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Thomas Skiffington,  CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
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Tom's Blog

Wedding Registry 101

January 8, 2014 8:36 pm

(Family Features)—For engaged couples, it can seem as if there are a million things to accomplish before the big day arrives. One essential piece of the wedding puzzle involves creating a registry that makes it easy for guests to celebrate your union with gifts that reflect your personality as a couple.

Before Building Your Registry

It's no wonder why guests love the ease and simplicity of a gift registry. But many couples may not know where to begin when setting out to create this useful list. Here are some helpful pointers from Macy's to help you get started on creating a perfect wedding registry:

  • Meet with a Consultant: These trained professionals are on site to assist and discuss everything you want and need. It's a good place to start if you have questions on what items to include and what brands are available.
  • Look for Special Programs: Some stores offer special features whose Dream Fund allows guests to contribute any amount to the ultimate gift card, so the bride and groom can later choose exactly what they want.
  • Start Early: Most couples like to register 4-6 months before their wedding date, which allows more time for choosing items, planning for showers and meeting other deadlines.
  • Register Together: Whether it's in-store, online or both—make a day of it and have fun selecting all the things that will be part of your new life together.
  • Choose Different Price Points: Guests will appreciate a varied list that has many gift options to fit their personal budget.
  • Create a Registry That Reflects You: If you're a laid-back, easygoing couple, consider registering for a more casual dinnerware pattern that you can use every day, then mix in some fancy pieces to use for those special occasions. If you enjoy entertaining friends and family, be sure to choose a range of serveware and barware.

Making the Right Choices

With all the things needed to properly stock your home, selecting the right ones can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to keep in mind while adding to your registry:

  • Select Your Settings: A five-piece setting is meant to serve one person and includes a dinner plate, salad plate, bread and butter plate, tea cup and saucer. If you want to serve eight guests, you will need to register for eight five-piece settings.
  • Factor in Some Extras: When registering for drinkware, be sure to register for a few extras in each glass size in case some break down the road.
  • Protect Your Cutlery: Be sure to choose a sturdy cutting board to protect your knife blades from chips and cracks. You can keep your cutlery in top condition by registering for a honing steel and knife sharpener.
  • Stock Up on Kitchen Must-Haves: When it comes to cookware, make sure to stock up on the essentials. This should include a fry pan, saute pan, grill pan, sauteuse (round, deep-sided design for sauteing on the stovetop or baking in the oven) and a chef's pan.
  • Opt for the Basics: White dinnerware allows you to transform the look of your table year-round by changing the decor and accessories around it. The classic look will be a design that you can appreciate for years to come.

Source: www.macys.com/registry

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Word of the Day

January 8, 2014 8:36 pm

Grace period. Specified period of time to meet a commitment after it becomes due, without penalty or default. For example, most lenders allow a two-week grace period after the due date of the mortgage payment before a late fee is imposed.

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Q: What Do Zoning Regulations Do?

January 8, 2014 8:36 pm

A: Zoning is the government’s way of controlling the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put.

Zoning regulations establish how the land can be used, either for residential, industrial, commercial, or recreational purposes – although they also can allow for more than one use in a given jurisdiction.

Designed to protect you, your neighbors, and the community from undesirable, or inappropriate, land uses and/or construction, zoning laws in many communities can be very rigid and inflexible.

On the other hand, they can protect your property value and give you a piece of mind. This is particularly true in instances where the community debates whether to locate a prison in your neighborhood or a neighbor illegally builds a second story onto his home that blocks your view of the lake or mountains.

Before you begin any remodeling jobs, determine how your local zoning laws might affect your project.

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Your Top Ten Bone and Joint Health Resolutions in 2014

January 7, 2014 6:30 pm

Orthopaedic surgeons understand bone and joint health problems are among the most prevalent and debilitating health challenges Americans face. This New Year, the members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) would like to empower you to do your part to ensure a more healthy and active self: pledge to make the Ten Bone and Joint Health Resolutions part of your lifestyle.

Always cut away from yourself in the kitchen. One slip of the knife can cause a terrible injury. When cutting fruits and vegetables (and especially avocados!), be sure to cut away from your body and keep your free hand away from the blade. Keep your knife handles dry, your cutting surface secure, and your cutting area well-lit.

