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

The Three Ps of Decorating Give Your Home and Garden a Makeover

May 14, 2012 5:40 pm

(ARA) - Looking for a trendy home and garden makeover that gives instant gratification and doesn't require a lot of time and resources? The latest trends in fashion and home decorating are drawing inspiration from the bright colors and laid-back attitudes of the tropics.

"Vibrant tropical colors are influencing home decor and gardens this spring and summer," says Doug Jimerson, editor-in-chief of gardening for Better Homes and Gardens.

Whether you want to makeover a deck, patio or porch, add some tropical flair by following the "three P's" of outdoor design: plants, paint and punch.

Plants

"New tropical plants are easy to grow for any outdoor space," Jimerson says. "With fantastic colors and foliage, it's simple to add splashes of intense color throughout your garden, deck and patio."

Jimerson suggests going big and bold with gorgeous blooms of colorful hibiscus that come in dozens of bright tropical colors.

"Whether you're planning a summer luau, graduation party or just want a restful retreat, decorating your backyard with easy care, sun-loving hibiscus offer a blaze of color for any occasion. Cut hibiscus flowers floating in water make an exotic centerpiece, and using the blooms as garnishes takes al fresco dining to the next level," Jimerson says.

New Bloomtastic! and Patio Tropics! tropical plants from Hines Growers, offer immediate color and impact for any sized garden, deck, porch or patio. Simply leave them in their pretty pots to add lush flowers and foliage to your outdoor spaces or grow them throughout your landscape for a pop of vivid color.

One of the best hibiscus varieties is Bahama Bay Hibiscus "Amazon Queen" with huge blooms that match the Pantone Color Institute color of the year, Tangerine Tango. Pair it with the new bright yellow Bahama Bay "Enlightenment" hibiscus and add some Tiki lights for a festive garden party or luau.

"People have already warmed up to mandevilla for splashes of intense color throughout gardens and outdoor spaces and use them to create a natural privacy screen on trellises and arbors. And don't be afraid to mix plants, colors and textures when decorating your outdoor spaces," says Jimerson.

Cool tropicals like desert rose have a unique bonsai-like appearance. Adenium Kissable Pink, Red and Blush come in eye-popping colors and striking flowers and best of all, can be overwintered indoors.

For a garden party in a pot, the new Bougainvillea Garden Party Patio Tree's multi-colored flowers bring tropical flair and a formal topiary appearance to gardens, entryways and outdoor living areas like patios and decks. To see a full range of tropical plants and more inspiration, visit www.hinesgrowers.com.

Paint

Paint is one of the easiest, most economical ways to create a tropical feel inside or out. Choosing a color that reminds you of the beach sets the theme for your overall design.

Margie Grace, of Grace Design Associates, and a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), advises not to limit painting to just walls. "Paint an old set of chairs Caribbean blue, containers coral red and sunshine yellow," she says. "Just remember when choosing a shade, tropical colors aren't going to fade into the background. They're going to make a vibrant statement."

An accent wall on a deck or patio painted in key lime or ocean blue instantly transforms a space. Carry the tropics inside with a less saturated color like a warm mango tone or pair a rich, intense color accent wall with neutrals.

If you want to turn up the heat, try one of the eight new Bambino and Babybino bougainvillea in rich colors for a blast of gorgeous blooms for decks, poolside, patios and porches.

Punch

Adding tropical patterns and fabrics into your decor brings flexibility and endless possibilities.

Cushions in tropical colors, throw pillows with bold floral designs and tropical inspired linens on the table are an easy way to add punch to your outdoor decor.

Use a single pattern to underscore your tropical theme or mix things up with a variety of prints and stripes. Keep in mind the many patterns that fall into the tropical category, including floral, greenery, and ocean and beach elements. Think Hawaiian shirts.

Then kick it up a notch with a new intriguing Black Hawaiian Spider Lily, Crinum Purple Dream. "Crinum's exotic-looking dark purple almost black foliage and deep pink flowers on dark red stalks is trendy and looks nice mixed in the landscape or in containers," says Jimerson.

