Mary Mastroeni
GoogleLinked InYoutubePinterest
 
Mary Mastroeni

Mary's Blog

Word of the Day

November 1, 2011 6:30 pm

Nonconforming use. Use of property that is permitted to continue after a zoning ordinance prohibiting it has been passed.

Tags:

Question of the Day

November 1, 2011 6:30 pm

Q: What do I do about the unseen maintenance problems like toxic gases?

A: Problems with your chimney, mechanical devices on your heating appliance, and pressure within the home can all cause combustion spillage, the unwanted flow of combustion gases into your home. Present in these gases are toxic elements such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.

The best way to prevent spillage is to hire a professional – preferably one who specializes in building inspection, indoor air quality, ducting, chimneys and heating equipment – to do a yearly maintenance check of all your combustion appliances. These appliances include a gas-fired furnace, boiler, or water heater, an oil-fired furnace, boiler, or water heater, and a fireplace.

The service professional can check for heat exchanger leakage, evidence of start up spillage, and condensation in the chimney. Maintenance normally includes a tune-up, or in the case of a chimney, clearing it of debris and fixing cracks on the inside wall.

Tags:

Fall Clean-up, Already?

October 31, 2011 6:28 pm

Fall is the season for football, changing leaf colors, and—because of yard work—back injuries, tumbles from ladders and lawn mower accidents.

Each year, thousands of Americans are injured cleaning gutters, raking leaves, washing windows and doing other chores. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) urges people to take the proper safety precautions to reduce the number of cleaning-related accidents this season.

Statistics:
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
• In 2010, more than 35,500 people injured themselves using a stepladder
• More than 127,000 were injured while operating a lawn mower

AAOS Expert Advice:
"When it comes to cleaning up around the house, be sure to move and lift heavy or oddly-shaped items properly. Start by bending at the knees and lift using your legs, not from your back," says Marc T. Galloway, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson. "A lot of injuries tend to occur on ladders too, so if you're cleaning the gutters or painting a bedroom make sure the ladder is stable, locked in place to avoid falls. And, whatever you do, do not stand on the top rung—this can result in orthopaedic injuries like fractures or breaks."

Fall Clean Up Safety Tips:

Lifting Heavy Objects
Proper techniques for lifting, carrying and bending should be part of any outdoor or indoor cleaning project to avoid back injuries:
• Separate your feet, shoulder-width apart and keep your back upright and bend at the knees while tightening the stomach muscles.
• Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up; don't try to lift any object by yourself if it is too heavy or an awkward shape.

Raking
Raking can be vigorous exercise. Before you begin, warm up for at least 10 minutes with some stretching and light exercise.
• Use a rake that is comfortable for your height and strength
• Wear gloves or use rakes with padded handles to prevent blisters, and vary your movement, alternating your leg and arm positions often.
• Keep your vision free of impediment and wear shoes with slip-resistant soles.
• To avoid back injuries, do not overfill leaf bags. Never carry or throw a bag over your shoulder or to the side. The twisting motion places undo stress on your back.

Ladder Use
Ladders used for chores—such as washing windows, painting, cleaning gutters and trimming trees—should be placed on a firm, level surface. In addition:
• Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven, soft or wet.
• Use a sturdy step stool instead of a counter or furniture—such as a chair or the couch – when cleaning high hard to reach areas.
• When working on a ladder, over-reaching or leaning too far to one side can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder. Never climb a ladder without a spotter.
• Use care with extension cords: be sure they are properly grounded. To avoid tripping or falling, do not drape extension cords across spans of crossing walkways.

Mowing the Lawn
When mowing the lawn, be sure to wear proper footwear and eyewear for protection.
• Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released. Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary – carefully look for others behind you when you do.
• Children should be at least 12-years-old before they operate any lawn mower, and at least 16- years-old for a ride-on mower.

Other Cleaning Tips
• Read product labels for proper use and wear protective clothing and gloves when using chemicals for cleaning. Store all chemicals at the appropriate temperature, which is usually indicated on the package, in a place that is out of reach of both children and pets. Never place chemicals into unmarked containers or containers labeled for a different substance.
• Keep a cell phone within reach in case of accident or injury.

