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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

Word of the Day

August 24, 2012 11:04 am

Rent control. Government-imposed restrictions on the amount of rent a property owner can charge.

Trees in Distress

August 23, 2012 5:02 pm

If the leaves on your trees seem to have gotten a jump-start on fall compared with those on similar trees in the area, this could be an early warning sign that your tree may be experiencing some type of distress.

One of our regular resources - staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association Tchukki Andersen - says August is the best time to identify early signs that one or more of your trees may be in distress. He says that premature colors can be an indication that a tree isn’t vigorous enough to withstand insects and disease organisms that may attack it, not to mention the usual changes that occur when the weather turns cold.

The subtle changes may only manifest with one or two limbs of the tree showing premature fall color, but this is where you could nip a disease at work that is beginning to weaken only the infected limbs.

A more common situation is for an entire tree to exhibit premature fall coloration, a phenomenon usually linked to root-related stress. Andersen says that trees respond to these stresses by trying to curtail their above-ground growth.

He says leaves can be thought of as small factories containing raw materials, products and by-products, all in chemical form and some with color. As the leaf is “abandoned” by the tree, the green chlorophyll - the dominant chemical found in most leaves - is broken down and “recycled,” leaving behind other-colored chemicals.

Supply lines to the leaves also become clogged. If the major chemical remaining in the abandoned leaf is red, the leaf turns red; if it’s yellow, the leaf turns yellow, and so on.

So if autumn is coming early to a few branches, or an entire tree, now is the time to get advice from a certified arborist, or a member of the Tree Care Industry Association. Click on to get started locating a reputable tree care professional in your community.

Top Tips to Master Your Grill

August 23, 2012 5:02 pm

With the kick-off to the football season here, tailgating season is upon us. Fans across the country are preparing their checklists and equipment for the pre-game festivities, for what is sure to be the best tailgating season yet.

And, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), when it comes to tailgating, this season North Americans are more likely to tailgate at professional football games (27 percent) than any other type of event, such as outdoor concerts (19 percent) and college football games (15 percent). So, fire-up the portable grill, smoker or fryer, grab all the essentials for a finger-licking good time, and assemble your team to help get this year's tailgating season off to a winning start.

"What better way to kick-off game day than bringing together friends and family for a tailgate? From the rookie to the pro tailgater, everyone should always start with a game plan and the right equipment and tools," says Leslie Wheeler, HPBA Communications Director. "A portable grill, smoker or fryer is a must for a successful tailgate, and coming to the stadium prepared with all the essentials will ensure a touchdown every time."

Starting your tailgating season off right sets the right tone for the rest of the season. Follow these tips to get started.

Know the Rules: Know the tailgating rules for your stadium before game day. Are grills, smokers and fryers allowed? What time do the parking lot gates open for tailgaters?

Morning Practice: Create a tailgate checklist so you won't forget your gear, including food, drinks, grill, smoker or fryer, grilling accessories, chairs, table, cooler and paper goods.

Equipment Check: You can't play the game without the ball, and you can't cook without the grill, smoker or fryer. Make sure your 'equipment' works properly before getting to the stadium. You'll also want to bring your favorite outdoor cooking accessories, like tongs, and plenty of paper goods for serving.

Be a Team Player: Score big with your friends by bringing a variety of food to throw on the grill, smoker or fryer, and drinks and water, so that there's something for everyone, including kids, vegetarians and those who may just want a snack.

Pre-Game Prep: Prep and marinate meat ahead of time and keep on ice during transportation to ensure freshness (and safety). Arrive early to start up the grill so that it's fired-up by the time other tailgaters arrive.

Go the Extra Yard: You've got the grill and the food, but don't forget about tailgating entertainment, like an iPod, MP3 player or other device for parking lot music, generator to power a TV for pre-game coverage, or even a football, frisbee or cornhole set for activities to play before the game starts.

Clean-Up Blitz: Before heading into the stadium, make sure the grill is completely extinguished, coals are cooled and disposed, and you've cleaned up your tailgating area. Many stadiums provide metal trash cans to place used charcoal. However, if you are tailgating at a stadium that does not, it is always a good idea to bring your own small metal can to place cooled coals.

Practice Makes Perfect:
After you and your guests deemed the tailgate a success and the game is over, go home and 'review the tapes'. Did the new marinade you used work? Do you have enough charcoal, propane, etc. for next week's tailgate? Take what you learn from each tailgate and apply it to the next to be the champion of the tailgating season.


