RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
mmastroeni@remax.net
Mary Mastroeni
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
PH: 610-277-2900
O: 215-643-3200
C: 610-213-4878
F: 267-354-6212 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

Mary's Blog

Everything You Wanted to Know…About Vinegar

July 31, 2012 6:46 pm

Housekeeper Judith Martin has poured a quart of white vinegar through many a coffeemaker over the years to clean out the built-up oils and minerals. She mixes a bit of white vinegar into the mayo to add a little tang to potato salad.

“But,” says Martin,” even I was astonished to learn over the years what a great all-purpose cleaner and additive white vinegar really is.”

Martin, who has personally put it to the test in all the suggestions below, offers her 10 favorite tips for using natural and inexpensive white vinegar in place of more costly – and often less effective–chemical products:

• Remove lime build-up from the chrome fixtures on your sink or tub with a paste made of two tablespoons salt and one teaspoon of white vinegar.
• Clean the microwave by mixing ½ cup white vinegar and ½ cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave to loosen baked-on food, then just wipe clean.
• To clean a grease-spattered oven door window, saturate it with full-strength vinegar. Leave oven door open for 15 minutes, then simply wipe clean with a sponge.
• Remove a label, decal or price tag by covering it overnight with a vinegar-soaked cloth. In the morning, it will easily slide off.
• Clean hardened paint brushes by soaking them for one hour in a pot of undiluted white vinegar. Then bring to a simmer for a few minutes, drain and wash clean.
• Clean and disinfect baby toys with a splash of white vinegar in a dishpan full of soapy water.
• Remove old wallpaper easily by wetting the surface thoroughly with a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water. Use a paint roller to saturate, or use a spray bottle.
• Add shine to a no-wax vinyl floor by mopping with a solution of one cup vinegar to a gallon of water.
• Cut the grime on top of the fridge with a cloth or paper towel dipped in full-strength white vinegar.
• Clean most counter tops with a cloth soaked in undiluted white vinegar. DO NOT use on marble counter tops. The acid in vinegar may be harmful.

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Stay Cool Tips to Tackle the Heat

July 31, 2012 6:46 pm

Many are saying that the first half of 2012 are the hottest on record, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notes that more than 40,000 daily heat records have been broken nationally so far.

The apparent increase in daily temperatures means that there is more exposure to heat in normal daily life, and that poses risks. An elderly or sick person’s body is not able to adjust to temperature changes like a younger healthy person does. So going from an air conditioned home to the extreme heat outside could have significant affects.

Chief Don Colarusso, a firefighter for more than 24 years says “Exposure to the heat can be very dangerous. A person can be seriously affected by the heat with little or no warning if the proper precautions are not followed - the most important thing is to keeping hydrated.”
Here are some safety tips to help with hot days.
• Staying hydrated by drinking more water than usual is of utmost importance. During activity and physical work outdoors staying in the shade is advisable also it’s very important to stay hydrated by drinking water both during heat exposure and afterwards.
• Avoiding caffeinated beverages such as soda, coffee, etc is recommended. Caffeine increases the body's need to urinate, which dehydrates the body.
• Sports drinks do help. Many sports drinks contain nutrients and help the body maintain the fluids that it needs.
• Being aware of the signs of heat exhaustion such as sweating, muscle cramping, dizzy, weakness, headache, fainting, tired, pale skin tone is also important.
• Being aware of the symptoms of heat stroke such as high body temperature, rapid pulse, headache, hot and dry skin with no sweat, and nausea can help recognize a very serious health hazard.

Source: CMC Rescue

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Word of the Day

July 31, 2012 6:46 pm

Plat. Map or survey showing the location and boundaries of individual properties and how they have been subdivided into lots and blocks.

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Q: What Is the Difference between Appraised Value and Market Value?

July 31, 2012 6:46 pm

A: A certified appraiser who is trained to provide the estimated value of a home determines its appraised value. The appraised value is based on comparable sales, the condition of the property, and several other factors.

Market value is the price the house will bring at a given point in time, once you and the buyer establish a “meeting of the minds” on price.

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For Your Tween: Making the Move to Middle School

July 31, 2012 6:46 pm

Making the move to middle school can be a difficult time for you and your adolescent. A new school means a new schedule, new layout, and new friends. The transition marks a time of new expectations and increased responsibility. The following tips can make an easier transition for you and your child.

Get Organized
A middle school student will have four or more teachers, each with different requirements. Work with your child to develop a system of organization that is realistic. If your school provides an agenda, discuss how your child will use this tool, and consider ways to organize everything from notes in folders to his or her locker and book bag. As parents, our system of organization may not work perfectly for our kids. Getting your child involved creates buy-in and sets the stage for accountability.

