RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
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 Survive Home Remodeling Projects

September 30, 2011 5:03 pm

The people at San Jose kitchen and bath remodeling company, Medina Home Repair, know that home renovations can be stressful, so they would like provide some simple recommendations to those who are thinking of revamping their houses but do not know where to start. Following these recommendations will not only save on time and money, but will also restore peace of mind. 

The first thing Medina recommends is to plan ahead for trouble that might occur during the renovating process. 

“A meeting with the contractor about problems the renovations may cause your neighbors before any construction begins is always a good first step,” says Jose Medina of Medina Home Repair.
Next, set a reasonable timeline for the completion of construction. Contractors won’t be able to provide an exact date, but an experienced one, such as Medina Home Repair, is capable of providing customers with a fairly reasonable timeline. Third, never leave critical decisions to the last minute. This will cost more money as well as a delay in construction. 

Another important factor in preparing for renovations is to protect the belongings in the home. With so many people moving in and out of the house with heavy equipment and cumbersome materials, it is almost certain that any belongings not packed safely out of the way will be damaged. To help the renovations run smoothly, stay out of the contractor’s way once the plans have been discussed. 

Another tip is to keep the end goal in mind. Stress and panic is most likely to attack when the house is gutted and materials are cluttering up the room. To avoid this anxiety, the professionals at Medina Home Repair suggest that homeowners try to envision what the home will look like at the end of construction. Find ways of thinking about the future, such as focusing on shopping for furnishings for the room, if the budget allows. 

Lastly, keep an open line of communication with the contractor. To fulfill the dream home renovation, the contractor needs to know what are the homeowner’s ideas and expectations. 

For more information, visit


Allergy Relief for Your Child

September 30, 2011 5:03 pm

Children are magnets for colds. But when the “cold” won’t go away for weeks, the culprit may be allergies.
Long-lasting sneezing, with a stuffy or runny nose, may signal the presence of allergic rhinitis—the collection of symptoms that affect the nose when you have an allergic reaction to something you breathe in that lands on the lining inside the nose. 

Allergies may be seasonal or they can strike year-round (perennial). In most parts of the United States, plant pollens are often the cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis—more commonly called hay fever. Indoor substances, such as mold, dust mites, and pet dander, may cause the perennial kind. 

Up to 40 percent of children suffer from allergic rhinitis, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). And children are more likely to develop allergies if one or both parents have allergies. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines that offer allergy relief as well as allergen extracts used to diagnose and treat allergies. 

Immune System Reaction
An allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a specific substance, or allergen. The immune system responds to the invading allergen by releasing histamine and other chemicals that typically trigger symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, eyes, skin, or stomach lining, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 

In some children, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma—a disease that causes wheezing or difficulty breathing. 

If a child has allergies and asthma, “not controlling the allergies can make asthma worse,” says Anthony Durmowicz, M.D., a pediatric pulmonary doctor in FDA’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products. 

Avoiding the Culprit
If your child has seasonal allergies, you may want to pay attention to pollen counts and try to keep your child inside when the levels are high. 

• In the late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the morning.
• In the spring and summer, during the grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening.
• Some molds, another allergy trigger, may also be seasonal. For example, leaf mold is more common in the fall.
• Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome for pollen allergy sufferers.
It may also help to keep windows closed in your house and car and run the air conditioner when pollen counts are high. 

Allergy Medicines
For most children, symptoms may be controlled by avoiding the allergen, if known, and using OTC medicines. However, if a child’s symptoms are persistent and not relieved by OTC medicines, it is wise to see a health care professional to assess your child’s symptoms and see if other treatments, including prescription medicines, may be appropriate. 

While some allergy medicines are approved for use in children as young as six months, Dianne Murphy, M.D., director of FDA’s Office of Pediatric Therapeutics, cautions, “Always read the label to make sure the product is appropriate for your child’s age. Just because a product’s box says that it is intended for children does not mean it is intended for children of all ages.” 

“Children are more sensitive than adults to many drugs,” adds Murphy. “For example, some antihistamines can have adverse effects at lower doses on young patients, causing excitability or excessive drowsiness.” 

Allergy Shots
Children who don't respond to either OTC or prescription medications, or who suffer from frequent complications of allergic rhinitis, may be candidates for allergen immunotherapy—commonly known as allergy shots. According to NIAID, about 80 percent of people with allergic rhinitis will see their symptoms and need for medicine drop significantly within a year of starting allergy shots. 

After allergy testing, typically by skin testing to detect what allergens your child may react to, a health care professional injects the child with “extracts”—small amounts of the allergens that trigger a reaction. The doses are gradually increased so that the body builds up immunity to these allergens. 

Allergen extracts are manufactured from natural substances, such as pollens, insect venoms, animal hair, and foods. More than 1,200 extracts are licensed by FDA. 

