RE/MAX 440
Sandy Hershey

Sandy Hershey
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880  Skippack  PA 19474
Phone:  610-909-2929
Office:  610-584-1160
Fax:  267-354-6987

My Blog

Get Organized for Entertaining

October 31, 2016 1:36 am

(Family Features)--Hosting a holiday gathering is no small feat, but you can get organized ahead of the big day with these entertaining tips.

Set the guest list early: Send out invites in advance. Longer notice allows for you to better gauge who will be attending and how much food you'll need to make. Rather than waiting to see who shows up and who doesn't, send out RSVPs via mail or email so that you have a precise idea of how many people to plan for.

Plan the menu ahead of time: From drinks to side dishes to dessert, with special storage spots and industry-first infinity slide shelves, Whirlpool's French Door Refrigerator allows you to store 30 percent more so you can buy all your groceries in advance. This way you won't have to worry about running to the store just moments before guests arrive.

Set the table the day before: Organizing where you can, such as setting out plates and silverware in advance, allows you to focus on preparing food and drinks on the day of the party. Unless you'll be using fresh cut flowers, go ahead and complete the centerpieces and any other decorative touches the night before, as well.

Make a party-night cheat sheet: Keep a checklist nearby so you don't forget about any of your delicious courses or what tasks need completed throughout the evening. Remember to include items like refreshing the ice bucket and swapping out buffet dishes or appetizer platters periodically.

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Nashville Voted Most Expensive Urban Destination to Visit

October 28, 2016 1:21 am

Ever wondered where the priciest city spot in the U.S. is? Surprisingly, the answer isn't New York or Los Angeles, but Nashville. A recent CheapHotels.org survey found the southern city to be the most expensive in the country, based on the cost of its lodging.  

The survey compared hotel rates of the 30 most populous U.S. destinations during the month of October. That month reflects the timeframe during which most U.S. cities reach their highest average hotel rates.

At an average price tag of $261 for its most affordable room, the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee leads the rankings. It has to be noted that only hotels rated at least 3 stars and centrally located have been considered by the survey.

Only slightly less expensive is Boston, Massachusetts. At an average rate of $257 per night, it ranks second most expensive on the survey. Washington, D.C. completes the Top 3 podium at an average overnight cost of $192. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, another Tennessee city, Memphis, ranks among the rather affordable destinations at an average rate of $142 per night for its least expensive double room. By far the cheapest destination is Las Vegas, Nevada, where an overnight visitor can find a room for around $60 per night.

Below are the 10 most expensive urban destinations in the United States. The prices shown reflect the average rate for each city's cheapest available double room (minimum 3-star hotel) for the period spanning October 1 through October 31, 2016.

1. Nashville - $261 
2. Boston - $257
3. Washington, D.C. - $192
4. San Francisco - $187
5. Portland - $185
6. New York City - $184
7. Phoenix - $182
7. Austin - $182
9. Chicago - $178
10. Houston - $176

Source: http://www.cheaphotels.org/press/cities16.html

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Plan for Disaster with Backup Power

October 28, 2016 1:21 am

As winter moves in, it's time to prep your home for a safe and secure snowy season. With weather changes upon us, arranging backup power should be an essential component of winter preparations, as it keeps critical home systems up and running in the event of power loss.

"Many people overlook the importance of backup power in emergency situations and fail to plan or prepare for a power outage," says Ed Del Grande, a home improvement TV host, author and syndicated columnist. "For those with small children, elderly relatives or family members with disabilities, backup power is especially crucial. Without power, you lose access to clean water, communication, fuel and often medical equipment, making the living environment not only uncomfortable but potentially dangerous."

The best thing homeowners can do to protect their families during a power outage is install a standby generator, which turns on automatically when the power shuts off. Similar to a central air conditioning unit, a standby generator is permanently installed outside the home, and runs on natural gas or propane through existing fuel lines in the house, which means there's no refueling.

Depending on the size of the unit, an automatic standby generator, like those from Kohler, can power all the major systems and appliances in a home, such as lights, furnace, refrigerator, computers, home security systems and medical equipment. And since it delivers high-quality power, there's no worry about it ever harming electronics.

Severe weather is the single leading cause of power outages in the United States. Don't wait until it's too late to protect your own home and family. Leading generator manufacturers offer a variety of automatic standby generator models, as well as portable and industrial options depending on your needs.

Source:  www.kohlergenerators.com.

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How to Keep Rodents Out Of Your Home

October 28, 2016 1:21 am

Your family is not the only group spending more time indoors as the temperature drops. Fall is also prime time for rodents to make moves into your home as they seek food and shelter. It only takes a hole the size of a quarter for a rat to squeeze inside, and a hole the size of a dime for mice. Rodents are also known to chew around holes to make them larger, after which they can slip into homes.   

"Commensal rodents depend on humans and their resources to survive, so unless residents and city officials take proactive steps to prevent rodents, infestations can easily get out of hand,” says entomologist and Orkin Technical Services Director Ron Harrison, Ph.D.

