RE/MAX 440
Patty Jo Anzivine
pattyjovine@gmail.com
Patty Jo Anzivine
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
PH: 610-390-0415
O: 610-398-8111
F: 267-354-6902 
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Elevating Your Garden: 3 Questions to Ask

August 12, 2015 1:45 am

(BPT) – According to the Garden Writer’s Association, an astounding 78 million households in America grow gardens, including those with raised beds and planter boxes. If you've never considered using either, think again: these tools offer high yields and a longer overall gardening season, say Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (RealCedar.com) experts.

Before you begin elevating your garden with either raised beds or planter boxes, ask yourself the following:

Where will I place my garden beds?

This may be determined by the specific space you have available. If you have a few options, look for the sunniest spot possible. Remember that larger beds will have greater yields, but they also require more work. It's best to build your beds to match the gardening time you have available.

What's the right size bed for my space?

As you're planning your bed size, remember you'll need to work in the space as well. The garden bed's width can range from 2 to 4 feet and the ideal length is 8 to 12 feet. No matter the dimensions you choose, make sure your beds and planters are at least 6 inches deep; 12 inches is optimal for allowing the roots to grow deep and strong.

Is my soil ready?

Before you start digging, make sure your soil is ready for success. Dig down 6 to 8 inches and loosen the soil. Create a mixture of top soil and organic material, such as compost or manure. Once the soil is ready, it's time to start watering, weeding and fertilizing. You may discover your garden quickly dries out in the sun – if this is the case, a layer of mulch will help your soil retain moisture.

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Generator Safety: 6 Tips to Stay Vigilant

August 12, 2015 1:45 am

(Family Features) When weather or other unforeseen circumstances cause a power outage, many households rely on portable generators to serve as temporary power sources. Though there are benefits to using a portable generator, homeowners run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if it is not handled properly, according to the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association (PGMA).

The PGMA recommends homeowners become familiar with portable generator safety before operating. Keep the operator’s manual in a safe place so you can refer to it easily. Remember:

1. Never run a portable generator indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces, even if you plan to use fans or open doors or windows for ventilation.

2. Always take your portable generator outside, placing it downwind with the engine exhaust pointed away from occupied spaces.

3. Avoid placing a portable generator near windows, doors or vents, as carbon monoxide gas can accumulate and potentially be drawn indoors.

4. Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms according to manufacturer's instructions. Replace batteries and test the alarm regularly to ensure it is in good working condition.

5. Know how to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness and fainting.

6. If you feel sick, dizzy or weak while using your portable generator, get to fresh air immediately and call 911 for emergency medical attention.

Source: PGMAOnline.com

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6 Back-to-School Transition Tips for Parents

August 11, 2015 1:45 am

When back-to-school time approaches, it is important for parents to ensure their children know what to expect.

“Parents need to begin transitioning children into the back-to-school routine early enough so they have time to adjust -- mentally and physically,” says Richard Peterson, Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care vice president. “Waiting until right before school begins is not an effective strategy for a smooth start to the school year.”

To help get your children acclimated to the start of a new school year, start by:

Getting children excited. Get your children ready for school by making back-to-school shopping a family affair. During a shopping trip for new school supplies, let children cross off items from their lists as they fill the cart. This will keep them involved and excited during the process.

Establishing a school year schedule. A few weeks before school begins, set – and stick to – a realistic bedtime to allow children to get the recommended 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night.

Playing school.
Gather books, paper, pencils, and crayons and play school with your children. Let them be the teachers and you be the student. As you play, ask your children how they feel about starting school. This is a great time to talk about anxieties or concerns they may have as they start a new school year.

Attending back-to-school events. Find out about back-to-school activities or events, such as meet and greet with teachers. This is a great opportunity to get your children familiar with their school surroundings and comfortable with their new teachers.

Practicing the morning routine. Before the first day of school, figure out how long it will take for everyone to get out of the house on time. If your children will be walking to school, practice the route showing them where to stop and if necessary, how to cross the street. If your children are bus riders, show them where to catch the bus and review the bus rules.

Getting your own routine in check. Make sure you know what you need to keep the busy morning schedule running smoothly. To make more time in the morning, consider handling tasks like setting the coffee maker, preparing lunches and reviewing homework at night. And, practice your new routine before the stress of the school year really hits.

