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

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Home Design Trends: Value and Unique Style Trump Conformity in 2014

February 27, 2014 2:00 am

The Interior Redecorators Network® (IRN) is observing a sea change in the way Americans are approaching home design in 2014. Rather than maxing out credit cards with purchases of ubiquitous furniture pieces from major retail chains, the majority of homeowners and renters are using their existing furnishings to redecorate, save money and reflect their individuality.

Gone are the days of keeping up with the proverbial Jones' and copying the same design style that everyone in the neighborhood has adopted. In 2014, Americans are interested in making the most of what they already own, or are inheriting, and in having their rooms appear to have been curated over time. In addition, mixing high-end pieces with inexpensive global-inspired accents – "Hi-Low Design" – is allowing for more uncommon approaches to interior decor.

One-of-a-kind furnishings are becoming the most sought-after home design category as budget-minded consumers seek out artwork and accessories that reflect individual interests and lifestyle. Using their existing furnishings and then incorporating family heirlooms, antique and vintage store treasures, pieces from Etsy dealers; consignment stores, flea markets and Craigslist, there are more sources for distinctive looking interiors than ever before.

"No matter where they live, regardless of how big or small their homes are, and whatever their stage of life, people across the U.S. are searching for great value and creating a unique home that reflects their personality," says Lauri Ward, best-selling author and co-founder of the IRN. "The trend started during the Great Recession and has continued to grow even as the economy and real estate markets have improved."

Source: www.InteriorRedecorators.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Beauty Tips to Beat the Cold

February 26, 2014 1:57 am

Winter can notoriously wreak havoc on skin and hair, but a few easy adjustments to your beauty routine can help you look and feel great on even the dreariest of days. EcoTools® has suggestions on how to beat the cold and get glowing for spring and ready for the warmer weather.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Moisturizing is one of the most important rules of thumb to beat dryness. Choose a quality lotion and use it daily to put much-needed moisture back into skin. Get extra mileage out of your moisturizer by exfoliating before applying lotion. The gentle exfoliation will help skin hold moisture longer.

Break Away from Breakouts
Dirt and oil can clog pores and lead to blackheads, as can dry, flaky skin. To prevent blackheads and whiteheads from surfacing, use a facial sponge to easily exfoliate.

Upgrade Your Body Wash
Overly fragrant soaps can further dry out skin. During colder months, opt for a super-rich, moisturizing body wash and lather up. Sponges are silky-soft and extra-large to deliver amazing lather and gentle cleansing, even for the most sensitive skin.

Help Out Hair
While summer often gets the rap as being hard on hair with the sun and chlorinated pools, winter doesn't go easy on the follicles either. Chilly temperatures can leave strands dry and fragile. Indulge in a nourishing hair treatment once a week to combat dryness. Regularly use deep conditioner, or apply hair oil to damp hair. Try washing hair every other day as to not strip away hair's natural oils.

Step up Your Foot Care Regimen
The cold can promote chapping and cracking, so it's important to care for feet daily to make sure they are ready for their spring debut. Treat yourself to an at-home pedicure with a few easy steps. Soak feet in warm water to soften calluses, then use a foot brush to gently exfoliate. Trim nails and then pick a pretty polish to finish.

Source: EcoTools

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Your Place: Relative Humidity Indoors Determines Likelihood of Mold

February 16, 2014 7:39 pm

(MCT)—A few weeks back, a reader contacted me with a concern that the portable humidifier his daughter was running in a bedroom could contribute to a mold problem, although he had seen no evidence of one yet. In my household, we have run humidifiers in bedrooms because, for example, one son suffered from croup-like symptoms [...]
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American Home Shield “Kidstructions” Video Contest Underway

February 16, 2014 7:39 pm

Do you know some kids that are full of imaginative insights and love to get in front of a video camera? If so, you have a good chance to win some great prizes from American Home Shield®. AHS knows how complicated it can be to describe how household systems and appliances work. That’s why they’ve [...]
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How Well You Enjoy Your Last Bite of a Food Determines How Long Before You Choose the Same Food Again

February 3, 2014 1:15 pm

Portion sizes have steadily increased over the last few decades, with consumers demanding more food and larger beverages from companies that are happy to accommodate and capture the market share. However, new research from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that not only do larger portions lead consumers to enjoy the foods they eat less, they also reduce how often people consume those foods.

Each bite of a food or sip of a drink is enjoyed less than the previous one, a familiar phenomenon called "sensory-specific satiety." A well-known fact is that the more we eat or drink, the more satiety reduces how much we enjoy that food or beverage. So consuming a larger portion means that we reduce our average enjoyment of the food or drink we consume.

