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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Expert Tips for Getting the Sold-Out Toys Your Kids Really Want

December 6, 2012 5:52 am

Every parent or grandparent wants to make the holidays a special time, one that the beloved children in their lives will always remember. Be the holiday hero by getting the gifts they really want – those super popular toys making headlines across the country. Of course, the hottest holiday toys quickly sell out. With a few smart shopping strategies, you will be able to get the gifts they really want without a lot of hassle.

Your children or grandchildren are sure to squeal with delight when they tear open their presents and find a Nintendo Wii U, a Disney Doc McStuffins doll or a Furby in one of the hardest-to-find colors. How were you able to get the toys that your friends and neighbors could not get? You followed some simple shopping strategies for locating high-demand items:

Visit the manufacturer's website
The first step to tracking down a popular toy is to find out where the toy can be found. Each manufacturer's website will list where its toys are sold. Contrary to popular belief, not every major retailer carries all the popular toys of this year. Some manufacturers have exclusive agreements with certain retailers, while other manufacturers may stock at smaller toy stores as well as large retailers.

Call early and be courteous
Call when the store opens so you can speak with a department manager before peak shopping hours. Be courteous and ask if a toy is in-stock. If possible, ask for the item to be held for you. If you are told it is out of stock, do not be shy about asking when the store receives its shipments. On that day, call the store and ask if your item was in the shipment. Better yet, be there for when the store opens.

Use technology to your advantage
The Internet has changed the way people shop for holiday gifts. If you are having trouble tracking down a special toy visit TrackAToy.com, a free resource that helps people find the most popular toys. You can create a free profile and set up toy-availability alerts in three easy ways: email, text message or Internet browser notification. Free alerts can save you time and reduce holiday stress, notifying you as soon as your needed item is back in-stock at many major online retailers such as Walmart.com and ToysRus.com.

Online discussion boards are another valuable resource for holiday shoppers. A quick search and you will find a number of different online forums, where people chat about the season's top toys, where they found them and other unique shopping topics.

Finding that perfect holiday toy does not have to be an impossible mission when you utilize a few smart shopping strategies. From calling stores in the morning to free online product alerts, you will make this the most memorable holiday yet.

What are the top toys this holiday season? Here are a few of the most popular:

1. Nintendo Wii U
2. Furby – 2012 Collection
3. Disney Doc McStuffins Time For Your Check Up Doll
4. Monster High Werecat Sister Doll Pack – Meowlady and Purrsephone
5. LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer Learning Tablets
6. Monster High Ghouls Rule Doll – Abbey Abominable
7. Skylanders Giants Character Packs (Series 2)
8. Lalaloopsy Holiday Collector Edition Doll – Ivory Ice Crystals
9. LEGO Minecraft (21102)
10. Playskool Sesame Street LOL Elmo

Source: TrackAToy.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What to Do with Your Old Electronics

December 6, 2012 5:52 am

(Family Features) Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, game consoles, cameras – electronic devices are a big part of American life. In fact, Americans own an average of 24 electronic products per household, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. With technology changing so rapidly and new “it” devices hitting the market every few months, a lot of those devices get discarded quickly. That adds up to a lot of potential e-waste.

In fact, a recent survey sponsored by RadioShack found:

• More than 90 million American adults 18 and over have unused technology products lying around the house.
• As part of that pile of retired tech, a third of mobile phone users report owning unused phones — and more than half of those with unused phones own two or more.

Some unused electronics just collect dust, but many get thrown away. The Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent report showed that nearly 1.8 million tons of e-waste was simply trashed. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to keep old electronics out of the waste stream.

Donate. Donations give schools, nonprofits and lower-income families access to equipment they might not otherwise afford. Before donating, check with the organization to see what they need.

Trade Up. If you are ready to upgrade to something new, try a program that lets you swap retired technology for store credit toward your purchase. Simply bring eligible working electronics and accessories to a participating store or log on to www.radioshacktradeandsave.com for appraisal information. When you complete your trade in a store, you’ll immediately receive the appraised value in the form of a store gift card (except where prohibited by law). Trade-ins may also be completed via mail by requesting a free shipping label available on the program website. In that case, a store gift card for the trade-in value will be mailed after the product is received. There’s even a free Trade & Save app available to appraise your unused technology using iOS and Android devices. Products traded in are refurbished or recycled.

Recycle. Electronics in nonworking condition should be recycled. Check www.Earth911.com or www.e-stewards.org to find a recycling center near you. Many states have regulations about disposing and recycling electronics. Learn more about your state’s laws at www.electronicstakeback.com.

