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

Riding in Cars with Kids: Car Seat Safety

May 1, 2017 12:27 am

Driving has a myriad of distractions, from traffic to pedestrians, what’s playing on your radio, and the to-do list running through your mind. But when you have kids in the back, the distractions multiply, and safety becomes priority. Luckily, car seat safety need not be a worry, so long as you do a bit of legwork.

"Studies from AAA have shown that nearly three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly," says Chuck Shotmeyer, Chairman of AAA North Jersey's Board of Directors.  "Taking the time to properly install child safety seats can save a life and drastically reduce injury."

"The national AAA's Safety Seats 4 Kids initiative found that car seats reduce the risk of injury by 78 percent to 82 percent and reduce the risk of death by 28 percent," says David Hughes, President of AAA North Jersey. "These statistics underscore the need for parents to understand how car safety seats work and the best way to utilize these important safety devices in their vehicles."

Hughes and Shotmeyer offered these safety tips for using child safety seats effectively:

Do your homework. It is important for parents to purchase a car seat for the right age group. Make sure the child safety seat fits the size of the child and meets national transportation standards.

Install the seat correctly. Read and understand the car seat instruction manual carefully. Additionally, parents should check the integrity of the seat and clear loose objects that might hinder or harm the child.

Understand your vehicle's design. Parents should understand their vehicle's safety features. Knowing how to enable child locks and the location of airbags in the vehicle will helps drivers place the child seat in the safest spot.

Source: AAA  

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What’s Really the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

April 29, 2017 12:27 am

Swimsuit weather is not far away, and sun lovers everywhere are scrambling to shed a few pounds in time for the big reveal. But what kind of diet is truly the best for safe, sure weight loss?

Harvard researchers, with help from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, randomized the testing of 68,000 patients who were assigned to low-carb or low-fat diets. They found that low-carb diets were consistently better at helping patients lose weight than low-fat diets; the participants on the low-carb diets lost 2.5 pounds more than those on low-fat diets.

If you’re serious about dropping pounds, here are a few salient findings:

Ditch the bread and pasta. The study showed that those who consumed less than 40 grams of carbohydrates per day (about the equivalent of one slice of bread) lost about eight pounds more than dieters who were put on a low-fat diet. Instead of carbs, these folks added lots more protein, like eggs for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch, and red meat, chicken, fish, pork, or tofu for dinner, along with vegetables.

Don’t ditch all the cheese. If you're a fan of olive oil, nuts, and avocados, you are probably aware of the difference between the so-called "healthy" unsaturated fats found in those foods and the "bad for you" saturated fats found in meat, cheese, and butter.  But as it turns out, according to Harvard researchers, a little saturated fat – such as the fat in milk and other dairy products – may actually raise the level of HDL (good) cholesterol. They also ease the boredom of eating a totally low-carb, no-fat diet, making it easier to consistently eat healthier.

Balanced is best. When it comes to heart health, eat a balanced diet of whole, fresh foods. Limit refined carbs and added sugars, and remember that poly- and monounsaturated fats like those in nuts, avocados and olive oils can help burn belly fat, while the fat in processed foods like bacon and sausage still present the most risk.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Design a Great Outdoor Kitchen

April 29, 2017 12:27 am

(Family Features)--If your idea of enjoying the great outdoors is relaxing on your deck with a tasty beverage while the grill heats up, you're in good company.

"The alfresco movement is transforming backyards across the country as homeowners create outdoor kitchens that finally live up to their name," says backyard design expert Paul Lafrance of HGTV's "Decked Out" series. "If you count yourself among the homeowners ready to undertake a deck upgrade, integrating interior kitchen ideas into your outdoor living space is a sure-fire way to bring fun, function and added value to your home."

In fact, an outdoor kitchen project can provide homeowners up to a 130 percent return on their initial investment, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. To help you cook up plans for an outdoor kitchen that truly sizzles, Lafrance suggests the following tips.

Start from the ground up

A show-stopping outdoor kitchen needs a quality stage that can stand up to heavy foot traffic and everyday kitchen mishaps such as dropped utensils or spilled sauces. High-performance, wood-alternative decking is durable and easy-to-maintain – just a simple soap and water cleaning can take care of any common party foul.

"For me, composite decking is a no-brainer,” Lafrance says. “It delivers the natural aesthetic of wood without the back-breaking and time-consuming upkeep, so outdoor chefs can focus on what they love most – preparing delicious meals and entertaining guests."

