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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How to Look for Possible Tornado Damage

November 19, 2013 4:06 am

Residents should be very careful when returning home following the severe tornadoes that struck the Midwest over the weekend. Once it is safe to do so, homeowners should carefully inspect their homes for possible signs of tornado damage, and pay particular attention to the following areas:

• Look for wall cracks in spots where there were no cracks before. Cracks of a quarter inch or more are signs walls may have shifted or settled. Look carefully around windows and doors because these are typically the weakest spots in a home's construction.
• Make sure to closely check rooms not regularly used.
• Look outside for physically visible, new cracks in the home's foundation. Look inside for changes in the levelness of floors. Changes in the level of the floor could be signs of a lift in the home's foundation.
• Inspect plumbing. Look closely around the water heater and/or water softener for signs of water leaks that did not exist before. Flush all toilets, turn on all of the water faucets, and check connecting pipes for any leaking water.
• In the days or weeks after a tornado, check walls and ceilings for water stains or yellowing that did not exist before. It could indicate damage on the roof.
• Carefully inspect the outside gutters. Damaged gutters could cause water damage inside the home long after the actual gutter damage occurs.

Source: Allstate

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Statistics Highlight the Need for Preparation and Caution in Holiday Decorating and Entertaining

November 19, 2013 4:06 am

Lights, candles, action! Brightly lighted decorations, elaborate meals and large gatherings are all part of traditional holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, these seasonal traditions also cause an average of 230 home fires each year, with an average of 4 deaths, 21 injuries and $17.3 million in property damage.

"Christmas tree lights and candles are just two of the holiday traditions that increase the likelihood of a fire starting in your home," says Rick Isaacson, executive vice president of Servpro Industries, Inc. "There are about three times as many cooking-related fires on Thanksgiving Day and almost twice as many on Christmas Day as there are on non-holidays. It only takes a single distracted or careless action to turn a family get-together into a tragedy."

Homeowners can help keep their homes and their families safe during the holiday season by understanding the dangers and taking some simple, commonsense precautions.

Holiday Cooking Fire Facts
• Thanksgiving Day has three times the average number of reported home structure fires involving cooking equipment.
• The two other peak days for cooking-related fires are Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

Holiday Cooking Safety Tips
• Supervise items on the stovetop. Fifty-eight percent of kitchen fires involve ranges; homes with electric cooktops have a higher risk of fire than homes with gas cooktops.
• Keep flammable items - potholders, packaging, wrapping, wooden utensils, loose clothing - away from the stovetop.
• Don't let lack of sleep or alcohol consumption affect your ability to concentrate on preparing the meal.

Holiday Decorating Fire Facts
• Half of all holiday decoration fires start because the decoration is too close to a heat source.
• On average, 32 candle fires are reported each day. December is the peak month for candle fires.

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips:
• Keep all decorations away from heat sources like radiators, portable heaters, and fireplaces.
• Use flameless candles.
• If you do use traditional candles, burn them in sturdy candleholders, well away from drapes and other flammable materials. Never leave them unattended and never allow them to burn down to less than one inch in length.

Christmas Tree Fire Facts:
• 50 percent of live tree fires occur between December 22 and January 5.
• 31 percent of tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
• 14 percent involve decorative lights.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips:
• Keep live trees well watered to reduce the chance of a fire.
• Check wiring on lights for breaks and wear, replace worn strings and don't exceed manufacturer guidelines for connecting multiple strands of lights.
• Don't leave tree lights plugged in when you are away from home or asleep.

Source: www.servpro.com

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Tips to Capture Mood, Splendor of the Season with Lighting

November 18, 2013 4:06 am

(Family Features) As decorations are hung this holiday season in preparation for entertaining family and friends, consider creating ambiance using lighting in the main social rooms of the home, including the kitchen, dining and living rooms. Beyond the trimmings, presents and other jolly adornments, it is essential to have the proper lighting to enhance the glow of the holidays and adjust the mood of a room.

Here are some tips to make sure the lighting in every room in your home is properly outfitted to create an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for the holidays and beyond:

Use higher quality light

Lighting helps set a mood in a room. When choosing the type of light needed for a room, consider whether you want a soft light or crisp bright light. Use lighting that can filter out dull yellow rays and provide clean, beautiful light that brings out the vibrant colors of the holiday season – making reds appear redder and whites whiter – to make the colors in your holiday wreaths and decorations pop.