For more information, visit Orthoinfo.org or
http://www.aaos.org

Tags:

Cleaning Tips to Get the Most out of your Carpet

October 31, 2011 6:28 pm

Chances are, your home’s carpet gets a lot of wear and tear. By following these few simple tips, you can extend your carpet’s life and save a little money in the process.

1. Vacuum. Vacuuming often removes dirty and soil buildup, preventing accumulations that are more difficult to tackle.
2. Spot Stain. With kids, pets, guests and accidents, some staining bound to happen. By addressing stains immediately, you will be more likely to remove the stain before it sets.
3. Don’t Rub! When a stain occurs, blot it to absorb any liquid, then add a cleaner and let it sit. If you need to, blot from the outside of the stain toward the center to avoid spreading, but don’t rub—this can cause the stain to set deeper into your carpet.

Source: www.chem-dry.net

Tags:

The Right Passage for Teen Driving

October 31, 2011 6:28 pm

Safe driving is usually not in the forefront of a teen’s mind, but for parents it can be a big worry. Many parents often overlook the need to have honest discussions with their teens about safe driving and avoiding alcohol and drugs.

“Getting behind the wheel is an important responsibility at any age and Foremost wants all drivers to be as safe as possible,” says Eric Kappler, assistant vice president of auto product management. “Leading by example is a great opportunity for parents to show their teen safe driving techniques.”

Foremost Insurance Group offers this honest and teen-friendly guide to sharing concerns with your teen for one of the most important responsibilities of their adolescent career.
• Have a good time. Explain to your teen that you want them to have fun and enjoy themselves. Just don’t drink. Years from now, they will laugh when looking back on their school days, but not if they don’t remember them.
• Relate it to your past. Explain to them what you did right or wrong and what the consequences were. Don’t be afraid to tell them the truth if you made some bad judgment calls. This can only help them to feel that you are human and that you regret those decisions and don’t want them to make the same.
• Remind them of their future. High school is a great time, but they have their whole future ahead of them. Remind them that it is important to look ahead and make good decisions.
• Immature vs. mature. Your teen may think that drinking or doing drugs and driving is what the grown up thing is to do. Explain to them that is the most immature and irresponsible decision they could make. Being mature is about making the right decision and keeping your future in your sight. As a parent, your responsibility is to lead by example. Parents should follow the same rules they set for their teen.
• Drive safe! Make sure that they understand the responsibility of getting behind the wheel. Share these six tips with your teen:
1. Wear seatbelts.
2. Don’t speed.
3. Be a defensive driver. Not everyone on the road is going to be as safe as you, watch out for other unsafe drivers.
4. Don’t drive while impaired or ride with anyone that is impaired. This clouds judgment for driving and could potentially end in a fatality. If you do make a mistake, or find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, call your parents immediately. They will respect you for being mature enough to see the danger and making the right call.
5. Pay attention to the road while driving. Don’t get distracted by cell phones, radio, or passengers. Driving is a very important responsibility and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The way your teen learns to drive today is how they will drive tomorrow. Remind them that driving is a privilege—not to be taken lightly or for granted. Getting behind the wheel can be a great rite of passage…just make sure it’s the right passage they are driving down.

For more information, visit http://www.Foremost.com.

Tags:

Word of the Day

October 31, 2011 6:28 pm

Net lease. Lease requiring the tenant to pay all the costs incurred in maintaining a property, including taxes, insurance, repairs, and other expenses normally required of the owner.

Tags:

Question of the Day

October 31, 2011 6:28 pm

Q: Is it true you never really stop fixing up a home?

A: From the day you move in to the day you sell your home, there will always be something that will need to be repaired or remodeled. You may want to undertake some changes simply to elevate your comfort level – like installing central air conditioning—or spruce up the home’s aesthetics, such as adding a few stained-glass windows.

But other work will need to be done to maintain the property and minimize problems later on. Some examples are replacing a hazardous roof, fixing broken windows, and repairing leaky pipes. These are all necessities. Left undone, they can lead to major problems and damages within the home.