Think beyond the grill

While outdoor cooking once meant a basic grill and a bag of charcoal, today's outdoor kitchens are more elaborate and equipped than ever, featuring a range of appliances including professional-grade cooktops, refrigerators, sinks and dishwashers, as well as specialty features like brick ovens and fully stocked bars. Grills, too, have been upgraded to handle more than steaks and burgers – think whole turkeys, smoked meats and rotisseries. Your appliances will determine the outdoor kitchen dimensions, so consider how the appliances you want will fit within your design.

Factor in function

Plan for adequate storage to eliminate back-and-forth trips inside your house. From pull-out trash bins to hidden ice chests for chilled drinks, the Trex Outdoor Kitchens collection features cabinetry that blends interior style with durability to withstand the elements.

"You can even get customized cabinets for televisions and entertainment systems, along with sink and grill bases designed to hide plumbing and propane hook-ups while also providing extra drawers," Lafrance said.  

Shine some light

Double the time spent enjoying your outdoor kitchen by installing adequate lighting for cooking and entertaining well after sundown. For safety measures, put task lighting over countertops used for slicing and dicing, as well as near stovetops and other appliances that use heat or flame. To set an understated, sophisticated mood, add ambient lighting where your family and guests will wine and dine.

Create comfort

To welcome and accommodate your guests, your outdoor kitchen should be inviting and have ample seating and bar areas. For added comfort, integrate interior-inspired accents like decorative cushions and pillows made of weather-resistant materials. Additionally, your outdoor kitchen should incorporate sufficient counter space not only for food prep and serving, but also for creating a communal environment so guests can chat with the chef.

Source: trex.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Tips for Marathon Training

April 29, 2017 12:27 am

Are you training for your first marathon? How about your fifteenth? Whether you’re fresh or seasoned, training tips from the pros can always help your performance.

Aubrie Haymore, USANA Wellness Coordinator and Certified Exercise Physiologist, recommends her top six training tips to get you ready for racing season:

Warm up. Begin each training session (and even race day!) with a light jog or walk to warm up your muscles before you begin your paced run.  This will help to preserve your glycogen stores and keep your core body temperature down.  It's also a good idea to precede and follow your warm up with a few minutes of stretching.

Refuel. It is always important to fuel for endurance activities that last over 90 minutes.  My recommendation for fueling is 60-70g/carb per hour of exercise.  Try out a few different types of quick energy beans, gels or bars and see which ones feel best in your body and are easy on your stomach.  Be sure to drink water along with whatever fuel you choose.

Run a half-marathon. About a month before your race, it's a good idea to test your fitness. This is also a great way to give yourself a little mental lift and inspire you to maintain your training schedule all the way through to race day.

Run a dress rehearsal. Four to five days before your race, do a two- to three-mile marathon-pace run in your marathon outfit and shoes to ensure that you are comfortable and prepared for the real thing.

Carb-load. During the last three days before your race, fuel up on carbohydrate-rich foods like whole grain pasta, potatoes, bread and fruits. The added carbs will energize your body on race day.

Take a glucosamine supplement. Your routine should include supplementing each day to help support joint health and regulate normal cartilage function. A good supplement will support natural collagen production to help lubricate and cushion your joints.

Source: USANA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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9 Quick Tips for a Summer-Ready Slimdown

April 28, 2017 12:24 am

With spring in the air almost everywhere, swimsuit season can’t be far away. It’s time to get off the couch, get moving again, and get rid of those wintertime bulges.

Fitness gurus offer nine foolproof tips for melting away those extra pounds before summer is officially here:

Drink lots of water. No matter how much water you already drink, up the ounces and up them again. The extra water will flush out the bloat, keep you feeling full longer, and add a new glow on your skin.

Avoid alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are more than calorie bombs. They actually stimulate your appetite.

Skip soda. Sodas, even the diet kind, contain sodium, which contributes to bloat. Skip them in favor of iced tea or coffee, or guess what? Water!

Add some green tea. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, which is said to promote weight loss by increasing metabolism. It relaxes, too. Try for three cups a day.

Try a one-day cleanse. Kick start your weight loss routine with a juice cleanse followed for 24 hours of fresh fruits and veggies – and water.

Fight belly fat with the right foods. Fruits and vegetables that contain lots of water are your best snack choices. Try melons, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, pineapple and grapes.

Plan meals and make a grocery run. Planning ahead for three meals and two snacks daily will keep you on track and away from unhealthy temptations. Stick to healthy carbs like whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of produce. Dinner leftovers can make great lunches.

Try a new workout. For maximum effect, skip the spot-toning exercises like sit-ups in favor of running or fat-blasting cardio routines.

