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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Ideas for Recycling Your Christmas Tree

December 26, 2012 6:18 am

Christmas has come and gone and most families will be looking to get rid of their tree in the coming week or two. The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) estimates that 30 million natural trees are sold each year. Recently, 93 percent of respondents told the association that they participate in some sort of tree recycling program. Instead of bringing it to the dump, there are plenty of ways you can recycle your tree and use it for other purposes. Here are a few suggestions:

Curbside pickup: For those with enough yard space, leave your tree on the edge of your front yard for town or city pick-up. Some towns use leftover trees for mulch for use in public spaces like parks. You may even be able to pick up some of that mulch for your own projects. Check with your city's government or parks and recreation department or visit earth911.org to find out more information about how your area uses and distributes leftover mulch.

Yard decoration: For non-city dwellers, trees can be put up in your yard to provide shelter for small animals or add to the ambiance of the winter season. Branches can also be cut off and used to protect bare patches in your yard throughout the season.

Donate it for habitat protection: Old trees can also help stabilize habitats, such as areas devastated by natural disasters like hurricanes. They are also sometimes used as safe havens for breeding rare or endangered birds, or as waterways for schools of fish. The NCTA details many of these programs on their website.

Be creative when deciding to recycle or reuse your Christmas tree. For more information, visit www.christmastree.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Preparing Your Home for a Virtual Tour

December 24, 2012 6:14 am

As more buyers are turning to the Web to begin their home search, sellers in today’s market are relying on virtual tours for that crucial first impression. If you are selling your home, take some time to get it virtual-tour and open-house ready to interest more buyers and entice a faster sale.

Virtual tours show buyers a 360-degree view of the interior of a home and allow them to narrow their home search conveniently from their personal computer. Since potential buyers will be sorting through hundreds of photos and virtual tours throughout this process, it is important to understand that your home looks different through the lens of a camera than in person.

Just as you would prepare for an open house, prepare for your virtual tour shoot by removing clutter. Move personal belongings out of sight or use this as an opportunity to donate or throw away items that you no longer use. The goal is to maximize the space of your home and depersonalize it enough to allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living there.

Here are some tips to help cut down the clutter:

-Remove excess furniture to make rooms look larger.
-Clear off the kitchen counter and hide everyday items, such as kitchen utensils, toasters, hand soap and magnets on the fridge.
-Store children’s toys, bicycles, gardening tools and other clutter out of sight.
-Place toiletries and cleaning products in cabinets or closets. Most virtual tours will only photograph the major rooms in your home.
-Take family photos off of walls and shelves while the home is being shown.
-Recycle old magazines and newspapers that take up extra space throughout the home.

The next step is to give your home a good, thorough cleaning. Since cameras often capture more than the eye can see, it is important to spend some time cleaning your home from top to bottom. Areas that are often overlooked during the cleaning process include windows and stainless steel appliances. Be sure to keep them streak free and clean to ensure the best photo.

Another cheap way to prepare your home for buyers is to brighten it up by replacing old or dim light bulbs. Consider using a higher wattage light bulb in rooms or areas that don’t get direct sunlight. You can also add a brightly-colored throw or vase to lighten up a space that has dark flooring or furniture.

Some other tips to consider for the virtual tour include:

- Take your own digital photographs to see how each room looks on camera.
- Get layout and style ideas from home and design magazines.
- Don’t forget about ceilings and floors. Most virtual tours today show all angles.
- Limit seasonal decorations.
- If exterior photos are included, park vehicles elsewhere and make sure your lawn is freshly mowed and garbage cans are out of sight.

Source: The Chicago Association of REALTORS®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Appliance Safety in the Home: How to Prevent Tip-overs

December 24, 2012 6:14 am

Because of tragedies nationwide involving tipped-over appliances, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently completed a review of various tip-over hazards that can occur in the home.