Some doctors are buying extracts licensed for injection and instructing the parents to administer the extracts using a dropper under the child’s tongue, says Jay E. Slater, M.D., director of FDA’s Division of Bacterial, Parasitic and Allergenic Products. “While FDA considers this the practice of medicine (and the agency does not regulate the practice of medicine), parents and patients should be aware that there are no allergenic extracts currently licensed by FDA for oral use.” 

“Allergy shots are never appropriate for food allergies,” adds Slater, who is also a pediatrician and allergist. But it’s common to use extracts to test for food allergies so the child can avoid those foods. 

Transformation in Treatment
“In the last 20 years, there has been a remarkable transformation in allergy treatments,” says Slater. “Kids used to be miserable for months out of the year, and drugs made them incredibly sleepy. But today’s products are outstanding in terms of safety and efficacy.” 

Forgoing treatment can make for an irritable, sleepless, and unhappy child, adds Slater, recalling a mother saying, after her child’s successful treatment, “I didn’t realize I had a nice kid!” 

For more information, visit


5 Easy Ways to Store the Harvest: No Root Cellar Required

September 29, 2011 5:03 pm

It's an exciting time of year: Fall is here, and the rewards of a summer garden, including onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, winter squash and more, are coming fast and furious. 

"Canning and preserving are two favorite ways to keep favorite fruits and vegetables tasting in-season fresh throughout the winter," says Maree Gaetani, director of gardening relations for Gardener's Supply. "But for those of us who don't have time or interest in canning and preserving, there are a number of crops that can be stored 'as is' in cool, dry and dark conditions—no root cellar required." 

Gardeners can consider these practical harvest tips and products when putting their favorites away for the winter: 

1. Harvest before frost or cold temperatures damages plant tissues—and be picky about what you pick! Since decay will accelerate and spread once a crop is in storage, keep only perfect specimens. Provide good air circulation and a dry, dark environment: The ideal temperature depends on what you're keeping. 

A root storage bin creates a portable, affordable root cellar in any dark place. The heavy, wire frame bin with convenient carrying handles is lined with natural, breathable jute to protect precious carrots, beets, potatoes, turnips and squash. Layer carrots or beets with damp sand or sawdust, or toss other vegetables right into the bin, and they'll keep all winter. 

2. Freeze your favorites. Freezing is a fast and easy way to save vegetables, fruit and herbs for later use. Buy the best quality freezer bags you can find, remove as much air as possible from the bag and label all bags with date and contents. Herbs are the easiest crop to freeze: Just chop to size (for parsley and cilantro) and fill a freezer bag or puree (for basil) with olive oil. Berries can be frozen whole or in syrup. Vegetables need to be blanched before freezing to slow down the enzymes that cause decay. 

3. Rescue unripe tomatoes! If cold weather arrives before your entire tomato crop has ripened, harvest firm, green, unblemished fruit and wrap each tomato individually in newspaper. Store between 55-60 degrees F and check weekly to monitor ripening. 

4. Store crops right in the garden. The easiest way of all to preserve your harvest is to leave crops right in the ground and put something on top to protect them from extreme cold. A length of Gardener's exclusive Garden Quilt Cover, suspended just over your crops using hoops and wooden clothespins, allows rain and sun to reach plants while keeping them safe from wind and chilly temperatures. 

5. Refrigerate root crops. Harvest carrots and beet crops before a hard frost, use scissors to cut off most of the greens (except for about ½" on top so as not to cut into the root), and leave the dirt until you're ready to cook! 

For more information, visit


Why Now Is a Great Time to Start Your Own Business

September 29, 2011 5:03 pm

Despite the economic woes that have plagued the U.S. over the past few years, there are still great opportunities out there for those who really want to find them, says women’s business coach and mentor Karen Terry.

"There has never been a better time to start a new business," said Karen Terry, a women's business coach and mentor based in Houston. "Many women who work in Corporate America dream of starting their own business but are afraid.” 

For others, Terry says they’ve hit the glass ceiling and wonder when they can be their own bosses. “Now is the time,” she says.

To help entrepreneurs start their own businesses, Terry has written a special report titled "The 10 Biggest Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make When They Start Their Business."

Here are some of her favorite business ideas:

1. Create a financial safety net. Start saving money by skipping the extra coffee or newspaper. All that money adds up and can come in handy when you are running your new business.

2. Get one new client before you leave your current job - if you can. "Every little bit helps. For a lot of people it is scary to quit a job and not have any clients lined up. Clients translate into income, which helps ease the transition to self-employment," she says.

3. Use your network. If you are going through a career change, don't assume you can't use your existing network. For those who are simply venturing out on their own—use your network to your advantage.

4. Professional development. You need to identify your skills. If you are weak in certain areas, take a class so you can become the best you can be. You aren't going to be successful if you have certain areas where you are weak.