Eat out smartly. Choose your restaurant with care and stick to salads and grilled proteins. Skip the sauces, dressings, and carbs.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Prepare Your Home for Spring

April 28, 2017 12:24 am

Spring comes with showers, flowers, and...home preparation? To lengthen the life of many of your home’s features, giving them a spring update is necessary. Gilmore Heating, Air, Solar offers valuable tips to homeowners to inspect and repair winter storm damage and prepare their homes for the hotter months.

1. Check Indoor Air Quality

- Inspect and replace A/C air filters. A clean filter will ensure cleaner, fresher and healthier air in your home. Also, a clogged air filter allows less air to flow through your system, forcing it to work harder. This can cause extensive damage to your system and increase costs due to higher energy bills and costly repairs.

- Make sure the A/C registers and ductwork are clear. For homes with pets or children, it's very common for all sorts of items to end up lodged in ductwork.

- Inspect ductwork and vents for signs of mold growth.

2. Conduct Simple Air Conditioner Maintenance

- Examine your heating and cooling unit for strange noises, condensation leaks and indoor temperatures that do not match thermostat readings. These are all signs that your air conditioning unit needs repair.

- Request a seasonal system tune-up and cleaning to make sure your system works efficiently.

3. Insulate and Waterproof Your Home

- Check the insulation of your walls, attic, crawl spaces, basement, garage and ceiling. Also, visually inspect your roof for shingle lift. Poor insulation can be the cause of increased energy bills due to heat loss during winter and heat absorption during summer.

- Inspect your gutters. Remove any debris that could prevent your gutters from draining properly. Check that all the downspouts extend away from the home to prevent water from pooling close to your home.  

- Check the faucets inside the house for any leaks and seepage. Catching a water leak at an early stage will prevent costly damage to your home.

Source: Gilmore Heating, Air, Solar

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Relocating? Here’s How to Feel at Home Faster

April 27, 2017 12:24 am

Moving to a new city, whether it’s 30 or 3,000 miles away from your last one, can be stressful to say the least – perhaps even more so after you’ve dealt with the last of the packing boxes, because now it’s time to get to know your new community and begin to feel comfortable within it.

Relocation professionals offer practical tips to help you feel more at home faster:

Get connected. If they haven’t already done so, don’t wait for the neighbors to ring your doorbell. Knock on the doors of the neighbors to your left and your right to introduce yourself. Even if they don’t become friends, they can be a good source of city information as well as referrals for reliable window washers, babysitters, medical professionals and other service providers.

Walk or drive around town. Walking your neighborhood is the best way to pinpoint local stores, schools, libraries and more – and driving will widen your familiarity with the city and acquaint you with alternative driving routes.

Don’t hesitate to say you are new in town. Wherever you happen to be, from the dry cleaners to the kids’ new gymnastics school, let people know you are new in town.  You may be surprised to find how much good information they will want to share with you about their favorites in the place they call home.

Use social media. Get online to browse upcoming local events as well as trending restaurants, museums and other local attractions.

Find clubs, schools or shops of interest. Look online for appealing local activities for everyone in the family: Toastmasters, quilting shops, book clubs, photography classes or sports leagues. They can be your best source for meeting new people who share your interests.

Say yes to invitations. Agree to join colleagues for a drink after work or a neighbor’s invitation to a fund-raiser. The more people you meet as a newcomer, the more likely you will be to develop friendships.

Update your registrations. Finally, don’t forget to register your car with the DMV, apply for any necessary licenses, and re-register to vote. Identifying with your new location will help make you feel more connected.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Americans Find Moving More Stressful Than Weddings

April 27, 2017 12:24 am

After the excitement of finding a new home comes the stressful task of moving into it. Despite its stressors, moving is inevitable; The U.S. Census Bureau projects 40 million Americans will add another home to their list this year, with 65 percent moving between Memorial Day and Labor Day.   

According to a new survey released by SpareFoot.com, Americans have moved an average of six times throughout their lives.

Below are the top findings from SpareFoot.com’s study on the emotional side of moving:

More stressful than a wedding. Surprisingly, 58 percent feel moving is a bigger challenge than wedding planning!

Argument starter. Stress often leads to arguments, so it makes sense that 31 percent of Americans who have moved in with a partner– including 46 percent of Millennials – have had some of their worst arguments while moving.

A time for parents to be selfless. Prior to a move, 69 percent of American parents claim they prioritize their child's needs over their significant other's needs.

It takes longer with kids. Like with most things you do with your children, the actual process of moving with children can take up to eight days longer, on average.