It was reported that there were 1,600 injuries in 2006 from appliance tip-overs, most of which occurred to victims under the age of 5. Thirteen deaths occurred between 2000-2006, most of which were children under 10 or adults over 70. These deaths were primarily caused by freestanding or slide-in stoves with oven doors swinging outward.

Families must be aware of leaving children unattended in the kitchen, even if the stove is turned off. Many accidents occur when children attempt to climb on top of a stove door causing the appliance to topple over. With senior citizens, the same can happen when they are leaning on it for support. If the stove is on at the time of the incident, the heat will only make injuries worse and risk of death greater. Out of all of the accidents occurring in 2006, none of the appliances were properly secured to the wall.

The CPSC recommends the following to prevent related tragedies in the future:

-Manufacturers should create better stability in their designs. Models should be able to support 100 pounds on an open oven door. Although this may require some major redesigns, the added safety bonus will benefit everyone.
-Manufacturers should design door hinges that lock in the open position should an oven start to tip forward.
-Install anti-tip devices that prevent an appliance from working unless they are properly installed.
-Appliances should be programmed to automatically shut off the heat should they begin to tip.

Consumers should be aware that these types of incidents can occur in their home. To prevent this from happening to you or your loved ones, be sure to secure your stove with tip restraints provided by your manufacturer. New appliances made after 1991 should have shipped with these restraints included, but may or may not be pre-installed. The CPSC reports that it is not aware of a single injury or death caused by an appliance with tip restraints properly installed.

For more information, visit www.cpsc.gov.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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'Mom Caves': A Growing Trend in Relaxation

December 24, 2012 6:14 am

Over the past few years, patriarchs of the family have been taking space in the home for their very own relaxation needs. "Man caves" became trendy, as men everywhere created their own rooms for recliners, mini-fridges, pool tables, televisions and more. Now, it's the women's turn.

Child- and husband-free zones are growing in popularity as moms feel the same urges to stake their claim. "Mom Caves" can be a place for a matriarch to get some work done, or a place for the direct opposite of that. Many women are finding comfort in their own house haven where they can de-stress, relax and get some peace and quiet. If this sounds like your cup of tea, take these tips from yahoo.com to turn any corner of your house into your very own "Mom Cave":

Pick your spot. You can transform any part of your home into your new Mom Cave, from an unused room or corner, to a nook in an attic or basement. Try locating yourself near a window. If this isn't possible, use a few mirrors to brighten it up and bounce light around your new hangout. This will also provide the illusion of more space and decrease any sense of claustrophobia your space may incur.

Hide from the world. Try to find a space that will be easy to enclose. Mid- to-larger-sized closets make good spots for makeshift caves, but other options exist as well. You can create your own corner by using a curtain or box yourself in with bookcases--whatever you need to do to temporarily hide yourself away.

Color choice is important. Transforming the walls is also a great way to make the space your own. You can paint the walls your favorite color, or if you don't want to get involved in a project, you can simply color coordinate with your favorite furnishings. Use calming colors to match your relaxed mood, or try blues and greens to spark creativity.

Think "comfortable." Choose your throne wisely. A comfortable chair is key in creating your relaxation haven. Use any chair in your home, or spruce up an old one with cashmere or another soft lining. Throw pillows can also go the extra mile you need for comfort. Your Mom Cave may just be your favorite nap location, too.

Infuse your personality. Whether your Mom Cave is for reading, painting, crafting or any other hobby, make sure it speaks to you. Make it yours by adding your own personality to it. Surround yourself with things you love. Add plants, photo albums, framed photos, etc. Don't overdo it though--you don't want your source of leisure to seem overcrowded or stressful. Do whatever it takes to make it appealing to you.

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Are You Seeing Spots...On Your Dishes?

December 20, 2012 6:10 am

(Family Features) If your dishwasher is turning out dull, spotty dishes and leaving you frustrated and annoyed, you’re not alone. Spotty and cloudy dishes are a common nuisance for many dishwasher owners across America.

