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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
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Tips for Raising Quick Cash

September 26, 2012 6:28 pm

Whether you need a vacation, want to buy something nice, or pay an unexpected bill, almost everyone, at one time or another, needs to raise a little money quickly.

“If appealing to a rich uncle is not an option, there are other things you can do,” said dedicated garage sale organizer Terry Mack, who makes her living helping homeowners raise maximum cash from garage sales.

Mack offers five ways to raise a little extra cash:

Sell your stuff – Garage sales are a great way to earn instant money while clearing out the clutter. You can even sell your own handicrafts at a garage sale – and don’t forget to stock up on sodas and snacks, which may sell faster than dishes or glassware. For bigger-ticket items like electronics, furniture, or musical instruments, list it on Craigslist or eBay – or take your chances at a local consignment shop, where the turnaround is usually quick for right-priced items in good condition.
Sell your services – If you can mow lawns, rake leaves, shovel snow or babysit…if you can write resumes, type term papers, do research or run an errand service…if you can teach piano or tutor kids or offer computer lessons to senior citizens…if you have a truck and can offer hauling or store pick-up services, make up and distribute fliers or post on neighborhood bulletin boards.
Recycle stuff – There is money to be made by recycling cans and glass or plastic bottles. This is a good option if you live near a campsite or other tourist area, where people generally toss these items instead of recycling them.
Make money from your surroundings – If you have access to a beach or forest, you can gather driftwood or pine cones and sell them to craft or gift shops. You can breed worms during fishing season, grow and sell fruit, vegetables or homemade jams and pies, or make and sell wreaths at Christmas time from local greenery and foliage.
For emergency only – In a real emergency, you may be able to get a signature loan from your bank or a cash advance on your credit card. You can also resort to a payday loan or to pawning something of value at a pawn shop. Because the interest rates are highest there, think of them only as a last resort.
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Five Tips to an Organized, Clean Kitchen

September 26, 2012 6:28 pm

A clean kitchen creates the ideal space for zen cooking. Who wants to prepare an intensive meal in a cluttered mess? And as far as hygiene, letting the dust settle in your kitchen is a recipe for disaster. Below are some tips for keeping an organized and clean culinary environment.

Create a plan of action
Before you begin cleaning, gather everything you'll need to tackle the kitchen as a whole, from rubber gloves and sponges, to the vacuum and mop. Assign tasks to each family member to help speed up the process. To ensure everything gets squeaky clean, make a checklist.

Use all-purpose cleaners
Make it easier with a quality, all-purpose cleaning product that can tackle all sorts of kitchen messes while killing germs, such as the Scrubbing Bubbles All Purpose Heavy Duty Cleaner with fantastik, which kills 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. This cleaner can wipe out tough grease and grime, without leaving behind a filmy residue.

Reorganize and prioritize
As you clean the kitchen, reorganize contents of pantries, cabinets, drawers and spice racks so everything is easy to find, with your most-used items in front for easy access. Ensure anything expired is thrown out, and donate canned foods you don't plan to use to a food bank.

Dust cabinet interiors
Remove dry-storage food items and dust out your cabinetry. Make sure you get back into the corners of your cabinets with a duster or vacuum. Wipe down dry food items with a damp cloth and place back in the cabinets.

Get your floors gleaming

Vacuum or sweep floors to get them prepped for mopping. Make sure to dust baseboards and corners where dust and pet hair can get trapped. Pay special attention to the cleaning solution you purchase to clean your floors, as hardwood flooring especially requires specific cleaners.

Sources: www.scrubbingbubbles.com, www.rightathome.com.
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How to Get Started Marketing a Book

September 26, 2012 6:28 pm

It’s understandable, really. People who have the passion necessary to write a book usually have just one thing on their minds: writing a book. Not marketing a book. Some may think ahead to getting it published, but, tragically, that’s where the planning often ends.

I’m not exaggerating when I say “tragically.” I talk to many people who’ve poured years of effort, money and sacrifice into their books, which wind up sitting in boxes in their garage. They never thought about how they might market their books themselves or budgeted for book promotion services.

When’s the best time to start thinking about marketing a book? Ideally, before you even sit down to begin writing. Because — and I speak from experience here — the first step will help in your writing.

Step 1: Ask yourself, “Who is my audience?”
The answer is the first piece of any marketing plan and it can also help you define what you’ll write. When I decided to write a book about public relations, I had planned to write it for businesses in general. Then I thought, “That’s too broad. Who will my audience really be?”

I decided to write for individual professionals such as doctors, lawyers and financial planners. Not only would that put a face to the people I was writing for, it would also give me the first piece of my marketing plan.

If you want to write a book and you’re a financial planner working for baby boomers chugging toward 65, you might write about planning for retirement after age 50. Another audience might be the boomers’ kids – adults who may be helping their parents. Depending on the expertise you put in the book, you might find other audiences you can target as well.