Finder’s keepers. Wading through sentimental items may make your move take longer. The study found that 81 percent of parents admit they have kept a child's possession, even when given permission to get rid of it.

Source: SpareFoot.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Network Smarter

April 27, 2017 12:24 am

(Family Features)--Business is built on relationships. For many entrepreneurs whose small businesses are thriving, successful networking is one of the most common threads.

Making connections and building relationships are among the most beneficial aspects of networking with other small businesses, according to more than half of the respondents in a survey by The UPS Store. This is especially true among younger business owners, who are more likely than their older counterparts to take advantage of networking opportunities with fellow small business owners.

Not only do they crave these connections, 61 percent of small business owners say they want to establish in-person relationships. Attending networking and meetup events is a great way for entrepreneurs to form new relationships, share experiences and celebrate their hard work. In honor of National Small Business Week, The UPS Store will offer several networking events to facilitate small business connections. The following tips can help small business owners make the most of networking events.

Practice your elevator pitch. When introducing yourself, be prepared to give a brief explanation of your business, boiled down to a couple of sentences. Be sure to include your business name, the solution you provide and anything that makes you unique. The key is to deliver enough context that others can engage in meaningful conversation, while keeping it succinct enough that you have plenty of time to listen. If you think your elevator pitch is perfected, submit a 90-second video describing the business or idea to enter The UPS Store national Pitch Off contest at theupsstore.com/pitchoff for a chance to win $10,000.

Be prepared to participate. Successful networking is as much about giving as it is receiving. Ask open-ended questions and be prepared to listen to what others are saying. Actively participating not only leads to more productive conversations, it helps build stronger relationships.

Embrace the competition. It may feel counterintuitive to forge a relationship with a direct competitor, but there's some obvious benefit to trading notes with someone who is operating in your market from a similar vantage point. Remember, while neither of you is going to give up proprietary information, a respectful dialogue may get your wheels turning to think about solving a problem in a new way.

Represent your brand well. A networking event is intended to be social, but it shouldn't be treated casually. You are every bit the face of your business in this setting as you are within your business walls. Dress the part and present yourself as you would to potential customers. Make sure you have updated business cards, as 75 percent of survey respondents said they are the most common marketing tool used to promote their business, and any other printed materials such as brochures or fliers that showcase your business.

Retain your newfound knowledge. After meeting a handful (or more) of new people, all the faces and names can run together. When you get back to your desk, take some time to make notes on everyone you met. Include pertinent contact information and details of your conversation, areas where the connection may be fruitful in the future and any immediate follow-up.

Source: theupsstore.com/smallbizsalute.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Weird and Wacky Scholarships You May Not Know About

April 26, 2017 12:24 am

College admission season is in full swing, but many high school seniors are as concerned about where their tuition money will come from as they are about which schools will send them acceptance letters.

While scholarships are typically offered for scholastic and/or athletic achievement, there are plenty of oddball scholarships available to students with a variety of unique interests and talents.

Recent research turned up these options for openers:

Duct Tape designers – The Henkal Corporation’s Duct Brand Duct Tape’s “Stuck at Prom” competition offers 10 awards of up to $10,000 to individuals or couples who create prom outfits completely made of duct tape. To enter, send a photo of your creations to your personal Instagram or Twitter account along with hashtags #DuctTapePromposal and #Sweepstakes.

Duck Calling – The Chip and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest offers four $2,000 scholarships to the best high school senior duck callers, who have 90 seconds to demonstrate hail, feed, comeback and mating calls. Find out more at StuttgartArkansas.com.

Parapsychology – Undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in parapsychology programs such as telepathy, reincarnation, or near-death experiences can apply for a $3,000 grant from the Eileen J. Garrett Foundation. Details at parapsychology.org.

Golf caddies – The Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship offers renewable full tuition and housing scholarships to qualified golf caddies. Information is available online from the Western Golf Association.

Knitting enthusiasts – The National Make It Yourself With Wool organization awards two $1,000 or $2,000 scholarships to knitters who create killer knitted garments. Get the details at Makeitwithwool.com.

Trekkies – Yep, the Klingon Language Institute and the Starfleet Academy organizations offer several scholarships, including the Gene Roddenberry Memorial Scholarship for Young Writers. You don’t even need to speak Klingon. Look up the details at kli.org and acad.sfi.org.

Candy lovers – How about a $5,000 scholarship for students interested in confectionary technology who will major in food science or a related area? Find out more from the American Association of Candy Technologists at aactcandy.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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