Love Golf? Up Your Game with These Pro Tips

August 23, 2012 5:02 pm

August is National Golf Month and renowned juniors coach Gary Gilchrist has set out to help golfers improve their game. Having coached golf greats like Michelle Wie and Yani Tseng, Gilchrist knows what it takes for novice enthusiasts to play their best. That's why Gary has compiled his top five tips for golfers looking to improve their game, which include passion, focus, physical conditioning, mechanics and putting.

Passion. Passion is a necessity in any sport, task or undertaking. If a player possesses the enthusiasm and desire to excel at golf, chances are with a bit of training and practice that player's game will significantly improve.

Mental Training. Ask any good golfer what plays the biggest role in his/her success and the answer will be focus. Ninety-percent of the game is psychological, so learning to hone in on the challenge you're facing each time you prepare to swing will benefit your performance immensely.

Fitness Training. Some say golf doesn't really require that much exertion. Wrong! Stamina, flexibility, coordination and physical strength play a substantial role in molding great golfers. Develop a warm-up routine for yourself before you tee off so your body is prepared.

Mechanics. Mechanics seems like a no brainer, but mastering the right mechanics is a necessity. In golf, setup and posture are key fundamentals when preparing to take on the golf course. These basic skill sets are the building blocks upon which more advanced techniques can be built.

Putting. Putting is truly an art. More matches are lost or won on the green than on the tee box. Improving your precision while putting will enhance your overall capacity to excel at the game.

"Golf is all about passion," states Gary. "If you have the passion and drive to succeed, and enough time to dedicate to training, mechanics can be taught. While more, of course, goes into the game itself, perfecting these five things will put you on the right track."


Word of the Day

August 23, 2012 5:02 pm

Release of mortgage. Certificate from the lender stating that the loan has been repaid.

Q: How Does a Lease Option Work?

August 23, 2012 5:02 pm

A: A landlord agrees to give a renter an exclusive option to purchase the property. The option price is usually determined at the outset, but not always, and the agreement states when the purchase should take place – whether, say, six months, or a year or two down the road.

A portion of the rent is used to make the future down payment. Most lenders will accept the down payment if the rental payments exceed the market rent and a valid lease-purchase agreement is in effect.

Before you opt to do a lease option, find out as much as possible about how they work. Talk to real estate agents, read published materials, and, in the end, have an attorney review any paperwork before you and the tenant sign on the dotted line.

9 Volt Batteries: A Fire Hazard?

August 22, 2012 6:58 pm

Just when you thought you had heeded all the many points of advice about fire prevention, here’s a story about a fire hazard that may be lurking in your kitchen junk drawer.

Recently the New Hampshire Dept of Safety issued a warning statewide that is catching fire with the media across the country. The warning points to the storage of 9 volt batteries, and the fire hazard they can pose.

In July, a fire broke out in a kitchen “junk” drawer which the resident stated she had just cleaned and organized. The fire produced smoke throughout the first floor of the home according to the NHDOS.

In the drawer were spare keys, a cigarette lighter, paper clips, eyeglass cleaner, and some batteries in a baggie along with everything else that you find in a “junk” drawer. The local fire department determined the cause of the fire to be from a 9 volt battery stored in the same baggie with other batteries.

The 9 volt battery rubbed against another battery and ignited the fire. In the homeowner’s words, “We were fortunate to not have been away for the weekend!”

”The potential is there,” Londonderry, New Hampshire, Fire Chief Kevin MacCaffrie told CBS News in Boston. “There are a lot of things in a normal junk drawer that do burn, and apparently the ignition source was a 9 volt battery.”

The safety experts in the Granite State remind homeowners everywhere that a 9 volt battery is a fire hazard because the positive and negative posts are on top, right next to one another. If the ends come in contact with anything metal i.e. aluminum foil, steel wool, paper clip, other batteries, etc. this will cause the object to heat up and ignite a fire.

To store, the agency advises you keep those batteries in their original packaging, or keep the business end of your 9-volts covered. For disposal, make sure that the positive and negative posts are safely wrapped in electrical tape.

And while you’re searching for errant 9 volt batteries, remember our frequent advice to check your smoke alarms each month to ensure your family has the early warning to get out safely if a fire should occur in your home.


End-of-Summer Renovating Tips

August 22, 2012 6:58 pm

Just because summer is nearly over, doesn’t mean your home improvement projects need to come to a halt along with those lazy pool days and barbecues.

One effective method to choosing a home improvement project is to conduct a perimeter walk of their homes and take note of any exterior problems, including landscaping fixes, driveway repairs, new paint, etc.

Landscaping fixes generally can be done by the homeowner; trim back your trees, fix any broken fences and clean up those flower beds for fall. If it’s a larger project, be sure to do your research before calling in a professional. A certified contractor can make driveway repairs and a quality housepainter can freshen up your home’s outdoor appearance.

