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
jcroissette@remax440.com

My Blog

Easy Ways to Slash Your Grocery Bills

July 24, 2014 6:48 am

Cutting coupons and shopping sales are good ways to save on groceries – and since the average U.S. household spends more than $4,000 a year on food, saving money is a worthwhile goal.

But if you’re willing to plan a bit, and expend a little effort, Money Talks consumer expert Stacy Johnson suggests 10 relatively easy ways to slash your monthly food spend:
  • Try generic – Store-labeled boxed and canned foods can save you up to 50 percent over famous-name counterparts. Some are better than the originals, others not so much. Try them to see which work for you.
  • Shop top and bottom shelves – Manufacturers pay for eye-level display. Bargains on similar products are often available if you scan the top and bottom shelves.
  • Seek other sources – Take time to check out discount retailers and local farmer’s markets to see how the savings add up. A package of romaine lettuce hearts for a buck at the 99 Cents store is half the price you’ll find at most supermarkets.
  • Plan meals around the ads – Use the bargains trumpeted in the market circular each week as the basis for family meals – and shop strictly from a list.
  • Make your own – Homemade cookies, sauces or jams made from cheap summer fruits taste better than many you can buy. Take advantage of seasonal bargains. Cook. Freeze. Enjoy.
  • Slice and dice it yourself – Buy the whole pineapple on sale for two bucks or the cut-up container for nearly twice that? You will reap big savings by cutting up chickens, grating cheese, and cleaning veggies on your own.
  • Plan for leftovers – Buying meats and other foods in larger quantities is often cheaper than buying small packages. Cook more than you need at one time and freeze leftovers for a second dinner or several lunches.
  • Substitute cheaper ingredients – A recipe may call for expensive gruyere, but a cheaper Swiss cheese will probably do. Check out The Cook’s Thesaurus or online sources for food substitutions that work.
  • Save free condiments – Those take-out packets of mustard, ketchup and soy sauce can save you money if you save and use them.
  • Cut down on bottled water – Unless the water from your faucet is not fit to drink, bottle it and keep it in the fridge. Fill commuter cups or refill bottles as needed.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Five Remodeling Projects That Add Resale Value

July 24, 2014 6:48 am

When considering which rooms to renovate in your home, it’s important to keep in mind which upgrades are likely to give you the greatest return on your investment. A recent report by Remodeling magazine indicates the top five projects that recoup the most dollars at resale.

1. Kitchen – The best way to increase your home’s value is to do a complete kitchen renovation. Aside from stainless steel appliances and modern finishes on cabinets and countertops, upgrade the room’s electrical and plumbing systems to get the most bang for your buck.

2. Master bedroom – Whether you choose a full renovation or simple cosmetic changes, updates to a master bedroom are well worth the money. For a master bedroom overhaul, consider adding an en suite bath and fireplace. For smaller improvements, create a sitting area, install double sinks, and add plenty of closet space.

3. Open floor plan – Entertainment areas are a must in today’s homes, so reconfiguring a living space is a wise investment. Removing walls around your kitchen drives an open concept and makes it easy for homeowners to attend to guests.

4. Two-story addition – Although expensive, two-story additions expand square footage; one 2two-story addition can add up to three extra rooms. However, it is often a lengthy project that requires a family to relocate temporarily.

5. Basement
– Finished basements add living space, but they will only increase resale value if basements are common in the neighborhood and region. Be sure to carefully consider whether a renovation is right for you.

Source: Bankrate

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Top 10 Best Cities for Recreation

July 24, 2014 6:48 am

WalletHub recently took an in-depth look at the nation’s best cities for recreation. Using 24 key metrics to compare 100 of the largest U.S. cities, the network highlights the most diverse opportunities for recreation, sports and culture. The survey explored a number of factors— from the cost of movie tickets and parkland acreage to the affordability of food prices and spending on parks per resident — that contribute to the overall quality of each city’s offerings.