Surround yourself with lush tropical flowers and foliage for immediate impact and tropically inspired colors to turn your home into your favorite staycation paradise.

Tags:

Word of the Day

May 14, 2012 5:40 pm

Fannie Mae. Common name for the Federal National Mortgage Association, which buys and sells loans in the secondary mortgage market.

Tags:

Question of the Day

May 14, 2012 5:40 pm

Q: Will I be able to buy again after losing a home to foreclosure?
A: It can happen. But a lot will depend on your circumstances and the mortgage interest rate you are willing to pay. Generally, most lenders will consider your request for a home loan two to four years after your foreclosure. Predatory lenders will issue a home mortgage in less time. But beware – they routinely charge high mortgage interest rates, fees, and penalties for this privilege.
A quality lender will expect you to show that you have cleaned up your credit. Providing a reasonable explanation about the circumstances that led to the foreclosure – such as exuberant medical expenses – is also helpful.

Tags:

Tips for Planning Summer Getaways with Family

May 11, 2012 2:38 pm

Warm weather has finally arrived, and parents everywhere are starting to plan family vacations. But traveling with a little one can be challenging and requires preparation. 

Huggies has teamed up with family travel expert Shelly Rivoli, author of "Travels with Baby," to help moms and dads beat the heat and plan a no-stress summer vacation for their entire family -- including the youngest of the bunch. 

Rivoli knows all about vacations with little ones as a mother of three, and has even changed diapers on four continents. "When planning a vacation for the entire family, it's important to plan simply and only bring necessities for trips," says Rivoli. " 

Here are more of Rivoli's tried and true tips and tricks for making the most of this summer's trip. 

Timing Is Everything
Stick to your baby's regular sleep schedule as best you can to ensure a satisfied little one. If your baby sleeps well in the car, you can look forward to putting on miles during naptime drives. However, if your child has trouble sleeping in the car, consider leaving first thing in the morning or right after naptime to make sure your little traveler gets the rest he or she needs to enjoy the adventure. 

Bring Liquids Onboard
When you travel with a baby or toddler, airport security will allow you to bring a "reasonable amount" of extra liquids for your child, based on your itinerary. Place any prepared bottles, baby food or boxes of shelf-stable milk in a large, clear zip-top bag to present at airport security as you pass through with your child. 

Beat the Heat
During summer travel, long rides in the car can be even warmer for tots riding snugly within a car seat. To keep your child cool and comfortable, dress him or her down to a vacation-ready diaper. 

Pace Your Road Trip
Plan a meaningful pit stop for your family at least every two hours on the road for fresh air and exercise. Even rest areas may have space to roll a ball or chase bubbles and enjoy a picnic lunch. 

Simplify Diapering on the Go
Carrying just one or two diapers at a time in your purse with a travel pack of stylish baby wipes will make it much simpler to change baby on the go. 

Stick to the Routine
Traveling babies need the stability of their daily routines to stay happy, especially for naptime or bedtime. If you and your baby go through a nightly bedtime ritual at home, stick to it. Even with the change in scenery, you and your little one will enjoy your special routine and ensure a restful slumber. 

Source: Huggies

Tags:

How to Save on Family Vacations

May 11, 2012 2:38 pm

Families are always looking for ways to enjoy vacation time together that maximizes fun, while minimizing the budget. With focus on the costs of gas prices, a recent AAA report indicated that these days, families are opting to take shorter distance road trips, or "nearcations," as they make their travel plans. 

Family travel expert and mother of three, Suzanne Rowan Kelleher of WeJustGotBack.com, knows the challenges of planning a great family vacation while looking to save. "When I want to cut back on travel spending, I start by picking a destination within driving distance of my home," says Kelleher. "My kids are always happy to have a quick travel time. They're always thrilled to visit an indoor waterpark with fun activities like Great Wolf Lodge, and my husband and I are happy to avoid the high cost of airfare." 

