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Booking Vacation Rentals: What You Need to Know

When you’re planning on vacationing in a specific destination, the room or house that you book can ultimately make or break the trip. For those who are wanting to secure the space ahead of time, it’s important to make reservations several weeks or months before arriving. When booking vacation rentals, there are a few important facts to know to score the right place.

Consider the Surroundings

You may be attracted to a low price on a vacation rental, but you should also be aware of the surroundings. Check to see if there’s a local grocery store nearby where you can stock up on snacks and breakfast items after arriving. You’ll also want to see if the area is safe to roam at night or if it has a high crime rate. It’s also crucial to see how close the vacation rental is to important attractions or sites that you’re planning on visiting.

Look Into the Noise Level

Booking a room on a busy street or in a downtown area can make for a vacation that is anything but relaxing. Look into the noise level of the area to determine if you’ll be able to enjoy a serene environment

Have Contact with a Property Manager

Before booking a vacation rental, you’ll want to know if there’s a property manager that you’ll be able to contact during the week if something breaks during your stay. Although it may seem like a minor issue, it can be a challenging week if there’s a leak in the home or if the toilet overflows.

Inquire About the Amenities

According to TheStreet.com, you’ll want to know about the amenities that are available with the vacation rental to determine if it’s worth the overall cost. Inquire about any luxuries that may include a spa bath or an on-site pool. There may even be a fitness center or someone who is available to keep the fridge stocked during your visit.

Consider the Square Footage

You may be excited to book a two-bedroom condo or a three-bedroom house for your trip, but that doesn’t mean that there will be a lot of space available. According to CNN.com, more people are renting tiny houses, which are often in prime locations for those who want to explore a certain city. Although this type of property may be ideal for certain travelers, it can make for a challenging time spent in a cramped space if there are multiple people arriving. Look into the facts of the vacation rental and ask yourself why it may be priced so low if you’re getting a deal that seems too good to be true.

 

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Healthcare Organizations: How to Improve Daily Operations

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), every health care organization should start the day with a quick meeting to review safety and operational issues. The HBR reports that health care organizations who have daily morning huddles experience 40 percent more reporting safety reporting. However, improving daily operations goes beyond standard morning business huddles.

Continuous Improvement
The best way to improve daily operations is through a solid quality improvement program. As mentioned above, health care organizations should start the day with a brief meeting that highlights major issues. However, without management intervention and documentation, these issues will continue to occur every day. This will result in frustrated patients and employees. Therefore, health care organizations should have daily morning huddles that result in documented goals and tasks. This action list is a great way to ensure accountability and transparency. In addition to this, there should be thorough quality discussions with management in order to allocate and prioritize processes and resources. Ideally, the health care organization will adopt the ISO 9000 quality management system or an equally beneficial program.

Operations Management
In today’s health care environment, employees must do all they can to just keep up with the fast workflow and intense job duties. Supervisors and managers may actually spend more time putting out fires or dealing with day-to-day issues instead of performing important managerial tasks. For example, health care management should proactively delegate tasks to their subordinates. This will be beneficial for management in the long-run because they will be able to identify subordinates who demonstrate strong organizational and leadership skills. As their star employees take on more challenging responsibilities and complex assignments, they will be able to transition into leadership positions. As a result of better operations control, management will be able to focus on more serious issues related to HR and compliance. In fact, these two issues are best handled through preventative planning and preemptive action.

Budgeting Monitoring
Effective budgeting oversight is a way that health care executives can contribute to operational improvements. This is accomplished through the executives comparing the costs of specific services to the actual revenue generated. As a result, the executives are able to effectively prioritize financial decisions and appropriately adjust their strategic planning. For example, finalizing approaching fiscal budgets will take into account department project requests and their projected revenue increase. Executives can make the best financial decision that will benefit both patients and employees. On the other hand, in-depth financial analysis will also help executives decide whether to increase or decrease departmental operating hours or services. For instance, lab services may be in high demand and therefore need more staff and resources. However, radiology technology must result in a transition to an online platform that requires fewer employees and less administration.

Health care organizations can improve their daily operations through continuous improvement, quality management and budget monitoring.