Warm up before sporting activities. A good warm up prepares your body for more intense activity by getting your blood flowing, raising muscle temperature, and increasing your breathing rate. Warming up gives your body time to adjust to the demands of exercise. This can improve your performance and help you get the results you want. How long you warm up depends on your fitness level, but if you are new to exercise, your body will respond better with a longer warm up.


Check your Vitamin D levels and start supplementation if warranted. Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and muscles. Without Vitamin D, our bodies cannot effectively absorb calcium, which is essential to good bone health. Recent research supports that the body needs at least 1000 IU per day from diet and/or sunlight for good health. A simple blood test can reveal your Vitamin D level.
 

Keep your bones strong with weight-bearing activities. Everyone needs lifelong weight-bearing exercise to build and maintain healthy bones. Consider any of the following weight-bearing activities each day: brisk walking, jogging and hiking; yard work such as pushing a lawnmower and heavy gardening; team sports such as soccer, baseball and basketball; dancing, step aerobics and climbing; tennis and other racquet sports; skiing, skating, karate and bowling; weight training with free weights or machine.

Stay off ladders. They are dangerous! If you must use one to reach something on the top shelf of the pantry, to wash windows or clean the gutters, follow AAOS ladder safety guidelines: inspect the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs; never place a ladder on the ground or flooring that is uneven; make sure the soles of your shoes are clean so they don't slip off the ladder rung; never stand on the top rung of any ladder and always grip the rails of the ladder while climbing.

Be aware of the loads you carry and how you carry them. If possible, lighten the load you carry each day, because the larger and heavier your backpack, luggage, purse, or diaper bag, the greater at risk you are for neck, back and shoulder injuries. When lifting a large item, stand alongside it and bend at the knees. Try and limit bending at the waist. Lift luggage with your leg muscles and don't twist when lifting or carrying. Point your toes in the direction you are headed and turn your entire body in that direction. If you are carrying a backpack, use both straps to help distribute the weight.

Protect your joints and learn how they can last a lifetime. Thirty minutes of physical activity a day can help individuals feel good and prevent certain medical conditions, so Get Up! Get Out! and Get Moving! Exercise helps keep the joints flexible, the muscles around the joints strong, bone and cartilage tissues healthy and reduces pain and stiffness. If you do have joint pain or arthritis, find an orthopaedic surgeon in your area and discuss your options on how best to preserve your joint.

Eliminate hazards in your home and the homes of your elderly relatives that might cause a fall. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among elderly adults and in 2010, more than 2.3 million Americans were treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. Research shows that simple safety modifications at home, where most falls occur, can substantially cut the risk of falls and related injuries. Fall-proof your home by placing a slip-resistant rug or rubber mat adjacent to the bathtub for safe entry and exit or installing handrails on both sides of the stairway.

Decide to Drive: Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Every day, orthopaedic surgeons see the horrible consequences of people who choose to drive while distracted. So, each time you get behind the wheel, make a conscious decision to 'Decide to Drive.' Prepare to drive before you start your car–adjust all controls, mirrors, maps, navigation systems, etc., while still in park. If a distraction comes up while driving, pull over and manage it. But most importantly, keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel every time you drive.

Take an active part in your own healthcare and be an informed patient. Better healthcare happens when patients and physicians work together as a team. It's all about communicating. So remember to write down your questions before your appointment. And, insist on fully understanding all treatment options discussed, so together you can make the best decisions. Don't ever hesitate to ask questions, voice concerns or speak up when you don't understand. Always be honest and answer questions completely; share your point of view and don't hold back information.

Source: OrthoInfo.org.

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Hardwood Flooring Trends, a Touch of the Creative

January 7, 2014 6:30 pm

(BPT)—The recovering U.S. housing market has led to increased demand for certain luxury items, including hardwood flooring. Exciting trends are influencing the marketplace and for today's consumers, there are more hardwood flooring options than ever before.

"Savvy consumers want variety and flexibility in their flooring choices," says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. "With American hardwood species running the gamut of color and because hardwood is a product that can adapt to many different decorating styles and decors, hardwood provides a degree of diversity, as well as long-term value, that cannot be matched by other flooring materials."

From the trend-watchers at independent market research firm, Market Insights Torcivia, and the National Wood Flooring Association, look at what's trending now.

