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

My Blog

Planning a Relaxing and Fun-Filled Winter Vacation

December 5, 2012 2:56 am

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder and the only way to beat the winter blues may be actively embracing the snow and packing your bags and escaping for a winter holiday. There are a number of different types of adventure you could have on a winter break, from ski holidays to winter sun, you can find the perfect holiday to rejuvenate yourself.

While ski holidays are not for everyone, they can offer a holiday experience like no other. Imagine relaxing by a roaring log-fire in ski chalets after a long day on the slopes, or enjoying the rush and thrill of effortlessly gliding down a snow-capped mountain.

Skiing is not the only type of holiday activity available during the winter months; there are many ways you can have fun in the snow; such as tobogganing, snowboarding, figure skating and sledging.

Snowboarding
A number of ski holiday deals could include a range of winter sport activities. Snowboarding is a thrilling and exciting winter sport that acts as a great alterative to skiing. Using specially designed boots and a board attached to the rider's feet, the sport takes elements from skateboarding and skiing. Snowboarding is a sport for all ages and levels and is ideal for those who might have tried either skiing or skateboarding before, or even those who wish to try something completely new.

Tobogganing
Tobogganing is another family-friendly winter sport which is suitable for the whole family. Both grown-ups and children can enjoy the sport, making it a fun-filled family adventure for all. Specially designed tobogganing can be done in a number of places. Another option is tubing, where you can safely whizz down specially-made courses found in family-friendly resorts.

Sleigh rides
One of the most leisurely, as well as romantic, ways to take the weight off aching legs is to snuggle under a warm fur blanket and be pulled along in your own sleigh by horses, or in some cases dogs.

Sit back and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the soft jingle of sleigh-bells on the ride of a lifetime. It can be a much-needed post-Holiday recuperation!

Source: Neilson Holidays

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Include Winter Weather Preparedness in Your December Plans

December 5, 2012 2:56 am

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® reminds families that as they ready for seasonal guests and travel, now is the time to make winter weather preparedness a part of your holiday plans. According to FLASH, damage from winter-related home hazards like frozen pipes, a leading cause of homeowners' insurance claims, can cost thousands of dollars of damage and become a major inconvenience to you and your guests. Tips to prepare the home include:

• Double check or install proper attic insulation to prevent water damage from ice dams.
• Ensure safe usage of fireplaces, furnaces and space heaters.
• Insulate pipes to prevent costly floods from frozen pipes.
• Keep walkways around your home clear of snow and ice.
• Winterize your windows and install window insulation kits to keep your guests warm and toasty.
• Prepare to stay safe and warm during power outages.

Additionally, it's important to prepare well for holiday travel, which can be treacherous in severe winter weather. Of the 17 deaths reported last year related to severe winter weather, 15 occurred in the exposed elements or in a car. It's smart to prepare in case you are marooned by having a well-stocked winter storm survival kit in your car. When making travel plans:

• Make sure other people know your travel plans and how to contact you. Travel in convoy with other vehicles if possible.
• Prepare an extreme winter weather survival kit for your car. They also make great gifts for loved ones who travel frequently during the holidays. Include:
• Non-perishable food such as canned goods or candy bars
• Extra clothes and blankets
• A battery powered radio
• A shovel
• Sand
• If stranded, remain in the vehicle. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna so rescuers can find you. Run the engine occasionally for heat making sure to keep the exhaust pipe clear. Open windows occasionally for fresh air.

Source: Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Get a Flu Shot: It's National Influenza Vaccination Week

December 4, 2012 2:56 am

Annual immunization against influenza is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, as it is the best way to help prevent influenza, a serious illness that can lead to severe complications and even death. The American Lung Association encourages everyone to get vaccinated against the flu this season and is voicing its support for National Influenza Vaccination Week, taking place December 2-8.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Influenza Vaccination Week serves as an annual national observance to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination through the holiday season, into January and beyond. The peak of flu season has occurred anywhere from late November through March, most frequently in February. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, it is beneficial to get vaccinated. After immunization, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to help protect against the virus.

"Everyone should be vaccinated this year and every year," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "National Influenza Vaccination Week serves as a reminder to the public that there's still time to get vaccinated this flu season. With vaccination options for all age groups – children, adults and seniors – people should talk with their health care provider to find the option that's right for them and their family."

Each year in the U.S., on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations. Depending on virus severity during the influenza season, deaths can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Despite this, immunization rates in the U.S. continue to fall short of public health goals; according to CDC data, only 42 percent of those recommended for annual vaccination were immunized in the 2011-2012 season. Parents also need to know that children six months through eight years of age who are getting a flu shot for the first time need to receive two doses approximately one month apart for optimal protection.

