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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

Q : Is A Vacation Home a Good Investment?

June 27, 2012 7:14 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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Lessons in Landscaping: Root Rights

June 27, 2012 5:14 pm

Putting down roots is usually considered a good thing, right? But when you're literally putting down roots, as in planting a tree, you need to take several factors into consideration BEFORE you break out the shovels.

Trees are hardy plants, and their roots fight back against man-made limits around them, according to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). That's why planning is important - because as roots grow, they can break walls, pipes and patios, causing damage to properties.

"Before you plant a new tree, you need to understand how a tree could damage your property and take appropriate measures to prevent that damage," advises Tchukki Andersen, Board Certified Master Arborist and staff arborist with the TCIA.

Woody tree roots thicken as they grow, gradually pushing toward soil near the surface which is best suited for root growth. As a result, they often grow against the underside of pavement and become intrusive.

Some masons and landscapers may deal with intrusive roots by grinding down or removing them. But this can be expensive and is very harmful, because it leaves a tree vulnerable to disease.

Cutting major roots also reduces a tree's ability to take up nutrients and water, leaving it more susceptible to drought. Finally, cutting roots can reduce a tree's structural support, which increases the danger of the tree toppling during heavy weather events.

The TCIA recommends when cutting problem tree roots:
• The farther you cut from the trunk, the less threat to the tree's health, and the less danger of creating a hazard
• Try not to cut roots greater than two inches in diameter
• Prune roots back to a side or sinker root (growing downward) when possible
Roots that may become severed recover better when you:
• Cut them cleanly with a saw instead of breaking them with a backhoe
• Mulch and water well after root pruning
• Consult a qualified arborist when cutting within a distance equal to five times the trunk diameter to the trunk
In our next segment we'll talk about root management and picking the right tree for your site.
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Make Time for Mindful Eating

June 27, 2012 5:14 pm

How often do you scarf down lunch in front of your computer, inhale a snack in the car or eat your dinner while catching up on your favorite TV shows? While this may seem like a great way to save time—and we’re all about multitasking—it’s actually not a good habit to develop and can lead to over eating, and create a major disconnect between our mind and our appetite.

"When we are out of touch with our eating, and with our bodies, it is easy to overeat and for weight to creep upwards," says Jenny Conviser, Psy.D., co-owner of Insight Psychological Centers and a leading expert in the treatment of eating disorders. "Some of the strategies we use in working with patients who struggle with binge eating disorder, can be useful to everyone who wants to establish mindful eating patterns."

Even if you have a healthy relationship with food, you may not be giving it your full attention. Mindful eating helps you appreciate each meal, learn when you’re hungry and when you’re just stressed or bored, and allow you to maintain a healthy weight. The following tips can help you eat mindfully.

Create a peaceful eating space. Even if you’re just clearing a corner of your desk (not in front of your computer!), creating a clear spot for you to enjoy your meals can help you feel a sense of calm that is hard to harvest when sitting at a cluttered surface.

Make time. It should take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal. While most people scarf their meals down in less than half of that time, aim to take a 15-minute break to focus on eating your meals. When we eat on the fly, our brains often don’t register the meal completely, which can lead to over eating later.

Eat sitting down. This battles mindless munching while standing at the fridge or pantry. Since we aren’t eating in front of the TV anymore (right?!) this means taking your snack to a table and focusing on your food, which will make you less likely to over-eat just because you’re zoning out—or focusing on the newest episode of Real Housewives.

Hone in on hunger. When you have the urge to eat, picture yourself sitting down to a full meal. If this is appealing, then you’re probably hungry. If not, you may be stressed, tired or bored. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat. Distract yourself instead. Call a friend, take a walk or work on a project. Hungry? Go ahead and eat, right away. Waiting too long to eat or skipping meals can lead to unhealthy binges later.

Use your senses. Now that you’re taking the time to focus on your food, begin to notice each sensation. Savor flavors and textures. Focus on smell, color and taste combinations. By being conscious of each bite of food, and enjoying food as a full sensory experience, chances are you will appreciate it more, and possibly need less to feel satiated.

