Tag: lifestyle

Create a Safe & Enjoyable Backyard Play Area

Homeowners often aspire to have attractive backyards that look like they belong in a magazine. While these can be picturesque and functional for adults, they may not be entirely practical for homeowners who have young children, especially when the majority of the yard is covered with paving stones or concrete.

When young children are part of a household, homeowners may benefit by designing yards that are both functional and fun. Incorporating safe play areas for kids is one way to unlock the potential of both big and small backyards.

As children run off to enjoy a playground, safety is the last thing on their minds. Kids are most interested in scaling ladders to treehouses or coasting down slides. That’s why adults must take it upon themselves to keep injury prevention in mind.

SafestPlayground.com indicates that playground-related injuries routinely result in severe fractures, internal injuries, concussions, and dislocations. In the majority of playground injuries to children younger than age 5, the head and face are affected. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 experience more leg and arm injuries than younger kids. The Consumer Product Safety Commission states 70 percent of children’s injuries occur on home playgrounds. More than 28,000 children are injured each year on playgrounds across Canada, according to Parachute, a national injury prevention organization.

When considering playground equipment for the yard, parents need to make safety a priority. The Canada Safety Society advises parents to follow the “5 S’s of Playground Safety”: Surface, structures, site, supervision, and safety.

· Surface: Parents should assume that children will fall. To lessen the blow of falls, choose playground equipment with a perimeter of six feet of a softer surface, such as sand, pea gravel, rubber pieces or wood chips. This material should be between six and 12 inches deep.

· Structure: The structure of the play equipment should be built from sturdy materials. Pressure-treated lumber was once the standard, but it’s not adviseable for kids’ playgrounds, as the chemicals used in the lumber can leach and young children may actually bite or pick at the wood. Use cedar or another wood that resists decay. Once the structure is built, inspect it frequently for damage.

· Site: Look around the landscape for an ideal place to locate the playset. There should be no obstacles that children can hit while sliding or swinging. Avoid overhanging branches and do not place equipment too close to trees or fencing. Try to keep the set out of direct sunlight, which can make components heat up and scald young bodies.

· Supervision: Do not leave children alone while they are playing. Prevent children from using the playset in an incorrect manner.

· Safety: Follow the directions for installation. Make sure all posts are anchored into the ground securely. Railings should be spaced so that children cannot get stuck between them. Check that metal components have not rusted and that there is no additional excessive wear. Be sure that no tools or other dangerous items are left around the yard.

Backyard playgrounds should be built with safety in mind. Learn the rules of play equipment and yard safety.

Cut Prom Costs Without Cutting Fun

Many people fondly remember their high school proms. But while proms make great memories, they also can break the bank.

Prom can be an expensive rite of passage. A 2015 survey from Visa indicated the average American family planned to spend about $900 on the prom, with parents contributing as much as 75 percent of those costs. Similarly, Visa Canada’s survey showed households with teens were prepared to spend an average of $500 on prom in 2015. And spending on the prom isn’t all that’s contributing to the event’s final price tag. There’s the “promposal” to factor in as well. In Canada, many teens spend about $150 just to ask out a potential prom date, and Americans can spend more than double that amount on their promposals.

Tickets, transportation, attire, grooming treatments, meals, and several other factors can add up to make prom very costly. However, those feeling the potential stress of the prom bill can explore various ways to cut those costs.

· Search for deals. Subscribe to mailing lists and download deal-finder apps like the My Franklin Shopper App & don’t forget about searching our online site or picking up a copy of the Franklin Shopper locally! If there’s a particular manufacturer or store that you prefer, subscribe to their mailing list, which might make you eligible for “insider” deals.

· Shop early. Get a jump on prom shopping and possibly save some money by shopping early for prom wardrobes. Girls can shop when party dresses are on discount after New Year’s Eve galas. Waiting until prom season to shop for prom night attire can be a costly mistake, as dresses and formalwear tends to be expensive come prom season. Guys can shop sales as well if they want to make a splash in a custom suit. Otherwise, guys can rent tuxedos to save money.