Layer the lighting

Instead of relying on one type of light source, layer your lighting by using a mix of light sources at different levels, to create a flattering ambiance. The effect of layered lighting in the living room highlights architectural details, like the festively decorated fireplace and mantel with evergreens and holly berries. Ambient lighting from recessed fixtures with dimming control in the kitchen allows flexibility to adjust as needed for cooking and baking during the day to entertaining guests in the evening, or for spending late nights wrapping presents.

Additionally, the holidays would not be complete without cozy, intimate gatherings around the dining room table with family and friends. Layered lighting applied around the dining room table can set the mood so you and your guests can comfortably enjoy the turkey dinner with all the dressings.

Keep energy efficiency in mind

Select energy-efficient lighting – such as CFLs and LEDs – for optimal energy savings. This is especially important in rooms where the most time is spent with the lights on in order to see the biggest energy savings impact. Many energy-efficient alternatives of today mirror the light quality of the traditional incandescent bulb, providing the warm glow and dimming capabilities.

Do your homework

Savvy homeowners should do a little research before purchasing light bulbs to ensure compatibility with their fixtures. Be sure to match up the bulb shape and application, choose the appropriate lumen, or brightness level, and review the light bulb packaging for dimmable options.

Make this holiday season a cheerful occasion, and don’t rely on overhead lighting alone to deck your halls and walls. With a layered approach and a little lighting know-how, you’ll create the welcoming and warm atmosphere perfect for family, friends and good cheer.

Source: GE

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Tips for Marriage-Minded Customers Seeking out the Perfect Diamond

November 18, 2013 4:06 am

With so many fine jewelry stores, it can be difficult to pick out an engagement ring. King of Jewelry recommends purchasing fine jewelry only from a store that offers diamond certification from top gemological institutes, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the nation's top diamond grading resource. The benefit of having an independent agency grading diamonds is that they are objective and unaffiliated with any particular retailer, so customers are assured their diamond quality is actually a genuinely fine gemstone. Loose diamonds sold are graded based on their cut, color, clarity and carat weight - sometimes referred to as the "4 C’s" of diamond evaluation. In more detail, these mean:

Cut. The diamond cut is mainly a matter of the buyer's preference, as there are 12 main cuts of diamonds. These include the most popular, the round brilliant cut, as well as other cuts and shapes that appeal to different women, such as the princess, oval, heart, radiant, emerald, pear, marquise, Asscher, triangle, cushion and other small accent cuts like baguette.

Color. Diamond color, or lack of color, is an important factor in determining its value. The diamond's presence of color is judged on a graded scale. "D" represents a rare, natural colorless diamond, and the spectrum continues to the letter "Z," indicating a presence of color.

Clarity. A diamond that has perfect clarity is incredibly rare and valuable, because it must withstand tremendous heat and pressure, and usually this results in a variety of internal inclusions and external blemishes. The GIA has six categories in the diamond clarity scale, from flawless under 10x magnification to included diamonds, which are obvious to the naked eye and affect the transparency and brilliance of the stone.

Carat. Perhaps the most well-known of the "C’s," carat is a measure of the stone's weight. Diamond price always increases with carat weight, but price is also determined by the previous 3 Cs, because two diamonds of equal weight may have very different values.

Source: King of Jewelry

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Energy Efficient Window and Door Installation Tax Credits Expire December 31

November 15, 2013 3:57 am

If you have been considering an upgrade in windows and doors to make your house more energy efficient, now is the time according to the experts at Green Light Window Films. Several tax credits are set to expire on December 31, 2013. Turning some of your last minute home improvement and energy efficient upgrades into a reality sooner rather than later may be a good idea.

The tax credit is part of a provision in the recent "Fiscal Cliff" Legislation that has created a tax credit opportunity for window films installed in residential structures. Under the legislation, the qualifying credit is 10 percent of the film cost with a maximum total credit of $500. The new policy is retroactive to January 1, 2012 and expires December 31, 2013.

