June Croissette
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RE/MAX 440   June Croissette
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309  Quakertown, PA  18951
Office Phone: 215-538-4400    Phone: 215-538-4400 Ext. 1210  Fax: 267-354-6834  Cell: 215-872-4966

My Blog

The Best Haunted Houses in the Nation

October 26, 2016 2:33 am

Each halloween, hundreds of haunted houses pop up across the country to the delight and terror of scream fans. In search of the spookiest spaces, Screams.com visited haunted attractions across the country to find the biggest, scariest and most unique attractions. Their findings are now available,  based on fear factor, technology, costume designs, overall uniqueness, size and quality. Go ahead and pick one to visit – we double dog dare you.  

1. 13th Gate, Baton Rouge, La.

2. Bennett's Curse, Baltimore, M.d.

3. Fear Farm, Phoenix, Ariz.

4. Nightmare on 13th, Salt Lake City, Utah

5. Erebus Haunted House, Pontiac, Mich.

6. 13th Floor, San Antonio, Texas

7. Spooky World, New England

8. The Dent Schoolhouse, Cincinnati, OH

9. Spookywoods, Archdale, N.C.

10. Nightmare on the Bayou, Houston, Texas

11. Headless Horseman, Ulster Park, N.Y.

12. The Bates Motel, Glen Mills, Pa.

12. Netherworld, Norcross (Atlanta), Ga.

Source: Screams.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Get the Most from Your Cookware

October 26, 2016 2:33 am

(Family Features)--For leading chefs and casual home cooks alike, a little skill and talent goes a long way toward creating each mouthwatering culinary masterpiece. But as many chefs will tell you, the end result is only as good as the tools you use in the kitchen. Pots and pans that have been treated with care are essential for quality cooking.

Not only are scratched and dinged pots and pans unsightly, these blemishes can actually adversely affect your food preparation. Learn how to keep your cookware in top performing condition with these three tips.

1. Cook with care. Keeping your pans in good condition starts with how you use them on the stove. While most high-quality pots and pans can withstand a range of temperatures, the threshold may vary for mid-range versions. If you're not sure, consult the manufacturer's instructions for specific guidance, but it's always a good idea to begin heating a pan at a medium heat for better cooking control and to avoid burning. Also give special care to the utensils you use for handling food within the pans. Opt for wooden or silicone kitchen tools rather than scratch-inducing metal and always avoid using knives.

2. Clean with care. Proper cleaning for your pots and pans depends upon the material. For example, cast iron and stainless steel should never be soaked, while soaking is perfectly acceptable, even preferable, for ceramic or other coated surfaces. Avoid harsh scrubbing on coated vessels and forgo soap with cast iron, which is porous enough to absorb it. You should always check if your cookware is dishwasher safe before loading it in for a wash, as sometimes detergents can ruin pots' finishes. Even if pots are dishwasher safe, best results will often be seen by handwashing first.

3. Store with care. Stacking pots and pans haphazardly in a drawer or cabinet is a surefire path to scratches and other damage. Look for storage solutions that let you neatly organize your vessels and their matching lids. A couple of handy options include Revere Copper Confidence Core Stainless Steel Cookware and Revere Clean Pan Hard Anodized Aluminum Non-Stick Cookware. Both of these recently released lines include an exclusive patent-pending Nest&Protect feature. By updating the functionality of the traditional hanging rings, these interlocking handles elevate your pots and pans above one another to protect the interior and exterior finishes, while storing conveniently and efficiently without scratching.

Source: RevereWare.com .

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Smart Thermostats Lower Bills, Improve Efficiency

October 26, 2016 2:33 am

More and more homeowners are slashing their bills and making their life a little easier by using smart thermostats. Ease of installation and usage are key contributors to overall satisfaction with these remotely controlled thermostats, a rapidly growing market, according to the inaugural J.D. Power 2016 Smart Thermostat Satisfaction Report.

The primary benefit of smart thermostats is convenience—63 percent of customers indicate they adjust their thermostat remotely—followed by 53 percent indicating automated temperatures when not home, and saving money on monthly heating/air conditioning costs, with 51 percent citing this as a benefit.

While nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of customers installed the unit themselves vs. 36 percent who used a contractor/professional installer, the levels of overall satisfaction vary slightly between installation methods (873 among do-it-yourselfers vs. 883 among those using a contractor, on a 1,000-point scale). More than half (51 percent) of those who installed the smart thermostat themselves say it was easier than expected, while only 4 percent say it was more difficult than expected.

