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

Time-Saving Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

It's no surprise that mothers make compromises every day. A recent survey of 1,000 American moms by Green Works naturally derived cleaners revealed that 57 percent admit to turning down bedroom time with their mate to clean the house. This number soars to 74 percent for new moms. 

In addition, the survey found that moms don't get to take breaks for special occasions. In fact, half of all moms reported cleaning the kitchen after a special meal on their own birthday and even Mother's Day. Thirty-six percent of new moms reported cleaning up the mess on their first Mother's Day. 

When it comes to keeping a clean home, moms will also compromise plans with friends. Half of the moms surveyed admitted to turning down time with pals to do laundry, and 64 percent responded that they have cancelled fun activities in order to clean. Even with all of these cleaning compromises, 90 percent still admit to feeling guilty for taking time for themselves. 

"The truth is that moms have a house full of cleaning priorities and not enough time to get it done," says Amanda Mahan, blogger for Green Mommy in a Plastic World and creative director for Green Works. "The logical solution becomes compromising personal time. But there are easy ways to cut down on time spent cleaning without compromising yourself or the clean." 

To help busy moms keep the house cleaning manageable, while making time for the people and activities they most enjoy, Mahan offers the following tips: 

Five minutes to clean laundry
• Take a few seconds to spot treat tough stains.
• Don't sort laundry before throwing it into the washer. Simply leave out garments that are likely to bleed and use the coldest water setting on the rest.
• Use the shortest wash cycle, then treat your load to an extra spin cycle. This will wick away extra moisture and cut down on drying time.
• If you have kids old enough to hit the mall, it's time for them to start pitching in. Assign specific tasks, such as sorting or folding. 

Five minutes to a clean bathroom
• Stash stray items in cupboard organizers for easy sorting.
• Use a gentle cleaning wipe that is naturally derived, yet packs a punch, such as the compostable Green Works wipes, to quickly give the mirror, countertop, faucet and sink a good once-over.
• Shake out the bathmat and use a few squares of toilet paper to wipe the floor.
• Use a disinfecting wipe to clean the toilet seat. Spray the inside with cleaner, and flush.
• Lastly, throw out the trash. 

Five minutes to a clean kitchen
• Stow away bulky appliances, pots and pans.
• Recycle old newspapers and take out smelly trash.
• Stick dirty dishes in the dishwasher or fill the sink with soapy water and submerge dishes into hiding.
• Hit hot spots with an old T-shirt and all-purpose cleaner, wiping down fridge door, counter, stove top and sink.
• Do a quick sweep of the floor. 

Source: www.GreenWorksCleaners.com/blog.

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Clean House Naturally and Avoid Toxic Cleansers

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

It's time to tackle the annual home cleaning. But just because you're thoroughly washing, scrubbing and disinfecting your home, doesn't mean you need to turn to cleansers with harsh ingredients and chemicals. In fact, you can easily clean using inexpensive products already in your kitchen, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Use these tips to clean your home naturally. 

Start seeing clearly: After months of winter weather, windows are often coated with a layer of grime. A solution of 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 liter of warm water can be used to gently remove dust or dirt from all glass surfaces including windows and mirrors. 

Freshen up the fridge: In addition to food spills, your refrigerator takes on odors from all the different foods stored throughout the year. Discard old items and be sure you are regularly cleaning out the fridge. Help reduce odors year-round by keeping a box of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda in the fridge at all times, replacing it every 30 days for best results. 

Reawaken your wardrobe: Start the season feeling good in clothes that smell fresh. Even when carefully stored, clothing can still be exposed to dust, and may require a good washing before wearing. Add 1 cup of baking soda to your next wash to naturally boost the power of your detergent. The combination will help balance PH levels to leave clothing cleaner and fresher. You can also freshen non-washable items like gym shoes, bags and sports equipment by sprinkling baking soda inside. 

Renew the everyday rooms: Avoid the fumes of harsh kitchen and bathroom cleaners by naturally cleaning surfaces with baking soda. A sprinkle of baking soda on a damp sponge will clean counters, stainless steel sinks, microwaves, ovens and much more without scratching. For tough grease, mix vinegar and lemon juice to leave your surfaces like new. 

