) - Pearls are the perfect, malleable medium for today's ever-changing fashions. But don't mistake some of today's modern pearls with Grandmother's simple strands. Add a little tech, color and carvings, and you take that classic right into the 21st century. Yes, it's true: Today's pearls are appealing to a new generation that is discovering their beauty and luster while enjoying some amazing new characteristics.
Think pearls can't be high tech? Think again! One designer in California, Chi Huynh of Galatea Jewelry
by Artist, is known for creating numerous variations on the cultured pearl. His latest invention (patent pending) is called the Momento Pearl. To make it, Huynh inserted a tiny NFC chip into a cultured pearl. When you use it in combination with the company's proprietary Galatea App, you can upload voice and text messages, images and web links. Simply tap the pearl against an Android phone to hear the voice message and see what you've uploaded.
How about a little color in your pearl? Huynh has also patented a cultured pearl with a colored stone bead inside. When the pearl exterior or nacre (pronounced "nay-ker") is carved, the color is revealed. Described as one of the greatest developments in pearl culturing since Kokichi Mikimoto invented the process in the early 1920s, the "Galatea Pearl" is one of the rarest pearls in the world. They are available as pendants, earrings and rings in 14k gold.
Why not carve pearls like marble to make miniature sculptures? Hand-carving pearls have always been a hallmark of Huynh's Galatea jewelry designs. More than 75 percent of the company's jewelry use carved pearls rather than the more traditional smooth-surfaced pearls. Normally, pearls are valued for their color, luster (the "shine" on its exterior), uniform and blemish-free surface. Huynh revolutionized traditional beliefs about cultured pearls, calling his carved pearls, "Pearls without Boundaries." They may not be for pearl traditionalists, but that's what makes them so appealing to a younger audience.
And speaking of that younger audience, the company's "King Pearls" are large, dark Tahitian pearls with unique carvings depicting dragons, dolphins, crosses and other modern designs.
All in all -- with pearls on center stage with fashionistas -- pearls are a jewelry mainstay whose time it is to break out of the box. And Galatea is just one company that has proven this to be true.
For more information, please visit www.galateausa.com
) - Your attic could save you from breaking your neck this autumn.
Got your attention, huh? Seriously, this is one of the two times each year when homeowners are supposed to check the health of their roofs. (Among other reasons, because they're key to a home's energy efficiency.) But who wants to be climbing a ladder 25 feet or so into the sky when the weather is turning sharply colder and nastier?
That's where your attic comes in.
According to Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence, that space you're probably using mainly for storage can substitute, as a fallback, for the eyeball roof check normally recommended to be done every pre-winter and spring.
"Roofs actually create an insulated barrier that helps trap heat inside, and most attic spaces are located right below them," says Joplin. "That makes them perfect for spotting potential problem areas and damage without worrying about falling off a ladder."
Here's what to look for while up there:
* Water leaks. As sure as Tom Brady will never be a fave among Deflategated Indianapolis Colts fans, it will soon storm. And when it does, shine a flashlight up in the attic to check not only for dripping water and condensation, but also for water stains on the ceiling, walls and floors. All signal that H2O is finding its way beneath your roof's shingles or behind its flashings.
* Ventilation. "Think of the attic as the lungs of the house," advises Joplin. "It has to be able to breathe in order to function properly." Which is to say, vents stuffed with debris need to be cleared.
* Animal damage. You know those "If you see something, say something" homeland security ads? Well, to avoid the havoc refuge-seeking birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons can create, warning bells should likewise sound -- followed by a call to a pest-control pro -- if you spot any of these telltale signs: nests, droppings and gnawed wood, wires or insulations.
* Structural problems. The mere hint of a sagging roof -- look up for this one -- could indicate potential structural weakness requiring professional repair.
And if prolonging your roof's life is your goal, experts say it pays to consult a professional roofing contractor who's insured and uses quality materials like the new triple-layer line of Glenwood Shingles -- the thickest of its kind, with an authentic wood-shake look -- from GAF, North America's largest roofing manufacturer. A free service that makes it easy to find a factory-certified contractor in your area can be found at gaf.com
) - If you experience joint discomfort, you're not alone. No matter how active you are, joint problems are one of the most common reasons for doctor's visits and will affect most of us as we age. Registered Dietitian & Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Marie Spano says there is a lot you can do to help yourself, beginning with a healthy diet.