To help your family reduce costs on summer travel, Kelleher offers the following tips: 

Plan ahead. While spontaneous weekend getaways sound fun, the best way to save vacation dollars is by planning ahead. Keep in mind that most resorts offer the greatest variety of available room options, package amenities and overall savings when stays are booked further out in advance. 

Be flexible. Keep in mind the highest rates for hotels and entertainment stops are typically on weekends. Plan a mid-week getaway, or start your vacation on a Sunday to take full advantage of off peak discounted tickets and overnight stays. 

Book online. Websites allow vacation planners to easily view best available rates, compare alternate dates for travel, room styles, amenities and package plans. If you have a destination in mind, sign up to receive the location's newsletter, which often includes discounts and special promotion codes via email.
Bundle and save. Research package options that include meals and other amenities. Limited time promotions such as "Kids Eat Free" can help when budgeting for meals. Resort amenities and entertainment offerings are also often bundled for extra savings. Not sure what can be bundled with your stay? Just ask. 

Find the cheapest gas. Save on gas with your smart phone. The free app, GasBuddy, can help not only estimate how much you'll spend, but can also direct you to the cheapest gas stations along the route. Fuel Finder, another gas saving app, shows gas prices throughout the U.S. and Canada, and also features a mapping system. 

Prepare the car. Purchases from your local grocery store are cheaper than convenience stores and fast food restaurants en route, so save time and money by pre-buying snacks and drinks. Take advantage of the time together by talking, singing and laughing. Make the journey as fun as the final destination. 

Source: www.greatwolf.com.

Tags:

Take the Guesswork Out of Finding a Job

May 11, 2012 2:38 pm

Searching for a job can be a daunting task—something too many Americans know all too well. Job seekers need to find creative ways to renew and document their skills to stand out from the crowd. 

Gone are the days when refreshing a resume and customizing a cover letter would give prospective employees a shot at landing an interview. Now, employers are looking for a fool-proof way to know the people they hire will be a wise investment. 

"Identifying and training the right employee costs time and money to already strapped employers," said Martin Scaglione, president of the Workforce Development Division at ACT. "Job seekers who can document their skill levels to prospective employers before the interview process help increase their chance of success." 

The process begins with preparation and planning. The following steps can help:
Plan - Before applying for a job, find out what skill set the job requires. ACT, best known for its college entrance exam, has one of the largest, most robust databases of occupational skills available, with more than 18,000 job titles. ACT-authorized job profilers have analyzed the tasks required to perform each job, and identified the essential skills required for these tasks, allowing job seekers to easily match their skill levels to profiled jobs. 

Search - Applying for dozens of positions online likely leads to disappointment for most job seekers as their inboxes fill with spam rather than interview invitations. Instead, start by searching top job sites, local job sites and sites that focus on specific career fields to begin the search. Then, use online tools, job boards and networking to help narrow the choices and lessen the chances of applying for jobs that already have too many applicants. 

Apply - Most employers get hundreds of online resumes every day to fill a limited number of positions. Some common tips may help increase your chance of success in the resume screening process:
• Follow the online application directions precisely. The quickest way to be eliminated is to ignore the employer's specific application process.
• Place your computer/software skills together in a list under one heading, and all other skills under a separate heading.
• Include acronyms with spelled out versions to make sure both are caught in the screening process.
• Proofread, proofread, proofread. Then ask someone you trust to proofread again before you submit your paperwork. 

Source: www.act.org/certificate.

Tags:

Word of the Day

May 11, 2012 2:38 pm

Escrow company. A firm that specializes in handling the closing of a transaction.

Tags:

Question of the Day

May 11, 2012 2:38 pm

Q: Are window replacements tax deductible?
A: Yes, at least for a limited time. Congress made it a little easier to upgrade your windows while reducing your taxes. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 offers consumers a tax credit for replacing old appliances and home products with energy efficient models. The tax credit is up to $200 with the purchase of qualified doors, windows, and skylights. Look for the ENERGY STAR label. The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency developed the designation for products meeting certain performance criteria. The tax credit is good for purchases made in 2006 or 2007 but does not include installation costs.