“Smart thermostat customers are taking a hands-on approach to researching, buying and installing a product that allows them to have, in effect, a hands-off experience,” says Jeff Conklin, vice president of utilities & infrastructure practice at J.D. Power. “The resulting satisfaction levels are promising, but manufacturers would be wise to focus on their customers’ ease of connectivity and the benefits of smart thermostats.”

Connectivity issues, while minimal, affect overall satisfaction. Among the 15 percent of customers having difficulty connecting their system to the internet and the 9 percent of those having difficulty connecting from their mobile app, overall satisfaction is 843. Among customers who indicate not experiencing any connectivity problems, overall satisfaction is 899.

The report also finds a high level of customer engagement before making a purchase. Nearly half (45 percent) of customers looked at consumer review websites, and 46 percent indicate those positive reviews were a reason they selected their smart thermostat.

Source: www.jdpower.com/about-us/press-release-info

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Simple Steps to Maintain Natural Stone

October 25, 2016 2:33 am

(Family Features)--Natural stone adds elegance and style to any home. With a nearly endless array of colors, textures and designs, it's easy to create a one-of-a-kind look for your kitchen or bath. However, without proper care, that carefully selected natural stone may quickly start to show wear and tear.

Not only does natural stone lend a beautifully sophisticated aesthetic, it's generally regarded as a practical choice because it's more durable than many other materials. Its resistance to scratches also makes it a more sanitary choice.

However, granite, marble, travertine and other natural-stone and quartz surfaces do require proper care and attention to maintain that luxurious finish. Keep your natural stone in top condition with these tips from the experts at Granite Gold.

Clean often. Even if your surface appears clean, the safest bet is to clean it after every meal preparation. The most miniscule particle could have a detrimental effect on your natural stone. Avoid common cleaners and abrasives. They can break down the protective seal and you could be faced with costly repair or replacement. Also, give special attention to the scrubbing pad you use; many are too abrasive for expensive stone counters and leave unsightly scratches. Leave the sponges and pads you use for pots and pans in the sink and instead rely on scrubbing pads designed specifically for natural stone or look for "non-scratch" on the packaging.

Seal frequently. You cannot over-seal natural stone surfaces. Frequently sealing granite countertops and all other natural stone surfaces maintains maximum surface protection, penetrating stone surfaces to provide superior, long-lasting resistance to staining, etching and soil buildup. The protective seal is a critical component of natural stone because it prevents harmful substances such as acidic coffee, juice or wine from staining and etching the surface.

If you're not sure whether it's time to reseal, it's easy to test. Pour water (about 3 inches in diameter) on the surface and let it sit for 30 minutes. Be sure to do this in several locations, since the integrity of the seal could vary from one area to another. If the water beads, then the stone remains sealed. However, if the stone is penetrated – signified by a dark mark or ring created by the water – it is time to reseal. Be sure to check closely for etching and stains, as you'll want to fix these issues before the sealant is applied.

Polish regularly. Polishing stone provides two great benefits. First, polishing after cleaning will bring out the stone's natural beauty. Second, it will reinforce the protective seal and provide ongoing protection against water spots and fingerprints.

Source: GraniteGold.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Raising Caring Kids

October 25, 2016 2:33 am

Most parents start by encouraging children to share—and that’s a good start, agrees Harvard psychologist Richard Weissbourd. Weissbourd’s recent study, however, found that 80 percent of children believe their parents care more about their grades than whether they care about others.

If we want children to grow up caring and respectful, says Weissbourd, we need to raise them that way. He and his staff provide five strategies for raising kinder, more ethical children:

1. Make Kindness a Priority – Children need to balance their needs with the needs of others. Parents should encourage them to honor their commitments, try to work out disagreements, and address others respectively even when they are angry or tired.

2. Provide Opportunities to Practice – Pitching in around the house, helping a friend with homework, or sharing a favorite toy with a sibling are good ways to make caring second nature. You don’t need to reward them for doing routine chores, but do express pride and thanks when you see them doing something kind.

3. Expand Their Circle of Concern – Most children care about their own circle of family and friends. Encourage them to develop concern for people in the wider world. Encourage them to care for those who are needy or vulnerable. Use a TV or newspaper story to talk about the hardships faced by others.

4. Be a Role Model – Children learn by watching the actions of adults. Model caring by doing some community service. Involve your kids in donating gently used toys and clothing. Talk about an ethical dilemma, such as what would they do if they saw a classmate bullied or crying.

