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Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
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Tom's Blog

10 Ways to Save Big on Wedding Costs

May 9, 2013 5:34 pm

If there’s a wedding in your future, you already know that costs can be excessive—and that they sometimes seem to grow out of proportion to every idea you envision. But, say experienced wedding planners, there are plenty of ways to save on the big day without appearing to wed on the cheap.

Planners suggest 10 simple ways to cut various aspects of the wedding cost without sacrificing any of the elegance:
  • Think off-peak or off-season – You can often save thousands on the venue by planning your wedding in the fall or winter, or on a Sunday instead of Saturday.
  • Request larger tables – You’ll need fewer linens and fewer centerpieces by choosing tables that seat a larger number of guests.
  • Choose seasonal flowers – Stick to one or two varieties. Include lots of greenery and fewer blooms – and fill out centerpieces with non-florals, such as lanterns.
  • Skip a sit-down main course – think about appetizers or ‘small plates’ instead of a sit-down entrée, or an open seating buffet.
  • Skip the full bar – Offer wine, beer, and perhaps a signature or champagne cocktail instead of an open bar.
  • Order a smaller tiered cake – Supplement it when serving with a sheet cake waiting in the kitchen.
  • Email ‘save the date’ notes – It will save on postage and get your guests just as prepared and excited.
  • Choose simple invitations – the heavier the invite, the larger the postage cost. Stick to lighter weight versions.
  • Save on table favors – See if you can find something special your bridal party can create – and/or provide one favor per couple instead of one for each guest.
  • Limit the photo opps – Specify the ‘must have’ shots you want to limit the number of photos taken – and be prepared to limit your final photo selections.

Stay Safe This Summer: BBQ Safety Tips

May 9, 2013 5:34 pm

According to the National Fire Prevention Association there are 5,000 outside BBQ grill fires annually that require fire departments to respond. And there are another 3,600 BBQ grill fires that cause damage to the structure of homes.

Here are some quick tips to help you enjoy a safe BBQ grilling season;

1. Before you use your BBQ grill:

  • Repair any damaged energy supply connections such as gas tanks, hoses and electrical connections.
  • Replace any corroded BBQ grill parts.
2. Locate your BBQ grill a safe distance from your home, wooden deck and anything flammable. Always keep your BBQ grill in a place where children are not playing. Your Operator's Manual should give you an explanation on proper BBQ grill placement.

3. Always follow the lighting instructions in the operator's manual that came with your BBQ grill.

4. Never leave a BBQ grill unattended and have a fire extinguisher close by.

5. Clean your BBQ grill r
egularly to remove grease. Grease can cause flare-ups that can be deadly.

And before you fire-up your BBQ grill for the 2013 season be sure to check and remove any rodent nests, spider webs and other debris that might affect the safe operation of your BBQ grill.

Source: The BBQ Cleaner

5 Tips for Lighter, Brighter Summer Eating

May 9, 2013 5:34 pm

(BPT)—Simple, fresh and delicious - that's summertime eating at its best. Less time in the kitchen means more time to enjoy the bright delicious flavors of just-picked berries, peaches, greens and other vegetables.

"It makes sense to eat lighter in the summer," says Chef William Tillinghast, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. "Hot weather slows down the digestion and heavy foods are harder to digest."

Chef Tillinghast got together with Chef Jeffrey Floyd, culinary academic director at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, to offer these five tips for enjoying summer's gastronomic delights.

Buy local and seasonal - or grow it yourself

Summer brings locally grown specialties - berries of all types, melons, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet onions and more. Visit farmers' markets and ask what's in season. Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program to explore eating seasonally. And nothing tastes better than tomatoes from your own garden.

Process produce as little as possible

The fresher the produce, the less preparation needed. "The longer the time between preparation and consumption, the more flavor is lost," says Chef Tillinghast. Try cutting up peaches and a honeydew melon, add fresh blueberries and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Serve immediately for an instant refreshing dessert.

Cook veggies quickly by stir frying. Cut vegetables small. Cook briefly with olive oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat (or put the wok on your grill). Add a little coarse salt and freshly ground pepper - it's the perfect side dish for a simple roast chicken, grilled steak or swordfish.