"What you eat can have a big impact on joint inflammation, cartilage breakdown and bone formation," says Spano. "There are many foods that not only help, but are also delicious and easy to find."
At the top of Spano's joint-friendly grocery list are fatty fish, including salmon, herring and anchovies. They contain the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects. In cell culture studies, EPA and DHA decrease cartilage breakdown. "Cartilage is like a sponge that cushions your joints, so make sure you're taking care of it. These fatty acids can also improve symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis and possibly decrease the need for anti-inflammatory medications," says Spano.
Another way to feed your joints is to take a high-quality glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplement. Together, these have been shown to limit the activity of enzymes which can break down healthy cartilage. "To help support your joint health, I recommend CosaminDS, which is the most researched glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplement on the market. It contains high-quality ingredients and a specific formulation shown in peer-reviewed studies to be effective for joint health management." Spano cautions that not all supplements are created equally. "Be an informed consumer. Look for supplements like Cosamin that are backed by clinical research and certified by an independent third-party organization."
Next stop on Spano's grocery trip is the produce aisle. She recommends oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries and other foods that are rich in Vitamin C. "Vitamin C is necessary for repairing and maintaining cartilage. In population-based studies, those with higher Vitamin C intake had less severe osteoarthritis and cartilage breakdown."
A balanced exercise routine also helps by maintaining joint mobility and assisting with weight control. Obesity can lead to a greater risk of joint issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two in three people who are obese may develop symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Even a loss of one or two pounds may feel more like 10 pounds to your joints.
) - NewsusaInfographic - Choosing the right health insurance plan is one of the most important decisions Americans make each year. Yet, many do not set aside enough time to educate themselves about their health care options to ensure they select the right insurance coverage that will help avoid costly mistakes down the road. For more information, visit aflac.com.
See full-sized image here.
) - Now that football season is underway, is your media room up to the task of hosting fans and providing the best atmosphere for cheering on your team to victory? The American Lighting Association (ALA) offers great play-by-play tips to light your media room effectively.
Reduce Glare on More Than Just Your TV
Brent Protzman, manager of energy information and analytics for Lutron Electronics Company Inc., says Lutron conducts extensive research to determine how lighting and shading controls influence visual entertainment. Often, people like to check their fantasy football teams or catch highlights on their laptop, tablet or smartphone while still watching the game on TV.
Protzman says, "Glare from the amount of daylight can be overwhelming on these devices. The trick is to lower shades and dim overhead lights to make it easier to do tasks."
Joe Rey-Barreau is an education consultant for the ALA and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky's School of Interiors and College of Design. Rey-Barreau says, "Using different lighting layers is always the best option for media rooms. A single lighting layer could be fixtures that are of the same type. For example," he explains, "one layer could be recessed lighting in the media room, another layer could be wall sconces, a third layer could be an integrated architectural lighting system such as a cove or niche."
Adding three layers of light, along with dimmers, gives homeowners the maximum level of control with their lighting, which effectively illuminates the room without too much glare.
Dim the Light to Your Personal Preference
Light fixtures, such as pendants and glass globes tend to create bright spots in a room, which can be problematic for viewing television screens with direct glare and reflections on the glass. To create the perfect viewing atmosphere, Protzman suggests dimming light fixtures to a very low level. "Your eyes will be able to quickly adjust and adapt to the changes in light levels," he says.
According to Protzman people tend to perceive smaller decreases in light level than what really changes. This means if you dim a light by what seems to be 30 percent in brightness, you will actually reduce the light level by as much as 90 percent. Not only do light dimmers allow you to create a media space to your liking, but, as an added bonus, they save energy as well.
To receive the best product selection and professional expertise, visit your local ALA-member retailer
for media room lighting options.