Individuals that should be considering the installation of solar window film on their home's windows would be those that are experiencing higher than desired heating and cooling bills, fading to floors, furniture and artwork, or those that are looking to add privacy to their windows. Window films also block 99.9 percent of harmful UV rays from the sun. This is significant for homeowners looking to protect their families, or those that have been diagnosed with any form of skin cancer.

Advances in window film technology have produced products that are optically clear. The traditional dark window tint is still an option but not always the best solution.

For homeowners interested, calling a top quality window film company as soon as possible is recommended in order to avoid scheduling problems that would prevent you from taking advantage of this program and the tax credit expiration date.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Why Fall Fertilizing is Best for Nourishing Your Lawn

November 15, 2013 3:57 am

When you think “fall lawn care,” raking leaves may be the first image that comes to mind. However, fall is also the most important time to fertilize lawns, particularly in cold climates like the Midwest. Ensuring an enviable, green lawn this spring begins now. Fertilizing in late fall brings more benefits, thanks to these conditions: Grass regains strength following dormancy in summer heat when morning dew brings hydration.

Just as Mother Nature inherently revitalizes grass, natural fertilizers work with nature by increasing the soil's ability to retain water and nutrients, improving the health and strength of the soil and grass.

Natural fertilizers are also environmentally-friendly. Synthetic fertilizers contain salts that can seep into ground water. With no toxic ingredients, a natural lawn food can be an eco-friendly, non-burning fertilizer that promotes lush, green lawn, offering the same efficacy as a synthetic without the harmful ingredients.

Look for lawn food that contains no manure, no biosolids (i.e., sewage) and no added phosphorous. There are no restrictions on re-entry time after application. Children and pets can play on the lawn immediately. No manure means there's no unpleasant odor.

Ready to reveal your lawn's potential next spring? Incorporate fall fertilizing into your fall lawn care routine now.

Source: Purely Organic Products

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Keep the Heat in Your Home: How Super-Insulating your Attic Can Save Energy and Money

November 15, 2013 3:57 am

Many are doing everything they can to cut down on the amount of energy used around the house. One of the best ways to do this, while also reducing your environmental footprint and lowering your monthly utility bills, is by ensuring your attic is well insulated.

Adding insulation to an attic is a lot like putting on a hat when it's cold outside. Insulation helps keep the heat inside the home where it belongs, so you can stay warm and cozy without spending a fortune. Insulating and air sealing an attic can also help prevent icicles from forming at the roof edge.

To help save money while keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips on how to super-insulate your attic:

• First, create an air barrier by having all gaps and holes that pass through the ceiling into the attic sealed. A good air sealing job will help prevent warm, moist, house air from escaping into the attic. This is a very important first step to any attic insulation project. Ceiling electrical boxes, exhaust fans, pot lights, wiring and duct penetrations, attic hatches, vent pipes and chimneys are locations that should be inspected and properly sealed.

• If you don't need frequent access to your attic and if space permits, consider having at least a 71-centimetre (28-inch) layer of blown-in or batt-type insulation added over top of existing insulation. Make sure the new insulation does not block the ventilation spaces needed to permit air to move freely from the eaves into the attic. Insulation dams or guards can be installed to ensure this ventilation space does not become blocked by the new insulation.

• In restricted spaces, such as the eaves where the roof passes over the exterior walls, spray-foam insulation may provide a better air seal and insulation level than can otherwise be achieved with batt-type or blown-in insulation. Spray foam insulation can also help prevent "wind washing" of the insulation in this area which can reduce its insulating value and create cold spots along the ceiling-wall intersection below the attic.

• To stop heat from escaping through the attic hatch, insulate the hatch with RSI-5.3 (R-30) or similar high-R-value solid board insulation. Add compressible weatherstripping and a couple of latches to the hatch to ensure an airtight seal.

• If you think you will need access to different parts of your attic, have planks installed through the roof truss members above the insulation layer to provide a surface to crawl over.

• In some cases, due to the condition of the roof, limited space, or a desire to change the appearance of the house, it may be possible to install a new roof over top of the existing roof. This can provide an opportunity to add more insulation than would otherwise be possible.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fun and Creative Kids' Activities for Fall

November 14, 2013 3:57 am

(BPT) - Each year autumn marks a time for change - leaves turn colors, the air becomes crisp and parents everywhere prepare for their children to return to school. -The new season brings with it a shift in rhythms and patterns, including a new weekly routine for families as children go back to school.