5. Mentors. It's always a good idea to work with a business coach who has also had experience running a business.


What You Should Know Before Buying Your First Car

September 29, 2011 5:03 pm

Buying a car for the first time is a celebratory moment in anyone's life, regardless of age, and the site's expert editors offers their 'best kept secrets' to ease the trip to the dealer with these easy-to-remember pointers. 

"The car-buying process is never filled with as much uncertainty as it is for the first time," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's "With this advice in mind, Kelley Blue Book hopes to alleviate some of the stress inherent with such a large financial decision." 

Helpful Hints for First-Time Car Buyers 

For those in the market to buy a car for the first time, here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind while doing your research and shopping. 

Establish a realistic budget
This figure is generally based on what you can afford per month. Calculate your cost-of-living in all the more important areas, like shelter, food, health insurance and Happy Hour. Once you have that total, the remainder could be spent on a car payment, car insurance and, of course, gas for your new ride. 

Know what you can spend monthly
While this may look similar to No. 6, your level of indebtedness is different from your monthly commitment. If you choose to finance your car, figure $25/month for every thousand dollars that you borrow for 48 months, and $20/month for 60-month financing. 

Establish your transportation needs
Make sure to choose a car that best fits your needs. For instance, if your lifestyle or career requires a car for hauling heaving items, then invest in a larger, heavy-duty vehicle. Given the cost of fuel, insurance and—in many cities—monthly parking, don't buy what you don't need. 

Identify and prioritize your wants
The first-time purchase doesn't need to be your be-all/end-all acquisition, but you should still pay attention to your 'want' list. Better to stretch a bit for those features that will bring more satisfaction in your purchase and prevent buyer's remorse. 

Do your research (it's never been easier)
There is an incredible amount of information and perspective on new cars and their late-model alternatives. There are listings devoted to cars for teenagers, cars for students and first-time buyers. 

Locate a convenient dealer
Don't feel intimidated, as the dealership salesman is closer to a normal person than you think. When deciding between different car models, compare dealer locations and showroom environments. We tend to stay away from dealerships where two-thirds of the sales staff is sitting or standing at the front of the entrance. 

For more information visit


Word of the Day

September 29, 2011 5:03 pm

Joint tenancy. Property owned by two or more persons with equal and undivided interest and ownership and the right of survivorship. If one owner dies, the property automatically passes to the others.


Question of the Day

September 29, 2011 5:03 pm

Q: Do I have to disclose a parent's gift to the lender?

A: Lenders prefer that you do. But relax, you are not penalized in any way for receiving parental help. An estimated one-third of all first-time buyers purchase homes with a loan or a money gift from parents.

Lenders also will approve gifts, with the proper documentation, from relatives, friends, an employer, church, municipality, or nonprofit organization – although stricter restrictions may apply for gifts from friends and relatives other than parents.

Expect the lender to ask you to present a gift letter stating that a repayment of the "gift" is not expected. The amount of the gift and the date it was given should be clearly stated in the letter, along with the donor's name, address, telephone number and relationship to you.

The lender also can ask to see a few bank statements to ascertain if the money was recently placed into the account.

A gift may be more acceptable than an actual parental loan, particularly if the loan must be paid back immediately, which could contribute to an increase in your monthly debt – something a lender may frown on.


5 Ways to Deal with a Whining Child

September 28, 2011 8:03 pm

Children can be great complainers, and it doesn’t take them long to learn that they can sometimes win your consent or attention by whining until you give them what they want. But, according to child development experts, there are better ways to hang onto your sanity and make your child more cooperative and pleasant in the bargain.

Here, from a panel of experts at Chapman College in Orange, Calif., are five proven ways to deal with a whiny child:
1. Pretend you don’t hear your child’s request when said in a whiny fashion. Go about your activities as though he had never said a word. Ignoring the whining sends a message that it doesn’t bring results.
2. At the first pause in the child’s complaining, say brightly, “Oh, I’m sorry. Were you talking to me? I can’t seem to hear that whiny tone. If you’d like to talk to me in a friendlier way, I’d love to hear what you have to say.” This sets up a clear standard for what you expect when communicating, and will surely get the child’s attention if he or she begins to whine out of habit.
3. Give your child a sense of control by offering choices whenever possible. “Would you rather go to the library or the park?” “Would you rather have green beans or peas?” A child who has some measure of control is better equipped to handle life’s little disappointments.
4. Redirect the blame when she complains. If she whines that she always has to clean her room, remind her calmly that if she kept it picked up all week long, she wouldn’t have to clean up all at once. Doing this teaches that she needs to accept responsibility for the actions she chooses to take.
5. Every now and then, play a game in which you are the child and he is the adult. Role playing shows your child how awful he sounds when he whines, and gives him a chance to vocalize solutions that can ultimately make both of you happier.