Foster Independence
Each stage of school is preparation for the next. Middle school requires a delicate balancing act of providing a supportive environment while helping a child become independent. Heavy-handed assistance in schoolwork and constant reminders about deadlines, which may have proven fruitful in elementary school, can actually backfire. Parenting on either end of the spectrum — over-involvement or too little involvement — can lead to a rebellious child or one who is fearful or even ambivalent about going to school.

Provide Relevant Consequences
As parents, we tend to see the bigger picture. But preaching about the need to do well in order to go to college and get a good job can lead to glazed-over looks. Talk about consequences that matter: not being able to see a friend, having a cell phone taken away or restricting video games. If your child fails to meet the expectation, confidently follow through on the promised consequence. Children who are not used to having to make choices with real consequences may take a little more time, patience and commitment. Once your son or daughter is aware you will not waiver, you should begin to see results.

Get on the Same Page
In addition to being clear with your child about what they can expect at school and at home, it is important to also get on the same page with the school. If your child is struggling, anxious about school or acting out, talk to the school counselor or teachers about what may help your child be more successful. Schools have dealt with a wide range of issues children face and may offer helpful suggestions.

Know When to Seek Help
During this time, children are going through many changes. This can lead to making excuses for your child or believing that their behavior is a phase that will pass. If professionals outside of your family are beginning to point out problem areas with your child, this may be a sign to seek help. Don't ignore your instincts.

Source: EagleRanch.org

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A Look at the Latest Cool Gadgets, Organizers

July 30, 2012 6:02 pm

A couple of times a year, I love to poke around to see what kind of cool new organizing gadgets and accessories are being offered to homeowners. So this month I tapped my contacts at 'Get Organized' (shopgetorganized.com) to see what's hot and what's not in home accessories and came up with these five beauties:

Give hanging plants a spotlight to shine for just $17.98 with a decorative, battery-powered solar hanging plant lamp which bathes flowing flora in a warm glow and inviting aura cast by a luminous ball designed to mimic natural cuts of a crystal. A honeycomb pattern spreads light evenly over the top to make colors and foliage pop. This adds romantic touch to outdoor décor.

Cover unsightly CFL lights with the softer look of shatterproof bulb covers. The set of 3 provides a more natural feel and look for just $14.98. Now you can save the planet without sacrificing style. Perfect for ceiling fans, mirror lights and track lighting the covers install in seconds. The heat-resistant reusable large covers fit most 9W-13W CFL bulbs, while small covers fit most 9W CFL bulbs.

Take the bar to where you are for just $155.98 when you carry the Get Organized 2 bottle cocktail case. This beautiful leatherette carrier includes: 2 hand blown 7oz martini glasses; stainless steel olive picks; a 19oz shaker; double-sided jigger; tongs; strainer, and Vermouth mister. The case also features an insulated, divided compartment to hold 2 spirit bottles, and a suitcase style handle along with an adjustable leatherette shoulder strap.

At $199.98, the Mighty Tidy Closet creates an attractive storage-space-on-wheels to match even the fanciest decors. The sturdy construction includes a clothing bar with brackets for mounting. This mobile closet accommodates long jackets and garments as well as multiple pairs of shoes. And it easily rolls anywhere in a room for easy access.

For the gardener or handy mom, the Get Organized tool rack with wheels is just $54.98 and organizes up to 30 tools, a weed trimmer, electrical cord, etc. The unit features side-access tool slots with clips to keep tools secure; 4 high quality casters allow easy movement; easy 5-minute assembly - no tools required; and a steel-core structure that provides strength and stability.

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Word of the Day

July 30, 2012 6:02 pm

PITI. Acronym for “principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.” Frequently used to describe a loan payment that combines all four items.

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Q: What Is the Difference between List Price and Sales Price?

July 30, 2012 6:02 pm

A: The list price is your advertised price, or asking price, for a home. It is a rough estimate of what you want to complete a home sale. A good way to determine if the list price is a fair one is to look at the sales prices of similar homes that have recently sold in the area.

The sales price is the actual amount the home sells for.

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9 Popular Trends in Laminate Flooring for the Home

July 27, 2012 6:00 pm

Just as fashion designers in the apparel industry sweat over every button, stitch and pleat, the floorcovering industry has its own designers who diligently follow trends in order to give homeowners the most current offerings on the market.

"Home decorating trends change in the same way clothing fashion does," says Bill Dearing, president of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA). "What's in our closets evolves, and the same goes for the décor of our homes. Flooring's no exception."