In fact, a recent survey found that people experience spots and cloudy film on their dishes straight out of the dishwasher an average of five times per month, and 70 percent felt annoyed or frustrated because they didn’t know the cause. The battle of dull dishes has left many Americans wasting excess time and money by changing their detergent (49 percent) or rewashing by hand (47 percent).

But what many don’t know is that the spots are probably caused by the removal of a key grime-fighting ingredient from detergents – phosphates. In 2010, dishwasher detergent manufactures were forced to rework their formulas because of environmental concerns, as required by State laws passed in over a dozen states. While the new formulas may be gentler on the planet, some are lacking in cleaning power.

Despite the formula changes, dishwasher owners can still be spared the domestic dread of cloudy and spotty dishes and achieve sparkling and pristine dishware right out of the dishwasher.

To save time and avoid rewashing by hand, try these simple tips for sparkling clean dishes and glasses:

Boost your detergent’s performance. Let your dishes shine by giving your dishwasher detergent a boost of extra power with a product such as a dishwashing booster. To restore the sparkling appearance of your dishes in just one wash, add two squirts to the bottom of the dishwasher. For ongoing use, fill the rinse agent dispenser with dishwashing booster about once a month to keep dishes clean and spot free, wash after wash.

Properly load your dishes. To optimize cleaning, load the dishwasher so that dishes are facing in toward the center, and in line with the jets. Glasses, plastic and small items should be placed on the top rack facing downward, and large items like pots, pans and dinner plates should be placed on the bottom rack along the sides.

Whether you’re hosting an intimate get-together or throwing a grand soiree, adding a dishwashing booster and properly maintaining your dishwasher can help ensure your dishes come out sparkling clean with each wash. Rest assured your smile will be gleaming as bright as your dishes.

Source: OxiClean

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Airport Security Procedure Changes

December 20, 2012 6:10 am

Recent changes to the screening process at airports across the country will help millions of travelers board their planes quicker and easier during the busy traveling season and allow officers to focus on passengers who might represent a bigger risk.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has recently updated its screening process to help children, seniors, and trusted travelers move faster through airport checkpoints while ensuring the security of all travelers. Below, you’ll find some of the latest changes.

New Screening Process for Children
Children, 12 or younger, can now go through airport security without taking off their shoes. To minimize the need for pat-downs, children are now allowed to go through metal detectors and body scanners several times to clear any alarms.

It's also worth remembering some of the existing processes for screening children at the airport:

• Officers will never separate children from their parents or guardian
• All children's luggage will go through the x-ray machine
• Travelers with small children are able to take more than 3.4 ounces of liquid, such as breast milk, juice, and medicines

New Screening Process for the Elderly
Screening changes for passengers who are 75 years or older are similar to the screening process for children. That is, elderly people will also be able to go through airport security without removing their shoes. They can also go through a security checkpoint without removing a light jacket.

To minimize pat-downs, the elderly will be able to go through the metal detector and body scanners several times to clear any alarms. The TSA has a hotline to answer questions about the security process for passengers with disabilities and medical issues. The toll-free number is 1 (855) 787-2227. Be sure to call 72 hours before traveling so you have enough time to make any changes before going through security.

New Program for Frequent Travelers
The TSA also has a new program to help frequent travelers move through security checkpoints faster. The program is called "TSA Pre" and is available in more than 30 U.S. airports to frequent passengers of a limited number of airlines, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines.

Travelers who enroll in the program:

• Do not need to take off their shoes and belts while going through security
• Can keep their computers inside their bags
• Can go through security without taking off a light jacket
To enroll in the "TSA Pre" program, or to learn more, visit GlobalEntry.gov.

Source: GobiernoUSA.gov/USA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Holiday Decorations Provide a Cutting Edge...if Done Right

December 20, 2012 6:10 am

Holiday decorating, when tastefully done, can be the eye candy you need to sell your home. With a little holiday flair, you can transform your home into a winter wonderland that will grab the attention of any type of buyer.