Bet on a BBQ: After the inside of your home is looking spic and span, prepare for warmer weather and outdoor entertaining. Get your grill ready to prevent bad tasting hot dogs and hamburgers from ruining your next BBQ. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush, then scrub away any residue and rinse clean. For really difficult stains, make a paste with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part warm water and use a wire-bristled brush to work away at grime and grease stains. 

Source: www.armandhammer.com.

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Word of the Day

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Counteroffer. An offer made in response to an earlier, unacceptable one; it terminates the original offer.

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Question of the Day

April 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Q: What are co-ops?

A: Cooperative apartments – known as co-ops – are not really owned by people as real property. Instead, people own shares of stock in the company that owns the building in which they live. But for all practical purposes, the experts say owning a co-op is almost like owning real property. Personal loans to “buy” a co-op apartment are written almost like mortgages. And the IRS treats co-op owners much like real property owners. They can deduct interest paid on their apartment loans and on their portion of the municipal taxes and mortgage interest paid by the corporation.

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5 Ways to Ensure a Healthy Lawn and Garden This Year

April 12, 2012 7:12 pm

With unseasonably warm temperatures across the nation all winter long, early spring looks a bit different this year with lush grass, budding trees and flowers blooming sooner than usual. New growth is a welcome occurrence for lawn and garden enthusiasts, but it also begs the question: should yard care be done differently this year?

According to Troy-Bilt®, a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, the answer is yes.

"It's difficult sometimes to resist the urge to mow the lawn and plant new flowers as soon as the temperatures rise," says Heidi Ketvertis, director of marketing communications for Troy-Bilt. "Warm temperatures earlier in the season can cause many plants and grasses to begin growing sooner, but there's also more time for them to be exposed to damaging freezes, which could still come throughout spring." 

Troy-Bilt offers five tips for making sure your lawn and garden are healthy this year:

1. Don't plant annuals or fruit- or berry-producing plants early. Annuals and fruit- and berry-producing plants are especially susceptible to being killed off or damaged by frost. If you have these kinds of plants already in the ground, keep them well-watered. If you know the temperature will be dropping dangerously low on a particular night, cover the plants with mesh netting.
2. Begin pest and insect control earlier than usual. Cold winter temperatures keep pests and diseases in check, but this year many of those pests and diseases may not have died or gone fully dormant. Also, it's possible the warm winter could have thrown off the life-cycles of various insect species, which may mean the good insects we count on to gobble up the bad insects that harm grasses and gardens were born too early to do the job—so keep an eye out for new problems.
3. Protect ornamental bushes and shrubs that are out of their native range. Ornamental bushes and shrubs that are on the border of growing in their climate zone are usually more susceptible to blooming early at the first sign of warmer weather. If they do and there's a freeze, it's likely they'll lose their flowers for the season or produce fewer flowers this year. Protect them by watering well early in the season.
4. Begin weed maintenance earlier than usual. Your grass and garden aren't the only things growing sooner this year. Weeds had an early start as well. If you don't get an early start on weeding this year, your lawn or garden may get choked off and not grow as well this season.
5. Stay off the lawn, and resist the urge to cut the grass too short too early. A growing lawn is more susceptible to freezing than a dormant lawn. Staying off the lawn keeps the stress down on the grass and helps protect it if the temperature suddenly drops. Also, don't cut more than a third of the blade at a time. If you go lower and a freeze comes along, it could shock the grass and stunt its growth. 

Once you're ready to pull your lawn mower out of the shed for the first time this year, take some time to tune it up. If you've used your mower for more than a year, it may be time to sharpen or replace your blades. Also add fresh gas and oil. If your mower needs to be replaced, now is the time to start researching and hitting the stores. Not sure what kind of mower you need? Consider the following choices to find the mower best suited to your needs:

Walk-behind mower – If you have less than an acre of land or many obstacles in your yard, a reel, push or self-propelled walk-behind mower may make the most sense. 

Lawn tractor – For larger yards that would be difficult to cover on foot, consider a riding mower.
 
Zero-turn rider – If you're looking for faster mowing and easy maneuverability, a zero-turn rider may do the trick. A zero-turn radius enables quick turns and trimming. 

Source: Troy-Bilt

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Feeling Dirty? Prepare Your Home for a Visit from Cleaning Professionals

April 12, 2012 7:12 pm

It might seem absurd to have to prep your home to be cleaned. However, a friend once confided that a service couldn't clean her home well because it was too "dirty." The service wasn't talking about removing dirt, grease or pet hair; it was pointing out the difficulties of deep cleaning because of the surface clutter.

