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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
Fax: 267-354-6800
email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Incorporate Your Old Garage Door into Your Home’s Interior Design

August 31, 2012 1:22 pm

(ARA) - Garage door replacement has become one of the most popular home improvement projects because of its high return on investment (ROI). In fact, Remodeling Magazine's recent annual Cost vs. Value Report ranks garage door replacement as the No. 2 project (out of a list of 35) to offer a good ROI.

But for every new garage door bought, there's an old door that's now obsolete. Before sending it off to the landfill, consider some interesting ways in which it could be used inside your house. There's a wide spectrum of unique applications that could give your home decor a "wow" factor while being practical and environmentally friendly at the same time. Now that's a win-win.

The easiest and most inexpensive way to incorporate a garage door inside is to simply attach it to the wall or ceiling. Consider covering the door with chalkboard paint and bolting it to a playroom wall to create interactive fun for children. This also would make an interesting and useful addition to the kitchen, offering a spot for jotting down grocery lists and notes for family members. If you have a room that's devoid of architectural detail, paint your door a color that works well with other furniture and attach it to the ceiling. You'll add instant interest without the expense of custom carpentry.

Garage doors also can be used as interior walls, providing the option of opening up two rooms if needed for large gatherings. This creates a fluid interior that's as much interesting and unexpected as it is functional.

A more expansive way to incorporate a garage door inside is to use it in place of windows or exterior walls, creating a room that literally opens up to the outdoors. Imagine hosting a party in a kitchen or family room that could be completely open to a beautiful back yard or patio - this would take entertaining to a whole new level. And if you have the panels of the door replaced with glass, consider the amount of natural light that would be added to your interior, in a beautiful and unconventional way.

Using a garage door to replace an existing wall or in lieu of a wall in new construction will require the assistance of a trained professional. If your existing garage door is not insulated, you might consider purchasing a new one to protect against extreme temperatures and noise.

So if your renovation list is like that of many homeowners and includes the purchase of a new garage door, consider incorporating your old door into your interior decorating to add an element of design that's both useful and unique.

Source: www.amarrgaragedoors.com.
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Q: What about repairs made to get the home ready for sale?

August 31, 2012 1:22 pm

A: If you realize a taxable gain after you sell your home, even with an exclusion, you can reduce your gain with selling costs. These selling costs may include items that are otherwise considered to be repairs – such as painting, wallpapering, even planting flowers – if you complete them within 90 days of your home sale and provided they were completed to make the home more saleable.
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Late Summer, Early Fall Planting and Harvesting

August 30, 2012 5:20 pm

I don’t exactly consider August a time when homeowners are thinking about gardening. Isn’t August supposed to be the beginning of harvest season?

A recent interview by April Lehmbeck at CandGNews.com, however, points to August as a potential month to begin certain planting or other complementary landscaping projects. Lehmbeck chatted with Joe Allemon, president of Allemon’s Landscape Center in Detroit, who says the end of August is a fabulous time to do any type of tree and shrub planting, as well as reconditioning their lawns. He says most folks will want to start with a good stiff rake, and focus on areas that look like they’re not in the best shape.

Then, they can add a layer of topsoil, which Allemon says really makes for a nice seedbed. Next, they can add grass seed, fertilizer and Canadian peat moss to aid the growing process.

For those who are looking for a new or different style of grass, early September is a good time to lay sod, Allemon added. And if homeowners don’t feel like adding plants to the landscape, what about taking on other projects, such as putting in a patio or a water feature?

Over in Pittsburgh, Charley Goetz and his crew at Brandon Landscape Maintenance (brandonlandscape.com) are telling their clients that late summer is a good time to prune most shade trees and spring flowering shrubs such as Forsythia and Lilac.

Just be sure to prune deciduous and evergreen hedges at this time of year as well. And spray a follow-up insecticide on all ornamental trees and shrubs.

The folks at Brandon know that red spider mites will do damage to evergreens, in particular close-needled dwarf varieties. So they advise spraying a miticide such as Malathion if noticed.

This chemical is only effective for 10 -15 days, so this should be done in before late summer. Check our next segment for some advice on planting a fall vegetable garden that will yield a tasty bounty into the early winter season.
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Prep Yourself Financially for a Natural Disaster

August 30, 2012 5:20 pm

Prep Yourself Financially for a Natural Disaster
September is National Preparedness Month and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) is offering tips to help individuals put their financial documents in order before a disaster strikes.