The best cities for recreation:

1. Cincinnati, OH
2. Orlando, FL
3. Omaha, NE
4. Minneapolis, MN
5. Tampa, FL
6. St. Petersburg, FL
7. St. Louis, MO
8. Boise, ID
9. Buffalo, NY
10. Sacramento, CA

Source: WalletHub

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Low-Emissive Windows Are Key to Green-Home Building

July 23, 2014 12:33 am

According to the latest NAHB Remodelers survey, high-performing, Low-emissive (Low-E) windows are the most common green building products used by residential remodelers.

So what's the low down on Low-E? Enter Nick Gromicko and Ethan Ward representing the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (nachi.org).

They say Low-emissivity glass, aka low-E glass, uses a microscopically thin and virtually invisible metal or metallic oxide layer incorporated in the glazing surface to control heat transfer through insulated windows, reducing energy loss by 30 percent to 50 percent.

Low solar-gain low-E glass is also spectrally selective and is best suited to cooling-dominated climates, where the biggest concern for windows is blocking heat transmission. These windows are made with sputtered low-E coatings that consist of either two or three layers of silver. They are sometimes called double-silver or triple-silver low-E windows.

The report goes on to say, that installing low-E windows can provide significant energy efficiency and savings, especially in hotter climates where windows with a low solar heat-gain coefficient (SHGC) are most effective.

Computer simulations have shown that advanced window glazing with spectrally selective low-E coatings may reduce electric space-cooling requirements of new homes in hot climates by more than 40 percent.

Full disclosure: Nick and Ethan also report that low-E windows are the culprit of melted vinyl siding installed on nearby houses and buildings. Apparently, intense heat reflected by the windows can be focused on neighboring surfaces, similar to the burning effect of pin pointing the sun rays through a magnifying glass.

The effect has caused numerous claims because of melted or distorted siding and several fires according to the NACHI report. In our next Remodeling Month report, we'll chill and take a look at energy saving HVAC systems.

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Social Media-Friendly Weddings on the Rise

July 23, 2014 12:33 am

A recent social media and wedding planning survey from TheKnot.com and Mashable indicates significant changes in how couples are leveraging social media – or choosing to unplug – for the big day. Highlights include:

Mobile Apps Rule Planning
Nearly 9 in 10 couples download wedding planning apps to their mobile phones. To stay on top of their to-do lists, one in five couples (19 percent) download mobile checklist apps and 15 percent use organizational apps. Thirteen percent of couples keep their finances top of mind with budgeting apps, and 12 percent anticipate the day with a countdown app.

Wedding #Hashtags
As a way to create a virtual community for this event, 55 percent of couples use a wedding hashtag, and 20 percent use it across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Ten percent of couples did not create a hashtag and wish they had.

Sharing Photos

A majority of couples (57 percent) are on board with guests posting photos from their wedding on Facebook or Instagram. However, 35 percent have mixed feelings about what their guests share, and nearly 1 in 10 couples do not like social photo sharing because they want to control which photos are public. These couples have guests turn off their phones during the ceremony, or ask guests to wait until after the professional photos have posted to share their own images on social media.

Making "I Do" Facebook Official
While 28 percent of couples change their Facebook relationship status within hours of getting engaged, couples are less prompt to change their status after tying the knot, with 33 percent of couples waiting to update their relationship status until the next day.

Inspiration on Social Media
Many brides-to-be are turning to Pinterest, with 70 percent pinning to a wedding board before getting engaged, although more than half of these brides become more realistic about their Pinterest boards after the proposal.

Connecting With Vendors
Couples keep in touch with wedding pros on Facebook (29 percent) and Pinterest (14 percent) most often, with Instagram slowly gaining traction at seven percent. To-be-weds are getting creative with paying their vendors too, with one in five couples using PayPal, the most popular of the nontraditional payment methods.

Source: TheKnot.com

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Three Ways to Save Money on Plumbing

July 23, 2014 12:33 am

Torrential summer rain, ubiquitous family barbecues, and an influx of weekend visitors can have unforeseen effects on a home's pipes. Plumbing systems do a lot of extra work during the summer, so keep in mind these three tips to help keep your home’s plumbing system in tip-top shape.