Don’t Forget the Batteries. Recycling your rechargeable batteries is another easy step you can take. Retailers like RadioShack also recycle rechargeable batteries. To date, the company has collected more than 5 million pounds in rechargeable batteries through Call2Recycle (www.Call2Recycle.org).

Don’t let your old electronics gather dust or add to the waste stream. It just takes a few simple steps to put your devices to better use.

Source: RadioShack

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Will Santa Help You Sell Your Home?

December 6, 2012 5:52 am

If decking the halls and busting out the egg nog helps you feel merry and bright, be warned. It doesn't make everyone feel that festive. While Santa may know if you've been naughty or nice, he isn't quite as much of an expert on real estate. That's why the big guy should lay a little low if you're trying to sell your home this holiday season. We're not saying you need to keep Santa and his reindeer away altogether.
However, if you go overboard with your holiday decorations, it can actually prevent your home from selling. Keep in mind, there's a big difference between putting out a few personal touches and turning your home into Santa's workshop. Even if potential home-buyers aren't Grinches, they'll be turned off by too much holiday decor. Here's why:

1. It makes the space yours, not theirs. Above all else, your goal is to make potential home buyers walk into your home and envision propping their feet up and calling the place "home." However, that's really tough for people to do when you've got a giant picture in the middle of the living room of you dressed up as Santa, your wife as Mrs. Claus, your kids dressed up as elves, and your dog donning a set of reindeer antlers. Putting up the picture may be a treasured family holiday tradition for you, but for potential home buyers, it's an unavoidable reminder that they're "trespassing" in someone else's home. If they feel uncomfortable in your home, it may prevent them from putting in an offer.

2. You might accidentally make your home look smaller than it really is. Let's face it – all of those holiday decorations that you love so much take up a ton of space. When you've got a listing that describes your home as "open, airy, and spacious," the last thing you need is for potential home buyers to come in and find a house that's actually cluttered, cramped, and disorganized. So, if your Christmas tree takes up half the room, you might want to think about downsizing this year. After all, is having a giant tree worth making the wrong impression to potential buyers?

3. It shifts the focus. Even if you pay to have your holiday decorations put up by a professional and they look like something out of a magazine, you could still have a problem. After all, you don't want the focus to be on your decorations. You want the focus on your home's natural beauty, like on the great archway by the front door, the beautiful staircase, or those awesome granite countertops on the kitchen. If people are too focused on your holiday decorations (things that are going to be gone in a few weeks), they're not going to fall in love with what your house really has to offer. In the end, they won't end up buying it.

Source: RealtyPin.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Toilet Malfunction Rated Top Entertaining Disaster by Guests and Hosts

December 5, 2012 5:52 am

From dusting and fluffing to menu planning and decorating, homeowners put a lot of work into planning an at-home gathering, especially around the holidays. But despite all the preparations, the most likely source of trouble is often overlooked.

According to a recent Delta Faucet survey of one thousand homeowners, only one in five homeowners worried about plumbing-related issues when planning a party and just 10 percent consulted a professional plumber to address any potential problems. Interestingly, though, respondents reported a toilet malfunction would have the greatest impact on a party, more significant than running out of food or a major appliance breaking down.

Homeowners should look beyond décor and dust bunnies and perform some basic maintenance on key areas of the home to ensure their home is ready for the holiday season.

Enlist the help of a friend. It’s easy to be “house blind” or oblivious to smaller home maintenance needs. Invite a friend to help assess the house and offer an objective opinion about the areas of the home that may benefit from a little extra attention or repair.

Focus on high impact areas. Preparing for house guests doesn’t have to be time-intensive or expensive. Rather than try to fix everything, focus on the areas where reliable performance really counts, paying special attention to the things guests are likely to touch or interact with, such as front door hardware or the toilet in the powder or guest bathroom.

Get rid of the clutter. Entertaining even just a few people can make an otherwise spacious home feel a little too close for comfort. Give your guests room to mingle by removing non-essential items. You can store larger items in a room you won’t be using or pack smaller things away in inexpensive storage containers and tuck them out of sight.

Source: Delta Faucet

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Planning a Relaxing and Fun-Filled Winter Vacation

December 5, 2012 5:52 am

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder and the only way to beat the winter blues may be actively embracing the snow and packing your bags and escaping for a winter holiday. There are a number of different types of adventure you could have on a winter break, from ski holidays to winter sun, you can find the perfect holiday to rejuvenate yourself.

While ski holidays are not for everyone, they can offer a holiday experience like no other. Imagine relaxing by a roaring log-fire in ski chalets after a long day on the slopes, or enjoying the rush and thrill of effortlessly gliding down a snow-capped mountain.

Skiing is not the only type of holiday activity available during the winter months; there are many ways you can have fun in the snow; such as tobogganing, snowboarding, figure skating and sledging.