Another end of summer project to tackle is checking and testing window seals, as the days of ceiling-fan and air-conditioning use eventually will lead to turning up the heat.

Out back, pool decks, boat docks and pathways should be inspected for damage, such as mildew, rotting wood and cracks. All are relatively easy to fix and will improve the look of the back-yard vista, making it more appealing for potential buyers.

Source: Waterfront Properties

A Guide to Small Bathroom Solutions

August 22, 2012 6:58 pm

While dealing with special issues can be a challenge in any room of the home, finding a way to make a small bathroom livable is one of the biggest design challenges homeowners will face. Unlike many other rooms, in a small bathroom there isn’t a whole lot of room to skimp on furniture or fixtures. To make a small bathroom work, one needs to know exactly where to pare down and do it intelligently.

One of the most obvious ways to save space is to get a smaller bathroom vanity. But bathroom vanities that are merely small can present a whole host of their own problems, especially when it comes to storage.

The number one problem with small bathroom vanities is that no matter how much the physical space it takes up is pared down, some portion of what’s left still has to be devoted to the plumbing for the sink. So if the vanity has to be very narrow, look for a model with an easily accessible upper cabinet, where space is not wasted, and the stuff can still be stored around the drain pipe, an open shelf adds some extra storage as well.

One of the smartest solutions to the plumbing problem with small bathroom vanities is to slightly offset the sink to one side. That means the plumbing is offset, too, leaving one side of the vanity clear for storage where it would ordinarily be blocked off by the drain pipe. The vanity will end up being a little wider, but it’ll easily save from having to buy a secondary storage unit, which ultimately opens up more floor space.

Despite adding a few extra inches to the vanity, drawers – especially ones that start at counter level – will make the access to small items much easier. No more bending leaning stashing or searching in a single poorly organized cabinet. Neat, well sorted drawers are great for all the small stuff so a separate storage cabinet for the bigger items is not necessary.

Although large cabinets offer more storage space, they are usually hard to organize, and to lose stuff in if they’re deep and don’t have enough shelves. That’s why wall mounted vanities are much more space efficient. They cut down the size of the cabinets and raise them up to waist level, making them easier to access and navigate, while leaving lots of room for much more useful drawer space as well.

Shelves and cabinets built into the mirror are also a great add-on. While medicine cabinets make great small bathroom solutions, having to open the mirror all the way can be a problem in a tight space. Instead, vanities that are pre-paired with matching mirrors with built in shelves or smaller storage cabinets are recommended.

For those in the market for a small bathroom vanity it is important to remember - smart design is much more important to usability than anything a measuring tape can tell.


The ABCs and 123s of Healthy Back-to-School Snacking

August 22, 2012 6:58 pm

As children across the country head back to the classroom, parents will likely hear a familiar refrain each afternoon: "I'm hungry." It is officially after-school snacking season! With research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill indicating that children consume a quarter of their daily calories from snacks, it's important to make sure that after-school goodies are truly good for them, too.

"Think of your child's afternoon school snack as his or her fourth meal," says Christine M. Palumbo, registered dietitian, mom and a nutrition advisor for California Raisins. "As a mini-meal, healthy after-school snacks can provide needed energy to sustain grumbling tummies until dinnertime."
For easy and healthy snacking ideas, Palumbo shares the following five tips:

Pack your own. At the beginning of the week, assemble nibbles such as whole grain crackers, unsalted nuts and no-added sugar dried fruit into small containers or bags. You'll save time and money by preparing these easily accessible snacks in advance.

Focus on fruits and veggies. Create tasty grab bags by mixing raisins with cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, grapes, sugar snap peas or celery sticks.

Make an inside-out sandwich. Spread low-fat cream cheese on a slice of deli turkey and wrap it around a sesame breadstick.

Subtract the sugar.
Rather than fruited yogurt, which can contain more than 20 grams of sugar (5 teaspoons) per six-ounce container, take plain Greek yogurt and top with chopped walnuts, a light drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of naturally sweet raisins.

Involve the kids! If the kids make their own healthy snacks, chances are they'll be more likely to eat them, too! For a fun snack activity, try these California Raisin Peanut Butter Roll Ups: grab a tortilla, spread a light layer of peanut butter, dot with raisins and fold into a roll.

Palumbo adds that after-school snacks are a great opportunity to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables to help children meet their daily nutrient needs.

"Instead of highly processed snack foods, consider offering your child a half sandwich on whole- grain bread, along with some dried fruit," says Palumbo.


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