Source: Kiddie Academy®

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A Guide to Post-Disaster Home Repair

August 11, 2015 1:45 am

As important as it is to make home repairs as soon as possible following a natural disaster, it also is important to take some time to plan the project, consult with local officials and choose a contractor wisely. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), homeowners in disaster-prone areas should do the following.

Before you start, contact the local permitting office. Follow all local and state requirements. Check with your local building official to make sure your work is safe and meets all local and state requirements.

Consider using building materials that are more resistant to flood, wind, corrosion and decay. If siding or roof sheathing needs replacement, consider installing hurricane/seismic connectors at the rafter-to-wall or truss-to-wall connections. Adding wall-to-foundation ties may also be possible.

Windows, doors and skylights should be checked for leaks. If they need replacement, consider impact-resistant units.
Check your attic for adequate insulation. Straps should be added from rafters to wall top plates, and gable end-wall framing should be braced. Inspect soffits to determine if structural upgrades are necessary.

If you live in a flood-prone area, elevate and appliances.

Lastly, look for a contractor with an established physical address. Get bids from more than one person. Make sure they are in writing and specify exactly what will be done. Beware of a low-ball price. Ask for references and contact them. Make sure the contractor has the proper licenses and insurance coverage required in your state. Never pay the full price in advance.

Source: FEMA

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Look Up: 10 Ways to Paint a Ceiling

August 11, 2015 1:45 am

When was the last time you looked up and pondered the color of your ceiling? Switching up a ceiling color is a quick redesign that can revitalize the appearance of an entire room, says Sara McClean, Dunn-Edwards Paints color expert. Pick up a gallon of paint and give it a try – it's a fun and easy DIY project!

Some options to consider:

• Paint the ceiling the same color as the walls for a rich, inviting atmosphere.

• Use lighter or darker shades of the wall color to create a soothing space with extra depth.

• Incorporate a darker ceiling color than the wall color creates a cozier environment - great for powder rooms, bathrooms or bedrooms.

• For tall ceilings, extend the ceiling color a few feet down the walls to make the room feel more intimate.

• For a coffered ceiling, paint color between the coffers for extra drama and sophistication.

• Paint the ceiling a completely different color to add flair. Use accent colors from area rugs, art and other decor pieces to tie it in.

• A white ceiling with white walls creates an airy, open area. Try warm, neutral palettes like soft white or ivory rather than stark white.

• Thinking about going bold on the wall color? Then paint the ceiling white so the effect isn't overwhelming.

• Painting the ceiling a light, soft blue gives the illusion of sky.

• Add a metallic or pearlescent finish to the ceiling to create a regal, marble-like facade.

Source: Dunn-Edwards Paints

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Drivers: Tips for a DIY Brake Check

August 10, 2015 1:45 am

When it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list. Brakes are a normal wear item for any car, and eventually, they’re going to need to be replaced.

“A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle operation and control under a variety of driving conditions,” says Car Care Council Executive Director Rich White. “Motorists can put a stop to any potential brake system problems by recognizing the signs and symptoms.”

For routine maintenance, check your vehicle’s brake system at least once a year. A thorough inspection should include brake lining wear, brake fluid level, rotor thickness, condition of hoses and brake lines, brake and dash warning lights, as well as taking the car for a test drive to detect other potential brake system problems.

If your car is pulling to the left or right, or if you hear odd noises when you apply the brakes, you should inspect your brakes. Other warning signs include an illuminated brake warning light, brake grabbing, low pedal feel, vibration, hard pedal feel and squealing.

Several factors that affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material. Never put off routine brake inspections or any needed repair, such as letting the brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point, which can be potentially dangerous and lead to a more costly repair bill.

Source: Car Care Council

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The Top Baby Boomer-Approved Remodels

August 10, 2015 1:45 am

A recent report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found a growing number of 55-plus Americans plan to remodel their homes. “Many are focusing on accessibility and opening up the home,” says Sergei Kaminskiy, owner of Kaminskiy Design and Remodeling.

“We are seeing many remove a room or two and opening the size of the main living areas with a kitchen remodel and a master bedroom remodel,” Kaminskiy says. “We have had a number of clients remove a formal dining room or child's bedroom on the main floor and convert it to another master bedroom with fully accessible bathroom.”