The degree of satisfaction at the end of a meal also influences how long we want to wait to eat a food again in the future, as revealed by research conducted by Carey Morewedge, associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business, and his colleagues. Research participants who ate chocolate truffles were given a coupon for a free bag of truffles, which they could pick up anytime in the subsequent two weeks. Although all participants redeemed their coupon in the following two weeks, the more participants reported feeling fully satisfied after they finished their last truffle was the key predictor of how long they took to pick up their free bag. Critically, participants who ate a larger portion of truffles, who were most satisfied after eating, took a full four days longer to redeem their bag of truffles than did participants who only ate one truffle.

"Our conclusions suggest that how much we enjoy our last bite of a food — the end of an eating experience — appears to determine how long we will choose to wait before eating the same food again," Morewedge said.

"Although people often say they prefer larger portion sizes, especially for foods that they really like, our research indicates that consumption of larger portions can ultimately decrease the frequency at which these foods are consumed. This suggests people and companies may actually be better off with smaller portions. People will enjoy the food they eat more, and eat the foods they enjoy more often. Companies will benefit from more frequent repeat purchases."

Another interesting finding of the study was that distraction while eating, like watching TV, can cloud the association that people develop as to their enjoyment with food, thus, altering their end-of-consumption liking for the food. In one of the experiments, participants who were distracted while eating were not influenced as much by their enjoyment of the food to consume that food again, as participants who were not distracted.

Source: Tepper School of Business

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Three Tips for Staying Healthy Over 50

February 3, 2014 1:15 pm

(Family Features) A healthy lifestyle is necessary at any age, but for those over 50, it’s especially important. As you age, your body changes, and your risk for health problems increases. Fortunately, there are three simple things you can do to lead a healthier and happier life.

Eat Heart Healthy
If high blood pressure isn’t controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medicine, it can lead to stroke, heart disease, eye problems and other serious health issues. A great way to establish a heart healthy diet is by reducing your sodium intake, which may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Starting the day with a low-sodium, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal is just one way to choose a healthier lifestyle.

Enjoy Nutrient-Dense Foods
As you age, your body needs fewer calories for energy – but still needs the same amount of nutrients. It’s important to make your calories count by eating foods packed with good nutrition
such as:

• Fruits and vegetables: Fresh, canned, frozen – it doesn’t matter. Vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals your body needs.
• Protein: Add some variety to your diet with delicious protein sources such as fish, beans and peas.
• Whole grains: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends at least three servings of whole-grain foods each day (16g per serving or 48g per day).

Get Moving
Physical activity and regular exercise can decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend those 65 years of age or older, who are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions, try to get:
• Two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or yoga, and
• Muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.

You should consult your physician or other health care professional before making changes to your diet or exercise plan to determine what is right for your needs.

In addition to taking up walking or yoga, joining group activities or sports are great ways to keep moving. Taking care of your blood pressure, enjoying healthy foods, and staying active are three steps you can start taking today to help you get and stay healthy for tomorrow.

Source: Post Shredded Wheat

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What Travelers Really Think About Airline Fees

January 31, 2014 5:30 am

Ancillary fees are big business for airlines. A recent industry report suggests that North American carriers collected $17.2 billion in ancillary revenue during 2013. But what are these fees really costing airlines in terms of customer satisfaction? As airlines gear up to add yet more fees in 2014, new research from Fly.com reveals a discrepancy between the services that fliers are willing to pay for and the services and amenities currently being offered to them.

It comes as no surprise that baggage fees top the list as the biggest objection for today's airline passengers. Of the travelers surveyed by Fly.com, 89 percent said it was important that airlines stop charging for checked baggage. In contrast, 42 percent would pay to have dedicated overhead bin space for their hand luggage, and 35 percent would pay to have their checked luggage come out first at baggage claim.

Travelers are also willing to shell out for things that improve comfort and efficiency – both on board and at the airport. At a time when airlines are shrinking the size of seats and moving them closer together, 89 percent of survey respondents felt that comfortable seats were an important requirement of air travel. Moreover, 45 percent would pay for extra legroom, 26 percent would pay to have an empty middle seat next to them, and another 34 percent would pay to prevent the seat in front of them from reclining. At the airport, 36 percent of fliers said they would purchase a fast pass to speed through security.

"U.S. airlines collected more than $2.5 billion from baggage fees during the first 9 months of 2013 alone," said Warren Chang, vice president and general manager, Fly.com. "While lucrative, it is important that airlines balance profit against the needs and interests of their passengers. Our latest survey reveals the type of ancillary opportunities that can bolster passenger satisfaction, while also delivering new revenue streams to the airline industry."

