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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

4 Tips for a Healthier Heart

May 2, 2013 5:20 pm

(BPT) - For millions of Americans, the battle against heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions goes on year round. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making heart disease the leading cause of death for both men and women.

However, despite the grim realities of heart disease, the steps to achieve better heart health can be simple. Experts agree that heart disease can be both preventable and controllable with the appropriate lifestyle changes.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Somer, author of "Eat Your Way to Sexy" believes there are clear steps a person can take to turn around his or her heart health.

"Many people with heart disease may be able to improve their heart health by making a few changes to what they eat, how much they move and their lifestyle," Somer says. "There are four key things to think about for heart health: keep your blood fat levels down, keep your blood pressure in check, promote healthy blood flow and circulation, and keep inflammation down."

Here are five simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and improve your overall health.

1. Take control of cholesterol with oat fiber: Numerous studies spanning a decade or more of research support the claim that dietary fiber from whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. The fiber in oats is a soluble fiber called beta glucan. This fiber works by flushing cholesterol out of the system. Additionally, fiber-rich foods such as whole grains help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories and so may help with weight management.

2. Better your blood pressure: Nearly one-third of all American adults have high blood pressure and more than half of them don't have it under control, according to the CDC. The risks that accompany uncontrolled high blood pressure are serious. However, taking easy steps will lower that risk. Exercising and maintaining a healthy body weight, in addition to eating a low-sodium diet, can all contribute to a healthier blood pressure. Also, if you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you have more than twice the risk of a heart attack than people who've never smoked.

3. Decrease inflammation: Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA may help reduce inflammation and may also help lower risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease. Load up on heart-healthy foods like colorful fruits and vegetables, salmon, mackerel, nuts and foods fortified with EPA/DHA Omega-3 fatty acids such as certain milks, snacks and even cooking oils.

4. Shed the layers: It's nothing new. We know that being overweight puts us at risk for numerous health problems, including an increased risk of both heart disease and stroke. The change in seasons can serve as the perfect springboard into a new exercise routine. Take advantage of extended daylight hours by sneaking a sweat session into your evening routine and take control of your diet, making sure to cut back on foods with saturated and trans fats.

Eight Ways to Boost Your Child’s IQ

May 2, 2013 5:20 pm

All parents want the best for their kids – and that includes an intellect that soaks up knowledge they can use all their lives. While many factors come into play in terms of how children learn, education experts interviewed by Woman’s Day magazine suggest eight things parents can do to help boost their child’s openness to information:

Breastfeeding – A McGill University study of 14,000 children showed that those who had been breastfed for at least the first six months of life scored as much as 7.5 points higher on verbal IQ tests at age six.

Healthy diets
– Researchers tracking 4,000 children from age three to age eight determined that kids who ate the most processed foods and convenience foods high in fat and sugar, had IQ scores 1.67 points lower than those who ate more fruit, vegetables, protein and pasta.

Breakfast – A morning meal as simple as whole-grain cereal or toast and fruit juice can help a child to be more focused and ready to learn, say Harvard Medical School researchers.

DHA omega-3 fatty acids – Many studies have found that diets high in this nutrient, found in fish and other seafood, help raise people’s intelligence. Research suggests that when pregnant women and nursing mothers get over 1,000 mg of DH daily, infant IQ can swell by 3.5 points.

The preschool experience – an analysis of 16 recent studies found that preschool is beneficial for all children, and that sending a disadvantaged child to a preschool that focuses on language development can raise IQ by as much as seven points.

Music lessons – A University of Toronto study found that music lessons boost brain power in children six to 11 years of age.

Interactive reading – NYU researchers have found that when children under four are active participants in reading with their caregivers, their IQ can go up by more than six points. In other words, reading to your kids is not enough. Encourage them to ask questions and/or comment about what is happening in the story.

Sports and play breaks – Studies show children’s cognitive test scores and grades are higher when they have regular breaks to blow off steam via athletics or free play.

Word of the Day

May 2, 2013 5:20 pm

Origination fee. A charge by the lender for granting and processing a new mortgage loan.

Q: What Are Some of the Legal Considerations Relative to Remodeling?

May 2, 2013 5:20 pm

A: There are many, including those surrounding zoning, permits, variances, and building codes. All of these regulations are the government’s way of controlling the physical development of land and public-safety standards for such things as building design, construction, alteration, repair or demolition. The regulations vary from one state, county, city, and town to the next and can result in fines or serious consequences. There are also often engineering approvals and requirements related to grading, site drainage, utility connections, wells and septics, and sometimes fire regulations. Another area of legal considerations involves contractual issues tied to responsibilities for permits and approvals, code and regulations compliance, insurance, financing, and warranties. If construction financing is to be provided by a lender, there will often be requirements relative to progress inspections, construction draws, lien waivers, title insurance, holdbacks, etc. It may be worthwhile to hire an attorney to provide guidance on these issues and to assure the completeness and fairness of the remodeling contract.