Tags:

Character Building for your Kid: Bringing Up Little Angels

May 11, 2012 2:38 pm

A recent rash of news stories highlights the positive in society’s youngest members: “Child Saves Kids from Bus Crash;” “Child Saves His Brother from Possible Abduction;” “Child Saves Family from House Fire.” 

But all too often, the news involving children indicates a dangerous lack of morality: 7- and 8-year-olds stealing cars; a 9-year-old’s recent shooting of a school classmate; a 12-year-old charged with armed robbery. And some crimes are even more violent. 

Events like this prompted two women, sisters Debbie Burns and Patty Cockrell, to begin work on Tukie Tales: A New Beginning for a Better Tomorrow (www.tukietales.com), a series of five children’s books designed to help parents teach young children important values. 

“There is something especially senseless in reading about small children committing sadistic crimes,” Burns says. “We wanted to be part of a ‘positive push’ in the right direction.” 

The younger the child, the more impressionable they are, she says. We wanted to help busy parents scrambling to make ends meet teach children empathy, compassion, environmental awareness and other values. 

“I don’t think parents are bad,” she says. “But with all the economic worries, the job losses and home foreclosures, many are focused on working and worrying. It’s hard to also be thinking, ‘What value will I teach my child today?’ ” 

Burns and Cockrell offer tips for parents to help positively shape children:
• Promote a love for nature: Are your kids outdoors much? Parents who are busying shuttling their sons and daughters from one building to another may overlook the benefits of the great outdoors. Wilderness, however, has a therapeutic effect on indoor dwellers. Spending time in nature also helps children learn about their place in the world and the value of all the life that shares space with us. 

• Show the value of teamwork: Working together toward a common goal doesn’t always come naturally to children – or adults. Many youngsters learn teamwork through sports, which is good but almost always includes a competitive element. It’s important for children to experience the added benefits of creating, problem-solving and getting chores done as a team. Parents should look for opportunities to point out their children’s great teamwork. 

• Make sure they appreciate safety: No good parent wants to unnecessarily frighten their children, but carelessness leads to bad habits, injuries and opportunities for others to do them harm. The best medicine for any problem is prevention. Remember: Don’t take for granted that your young child knows what’s safe and what’s not. Some years ago, someone taught you that stoves can burn your hand – even though you can’t remember who or when it was. 

• Build their confidence with at least one skill: Remember what it’s like to be 4 years old? Very young children come into this world with no previous experience, which means their brains are hungry for know-how. Knowledge and skills to a child are like water for a thirsty man in the desert. 

• Kindness counts: It is one thing to teach kids the old idiom that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar. But children should also know that people who make kindness a habit tend to be happier; there is an inherent joy in helping others. 

“I understand parents are busy earning a living to support their children,” Cockrell says. “But who you raise in the process makes all the difference to the future world.”

Tags:

Interview Attire 101: Seven Suggestions to Help You Make an Impression

May 11, 2012 2:38 pm

One of the most stressful rites of passage in an adult’s life is the dreaded job interview. There’s so much to worry about: how to make a good impression on your interviewer(s); how to present yourself as the absolute best candidate for the position; and, of course, what the heck you should wear! 

“The clothes you wear to a job interview are a big deal, because the image you present to your interviewer can sometimes make the difference between getting and not getting a job offer,” confirms Marla Tomazin, who has been a New York City-based image consultant for over 20 years after earlier experience in the fashion industry. 

“Whether you want to admit it or not, your appearance speaks volumes about the kind of employee you might be,” she points out. “Are you sloppy or put-together? Are you flamboyant or appropriate? Do you pay attention to details or not? Remember, in this situation the wrong kind of attention is worse than no attention at all.” 