"While the first priority is the physical safety and well-being of you and your family, knowing that your banking and financial papers are safe gives you one less thing to worry about during times of duress," says Jeff Gerhart, chairman of ICBA and Bank of Newman Grove, Neb. “Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters remind us how important it is to be organized and have a plan. Having a financial preparedness plan will protect you and your family from the long-term effects of damaged or destroyed financial documents."

ICBA offers the following tips to help consumers prepare before an emergency occurs.

• Keep marriage and family records, including adoption papers, property deeds, birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, passports, Social Security cards, immunization records, credit card account numbers, car titles or lease contracts, bank and investment account numbers and three years of tax returns in a bank safe-deposit box. Put each of these documents in a sealed plastic bag to keep out moisture.
• Make and safeguard additional official copies of critical documents such as birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage certificates and the deed to your home for safekeeping and notify a trustee, close relative or attorney where your important financial information is located.
• Keep names and contact numbers for executors, trustees and guardians in a safe place, either in your safe deposit box or with a close relative.
• Take an inventory and keep a list of household valuables. Taking photographs of these items can help as well.
• Start and regularly contribute to an emergency fund that can cover at least three to four months of expenses. This fund should be separate from your savings or investment account.
• Include extra cash (ideally small denominations) in your home emergency kit, which should include a three-day supply of water, food, a first aid kit, can opener, flashlights, radio and extra batteries.
• Identify the records that you keep only on computer. They may not be available if electrical power fails, so make a printout and safeguard them or back them up to an external device or web storage facility.
• The web can serve as a supplement or back up to paper copies. Scanned or other electronic documents can be attached to e-mails and stored in your e-mail account or with secure online back-up services.
• If you feel flood insurance may be necessary to protect your home, start shopping around. Contact your insurance agent or visit FEMA’s website at www.fema.gov for more information.

Source: www.icba.org.
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Cranky Pants? 7 Positive Strategies for Managing Aggressive Behavior in Children

August 30, 2012 5:20 pm

As the school year starts, teachers (and parents) may worry about how to handle child who is "having a total meltdown." Some children may fall in a puddle of tears and sob, others yell and scream. What can be the hardest to handle is when a child becomes aggressive and hits, bites, shoves, throws things or kicks, possibly hurting themselves and others in a fit of anger or frustration.

"One of the most difficult issues when living and working with children of any age is knowing how to calmly, lovingly, and safely stop them if they are acting out in ways that are potentially harmful to themselves or others," says Irene van der Zande, child safety education expert and founder of Kidpower.org.

"Although aggressive behavior must be stopped, great harm can be done if an adult restrains an upset child in a way that is physically unsafe for the child or for the adult; acts worried or angry about the child being upset; or shames the child for losing control," writes van der Zande. "Firm, kind, matter-of-fact adult intervention is necessary for everyone’s emotional and physical safety."

Below are seven intervention strategies for managing aggressive behavior in children:
1. Be prepared that children will sometimes have difficulty staying in charge of their behavior.
2. Identify and reduce causes of stress that trigger outbursts.
3. Teach children how to recognize and manage the feelings and actions that lead to unsafe behavior.
4. Create a plan for how to prevent and handle outbursts for every place the child might be.
5. As the adult in charge, understand and stay in charge of your own emotional triggers.
6. Be a powerful, respectful, adult leader when taking charge of an out-of-control child.
7. When you are caring for other people's children, make a plan ahead of time with the parents and/or your work supervisor about how to handle problems and what you are and are not authorized to do to manage outbursts and keep kids safe.

"Children need to understand that all of their feelings are acceptable and normal, including anger," writes van der Zande. "Everyone gets upset sometimes and wants to do hurtful things. As adults, we can help our kids learn how to stay in charge of what they say and do even if they are feeling very angry or upset at that moment. Being able to recognize when you are feeling upset, take care of your feelings in positive ways, and act safely no matter how you feel inside are tremendous life skills."

Source: Kidpower.org.
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Word of the Day

August 30, 2012 5:20 pm

Restrictive covenants. Clauses placed in a deed to restrict the full use of the property by controlling how future landowners may or may not use the property; also used in leases.
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Q: Are Seller-Paid Points Deductible?