According to a 2013 Orkin survey, one-third of Americans saw a rodent in their home in the last year. Rodents eat between 15 and 20 times a day, so nearly 40 percent of homeowners saw rodents for the first time in kitchens. While rodents are commonly found eating human or pet food, they are also found chewing and gnawing other materials, causing damage to furniture, clothing, wiring, insulation and piping.

Orkin recommends the following tips to help prevent rodents around the home:

Regularly inspect the home – inside and outside – for rodent droppings, rub marks or burrows.

Seal all cracks and gaps around utility penetrations larger than 1/4 of an inch, as well as install weather stripping at the bottom of exterior doors.

Trim overgrown branches, plants and bushes near the home, and consider keeping a 2-foot barrier between any landscaping and the home.

Store all food (including pet food) and garbage properly in sealed containers both indoors and outdoors.

Remove all pet bowls after animals are finished eating, and remove pet waste from the lawn promptly.

Contact a pest professional for assistance managing rodents, as these pests can be dangerous and difficult to control.

Source: Orkin.com.

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How-to Reduce Your Home's Fire Risk

October 27, 2016 1:18 am

Regardless of where in the country you live, fire is always a potential danger to your home, property and loved ones. According to the American Red Cross, 60 percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. On average, 39 people die each year in fires in this country.

"Fire is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a family and a home," says Eric Corbett, president and owner of Larry & Sons. "If a fire starts in your home, you may have just two minutes to escape. The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove potential fire hazards."

Corbett offers tips to help keep your family and your home safe:

Develop a fire escape plan with your family. Make sure everyone knows how to get out and where to meet. Practice the plan at least twice a year. If a fire occurs in your home, get out and stay out. Teach everyone to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire.

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them once a month, and if they're not working, change the batteries. Replace them every 10 years.

Keep flammable items at least three feet clear of anything that produces heat, such as a space heater or a fireplace.

Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home. If it sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or near an open window or door.

Cook safely, and teach your kids to do the same. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling. If you leave the kitchen, even for a moment, turn off the stove. Stay home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling. Check on it regularly and use a timer to remind you. And keep anything that can catch fire, such as pot holders or towels, away from the stove.

Use caution with portable fire extinguishers. Keep one in the kitchen, but use it only if you have been trained by the fire department and if the fire is confined to a small area, the room is not filled with smoke, everyone has exited the building, and the fire department has been called.

Source: www.larryandsons.com.

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How to Save Money on Travel Insurance

October 27, 2016 1:18 am

While traveling is exciting, it can also be stressful, especially if you are forced to make changes last minute, which can cost you time, energy, and your hard earned cash. This is where travel insurance can come in handy. But insurance itself can be pricey. Below are four tips on how to avoid overspending the next time you buy a travel insurance policy, courtesy of Squaremouth.

DON'T: Insure More Than Necessary
Travel insurance is intended to cover the money you will lose if you cancel your trip. Generally, you only need to insure your prepaid and non-refundable expenses. If that amount increases after you buy a policy, you can call your provider and increase your insured trip cost.

"If you can cancel all your hotels for just a small penalty, insure the cost of the penalty rather than the full amount of the hotels," says Squaremouth Product Manager Adam Rusin. "A lower trip cost generally means a lower premium, and you're still covered for the amount you would lose if you canceled."

DO: Compare Your Options
Travel insurance policies are not "one size fits all." Take a few minutes to research your choices using a travel insurance comparison site and determine what coverage you need. Call and speak to an agent if you aren't sure.

"We get a lot of calls from travelers looking for advice, or trying to understand and compare the coverage they're being offered by their cruise or tour operator," says Squaremouth Customer Service Director Jessica Harvey. "Customers are often surprised to see so many other options that offer the same or better benefits at a lower price."

DON'T: Upgrade to Cancel For Any Reason
While the Cancel For Any Reason upgrade offers greater flexibility to cancel your trip, it can increase the cost of a policy by as much as 40 percent, and it only reimburses a portion of your trip cost. There's no reason to pay more if your concerns are covered by standard travel insurance.

"The most common concerns we see are generally covered by standard cancellation policies, such as canceling due to an illness or a family member passing away," says Squaremouth Quality Assurance Manager Emily Phinney. "We don't recommend Cancel For Any Reason unless someone has a unique concern that isn't otherwise covered."

DO: Buy the Least Expensive Policy
A higher price tag doesn't necessarily mean better service or better benefits. Once you decide what coverage you need, choose the most affordable policy with that coverage.

Source: www.squaremouth.com.

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The Best Haunted Houses in the Nation

October 26, 2016 1:18 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

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How to Get the Most from Your Cookware

October 26, 2016 1:18 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 .

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Smart Thermostats Lower Bills, Improve Efficiency

October 26, 2016 1:18 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

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Simple Steps to Maintain Natural Stone

October 25, 2016 1:18 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

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