If you decide one day to sell, other improvements will likely be made to increase the home’s value and appeal to potential buyers.

Tags:

Scare Up Some Fun with a Trick-or-Treat Party

October 28, 2011 6:20 pm

Make no bones about it—Halloween is all about having some spine-tingling fun. This year, why not share the scare by hosting a Trick-or-Treat party for school friends or even the neighborhood? 

With these tips and ideas, you can throw a monster bash on a budget that's not frightening at all. 

Set a Spooktacular Scene 
Whether you want to go all-out scary or keep it all in good fun, you can combine store-bought decorations with homemade creations to save money.
• Line fake gravestones along your walkway. Buy them pre-made, or make them yourself using foam or cardboard and spray paint.
• Perch eerie, fake birds near your doorway, and hang cobwebs anywhere you can reach.
• Place creepy-crawlies, like plastic spiders, everywhere.
• Add scary inflatable figures to your yard—the designs get more elaborate every year, and they store easily when deflated.
• Turn an inexpensive, thrift-store stockpot into a spooky kitchen-table centerpiece. Just add dry ice and warm water for frightfully fun fog. Always wear gloves when you handle dry ice and always store it in a ventilated container.
• A jack-o-lantern is a Halloween classic. Easy stencils make complex witch, werewolf and scary-face designs a breeze.
• Use rechargeable outdoor tea lights and Halloween-themed string lights as safer alternatives to candles.
• Build a scarecrow—all you need is wooden garden stakes, pillows, straw and old clothes.
• Use unexpected items in a whole new way. Spray paint branches or old lamps black and orange and use them as centerpieces; make spooky skeleton cut-outs with poster board; use toilet paper to wrap someone up in a nifty mummy costume; or bring the outdoors in with hay bales and mums. 

Frightfully Fun Games
Kids and grownups alike will get a kick out of these Halloween games.
• Halloween Charades—Write down Halloween characters, places and things on pieces of paper. Fold the papers and put them in a bowl. Then have each person, in turn, pick a piece of paper and act out the written words until the game's audience guesses what's being acted out. Want more competition? Split the group into teams and award candy prizes for correct answers.
• Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin—You'll need a pumpkin (either real or made out of orange construction paper), pushpins or tape, a blindfold and several pumpkin noses (black construction paper will work). Draw eyes and a mouth on your pumpkin's face, and hang it up. Blindfold a player, spin them around, hand them a paper nose (secured with a pushpin for adults and tape for children) and direct them toward the pumpkin. The player who attaches the nose closest to the right spot wins. You could also play Pin the Wart on the Witch, or Pin the Smile on the Scarecrow.
• Pumpkin Decorating Contest—Set out markers, stickers, glue, construction paper, buttons and other household items. Give guests a pumpkin and a 30-minute decoration time frame. Award prizes for the "Prettiest," "Scariest" and "Most Interesting." Don't want winners or losers? Let kids decorate and take home their pumpkins. 

For more information, visit www.walmart.com/halloween.

Tags:

Word of the Day:

October 28, 2011 6:20 pm

Mortgagor. Party or person that borrows money, giving a lien on the property as security for the loan; the borrower.

Tags:

Question of the Day

October 28, 2011 6:20 pm

Q: What things do lenders view positively and negatively during the application process?

A: When you apply for a loan, long, steady employment is always seen as a plus, as is a large down payment, a good credit rating, a history of regular savings, and property located in a “good” neighborhood.

Not so good in the lender’s mind: frequent job changes without salary increases, self-employment in a new venture, bad debt history, no previous borrowing record, and dilapidated property.

Do not be discouraged. These are standard lender pre-dispositions when evaluating your application, but when it comes to making a loan decision, most lenders will tell you nothing is completely carved in stone.

Consider, too, that credit you have qualified for—say, credit cards—can work against you, even if never used. This is because those credit cards are looked upon as being open credit lines—and while they have not been used, they could be used, and potentially used up to the maximum dollar amount allowed by the credit card companies. As a result, their perceived risks lower your credit, or FICO, score.

Tags: