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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

Getaway Hot Spots: The World’s Most Romantic Hotels

February 7, 2012 5:58 pm

With Valentine’s day less than a week away, many are booking last minute getaways for two. TripAdvisor® (NASDAQ: TRIP), one of the world’s largest travel sites, recently announced the winners of its 2012 Travelers’ Choice Romance awards, honoring the most romantic hotels in the U.S. and the world. TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travelers around the world.

Worldwide, French Polynesia was the top location for lovers, with three hotels in the top five, including the number one property, the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. Among U.S. hotels, Kauai, Hawaii properties were popular among travelers seeking an amorous escape with two winners in the top five—the Koa Kea Hotel & Resort in Poipu topping the list and Princeville’s St. Regis Princeville Resort coming in at number five. California hotels were also highly recommended for romance, with three properties claiming spots on the list.

“For travelers seeking a romantic getaway with their significant other, whether it be for Valentine’s Day or any other romantic occasion, TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Romance hotels offer inspiration for enchanting escapes across the globe,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor.

2012 Travelers’ Choice Romance Hotels – World:
1. Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, Motu Tehotu, French Polynesia
2. Capella Ixtapa, Paseo Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico
3. Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, Moorea, Papetoai, French Polynesia
4. The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, Motu Ome’e, French Polynesia
5. Tokoriki Island Resort, Tokoriki Island, Fiji
6. Jade Mountain Resort, Soufriere, St. Lucia
7. Andronis Luxury Suites, Thiras Oias, Oia, Greece
8. Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
9. Mariaggi’s Theme Suites Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
10. Royal Davui Island Resort, Royal Davui Island, Fiji

2012 Travelers’ Choice Romance Hotels – U.S.:
1. Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
2. Starfish Manor Oceanfront Hotel, Lincoln City, Ore.
3. Inn of the Dove – Bensalem, Bensalem, Pa.
4. Spindrift Inn, Monterey, Calif.
5. St. Regis Princeville Resort, Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii
6. Ocean Lodge, Saint Simons Island, Ga.
7. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key, Fla.
8. Queen of Hearts Resort, Palm Springs, Calif.
9. Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Forestville, Calif.
10. Castle Hill Inn, Newport, R.I

For more information, visit

Word of the Day

February 7, 2012 5:58 pm

Warranty deed. A deed in which the grantor guarantees that he or she is giving the grantee good title free of encumbrances. Considered to be the best deed a grantee can receive.

Question of the Day

February 7, 2012 5:58 pm

Q: What basic services can I expect an architect to provide?

A: Most projects require a set of basic services. They are as follows: preliminary, or schematic, design; design development; preparation of construction documents (drawings and specifications); assistance in the bidding or negotiation process, and the administration of the agreement between you and your builder or contractor, if needed. Some projects will require other services, such as pre-design work, which includes budgeting and financing packages, as well as planning and zoning applications. Projects may also include special cost or energy analyses, models and tenant-related design.

Home Safety: It’s Electric

February 6, 2012 5:54 pm

In December, I declared 2012 would be the 'Year of the Rehab.' But it is also important to remember that whether you're engaging in a major construction project, changing a light bulb, or just going about your daily routine, keeping safe at home should be your ultimate goal 24/7.

It may be shocking to learn that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. And shocks have little to do with it!

About half the injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords. Sadly, 13 percent of the injuries involve children under-five years of age; with electrical burns to the mouth accounting for half those injuries to young children.

The CPSC also estimates that about 3,300 residential fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 others. The most frequent causes of such fires are short circuits, overloading, damage, and/or misuse of extension cords.

The National Electrical Code says that many cord-connected appliances should be equipped with polarized grounding type plugs. Polarized plugs have one blade slightly wider than the other and can only be inserted one way into the outlet.

Polarization and grounding ensure that certain parts of appliances that could have a higher risk of electric shock when they become live are instead connected to the neutral, or grounded, side of the circuit. Such electrical products should only be used with polarized or grounding type extension cords.

In our next segment, we will review a punch list of safety recommendations about extension cords.

