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How to Choose the Perfect Location for Your Honeymoon

October 16, 2017 5:12 am

For most, a honeymoon is one of the most memorable trips you ever make. Newly married and with the stress of the wedding behind you, you're able to relax and enjoy time with your new spouse. But not every honeymoon spot is created equal, and different locations will be a better fit for different personalities. Are you adventurous and interested in outdoor time, or would you rather sit by the pool with a good book? Below are a few factors to consider, from travel resource Vacation.

Budget: How strict is your honeymoon budget? Do you have enough money available for unexpected expenses on the trip, or would you rather know up front what you will be paying?

Drinks: Do you want to start the day with a mimosa, drink a piña colada by the pool at noon, see the sunset on the beach with a mai tai in hand, and then enjoy a multi-course dinner with wine? Or are you satisfied with just the occasional beer?

Activities: As a couple, do you like time to relax on vacations and forget about the stress of everyday life (and even weddings!), or do you want to be active?

Adventure: Is your dream honeymoon all about a lush, luxury resort, or would you and your betrothed rather focus on sightseeing and just have a comfy place to sleep at night?

Entertainment: Do you love the nightlife scene, or would you rather enjoy quiet evenings away from all the hustle and bustle?

Source: Vacation

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How to Turn Your Garage Into Living Space

October 14, 2017 7:27 am

If you’re looking to add a little more usable space to your home without tackling a major addition, you might want to look to your garage. Here are some important considerations to think about first:
  • Are you currently using your garage? This may seem obvious, but start by thinking about how much you actually use your garage to park your car and as storage space for tools and lawn equipment. If you don’t have alternatives for parking and storage, turning the garage into living space isn't a great option.
  • What would you use the space for? While a garage might be perfect for a play space for your kids, an exercise room, or a makeshift office, it’s not necessarily ideal for a guest room. You only want to renovate to the extent that you’ll be able to use the space as a garage again if and when you want to.
  • Will minimal adjustments do the trick? To make sure your garage can quickly convert back to a garage when you want it to, create a space that only needs minimal renovations, such as synthetic flooring, an external heating/cooling unit, some finished walls and a fresh coat of paint. Then add an area rug and the necessary furniture and you’re all set.
  • What does zoning allow? Most importantly, find out what zoning will allow for in your town. And be sure to return your room to its status as usable garage space if and when you choose to put your home on the market, as the number of garages will impact the sales price.
Hope you found these tips helpful. If you need any real estate information, please contact me.

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There's No Such Thing As a Vacation From Social Media

October 14, 2017 7:27 am

If you didn't post it on your social media channels, did it even happen? As social media continues to influence the way people travel, the recently released Travelzoo® Fall Travel Trends Survey uncovered that travelers are finding themselves at a crossroads between FOMO (fear of missing out) and the desire for relaxation, torn between their need to share their vacation adventures on social media and a wish to digitally disconnect while away.

FOMO, in fact, appears to be impacting travel decisions, as more than half (53 percent) of respondents said they feel pressure to book unique or exotic vacations, and 40 percent feel pressure to take more adventurous vacations. In fact, adventure is a growing theme among travelers, with one in six respondents feeling compelled to be more adventurous than they really are, while one in three (34 percent) feel a vacation is actually wasted without adventurous experiences. Younger travelers were most likely to say they felt they had wasted time on vacation, with 24 percent of millennials and 29 percent of Gen Xers saying they didn't experience enough at their vacation destination.

Much of this drive for fun is influenced by how vacation photos translate on social media. Nearly half (47 percent) of those surveyed agree that social media is driving up the need to experience more on vacation, and almost a third (30 percent) of travelers are booking trips based on whether they think the destination or activity will serve up visually compelling social media content.

Despite the desire to put up a positive and exciting front on social media, there's a growing interest in trips that allow travelers to disconnect even more. In fact, half of respondents said cutting digital ties enhances the appeal of a trip. Rationale for wanting to cut the cord was due to feeling they check email too often (28 percent), are jaded by the news (27 percent), and feel too tied to a phone (22 percent). With the mounting stresses of everyday life, it's not surprising that the top goals of most travelers are still relaxing (56 percent) and enjoying great food (44 percent).

Regardless of age, nearly half of respondents (44 percent) feel an original or meaningful experience is important when booking a vacation. Spiritual benefits or personal growth resonates with a quarter of all respondents, with Gen Zers (58 percent) and millennials (39 percent) placing more emphasis on those outcomes than baby boomers (18 percent) or those born before 1946 (28 percent).