Check in with yourself. Our portion sizes are usually out of control. Now that you’re focusing on your food, begin downsizing your portions or taking breaks midway through your meal to check in with yourself. Are you truly still hungry? If not, wrap up the rest of your meal for later.
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5 Simple Tips to Safely Store Medicines while Traveling

June 27, 2012 5:14 pm

With summer here and vacation season underway, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) Educational Foundation, in partnership with the PROTECT Initiative, have released five medicine safety tips for families traveling with young children.

According to a recent travel report, more than three in five U.S. adults (64 percent), or an estimated 154 million Americans, plan to go on at least one vacation over the next several months.

The percentage of Americans planning to travel between May and October 2012 is up from 64 percent last April, and 56 percent in April 2010.

"Thousands of young children end up in emergency departments every year after getting into medicine while their parents or caregivers are not looking," says Dan Budnitz, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC's Medication Safety Program. "Accidental ingestions don't take a vacation, so it's important for parents to keep medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight at home, and also when families are away from their homes and staying in hotels or as guests in other's homes."

Tips for safely storing medicines and vitamins on-the-go, include:
1. When packing for a trip, keep your medicines in their original child-resistant containers. Other containers, such as pill organizers and baggies, often lack child safety features and can be easily accessed by young children.
2. While staying in a hotel, secure your medicines and vitamins in a location that your children cannot see or reach, such as a high cabinet or passcode-protected hotel room safe.
3. As a guest in another person's home, do not be shy about asking where you should put your medicines and vitamins so they are up and away and out of the sight and reach of children.
4. Remember to never leave medicines or vitamins out on a table, countertop, or bedside table where your children could reach them no matter where you are – always make sure the safety caps are locked and put them away every time they are used.
5. Program the national Poison Help number – 1-800-222-1222 – along with other emergency contact numbers into your cell phone, so that they are available in case of an emergency.

Source: UpandAway.org
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Q: What Are Some Considerations I Should Take into Account When Buying a New Home?

June 26, 2012 7:10 pm

A: You can find out more about an existing property and neighborhood before you buy than you can a new home in a newly developed community.

When the home is on the outskirts of town, ask the developer about future access to public transit, entertainment venues, shopping centers, churches, and schools. Also review local zoning ordinances. A remote area can quickly turn into a fast food haven.

You want to ensure the neighborhood will not spiral out of control and lose its residential appeal.
Other things to consider:
• Ask homeowners already living in a development about the builder. If none currently live there, find out where the builder has previously built and speak to those owners to find out if the builder followed through on promises and needed repairs.
• Ability to make changes. Most homes in a development resemble each other. But the developer may impose restrictions on house color, landscaping, renovations, and other items that a homeowner may want to alter.
• Do not buy into the highfalutin images created by marketing experts. Form your own opinions about a property and only buy where you feel comfortable. After all, you are the one who will be living there.

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Word of the Day

June 26, 2012 7:10 pm

Lease. Contract that conveys the right to use property for a period of time in return for a consideration, usually rent, paid to the property owner.
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Home Organization for the Busy Household

June 26, 2012 7:10 pm

(ARA) - Between work, school, children's activities, family obligations and travel plans, today's busy families are left with little time to keep their homes tidy and well-organized. With summer fast approaching, it is important for on-the-go families to realize that home organization does not have to be difficult or time consuming.

If you follow these tips, you will learn to prioritize your home organization needs, delegate responsibilities, and ultimately save valuable time:

Make a plan: Keep a small journal in which you list all the areas you would like to tackle before the summer. This will remind you what to focus on and help you organize and clean in less time.

"Busy families need a good system of organization - places to put things and labels for identifying what you've stored so you can easily find whatever you need quickly and easily," says Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Teach your family to pitch in: If you're the main housekeeper, it's reasonable to ask family members to help with chores such as loading the dishwasher, picking up toys, taking out the trash and doing the laundry. Delegating small chores throughout the year makes larger organization projects a much easier task.