 

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Buying Hunting Land: Important Facts You Need to Know

If you’re an avid hunter, the idea of buying your own land to hunt probably sounds pretty appealing. It’s important, however, that you do your research and check out a few things about a tract of land before you commit to a purchase. Otherwise you could end up with a patch of land that you can’t hunt or that has nothing on it to hunt.

Know the Neighbors

You’ll need to know how big the piece of land you’re buying is an be aware of who owns the surrounding land. You don’t want to buy a small area and then find out residential buildings will be going up on the acreage next to yours. Learn everything you can about proposed roadways, rail lines and other development plans that could impact the property.

Food and Water

Know what your quarry likes to eat and make sure the property you’re buying has an abundance of it. Animals need a steady supply of food and fresh water to live comfortably, and if you’re land doesn’t have it, you’ll be sitting in a tree stand all by yourself. If the land has water but lacks the desired plant life you could grow it yourself, but be aware that this takes time.

Shelter

Game animals won’t live just anywhere. Deer, for instance, gravitate towards tall brush and trees for cover during the day. Make sure your property has plenty of comfortable places for your quarry to live as well as adequate food and water. You wouldn’t visit a grocery store that was miles from your home, and neither will wildlife. Make sure the property has shelter as well as food and water.

Hunting Pressure

Ask around and try to get an idea of how heavily any adjacent properties are hunted. When too many hunters crowd an area, game wises up and seeks shelter in a quieter setting, so it may not be wise to buy land in heavily hunted areas. On the other hand, if you limit your hunting activities and visit your land only minimally, you may be able to create a respite that attracts animals in the midst of a heavily trafficked area. Be sure to consider this before you buy.

If you consider these factors and weigh them carefully, you’ll be able to find a piece of land that you can hunt and enjoy for many years to come. The key to buying hunting land is to take your time and do your research so you don’t end up pulling the trigger on a property that looks great but fails to deliver.

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Common Strength Training Mistakes to Avoid

Strength training is an important part of your overall fitness program, whether you want to lose weight or improve your health. In fact, studies have shown that people who have incorporated strength training into their weight loss plan are more likely to keep off the unwanted pounds.

When you decide to incorporate strength training into your workout routine, it’s important to perform the exercises correctly. Here are some common mistakes people often make while strength training and how you can avoid them.

Skipping the Warmup

Going right into an intense weight training session without a proper warm-up can increase your risk of injury. Prepare your muscles for your workout with a few minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as a brisk walk on the treadmill or elliptical machine.

Speeding Through the Routine

It’s tempting to lift quickly, since momentum is doing the bulk of the work. To get the most out of your lifting session, use slow and controlled movements when lifting the weight. Be sure to rest between sets, as this allows you to replenish your muscle energy stores.

Overdoing the Sit-Ups

Many new exercisers fall into the trap of completing hundreds of sit-ups, hoping they’ll achieve six-pack abs. Unfortunately, excessive sit-ups and crunches can cause serious back pain or injury. Instead, try spine-stabilizing core exercises, which include side planks and modified curl-ups.

Not Completing a Range of Motion

If you’re attempting to lift too-heavy weights, you will reduce your range of motion. To gain strength, decrease the weight until you can complete the range of motion for one set of eight repetitions. Lifting the proper amount of weight is key to achieving proper form.

Following an Unbalanced Program

Focusing on certain muscle groups and ignoring others can increase your risk of injury while strength training. For instance, hamstrings must be strong when engaging in leg press and squat movements. Well-conditioned abs can stabilize your spine while engaging your lower back muscles. A balanced program can help you improve your overall body composition.

Not Sticking to the Program

Weight training offers a host of benefits, including increased bone density and lower blood pressure. You’ll also burn more calories while at rest. In fact, studies have shown that strength training may be a better path to fitness than cardio alone. But to receive these benefits, you must find a program that incorporates all your muscle groups through a variety of exercises. Working with a personal trainer can be a great way to learn how to properly perform each exercise.

Most of all, don’t give up! With a well-balanced program, you will notice a difference and how you look and feel. When you start a weight lifting regimen, you will be able to increase your health and well-being.