Source: American Lung Association

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Fannie Mae Announces Eviction Moratorium for the Holidays

December 4, 2012 2:56 am

Fannie Mae announced that it will suspend evictions of foreclosed single family and two-four unit properties from December 19, 2012 through January 2, 2013. Legal and administrative proceedings for evictions may continue, but families living in foreclosed properties will be allowed to remain in the home during this period.

"We're taking this step in support of families who have faced financial challenges and gone through a foreclosure," said Terry Edwards, executive vice president of Credit Portfolio Management, Fannie Mae. "The holidays are a chance to be with loved ones and we want to relieve some stress at this time of year. We encourage homeowners having difficulty to reach out for help as soon as possible."

Previously, Fannie Mae announced a temporary suspension of foreclosure sales and evictions in areas designated for individual assistance by FEMA due to Hurricane Sandy. That 90-day suspension will last through February 1, 2013.

Homeowners can visit www.knowyouroptions.com for resources on how to prevent foreclosure, including contact information for Fannie Mae’s 12 Mortgage Help Centers located across the country. Homeowners can also contact Fannie Mae at 1-800-7FANNIE for more information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips to Eat Healthy and Stay Active During the Holidays

December 4, 2012 2:56 am

It's easy to eat too much and exercise too little during the holiday season. But it doesn't have to be that way. Although celebrations usually take place both at home and work, it is possible to enjoy this time of year while eating healthy and staying active. The tips below will help you get started.

Control Your Portions
People tend to eat too much in part because food is everywhere during the holidays. However, there are a few techniques you can use to keep your weight in check and stay healthy. For one, serve yourself smaller portions and eat slowly so that you can tell more easily when you are satisfied. If you go to a restaurant, split a big meal with someone or take some home. Choosemyplate.gov has great tips on how to decrease portion sizes and how to overcome common stumbling blocks.

Get the Flu Shot
Getting vaccinated is your best protection for avoiding the flu and staying healthy during the holiday season. USA.gov has everything you need to know about this flu season, including tips for high risk groups and the types of vaccines available. Keep in mind that the flu vaccine becomes effective about two weeks after it's been administered, so the earlier you get it the better. Look up the closest pharmacy or vaccination center at flushot.healthmap.org.

Be Physically Active
Dancing is a great way to stay active and have fun, so don't be shy about hitting the dance floor at holiday parties. You can also try to get involved with other physical activities such as building a snowman with the family, or going to a gym or a community center if it's too cold to go for a walk outside. Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five days a week. The key is finding the exercise that works for your age, schedule and interests.

Drink Less
Drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health and dangerous if you will be driving. You can reduce your consumption of alcohol by setting personal limits, drinking nonalcoholic beverages, or resisting the temptation to drink. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has lots of tips on how to cut down, including suggestions on how to avoid triggers and setting consumption goals. It also has a simple questionnaire that will help you compare your drinking pattern to other adults in the United States.

Be Careful If You Have Diabetes
People with diabetes or other conditions need to be especially mindful about what they eat during the holiday season. Interrupting your normal eating patterns might cause serious consequences for your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has resources to help you manage your diabetes during the holidays. It features tips on traveling for the holidays, including making sure you pack your medicine and carrying a medical identification that says you have diabetes.

Source: GobiernoUSA.gov/USA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Homeowners Encouraged to Ask Insurance Providers about Policy Credits for Lightning Protection Systems

December 3, 2012 2:52 am

Similar to other home security measures that reduce expected losses for insurers, lightning protection systems can provide valuable loss mitigation against a costly weather hazard that affects millions of homeowners in the U.S. Statistically, lightning is the most commonly experienced weather hazard, unlike earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes or hurricanes, which are more likely to affect homeowners in certain geographical regions of the country. Unpredictable weather hazards continue to incur costly losses, which is why insurance companies are recognizing the importance of rewarding loss mitigation efforts by offering premium credits and discounts. When homeowners take steps to better protect their property against weather hazards affecting their geographical region, insurance companies take notice.

Since some insurance providers do not have set policies regarding lightning protection credits or incentives, the homeowner may need to contact their agent or broker for assistance in determining their eligibility for a discount.