5. Help Them Learn to Manage Anger – The ability to care for others can be overwhelmed by anger, shame or envy. Children should learn that feelings are okay, but they must cope with them in productive ways. When your child is upset, ask him or her to stop, take a deep breath, exhale, and count to five. If you practice when they are calm, they will eventually learn how to better control their emotions.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Customer Service Crucial to Keeping Clients Happy

October 25, 2016 2:33 am

Nothing spooks your customers faster than poor customer service, according to the inaugural J.D. Power 2016 Home Security Satisfaction Report. While the recent study shows that 31 percent of customers have considered switching providers, those who indicate they will change providers in the next 12 months are doing so predominantly because of poor customer service.

“It’s such a basic principle—provide good customer service—but it requires a commitment throughout an organization,” says Greg Truex, senior director at J.D. Power. “Spending time and money on designing, building and selling a product is great, but if the execution of the customer experience is lacking, it can all be for naught.”

The customer service experience is significant because 40 percent of all customers contact their provider at some point with a question, problem or request. Satisfaction is significantly higher among customers who say the response was helpful (869 on a 1,000-point scale) than among those who didn’t find the response helpful (655). Satisfaction also is higher among customers who don’t contact their provider (867) than among those who do (850).

Following are additional findings of the report:

- Satisfaction is 62 points higher among customers who do not consider switching providers than among those who do consider switching (880 vs. 818, respectively).

- The three leading reasons customers select a system are brand reputation (54%), price (46%) and positive reviews/online rating (45%).

- Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) customers indicate they’re able to control their system outside of their home, while only 59% indicate they control it from their mobile device.

- Following are loyalty findings related to delighted customers:

- More than 9 in 10 (92%) delighted home security customers (overall satisfaction scores above 900) say they “definitely will” recommend the brand to others, compared with the report average of 72%.

- Nearly 9 in 10 (85%) delighted customers say they “definitely will” remain a customer of the brand, compared with the report average of 68%.

- Delighted customers make an average of 6.6 recommendations to family and friends, compared with the report average of 4.9.

Source: www.jdpower.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Americans Remain Concerned About Credit Card Debt

October 24, 2016 2:33 am

Americans are growing more concerned about their credit card balances, according to a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) poll, which revealed that 69 percent of the respondents are most unsure or worried about paying down credit card debt.

“Credit cards are a useful and effective financial tool for those who keep their balances under control,” says Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the NFCC. “Balances sometimes grow beyond the point where they can easily be repaid, which is a sign that it’s time to reach out to a financial professional for guidance.”

Those polled are also worried about insufficient savings for emergencies and retirement, student loan debt and lack of affordable housing.

So what's the best way to work down your payment? Bump your monthly contributions. Paying only the minimum monthly payment is like treading water. It would take someone almost 26 years to pay off $7,800 at 15 percent interest. During that time, the amount of interest paid in addition to the principle balance would be $9,229. Paying extra each month will slash the interest you're shelling out.

If you are struggling to afford extra payments, consider consolidating balances if you have multiple accounts – but make sure to choose an account with a lower interest rate.

Source: www.NFCC.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Millennials See a Drop in Mortgage Rates

October 24, 2016 2:33 am

As the Fed considers bumping interest rates, the average rates on home loans offered to millennials dropped to 3.763 percent in August, according to the latest Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker™. While this is a nice dip, the average loan amount to millennial borrowers actually increased to $181,326, compared to July’s average of $180,413.

The Tracker also noted that, after increasing the past few months, the average FICO score for millennial borrowers remained stable at 725 in August. The percentage of millennial conventional loans in August continued to climb, resulting in 63 percent of total closed loans, up from 62 percent in July. Meanwhile, FHA loans continued to represent 35 percent of all closed loans in August, down from both June and May’s 37 percent share. The average debt-to-income ratio (DTI) rose to 24/36. Loan-to-value (LTV) increased to 88 in August.

“In August, millennial borrowers enjoyed the lowest average interest rates we have seen all year,” said Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of corporate strategy at Ellie Mae. “And we are seeing average loan amounts creep up for conventional and FHA loans as millennials take advantage of these low rates.”

Women were listed as the primary borrower on 32 percent of closed loans. Consistent with July data, among women who were listed as the primary borrower, 39 percent were married and 61 percent were single. Comparatively, among male primary borrowers, 59 percent were listed as married and 41 percent were single, a significant difference from women. The average age for borrowers remained consistent in 29.0 for female primary borrowers and 29.3 for male primary borrowers.

In August, female primary borrowers had an average FICO score of 725 and male primary borrowers had a slightly higher average score of 727. FHA loans represented 40 percent of total loans to female primary borrowers, compared to just 33 percent of male primary borrowers.