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Business Renovation: How to Open Throughout the Process

For small businesses, renovating a location can prove challenging on various levels. Owners must figure out how to finance the renovations. They must then apply for permits and figure out whether tax credits are available for renovations. The planning stage for such endeavors can last for months before construction begins. In each case, renovations cost a lot of money, and expenses could extend beyond construction.

The True Cost of Business Renovations

Business owners must decide whether to remain open during construction or not. Sometimes, renovations force the closure of a location, and there’s no way around that. Most renovation projects are flexible enough to avoid long-term closures, though. Shuttering the doors during construction could cost a business thousands of dollars per day, and many small businesses cannot afford to lose so much money.

So, how can businesses stay open throughout this process?

Keeping The Customers (and Revenue) Coming In

A renovation project should be planned in stages to keep the doors open. For instance, construction can be broken into different sections. It’s possible to work on renovations during business hours while avoiding areas with customers. Businesses could opt to close certain areas for construction while keeping core areas functional. By working around certain areas, companies can remain open like normal.

Capacity could be limited by renovations during the day, though. To avoid that situation, an owner could have renovations completed outside of business hours. Renovation could occur throughout the night to avoid inconveniencing customers or restricting operating capacity. Also, any renovations scheduled for key customer and operational areas could be tackled at night at the beginning to avoid store closures.

Business owners shouldn’t hesitate to utilize some creativity here. Typically, customers are more than willing to deal with the hassles of renovations. If customers love a given business enough, then they’ll keep coming back no matter what. Renovations can be broken into stages with breaks in between, if necessary. Creative solutions can keep the doors open each and every day of construction.

What is the true cost of closing down temporarily?

For most businesses, closing for an extended period comes with dire consequences. That business loses money each and every day as mentioned before. Loyal customers won’t always wait out the renovation project with a full store closure. When companies lose loyal, repeat customers, then they pay even more money to acquire new customers. A small business can’t afford these tangible and intangible expenses for closing down.

Staying Open Isn’t Impossible!

Few renovation projects at business locations require an extended closure. Many businesses can continue to operate during construction, even in a limited capacity. In the end, keeping the doors open helps avoid financial losses from staying closed. Every day of closure hurts a business in multiple ways after all. Business owners should strive to remain open while construction is occurring.

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5 Simple Ways to Prioritize your Income

After years of dealing with overspending and once again, being ill-prepared for any financial surprises, now is the time to go on a budget and take control of your finances.

Create a budget

Before you divvy up your income, track how much you spend for one week and evaluate the data. Then, you can custom create a budget framework that you are able to stick with because it is customized for your family to work with your lifestyle and financial goals.

Auto payments

Next, set up auto payments for all household expenses including mortgage, insurance, utilities, credit cards and car payments. To pay off your car or mortgage faster, set up payments every four weeks so that there is an extra payment made each year.

Savings

Another automatic payment should be set up-and that is a payment to yourself! Set up an automatic savings plan and with each paycheck, take 10% of the gross and automatically deposit this into your savings account. In ten months, you will have easily saved one paycheck’s worth of income and have made a good start in protecting yourself for that inevitable rainy day. In addition, you can even set up several separate savings plans and thumbnail them as subcategories. Some possible savings could include a travel savings plan, an education savings plan for yourself or your children, a home savings account, etc. This way, you can earmark money for a particular excursion or personal goal.

Learn to cook

Your food bill is the number one place to cut cost. Instead of spending money on convenience foods, learn how to cook food that you enjoy eating. Buy meats in bulk and divide them up into dinner sized portions and freeze them. In addition, for some meals, do not showcase meat, and instead, fill up on beans and vegetables. Take advantage of better prices of in-season fruits and vegetables at the local Farmer’s Market, or join a coop and fill the freezer. Learn how to bake bread and easily grow your own pots of herbs from seed.

Instead of going out to eat, make your splurge a bottle of high quality Italian or Greek olive oil or fine imported cheeses and really savor these specialities. Lastly, substitute. For example, instead of buying chips, buy inexpensive bags of popcorn and make it the old-fashioned way on the stove.

Pay off Your credit cards

Whether you pay off the biggest interest card, or the smallest total bill, start paying off your cards. If you have set up your auto payment feature for your credit card bills, you have already started. Now it is time to make the next step and focus on another card and make extra payments. Of course, you will not be using the credit cards until they are paid in full. Once they are paid, create rules as to when you can pull them out.