Lightning is an extremely powerful force that should never be underestimated. A single bolt of lightning can pack up to 100 million volts of devastating electricity—which is why a professionally installed lightning protection system can provide a valuable return on a minimal investment. Heed the following tips when inquiring about insurance discounts:

-Ask the insurance agent or broker if the lightning protection system installation is applicable for a discount or credit under "security protection for external perimeter" or "weatherproofing mitigation" guidelines.

-Make sure that the lightning protection system is installed by a qualified LPI-certified installer in accordance with Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), NFPA and UL safety standards so that the installation meets quality assurance requirements.

-Request that the installing firm provide system compliance information (inspection or proof of installation document) to forward to the insurance provider.

-Ask the insurance provider about discounts for loss mitigation efforts. If premiums are being lowered for mitigation efforts for earthquakes (frame anchoring, bracing cripple walls, strapping a water heater in place, etc.) or for hurricanes (roof bracing, hurricane shutters, or retrofitted doors), then loss mitigation for lightning may be applicable for discount, as well.

Insurance providers known to provide credits, incentives, discounts and recommendations for lightning protection systems are denoted on the LPI website at www.lightning.org.

Source: Lightning Safety Alliance

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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The Importance of Cell Phone Insurance

December 3, 2012 2:52 am

(Family Features) With so much of daily life connected to smartphones, the thought of being without one worries a lot of people. Unfortunately, loss, damage and theft do occur – and more often than you might think.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 1 in 3 robberies nationwide involve cell phones. And, according to mobile phone insurance company Asurion, 36.5 percent of customers filing claims cited loss or theft as the reason for filing a claim. This number jumps to an alarming 54 percent for iPhone customers. Asurion also reported that across all mobile phones, 53 percent of claims involved damage.

Many people don’t realize that replacing their lost, stolen or damaged phone will most likely cost more than what they paid up front. For example, a consumer survey showed that 43.5 percent of parents and 50.5 percent of students believe it costs less than $200 to replace a mobile phone. However, if your iPhone 4S or 5 is lost, stolen or damaged, you will be required to pay the full retail price of the mobile phone to replace it, not the discounted price you might have paid when signing up with the wireless provider or upgrading your phone. And that can be as much as $650.

Insurance vs. Warranty

There are several protection options in the market. However, you need to understand the difference between insurance and warranties. The difference between insurance and a warranty is that a warranty covers hardware issues and accidental damage. You usually have to purchase a warranty at the time you buy the phone. Warranties, such as AppleCare, do not cover loss or theft of a phone.

Cell phone insurance is an insurance product, just like your home or auto insurance. It is regulated by insurance laws in each state. You pay a monthly fee for the insurance (typically between $5 and $7 for the basic insurance coverage). When you file a claim, you pay a deductible, typically $50 to $200, depending on the phone.

When choosing cell phone insurance, look for:

-Warranties for replacement devices.
-Comprehensive coverage that covers loss, theft and out-of-warranty damage (such as liquid damage).
-Convenient claims filing and rapid replacement service.

No one ever really wants to need insurance, because that usually means something unfortunate has happened. But, just like insurance for your home or car, if something does happen to your cell phone, you’ll be glad to have a plan in place to quickly reconnect with family, friends and work.

Source: Asurion

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Simple Tips for Winter Concrete Care

December 3, 2012 2:52 am

With harsh temperatures on the inevitable horizon, a few hours of work now could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars later down the road.

Freezing rain, snow, ice and raw temperatures have been known to weaken concrete surfaces if left unattended. Saturation and freezing of concrete surfaces can lead to cracking and surface deterioration, but the spreading of various salts on the surface can also lead to larger structural issues and unprotected concrete.

Repairing and sealing cracks as they occur is a cost-effective way to prevent pricey projects in the future. According to Quikrete, waterproofing sealers are a great way to make these repairs, offering durable finishes for a variety of surfaces including concrete, masonry, stucco and brick. Acrylic sealers are highly water resistant and provide a coating that protects the surface from cold weather freezing and thawing--a common cause of cracking over time.

If properly maintained, concrete has the ability to last for generations, but homeowners should know what to look for around the home. Look for cracks and missing concrete in the driveway, garage and exterior walkways. Though cracks can be unobtrusively small to start, these eventual problem areas can spread and worse over time.

Concrete Treat recommends checking for spalling, which occurs when too much freezing and thawing causes water to erode the surface layer of the concrete. Salts cause further erosion of this surface area and can really compromise the structural integrity. The longer this problem is neglected the bigger of a repair it will be. Visible water leaks on concrete walls are other signs that water is seeping in from the outside. If left unfixed, this water can cause extensive damage to interior surfaces. Be sure to check around your home for any potential concrete leaks.