· Go supermarket floral. Supermarkets and warehouse clubs may offer discounted prices on flowers, which promgoers can fashion into boutonnieres and corsages. Also, nothing says you cannot pull a beautiful bloom out of your home garden as well.

· Be your own paparazzi. Smartphone cameras now have excellent capabilities, and certain apps can apply filters and fix minor flaws easily. Pair with a coupon for discount photo prints, and soon you’ll have a frugal photo memory book or wall portrait.

· Savings in numbers. See if a particular vendor will cut costs if you book services with a group of friends. Retailers will be guaranteed the sales, and promgoers can save some money.

Prom is meant for making memories, not getting into debt. Save money with smart shopping.

Get The Facts on Life Insurance Policies

Few people want to face their own mortality when they are in the prime of their lives. However, thinking ahead and making advanced plans can save family members considerable heartache. Life insurance policies can help men and women make things easier for their spouses, children or siblings. Life insurance provides financial security in the event of a person’s death. Such insurance is a key element of estate planning and something all adults must consider. It’s smart to purchase life insurance at a relatively young age because the cost can be lower. Some people put off the process because it can be overwhelming. But Forbes magazine advises that once a person does a little research and learns the terminology associated with life insurance, choosing a policy is not so difficult.

Determine the amount of insurance you will need.
Make a list of expected expenses after you pass away. These may include any residual mortgage payments, school tuitions, automotive payments, or funeral expenses. In addition, approximate how much your family will need to live comfortably in your absence. Online calculators can help determine life insurance coverage needs. The New York Life Insurance Company says a quick way to figure out how much coverage you may need is to take your annual salary and multiply it by eight.

Decide on the type of policy.
Life insurance policies come in two broad categories: term and whole life. Term life insurance may be less expensive upfront, as it only provides coverage for a set number of years. It will only pay out if the policy holder dies during this “term.” Whole life insurance, also called “cash value,” usually costs more, but accumulates a cash value that can be borrowed against, and it pays out whenever a person passes away.

Choose among reputable companies.
You want to ensure the life insurance company you pick will be around for years and has a strong reputation, so give ample consideration to each company you explore before making a final decision.

Know the waiting period.
Many policies establish a period of time on policies wherein there is very little cash-out value and the company will not pay out the full death benefit. This may be a year or two after opening the policy. Discuss this information with the insurance agent. Life insurance can be a smart financial choice, helping men and women rest easy that their families will want for nothing in the wake of their deaths.

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3 Ways to Improve Air Quality All Year Long

As winter wears on, it’s not uncommon for people living in cold weather climates to experience some cabin fever. Winter weather confines many people to their homes, making many antsy to get out once the first signs of spring begin to appear.

In addition to contributing to cabin fever, winter weather can have a negative impact on indoor air quality. While air pollution is something most often associated with densely populated cities, the air inside homes is not immune to pollution, especially during long winters when windows are often closed for months at a time. Though open windows in spring and summer can vastly improve indoor air quality, there are ways to ensure that air stays fresh and healthy regardless of which season it happens to be.

1. Clean the floors.

Dirty floors are one of the chief contributors to poor indoor air quality. Dust, dirt, pollen, and pet dander can accumulate on floors, leading to poor air quality and potentially aggravating respiratory conditions such as asthma. When vacuuming, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which is a uniquely designed mechanical air filter that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander and dust mites. When you finish vacuuming, mop floors to gather any dust or allergens that escaped the vacuum.

2. Control indoor air moisture.

Moist air is great for dust mites and mold, both of which are very bad for humans, so do everything you can to maintain healthy levels of indoor air moisture. Dehumidifiers can reduce indoor air moisture and control allergens, but it’s important to take additional steps as well. When bathing, try to keep a bathroom window open on a slight crack to prevent mold growth. When preparing meals in the kitchen, make use of your exhaust fan. In addition, don’t overwater houseplants, as they can become breeding grounds for mold.