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Natural Strength Standards for Men and Women

Time magazine has reported on the increasingly popular trend of using technology to measure personal fitness. There are monitors and screens and timers on watches, equipment displays and gym walls. The idea behind all of this information is to let you know where you stand. Some people measure themselves against their past performance while others like to compete with their friends and gym buddies.

If you enjoy strength training, it is easy to feel discouraged when you see the massive weights begin moved by the people you are trying to measure up to. You might want to consider a few numbers to give yourself a more realistic perspective.

Natural Strength Standards

The standards discussed here are for natural strength training. That means these numbers are being put up by people who are not taking performance-enhancing drugs and are not using artificial aids like lifting belts and shirts.

There are several organizations that have been formed to foster natural strength training, and the weight ranges we will discuss for men are taken from the national records of those organizations. The numbers for women are suggested by Livestrong.com.

Men

Strength is usually measured across three common lifts: the squat, the bench press and the dead lift. Standards depend upon the size, age, gender and level of training of the individual lifter and are based on a single repetition. Take as an example a 220-pound man in his prime. He is a very strong man if he can do a 350-pound squat, 235-pound bench press and 370-pound dead lift. If, however, he wants to compete at the highest levels of natural bodybuilding, he will need to aim for the records that stand at about 650 pounds for a squat, 450 pounds for a bench press, and almost 700 pounds for the dead lift.

Women

Now consider a woman who weighs 132 pounds. If she has been training for a couple of years and has reached the point of being stronger than about half of her lifting counterparts, she will be able to do a 130-pound squat, 90-pound bench press and 160-pound dead lift. If she keeps training for a few more years and reaches an elite status of being able to out-lift 95 percent of other female lifters, she will be capable of a 210-pound squat, 150-pound bench press and 275-pound dead lift.

If you are dedicated to improving your strength through purely natural means, these numbers will give you something to shoot for. Whether you are just trying to improve your health and fitness or if you have competitive ambitions, you can achieve impressive gains the all-natural way.

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3 Smart Winter Plumbing Preparations

Autumn is the time of year many people begin taking steps to winterize their homes in anticipation of freezing temperatures. Yet, the first freeze of the year often results in frozen pipes and expensive repairs. Homeowners can spare themselves the misery and expense if they make three smart winter plumbing preparations. Make sure to fix leaks, insulate pipes and protect outdoor faucets. Doing ensures one will enjoy the festive holiday season without the worry and expense of winter plumbing disasters.

Prepare Outdoor Faucets

Outdoor faucets are just as likely to freeze as exposed pipes. Despite this, people often forget garden hoses and outdoor faucets when winterizing their homes. Homeowners can spare themselves the expense of repairs by detaching and draining their water hoses, and storing them in a warm place. If possible, people should cut off the water supply to outdoor faucets before insulating them against freezing temperatures. Homeowners can use plastic and newspapers to protect their outdoor faucets, according to CNN.

Fix Leaks

A small plumbing leak seems like a minor inconvenience until temperatures drop below freezing. The reality is water spraying from a broken pipe affects a larger area and is more apt to cause extensive damage. Rather than wait, homeowners should inspect all exposed pipes inside and outside of their house. If pipes are insulated, check for any sign of moisture to discover hidden leaks. Fixing hidden leaks before the first freeze will save homeowners money and protect their homes against water damage.

Insulate Pipes

Chances are most homeowners insulated their home’s pipes last winter, but that’s no reason to assume old insulation will suffice. Check any existing insulation to make sure it will protect pipes during freezing temperatures. Don’t forget to make sure all exposed pipes are insulated, including those in the crawl space, attic and even the garage. For an extra layer of protection, Ready.com advises homeowners let faucets drip during freezing temperatures to help prevent the pipes from freezing.

Waiting to winterize one’s home until after the first freeze of the season is a recipe for disaster most homeowners will regret. Take the time to check for any possible leaks inside and outside of one’s home, insulate exposed pipes and protect outdoor faucets. These three simple winter plumbing steps will help prevent extensive damage to the house, protect the home against freezing temperatures and save homeowners a great deal of money.