7 Cheap Ways to Bring Spring Home

May 1, 2013 7:14 pm

The spring season seems to bring with it an urge to freshen our surroundings. But it may not take a full interior paint job or a roomful of new furniture to bring the essence of spring into your home.

Home and garden specialists suggest seven quick and inexpensive ways to brighten every room of your home:

  • Start with fresh fruit and flowers – Lift anyone’s mood by placing a clear glass vase on your dining room table, filled with lemons, tangerines, water and a moderate-sized bouquet of fresh spring flowers.

  • Set a spring-like table – Invest in a new set of everyday dishes in a bright, pleasing color or pattern. Add complementary placemats and napkins to complete the fresh, new look.

  • Give the kitchen new pop – Renew worn cabinets with a coat of off-white paint and a new set of eye-catching hardware. Replace the stand-by teapot on the stove with a new one in an eye-popping color.

  • Freshen the boudoir – Replace your heavy winter quilt or spread with a new, white duvet. Swap out the heavy drapes for sheers that let in the sunshine.

  • Accent one wall – You may not need to paint the whole room, but think about bringing new life to the living or dining room by painting one wall a bright, happy color as accent.

  • Change out accessories – You may be amazed at how much a few new lampshades, colorful pillows, and/or new picture frames can change the look of a room. Add a matching vase here and there, or new decorative pieces on the mantel or coffee table, to bring your living space into spring.

  • Put splash in the bath – A pretty pedestal sink, or a trendy bowl or vessel sink in a bold, new color, can bring your bathroom up to date. Make it spring-like by papering one wall in a pleasing print or switching out the towels and/or shower curtain to new ones with a bold, new look.


Two Must-Have features to Add to your Backyard This Summer

May 1, 2013 7:14 pm

(BPT)—Is your backyard ready for bliss this summer? You probably look forward to spending as much time outdoors as possible during warmer months. But do you really have everything you need to ensure you can enjoy your outdoor living space from dawn to dusk - and beyond?

Here are three must-have backyard features that can keep your outdoor time comfortable, enjoyable and luxurious, no matter the time of day or night:


You don't go to bed when the sun goes down, and your outdoor fun doesn't have to end when night arrives. Strategically placed lighting can help keep your outdoor living space safe and inviting well into the evening. When choosing lights for your backyard, deck or patio, choose options specifically designed for outdoor use. Indoor lights can't hold up to the weather outdoors, and could pose a safety risk.

The American Lighting Association recommends using low-voltage mini lights, concealed in trees, under steps, railings or benches to light decks, porches and patios. You can also install spotlights in nearby trees and point the illumination toward your outdoor living space. Solar lights are also a great option for outdoors, since they cost nothing to operate and create a softer light than traditional electric bulbs.

Fire pit

Even on hot summer nights there's something enchanting about a fire pit in your outdoor environment. Whether you opt to have something built in to your patio or deck, or purchase something portable from your local garden or home improvement store, a fire pit or chiminea can add both ambiance and warmth to your outdoor environment. You can find a size and style to fit your outdoor design and needs, whether you choose a ceramic chiminea for roasting marshmallows or a large, CobraCo hand-hammered copper fire pit tub to create warmth and ambiance.

When choosing a fire element for your backyard, keep in mind the importance of scale. Your fire pit should be big enough to provide heat, light and ambiance, but not so large it overwhelms the space. Keep flames away from combustible surfaces, like furniture or stored wood, and never leave your fire unattended, especially when there are small children or animals around. Finally, make sure you always have a fire extinguisher on hand when using a fire pit, and follow the manufacturer's directions for use.

Your outdoor fun can go all day long - and well into the night - when you prep your backyard with the right tools and features to maximize comfort and enjoyment.



Word of the Day

May 1, 2013 7:14 pm

Promissory note.  A written promise to repay a debt on demand or at a stated time in the future.  

Q: What Should I Know about Mechanics’ Liens?

May 1, 2013 7:14 pm

A:  A mechanic’s lien is a “hold” against your property that provides contractors and suppliers legal recourse to assure payment for services.  The liens vary from state to state and allow for a cloud on the title of your property and foreclosure action.  Also, if you paid the contractor, but he failed to pay the subcontractors and laborers – who do not have a contract with you – then the workers may file a mechanic's lien on your home.  This could result in a double payment by you for the same job.  You can protect yourself from unwarranted liens by selecting your contractor carefully and managing your construction project responsibly.  Also, most construction lenders will specify a payment distribution process that involves the securing of lien waivers.  The remodeling contract should address this as well, assuring that the general contractor is responsible for all payments as well as any costs required to remedy lien disputes that may arise.  


