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Pests on the Prowl: Protect Your Car from Wildlife
When you consider potential sources of damage to your car, what comes to mind?

Most people think of fender benders, major accidents, and natural disasters. There's another category that many vehicle owners overlook: wildlife.

Did you know animals can cause serious damage to your car? This goes beyond a deer jumping in front of your vehicle on a country road. Other, smaller creatures can wreak havoc on your car, even while it's parked. Squirrels, rats, mice, and even woodchucks have been known to nest in cars and chew wires or cause other damage.

To prevent these pests from wrecking your ride, use the following tips.

Hide it: One of the most effective ways to protect your car from wildlife is to park it in a garage. Keep in mind that rodents can squeeze through the tiniest openings, so it's important to make sure the garage is well-sealed.

Clean it: If you make a drive-through run, don't keep that burger wrapper in your car afterward. Keep your interior free of all food and garbage to avoid any enticing aromas or leftover crumbs that could attract pests.

Treat it: Products are available to treat your wires, making them less desirable to wildlife. Bad-tasting sprays and treated tapes are possible deterrents. These may prove helpful if you are unable to park your car indoors.

Drive it: Wildlife are most likely to infest cars that remain immobile for long periods of time. To keep critters at bay, drive your vehicle regularly.

Thank You Cards - Still In Style or Needless Paperwork?
Fewer people may be sending handwritten notes these days, but thank-you cards still haven't gone out of style. At least they shouldn't, according to etiquette experts.

While it can be confusing trying to figure out the "proper" way to communicate in various situations, there are some agreed-upon guidelines for how to send your thanks. For example, gifts received at parties generally warrant a handwritten thank-you note. Think birthday parties (for both children and adults), bridal or baby showers, and anniversaries. Another rule of thumb: if you received a gift in the mail or a gift that wasn't opened in front of the giver, your best bet is to send a written note. The same goes if you've received something that has been made specifically for you. Lastly, if you've been treated to a kindness or gift during a difficult time, like an illness, death, or hospitalization, then you should absolutely express your gratitude with a handwritten note.

For gifts given during the holidays or "just because," a verbal thank-you is perfectly fine, especially as you most likely opened the presents in front of the giver.

But is it ever okay to send just an email? Of course! Thank-you emails are perfectly acceptable in work situations and when you don't have a person's physical address. They're also more than enough if you want to thank someone for a small kindness, like a neighbor picking up your newspaper.

At the end of the day, though, what matters most is that we all remain generous with our gratitude. Being thankful will never go out of style.

Not a Connoiseur? Learn to Love Art Anyway
While research indicates that visits to art galleries cause pleasure, many people find the idea of stepping into a gallery or art museum intimidating. Art can seem elitist and is often perceived as an activity one must be specially trained in before enjoying it.

Many museum staff and art experts dispute this notion, though. The goal is to appreciate art, not just revere it. The key to doing that is to make art personal.

First, this means understanding your limits. You cannot analyze every work of art in a gallery or a museum in one visit. Give yourself permission to walk past some pieces without looking back.

Second, pay attention to your emotional reactions. When you stop and look at a work, notice how it makes you feel.

Do you like the piece? Do you feel an urge to completely destroy it? Does it remind you of someone or someplace?

Recognize your feelings and then inspect the art to find clues for why it causes the reaction it does. This approach to art appreciation levels the playing field. Not everyone has an art degree, but everyone has feelings.

Third, make your time with art social. Travel to museums and galleries with others. Ask your companions how they're responding to the art. They'll likely notice things you missed. Create photo challenges and games that will help you explore and learn without intimidating you.

Then prepare to come again. You never look at anything the same way twice.

Claims: What to Expect and How Your Agent Helps
You need to make an insurance claim for damage to your property. What should you do first? What can you expect?

If you're not familiar with this process, it can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, your insurance agent will partner with you to walk you through the necessary steps. The following tips can also help clarify what to expect and what is considered "normal" for this process.

More than one check is normal. As you work through the claims process, you can typically expect to receive more than one check. Often, homeowners receive an initial sum that is an advance for repairs, but it does not represent the final settlement amount. You can still receive additional funds as expenses are documented and claimed. A separate check is also common for personal belongings, since insurance companies often cut checks for each category of damage. If you incur additional living expenses, such as hotel stays, you may receive yet another check for reimbursement of these claims.

Making direct payments is normal. In some cases, your insurance company may pay contractors directly for the work they complete on your property. However, use caution with this process, since it gives you less control of your claim. Make sure the work is done to your satisfaction before your insurer pays the contractor.

Mortgage company involvement is normal. Lenders often require borrowers to name them in their homeowner's policy. If you have a mortgage on your property, the lender will likely be involved in the claims process. Checks for repairs may be made out to both you and your lender.

This lets lenders ensure the needed repairs are made on a property in which they have a vested interest. The same may be true if you are part of a homeowners' association.

Many more questions are normal. Most homeowners have questions as they go through the claims process. Don't hesitate to contact your agent with any inquiries. Your agent's expertise is invaluable in helping your claim go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
Is Shopping Online for Insurance Really a Bargain?
Buying auto or homeowners insurance on the internet seems easy and cheap. But is it?

Discover how relying on the web to protect your most valuable assets could cost you more - and put you and your loved ones at risk - by requesting my free guide, "The Dangers of Shopping Online for Insurance."
Just reply to this email and I'll send it right out to you.

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Pumpkin Risotto
Perfect for your fall gathering. Serves 4
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine, optional
6 cups vegetable stock
3 cups of butternut squash or your favorite winter squash, cubed and roasted
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons goat cheese
4 tablespoons salted pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
Set half of the roasted squash aside. Puree the other half and set aside.

Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Next, add rice and stir to coat with oil.

Add white wine or one cup stock if not using wine. Continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Begin adding the stock, about 1 cup at a time, and keep cooking, stirring often, until each addition has been absorbed by the rice.

Once rice is creamy and cooked al dente, lower heat and stir in puree and cubed pumpkin. Stir in butter and spoon into serving bowls. Top with crumbled goat cheese and pepitas.
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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