A touch of the creative

* Using multiple wood species is very popular, typically using one species in the main field of the room, then introducing other contrasting species incorporated as a border or other subtle design elements in the room.

* Mixed media incorporates hardwood with other flooring options like stone, tile, carpet or even metal. This approach often helps to define different seating or functional areas within a large, open space.

* Installing wood floors, in a non-linear format, is increasingly popular as well. Custom parquet patterns can achieve this look but even traditional linear floors can accomplish the same goal by installing the linear pattern on a curve.

* Consumer preferences are gravitating toward darker species, like walnut, over the more traditional, medium-colored white and red oak. In many cases, however, existing oak floors are being refinished and stained to achieve this look without replacing the floor.

* Buyers are moving away from the traditional 2 1/4 inches strip floor to wider plank flooring, 3 inches and wider. Random width planks are also popular. This creates a very casual look, while utilizing more of the raw materials during the manufacturing process.

* Distressed flooring - hand-scraping the boards will achieve an antiqued look while, at the same time, hiding small imperfections that can appear in flooring over time, like small scratches or dents.-This distressed effect can also be achieved in the factory.

Stains and finishes

The National Wood Flooring Association also reports that flooring manufacturers are introducing new lines geared to satisfy the emerging trends toward gray stains and finishes - ranging from very subtle to very dark - and metallic finishes.

Metallic finishes incorporate softly shimmering metallic accents by embedding the metallic materials into the hardwood. The result is a pronounced grain that shimmers softly in contrast to the rest of the wood. It is difficult to predict if this trend will catch on long-term but it has become increasingly popular, particularly on the West Coast.

Get inspired

As the U.S. economy continues to recover, more and more consumers will enhance their living spaces with flooring, cabinetry and other luxury items made from American Hardwoods, the ultimate in value, versatility and style. Browse the photo gallery of the American Hardwood Information Center at www.HardwoodInfo.com for inspiration.

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Word of the Day

January 7, 2014 6:30 pm

Homestead protection. State and federal laws that protect against the forced sale of a person’s home by creditors. Also, upon the death of one spouse, provides the other with a home for life.

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Q: What Is a Mortgage And How Does It Work?

January 7, 2014 6:30 pm

A: A mortgage makes homeownership possible for most people. In the simplest terms, it is a loan that is secured by real property. The lender holds title to the home until the loan is completely repaid. If you fail to pay up, the lender has a right to take the property, sell it, and recover the money that is owed.

The amount of a mortgage will vary greatly depending on the down payment you make to reduce the amount of money that is needed to finance the home. You may put as much money down as you like, or you can sometimes pay as little as 3 to 5 percent of the purchase price, or sometimes nothing at all. The more you put down, the more you reduce the amount that is financed, thereby lowering your monthly payment.

The monthly payment consists of both principal and interest but also typically includes additional amounts to cover property taxes and insurance – specifically hazard insurance and private mortgage insurance, the latter of which is required for down payments less than 20 percent of the purchase price.

Homebuyers in the U.S. have access to several different types of mortgage loans.

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Top 10 Tips for Losing Holiday Weight Gain

January 6, 2014 10:24 pm

Nobody likes to pick up extra pounds during the holidays, but nearly everyone does. For those determined to lose them quickly, we all know Rule Number One: Use willpower and cut back on food!


From Glamour.com, here are nine more tips for shedding pounds without (too much) pain:

  • Dump the holiday leftovers – Yep, that means the leftover fudge as well as the stuffing and gravy. You can’t eat what isn’t there.
  • Plan ahead – Treat it like a budget and plan your daily and weekly meals ahead as much as possible. When you do that, you are much less apt to just graze all day and/or make poor last-minute meal choices.
  • Eat all day – Five or six small meals during the day (salads, fruits, veggies, nuts, and small portions of meat, eggs or poultry) will keep you from feeling really hungry and falling off the wagon.
  • Get moving – Burning the calories you do take in is always a smart strategy. Walk during lunch hour, work out at the gym, or take a short run in the morning or evening – or just get out in your own driveway and shoot some hoops with the kids.
  • Hit the protein – Start the day right with a protein-fueled breakfast to keep you full longer. Try eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt on its own or a yogurt fruit smoothie.
  • Cut out the white stuff – This includes less nutritious carbs like white bread, white bagels and white rice as well as extra sugar or salt. Substitute yams for white potatoes and choose whole wheat breads and cereals. Try plain yogurt instead of sour cream and mustard in place of mayo.
  • Veg out – Vegetables are healthy appetite suppressors. Keep a variety of colorful veggies washed, cut up, and very handy front and center in the fridge.
  • Hit the bottle – Water reduces cravings, flushes out impurities, and helps keep you feeling full. Carry it with you wherever you go. Try it in a thermos with lots of ice cubes and lemon.
  • Be patient – Think ‘progress’ and ‘baby steps.’ Don’t try to rush it. Rejoice each time a pound drops off.
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Cold Weather Tips to Keep You Safe and Sound