3. Resist synthetic fragrances.

A home that smells good tends to feel more pleasant, especially during winter months when windows are closed. But synthetic fragrances, such as those found in detergents and air fresheners, may be providing that welcoming scent at a heavy cost to a home’s inhabitants. Such fragrances may be emitting various chemicals, including volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into the air, affecting indoor air quality and possibly even human health. When buying laundry products, look for those that are fragrance-free, also choosing home cleaning products that do not include any artificial fragrances.

Indoor air quality tends to suffer in colder months, when windows are closed and doors are open only briefly. But homeowners can take a handful of simple yet effective steps to ensure the air in their homes is healthy all year long. SH162846

Medical & Health Directory Special Section

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.04.14 PMThe Franklin Shopper is here to keep you up-to-date and connected with your community.

Just released, our latest Medical & Health Directory!

A special supplement to The Franklin Shopper.

Featuring:  Physicians, Hospitals, Rehabilitation, Therapy Centers & Health Services Information

Pick up your copy of The Franklin Shopper or download the special section online!

Click Here to download the Medical & Health Directory

Save $ with our New App!

mfs-devicesAre you in savings mode? You’re not alone! The after-holiday season means planning ahead and saving money on future expenses like vacation, summer spending, & current needs like home repair, family necessities and more! Luckily, we have several tools available to help you save money.

Shop Local! Using our helpful new app, you can save money while shopping locally!

Franklin Shopper App – NEW! Our New APP let’s you browse local savings, as well as view Hours, Location & More! Free to Download!

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The My Franklin Shopper mobile app is your source for local shopping and the hottest deals in town. Receive instant notifications when there is a deal closest to you.

2015 Year in Review

Don’t miss The Franklin Shopper’s special release of The Year in Review! Available in print or view our digital copy online!

Click Here

We are proud to continue to support our local community and want to say Thank You to our advertisers and readers for a great 2015!

This special section highlights memorable moments from our local area in 2015!

2015 Year In Review

Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is often trumped as a means to reducing stress and restoring healthy function in the body. While meditation might once have been considered a New Age treatment, in recent years it has developed into a mainstream practice supported by both traditional and alternative medical providers.

The Mayo Clinic says that anyone can practice meditation. A cost-effective treatment that does not require any special equipment or location, meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and originally was developed to help people understand the mystical or spiritual forces of life. Although meditation for some may still have religious or spiritual connotations, in a medical sense it is typically used for relaxation and stress reduction.

Various studies show that meditation can be associated with improvement of a variety of issues. Researchers describe meditation-based changes as ones that actually change the brain. Changes in the circuitry of the brain may affect the way a person responds to specific situations. The following are a few ways to put mindful meditation to use.


· Strengthen cognitive function: Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, says meditation can help thicken the prefrontal cortex of the brain, helping to reverse the pattern of cognitive function decline as one ages.

· Protect against heart disease: There is some indication that meditation can reduce concentrations of the marker C-reactive protein, which is associated with the development of heart disease.

· Stimulate the immune system: A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that mindfulness meditation increases electrical activity in the areas of the prefrontal cortex getprev-2.editthat serve a
s the command center for the immune system. When these areas are stimulated, the immune system works more effectively.

· Reduce blood pressure: The stress-boosting properties of meditation can help reduce hypertension. Researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine attribute this to the increase of nitric oxide during meditation. Nitric oxide gas can expand blood vessels and open up blood channels.

Some experts also say that meditation can decrease metabolism and improve breathing. Meditation may be a mind-body way to beat some of the conditions that affect people during daily life. Meditation is not difficult to learn, but it something that requires practice to master.


