Diane Minguez
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RE/MAX 440   Diane Minguez
1110 North Broad Street  Lansdale, PA  19446
Office Phone: 215-362-2260    Phone: 267-575-6818  Fax: 267-354-6882  Cell: 267-575-6818
dminguez@remax.net

My Blog

Beware of Your Air

October 2, 2012 3:08 am

October is National Indoor Air Month, and sharing a few tips about health concerns that may be in lurking in your home could go a long way.

While the big weather story this year has been drought, not flooding, mold is still a real concern for many homeowners. It can grow unseen inside of walls, ceilings and floors, wherever there is enough warmth, moisture and food for the mold to consume – and mold isn't a picky eater. Homeowners can prevent mold by sealing leaks and cleaning up water spills as quickly as possible. If wallboard or carpeting does get soaked, they should be removed as quickly as possible, before mold growth begins. Use a humidistat-controlled dehumidifier to monitor interior relative humidity (RH); keeping it below 50 percent will discourage dust mites and insects that can trigger asthma.

In addition to mold, there are many other indoor air pollutants that can trigger many residents' allergy symptoms. These can pose a risk for the tens of thousands of adults and children in the state who have asthma, as many common indoor allergens can also trigger asthma episodes. According to the American Lung Association, asthma is the leading cause of emergency room visits and missed days of school for children. It can also be deadly – an average of 11 people die every day in the United States because of asthma.

To protect against these allergy triggers such as dust mites and pet dander, clean floors, furniture and bed linens frequently and use a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Secondhand smoke can also trigger asthma, so if you or others at your home smoke, please take it outside, especially if children are present.

Source: American Lung Association

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Tips To Prevent Harmful Pests and Home Damage

October 2, 2012 3:08 am

October 1-5 is National Inspect and Protect Week. Every homeowner should be armed with valuable tips to prepare their homes and yards for the coldest season of the year and to keep out pests looking for a winter home.

According to a REALTOR.com survey of real estate agents and brokers, nine out of 10 new homeowners in 2012 have been interested in purchasing distressed properties. These bargains often come with tall grass, overgrown shrubs, unmanaged pools and clogged gutters that may have turned into a haven for pests that can threaten the health and safety of families, homes and communities. Exposure to weeds and rodent and insect allergens can also trigger respiratory problems and illnesses like hay fever and asthma, especially among young children, toddlers and the elderly.

Since fall is the best time to prepare for winter and spring, here are a few tips to help homeowners keep their homes, yards and communities healthy and safe during National Inspect and Protect Week:

Indoors:
-Proactive and preventive treatments are key to keeping pests under control from the very start of your homeownership.
-Start off right. Eliminate pests' pathways into your house by sealing spaces around pipes and electrical wires entering the house.
-Eliminate food sources, water and shelter that may attract pests.
-Remove stacks of cardboard (including those moving boxes) from your home as they provide attractive shelter and food for pests.
-Check for water leaks under the sink, refrigerator and other related areas.
-Store food items in air-tight and pest-proof containers or in the refrigerator or freezer.

Outdoors:
-Remove all standing water in areas such as pots, buckets, toys, pet bowls, bird baths, etc.
-Clean out ornamental and flower beds and be sure to place mulch in the right places — at least 12 inches from your foundation. Pick up fallen leaves and branches to help eliminate places where ticks like to hide.
-Prune back tree branches that are touching the house or roof. Branches leading to your home form a bridge for insects and rodents.
-For pier and beam foundations, keep the area under the house free of clutter and sealed so no wildlife make it their home.

Maintaining your property is key to effectively avoiding a winter pest infestation. Taking action to inspect and protect your home this fall will safeguard your family's health as well as property, helping everyone to safely enjoy the colder months ahead.

Source: RISE

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Autumn To-do List for Homeowners

October 1, 2012 3:06 am

With autumn in full swing, Americans are shifting their focus from sunny barbecues and beachside bonfires to raking leaves and picking apples. The dog days are gone, and the upcoming season promises new opportunities to spend time with friends and family. Unfortunately, it also promises a new set of issues for homeowners and car owners.