Source: Travelzoo

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

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The 4 Ds of a Successful Open House

October 14, 2017 7:27 am

If you recently listed your home for sale, your real estate agent might be planning to host an open house in the near future. Here are some ways you can help your home put its best foot forward:
  1. Depersonalize. Put away all personal photos, drawings from your children that are hanging on the fridge, birthday cards on the mantel and anything else that too closely connects you to your home. You want potential buyers to envision it as their home, and they can’t effectively do that if your presence is too pervasive.
  2. Declutter. This seems obvious, but we’re talking about more than just straightening up. Decluttering means getting rid of as much as you possibly can, making kitchen and bath counters, dining and accent tables, bureaus and bookcases as stark as possible. All you want to leave in place is the minimum necessary for décor, i.e., a vase of flowers, a coffee-table book or two, or an attractive bowl of sea shells…but not too many.
  3. Deodorize. Don’t try to cover up offensive smells with a spray or scented candle. Instead, get rid of them altogether with a deep clean. Call in a professional, if necessary. Bear in mind, you’ve gotten used to your home’s odors—good and bad—so adhere to your agent’s third-party opinion.
  4. Depart. Unless your agent instructs otherwise, make sure you’re not around for the open house. You want prospective buyers to freely inspect the ins and outs of your home and ask questions at will, without your potentially inhibiting presence. 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

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Is Your Home Prepared for an Emergency?

October 14, 2017 7:27 am

If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that Mother Nature is unpredictable and fierce, and that no one is safe from her path.

But there are steps every homeowner could and should take to prepare for a natural disaster. Gold Medal Service, a New Jersey-based heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical service company advises taking the following steps to make sure your home is storm-ready:

Waterproof low-lying areas. Basements are particularly susceptible to water issues, so look into a variety of solutions, such as pump systems, waterproof sprays and interior drainage systems. 

Install or inspect generators. While going without power may seem like an inconvenience, it’s actually a serious safety issue. A backup generator is a great alternative power source, however, make sure it's professionally installed and periodically inspected.

Have your heating system inspected. Make sure the flues and vents throughout your heating systems are clean and clear of debris. Blocked vents can cause a dangerous carbon monoxide build-up in your home. Have a professional conduct the inspection if you're unsure how to do so.

Install and inspect alarms. Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms are a life-saving must, however, if they're not functioning properly, it defeats the purpose. Make sure the batteries are fresh, and bring in a professional inspector to ensure everything is working properly.   

In addition to having your home’s systems inspected and ready to go, have the following in place for you and your family:
  • Water, flashlights, extra food and other necessities, such as medicines and eyeglasses
  • A solar charger for your cellphone
  • A battery-powered radio
  • A list of your city's emergency shelters
  • An updated insurance policy with adequate coverage
  • A rehearsed plan for what your family will do in the event of an emergency 
Source: Gold Medal Service

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

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Do-It-Yourself Fall Decor for the Decidedly Uncrafty

October 14, 2017 7:27 am

Are you feeling less than competent in the arts and crafts department? This can be especially difficult in the fall, the season that tends to kick off the DIY bonanza. The great news is, homemade décor projects have gotten a lot more creative and a lot simpler, making crafting accessible to even the less skilled among us. Here are some simple ideas with stunning results. Not only do you get a lovely little objet d’art for your home, but the made-it-myself bragging rights to boot.
  • Glam gourds. Sure, a well-placed pumpkin or two is always a nice touch this time of year, but paint them gold and you’ve suddenly got a magical design statement. For smaller gourds, use a paintbrush and some gold leaf paint; for the larger variety, get out a drop cloth and the spray paint.
  • Fall topiaries. Nope, you don’t need to be Edward Scissorhands. Just grab an inexpensive clay pot or basket and fill it with florist’s foam. Then snip a few branches from a colorful fall tree or berry bush and arrange them in the foam. Keep the foam slightly damp, and your fall topiary will live indoors for several days.
  • Chalkboard welcome. This great idea from Country Living involves taking a decorative tray (the kind with handles) and painting the center of it with chalkboard paint. Write a pleasant welcome message for guests on it—or leave a space for guests to write their own note—then decorate the handles and edge with fall leaves or berry vines. Hang it vertically on your front door for a creative alternative to a wreath.
  • Harvest votives. This quick idea from Martha Stewart involves taking a piece of dried corn husk—the kind from Indian corn is most colorful—and wrapping it around a small glass votive by tying it with a small piece of twine. Once the candle is lit within, the effect of the translucent husk is simply lovely.
  • Pumpkin pie potpourri. Another ridiculously easy but brilliant idea from Martha Stewart, this craft involves taking a smallish pumpkin, cutting the top off to form a lid and thoroughly cleaning out the inside. From there, carve round vents into the lid and base of the pumpkin with an apple corer. Next, push cloves into the lid and rub it with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices. Light a tea candle, place the lid back on the pumpkin and enjoy the smell of pumpkin pie spice for about six hours. 
Aside from lovely crafts you’ll produce, the best part of these projects is the opportunity they provide to immerse yourself in the season. Grab your kids, your bestie, or even mom and dad and craft away together for even more fun.
 
If you’d like more information about homeownership, please contact me.

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In this Edition: Get Crafty With Simple Do-It-Yourself Fall Decor Projects

October 14, 2017 7:27 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines simple crafts you can create with your own two hands to spruce up your home this season. Other topics covered this month include simple steps to make sure your home is prepared for Mother Nature's fury and how you can create more livable space within your home without taking on a major renovation. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

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Business Safety: Avoiding Scams

October 12, 2017 5:06 am

Running a successful business is no easy feat. But with today's heavy reliance on technology, businesses are at a higher risk than ever for falling prey to scams.