4 Ways to Make Saving a Priority

February 6, 2012 5:54 pm

It’s tough in today’s economy, when so many of us are focused on paying the bills, to think about saving money. But, say the money experts at, it may be time to re-think the idea that putting away small amounts will never add up to anything much.

In fact, little changes in your thinking can make a big difference in helping you reach your goals. Here are four small but sensible ways to help make saving the priority it needs to be in your life:

• The latte factor – Even if you are pinching pennies, you may be allowing yourself a morning or afternoon latte at $2.50 or more several times a week. Multiplied by as few as 10 days a month, that’s $25. Multiply that by 12 months and you’re at $300 a year—not a fortune, but significant enough if you were to start taking coffee to work and putting that $300 in the bank.
• Finding your latte factor – So you’re not hanging out at the coffee bar. Where are you indulging yourself? Begin writing down everything you spend outside of paying bills. After a few weeks, it should become evident where small amounts are slipping through the cracks: the vending machine? Convenience store snacks? Magazines you could be reading for free at the library? Once you determine where your cash is leaking, take pains to patch up the holes.
• Pay yourself first – Uncle Sam takes his bite out of your paycheck before you ever see it. On the assumption you can’t spend it if you don’t see it, become your own Uncle Sam. Put a portion—however small—of every paycheck into automatic savings. Look at the latte factor, above, to realize how it can add up.
• Compound interest - $300 a year may not sound like much in terms of funding retirement. But here’s a quick lesson in how compound interest can make a head-spinning difference. Start with a small amount—say, $50 a month into your company’s 401k plan beginning when you are out of college. Some 45 years later, when you retire at 67, you’d have a nest egg of about $138,000 (figuring a conservative average of 6 percent compounded interest). If you were to increase your contribution by just 10 percent each year (paying in $55 a month in the second year and so forth), you would have over $935,000.

Appliance Warranties Can Save You Stress and Money

February 6, 2012 5:54 pm

These days, making the decision to purchase a new home can be much more stressful than it once was. There are countless factors and steps that need to be taken into account before you settle in. A major factor is around finances and how you, as a new homeowner, will make sure your home's appliances are in check and that your home system components are maintained while avoiding needless spending.

That new kitchen or laundry room may seem like it will last forever; however, if 6 months down the line when your dishwasher breaks or your refrigerator is acting up, you may find yourself stressed—both mentally and financially. One way to relieve stress and protect against unexpected repairs is to ensure your home system components and appliances are backed by an appliance warranty. A homebuyers warranty or appliance warranty will cover replacement or repair costs and give you access to a network of service contractors.

Many homeowners do not realize that simple homeowners insurance does not cover the repair or replacement of all your major home appliances due to normal wear and tear. The manufacturer’s warranty that comes with the appliance also expires within a year or two, and if you purchase a home with aged appliances, this can be a major issue.

If you’re considering an appliance warranty, there are a few options. You can either get an extended warranty for each appliance, or choose a home warranty which covers all appliances in your house. Some home warranty companies let you choose the appliances you want to cover. This can be helpful; if you choose fewer items, you reduce your premium.

An appliance warranty can not only help save you money down the road for when repairs might be needed, but can help relieve stress and provide you with reassurance when investing in a new home. It's your home; you can make sure the appliances within it are taken care of.

Source: American Home Shield.

Secret Ingredients to Successful Parenting

February 6, 2012 5:54 pm

Kate Raidt, the author of The Million-Dollar Parent, recently wrote about an episode she had while baking. While whipping up a batch of her famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies—something she is so familiar with she doesn’t even need to look at the recipe anymore--Raidt completely forgot to put in the eggs, resulting in a disastrous, crumbly cookie.

“In many ways, successful parenting correlates to successful cooking,” writes Raidt. “If you leave out even one simple ingredient, you’ve got a mess on your hands.”