There's no need for a total makeover, but careful homeowners should make a point to fall-proof their home:

Clean your gutters. After a summer of scattered showers, it's a good idea to take a look around the roof for any leaks or cracks in the gutters. As autumn moves along, inspect them a few more times to make sure there isn't any foliage creating clogs. Stagnant water and falling leaves make for a mucky mix that could lead to foundation damage if left untouched. Be sure to check for any loose, broken or missing shingles, too.

Dust off the fireplace. Nothing beats the warm glow and homey scent of a well-stocked fireplace. Embrace those relaxing fireside evenings by clearing out any debris that might be left over from autumns past. Have the chimney cleaned at least once a year, and check for any nicks or cracks in it. Lastly, be sure to put up a screen to shield family members from any wayward sparks.

Shop for an insurance policy. The colder weather poses certain risks for homeowners both at home and on the road. With so many assets to protect, there's no need to settle for less than satisfactory home or auto coverage. Take a fresh look at your policies and premiums and make sure you've got the coverage you need without overpaying for it. Remember, you could receive a home-auto discount if you get both policies from the same carrier, so be sure to ask about that and other discounts.

Source: www.homeinsurance.com

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Five Ways to Prevent Holiday Travel Mayhem

October 1, 2012 3:06 am

With the holidays around the corner, travelers should be well-prepared in order to make sure their travels are smooth sailing. Here are five ways to create peace of mind during the hectic holiday travel season.

Make it easy. For those who like simplicity, search the web for a company that can do the planning for you! There are a plethora of travel sites available that will comparison shop for you and even add in amenities like hotel, car and more. You don't have to spend a lot of time in order to get a master itinerary for your trip.

Go mobile. No more fumbling at the check-in counter. Easily access confirmation numbers from any smartphone. Apple's new iPhone 5 has the great Passbook app, but any smartphone can keep all of your travel documents handy so you can check in and move more efficiently.

Know where to go. Put Siri to work! Or use other websites and apps like Yelp, TripAdvisor or TripIt to get maps, directions, nearby restaurants and merchants. You literally have all the information you need right in your mobile device.

Avoid airport confusion. Share itineraries with family members so flight numbers and arrival times are handy, minimizing last-minute scrambles.

For those planning on traveling throughout the holidays, spending a little time now to get yourself organized will save you heaps of time throughout your journey.

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Common Cooking Blunders

October 1, 2012 3:06 am

We all have a role to play in ensuring our homes are food-safe. Research findings reveal that despite the fact that a majority of adults feel confident they understand and follow safe food handling procedures, a sizeable number do not consistently follow certain safe food handling practices.

Here are some common cooking blunders:

• The quick wash up (or lack of wash up). Only 50 percent of consumers reported washing their hands for 20 seconds, before and after handling food. You've heard it before, but we all need the reminder - wash your hands before cooking, and during cooking, especially when switching between handling different foods. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds - that's 2 choruses of “Happy Birthday” (hummed under your breath).

• Skipping the fruit and veggie wash up. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly in cool drinkable water, including those you peel or cut like melons, oranges, and cucumbers.

• Bringing meats up to room temperature before grilling. This is a common “cooking show” recommendation that really has no benefits and is loaded with the risk of promoting the growth of harmful bacteria. Keep foods chilled in the fridge at 4â—¦C until ready to cook - and that includes marinating too.

• Cooking by color. You can't rely on the “color test” to know when meats are done. Cook meat and poultry to proper temperatures to know for sure, using a digital food thermometer to test for doneness. It's a pretty simple step and saves a lot of “doneness debates/arguments” that happen at the grill. Only 15 percent of people consistently use a food thermometer.

• Using the same cooking equipment for raw as for cooked. Be sure to wash up barbecue tongs after flipping steaks, burgers, chicken, kabobs, etc. during cooking, and before you use them to take food off the grill to serve. Or better yet, have two pairs of tongs - one for raw and one for cooked. The same goes for cutting boards of course!

For more information and tips on how to keep your home food-safe, visit www.befoodsafe.ca.

Source: Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education

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Important Moving Tips for First-Time Homeowners

September 28, 2012 2:58 am

All of the paperwork is signed and completed, and you've jumped over every hurdle imaginable. Congratulations! The home is yours. Once everything is locked in and you're ready to move, it's easy to overlook a few key last-minute tasks that will definitely affect your first night in your new home. Though these may seem obvious, heed these common moving tips in order to ensure that your move and first few nights are as smooth as possible.

Don't forget to pack the essentials in an easy-to-find place. Sure, you were diligent with your packing, but make sure you know where common necessities are. If you arrive at your new home and don't want to fully unpack just yet, at least have important items close to you at all times. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, soap, toilet paper and more should be in clearly marked boxes and close at hand. If movers are delivering your belongings the following morning, make sure you don't head to the new house without these items on your person. Pack a small bag as if you were going on vacation and be sure to bring everything you might need for the night.

Make sure everything in your house is in working order. The house is gorgeous, but appearances can be deceiving. Confirm that the plumbing, water and heating work before you pack the car with the kids and drive over. Confirm that everything is turned on and working as it should a few days before your planned departure date. Once you arrive to your properly functioning home, you'll be glad you did.

Remember to sign over the utilities into your name before you move in. Again, you don't want any bad surprises on your first night. Make sure the water and the electric bills are in your name so that you don't show up to your new home and have to sit in the dark playing board games. Excitement will be high, so don't let a simple slip of the mind ruin the thrill of your first night at home.

Don't forget these important tips so that you can start enjoying your home as soon as possible.

Source: blog.movers.com

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Foods with Digestive Health Support Keep Pets Happy Healthy

September 28, 2012 2:58 am

Pets, like humans, need a well-rounded diet, full of vegetables, premium proteins and vitamins. Buying your pets high-quality food should ensure they receive all the nutrients they need. But if pets aren’t digesting that food correctly, they may as well be eating low-quality food with the inexpensive fillers you’ve been trying to avoid.

Research shows 70 percent of a pet’s immune system lies in the digestive tract. Proper digestion and a healthy digestive tract are essential to maintaining whole body health. If a pet’s digestive tract isn’t in peak condition it can prevent the nutrients in food from digesting properly and lead to a number of different illnesses.

To ensure your pet’s digestive tract is working properly, look for a high-quality, natural food with a digestive health support system that includes probiotics, prebiotics, natural fibers and easily digestive enzymes.

Probiotics are the good bacteria that help keep the immune system healthy. Humans often get probiotics from things like yogurt. Check with your pet food company to ensure your pet’s food includes probiotics and prebiotics. Prebiotics stimulate the growth and maintenance of good bacteria, like probiotics, in your pet’s digestive tract.

Just as fiber plays an important role in human digestive health, it also plays an integral role in your pet’s digestive health. Fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal and flaxseed promote digestive regularity. Digestive enzymes help organs break down food to ensure your pet is absorbing the most nutrients from their food. Digestive enzymes also help reduce stress on organs, which is very important for aging pets.
Some pets may also need a grain-free food to help them digest their food properly. Be sure to look for a grain-free food that contains high-quality, natural protein and no fillers, as well as a complete digestive health support system.

To avoid digestive upset, be sure to switch your pet to a new food slowly. Generally, a transition over seven to ten days will help your pet's stomach adjust to the new formula.

Source: Holistic Select

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Value-Seeking Americans Refuse to Swap Quality for Low Prices

September 28, 2012 2:58 am

More Americans than ever are choosing natural and/or organic foods according to the fifth annual Whole Foods Market® Food Shopping Trend Tracker Survey. The research revealed that nearly three out of four Americans (73 percent) don't want to compromise on the quality of the food they buy regardless of current food prices and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) describe themselves as "value seekers" when it comes to grocery shopping.

Nearly three out of four Americans (71 percent) prefer to buy natural and/or organic foods over conventional foods if prices are comparable. One in four Americans (27 percent) are devoting more than a quarter of their grocery dollars to natural and/or organic products, up 35 percent from four years ago.

Further, the research disclosed that many Americans are willing to pay more for foods that meet certain criteria:

-Nearly half (47 percent) are willing to pay higher prices for locally produced foods.
-Nearly a third (32 percent) are willing to pay more for foods with no artificial ingredients, preservatives or colorings.
-Nearly one out of three (30 percent) are willing to pay more for meats raised with no antibiotics or added growth hormones and one in four (24 percent) are willing to pay more for meats raised under humane animal husbandry standards.

Aside from price, a majority of Americans say the overall quality (88 percent) and selection (85 percent) of products, regular sales and promotions (76 percent) and trust in the grocery retailers (76 percent) are very or fairly important when grocery shopping.

Source: Whole Foods Market

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Luxury is Back for Home Remodeling

September 27, 2012 2:54 am

The RemodelOrMove.com Fall 2012 Remodeling Sentiment Report documents a continuing increase in the scale of planned remodels for homeowners. Multi-year highs in the stock market, home prices that are inching up, record low interest rates and pent-up demand for home maintenance are fueling this increase.

Homeowners' growing preference for using luxury home products is a noteworthy trend. This trend indicates that the remodeling industries will recover top down, with the higher-end products increasing in use disproportionately when compared with the average and economy products. This trend will probably continue until the economic turnaround becomes stronger and more widespread
Details from the report that indicate that "luxury" is coming back for home remodeling:

-Homeowners are describing the materials they will use in their remodel as "expensive" at the highest rate since 2008.

-The scope and scale of remodels is the largest since 2007, with an average remodeling cost estimated to be $100,000.

-35 percent, the highest number since 2008, of respondents are reporting that the economy is not affecting their plans to remodel.

-73 percent, the highest percentage since the report started in 2006, are planning to hire a general contractor. As the scale of the projects increase, the use of a general contractor typically increases as well.

Items of interest:

-Kitchen remodeling takes over as the number one favorite remodeling project for the first time since 2008. This shift is another indicator that "luxury" is returning to what was a "practical" remodeling market. Many homeowners view a kitchen remodel as a luxury while a bathroom addition or remodel can be sometimes justified as a necessity.

-The wealth effect is helping to fuel this return to luxury as average home equity reported by homeowners taking this survey was $123,000 – the highest since 2009.

-The decision to remodel or move is increasingly difficult as the difference between the average cost of remodeling, $100,000, and the average price difference between their current home and their dream home, $113,000, become almost the same. The near-equal costs of remodeling their current home and the cost to sell what they have and move to a new home makes the remodel or move decision much more difficult.

Source: RemodelOrMove.com

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Stay Safe in and After the Summer Sun

September 27, 2012 2:54 am

Each year more and more of us choose to holiday abroad, with cheap flights and the lure of guaranteed sun, sand and sea forming an irresistible combination. But with increased exposure to the blue skies and sunshine of exotic destinations comes an increased risk of harmful UV and sun damage.

After a surge of health campaigns in recent years, we're thankfully becoming more aware than ever of the real and serious risks of sun damage. But as well as the obvious - and major - concerns including skin cancer, there are many other common conditions, which can have devastating effects on the skin. Over exposure to harmful ultra violet light can also cause conditions including Lentigines, commonly known as sun spots; Seborrheic Keratosis, a benign wart-like growth which appears on the face and chest; and Actinic Keratosis, a precancerous growth which can appear in the form of dry skin lesions or patches on the skin.

Naturally, the longer and more frequently skin is exposed to harmful UV rays, the higher the chances are of sustaining long term skin damage, but it's never too late to start looking after skin and protecting it from further damage.

While it's impossible to avoid the sun completely - and some exposure can boost vital Vitamin D levels - leading skin experts recommend covering up as much as possible in the sun. This doesn't mean dressing head to toe, but applying sun screen whenever skin is exposed to the sun, and choosing the appropriate SPF factor to ensure complete protection; at present the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises people to use a minimum SPF of 15 - although leading medics are calling for this to be increased.

After spending time in the sun, at any time of year, it's also vital to ensure skin is thoroughly rehydrated. Indeed, on a day-to-day basis, the hands and face are exposed any time you're outside (don't be fooled into thinking cloudy skies mean you're protected) so using a nourishing face and hand cream will keep your skin hydrated.

Source: The Body Shop

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