Stick to a schedule: Try a dry-erase weekly planner calendars, allowing you to create chore charts for family members and assign each task a time slot or day of the week. Place the chart on the door of the refrigerator, so everyone sees it regularly. Schedule a cleaning task as you would a play date or other fun activity.

Tackle one room at a time: To prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed, it is important to identify the areas that need to be organized. From there, determine which tasks are most necessary in each of those rooms. For example, in your home office, you may need to declutter your desktop by filing away papers in magazine files or organizing financial information in a freestanding accordion file.

Use bins and labels to organize trash: Instead of simply dividing items into separate piles that will likely get knocked over or mixed up, use plastic bins and adhesive labels that say keep, recycle, or donate.

These simple steps make home organization more enjoyable and manageable for a busy, active family. Follow the tips to freshen up your home and get ready to enjoy summer.

Source: Staples.com
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4 Basic Tips for Safer Senior Web Surfing

June 26, 2012 7:10 pm

While the number of seniors active online continues to grow, there are still many expressing reluctance to use the web due to fear of the potential dangers associated with online activity. Rather than see seniors forego the benefits that can be derived from the web, especially from social networking, the following tips can help family caregivers teach online safety.

“The web is a tool that can produce many benefits for seniors,” says Barry Birkett, Senior Care Corner co-founder. “Our tips are intended to serve as part of the instructions for using that tool safely and with respect for what can happen if a user isn’t cautious.”

There are many practices users employ to protect themselves online, so many that an exhaustive list may serve to reinforce the fears keeping many seniors from the web. Senior Care Corner’s list of senior web safety tips is intended to be short enough to be memorable and applied by those new to the Internet but still guide them to safe online practices.

Basic Tips for Online Safety
1. As said so well in the movie “The Social Network,” “the internet isn’t written in pencil, it’s written in ink.” In other words, keep in mind that anything posted on Facebook, written in an email or which otherwise makes it online just might be out there permanently—and control is lost once it’s posted. Many people have experienced negative repercussions from information they, friends or loved ones have innocently posted online.
2. When it comes to email, don’t click on any links unless absolutely certain they’re legitimate; don’t assume that official looking emails from your bank, the government or anyone is from the party listed as the sender – confirm separately before providing any private or personal information; and, don’t believe too-good-to-be-true news of prizes, requests to help move money from other nations, or other stories.
3. Choose passwords and password hints – those questions websites ask for use when you forget your password – carefully. Be sure to avoid using information that someone seeking to access your accounts can find on your Facebook page or elsewhere online - - because they are looking. Unfortunately, many of the hint questions used by sites request information often available in social media profiles.
4. When accessing the web through a public WiFi hotspot, such as those found at coffee shops, fast food outlets and many other locations, avoid entering passwords or other private information to avoid having it stolen by someone eavesdropping on your online activity through the hotspot. For loved ones in a senior living facility, check with the staff to learn how to access the internet securely, as most now provide accommodation for residents.
While these tips don’t guarantee 100 percent safety online, when combined with a sense of caution in one’s approach to activity on the web they will go a long way in assuring users an experience that is enjoyable.

Source: SeniorCareCorner.com
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Bathroom Remodeling for Style and Space

June 26, 2012 7:10 pm

(ARA) - Now, more than ever, homeowners are adding to the value and comfort of their homes by renovating bathrooms into private retreats with luxurious touches that rival those of an upscale spa or resort.

Ron and Susan Bishop of Adams Township, Pa., recently completed an extensive remodel of the master bathroom in their 20-year-old home. The remake covered nearly every square inch of the space, including the installation of new cabinets, tile, floor coverings and lighting. The couple says one of the biggest highlights is the custom shower enclosure, which uses a fused-on coating to keep its showroom appearance over time.