Here are the next steps to consider in planning your promotional campaign:
• What’s the best way to reach that audience? Where will you find the people you expect will be interested in your book? Will you buy advertising, look for speaking engagements, try to whip up interest from the media? You might hire a publicist or contract with your publisher to handle PR, or put together a promotional tour. You’ll definitely need a website. Will you build one yourself or hire a pro? Research the options that appeal to you and find out how effective they are in terms of meeting your goals. If you’re considering contracting with professionals to help you, get references from people who’ve had successful marketing experiences.
• How much will it cost? Some options are less expensive, others more. Look into the ones that interest you and get an idea of their price. Decide how much you can afford to spend and budget for it. Is there an organization or business that would benefit from sponsoring you? A landscape designer, for instance, might get financial help from a plant nursery or a tools manufacturer in exchange for standing behind a business or product. A chef might find an ally in a food manufacturer.
• Develop a following online. Do you have a database of people already interested in what you have to say? If not, turn to social media and start building it now. The more of a following you have, the more potential audience you’ve created for your marketing message. Big numbers will also turn heads when you try to get speaking engagements or guest spots on radio and TV talk shows. Having a following is everything. The organizations and media that book you for an interview are also hoping all those followers will either buy tickets or stop by their website.

Marketing is too important to be an afterthought, so think about it long before it’s time to get started. Yes, I understand the effort that goes into writing a book. I know it’s hard to think about anything else! But if you have invested your dreams in that baby, you probably want to share it with the world. And that takes planning.

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself: The 3-Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business.
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Word of the Day

September 26, 2012 6:28 pm

Title report. A statement of the current condition of title for a parcel of land.
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Q: Is It a Good Idea to Buy a Vacation Home as an Investment?

September 26, 2012 6:28 pm

A: Like any investment, it can be risky. Location and current market conditions are extremely important when deciding whether to buy.

Other things to consider:

  • Will you be able to afford repairs, maintenance, insurance, and utilities?
  • What about fees to pay agents who rent the property for you?
  • If you live several miles away from your vacation home, who will clean up between tenants and take an inventory of household items once the tenants leave?
  • What if you are unable to rent your second home? Can your pocketbook withstand the strain of paying the mortgage?
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Protect Your Pool from Freezing This Winter

September 25, 2012 6:24 pm

Once the creep of autumn makes it a little too cool for your pool, it's time to think about buttoning up your little oasis of aquatic pleasure until next spring. So for a raft of advice that really holds water, I turned to Ann Janowicz, general manager of Kasper’s Pool Supplies and Spas in Easton, Pa.

Janowicz says proper winterizing means more than just covering the pool. The pool must be cleaned, winter chemicals must be added, water chemistry must be balanced, and the water level should be lowered.

Most importantly, she says, winterizing is about freeze protection, and taking steps to protect the pool equipment and lines from being split apart by freezing water. To prevent freeze damage, Janowicz says water must be drained or blown out of all pumping, filtering, heating and chlorinating equipment and other pool plumbing.

This is not always a “do-it-yourself” project. Every pool is different, and each will require specific procedures and equipment to implement those procedures.

Janowicz, a certified pool operator (CPO) and a director of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) notes that, “If you don’t know the exact procedure or if you do not have the equipment to winterize correctly, you should call a professional. A pool is a big investment.”

She says the right time to winterize varies by climate and individual preference. Many pool owners opt to close in late August or early September before leaves begin to fall, while others heat their water and enjoy swimming into the early autumn season. In general, pool closing and winterizing should be done before the first hard freeze in your area.

For information about pool winterizing, or to find a professional who can close your pool properly, visit the NESPA website at www.nespapool.org, or your regional Spa and Pool Association or certified spa and pool professional.
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Kitchen Cleaning: Tackle the Appliances

September 25, 2012 6:24 pm

Even if you aren’t the most dutiful housecleaner (no judgments here!), maintaining a clean kitchen is important. After all, it is where we prepare our food. But even when you know your stove needs a good scrub a dub, cleaning our appliances is a task that often gets put on hold because it requires so much time and effort.

According to the Scrubbing Bubbles Dirty Work Index survey, men and women agree the kitchen is the most difficult room to clean after the bathroom. Luckily, following a few simple steps and using all-purpose kitchen cleaners make tackling tough kitchen messes easier -- ensuring that your home is not only clean but also healthy. Follow the below tips and tricks to learn how to clean your kitchen appliances with ease.

Oven
If your oven boasts a self-cleaning mode, go ahead and turn it on. For the stovetop and exterior of the oven, spray a grease-cutting cleaner that stays where you spray, to thoroughly cover the surfaces, exterior walls and oven door. Allow the cleaner to go to work penetrating and lifting grime while you move on to the microwave. Use damp sponges or paper towels to remove the cleaner when the grease and grime have dissolved.

Microwave

To loosen grease and food spatters, boil a cup of water with a few lemon slices in the microwave for one minute, which will help to soften dried food particles to make cleanup easier. Then, use a foaming all-purpose cleaner and a damp sponge to easily wipe away residue and grease and leave a fresh scent behind.

