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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

Question of the Day

July 18, 2012 5:56 pm

Q: How Do I Find the Right Agent for Me?

A: To begin with, think local. Select someone who is very familiar with your neighborhood and the properties for sale in it. Then, if you are selling, say, a condominium, choose an agent with expertise selling apartments to potential homeowners.

Because you will want the widest possible exposure for your home, you also will want a real estate firm that works with other agencies to get your property sold. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) used by Realtors, licensed members of the National Association of Realtors, is still the most common and effective form of cooperation used today.

Beyond these parameters, select an agent who is competent, efficient, and ethical. Perhaps the agent who first sold you your home would be a perfect candidate. If not, ask family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations, or choose a firm headed by an individual who is known in your community.
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5 Food Safety Tips for Summer Grilling

July 17, 2012 5:54 pm

From backyard barbeques to picnic cookouts, Americans celebrate summer by eating outdoors. As Americans turn to grilling alfresco, keep the following five food safety tips in mind, to ensure safe and memorable summer grilling experiences.

"In professional kitchens, trained staff and multiple safeguards ensure that food safety protocol is followed, but at home it's easy to let food safety practices be as casual as the food you are cooking on the grill," says Greg Beachey, senior academic relations and program manager with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

"Food safety is as important in the home as it is in restaurants to ensure safe and enjoyable meals for you and your family and friends. To underscore that importance, we collected tips from our professional food safety training experts and applied them to outdoor grilling at home or picnics."

The food safety tips recommended by the NRA for grilling at home are:

1. Wash your hands. Hand-washing is the first defense against cross-contamination - i.e. not spreading germs from one place to another. Wash hands before handling any food, and always after handling raw meats. To wash your hands properly, wet hands/arms with water as hot as you can comfortably stand; add soap; scrub hands/arms for 10 to 15 seconds (the time it takes to slowly recite aloud the "Pledge of Allegiance"); rinse with warm water; and dry hands with a single-use paper towel or hand-dryer, if available.

2. Pack your cooler correctly. Always keep cold foods cold; use a thermometer to make sure you are maintaining a temperature of 41°F or lower. Pack raw food that you intend to cook (like raw hamburgers) in a separate cooler from food that is already cooked and ready to eat, including beverages and produce. If you use ice in your raw foods cooler, don't use that ice for anything else.

3. Prep raw and ready-to-eat foods separately. Use separate cutting boards and other prep surfaces for raw and cooked food to minimize cross-contamination risk. A good way to remember which is which is to use different colored boards, for example red for meats and green for vegetables.

4. Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods. After putting raw burgers, chicken breasts or other meats on the grill, switch to clean spatulas, tongs and plates. Using the same utensils and surfaces for uncooked and cooked meats could lead to cross-contamination.

5. Cook food to safe temperatures. Raw meat and poultry could contain bacteria that can lead to food borne illness if not properly cooked. Because heat kills bacteria, be sure to cook hamburgers to an internal temperature of 155°F for at least 15 seconds. Chicken and turkey are safe at 165°F, and steaks and chops at 145°F. Always use a meat thermometer and measure the middle of the thickest part of the food.

Source: www.nraef.com.
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6 Ways to Cut Clutter At Home

July 17, 2012 5:54 pm

With the kids home from school for the summer and many families planning stay-cations this year, it’s a fair bet a lot of clutter will find its way into your home. But, says housekeeping service manager Jean Pennyman, you can use the extra daylight hours to organize the family’s daily routines and keep the clutter from mounting this summer and throughout the year.