When considering an update for your bathroom, whether you choose to do an extensive remodel or a smaller project, most kitchen and bath designers agree on these tips:

Consider the size of the bathroom. If you have a small room, look for ways to make it feel more expansive. A sleek, stylish glass shower enclosure helps your bathroom appear more spacious, and in most instances, a frameless shower enclosure will provide the cleanest, most open look. If you decide to go with a framed shower enclosure, you'll have two choices: frameless sliding doors or framed doors. For framed doors, be sure the finish of the metal framing and handles matches your bathroom fixtures.

Think outside the box. Taking a creative approach to bathroom necessities can help you make the most of your space. For instance, the majority of shower enclosures are square or rectangular, but today's designers encourage you to think about other shapes. Don't be afraid to consider a circular or oval-shaped enclosure, a triangle or even a standard shape with an artfully bowed glass door, which can redefine the space and make your bathroom more versatile.

Brighten things up. Repainting your bathroom with light colors can make it feel more spacious. If your bathroom has windows or skylights, use window treatments and accents that maximize the amount of light that comes through to give the room a more airy feel.

Find the best use for your space. Move bathroom cleaning items to a hall closet if you are stretched for storage space in your bathroom, especially if you have freestanding storage units that are taking up valuable floor space. If you need more storage space, consider adding built-in compartments if possible between your wall studs to maximize useable space.

It's been shown time and time again that remodeling a bathroom can add to a home's value. Whether you want to sell or just enjoy your home more, it's one of the most practical and dramatic ways to make your home more appealing.

Source: www.ppgclarvista.com.
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Summer Travel Is Still in Style

June 26, 2012 7:10 pm

As the economy improves, consumers are hitting the road and increasing their summer vacation budgets, with 53 percent planning to spend more than $1,500 compared to 39 percent in 2011. Orbitz surveyed nearly 1,000 U.S. travelers about their summer travel plans and of those surveyed 77 percent are taking a vacation this summer with more than half (56 percent) planning to travel by car and 39 percent by air. The majority of consumers (60 percent) said gas prices will be a factor in where they travel this summer.

Based on the Orbitz survey, more consumers are planning to travel in July (31 percent) rather than in June (18 percent) or August (20 percent) with the rest of travelers still undecided. With increased airfares and hotel rates this summer, researching deals and being flexible on travel dates can stretch summer vacation budgets.

"Hotel prices in many of the most popular destination this summer are cheaper in June vs. July, including those in eight of the Orbitz top 10 summer destinations," says Jeanenne Tornatore, Senior Editor of Orbitz.com. "Travelers that can be flexible on travel dates should consider a June getaway when daily hotel rates are 6 percent less expensive, on average."

3 Tips to Avoiding the Budget Barrier

Consumers should not let budgets be the barrier to taking a more than memorable vacation this summer. For those looking to take a fabulous vacation without stretching their finances, Tornatore shares a few summer budget travel tips:

• Follow the sale. Even with rising travel costs this year, summer promotions and deals are plentiful.
• Search all nearby airports and consider traveling on off-peak days and times to help curb higher airfare costs. Expanding search options to include airports within a reasonable radius to departure and arrival destinations will provide more flight and price options. Also, traveling on off-peak days such as early in the week versus the weekend will save consumers green this summer.
• Book a package deal. Avoid a la carte booking and combine air, hotel and car together to optimize savings.

Additional Findings from the Orbitz Summer Travel Survey

• More travelers feel guilty about leaving behind their pet (33 percent) than their children (30 percent) when they go on vacation.
• Americans wish the U.S. would follow Europe's suit regarding paid time off, with 44 percent of survey respondents believing the government should mandate companies to offer at least four weeks of vacation per year.
• Nearly half (47 percent) of survey respondents are getting summer travel ideas through social media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest.
• 54 percent of consumers said they would attend the Summer Olympics in London this year if money were no object.
• The majority of consumers plan to travel domestically (81 percent), but more consumers are planning to travel internationally this year (19 percent vs. 11 percent in 2011).

Source: Orbitz.com
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