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Mark Strobel
4550 W. Tilghman Street | Allentown, PA 18104
Phone: 610-398-8111 1471 | Office Phone: 610-398-8111 | Fax: 267-354-6254
email: mstrobel@remaxcentralinc.com

My Blog

Three Ways to Become More Eco-Friendly at Home

February 16, 2015 2:00 am

(BPT) - Whether you're motivated by a workplace initiative, a personal goal or the opportunity to teach your children lifelong positive habits, now is a great time to become more environmentally friendly.

Here are three ways your family can create positive environmental change starting today:

Recycle
Research shows that less than two percent of waste in the United States is recycled, yet almost half of all trash can be recycled. School lunches are one source of waste that most families don't consider. These are packed each morning and tossed away each afternoon once lunchtime is over.

Protect water resources
Water is one of the most important resources people have, yet every year billions of gallons are needlessly wasted. You can conserve water in your home by teaching your children to take shorter showers or baths, turning off dripping faucets and avoiding letting the water run while they are brushing their teeth. You can also reduce water waste in your home by investing in water-saving appliances and by reducing or eliminating the practice of watering your lawn, relying on rain to do so instead.

Plant a tree
Trees are more than just a beautiful backdrop; they are also essential to the environment. Trees improve the quality of the air you breathe by capturing dust and pollution particles that can affect your health. As trees grow, they remove greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from the air, store carbon, and release pure oxygen into the atmosphere And, trees properly planted around a home can help lower air conditioning and heating costs by up to 25 percent.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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More Americans Adopting Mind-Body Lifestyles

February 13, 2015 1:57 am

More Americans than ever are taking steps to live a healthier life, according to a recent report by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The report found that non-vitamin, non-mineral and natural products remain the most popular complementary health approach used by American adults.

The report also reveals an increase in usage of fish oil, probiotics, prebiotics and melatonin among adults, with fish oil being the most commonly-used natural product. Use of glucosamine, chondroitin, echinacea and garlic usage decreased significantly.

The report also points to growing trends in mind-body lifestyle practices, including:
  • Yoga practice among Americans ages 45-64 increased 5.2 percent over the last five years.
  • Nearly 18 million adults practiced meditation.
  • Nearly 20 million adults had chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.
Source: NCCIH

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Exercise Caution in Winter Months

February 13, 2015 1:57 am

With dangerously low temperatures continuing to impact much of the U.S. this winter, individuals and families must be safe when faced with the hazards of cold temperatures and winter weather, cautions the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Subfreezing temperatures and wind chills can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don't take the proper precautions,” says Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Regional Administrator. “It is important for everyone to monitor their local weather reports and take steps now to stay safe, whether traveling or at home, during times of extreme cold temperatures.”

During cold weather, take the following preventative measures:
  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the cold.
  •  Dress in layers and keep dry.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.
  • Know the symptoms of cold-related health issues such as frostbite and hypothermia and seek medical attention if health conditions are severe.
  • Bring your pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen water.
  • Make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit that includes an ice scraper, blanket and flashlight – and keep the fuel tank above half full.
  • If you are told to stay off the roads, stay home. If you must drive, don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule and stay on main roads.
Source: FEMA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make Your New House Feel Like Home

February 13, 2015 1:57 am

(BPT) – We all know that moving into a new home can be one of life's biggest stressors - the packing, the paperwork, the unpacking and of course, finding the nearest coffee shop. Making your new house feel like home can help alleviate some of this stress and provide some much needed relaxation.

"Everyone has a different sense of what home is," says Elizabeth Lindmier of The Art Institute of Colorado. While the same aesthetic won't work for everyone, she recommends getting started with these tips.

1. Texture and textiles - Instead of having all hard surfaces, cozy up your home with something soft or textured. This could be a blanket, curtains or area rugs. These items will also provide some acoustical value so noises aren't echoing in an empty space.

2. Comfort - Have some place in your home where you can relax, recharge and feel at ease. "Make a space where you would like to spend time," Lindmier says.

3. Color - A monochromatic scheme with pops of colors can make you feel happy. "Do your research on color theory before painting any space," says Lindmier. "Different colors can spark different moods, emotions and even behavior. Discover what you'd like a given space to accomplish, and use colors as a tool to create such environment."

4. Lighting - Look at the difference between warm and cool lighting colors to decide what helps achieve the look you want. Consider using task, ambient and accent lighting for your space. "Lighting plays a key role in any home," Lindmier says. "Through lighting design you can highlight architectural features, create lighting which is more useful to the human eye, and work with natural light while keeping energy use to a minimum."

5. Clutter - "Less is more, but make it more meaningful," says Lindmier. Get rid of your clutter. When sitting in your space, make sure you can look around and love the things you see.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Recover from Identity Theft

February 12, 2015 1:51 am

Did you know that more than 13 million people were victims of identity fraud in the last year? (Javelin Strategy and Research) For those who’ve had their identity compromised, fear not: it is possible to recover. Credit reporting agency Equifax recommends:

Checking your credit reports and notifying all three credit reporting agencies about any discrepancies or activity you don't recognize.

Placing a fraud alert with any one of the three agencies, which will in turn notify the others.

Filing a police report and holding onto it for future reference.

Pausing, but not panicking. Work on staying grounded through times of stress.

Taking care of yourself and paying attention to your health.

Finding a support system, such as your family members, to stick by you as you rebuild your finances.

Keeping a detailed journal of any calls you make, letters you receive or other actions you take to resolve your claim.

Contacting a victim's assistance group to lead you through the process.