Snowboarding
A number of ski holiday deals could include a range of winter sport activities. Snowboarding is a thrilling and exciting winter sport that acts as a great alterative to skiing. Using specially designed boots and a board attached to the rider's feet, the sport takes elements from skateboarding and skiing. Snowboarding is a sport for all ages and levels and is ideal for those who might have tried either skiing or skateboarding before, or even those who wish to try something completely new.

Tobogganing
Tobogganing is another family-friendly winter sport which is suitable for the whole family. Both grown-ups and children can enjoy the sport, making it a fun-filled family adventure for all. Specially designed tobogganing can be done in a number of places. Another option is tubing, where you can safely whizz down specially-made courses found in family-friendly resorts.

Sleigh rides
One of the most leisurely, as well as romantic, ways to take the weight off aching legs is to snuggle under a warm fur blanket and be pulled along in your own sleigh by horses, or in some cases dogs.

Sit back and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the soft jingle of sleigh-bells on the ride of a lifetime. It can be a much-needed post-Holiday recuperation!

Source: Neilson Holidays

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Include Winter Weather Preparedness in Your December Plans

December 5, 2012 5:52 am

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® reminds families that as they ready for seasonal guests and travel, now is the time to make winter weather preparedness a part of your holiday plans. According to FLASH, damage from winter-related home hazards like frozen pipes, a leading cause of homeowners' insurance claims, can cost thousands of dollars of damage and become a major inconvenience to you and your guests. Tips to prepare the home include:

• Double check or install proper attic insulation to prevent water damage from ice dams.
• Ensure safe usage of fireplaces, furnaces and space heaters.
• Insulate pipes to prevent costly floods from frozen pipes.
• Keep walkways around your home clear of snow and ice.
• Winterize your windows and install window insulation kits to keep your guests warm and toasty.
• Prepare to stay safe and warm during power outages.

Additionally, it's important to prepare well for holiday travel, which can be treacherous in severe winter weather. Of the 17 deaths reported last year related to severe winter weather, 15 occurred in the exposed elements or in a car. It's smart to prepare in case you are marooned by having a well-stocked winter storm survival kit in your car. When making travel plans:

• Make sure other people know your travel plans and how to contact you. Travel in convoy with other vehicles if possible.
• Prepare an extreme winter weather survival kit for your car. They also make great gifts for loved ones who travel frequently during the holidays. Include:
• Non-perishable food such as canned goods or candy bars
• Extra clothes and blankets
• A battery powered radio
• A shovel
• Sand
• If stranded, remain in the vehicle. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna so rescuers can find you. Run the engine occasionally for heat making sure to keep the exhaust pipe clear. Open windows occasionally for fresh air.

Source: Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Get a Flu Shot: It's National Influenza Vaccination Week

December 4, 2012 5:42 am

Annual immunization against influenza is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, as it is the best way to help prevent influenza, a serious illness that can lead to severe complications and even death. The American Lung Association encourages everyone to get vaccinated against the flu this season and is voicing its support for National Influenza Vaccination Week, taking place December 2-8.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Influenza Vaccination Week serves as an annual national observance to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination through the holiday season, into January and beyond. The peak of flu season has occurred anywhere from late November through March, most frequently in February. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, it is beneficial to get vaccinated. After immunization, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to help protect against the virus.

"Everyone should be vaccinated this year and every year," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "National Influenza Vaccination Week serves as a reminder to the public that there's still time to get vaccinated this flu season. With vaccination options for all age groups – children, adults and seniors – people should talk with their health care provider to find the option that's right for them and their family."

Each year in the U.S., on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations. Depending on virus severity during the influenza season, deaths can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Despite this, immunization rates in the U.S. continue to fall short of public health goals; according to CDC data, only 42 percent of those recommended for annual vaccination were immunized in the 2011-2012 season. Parents also need to know that children six months through eight years of age who are getting a flu shot for the first time need to receive two doses approximately one month apart for optimal protection.

Source: American Lung Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fannie Mae Announces Eviction Moratorium for the Holidays

December 4, 2012 5:42 am

Fannie Mae announced that it will suspend evictions of foreclosed single family and two-four unit properties from December 19, 2012 through January 2, 2013. Legal and administrative proceedings for evictions may continue, but families living in foreclosed properties will be allowed to remain in the home during this period.

"We're taking this step in support of families who have faced financial challenges and gone through a foreclosure," said Terry Edwards, executive vice president of Credit Portfolio Management, Fannie Mae. "The holidays are a chance to be with loved ones and we want to relieve some stress at this time of year. We encourage homeowners having difficulty to reach out for help as soon as possible."