Businesses can use the following guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities to help protect themselves from becoming the victim of an email scam:

Examine email addresses closely. Scammers may spoof emails to look very similar to a legitimate person's address.

Never transfer money without confirming the request, by phone or in person. Whether it is a matter of walking down the hall to the CEO’s office, or contacting a colleague via phone, confirmation from the person requesting the transfer can protect your company.

Do not use links or phone numbers provided in the email. Contact your trusted partners and colleagues using known contact information.

Think before you click! Do not open attachments or links until you have verified them.

Utilize your IT resources. Work with staff to flag emails with similar extensions to your organization's or create other flags and filters.

Implement two-factor or multi-factor authentication with sensitive information and funds. Require a second (or multiple) staff members to review and approve requests for fund transfers.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities

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7 Steps for a Healthier Home

October 12, 2017 5:06 am

(Family Features)--As homeowners become increasingly aware of the impact their homes can have on the environment - and on their health - making eco-conscious choices is as important as ever. From controlling the types of materials used within your home to keeping an eye on indoor air quality, these tips can help you create a healthier, more earth-friendly indoor environment.

Use a water filter. Depending on where you live, different contaminants could reside in your tap water. Rather than risk consuming these contaminants or drinking bottled water, which can generate significant waste, consider purchasing a refrigerator with a filtered water option, attaching a water filtration device to your faucet or using a filtered water pitcher.

Ditch plastic food containers. Some plastics are not as high quality as many think and may contain toxic materials, making them potentially harmful - especially when used for storing food. Instead, opt for glass, silicone, cloth or stainless steel storage containers, which are friendlier to the environment and pose fewer toxicity risks. Plus, many of these containers can be placed directly in an oven or microwave to safely reheat food.

Install eco-friendly insulation. Certain materials in your home, such as insulation, can be replaced with sustainable options that also improve indoor air quality. Consider replacing your existing attic insulation with sheep's wool insulation, such as all-natural options from Havelock Wool. This renewable, high-performing and safe-to-handle material excels at managing moisture while improving indoor air quality through the absorption of formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide and other harmful substances. Learn more at havelockwool.com.

Clean "green." Cleaning products can be made with ingredients that are harmful to the environment, as well as your family's health. Make sure you know what is in your household cleaners before using them and, whenever possible, look for cleaners that have been certified as green.

Deal with dust. Even if you don't struggle with allergies or asthma, over time, dust particles can be unhealthy for you and your family. Vacuum frequently and use a wet mop on floors without carpet to limit the formation of dust bunnies throughout your home. Clean and replace your vacuum's filter frequently to ensure you're trapping maximum dust. Also regularly wash towels, linens and other textiles, including window treatments.

Replace air filters. Older, dirty air filters can circulate dust, pollen and other particles throughout your home. They can also cause your air conditioner and heater to run less efficiently, which can result in higher energy consumption. Rather than pushing potentially harmful dust particles into your house and causing your systems to work overtime, inspect your air filter often and change it regularly. You might also want to consider installing a whole-home air purifier or placing portable air purifiers in frequently used rooms.

Reduce energy and natural resource usage. Try installing timers on your lights so they turn on only at specified times. To take it a step further, consider installing lighting with vacancy sensors that automatically shut off the lights when a room isn't being used. Choose energy-efficient appliances, low-flow toilets and consider adding a rain barrel outside to collect rainwater, which can be used for chores such as watering plants, irrigating the lawn or washing your car.

Although it may not be practical to implement all of these ideas at once, little by little you can make small changes that add up to a big difference.

Source: Havelock Wool

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Fire Prevention Advice to Save Lives Year Round

October 11, 2017 4:54 am

The words “preventable fire” are tragic when lives are lost. Taking even a few minutes to run down a short punch list of common sense measures with your family could make the difference between life and death in a residential fire.

Tommy Webber at New York's T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning (twebber.com) has compiled the following six-point plan to help prevent fires and ensure your family is prepared for a fire emergency all year-round:

Check smoke detectors – Test and replace smoke detector batteries twice a year at Daylight Savings Time. Or consider adding newer smoke detectors with batteries that can last up to 10 years. If detectors are wired into your home’s electrical system, think about having a professional check to ensure the wiring is in good shape.

Cook with caution – Never leave cooking unattended, always have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen that is rated for cooking-related fires, and NEVER put a grease fire out with water – smothering the fire is the best method.

Conduct heating system and duct inspections – Make sure all vents in the heating system are clean. If you haven't had your heating system inspected and tuned up, Webber says now is the time to do it.

Don’t leave space heaters unattended – And never place one less than three feet from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothes, rugs or other combustibles. And remember it's a safety hazard to run space heaters into extension cords or power strips.

Check electrical cords, receptacles, outlets – Check cords for frays and breaks, minimize the number of cords plugged into power strips, and consider replacing outlets and switches that are not working properly.

Have an escape plan and practice it – Your family escape plan should include a rally point for everyone to meet. Make a plan and then practice your plan regularly.

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