Seeking out counseling or seeing a professional if you need it.

Source: Equifax

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Get – and Stay – Organized at Home

February 12, 2015 1:51 am

(Family Features) Life can be hectic and clutter has a way of sneaking up on even the neatest of households. It may be due to all those shoes, a lack of space or time constraints, but whether you’re living in an apartment or in a sprawling house, everyone can benefit from better organization.

By thinking about storage differently and coming up with a smart system that works for you, you’ll be on your way to creating a well-balanced, happier home. Get – and stay – organized with these tips:

When starting the process:
If you’re just beginning, remember: baby steps. Focus on one small area or room, or even your junk drawer. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture. Finish smaller projects once you start; you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and be encouraged to tackle subsequent rooms and projects.

When in the middle of the process:
Stuck midway through an organizational project and need motivation to finish? Think of your project as a mini-makeover – this will make it seem more exciting and less of a chore. Try taking pictures along the way to document your progress and give yourself a boost.

When finished:
Keeping clutter at bay is a full-time job, so keep a watchful eye on areas that naturally accumulate items, such as entryways and child play areas. If you have children, get them involved in the organization process by teaching them where items belong and how to store them. Make it simple with labels on storage bins, basket and drawers.

Source: ClosetMaid

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Telltale Signs You're Ready to Move

February 12, 2015 1:51 am

Moving to a new home can be life-changing. The reasons for a move vary: you may have a growing family, you might be empty-nesting, or you may just need of a change of pace. But how do you know you’re really ready to move? Watch for these classic signs:

You’ve thought through the details. You’ve worked out the logistics – where you want to live, when you want to move, what kind of home you want – and feel confident about your decision.

Your family situation is changing. Shifting family dynamics may mean it’s time to either move-up or downsize. If your household spatial needs are changing, re-evaluate your current residence to determine whether it’s time for a new chapter.

You did your homework. Investing in a new home is not to be taken lightly. You’ve taken steps to align your finances with your goals – you’ve saved enough for a down payment, crunched numbers, kept tabs on interest rates and corrected any errors on your credit report.

You’re ready to make a dream come true. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to own a home in the suburbs. Or a waterfront property. Or a horse ranch. If you’re ready to transition to your ideal home, it may be time for a move.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Educating Children about Money Management

February 11, 2015 1:51 am

Discussing finances as adults can be uncomfortable, but talking to your children about money, budgeting and saving can be much more challenging. “School doesn’t teach responsible money habits to children,” says financial expert Caren Hendrie, “so it’s up to parents and families to change the money attitude. There needs to be a shift in the discussion topics for kids at the dinner table to cover themes about money, financial strategies and good spending habits.”

Hendrie recommends teaching financial responsibility to young ones by letting them make their own money decisions and consider consequences for those choices. When they’re older or start earning money, teach them to invest in their savings.

Other ways to educate children include:
  • Showing them how to calculate change by playing counting games. This skill will not only build their confidence when dealing with money, but also save them from being ripped off in the future.
  • Curbing their desires for instant gratification and retail therapy by making a savings plan. Help them recognize that earning money is much easier than saving it.
  • Explaining household expenses and budgeting when they want something unaffordable. If a child wants something priced out of your comfort level, offer a cheaper alternative or give them the option to make up the difference.
Source: Hendrie Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Limit Exposure to PCB-Containing Caulk

February 11, 2015 1:51 am

Caulk can be found in virtually every home. The flexible material seals gaps and joints to make them water and airtight. Some older caulks used in homes may contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), an additive that resists water and chemicals and can detrimental to health. This variation of caulking was primarily used in homes built between 1950 and 1980.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing for PCBs in peeling, cracking or deteriorating caulk in older structures. Exposure to PCBS can happen through direct contact with PCB-containing caulk and surrounding materials, as well as by breathing in contaminated air dust.

PCBs were also used in other building materials such as paints, mastics, sealants, adhesives, specialty coatings and fluorescent light ballasts. They can persist in old materials and contaminate surfaces, dust, soils and indoor air.

Source: EMSL

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Add Square Footage with a Finished Basement

February 11, 2015 1:51 am

(BPT) - Making the most of your basement doesn't have to mean costly contractors and expensive remodeling scenarios. Several easy DIY projects (with the aid of the right tools) can help you gain precious square footage. Ready to get started? Give these projects a try:

Build walls.
Use 2-by-4s to mark where the walls will stand and place studs 16 inches apart. Then nail the panels to the wall where the edges meet the studs and cover the seams with drywall tape. Once the walls are up, mud the seams and areas where nail pops appear. A drywall saw or power saw will help you shape your drywall perfectly, but if you don't own one, simply rent it. Don't forget to add drywall stands to your rental list.

Freshen up your floor.
If your basement is completely unfinished, you probably have cold, concrete floors. How you improve them is up to you, but if you want a polished, marbled look, rent concrete floor finishing equipment. If you’d rather have the appearance of hardwood, laminate flooring panels are inexpensive and easy to install. If you want the feel of carpet beneath your feet, don't forget to add the pad first.

Eliminate odors.
Dehumidifiers can help eliminate musty or stale odors in your basement. You can purchase one at your local home goods store and when you get it home, try to place it near the washtub sink if your basement has one. This will allow you to drain right into the sink and save you from having to empty the dehumidifier regularly.

Install a sump pump.

Don’t let water damage ruin all your hard work. A sump pump can protect against flooding issues. Most new homes have a location marked for a sump pump; it will look like a small well. Follow the water pipes in your home and you can find it. Once you do, purchase a sump pump from your local hardware store and install.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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