Dishwasher
Use a toothbrush and warm, soapy water to clean around the rubber seal on the door of your dishwasher. Use a scrubbing brush or sponge to wipe away dirt and grime on the inside of the door, as well as the walls. Wipe away debris around the drain that could cause later clogging. Run your empty dishwasher on the hottest cycle to help further remove buildup.

Fridge
Because the refrigerator houses perishable foods, it's crucial to your family's health to keep it well-maintained and sanitary. Cleaning the refrigerator requires more work than just pitching old food. To ensure your fridge is thoroughly cleaned, turn the dial control to "0" and remove and discard old food items before removing shelves and drawers, then wipe them down using mild soap and water. Next, use a toothpick and toothbrush to clean corners, hinges and the rubber gasket. Finally, sanitize the drop pan with an antibacterial all-purpose cleaner. Cleaning the drop pan weekly will help reduce spilled food odors. After these steps are complete, return the dial control to the original temperature setting.

Sources: www.scrubbingbubbles.com, www.rightathome.com.
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Update Your Bedroom for Fall

September 25, 2012 6:24 pm

Whether you’re tired of your boring bedroom or have recently moved and are taking the opportunity to revamp your style, below are a few ways to restyle your space in a quick, simple and relatively inexpensive way.

1. Start with color. Popular fall colors are traditionally associated with autumn leaves and include deep reds, russets and burgundies, as well as vibrant yellows, pumpkin orange, mochas and browns. Choosing comforters and bedding featuring these colors will help you create a warm look that says "fall" as soon as you walk into the room.
2. Layer it on. Having multiple layers of bedding not only looks more elegant, it also offers you and your guests more flexibility when it comes to customizing for temperature. You can also add warmth and comfort with soft throws -- and be sure to have extras on-hand for overnight guests or particularly chilly nights. Choose the softest sheets for your bed and be sure to have about three sets on hand. That way, you'll have a few on reserve during laundry time or when guests visit.
3. Think pillows. Much more than an accent color, decorative pillows have come into their own as one of the simplest ways to personalize any space and change a home's décor. Many exciting new pillow trends are making their debut, including couture, nubby and boldly-patterned choices.
4. Mix & match. Add warmth and character to your room by mixing and matching textures and patterns. For example, choose throw pillows that look like they came from the same place or era as your bedding, then mix nubby with smooth. To mix patterns, simply repeat the colors in each decorative pillow, while differentiating the pattern's motif or scale.
5. Don't forget the basics. All the decorative bedding in the world won't truly make you comfortable if you don't have the basics covered. Begin by choosing supportive pillows and, of course, a comfortable mattress and bed foundation.

Source: AshleySleep.com.
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6 Tips to Prepare Your Boiler for Winter

September 25, 2012 6:24 pm

While the sun is still adding a bit of warmth to these crisp fall days, now is the time of year to make sure your boiler is prepared for winter. To ensure you stay cozy until spring, read the following tips on how to keep your boiler running smoothly and tackle frozen pipes.

1. Regular maintenance
Make sure your boiler is regularly maintained. Some manufacturers recommend that you run your gas boiler at least once a month, even during summer (on a low temperature), to ensure that it works smoothly and that you detect any problems well in advance.
2. Perform spot-checks
You should regularly check the outlets or flues for blockages which may cause congestion and build-up of exhaust gases.
3. Keep your boiler clean and tidy
A layer of dust can be a real problem in causing blockages - make sure that you clean your boiler regularly but never use a dust sheet. Your boiler should never be covered with anything.
4. Fit a carbon monoxide alarm
If your boiler is damaged or faulty, it can leak potentially lethal carbon monoxide which your regular smoke alarm will not detect. Carbon monoxide is invisible and has no smell or taste, so you might not realize it's there.
5. Get a boiler service
Get your boiler serviced and safety checked every year by a professional, in accordance with your manufacturer's guidelines.
6. Avoid frozen pipes
During extremely cold weather periods, if your boiler fails to operate and shuts down completely, it may be a result of a frozen condensate pipe (the pipe which carries condensation from your boiler to your outside drain). It's a good idea to insulate your pipe before the cold weather hits. Below are the steps you need to unfreeze and insulate your pipe:
  • Step 1 - Switch off your boiler and locate the condensate pipe (usually on the external wall directly outside the location of your boiler). Make sure that you can reach the length of the pipe while standing at ground level.
  • Step 2 - Warm some water (not boiling, as this can crack and damage the pipe) and pour the water along the length of the pipe, repeating two or three times if possible.
  • Step 3 - To prevent the pipe from refreezing, wrap it securely with some old towels.
  • Step 4 (for non-frozen pipes) - After you've thawed the pipe, insulate it using foam tubing (available in DIY stores). This comes in a variety of sizes, so measure the pipe's diameter first.

Source: www.HomeServe.com.
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Word of the Day

September 25, 2012 6:24 pm

Title insurance. An insurance policy that protects against any losses incurred because of defects in the title not listed in the title report or abstract.
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