Whether you’re a soon-to-be graduate looking for a first job or a seasoned professional who’s eyeing a new position, read on for seven of Tomazin’s tried-and-true interview attire tips: 

Focus on quality, not quantity. Always, always choose interview clothing in the best fabric you can afford, even if it means starting out with only two suits or outfits. (You can build on that base later once you’re receiving your new paycheck!) Quality clothing looks best, holds up longest, travels well, and doesn’t need to be dry cleaned as often. Tomazin recommends investing in wool suits and skirts specifically, since wool is durable and easy to maintain, and can be worn at least 10 months out of the year in most climates. 

Make sure your clothes match you. In addition to choosing high-quality pieces, it’s also important to make sure that your interview clothes are the right color and shape for your age, coloration, body type, and career. Ask a friend, sales associate, or image consultant for advice if you’re not sure what works best for you. Tomazin specifically warns against pieces that are too short, too tight, or (for more mature applicants) too young. Remember, a flattering, well-tailored outfit shows attention to detail and makes a good first impression about you and how you will do business. 

Be classy and memorable. Every job applicant wants to stand out from the crowd. But during the interview stage, it’s probably best not to distinguish yourself sartorially. Above all, you don’t want to make a lasting negative impression with wobbly too-high heels or an in-your-face tie. If you don’t want to be forgotten because of your “boring” beige suit, focus on setting yourself apart by how you present yourself, your experience, and your potential. Remember, people are making decisions about you from the moment you first meet, whether you realize it or not. So when in doubt, err on the side of dressing conservatively. You can think about moving closer to the cutting edge of fashion after you’ve been hired. 

Find a balance between fit and comfort. According to Tomazin, another reason to make sure that your interview clothes fit is simple: comfort. Think about it: If your jacket is a little too tight under the arms, for example, you’ll be distracted when it’s most important for you to be on your game. And if your skirt allows for only a narrow range of movement, you’ll be that much more ill at ease. Make sure that your interview clothes are comfortable so that you can focus on the meeting and on letting yourself shine through, not on what you’re wearing. 

Tap into the power of the column. Column dressing is a sure-fire way to make sure that you dress successfully for your interview, as long as the color is flattering. Whether it’s a dress, a top and a skirt, or a top and pants, you can’t go wrong. Your jacket can be the same color as your column or an accent color. Tomazin promises that you’ll look pulled-together—which will please your interviewer—as well as taller, thinner, more successful, and smarter. What’s not to love? 

Don’t forget the details. The details of any outfit are crucially important! Here are some things Tomazin says you should consider before heading out the door to your interview:
• Your shoes should be polished and in great shape. No scuffed or kicked-in toes! Replace or repair them when necessary.
• Your hair should be groomed and styled conservatively. If possible, schedule a trim a few days before your interview.
• For ladies specifically: Invest in closed-toed pumps with a moderate heel height, and wear stockings (it’s best to stick with solids). Also, it’s a good idea to manicure your nails. Go with a neutral color that is easy to repair if chipped while traveling. 

Top it off with a tote. Chances are, you’re not going into your interview empty-handed. At the very least, you’ll probably have copies of your résumé, a notepad and pen, and maybe even a portfolio of some sort. If you’re traveling, you might also be carrying your iPad, laptop, and/or other work files. Clearly, you’re not going to look very professional if you’re hand-carrying all of those things! Tomazin says you should look for a tote—preferably leather—that keeps you organized, looks great, and allows you to have all of your files and accessories at your fingertips. (Just make sure to turn off your phone’s ringer before going into a meeting or interview so you aren’t left digging around in your bag to turn it off!) Remember, a durable, professional bag is an investment, so if at all possible buy one that will serve you well for years.
“When you walk into an interview feeling comfortable and confident because you know you’re dressed for the occasion, you’ll be setting yourself up for success,” confirms Tomazin. “And you’ll also be one step closer to getting that coveted job offer.” 

Marla Tomazin, Certified Image Consultant, established her image consulting business in 1990 with the goal of helping clients identify an authentic image and develop its effective expression.

For more information, please visit www.marlatomazin.com.

Tags:
TwitterFacebookGoogleLinkedinYoutubepinterest