Since you don't want to turn off any potential buyers, leave the inflatable Santas and reindeer in the attic. Not only do they take up much-needed space in your front lawn, but they also make symbolic statements that you are best avoiding.

Choose one theme or look and stick with it throughout. Pay attention to proportion and balance; make sure your decorations suit the home appropriately and add to rather than hinder the home's décor.

Don't overdo exterior holiday lighting; rather, use them for a determined purpose. Christmas lights can be used to light up a walkway for night viewings and can add a nice sparkle to that pine tree sitting in your front yard. If your house ends up looking like something out of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, you have gone too far. Scale back and be more conservative than you usually would be with your decorating.

Keep your decorations elegant and simple. When decorating, think "winter" and not "Christmas." White lights help give your home a seasonal look without symbolizing any specific holiday, while pine wreaths serve the same purpose for the exterior or interior of the home.

If your family cannot do without a tree, stick to tall and thin trees. You want your home to feel open and spacious even with sporadic decorations about. Stick to two or three colors when decorating your tree; less is more when trying to sell your home. Lastly, be sure to take your tree down before the new year.

If your home is on the market, you can still give it a festive and seasonal look without going overboard. By brightening your home up for the season, you can incite buyer interest in your home.

Source: energizedseller.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Using Portable Generators Efficiently and Safely

December 19, 2012 6:10 am

When storms terrorize your neighborhood, knocking out the power for indefinite periods of time, portable electric generators are a great way to keep the electricity flowing. Especially during this time of year, portable generators can keep your house warm should you lose power on a cold, chilly night.

Despite the many pros to using generators, there are a few common dangers that should be avoided in order to ensure safety while running a generator, including carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and electrocution or electrical shock. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and Reliance Controls offer the following tips for safe usage and warn against the improper use and installing of portable generators:

• Never use a gasoline-powered generator inside your home or garage. High levels of carbon monoxide are generated quickly and opening doors or windows will not prevent build-up. Always use your generator outdoors and away from the home and open windows. Use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the levels of hazardous gas.

• Store generator fuel safely. Keep it away from living areas and fuel-burning appliances. Properly label your containers as well. Make sure the generator is off and cooled down before attempting to refill it.

• Check the extension cords you plan on using beforehand. Make sure they are rated for the load, free of cuts or worn insulation and have three-pronged plugs.

• Be careful not to overload the generator. Only use it when absolutely necessary to power essential appliances.

Another ESFI recommendation is that you do not connect your generator directly into your household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch being installed. A transfer switch is an electrical device that is permanently installed near the service panel in your home. It prevents the utility power and the generator power from powering your household circuits at the same time. A transfer switch also eliminates the possibility of backfeeding, which is when generator power travels back up the utility service line. Backfeeding can result in fires and serious injury or even death to you, utility workers or electricians working on nearby electrical systems.

The National Electrical Code®, which sets national standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks, requires that transfer switches be used with all portable generators supplying alternate power to a home or business.

Source: www.transferswitches.com.

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Most Homeowners Not Downsizing

December 19, 2012 6:10 am

Whether a millennial, Gen Xer or baby boomer, homeowners overwhelmingly want their next home to be the same size or larger than their current home, according to a recent survey by national homebuilder PulteGroup, Inc. This latest PGHI survey polled current homeowners on size and feature preferences for their next home.

"It was interesting to see that 84 percent of homeowners ages 18-59 don't have plans to downsize their next home, even among baby boomers," said Deborah Meyer, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of PulteGroup. "The PGHI survey results also show that today's buyers are equally focused on smarter use of the spaces within their homes."

Further proof that increased house size is on the rise comes from recent U.S. Census Bureau data which indicates the average size of a newly built home was 2,480 square feet in 2011, which is an increase of 3.7 percent from 2010. This represents the first annual increase since 2007.

Generational Differences
More than half of millennials, homeowners between the ages of 18-34, would like their next home to be larger than their current home with 68 percent of those respondents saying the larger home would be used to accommodate their growing family.

