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

How-To: Install a Vinyl Fence

May 15, 2012 5:40 pm

(ARA) - If you need to keep the neighbors out or the pets and children in, it may be time for a fence, preferably one that will last a lifetime and requires very little maintenance. But if you know much about installing a fence, chances are this is a home project that makes you want to run for the hills. After all, who wants to rent power augers, dig deep holes, tear up the yard, remove excavated dirt and pour hundreds of pounds of concrete?

Probably not you. The good news is that you can actually install a fence without all this hassle. Do-it-yourself homeowners across the country are now installing sturdy vinyl fences without digging holes, making a mess of the yard or pouring concrete.

No-dig vinyl fence systems are installed by driving pipe deep into the ground using a post pounder. Fence has been installed this way for years, but for vinyl it can be tricky because it's almost impossible to drive pipe into the ground perfectly straight, which results in crooked fence posts. This problem is solved by a clever leveling device that compensates for the crooked pipe so that when you slide your vinyl fence post over the pipe, the post is ultimately straight and level.

While driving pipe into the ground can require a bit of muscle, it's still much easier than digging 3- or 4-foot-deep holes, dealing with excavated dirt and pouring three or four bags of concrete per hole, as most traditional vinyl fence installation instructions demand. Alternately, you can also rent a pneumatic post pounder to make it even easier.

Some skeptics wonder how a no-dig vinyl fence will perform in high winds. "We have had our digless fence products wind-load tested by an independent third party laboratory and it has been certified to stand up to 75mph sustained winds, which is where a category 1 hurricane starts," says Denise Esser from WamBam Fence.

Installing vinyl fence by driving pipe into the ground has been used in Western Canada on tens of thousands of fences for more than a dozen years by both professional fencers and home owners. However, it's only recently that companies have been manufacturing a full no-dig fencing solution designed for the do-it-yourself homeowner, offering a variety of styles and sizes. Alternately, there are companies that offer just the leveling devices to keep the pipes straight. This enables you to buy them online and use them with pipe, posts and panels purchased separately.

Homeowners often end up hiring a professional due to the amount of labor and equipment involved in a fence installation, but the no-dig method makes it much easier - and therefore more attainable - for the average do-it-yourselfer. With an innovative no-dig installation method, installing a vinyl fence is one home project that just got a lot easier.

Source: www.wambamfence.com.

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Word of the Day

May 15, 2012 5:40 pm

Fee simple. Ownership of real property that is to be used and/or sold at the owner’s discretion.

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Question of the Day

May 15, 2012 5:40 pm

Q: How can I protect my home from creditors?
A:
Check with your state. It may provide special protection through the filing of a homestead exemption, which exempts some or all of the value of your equity in the homestead – or home that you live in and the land on which it sits – from claims of unsecured creditors.
Whether to file a homestead exemption will depend on your situation. Contact your county recorder's office for details.

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Top 5 Strategies for Managing Your Family's Time

May 14, 2012 5:40 pm

Most families having difficulty managing their hectic schedule. From family meeting times to "just saying no," simple tips can make a huge difference in how parents and children find time to enjoy one another.

So what is the best way to manage a family’s hectic schedule? Effective time management is essential to helping a family stay connected. Below are five ways to successfully manage a family’s time:
1. Decide your family’s top three “main things.” As a family, pick three things that are most important to everyone. You can help get your schedule under control by keeping track of the big picture.
2. Keep an updated master family calendar. The calendar will remind family members of the “main things” and help manage hectic schedules.
3. Learn to say no. Before taking on another commitment or project, look at your family calendar and decide if you have the time. If it won’t fit, say no politely- and don’t feel guilty.
4. Hold weekly family meetings. Just 15-20 minutes a week can help you touch base and coordinate your calendars to limit confusion and stress.
5. Make time to eat together. Family mealtimes are a great opportunity to connect with each other after a long day. Schedule a time where you can sit down face-to-face, eat and relax. 

“Remember, you are the CEO of your family – and you love your kids more than anyone else does,” says Laura Buddenberg, Boys Town training expert. “Setting your priorities and slowing your pace keeps the ‘schedule beast’ under control, giving you and your children time to enjoy life and each other.” 

Source: http://www.parenting.org/reimers

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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