1. Check washing machine hoses. The warm weather and longer days equal more time spent outside and more dirty clothes. This excess use can put a strain on washing machine hoses, so taking the time to ensure that everything is working correctly could save a homeowner both time and money down the road. Inspect hoses for bulges, kinks, or cracks that could result in a burst. Periodic checks can prevent costly and damaging floods.

Expert tip: Look into purchasing braided steel hoses for your washing machine, as they are less prone to bursting and last years longer than their rubber counterparts.

2. Be kind to your disposal. Many foods can damage a garbage disposal and clog your drains, so be mindful when preparing food for summer parties and cookouts. Avoid putting stringy foods, such as cornhusks and celery, in your disposal as they can damage the blades. In addition, pasta, rice, and other foods that expand with water will quickly clog a home's pipes.

Expert tip: Don't use hot water when grinding food waste. Instead, turn the water on to drain the disposal in between grinding periods.

3. Look for signs of sewer line breakage.
During rainy seasons, water can infiltrate a home's sewer line and cause a backup. Rain also encourages the growth of nearby plants. Tree roots in particular grow aggressively into underground piping, causing damage. Look for signs of an issue, like standing water on your property, which can indicate a broken sewer line. If you think you may have a broken line, be sure to have your local plumber inspect the issue.

Expert tip: Hydroscrubbing your pipes can clear them of debris and roots.

Source: Mr. Rooter

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Top 7 Vitamins and Minerals for Optimal Health

July 22, 2014 6:24 am

(Family Features) Balancing the demands of a busy family and work life can make it extra tough to get the nutrition and exercise your body needs. Fortunately, even on the most chaotic days, there are steps you can take to make sure you’re not short-changing yourself from proper physical and emotional health.

In addition to eating well-balanced meals, taking a daily multivitamin, exercising and managing stress, you can fill gaps with these seven vitamins and supplements:

CoQ10 – Coenzyme Q10 helps support heart function and cellular energy production.

Diabetic Multivitamins – A high potency supplement, diabetic multivitamins provide essential vitamins and minerals for nutritional support of the body.

Flaxseed Oil – For people who avoid fish in their diet, flaxseed oil is a plant-based source of essential fatty acids, including the Omega-3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which helps support a healthy heart.

Garlic Supplements
– Garlic supplements may help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels already within the normal range.

Herbal Supplements – Herbal supplements help support a range of healthy body functions and general well-being.

Letter Vitamins (A, B, C, D and E) – Each of the letter vitamins performs a unique and important function that contributes to overall health. Vitamin A contributes to healthy eye function; Vitamin B supports cellular energy production; Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, which supports the immune system; Vitamin D supports teeth, bone, and muscle health; and Vitamin E, helps maintain a healthy heart.

Omega-3/Fish Oil – Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA & DHA, which are found in fish oil, help support a healthy heart.

Source: Nature Made

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How to Prep for an Exterior Paint Job

July 22, 2014 6:24 am

Summer is the perfect time to update your home’s exterior. Adding a fresh coat of paint will create a whole new look and instant curb appeal. Ideally, the home should be painted in warmer seasons, when the temperature falls between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Before painting, keep in mind these tips:

1. Clean – Whether you do it yourself or rent a power washer, be sure to thoroughly clean your home’s exterior. For really tough stains, scrub the surface with a wire brush. Use a commercial grade cleaner or chlorine bleach to eliminate any mildew. Allow several days for any remaining moisture to dry completely.

2. Prep – Scrape away cracked caulk from windows, peeling paint or rotted areas. If the entire board is rotted, replace it. Re-caulk where needed. Fill holes with wood filler and sand down to conceal any patchwork.

3. Prime – Add a layer of primer to any areas revealed when scraping. Paint a test patch to see how your color selection works with your home’s landscaping and architectural details.

4. Cover – The day of, be sure to cover exterior lights, gutters, exhaust vents and air conditioning units with plastic. Avoid damage from drips and spills by covering greenery and stone surfaces, like a walkway or patio, with a drop cloth.

If your home’s exterior is something other than wood (masonry or stucco, for instance), check whether you need to seal the surface before painting. Most importantly, consider the forecast before planning your paint job. It’s never a good idea to paint when rain or wind is predicted.