Keep flavors simple

Allow the flavor of fresh summer produce to shine. Chef Floyd loves this summer salad, adapted from "American Regional Cuisine," by The Art Institutes system of schools. Cut zucchini into matchstick strips. Combine with wedges of ripe tomato, finely sliced fresh basil, thin slices of sweet or green onion. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve on a bed of lettuce, spinach or other greens. Add feta or bleu cheese crumbles if you like.

Use that grill

Grill eggplant, zucchini, onions and peppers. Brush with olive or walnut oil if you like. Put veggies directly on the grill, use a griddle or wrap in a single layer in foil. Grilled peach halves and pineapple rings are also delicious.

Soup is for summer, too

"Cold soups like gazpacho, vichyssoise, avocado and cucumber, or various fruits, are refreshing," says Chef Tillinghast. For a delicious cold soup, peel and chop pears and apricots (or hull and cut up strawberries). Add a sprinkling of sugar and perhaps a little cinnamon or cardamom. Mash lightly with a fork and add sour cream or yogurt, half and half or milk - even champagne.

Beat the heat with lighter, simpler meals - you'll feel better and have more time for summertime fun.


Word of the Day

May 9, 2013 5:34 pm

Mortgage company or mortgage banker. Financial intermediary that offers mortgages to borrowers, and then resells them to various lending institutions, government agencies, or private investors.

Q: What Should I Do to Prepare My Home for Sale?

May 9, 2013 5:34 pm

A: Start by finding out its worth. Contact a real estate agent for a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar neighborhood properties. Or get a certified appraiser to provide an appraisal.

Next, get busy working on the home’s appearance. You want to make sure it is in the best condition possible for showing to prospective buyers so that you can get top dollar. This means fixing or sprucing up any trouble spots that could deter a buyer, such as squeaky doors, a leaky roof, dirty carpet and walls, and broken windows.

The “curb appeal” of your home is extremely important. In fact, it is the first impression that buyers form of your property as they drive or walk up. So make sure the lawn is pristine – the grass cut, debris removed, garden beds free of weeds, and hedges trimmed.

The trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs and fix-ups, especially if there are few homes on the market but many buyers competing for them. On the other hand, making such repairs may be the only way to sell your home in a down market.

Celebrate Moms: Top 25 Mom-friendly Cities for Dining

May 7, 2013 5:32 pm

Whether it's a meal with the kids in tow, a romantic dinner with a spouse, or a night out with the girls, moms all over the place deserve a great meal out. Unfortunately, the dining atmosphere in some cities just doesn’t cater to those in need of a booster seat.

Below is a list of cities voted “mom-friendly.”

“Each of these cities has a diverse dining scene to satisfy mom's appetite for food and fun," says Caroline Potter, Chief Dining Officer of OpenTable. "And, it's very clear from the number of folks dining out locally on Mother's Day that area restaurants have mastered the art of pampering mothers and pleasing their palates."

The following cities, listed in order, comprise the Top 25 Mom-friendly Dining Cities in the U.S.

  1. Long Beach, Calif.
  2. Tampa, Fla.
  3. Boulder, Colo.
  4. Dallas, Texas
  5. Austin, Texas
  6. Columbus, Ohio
  7. Raleigh, N.C.
  8. Houston, Texas
  9. Charlotte, N.C.
  10. Las Vegas, Nevada
  11. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  12. San Diego, Calif.
  13. Brooklyn, N.Y.
  14. Atlanta, Ga.
  15. Honolulu, Hawaii
  16. Kansas City, Miss.
  17. Santa Monica, Calif.
  18. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  19. Orlando, Fla.
  20. Denver, Colo.
  21. Seattle, Wash.
  22. Cincinnati, Ohio
  23. Baltimore, Md.
  24. Minneapolis, Minn.
  25. Los Angeles, Calif.

Three DIY Tips to Pass Down to Your Kids

May 7, 2013 5:32 pm

Kids these days! With everyone relying heavily on technology, your teens may be capable of installing a new app, but not a new light bulb. What were once regarded as need-to-know skills have fallen by the wayside, with an overreliance on mom and dad is keeping this generation's teens out of the tool shed and in the dark when it comes to DIY.