There are many ways to ensure that you'll get the most from professional cleaners. Consider a few of the following:

Clutter, clutter everywhere
Cleaning specialists focus on eliminating dirt, contaminants and allergens; they are not in the business of organizing. Piles of papers on the countertops, books stacked in the corners, or clothes in a heap on the floor should be removed to allow workers to thoroughly clean every surface. Since most services work around these objects, there will places in the home that don't benefit from a deep cleaning. And, in turn, that means you won't get the full benefits of paying for a service.

If you are short on time, throw the items in boxes and place them in the garage or basement. "Clutter" might include dishes in the kitchen sink, items on shower floors or bathtub ledges, clothing and toys, pet items, and piles of books, magazines or papers. 

Some services may consent to move piles around, but this takes time and likely will cost you more money. And because workers don't know where these things are meant to go, you may find yourself wasting time trying to find what they've put away or have placed in an unfamiliar stack.

Private matters
Save anything you don't want the workers to see, including bills, personal documents, or other items that should remain private. This precaution protects both you and the workers.

Special requests
If there is something special you want done, call the service several days before the scheduled visit to make arrangements. Leaving a note likely won't produce the desired results because workers might need extra time or additional cleaning products to comply with the request.

Give feedback
Once workers have cleaned your home, be sure to tell the service how you feel about the results. Building a relationship with the service and your cleaning professionals is the best way to ensure your continued satisfaction.

Source: The Maids, www.maids.com

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Top 5 Spring Fix-Up Tips

April 12, 2012 7:12 pm

 Spring has arrived, meaning it's time for home repairs. Spring fix-ups are a necessity after houses have been bruised and battered throughout the long winter months.

To help you get your home ready for the warmer weather, Mr. Handyman has released a list of the top five actions homeowners should take to get their houses in shape:

1. Gutter Installation/Cleaning – Gutters, one of the most underrated aspects of any home, will extend the life of the roof, soffits and fascia of a house. For the integrity of the roof, having the gutters cleaned is highly recommended.

2. Window Frame Repair – It's time to let in the fresh air and cool breezes. This is especially tricky with a busted window, which happens frequently when the weather is cold.

3. Power Washing Services – Getting the house, deck, and patio furniture professionally power washed can really increase curb appeal. Not only does power washing reduce wear and tear, it makes everything look good as new.

4. Deck Repair – Perform a careful inspection of the deck to determine areas that will need attention. Are railings solidly fastened? Is the surface splintered or have nails exposed? Does any framing need to be replaced? Make a list of all the work to be done to stay safe this summer.

5. Wood Rot Repair – Wood rot usually means there is underlying damage caused by water leaking behind the siding or between seams. Oftentimes, the leaking and rotting began years before, hidden from sight. Underneath, however, soaked wood has begun to rot and may be infested with insects.

Source: MrHandyman.com.

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Spring Gutter Cleaning Tips, Part 2

April 12, 2012 7:12 pm

Yesterday, we reviewed a handful of tips to clean out your gutter this spring season. Below is a continued list, offered by gutter cleaning expert Robert Lenney, helping you protect your home and prepare it for the rainy spring ahead. 

Rubber Shoes: If walking on the roof is necessary to perform gutter cleaning, it is good to use rubber soled shoes. Rubber soles tend to adhere best and prevent slipping and falls. Roof tops tend to be moist in the morning, so it is best to walk on the roof after the sun is well up in the sky and has dried up all the moisture. Late mornings or early afternoons are the best times to walk on a roof. 

For wood shake roofs, an excellent option is to wear special spiked roofing shoes called Korkers, which have small, metal spikes similar to golf shoes, helping attain a good grip when walking on the roof.

However, if the gutter cleaning project is bad enough to warrant Korkers, it is probably best at that point to use a professional gutter cleaning company. Wearing Korkers can be tricky, and slips can still occur. 

Downspouts Unclogged: Make sure the downspouts (leader pipe) are clear. After all the gutters are cleaned out, run the water hose down the downspout at full pressure. If the water backs up out of the top, a clog is present. Normally, it can be unclogged by tapping on the side of the downspout. But if that doesn’t work, the downspout and back need to be removed, and it should be flushed from the bottom. If a clog is present, and the downspout is connected to an underground drain, it is best to disconnect the bottom of the downspout from the underground drain. Otherwise, the clog may move to the underground drain. 