Source: Consumer Reports

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Prevent Flood Waters from Damaging Your Home

July 22, 2014 6:24 am

Soaked rugs, damaged walls, warped flooring and ruined furniture are only the beginning of what homeowners deal with after flood waters hit their area. Flooding can be caused by heavy rains, severe storms, poor drainage, plumbing issues, and other water-related issues. The key is to be prepared before, during and after your home floods.

Before
  • Check with an insurance agent about flood insurance for the home.
  • Prepare a home inventory of furniture and valuables in the home, including details and pictures.
  • Put together a family emergency plan and make sure everyone in the household knows what to do.
  • Prepare an emergency kit, including insurance policy numbers and phone numbers, a change of clothes for each family member, essential toiletries, bottled water and non-perishable food items, flashlights, batteries, blankets, first aid kit, disposable cleaning cloths, insect repellent, and enough cash to last you a few days.
  • If you have a leak in your home, have it repaired immediately. Waiting to do repairs often results in flooding that causes structure or mold damage to your home.
During
  • Watch the weather for high amounts of rain in a short time period or tropical storms headed your way. Listen carefully to advisories, follow directions from local officials, and evacuate if needed.
  • If you have a second floor or large attic, move special furniture, family photographs, area rugs, computers, televisions, artwork, and other expensive items to a higher level to keep them dry.
  • If flooding is about to reach your home, shut off the electricity, gas, and water to your home.
  • Never touch electrical sources if you are standing in water.
  • Never walk or drive through high floodwaters.
After
  • Report damage to your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Take photos of the damaged areas both inside and outside to give to your insurance company.
  • Never turn on the electrical power to your home until a professional makes sure it's safe to do so.
  • Never use a home vacuum to remove water.
Source: Rainbow International

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Create a Perfect View with the Perfect Patio Door

July 21, 2014 6:12 am

(BPT) - It's the time of year to get outside, dine on the deck, bask in the backyard or relax on the patio.

Is your home ready for summer entertaining or is it time for a remodeling or replacement project? If the answer is the latter, now's the time to get more out of your home by improving access to the great outdoors. You can do this by replacing your patio door. Replacing it can transform your home's view and comfort year-round.

1. Select a style: hinged or sliding. Hinged patio doors, often called French doors, add an elegant look to your home. Choose from popular options like two movable doors that swing open from the sides to allow room to move in big furniture or groups of guests, or movable and fixed door combinations that can hinge from the center, or a single door for simple elegance. You can also create a custom design, complete with sidelights or transom windows, to span your home's unique architecture.

If floor space is limited, or if your patio door opens to a balcony, consider a sliding patio door that takes up less floor space. Look for a patio door with the sliding panel on the outside, so that when the wind blows against it, the design creates a tighter, more energy-efficient seal to help keep your home comfortable.

2. Choose energy-efficient options. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to easily select energy-efficient patio door styles, including ones manufactured with vinyl, fiberglass or wood frames.

Vinyl doors offer exceptional energy performance and outstanding strength and weather resistance. Low-maintenance vinyl sliding doors will look great for years, without the need for painting.

For a durable product that withstands extreme weather, plus resists dents and high traffic from people or pets, consider a fiberglass patio door. Sleek, strong, highly-energy efficient fiberglass withstands extreme heat, cold, and moisture. With a long-lasting powder coat finish, fiberglass doors don't need painting and resist sagging and warping, even in dark colors or hot climates.

Alternatively, consider the natural warmth, beauty and energy-efficiency of wood patio doors. They are available in virtually any shape, size, grille pattern, and exterior color. You can save time by choosing factory prefinished wood interiors and trim.

3. Decide on decorative options. Optional between-the-glass shades or blinds help reduce dust accumulation, eliminating the dreaded chore of cleaning blinds or shades. Blinds or shades between-the-glass are a natural for patio doors, since they don't interfere with the operation of the door itself, yet make it a breeze to control light and privacy. Plus, shades and blinds without cords are safer options for homes with pets or children.

Choose from grilles permanently applied to the exterior of glass surfaces or with the added convenience of between-the-glass grille options that make cleaning a breeze. You can also consider removable grilles to transform your home's look from contemporary to Colonial in a snap.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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