For a list of ALA-member showrooms, please visit AmericanLightingAssoc.com
) - For most parents, Halloween involves at least one (if not more) occasion to take their children trick-or-treating. Some parents may dread this task and prefer to be the one who stays home and hands out the candy, instead of hitting the street to go house-to-house with their children and their friends. But fear not, moms and dads: A few simple tips can make the evening a treat for you, too.
* Courtesy. Explain a few key points to your children. First, remind them to say thank-you and take a piece of the candy that's offered, even if it isn't their favorite or first choice, without digging around in the bowl. Second, show respect for the homes and yards of those you visit by staying on the sidewalk and not touching any flowers, pumpkins or other holiday decorations. Third, avoid houses with lights off, and don't knock or ring a doorbell more than twice.
* Control. Large groups of children can get out of control and can make it hard to maneuver around front doors. If you are one of the parents tasked with escorting a large group, divide the children into smaller groups of about 6 or 7, and send each to a different house, then have them switch houses. Tell them this method allows them to visit more houses more efficiently.
* Comfort. Some parents want (or are convinced by their children) to wear a costume. But don't sacrifice comfort. Your feet will thank you if you wear decent walking shoes or sneakers to chase your children along the street, and adult costumes that are overdone take away from the kids' outfits, so keep it simple. A funny hat or ears will go a long way. Bring something to drink if it's hot, or sunglasses if you are out with younger children before the sun goes down.
Parents who are smokeless tobacco users can easily enjoy the evening out with a portable spittoon accessory from FLASR
. The FLASR portable spittoon is designed to fit into a shirt pocket, and its uniquely designed lid can be opened and closed with one hand for maximum discretion. Visit www.flasr.com
for more information about smokeless tobacco accessories.
) - On average, over 533,000 new businesses were started each month in 2014. Clearly, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, but many Americans are still hesitant to become their own boss. While there are many avenues Americans can take to pursue passions and gain control of their career, one often overlooked possibility is being an independent sales agent.
Independent sales agents have the benefit of being able to work autonomously while still being a part of an established organization. Not to mention, these positions usually offer growth potential for income and career advancement. Though there are benefits to this type of work, it is still important for those considering this path to do their own due diligence to ensure that they find the right organization to support.
According to Aflac
, the leading provider of voluntary insurance at the work site with more than 74,000 independent sales agents in the U.S., here are some things to look for as you conduct your job search:
1. Financially strong companies and industry leaders: Just as a house needs a strong foundation, it is helpful to build a career with a strong, stable organization. Working for a company that offers positive brand recognition and trust provides credibility that could otherwise take a lot of time to develop.
2. Hands-on training and mentorship opportunities: Having the right support and resources is essential for success. When companies offer training and mentorship programs, it means they are invested in their employees.
3. Recognition awards and bonus programs: There is nothing better than working for a company that celebrates individual achievements. Recognition and bonus programs are two ways to know that hard work will be appreciated and contribute to career advancement.
4. Future market potential: Selling a product or service people want and need is a must for career advancement, but so is the future market potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for Insurance Sales Agents is growing at a 10-percent rate from 2012-2022. A market that is growing, or has growth potential, can help ensure your lasting success.
With these tips in mind, entrepreneurial job seekers should be on their way to having the freedom to balance work and personal life and set individual goals. For an independent sales agent, there is virtually no limit to what can be achieved.
Learn more about Aflac's independent sales agent opportunities at www.aflac.com/agents
) - Far more adults than anyone thought are seeking help from chiropractors, according to a new nationwide Gallup report.
In the last year alone, according to the just-released "2015 Gallup-Palmer Inaugural Report: Americans' Perceptions of Chiropractic,"
33.6 million Americans aged 18 and older turned to chiropractic care to relieve conditions like back and neck pain.
That's about 63 percent more than the 20.6 million adults previously estimated in less comprehensive studies, and likely indicates that the "chiropractic first" movement touted by health experts troubled by the overuse of addictive drugs and surgery has become increasingly popular.
"Americans who have exposure to chiropractors are more likely to have an opinion of them, and in general those opinions are positive," Gallup concluded.
Among the other key findings:
* While most patients only head to a doctor of chiropractic when they're in pain, 31 percent of adults who've been treated within the last five years say they prefer regular visits -- regardless of whether they're hurting.