January 6, 2014 10:24 pm

As the temperatures drop and snow days are keeping many indoors, it's more important than ever to make sure your home is properly prepped for the cold. Some common-sense cold weather tips include:

  • Make sure your home is properly insulated to preserve heat. Inspect doors and windows and apply caulk or weather-stripping where necessary to keep cold air out. Close drapes, blinds and garage doors to retain heat and keep cold air out.
  • Keep extra blankets or sleeping bags for each person inside your home. Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
  • Use a sturdy fireplace screen when utilizing a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Never use a gas stove, charcoal grill or lantern intended for outdoor use inside your home as deadly carbon monoxide gas could build up.
  • Maintain a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food. Convenience foods that do not require cooking are good to have on hand.
  • Avoid frozen pipes by opening faucets and maintaining a constant drip, or wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspapers.
  • Use care when burning candles, especially around children or pets; open flames are a dangerous fire hazard.
  • Charge electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablet computers.
  • Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy in the event a power interruption occurs.
  • Never use a portable generator inside the house or a closed garage in the event of a power outage. Ensure the proper generator is selected and installed by a qualified electrician. When operating a generator, the power coming into the home should always be disconnected. Otherwise, power from the generator could be sent back onto the utility lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.

Source: www.firstenergycorp.com

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Tips for Winter Storm Victims

January 6, 2014 10:24 pm

As you shovel your driveway and dig out your car from recent snowfalls, it may be time to consider your homeowner's and auto insurance policies.

First, damage to your house and its contents caused by weight of snow or ice, creating a collapse, is covered under standard homeowner's insurance policies. Freezing conditions such as burst pipes or ice dams, when water is unable to drain properly through the gutters and seeps into a house causing damage to ceilings and walls, is also covered.

Most damage resulting from fallen trees is covered by your homeowner's policy, but consumers should check with their company before calling a tree removal service as removal costs may also be covered.

Consumers should also ask their insurance company about food spoilage as a result of a power outage, debris clean up, structural damage to your home, rain spouts, sewage problems, broken water pipes, freezing pipes and furnace damage, to name a few.

For drivers, your auto insurance coverage pays for damage you, or someone driving the car with your permission, may cause to someone else's property due to ice, snow and slippery roads. This also includes damage to lamp posts, telephone poles, fences, buildings or other structures your car may hit.

Damage to your car resulting from colliding with another car, object or as a result of flipping over is covered if you carry the optional collision coverage of your policy. It also covers damage caused by potholes.

If you opted to carry comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, damage to your car caused by heavy wind, flooding, falling ice or tree limbs is covered.

The Insurance Department recommends these steps to help make the insurance process easier to navigate:

  • Contact your insurance company immediately and follow the instructions given to you by claims personnel. Keep a log of the people you spoke with and ask questions if you do not understand instructions.
  • Separate damaged and undamaged property for the adjuster to examine. Do not throw away damaged property until your company's adjuster advises you it is all right to do so.
  • Wait for the adjuster to arrive! Do not call anyone to repair or replace your loss without first getting instructions from your adjuster.
  • If your home is damaged, make only temporary repairs until a claims adjuster looks at the damage. Permanent repairs could trigger a denial of your claim.
  • Be careful when choosing a contractor to make repairs. Before signing a contract, check references to make sure you are working with a reputable firm.
  • If your claim is denied, review the terms of your policy for what is or is not covered. You may also file an appeal to your insurance company's claim manager. If questions remain, feel free to contact the Insurance Department.

Source: www.insurance.pa.gov

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