A study done by HomeServe revealed that among 18-24 year olds, one in six admitted to not being a able to change a light bulb and six out of 10 shudder at the thought of a blocked drain .

In light of these figures, HomeServe has released their top tips to pass down to the next generation:

1. How to change a light bulb

How many teenagers does it take to change a light bulb? According to HomeServe, you'd need half a dozen to be certain, as this is a skill that one in six young people don't possess. But some gentle encouragement and a little imparted wisdom will undoubtedly brighten up the nation - in every sense of the word.

Useful Tip: One of the few difficulties is knowing which way to actually turn the bulb if it's a screw-type fitting. A general rule of thumb is 'Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey'. Turn the bulb right to screw it into the socket and left to release it.

2. How to unblock a drain

Teenagers are particularly good at putting food, hair and other unmentionables down plugholes, but less good at dealing with it themselves. After all, few jobs around the home make people as squeamish as a clogged drain, which is one reason why so many are unwilling to learn how to clear them.

Useful Tip:
If a bathroom or kitchen sink or a bath is blocked, you can clear it with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Pour about three quarters of a cup of dry baking powder down the drain, followed by about half a cup of vinegar. Then cover the plughole with a damp cloth. The baking powder will react with vinegar and break down most blockages. Let the mixture fizz away for half an hour and then rinse clear with hot water.

3. How to strip wallpaper

Odds are, at some point throughout their teenage years, your son or daughter will demand that their room be redecorated - usually around the time they realize that Thomas the Tank Engine wallpaper is no longer socially acceptable.

But the fact that 48 percent of young people profess to have no idea how to strip and put up wallpaper is evidence that parents are missing the perfect opportunity to engage their child in a DIY crash course.

Useful Tip: Before decorating, you need to strip your walls, which can be as big a job as hanging new wallpaper. Fabric softener is an excellent tool in removing wallpaper and far cheaper than paint stripper. Mix with hot water, spray onto the walls and wait for the wallpaper and glue to soften before scraping off with a metal scraper. This will also leave the room smelling fresh.

Useful Tip: An amateur, no matter how keen to impress, is likely to have issues with bubbles appearing under the wallpaper surface. Simply take a pin, prick the bubble and apply a thin layer of paste to the affected area.

Source: HomeServe

How-To: Improve Your Credit Score

May 7, 2013 5:32 pm

Just like a top football, basketball or hockey player is drafted based on their stats, your credit score is used to determine your financial fitness.

Your credit score is a strong indicator of ability to handle debt. It's based on several aspects of your financial picture and can help creditors determine if you're responsible with your money.

Improving your credit score in 2013 may be an easy way to improve your overall financial scorecard. Doing so may help you get approved for loans and lower your interest rates and insurance premiums.

The following steps may improve your credit score in 2013:

Pay on time. Payment history is one of the most important factors used to calculate your credit score, so consistently paying on time may be a way to boost your score if you have missed payments in the past.

Reduce debt-to-credit ratio. Focus on paying down the amount you owe on your credit cards so each one has an available credit of at least 50 percent. Doing so improves your debt-to-credit ratio and in turn may improve your credit score.

Use more than one type of credit. Your score is built around both revolving (ex. credit card) and installment (ex. mortgage loan) credit. Having both types in your credit history shows you can responsibly handle multiple kinds of credit, and in turn may improve your score.

Stick with the accounts you have. Opening new accounts just to increase available credit means new inquiries on your credit report, which may lower your score. On the other hand, avoid closing accounts you already have, even if you don't use them that often. Doing so can negatively impact your debt-to-credit ratio and credit history -- both of which are used to calculate your score.

Source: BMO Harris Bank

Word of the Day

May 7, 2013 5:32 pm

Plat. Map or survey showing the location and boundaries of individual properties and how they have been subdivided into lots and blocks.

Q: What Should I Know about Mechanics’ Liens?

May 7, 2013 5:32 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.

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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440 - PERKASIE

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