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Category Tips From the Pros

DNA testing privacy: what you need to know

Thanks to Tom Benisch of State Farm for this episode of Tips from the Pros about DNA testing privacy.

Understand the basics of how DNA testing works and learn how to remain vigilant over your data.

A scientist is looking in to a microscope doing DNA testing.

Genetic testing has gone from a novel curiosity to big business. More than 26 million people have taken an at-home ancestry test, which uses DNA to analyze their genomes. The explosion in testing companies and use have a lot of people asking about at-home DNA testing privacy and wondering about the risks. Here are the basics and what you need to consider.

How DNA testing works

Wider availability and advanced technology have made DNA testing much more affordable and much less intrusive...

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Lawn and Garden Tips and Tricks for August

Thanks to Maryland Grows for letting me reprint these garden tips.

For Ornamental Plants:

  • Late August through September is usually a good time to transplant, divide and plant perennials such as daylily, liriope (photo left), and echinacea. (HG 99) Be sure to keep them well watered during dry periods.
  • Annuals and perennials, like yarrow and salvia, may have grown spindly and are not flowering well. Cut them back to encourage re-bloom. Deadhead the spent blooms of annuals like zinnias and marigolds. This will encourage them to continue blooming more vigorously.
  • Plant hardy mums for fall color this month so they will become well established prior to the winter.
Enter Dormant lawn. Photo: University of Illinois Extensiona caption

Garden Tips For Lawns:

  • In dry periods grasses go d...
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Markets Stay Strong in 2019

L.K. Benson in Tips from the Pros talks about markets

The second quarter of 2019 ended about the same way it started, with positive returns across financial markets. In our 2nd quarter market commentary we’ll recap what happened, what we learned and where we go from here.

Best Planning Ideas for 2019

Each year at the annual AICPA Personal Financial Planning conference, Lyle moderates a panel discussion with leaders from the CPA financial planning profession. These leaders discuss the best planning ideas they are implementing with clients right now, and there always a number of great takeaways.

We’ve touched on many of these topics in our writing over the past couple years, but here’s a reminder of the top planning ideas to consider now.

The Kiddie Tax

The tax on the unearned income of children has long been a pai...

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Why is your chimney leaking?

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about reasons your chimney might be leaking.

Image: Clean Sweep

The recent thunderstorms and downpours have led many area residents to wonder if their chimneys have a leak problem. While the rain is awesome for cooling us off and keeping the lawn watered, the last thing that you want to encounter is a leaky chimney.

The Symptoms of a Leaky Chimney

Some people assume that every chimney with a leak problem will have a puddle of water sitting in the flue or fireplace. However, since most chimney systems are complex, leaks are often not found until they have already caused serious damage. Some of the signs of a leaking chimney include:

  • Water or condensation present in the firebox
  • Moisture, leaks or water damage on t...
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Lawn and Garden Tips and Tricks for July

Thanks to Maryland Grows for letting me reprint this gardening advice.

Every month, we will highlight a few timely, key tips for Maryland homeowners’ lawns and gardens.

Fruit Growers:

Lawn and garden tips
Image: Maryland Grows
  • Fruit plants have shallow root systems which are easily damaged by cultivation. Do not cultivate or dig into the soil around small fruits or tree fruits. Hand-pull the weeds and then apply organic mulches to control weeds.
  • Practice good sanitation by removing and discarding all fallen leaves and fruits.

Vegetable plants:

  • Squash vine borer larvae are feeding inside squash and pumpkin stems. Monitor plants for signs of wilting and entrance holes on lower stems. You may see sawdust-like frass around the hole. Stems may contain more than one larva...
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How to Make Your Gutters Last as Long as Possible

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about your gutters.

Make your gutters last as long as you possibly can by taking care of them.
Image: Clean Sweep

Whenever you make an investment inside or outside of your home, you want to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. This is especially true when installing devices that help to protect the structural integrity and safety of the rest of your home, like gutters.

Your roof gutters help to protect your home from water damage caused by rain. They reduce the likelihood of mold growth on the side of your home. How can you ensure that your gutters last as long as possible?

Have Your Gutters Professionally Cleaned

Your gutters should be debris-free throughout the year. Clogged gutters are one of the most common causes of basement flooding in the country...

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June Gardening Tips and Tasks

Thanks to University of Maryland College of Agricultural and Natural Resources for sharing this informative article about gardening.

Gardening tips for Maryland in June

Outdoor Yard and Gardening Tips

  • Cut iris flower stalks down to the crown when they are finished blooming. Leave the foliage alone. If your iris are over-crowded after flowering lift and divide them. Check rhizomes for iris borer. 

  • Practice IPM(Integrated Pest Management)in your landscape. Do not spray your trees and shrubs preventively. This kills the predators and parasitoids that are helping to keep destructive pests under control.

  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs until they become established (for about 2 years), especially in the summer and fall...
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Quick organizing jobs around the house

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with some easy organizing jobs around the house.

You don’t have to do these quick organizing jobs all at once. Break things down into smaller tasks that are easier. Here is a list of some of the jobs that will take about a half hour or less to get you started.

Organize the kitchen junk drawer

We all have a drawer where we put things that don’t logically go anywhere else. The drawer can become overstuffed and that makes it difficult to find anything. Donate or trash things you never use or don’t really need. You’ll have more space for the things you want to keep.

Downsize your DVDs/CDs

Do you still use DVDs and CDs? Or do you watch everything on Netflix and listen to streaming musi...

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3 Signs You Should Upgrade Your HVAC System

Why you should upgrade your HVAC system
Image courtesy of Clean Sweep.

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about why you should upgrade your HVAC system.

Why Upgrade Your HVAC

Warmer weather is here, and many homeowners are kicking air conditioning systems on for the first time. Then they find that the cool air they want to come out isn’t so cold.

Spring is a great time to upgrade your HVAC system and replace it with something new. Another option is to have Clean Sweep come clean your air ducts for maximum efficiency. When should you consider upgrading what you have?

1. Energy Bills Increasing

One of the earliest signs of ducts that need to be cleaned or an HVAC unit that needs to be replaced is gradually increasing energy bills...

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Boost your home pool safety

Thanks to Tom Benisch of State Farm for this episode of Tips from the Pros on pool safety.

Dreaming of a more leisurely, escape-worthy backyard? For many, that dream includes a swimming pool — either above-ground or in-ground — or a hot tub. Plenty of American homeowners already live that dream every day.

There are approximately 10 million swimming pools in the country, according to the National Swimming Pool Foundation. And, there are about 7 million hot tubs. (Those statistics don’t include the number of portable pools.)

Swimming pools come with risks. Seventy-four percent of drowning deaths of children younger than 15 occur at a home. It’s estimated that a child dies every five days in a portable pool in the United States.

That’s why any pool — portable, abov...

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