Aside from creating open-floor plans and increasing accessibility, baby boomers are also seeking to boost energy-efficiency and update appliances, add greater curb appeal and raise the home’s value.

Source: Kaminskiy Design and Remodeling

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6 Insurance Mistakes Homeowners Make

August 10, 2015 1:45 am

Though saving money is important, shaving off key protections in order to reduce homeowners insurance premiums can be costly in the event of a disaster, especially a hurricane. “The best way to avoid living the cliché of being ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ is to know what less-than-full coverage will cost you,” says Lynne McChristian of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “Talk with an insurance professional before the winds kick up to understand the difference between smart shopping and possible costly mistakes.”

Those potentially costly mistakes include:

1. Going “bare.”
Homeowners without a mortgage are not required to have home insurance—but going without insurance protection means the risk of losing what you’ve invested in what is likely one of your most important assets. For most people, setting aside a pool of money large enough to rebuild a home or replace all their possessions is too much of a financial challenge, leaving them with insufficient funds in the event of a total loss
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2. Eliminating windstorm and contents coverage.
While a residential property insurance policy typically includes this protection, homeowners may choose to send a handwritten and signed letter to their insurer asking that such coverage be excluded and acknowledging they will pay for any losses. Excluding windstorm and/or contents coverage can save you hundreds of dollars a year on insurance. “But the downside is you will need to pay thousands of dollars—or even hundreds of thousands of dollars—out of your own pocket if a hurricane strikes,” says McChristian.

3. Declining Building Ordinance or Law coverage.

Homes age and building codes improve. That often means that there can be a big difference in the structural strength of a newly built home and one that is 10 or more years old. If a home is damaged or destroyed, rebuilding to current building codes will raise the cost of reconstruction. Building Ordinance or Law coverage pays for this additional expense.

4. Choosing a high hurricane deductible.

High deductibles lower the cost of insurance, but they also mean higher out-of-pocket costs after a storm. For example, a homeowner with a house insured for $200,000 with a 10 percent hurricane deductible would have to contribute $20,000 toward rebuilding costs. Lowering the hurricane deductible to 2 percent would cut that amount to $4,000.

5. Insuring for less than the rebuilding cost.

Most insurance companies will allow a homeowner to insure for less than what it costs to rebuild–though never below 80 percent of the home’s replacement cost. Homeowners who choose this option would be responsible for paying both their deductible and the additional cost to cover the gap in their rebuilding coverage. In hurricane-prone areas, it is worth considering a homeowners policy that provides broader coverage, called extended replacement cost coverage. After a major natural disaster, construction professionals may be in short supply and building materials in great demand. This combination increases the cost to rebuild. Extended replacement cost policies will pay an additional 20 percent or more above the policy limits to account for such increases.

6. Forgoing flood insurance.
A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage. Because it can rain hard —and for extended periods—even during a regular storm, every homeowner should consider purchasing a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from a private insurance company. Excess flood insurance is also available from private insurance companies if more coverage is needed than the amount available from the NFIP.

Source: I.I.I.

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Growing Credit Card Debt Encouraging for Economy

August 7, 2015 1:45 am

Americans are showing signs of recovery from the Great Recession by steadily increasing their credit card debt, according to data from a recent National Consumer Credit Trends report released by Equifax. The rate of growth for credit card debt more than doubled year-over-year in many of the metro areas hit hardest by the housing market crash, and more than tripled in other less affected cities. Total credit card debt jumped five percent to $634 billion.

“Every major market has seen increases in credit card debt, even those cities where the housing market issues are not completely resolved,” says Assad Lazarus, interim unit leader of Equifax Personal Information Solutions. “This shows that American consumers are more confident about their financial futures, and that means the U.S. economy has entered an expansion mode.”

Source: Equifax

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Mortgage Rates Trickle Down

August 7, 2015 1:45 am

As uncertainty about the economy pushes Treasury yields lower, average fixed mortgage rates have moved down for the third week in a row, according to the recent Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). Dipping just below four percent, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.91 percent with an average 0.6 point. The 15-year FRM averaged 3.13 percent, also with an average 0.6 point.

In addition, the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.95 percent with an average 0.4 point. The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.54 percent with an average 0.3 point.

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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