Meanwhile, showing the diversity of Gen Xers, nearly 40 percent of respondents ages 35-54 want a larger home to accommodate a growing family (37 percent) and need more room and storage space (29 percent).

One of the most interesting survey results came from baby boomer respondents. Only 28 percent of those ages 55-59 said they want their next home to be smaller, citing retirement and becoming an empty nester as the top reasons for downsizing.

Forget Formality, Homeowners Want More Space
According to the survey, 21 percent of homeowners ages 18-59 rarely use their formal dining room while 17 percent said they rarely use their formal living room. When asked to rank the most important feature in their next home, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents want larger, open spaces, including master bedrooms, larger rooms and open floor concepts.

When asked to rank their top five "must haves" in their next home, respondents indicated they want:

• Larger rooms
• Master bedrooms suites
• More storage space
• Patio/outdoor living space
• Energy efficiency

While men and women ages 18-59 agree on having a master bedroom suite, 62 percent of women said they also would like to have more storage space while 45 percent of men want more technology in the home. And, as older men (55-59) embark upon retirement, they rank having a study/den in their top five must-have features.

Family Closeness Still a Factor in Choosing a Home's Location
Homeowners are willing to give up a lot to get what they want in their next home, but across all generations they don't want to give up being close to their family.

When asked what homeowners 18-59 would be willing to give up for the "must haves" in their next home:

• 52 percent cited being close to public transportation
• 35 percent said they're willing to give up being close to entertainment and shopping
• 28 percent said they would give up being near parks and better schools

However, the last thing homeowners want to give up is being near their family with only 21 percent saying moving away from their family would be an option.

Source: PulteGroup

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Factors to Keep in Mind When Pricing Your Kitchen Remodel

December 18, 2012 6:10 am

Homeowners who are looking to remodel their kitchen should keep the following factors—that can significantly affect the price of their remodel—in mind as they begin to make plans to upgrade their kitchen. According to Kitchen Tune-Up, homeowners should pay attention to the following five factors before they begin a renovation.

1. Wood species or cabinet covering material. The material that covers the cabinet will effect the overall pricing of a kitchen renovation, but not as much as you might think. A stainless steel clad cabinet will be the most expensive and a melamine (thin plastic laminate) surface will be the least costly. Cherry is usually about 7-10 percent more than oak, while hickory, oak and pine usually run very close in price. Unusual cabinet woods like alder, mahogany, fir, rift cut woods, redwood, teak, etc. will usually cost more than common oak or pine.

2. Kitchen layout. The layout of the kitchen and the cabinet configuration will largely affect the price of a remodel as well. For example, a lazy susan will cost more than a sink cabinet, a stack of drawers will be higher priced than a one drawer/two door base cabinet, a U-shaped kitchen costs more than an L-shape with an island and a wall oven/cooktop combination makes the kitchen cost about $1,000 more than a free standing range. Setting a budget to design within can often save homeowners many hours of re-design.

3. Cabinet door style. A door with many details will usually cost more than a simple door. If an arch is added to a square panel, homeowners can expect to pay more. A door with lots of grooves or molding generally costs more than a simple door and a full overlay door (door that covers almost the entire cabinet face) costs more than a traditional overlay door. Doors set inside the cabinet frame (called inset) cost more than doors that are mounted over the cabinet frame.

4. Type of cabinet finish. The type of cabinet finish you choose will vary the pricing of a kitchen remodel as well. Painted cabinets will run 10-15 percent more than a standard stain finish and glazes or layered finishes will run 7-15 percent more than a standard stain due to the extra labor.

5. Cabinet construction methods and materials. Don’t skimp in the area of cabinet construction in order to save money on your kitchen renovation as better construction methods make a kitchen durable. In fact, cabinet construction may be 60 percent of the entire cabinet cost.

For more information, visit www.kitchentuneup.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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