Previously, Fannie Mae announced a temporary suspension of foreclosure sales and evictions in areas designated for individual assistance by FEMA due to Hurricane Sandy. That 90-day suspension will last through February 1, 2013.

Homeowners can visit www.knowyouroptions.com for resources on how to prevent foreclosure, including contact information for Fannie Mae’s 12 Mortgage Help Centers located across the country. Homeowners can also contact Fannie Mae at 1-800-7FANNIE for more information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Eat Healthy and Stay Active During the Holidays

December 4, 2012 5:42 am

It's easy to eat too much and exercise too little during the holiday season. But it doesn't have to be that way. Although celebrations usually take place both at home and work, it is possible to enjoy this time of year while eating healthy and staying active. The tips below will help you get started.

Control Your Portions
People tend to eat too much in part because food is everywhere during the holidays. However, there are a few techniques you can use to keep your weight in check and stay healthy. For one, serve yourself smaller portions and eat slowly so that you can tell more easily when you are satisfied. If you go to a restaurant, split a big meal with someone or take some home. Choosemyplate.gov has great tips on how to decrease portion sizes and how to overcome common stumbling blocks.

Get the Flu Shot
Getting vaccinated is your best protection for avoiding the flu and staying healthy during the holiday season. USA.gov has everything you need to know about this flu season, including tips for high risk groups and the types of vaccines available. Keep in mind that the flu vaccine becomes effective about two weeks after it's been administered, so the earlier you get it the better. Look up the closest pharmacy or vaccination center at flushot.healthmap.org.

Be Physically Active
Dancing is a great way to stay active and have fun, so don't be shy about hitting the dance floor at holiday parties. You can also try to get involved with other physical activities such as building a snowman with the family, or going to a gym or a community center if it's too cold to go for a walk outside. Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five days a week. The key is finding the exercise that works for your age, schedule and interests.

Drink Less
Drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health and dangerous if you will be driving. You can reduce your consumption of alcohol by setting personal limits, drinking nonalcoholic beverages, or resisting the temptation to drink. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has lots of tips on how to cut down, including suggestions on how to avoid triggers and setting consumption goals. It also has a simple questionnaire that will help you compare your drinking pattern to other adults in the United States.

Be Careful If You Have Diabetes
People with diabetes or other conditions need to be especially mindful about what they eat during the holiday season. Interrupting your normal eating patterns might cause serious consequences for your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has resources to help you manage your diabetes during the holidays. It features tips on traveling for the holidays, including making sure you pack your medicine and carrying a medical identification that says you have diabetes.

Source: GobiernoUSA.gov/USA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners Encouraged to Ask Insurance Providers about Policy Credits for Lightning Protection Systems

December 3, 2012 5:42 am

Similar to other home security measures that reduce expected losses for insurers, lightning protection systems can provide valuable loss mitigation against a costly weather hazard that affects millions of homeowners in the U.S. Statistically, lightning is the most commonly experienced weather hazard, unlike earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes or hurricanes, which are more likely to affect homeowners in certain geographical regions of the country. Unpredictable weather hazards continue to incur costly losses, which is why insurance companies are recognizing the importance of rewarding loss mitigation efforts by offering premium credits and discounts. When homeowners take steps to better protect their property against weather hazards affecting their geographical region, insurance companies take notice.

Since some insurance providers do not have set policies regarding lightning protection credits or incentives, the homeowner may need to contact their agent or broker for assistance in determining their eligibility for a discount.

Lightning is an extremely powerful force that should never be underestimated. A single bolt of lightning can pack up to 100 million volts of devastating electricity—which is why a professionally installed lightning protection system can provide a valuable return on a minimal investment. Heed the following tips when inquiring about insurance discounts:

-Ask the insurance agent or broker if the lightning protection system installation is applicable for a discount or credit under "security protection for external perimeter" or "weatherproofing mitigation" guidelines.

-Make sure that the lightning protection system is installed by a qualified LPI-certified installer in accordance with Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), NFPA and UL safety standards so that the installation meets quality assurance requirements.

-Request that the installing firm provide system compliance information (inspection or proof of installation document) to forward to the insurance provider.

-Ask the insurance provider about discounts for loss mitigation efforts. If premiums are being lowered for mitigation efforts for earthquakes (frame anchoring, bracing cripple walls, strapping a water heater in place, etc.) or for hurricanes (roof bracing, hurricane shutters, or retrofitted doors), then loss mitigation for lightning may be applicable for discount, as well.

Insurance providers known to provide credits, incentives, discounts and recommendations for lightning protection systems are denoted on the LPI website at www.lightning.org.

Source: Lightning Safety Alliance

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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