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Swimming Pool Installation Tips

Now that the weather is warming up, many homeowners’ thoughts are drifting toward relaxing days spent soaking up some sun by the pool. Early spring is a great time to install a pool so the family has a go-to hangout by the time summer arrives.

pool1Installing a pool is a large financial investment, and homeowners considering adding a pool should not take that decision lightly. When attempting to determine if a pool is for them, homeowners may want to ask themselves the following questions.

Is my yard suitable for a pool?

Some yards may not be large enough for pools, while others may not meet the zoning requirements set forth by the town. Still other yards may have soil that’s not suitable for putting in an inground pool, or may have a high water table that can delay construction.

What is the average weather?

Will a pool be enjoyed enough to warrant the cost? Homeowners who live in areas that get many hot days will likely get their money’s worth. But if the climate suggests that a pool will sit unused more often than not, perhaps a pool is not the best investment.

Can we afford it?

A pool can range from a few hundred dollars for inflatable or self-installing models to many thousands for elaborate inground designs. You budget will dictate which type of pool you can afford to install.

How will we use the pool?

Decide if you’re putting in a pool for the kids, to entertain the family or to make an architectural statement in the yard. Having a clear sense of purpose will help to guide the decision-making process.

Who will maintain the pool?

Many homeowners tackle the day-to-day maintenance required to keep their pools clean and safe. Others hire pool cleaners to maintain their pools and ensure the water is properly balanced. Maintenance can cost additional money, so consider this potential cost when determining if a pool is for you.

Are there any safety concerns?

Parents of young children may be hesitant to install a pool, but today’s pool installation codes consider many of the potential hazards of a pool and attempt to eliminate them. Fences surrounding inground pools with self-locking gates, as well as locking ladders for above-ground pools can eliminate accidental falls into unattended pools. Your municipality will have a list of requirements for pools, so peruse the list prior to making your final decision.

If the decision has been made to move ahead with a pool, it can be helpful to understand a few facts about the process of installing a pool.

Always work with a pool-installation company that has earned positive reviews and has a stellar record of service. While this does not guarantee that the job will not encounter problems, contractors with glowing reviews tend to have earned those reviews. Read reviews from unbiased, online customers as well as any friends or family members who have used a particular pool company.

It’s important that homeowners recognize that the installation of a pool may require some heavy machinery, which can damagelawns. Fence panels may have to be removed to let in excavation equipment. Sand, soil backfill or gravel may be needed to level out a landscape, and things may get noisy and messy when the installation hits full swing.

Some homeowners can handle installing above-ground pools on their own, but less DIY-savvy homeowners may want to leave the installation to a professional installer to ensure the job is done right.

Always secure the proper permits and inspections prior to using the pool. This not only ensures the safety of swimmers, but also guarantees the pool is legal.

Backyard swimming pools make for an enjoyable place to congregate when the weather is hot. Follow a few guidelines and ask the necessary questions to make a pool installation go more smoothly.


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Keep Kids Engaged During Summer

Summer Slide” is a term parents may hear at the end of the school year. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with playground activities. Rather, summer slide” refers to knowledge gained during the school year that may be lost over the duration of summer break.

The National Summer Learning Association says many students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math computation skills over the summer. Students tend to score lower on standardized tests after summer vacation than they do when the same tests are taken at the onset of summer.

Minds left to sit idle can haunt children when it’s time to return to the classroom. But parents who engage kids throughout the summer and reinforce educationally sound activities can prevent summer slide.

kids-2· Make vacations educational. Visit a locale kids have studied in class and explore its culture and traditions.

· Offer plenty of reading materials. Reading can expand children’s minds and help them build and maintain their vocabulary.

· Ask teachers for work packets.  Students can stay on top of their studies by doing some light schoolwork throughout the summer. This can reinforce lessons kids have already learned and keep their minds sharp.

· Purchase a journal. Encourage kids to write about their summeradventures in a journal. Chances are their teachers will ask aboutsummer vacations and may require an essay when students return to school.


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