 

 

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Accent Walls: Making a Powerful Statement in Any Room

Creating an accent wall in a room is one of the boldest and most powerful ways to make a unique design statement in your home. An accent wall adds elements of visual and sometimes even architectural interest to the room, and can be used to enhance an existing focal point or to create a new focal point in the room.

Enhancing An Existing Focal Point

To enhance an existing room focal point like a fireplace, the design added to the wall is placed around the fireplace, which draws the eye to that wall. Interest can be created with a contrasting color of paint, or by using a paint shade several shades darker than the rest of the room. Design elements like stripes or geometric shapes can also be painted on your wall to create an inspired look. Choose paint colors that are currently trending, by using design magazines or websites. Colors trending today include bright colors like turquoise and shades of tangerine orange.

Other existing focal points can be an oddly shaped window or a large bookcase that covers the wall. A window can be enhanced with drapes on either side, with the wall painted an interesting color. A bookcase or rows of shelves can feature accents like books, souvenirs from travels, statues, framed photographs, unique vases or pottery to draw the eye to your accent wall.

Other Ways To Create A Unique Accent Wall

Another interesting way to create an accent wall is to hang a large piece of artwork on the wall that almost covers it. Bright colors will attract the eye, as well as interesting themes of your chosen painting. Once you’ve hung the artwork, display pretty lighted sconces on either side of it or a light above it to highlight it. You can even paint a large wall mural on the wall or have one painted for you to create your accent wall.

Specialized painting techniques can also be used in fascinating ways to create an accent wall. Try using techniques that create a faux leather look, or the look of stone, wood, metal or brick for visual artistry. This can give your wall an interesting textured look, or can give it a weathered appearance.

Your Personality Shines Through Your Accent Wall

No matter what method you choose to fashion your accent wall, the most important thing is to let your personality shine in your creation. This helps you design a room that you’re proud of and will love spending time in. It also creates a room that you’ll love to show to others. Accent walls are a wonderful way to spice up any room and create visual interest, whether you choose subtle or bold accents.

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4 Uncommonly Known Winter Pests

Uncommon Winter Pests One: Field Crickets

Homeowners might get annoyed about hearing loud crickets outside a home, but it is worse when the insect is inside a home’s walls or hopping around on the kitchen floor. Field crickets hatch in the spring, but by late autumn, the insects are adults. This is a helpful insect because it devours spiders and flies, but no one wants these crickets inside their home in the winter. However, with a loss of habitat, field crickets do invade homes to find food, and the warm temperatures of a building will lead to the insects breeding. This insect can squeeze through tiny holes and crevices, so to prevent invasions, fill openings with caulking and nail down baseboards inside a home.

Uncommon Winter Pests Two: Smelly Skunks

Skunks are also losing habitat, making it difficult for the animal to find a place to stay warm in the winter. While a skunk will not hibernate, the animal does become less active and seeks a den to nest with other skunks. Skunks have a distinctive odor, and the spray from just one of these animals makes people feel ill. However, if one skunk finds a way to hide in a crawl space underneath a home, then others will follow the scent. To prevent skunk invasions, make sure to cover crawl spaces with mesh wire fencing, and if a skunk is near a home, then do not approach it to avoid being sprayed or receiving a bite.

Uncommon Winter Pests Three: Ladybugs

Ladybugs are actually a beetle that most individuals consider cute to look at because the insects are usually bright red with small black dots. There are also color variations of yellow, orange or brown, but these beetles can quickly become winter pests inside a building when homeowners do not take action. Ladybugs seek a place to nest and stay warm in the winter, leading to an attraction to brightly lit buildings. The typical time for swarms to fly in search of a warm area is in the late afternoon as the temperatures begin to drop in the winter. To prevent invasions, homeowners should turn off exterior lights in the late afternoon and close draperies to keep a building dark.

Uncommon Winter Pests Four: Snakes

Snakes are a cold-blooded reptile that seeks warmth in the winter by going deep into the soil or invading a building. Most snakes are not venomous, but homeowners do not want this reptile inside a home because larger ones have been known to capture family pets such as cats or dogs to constrict and consume for a meal. Prevent snake invasions by sealing holes and crevices around a building’s foundation and windows.