By being aware of possible concrete issues, you may be able to prevent catastrophic damage to your property in the future.

Source: Concrete Treat, Quikrete

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Four Easy Ways to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed while Decorating

November 30, 2012 2:48 am

The holidays should be about enjoying the beauty of the season while spending time with family and friends. But, with busy schedules and an abundance of decorating choices, it's easy to be overwhelmed during what is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year. By taking to heart these four simple tips, you just may find yourself decorating with what you already have and enjoying the holidays.

1. Inventory all your decorations, laying them out by color and design when getting started. This gives you a visual overview of what you have available to bring the holiday spirit into each area of your home while making it so much easier to pick out and find what you need. Look at your own inventory of holiday decorations. You may even come across some items you bought on clearance last year. Also, take a good look around your home and yard keeping an eye out for things that could find a place on a holiday mantle, wreath or tree. Re-purposing these items can make your home merry and bright, without making your wallet light!

2. Change is good! So, outdo yourself each year by re-using your existing decorations in different ways and perhaps in different rooms from year to year. Plan ahead. Perhaps your mantle had a little extra flair this time last year. Using those same decorations, mix them up to create a centerpiece or wreath focal point instead. This will satisfy your desire for something new and give lift to show-worthy pieces. For example, planters from your front porch that held summer palms now can be brought indoors and decorated with faux flocked holiday trees to flank a fireplace or doorway.

3. Go room to room leaving the least important spaces in your house for last. Such areas are perfect for your decorating leftovers. Use your best, most cherished holiday pieces in the highest traffic areas of your home. The remaining pieces can still be used to enhance the rooms of your home where you do the least entertaining. Decorative touches in these spaces, even using leftover pieces, adds a festive touch without the stress of creating a major showpiece for guests.

4. Each year get rid of tired decorations and refresh some of your existing pieces or add new ones. Refreshing tired decorations can be as easy as rinsing, dusting and untangling. It's worth the time and effort. If necessary, you can glue inexpensive new ornaments into a wreath to replace broken pieces or add a color. Add new ribbon to garland to freshen its look. Set yourself a budget for new Christmas accessories each year, and stay within those budget restraints.

Taking a little extra time early in the season to plan, reuse and refresh your holiday decorations will help you create different and distinctive looks. By using things you already have, and making a few quick enhancements, you can save yourself the "overwhelm" of additional time, energy and money leaving you more reason to celebrate the season.

Source: Chris H. Olsen

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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10 Ways to Have an Energy Fit Holiday

November 30, 2012 2:48 am

The holidays can be an expensive time of year with plenty of gift giving, house guests and festive decor, making an impact on the wallet. In order to keep your home's energy in check, keep the following in mind:

Deck the halls with LEDs. When it comes to holiday lighting, LED lights are the bright choice to get you more for your money. The amount of power it takes to operate just one 7-watt incandescent holiday bulb could power two 24-foot LED strings - enough to light a six foot tree. Additionally, LED light strings last about 10 times longer.

Set time on your side. Set timers for your holiday displays to turn off before bedtime so there is no need to burn the lights all night long.

Switch your non-holiday lights. Before overnight guests arrive, switch out guest room and common area lighting to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Each CFL bulb you install will save you about $50 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.

Turn it off. Remind guests to turn off lights and fans when they leave the room. Stopping one ceiling fan from running all the time and turning at least one light off when you leave the room can save you more than $7 a month on your electric bill.

Stop peeking! Ovens lose a lot of heat when opened and require significant energy to heat back up to the appropriate temperature. Instead, when you have to sneak-a-peek, turn the oven light on and look through the interior window.

Choose glass or ceramic pans for the oven. These pans heat faster than metal ones and allow you to set the temperature 25 degrees lower than a recipe suggests for the same cooking time.

Don't forget your crock-pot. Use smaller appliances such as crock-pots, microwaves and toaster ovens when possible. These can be much more energy-efficient for side dishes or small meals.

Select energy-efficient electronics. When it comes to buying gifts for your loved ones, opt for a laptop computer over a desktop computer. Laptop computers require 50 to 80 percent less power than a desktop computer.

Let the star be your guide. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo when purchasing larger electronics or appliances. Newer ENERGY STAR models meet stricter requirements and can save up to 40 percent on energy over standard models.

Give the gift of light.
Use solar-powered pathway or security lights for your home or as a gift to the person who loves being outside in the evening.

Source: Florida Power & Light Company

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