Outdoor Fire Safety: Burn Bans, Restrictions, and Environmental Impact

September 28, 2011 8:03 pm

Outdoor burn bans are placed to protect the environment and prevent destructive fires. They make private wood fire burning illegal or only allowed by permission of the local fire department or local government. If your country has a burn ban in place and you looking for a way to enjoy an outdoor flame this fall, you will be happy to know that gas fire pits are exempt from many burn bans and provide a way to keep fires burning.

Burning a fire that runs on clean-burning fuel, like natural gas, will not produce the carcinogenic smoke created by a wood-burning fire. This means less impact on the environment, and neighbors won't complain about smoke floating into their yard. Gas fire pits not only meet requirements for many burn bans, they are also convenient with very little maintenance. No wood to buy, no soot, smoke, or ashes, and no messy clean-up. Clean-burning fuel options include LP, natural gas, denatured alcohol (non-pourable gel fuel), and pellet fuel.

Dan Shimek, President of The Outdoor GreatRoom Company states, "there isn't a 'surefire' way to bypass all burn bans. However, by choosing a UL listed gas fire pit it is possible to have year-round enjoyment of fire, in a way that is both safe and legal."

Stainless steel gas burners units generate a controlled fire, eliminate sparks, and do not create toxic smoke. State and local codes vary, as does the duration of individual bans. Research local codes online and check with code officials in each affected zone to and determine if UL Listed gas fire pit tables are a viable option.

From small urban balconies to shared campsites, UL listed gas fire pit burners make it easier than ever to rekindle the warm glow of a fire year-round.

Top 5 reasons to choose a gas fire pit table:
1. Safety & Peace of Mind. UL listed products are tested for safe use.
2. Eliminate Smoke that carries toxic particles and irritates neighbors.
3. Convenience. No hauling wood, no messy clean-up.
4. Quick to Start. Electronic ignition starts the fire.
5. Style and design. Pre-fabricated or DIY custom surrounds.

Top things to consider when buying a gas fire pit table :
1. UL listed burners ensure safety testing and approval.
2. Stainless steel burners and components won't rust.
3. Electronic ignition. Makes starting the fire simple and safe.
4. Remote control options offer convenience.
5. Natural Gas. If using NG, consult with a professional before making your purchase.
6. Attractive Propane Tank Covers. If using LP (liquid propane) gas, see if the fire pit table has the provision to house a tank underneath. If not, shop for an attractive tank cover that matches your space. Most fire pits use a 20lb propane tank - the same type used for gas barbeque grills.

For more information, visit .


Short on Cash? Try These 5 Ways to Stretch a Tight Budget

September 28, 2011 8:03 pm

Cricket Communications, a leading provider of innovative and value-driven wireless services, has teamed up with personal finance and savings expert Robert Pagliarini to offer easy tips to help people stretch already-tight budgets. Pagliarini is the author of The Other 8 Hours, Six-Day Financial Makeover and a certified financial planner.

"As the economy struggles to recover, people are looking for new ways to save money," says Pagliarini. "But no one wants to cut all of the fun and entertainment out of their lives, especially with deeply personal devices like cell phones and electronics."

Cricket has partnered with Robert to offer creative money-saving tips that can help save families hundreds of dollars each month.

PERK System - List all of your expenses and decide which ones you can "Postpone," "Eliminate," "Reduce" and those you must "Keep." Don't let the simplicity throw you. It's easy but incredibly effective and helps you prioritize and get your spending in line. The rest of my tips focus on expenses you can "Eliminate" and "Reduce."
"Budget" Nights Out - A night out can be much needed, but dinner bills, movie tickets and parking fees each month can quickly start to resemble a mortgage payment! Don't skip the night out completely, but consider eating at home before the movie. You can even invite your friends over for a cooking night—and they can return the favor the next time.
Small Cutbacks, Big Savings - Don't forget about the small everyday expenses you rack up – they add up to big savings. If you can cut out some coffees and brown bag your lunch a few times each week, you can save $150 a month.
Technology That Saves You Money – It seems counter-intuitive, but there are ways to cut your costs with new gadgets and services. You can slash your cable bill by using video subscription streaming services, online DVD rentals and an HD antenna—you still get 90% of what you watch through cable/satellite providers for one-fifth of the price.
Cell Phones - The average family spends well over $1,000 a year on wireless service, and that's before you start adding in costs like extra lines and fancy phones for the kids, apps and song downloads. For anyone who has ever given their kid a smartphone, you know this can be a recipe for a financial disaster.
The easiest, most pain-free way to save money is to stick with a fixed cost, pre-paid plan where you can save hundreds of dollars each year, without sacrificing all of the fun apps, games and music that you can't live without.

For more information about flexible service plans, visit