August 30, 2012 5:20 pm

A: For the buyer, yes, but not the seller – even though the seller pays them. Since January 1, 1991, homebuyers have been able to deduct points paid by the seller whereas, previously, they could only deduct the actual points they paid on the home loans themselves.
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How-To: Take the ‘Labor’ out of Housecleaning

August 29, 2012 5:18 pm

It's the stacks of dishes, piles of papers, and toys strewn everywhere that makes cleaning seem like an overwhelming chore for most homeowners. But once the clutter is removed, spaces look bigger, homeowners experience less stress and every room is easier to clean.

Below are five tips to make things easier:

Get organized
De-cluttering a home takes more effort and time than any other chore, but once it’s done, cleaning will be a snap. Start by tackling one room at a time. Go through the room and decide what to keep, what to sell or donate, and what items will go directly into the trash bin. Once that is finished, find a place to stow away all of the items you want to keep. Remember, the floor or the tops of tables, dressers or countertops are not storage areas. If you don't have enough storage space, invest in bookshelves, under-the-bed containers, or wicker baskets. Once your home is organized, don't bring in new items without eliminating something you already have.

Clean as you go

Housework is easier, less intimidating, and less time-consuming if you integrate individual chores into normal, daily activities. In the kitchen, for instance, clean as you cook. Fill the sink with soapy water and wash items as you use them or immediately place them in the dishwasher. While you wait for food to cook, get out the broom and dustpan and sweep the floor, or go through the mail and recycle what you don't need. In the bathroom, wipe down the tub or shower stall immediately after you've finished your morning routine. Do the same after you've used the sink. Remember to wipe the adjoining counter, too. All through the day, as you move from room to room, keep an eye out for items that are out of place and give them a home.

Keep cleaning supplies close at hand
Keeping supplies in the rooms where you will use them saves steps and time, and you will be more likely to clean up a mess as soon as you see it. Store a whisk broom and dustpan, a sponge or cleaning cloth, as well as other necessary cleaning products in the kitchen. Place appropriate cleaning supplies in each bathroom, too. If your home has several levels, keep a vacuum cleaner on each level.

Follow a schedule

For most busy people, it helps to build time to clean into their schedules. Clean the toilets every Saturday morning, for instance, and do the laundry on Thursday nights. Or you might choose to focus on one room each day. Schedule small cleaning tasks throughout the week, too, to make chores less onerous.

Now, not later
It only takes a few minutes to do some chores, so don't put them off. Make your bed every morning, throw out the trash as you leave the house for work, wash and fold the clothes while you're watching television, and pick up toys every night before bed.

Source: The Maids
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Top Tips for Finding the Perfect Sofa

August 29, 2012 5:18 pm

Whether you're browsing sofas online or hitting the stores, it can be tricky to find the right couch. Take a look at the following sofa buying guide to make sure you'll be sitting pretty on your new furniture.

Size
Before you start sofa shopping, you need to work out the exact size of your living space and how many people may be sitting at one time. Most large sofas will seat three adults comfortably, while a smaller sofa may only be suitable for two people. It's also important to work out the safe distance from a sofa to a radiator to prevent the risk of fire. You should also gauge whether a new sofa will fit through a tight doorway or space.

If you're short on space or have low ceilings, consider choosing a sofa with a low back to create the illusion of more room. Modular sofas are also a great flexible option for open-plan rooms or smaller spaces.

Material

Leather or fabric has become one of the biggest dilemmas when it comes to buying a sofa. Plain leather sofas are a fantastic way to add a contemporary feel to a home, while fabric furniture offers a greater range of colors and patterns. A leather sofa is a great choice if you would like your furniture to age over time, becoming part of the family as the years go by. A fabric sofa with washable loose covers, on the other hand, is perfect for anyone with young children or pets.

Filling
The filling of a sofa determines its level of support and appearance. Foam-filled sofas offer a structured look and provide firm support for anyone with limited mobility. Fiber upholstery offers a more relaxed finish with a softer sit, while feather-filled upholstery needs to be plumped up regularly, but is ideal for anyone who loves to curl up on the sofa for hours on end.

Make sure to browse, compare prices, and do a lot of test sits before choosing your next piece of furniture.

Source: http://www.csl-sofas.co.uk
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Word of the Day

August 29, 2012 5:18 pm

Reserve account. An account for money collected each month by a lender to pay for property taxes and property insurance as they come due.
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