Below are Raidt’s top 5 secret ingredients to successful parenting.
1. Time and Attention – The average child today spends 5 minutes with dad but 20 hours watching television each week. There is no regulation on how long an infant or toddler can be left at a daycare center each day. 71 percent of American households have double income parents. One of the biggest crisis’ we face in America these days are the millions of children growing up without parents and parenting giving them true one-on-one, direct interaction each day. Investing time and attention into your children is the greatest investment you will make in your entire life – and the life of your children.
2. Healthy Eating Habits – Yes, we are a junk food nation, and our children are paying the big, big price. Kids are inundated with processed foods, sodas, juices, fast food and mass-produced cafeteria food—daily! It is critical that parents lead by example and implement healthy options at home and avoid sugary and processed foods.
3. Adequate Sleep – Studies are showing that children who receive even 15 minutes less sleep than their fellow classmates not only have lower IQs but also fall into the B and C category of grades at school. Inadequate sleep also has a tremendous impact on obesity, depression and overall brain development. So enforce strict bedtimes and make sure your children receive at least 10 hours of sleep each night.
4. Positive Discipline – 80 percent of parents are either too permissive or too authoritative. Just like in cooking, if you under-cook a batch of cookies they are gooey and nasty. If you over-cook a batch of cookies, they are burnt and covered in carcinogens. The secret is to bake the cookies on the right temperature for the right amount of time. Same rule goes for parenting: Discipline when necessary by taking away privileges or enforcing time outs—but too much criticism and physical discipline creates fearful children with low self-esteem. Find that perfect balance so your kids come out nice and yummy!
5. Strong Spiritual Foundation – Parenting is the most important job on Earth…and sometimes one of the hardest. Parents who look to a “Higher Power” for guidance, leadership and peace tend to make smarter choices when raising children. And children who are raised in spiritual homes tend to have lower incidents with drinking, drugs, pregnancy and suicide.


Word of the Day

February 6, 2012 5:54 pm

VA loan. Veterans Administration-backed mortgage. The VA, a federal agency, operates a loan guarantee program for honorably discharged veterans and widows of veterans who died of a service-related injury. Mortgages call for low or no down payment. Sometimes referred to as GI loan.

Question of the Day

February 6, 2012 5:54 pm

Q: Should I always get a permit before making home improvements?

A: To save both time and money, some people avoid getting building permits. But most cities require them. Besides ensuring safety during construction – housing inspectors sometimes stop by to check on the progress of projects at key points – they are also a source of revenue.

Cities charge a fee when a building permit is issued. Also, work done with a building permit can result in an increase in the homeowners’ property taxes because, in general, a home improvement increases the assessed value of the property.

Permits are usually required when any structural work is planned or the basic living space of a home is altered. They generally cover new construction, repairs, alterations, demolition, and additions to a structure. Some jurisdictions require the permit to be posted in a visible spot on the premises while the work is being done.

Besides structural changes, permits also may be needed to cover the installation of foundations for tanks and equipment, as well as the construction or demolition of ducts, sprinkler systems, or standpipe systems.

By law, all buildings must have a building permit and a certificate of occupancy before they can be used.

Super Bowl Get Super Messy? 10 Tips to Tackle Post-Party Cleanup

February 3, 2012 5:42 pm

They are excited, they are rowdy and they are hungry. They're coming over to watch the big game, and they're leaving behind stains and crumbs for you to clear away. Keeps your home in working order before and after a game-day party using these simple and effective tips from The Maids.

• Make space for coats in a closet or in a bedroom. Put out an extra rug or two in the entryway in case of wet shoes.
• If using paper products, put plenty of recycling and trash containers around the house with extra trash bags in the bottom. When you pull out a full trash bag, another bag is then within an arm's reach.
• If you have a dishwasher, make sure it is cleaned out before guests arrive so you can stash dirty dishes inside to stay ahead of the game.
• Provide insulated can coolers or place sports themed stickers on cups so guests can identify their drinks.
• Cover your food table with wax paper or butcher paper for easy cleanup.
• Have a "cleaning bucket" ready for cleaning emergencies. Make sure to include carpet cleaner and an absorbent rag. A spot from a spilled drink is easy to clean if you are prepared in advance.
• If the party involves all ages, have a room with toys and games where the children can play.
• Provide televisions in other rooms so no one misses the action. Don't forget to put a radio in the bathroom!
• Keep a clearly marked recycling bin within guests' reach for bottles and cans.
• Place moist towelettes near appetizers since messy fingers have a tendency to roam at will.


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Tom Skiffington - RE/MAX 440

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