Laminate flooring gets its beauty from a photographic image fused beneath a protective layer, which makes it particularly adaptable to new designs.

"Any design you can imagine is possible in laminate," Dearing says. "Unique and rare species that aren't possible in real wood, and marbles and stones that would cost thousands of dollars – all of it's possible in laminate design."

Here's what's hot with homeowners.

Extremely Realistic Looks – Look for authentic reproductions of the original material. "Enhanced realism is definitely the hottest trend in laminate flooring design," Dearing says. "Reclaimed looks, subtle embossing – the visuals have never been more realistic. The ever-changing laminate market has driven design to become more realistic."

While the rustic, time-worn look in wood continues to be a favorite style with homeowners, laminate flooring now can replicate distressed hardwood styles and hand-scraped finishes, nail holes, saw marks and other natural features of reclaimed wood. With wood looks comprising nearly 80 percent of laminate sales – ceramic tile, marble and stone replications constitute the balance – oak and hickory looks are faring well.

Growth in Bamboo – Manufacturers are moving beyond traditional wood looks with the introduction of near-flawless replications of strand-woven bamboo. It's the next big thing for laminate.
Dimensions of Design – The trend is thicker, wider, longer. Laminate planks are available in longer lengths and wider widths that more closely replicate wood floors.

Shining Bright – There's greater interest in high-gloss flooring. All finishes are available in laminate, from matte to high gloss and everything in between. And maintaining a scratch- and fade-resistant laminate floor is a breeze, so it will stay looking good for years to come.

The New Neutral – Grays in all tints, tones and shades are becoming a mainstay in the new color palette. They provide a neutral but interesting option for laminate design.

Going Green – Buying green has progressed from a trend to a way of life for many homeowners. Consumers are choosing products that have recycled content, and NALFA-certified laminate is inherently green. A product's lifecycle is also a green consideration, and laminate is known for its extreme durability.

Home Grown – There's been a surge in the significance of "Made in North America." Consumers feel more confident trusting the quality of laminate products manufactured at home under higher standards.

Value Shopping – With budget in the forefront of consumers' minds these days, homeowners are looking for high quality. But they want to be sure they're getting a good value. Affordable luxury is the objective. The most in-demand laminate designs have high-end looks at affordable prices.

Something Different – Cement is popular in commercial settings, and it's a laminate look that's drifting to homes.

SOURCE North American Laminate Flooring Association www.nalfa.com

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Five Reasons Why Buying a Home Is Still a Good Idea

July 27, 2012 6:00 pm

(ARA) - A still murky economy and uncertain real estate market may have you wondering if buying a home is a good idea. Whether you're thinking about buying, or already have and just need some affirmation, you may find it comforting to know there are still plenty of good reasons for financially stable people to buy a house. Here are a few:

Homeownership can help make good credit even better. If your credit is in poor shape, you'll want to monitor it before seeking a mortgage. But if you have good credit, live within your means, and consistently make good financial decisions, a mortgage can be the kind of "good debt" that helps your overall financial health. Making regular payments on a mortgage shows potential lenders that you're a less risky candidate for a home loan. Before you begin home shopping, it's a good idea to check your credit. Enrolling in a product like freecreditscore.com can help you better understand and leverage your credit.

A mortgage can function like an automatic savings plan. By now, you've read the news reports about how little we Americans save these days. Well, every year you pay on your fixed-rate mortgage, is a year of building equity, and equity is like money in the bank. When it's time to sell - whether you've stayed in your home seven years or the full 30 year term - you'll have created equity and should be able to sell your house for more than you owe.

Homeownership comes with plenty of financial perks, including an income tax credit for property taxes you pay on your home. For detailed information on tax breaks check out IRS.gov. Buying a home also affords you the opportunity to halt your housing costs. Rent will always go up from year to year, but if you have a fixed-rate mortgage (avoid adjustable rates) your biggest annual expense - housing costs - will be locked-in.

Mortgage interest is a good deal when stacked up against other types of interest that don't do much for you - such as high credit card interest rates or low rates on savings accounts and CDs. Mortgage rates are low right now, meaning you can pay less over the life of a loan than at practically any other time in recent history. Plus, it's the only kind of interest that you can deduct from your taxes.

Prices are still relatively low and inventory is high. It's been a buyer's market for a long time, but that's going to change. The question is: when will the market start to improve in your area, taking home prices with it? You'll have to do some legwork and astute research to determine when is the best time for you to buy.

If you monitor your credit and are on a sound financial footing, buying a home can still be a good idea. And now is as good a time as any to make your purchase.

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