Owensboro, Ky. remained the top Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for millennial borrowers, with 60 percent of its mortgage loans closed in August going to members of this generation. Dickinson, N.D. Dakota, Terre Haute, Ind., and Hutchinson, Minn. each had 47 percent of mortgage loans closed by millennial borrowers. When sorted by population, top MSAs included St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. (34 percent) followed by Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. (32 percent).

Source: http://elliemae.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Superheroes Reign This Halloween

October 24, 2016 2:33 am

This Halloween, expect to see a bevvy of pint-sized superheroes littering your 'hood. The beloved princess costume has been de-crowned after an 11-year reign, according to NRF’s 2016 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. But perhaps the spookiest finding of all from this survey is that spending on Halloween costumes is expected to reach $3.1 billion.

Findings show that over three million children will dress as their favorite action or superhero, 2.9 million will dress as their favorite princess and 2.5 million plan to dress as a cat, dog, bunny or other animal. 

Top Kid's Costumes
  1. Action/Superhero
  2. Princess
  3. Animal (Cat, Dog, Lion, Monkey, etc.)
  4. Batman Character
  5. Star Wars Character
  6. Tie: Witch AND DC Superhero (excl. Batman)
  7. Frozen Character (Anna, Elsa, Olaf)
  8. Marvel Superhero (excl. Spiderman)
  9. Zombie
  10. Spiderman
So what will millennials rock on All Hallow's Eve? Nine percent will reach for a Batman costume, followed by 6.1 percent opting for witch hats and brooms and five percent planning to dress as an animal. 

Adults, 18 -34-Years-Old
1. Batman Character (Batman, Harley Quinn, The Joker, etc.)
2. Witch
3. Animal (Cat, Dog, Bunny, etc.)
4. Tie: Marvel Superhero (Deadpool, Spiderman, etc.) AND DC Superhero (Wonder Woman, Superman, excl. Batman)
5. Vampire
6. Video Game Character
7. Slasher Movie Villain (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, etc.)
8. Pirate
9. Star Wars Character
10. Zombie

For the mid-range adults, more will turn to witches, pirates and political figures for their costume inspiration.

Adults 35+

1. Witch
2. Pirate
3. Political (Trump, Clinton, etc.)
4. Vampire
5. Batman Character (Batman, Catwoman, etc.)
6. Animal (Cat, Dog, Bunny, etc.)
7. Tie: DC Superhero (Superman, Wonder Woman, excl. Batman) and Star Wars Character
8. Tie: Ghost and Zombie
9. Scary Costume/Mask
10. Marvel Superhero (Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, etc.) 

And what would a holiday be without dressed up pets? Sixteen percent of consumers plan to dress their pets in costume this year and 86.7 percent of those consumers already have a plan for their pet’s costumes. Pumpkin, hot dog and bumble bee are at the top of the list again this year.

Furry friends

1. Pumpkin
2. Hot Dog
3. Bumble Bee
4. Tie: Lion and Star Wars Character
5. Devil
6. Batman Character
7. Witch
8. Superman
9. Action/Superhero
10. Cat

Sources: www.ProsperDiscovery.com, www.nrf.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How Not to Help Your Child Succeed in School

October 21, 2016 2:30 am

Children are under a lot of pressure to get good grades at an early age in order to pave the way for a successful academic future. Parents are often at a loss as to the best way to help their children do well in school, and their best intentions, unfortunately, can backfire.

While every child is different, the tactics that usually don’t work:

Nagging - Constantly reminding your children to do their homework and study will have little to no effect on their motivation. Most of the time, they know exactly what they need to do and are simply procrastinating. Have a conversation with your child to review what’s due the next day or within the coming week, jot it down, and then leave them to it.

Getting Angry - Worse than nagging, yelling at your children about homework and grades is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it ineffective, it disrupts the peace at home, which is counterproductive for everyone in the family.

Doing It for Them - It can be oh-so tempting to simply intervene and do that math sheet or English paper yourself, especially if your child is feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Instead, show them how to organize their time, break a project into chunks, or encourage them to see their teacher for extra help. 

Blaming the Teacher - Keeping the lines of communication open with your child’s teacher is very important, so long as you remain as impartial as possible, and are open to constructive criticism about your son or daughter. Getting adversarial with the teacher just making things worse for your child.

Punishing - While threats may seem like a logical way to get your child to do well, negative reinforcement rarely works long-term. Instead, try positive reinforcement, such as a small reward (e.g., a trip to the ice cream parlor, an extra hour tacked onto Saturday night curfew) for handing in work on time or getting a good grade on a paper. This will encourage good work habits that will serve them well far into the future.

Published with permission from RISMedia.