both their children and their parents. Sometimes, these homes even include other extended family from older generations. A whopping 12% of home buyers purchased a multi-generational home, to take care of aging parents, because of children over the age of 18 moving back home, and for cost-saving. If you've found yourself living with more generations under one roof than you originally planned, use these tips to create a home that's more ready to welcome varying age groups.

Buy With More Generations in Mind

If you're in the process of purchasing a new home for your increased family size, be sure to let your real estate agent know what your situation is. As many as 78% of recent buyers found their real estate agent to be a very useful information source. However, your real estate agent will only be able to help you if you give them the most useful information to work with. Let your real estate agent know specifically how many people you're planning to have in the house, and emphasize age differences. This will change the style of home they're more likely to suggest to you during your shopping.

Account For Accessibility

While you might not necessarily want to sleep on the first floor, look for houses that have a bedroom available without needing to climb stairs. Elderly relatives are likely to appreciate it, and it helps to keep your family members safe as they age. One in three elderly adults suffers a serious stairway fall each year, so it's helpful to have the most frequently used spaces be as accessible as possible. Likewise, look for first-floor bathrooms that are less likely to lead to slipping and falling. If possible, try to add adaptations to your existing spaces that make the home more accessible to those with limited mobility. This can include railing, wider hallways, ramps, and more. Even if they're not necessary right now, they could be in the future.

Look For Separate Living Spaces

While not all homes will offer this option, look for homes with separate spaces for multiple generations. Some larger homes will have entire areas that can be accessed separately from the rest of the house, more like an apartment than a separate bedroom and bathroom. These spaces can help afford some privacy in multi-generation homes, making the experience of having many ages under one roof more comfortable. If this isn't already a part of your home, consider converting a living room or family room into another bedroom. The more bedrooms you can have in your home without increasing the price, the better.

Fitting more generations under a single roof is becoming a more common struggle among Millennials and their parents. Finding the right space to begin with can help, as can increasing your home's accessibility and adding private spaces. The way many modern families are living is changing, and having additional generations in a single household is part of that shift. Hopefully, these tips can make the transition period a little bit more comfortable for everyone in living in your multi-generation home.

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