Caution: When unclogging the downspout, make sure protective eyewear is being used, because anything can escape from the downspout at high speeds once the clog is being removed. 

Downspout Chain: If the downspout makes an annoying dripping sound during or after a rain storm, a special decorative chain can be installed to hang down in place of a traditional downspout. The rainwater runs down the chain gracefully and looks rather beautiful, like a decorative fountain. 

There are also magnetic sponges available that stick to the side of the downspout and absorb water to stop the dripping sound. In place of a sponge, people have tried using men’s underwear and socks in downspouts for just this purpose, but it is not recommend.

Clean Gutters Two Times a Year: Make sure gutters are cleaned at least twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring. One main reason for cleaning out gutters is to eliminate the possibility of water damage from rainwater runoff due to a clogged gutter. Another reason is to reduce the possibility of rust corrosion. Even though it may not rain during the summer, if there is debris in the steel gutters, the rusting process can speed up. It’s difficult for rust to speed up with clean gutters. The faster the rusting process, the sooner new gutters will be needed. 

Power Line Hazard: When cleaning gutters around a power line cable that drops from the power pole to the roof of a home, conduct a visual inspection of the electrical cable where it connects to the roof. This is to ensure that the protective wire insulation hasn’t rubbed off through years of wear-and-tear by weather and nearby trees. If the cable appears to have damage, do not attempt to repair it. Call a licensed professional electrical contractor to fix it. 

If it’s raining and there is an electrical wire problem, do not attempt to clean out the gutters until the wires are fixed. Water is a dangerous conductor of electricity. Whether it’s raining or not, it would be a good idea to have the electrical wiring repaired before cleaning out your gutters. 

It is not advisable to use a metal ladder near power lines when cleaning out your gutters. A fiberglass ladder is a better safety solution in this situation. 

Gutter Guards: Using a quality gutter guard can eliminate the need for cleaning out gutters. Consider carefully the manufacturer’s claims before purchasing a gutter protection system that keeps out leaves and pine needles, because many promises are made that can’t be delivered. An excellent website that lists over 100 gutter guards is www.GutterGuardReview.com. 

According to Lenney, he and his staff have found an amazing collection of items while cleaning gutters, including men’s underwear, diapers, socks, pigeon droppings, golf balls, tennis balls, syringes with sharps, dead animals, aluminum cans, children’s toys, live adult rats with babies in the nest, small and large frogs, wasp and bee nests, snakes in areas like Florida, books, newspapers, nails, and tile pieces. These are in addition, of course, to the usual debris, such as leaves, pine needles, seed pods and sand grit. 

Lenney can’t turn this annual tedious job into a Disneyland experience, but he can make the job easier with these few simple cleaning tips and tricks while keeping safety in mind. Happy cleaning! 

Robert Lenney is the owner and founder of the Rocklin California based company Gutterglove, Inc. 

Sources: Robert Lenney, www.TapeOnGutterguard.com, www.Gutterglove.com

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Word of the Day

April 12, 2012 7:12 pm

Cooperative. Land and building owned or leased by a corporation which in turn leases space to its shareholders, who are also part owners of the building and have a proprietary lease. In lieu of rent, they each pay a proportionate monthly or quarterly fixed rate to cover operating costs, mortgage payments, taxes, etc.

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Question of the Day

April 12, 2012 7:12 pm

Q: What is Universal Design and how does it relate to remodeling? 

A: Universal design is an approach to design that focuses on making all products and environments as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, physical ability, or situation. In recent years, the housing industry has recognized the importance of a "universal" approach to residential design that modifies standard building elements to improve a home's accessibility and usability. This allows for more equitable, flexible and simple use. Many books exist on the subject, including Residential Remodeling and Universal Design: Making Homes More Comfortable and Accessible, a resource guide offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

HUD’s guide provides technical guidance on selecting and installing universal features during home remodeling or renovation. The modifications can range from expanding doorway dimensions to replacing kitchen appliances. The guide emphasizes eliminating unintentional barriers and using designs and features that could benefit people with a broad range of needs.

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