Pennyman suggests six starting points as a roadmap for clearing the decks:

• Look for the hot spots – Where is the clutter piling up? Are games, books, magazines and craft supplies being left out in the open? Are dishes and cereal boxes piling up in the kitchen? Who needs a reminder to clean up after themselves?
• Dump the duplicates – Do you really need two non-stick spatulas? Six hairbrushes or 15 unmatched coffee mugs? Tossing the duplicates is one of the easiest way to de-clutter – and remember to toss out the old whenever you bring in the new.
• Add clutter control solutions – Add additional shelving to bedrooms, family rooms, and laundry areas to get books, hobby materials and other supplies off desktops and floors. Buy a few stackable clear plastic storage boxes. Strategically placed, they can hold bill-paying and stationery supplies, hobby materials, toys and games and more. In the kitchen, bathroom and linen closet, use drawer dividers, baskets and pantry turntables to organize kitchen gadgets and spices, hold incoming mail and brochures, and get soaps and shampoos and hair décor off the counter.
• Schedule cleanups – Assign each family member a living area (besides their own bedrooms!) and a day of the week to de-clutter it: get scattered supplies into bins and baskets, update the mail and bills, and clear magazines, games and newspapers off the tables.
• Go through closets – Getting rid of clothes and other things you no longer use will give you much-needed closet space. Be ruthless. Stop holding onto out-of-style or ill-fitting clothes that “you may want to wear again someday.”
• Beware nostalgia – It’s not easy for doting parents to toss out a child’s creation –whether it’s a drawing or a collage. Try taking pictures of the child with the item and let the photo be your remembrance. The same is true for 10-year old trophies and other outdated memorabilia taking up space around the house.
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Simple Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

July 17, 2012 5:54 pm

When it comes to our bodies, we all strive to take the best care of ourselves. As hard as we try, however, it’s easy to get caught up in a hectic lifestyle and let all your good intentions fall by the wayside. For a long-term healthy lifestyle, you'll need to find a balance between good eating habits and physical activity.
That's the message from the "Let's move!" campaign, a nationwide initiative designed to fight the growing rate of childhood obesity, and promote a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages.

Here are a few simple tips to help you and your children live a healthier life:

• Eat five fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables are important sources of essential vitamins, regardless of your age. Plus, they also help you manage your weight. Serve fruits and vegetables to children by mixing them with other foods —such as adding broccoli to rice, or vegetables to a sandwich. You can also blend them and make a nutritious, flavorful and 100% natural fruit and vegetable juice.
• Prepare dishes that are low in fat and sugars. For a healthier diet, buy low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as cereals low in sugar. Also, try baking or grilling dishes like fish and poultry instead of frying them. If you do plan to fry food, use vegetable or olive oil instead of lard or butter.
• Serve healthy snacks. It's always a good idea to have healthy snacks around, especially if you have children. You can serve something simple, healthy, and delicious by cutting up some carrots, strawberries or apples. Tell your children to ask you for permission before eating a snack that has too much sugar. That way it will be easier for you to decide how many sugary treats they get to eat.
• Keep an eye on portion sizes. Portion sizes can have an impact on how much you eat, even after you are full. You can avoid overeating at your kitchen table by serving smaller portions, particularly to children. If they want more, they can ask for a second portion. Also, avoid making them eat everything on the plate if they say they are full.
• Turn the TV off and go outside. Televisions are not the only devices that promote sedentary lifestyles. These days, computers, tablets and smart phones offer round-the-clock entertainment. Put these devices away for a moment and go to the park, ride a bike, run or walk. Children should engage in moderate physical activities for 60 minutes a day.
• Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle, particularly when it comes to children. A recent study found that a child is 9 percent less likely to be overweight or obese for every additional hour of sleep he or she gets each night. Children who are five years or younger need 11 hours of sleep per day; children between 5 and 10 need 10 hours per day; and children older than 10 need nine hours of sleep.

Source: GobiernoUSA.gov/USA.gov
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Hot? How to Keep Your Cool in Extreme Heat

July 17, 2012 5:54 pm

In this hot and humid midsummer weather, it’s important to keep your cool. Taking precautions can go a long way, keeping you safe and comfortable. The following safety tips can give you a head start.

• Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat and high humidity, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, movie theaters, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in your area.
• Stay hydrated. The minimum daily water intake (on an average day) is 1/2 your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should have at least 75 ounces of water per day. When temperatures rise, drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages and increase your water and total fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Rapid weight loss may be a sign of dehydration. Don't drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar — these actually can cause you to lose more body fluid.
• Pay special attention. Pregnant women, children, the elderly (65 years and older) and people with acute or chronic health conditions are more prone to heat stress. Make frequent checks on the status of friends, relatives and neighbors in these categories. If necessary, move them to an air-conditioned environment during the hottest part of the day.
• Do not leave anyone — children, disabled individuals, pets — in cars for even brief periods. Temperatures can rise to life-threatening levels in a matter of minutes.
• Use fans to increase ventilation. If the temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of having a fan blow hot air in from a window, have the fan blow the hot air to the outside. At extreme high temperatures, a fan loses its ability to effectively reduce heat-related illness.
• Reduce body temperature. Cool showers, baths, and sponge baths can be used to reduce body temperatures. In addition, wet clothing has a cooling effect.

Source: The Minnesota Chiropractic Association
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Word of the Day

July 17, 2012 5:54 pm

Mortgagee. Party or institution that lends money; the creditor.
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Q: Do I Need an Attorney to Sell a Home?

July 17, 2012 5:54 pm

A: Although most sellers can handle routine real estate purchase contracts, some experts say it is a good idea to be represented by an attorney, particularly if you are selling on your own. You should choose one with expertise in real estate transactions. Before hiring someone discuss all the details of the transaction, including all legal costs you will incur. A good attorney can assist you.
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7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Health

July 16, 2012 5:54 pm

Most adults today are beginning to get the message: eat better and exercise more to be at your best and live longer. But, according to studies published recently by the editors of Men’s Health, there are a few simple – and very specific – measures we can take that are shown to boost health tack years onto our life span.

Health editors suggest starting with these seven tips:

1. Pack in the raw veggies – Italian researchers have found that eating a cup of raw vegetables daily can add up to two years to your life. So skip the soup and have a raw veggie salad for lunch – or pack a baggie full of cut-up veggies to munch on throughout the day.
2. Water, water – Scientists at Loma Linda University found that men who drink five 8-ounce glasses of water daily are 54 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack than those who drink two glasses or less.
3. Nuts to you – Loma Linda researchers also found that people who munched on two ounces of mixed nuts daily earned an extra 2.9 years on the planet. (Be sure the mix contains walnuts, which are sometimes left out of popular nut mixes.)
4. Burger one, cheese zero – The burger may not be so bad, researchers have found. But leave off the melting cheese – and steer clear of other fatty add-ons like mayonnaise, goopy sauces and full-fat salad dressings.
5. Be a pedal pusher – Not every city is blessed with lots of bike lanes – but look for them wherever you live. Danish studies claim that biking, hiking or jogging the running trails – even for as little as an hour a week – can add up to 6.2 years to your life.
6. Phone a friend – In a study of seventy-somethings, Australian researchers found that those with the largest network of friends, and those with the busiest social lifestyles, lived more than seven years longer than the more sedentary loners.
7. Plan for retirement - And not just financially! A Yale University study of older adults found that those with plans for retirement and a positive attitude lived more than seven years longer those who felt doomed to aging. Volunteering, especially, was seen as a healthy and gratifying distraction from getting older.
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Six Summer Sleeping Tips That Keep Kids Well-Rested

July 16, 2012 5:54 pm

From family road trips and backyard BBQs, to sun-filled days spent splashing in the pool -- summer is the time for fun. But with all the increased activity, sometimes things like kids' bedtimes and regular schedules go out the window.

"Sleep experts estimate that school-age kids need at least nine hours of sleep per night to stay healthy and active," says Ben Thorud, Senior Vice President of Ashley Sleep. "When school is out during the summertime, children's bedtimes, diets and routines often change dramatically compared to the rest of the year. All of these factors can lead to sleep deprivation, which can result in personality changes, temper tantrums and lower energy levels."