A Seller's Guide to Multiple Offers

April 30, 2013 5:14 pm

With the real estate heating up for spring, if you're selling your home, you could find yourself in the position of receiving multiple offers on your house in a short span of time – even within one day. So, with the ball in your court, how do you decide which offer is most attractive to you?

If you are considering multiple offers, the first thing your real estate agent may want to do is to make it clear to all parties that you have or expect several offers, and that all prospective buyers should be putting forward their "best offer." Although you and your agent are under no obligation to disclose the existence of multiple offers, it will probably benefit you as negotiations begin. Since you and your agent are the only party with visibility to all of the offers, you have the upper hand – each prospective buyer, without visibility to the terms of competing offers, will be forced to put forth the very best that he or she can manage in the hope of winning the sale.

As you peruse the terms offered, here are a few things to think about that may make some of the offers more attractive than others:

• Price.
At first glance, it seems intuitive that you would want to accept the offer for the greatest amount of money for your house. If you have multiple offers in front of you, you may be tempted to take the highest offer. And while a fair price is a large part of what makes an offer attractive, there are some additional terms that you should consider as well.

• Closing date.
When do you want the sale to close? If you are hoping for a quick close to the sale so that you can get into a new home or just to ensure that the sale is finalized and there are no surprises, you should take into consideration what each buyer is offering in terms of the closing and possession dates. Conversely, if you need to stay in your home a while longer while you are waiting on a new home or because you want to finish out a school year, it might be wise to accept a bid that will allow you to move out at a later date. You may want to also state which closing date you want, up front so that offers come in with dates that are attractive to you.

• Buyer's financing.
If you are serious about accepting an offer, you're going to want to make sure that the sale will actually go through. Your buyer's financing is of paramount importance; if a buyer is a risk to secure financing, you may want to look elsewhere. How can you determine this? Always consider a pre-approval letter over a mere pre-qualification. Pre-approval suggests a very good bet that the buyer's lender will extend financing based on a completed assessment of the buyer's risk. A buyer who is willing to put down a large amount of earnest money should also be seen as serious about the offer they are making.

• Other contingencies
. You will want to examine the contingencies listed in each buyer's offer. An offer contingent upon the buyer selling an existing home is far less attractive than an offer with no such contingency. Aside from a regular home inspection, a buyer may also request additional inspections for pests, air quality, asbestos, and other features of the property. A buyer with fewer of these requests may be more attractive to you than a buyer whose purchase is contingent upon multiple inspections.

Although it may seem like there is a lot to consider when comparing multiple offers, it's an enviable position to be in. The sluggish real estate market of the past few years has meant that fewer sellers have seen concurrent multiple offers. If you are fortunate enough to end up with multiple offers to choose from, consult your real estate agent and discuss which offer best fits your needs.

4 Jobs Doomed to Extinction – How Yours Can Survive

April 30, 2013 5:14 pm

As automation becomes more sophisticated, and manufacturers take jobs overseas, some commonplace American jobs seem to be heading toward extinction. Employment projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) point to five occupations in which jobs are already scarce – along with pointers on using your job experience to gain a foothold in other occupations:

Postal clerks/carriers – The U.S. Postal Service is losing business to private delivery companies and the Internet. With plans to drop Saturday deliveries, USPS job prospects become even dimmer. But while demand for mail clerks is growing outside the postal service, those jobs pay about half of what the post office does. A better bet, says the BLS, is to become a shipping and receiving clerk for a government agency. Some of the duties are similar, and the average pay is about $45,000 a year.

Switchboard operator/ receptionist – Automated answering services are rapidly replacing people who answer the phone for businesses. The BLS suggests alternative careers as customer service reps or, if you would rather do the dialing, as bill collectors- who have a promising future and median annual pay of $31,920.

Semiconductor processors – These workers, who oversee the production of microchips, are being replaced by more efficient robots – and some of these jobs are leaving American shores. The BLS suggests becoming an electronic engineering technician. The position typically requires an associate's degree, as well as manual dexterity, critical-thinking skills and a propensity for math and science. But demand for electronic engineering technicians is projected to grow, with more opportunities arising in the computer systems design services industry.

Floral designers – Sadly, job prospects are wilting as consumers buy fresh-cut flowers from grocery stores instead of florists. The BLS suggests applying your eye for design to merchandise displays inside shops, in store windows and at trade shows. You'd be in higher demand and have the opportunity for higher pay (up to $33,850 a year.)


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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440

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