* Those under age 50 are likelier to say a chiropractor would be their first choice for treating back or neck pain.
* So "strongly committed" are recent users that they averaged 11 visits in the last 12 months.
"This groundbreaking report shows Americans are embracing chiropractic as an alternative to other costly and invasive treatments," said the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress' Sherry McAllister, DC.
Indeed, today's chiropractors -- with a minimum of 7 years of higher education, including clinical patient management -- are not only sought out for pain relief, but also for advice on healthy living, increased flexibility and injury prevention.
To learn more or to find a local doctor of chiropractic, visit F4CP.org/findadoctor
) - Carrageenan -- have you heard of it?
You might have noticed it listed as an ingredient in your low-fat yogurt or on the label of your toothpaste. Maybe you found a blog post warning you to steer clear of it. There's a lot of conversation about carrageenan. But in order to sift through all the commentary -- including a lot from self-appointed food ingredient watchdogs -- we need to be able to distinguish fact-based food science dialogue from opinion-based diatribes.
Carrageenan is a natural food ingredient made from red seaweed. It's used to thicken puddings and sauces, stabilize dairy, suspend nutrients and more. It has been used for hundreds of years in home kitchens across the world.
Carrageenan's long history of use supports its safety. More important than this anecdotal evidence is the strong body of scientific research -- studies dating back to the 1970s and continuing through the present -- that proves carrageenan is completely safe for consumption. Review some of these studies yourself here: www.fmccarrageenan.com/scientifically-safe/
So why the controversy around carrageenan?
Back to the watchdogs. Their advice may appear useful but it's not always factual or reliable. When it comes to trusting the safety of our food, we need to be able to identify good science.
JECFA is an organization we can trust to analyze and identify good science. As a committee formed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to evaluate the safety of food additives, it is one of the most respected independent review panels. And its decision-making helps inform regulatory bodies around the world.
In its recent report, JECFA reassessed all carrageenan studies -- decades' worth that affirm its safety, along with a handful of flawed studies that call it into question -- and concluded that its use in food is safe. The committee placed significant weight on a new study on the use of carrageenan in infant formula. If carrageenan is deemed safe for infants, the most sensitive population, then there shouldn't be safety concerns for the rest of us. Learn more at FoodScienceMatters.com
Food is social, so we want and expect public discussion. But when that discussion has the potential to affect our health and well-being, we need to hold it to a very high standard. Instead of following a whisper down the lane of thoughts and opinions, we need to take a close look at the resources we're getting information from and make sure to seek factual information to support the decisions we make.
) - With more and more people moving to urban areas or just looking to minimize and simplify their lives, small-space living is on the rise. This trend toward scaling back is great news for cat lovers. But sharing your small home with a cat isn't without its challenges. Here's how to make sure you and your feline friend live in harmony when space is at a premium.
Give your cat a "territory."
Cats are territorial animals, just like their counterparts in the wild. Domestic cats don't need acres of grassland, but they should have a special place in your small home. Let your cat pick his or her favorite spot -- it may be a windowsill, a high perch or a dark hiding spot
-- and set up a comfortable bed or blanket. Intrusions into this space, whether from humans or other pets, should be kept to a minimum.
Forget about "off-limits."
In a small space, your cat will need a lot of freedom to explore. Don't expect furniture, tables or even kitchen counters to be off limits. Instead, keep food, breakables and anything else you don't want your cat to get into behind closed cabinet doors and let your cat roam free.
Choose a cat litter made for tight quarters.
The litter box can be the trickiest part of sharing a small home with a cat. You need a litter that delivers powerful odor control and makes it easy to keep the box clean. World's Best Cat Litter
harnesses the concentrated power of corn for long-lasting performance and keeps odor under control even in the tightest spaces. As a bonus for apartment dwellers who dread trash trips, this all-natural litter alternative is also flushable* and septic-safe.
Cats can be the perfect pets for people living in tight quarters. It just takes a little planning and compromise to keep everyone purring and content!
*The State of California encourages the disposal of cat feces in trash and discourages flushing feces in toilets or disposing of them in drains.