So how can you keep children well-rested, energized and ready to seize their day until Fall rolls around again? Below are six easy-to-follow tips for better sleep:
1. Don't Overschedule. While it's important to keep kids engaged and active over the summer, it's also important to leave some unstructured free time for playing and exploring. Overscheduling your children can lead to stress and lack of sleep.
2. Keep the Summer Heat Outside. For optimal sleeping, bedroom temperatures should be somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees. To keep A/C bills under control, supplement with ceiling fans or other forms of ventilation. A cool shower or bath before bedtime can also help lower body temperature, for a more restful night's sleep.
3. Block out the Light. In the summertime, the sun comes up bright and early, causing kids to wake up before they're ready. Try using blackout shades to keep the room dark.
4. Set a Realistic Bedtime. Consider your lifestyle changes over the summer and come up with a bedtime you can actually follow. Once you find one that works for your family, stick to it.
5. Keep Summer Vacations in Check. Sometimes eating and sleeping habits fall to the wayside during summer trips. While it can be challenging, try to stick with your regular schedule as closely as possible during vacations to avoid sleepy, irritable children.
6. Say "No" to Too Much Sugar/Caffeine. From caffeine-laden chocolate and soda pop to other sugary treats, kids' diets can easily get out of hand if you're not careful. Try to limit the types of snacks that tend to wreak havoc at bedtime.
Source: AshleySleep.com.
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Keep Clean: Tips to Battle Stains

July 16, 2012 5:54 pm

Nothing ruins a new outfit or clean carpet faster than a stain. But between eating on the fly, entertaining friends and taking care of the family, well, life gets messy!

“It’s no accident that July honors one of our most fun but also messiest foods,” Bob Kearn, president and CEO of COIT, said, noting that July is National Ice Cream Month. “Between ice cream spills and beverage stains, picnics and parties, it’s no wonder many of our customers are turning to us for help.”

For the best chance at preventing permanent carpet staining, it’s important in most cases to act quickly when a spill occurs and not to allow stains to dry. Test the following suggested solutions in an inconspicuous area first and always use clean, white towels to blot. Some of the most common summer carpeting spills and their quick remedies include:

Ice cream: Create an ammonia solution that includes one tablespoon of clear ammonia for each half cup of water and a dish detergent solution that includes one teaspoon of mild dish detergent for every cup of water. Apply warm water or soda water to the stain and blot. Apply the dish detergent solution and blot. Apply the ammonia solution and blot again. Finally, rinse with tap water and blot dry.

Chocolate: Use the same ammonia and dish detergent solutions as you would use for an ice cream stain. In addition, you will need a white vinegar solution made by mixing one-third of a cup of white distilled vinegar with two-thirds of a cup of water. Apply the cool dish detergent solution and blot. Next, apply the ammonia solution and blot. Rinse with tap water and blot again, and then apply the white vinegar solution. Rinse with tap water and blot dry.

Alcohol, including beer and whiskey: Squirt the stain with warm tap water or soda water, and then blot dry (carpet shampoo might also be effective).

Coffee, tea, or cola: Mix one third of a cup of white distilled vinegar with two-thirds of a cup of water. Flush the stain first with cold tap water or soda water, then apply the white vinegar solution and blot. Rinse with water and blot dry.

Mud: Mix a solution that includes one teaspoon of mild dish detergent to one cup of water. Mud is one of the few stains that you should first allow to dry before cleaning. Brush, scrape or vacuum off as much of the dried dirt as possible. Apply the dish detergent solution, and then rinse with tap water and blot dry.

Gravy, ketchup, and mustard: These stains can be tackled with either a dish detergent solution or a laundry detergent solution. In either case, use one teaspoon of mild detergent for every cup of water. You can also create a white vinegar solution by mixing one-third of a cup of white distilled vinegar for every two-thirds cup water. Apply the solution you’re using to the stain and blot. Rinse with tap water and blot dry.

Fruit, juice, jelly, soda, and artificial colors: To remove these common summer stains, follow the same directions as for gravy, ketchup, and mustard above.

Source: www.coit.com.
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