For young children in school, it's important to maintain a learning environment even after the last school bell rings and they return home. Spend this time building family traditions and making learning fun by incorporating some of these fun indoor and outdoor fall activities into your seasonal routine.

- Set up a scavenger hunt with your kids to teach them about the differences between the tree seeds — this activity allows children to run around the neighborhood learning about the wide variety of living things in their environment.

- Collect fallen leaves to create a beautiful fall collage. This is a fun activity for young children as they can use their imagination and creativity to design a unique image celebrating the fall season.

- Use a metallic marker so kids can write on the leaves, creating patterns or images, then place the leaves on wax paper and apply Mod Podge to keep the design in place as it hangs.

- Visit a local pumpkin patch: One of the most cherished fall traditions for families is spending a day at a pumpkin patch. Full of fun and games, the pumpkin patch is a perfect place for young children. Whether you're making your way through the corn maze, interacting with the animals in the petting zoo, or enjoying a hay ride around the grounds, your family is sure to have a blast.

Make this fall season unforgettable and continue to help your children grow by introducing these lifelong family traditions.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How-To: Avoid Overspending During Thanksgiving

November 14, 2013 3:57 am

While Thanksgiving may be intended as a day to give thanks for everything life has to offer, many Americans view it as a day to overcook, overeat, and overspend. Below are a few tips you can use to practice moderate spending and eating, so that you don’t break your budget—or your belt--in order to enjoy the celebration.

Here are five tips to follow so your Thanksgiving is fun, but not expensive:

1. Don't go in cold turkey – Plan a realistic budget well in advance, one that considers what you can really afford to spend on the holiday (in cash), not what you'd "like" to spend.

2. Think like a Pilgrim – The fairytale version of early Thanksgivings included a focus on saying thank you, and not trying to impress those in attendance, so be modest and frugal.

3. Remember the trimmings – not the stuffing, the decorations! Don't buy them, make them! Look online and you'll find easy-to-make, inexpensive ways to decorate your home and table.

4. Ask everyone to give thanks – Ask family and friends to bring a prepared dish, dessert or the wine, and build those items into your budgeting and planning.

5. Involve the natives – Invite your children, or some who may be attending, to prepare decorations, easy-to-make snacks, or lead after-dinner games rather than spend on entertainment.

Source: www.InCharge.org

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Hard vs. Soft Water - What Do They Really Mean?

November 14, 2013 3:57 am

In a nutshell, hard water, which to one extent or another is most of the water that flows through our neighborhood pipes, is water that contains an appreciative amount of dissolved minerals. Soft water is treated water in which the only ion is sodium.

As rainwater falls, it is naturally soft. But as it makes its way through the ground and into our waterways, it picks up minerals like chalk and lime and a lot of calcium and magnesium.

Hard water is to blame for dingy looking clothes, dishes with spots and residue, and bathtubs with lots of film and soap scum. Because soap is less effective in hard water, it takes more soap and more shampoo to achieve acceptable results, and even appliances will work harder and use more energy in the process.

Most consumers prefer using soft water because chores can be performed more efficiently. Lather is rich and bubbly even when using a minimal amount of soap or shampoo. Glasses will sparkle, hair will look healthier, and the shower curtain will be scum-free.

Soft water users will also save money. In addition to saving on detergents and soaps, appliances have to work less hard, prolonging their productive lives, and energy bills are noticeably lower in households with soft water systems.

There is a downside to soft water in that it is not as healthy to drink. In the softening process, as minerals are removed, sodium content increases. Soft water not only tastes salty, but research shows the risk of cardiovascular disease is lowest where water has the most mineral content.

But the conundrum may be easily solved. Consumers may enjoy all the benefits of softened water while safeguarding their health by bringing bottled water into the home for drinking purposes – or by installing a reverse osmosis system, which may be installed under the kitchen sink for less than $500.

If you are on a municipal water system, the water supplier can tell you the hardness level of the water they deliver. If you have a private water supply, you can have the water tested for hardness. They can also help you evaluate the significance of the test results, so that you can make an informed decision about how – and where – to opt for softened water.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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