Other Survey Findings:

• The most popular bundled fare packages include waived baggage fees (88 percent), confirmed seat selection (45 percent), and a security fast pass (35 percent).
• 46 percent of travelers have not chosen the cheapest flight because of flight times.
• 40 percent of travelers would like complimentary meals during their flight.
• Half of Fly.com respondents list price as the most important factor when purchasing airfare.
• 10 percent of travelers choose flights based on brand loyalty. However nearly all of these would switch to a different airline if the ticket was at least $51 cheaper.
• 26 percent of travelers have not chosen the cheapest flight because of too many stops.

Source: fly.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Fixed Mortgage Rates Move Lower Again

January 31, 2014 5:30 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates lower again this week.

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.32 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 30, 2014, down from last week when it averaged 4.39 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.53 percent.

• 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.40 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.44 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.81 percent.

• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.12 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.15 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.70 percent.

• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.55 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.54 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.59 percent.

"Mortgage rates eased somewhat as new home sales fell 7 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted pace of 414,000 units, below the consensus. The S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-city composite house price index declined 0.1 percent for the month of November, the first decrease since November 2012,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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71 Percent of Current Homeowners are Contemplating Selling in 2014

January 30, 2014 5:27 am

According to a recent survey, current and potential homeowners have a generally optimistic outlook on the US economy and housing market. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents have a positive outlook on the housing market and 63 percent expect the U.S. economy to continue to improve in 2014. Because of the optimistic outlook and improving home values, 71 percent of current homeowners said they are considering selling their home in the next 12 months, making 2014 an active year in the housing market.

Rising Rates and Future Home Sales

The survey shows that 74 percent of current and potential homeowners expect mortgage rates to be higher 12 months from now. Most (60 percent) anticipate a moderate uptick in mortgage rates while 14 percent expect rates to be considerably higher 12 months from now. 

Despite the expected increase in mortgage rates, current and potential homeowners don't expect to shy away from the housing market. Of the 71 percent of homeowners who are thinking about selling in 2014, 24 percent plan to sell their home regardless of any home value increase or decrease, while 47 percent say they plan to sell if they experience an increase in their home value. Only 15 percent of homeowners say they are not contemplating a sale in 2014, and 15 percent are undecided.

Potential home sales are driven largely by younger homeowners, with 90 percent of homeowners under 30 considering selling their home in 2014 and 78 percent of homeowners aged 30-39 contemplating selling their home in the next 12 months.

Rising Home Prices – Perception vs. Reality

According to the survey, 72 percent of respondents stated home prices in their area increased during the past 12 months, while 20 percent believe home values declined and 8 percent thought home values remained flat.  To compare current and potential homeowner perceptions with reality, S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices data collected through October 2013 showed that the 10-City and 20-City Composites posted year-over-year gains of 13.6 percent.

In the areas where home values were believed to have improved, prices increased an average of 10.2 percent, according to the survey.  This figure closely matches the National Association of REALTOR®’s reported U.S. home price increase of 12 percent for 2013.  For those that believe home values declined in their areas, 9.2 percent is the average perceptive drop in home prices.

The perception that home prices increased is not equally distributed across the U.S., according to the survey data. Seventy-nine percent of current and potential homeowners in the West believe home prices are higher today than one year ago, compared to 67 percent of individuals in the Northeast with the same view.

Source: LendingTree

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Energy-Efficient Solutions for Your Home

January 29, 2014 5:24 am

(Family Features) For many people, a trip down the lighting aisle can be an overwhelming experience, especially when considering the many energy-efficient lighting options available. Whether looking at light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs or compact fluorescent technology (CFL) bulbs, there are some factors you should think about before making a purchase.

Recent studies have found that most homeowners aren’t ready to make the leap to newer energy-efficient lighting solutions, such as LED and CFL. But those who are making the switch from incandescent bulbs to GE Energy-Efficient Soft White bulbs are doing so at a rate of two-to-one, compared to CFL bulbs.

“We understand that consumers are overwhelmed by all of the changes in the lighting aisle, and whatever their lighting preference, we have reliable lighting options for them,” says John Strainic, general manager, Consumer Lighting for GE in North America. “For consumers who still want an incandescent-like bulb, our incandescent isn’t gone—it’s more energy efficient. Our Energy-Efficient Soft White bulb provides a warm, cozy light and dimming capabilities, but saves energy and meets federal brightness requirements.”

Small upgrades equal big savings

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, lighting consumes up to 17 percent of a home’s overall energy usage. With an annual energy savings of $2.05 per bulb, a household that replaces forty 60-watt incandescent bulbs with 43-watt Energy-Efficient Soft White bulbs could save more than $80 a year based on 3 hours use per day and an 11c/kWh electricity rate.

Other energy-saving options

One popular option in energy-efficient lighting is the LED bulb. Though the price for this option can be higher than others, experts believe that prices should decrease as LED technology evolves, allowing for a broader mass market appeal. Another more energy-efficient lighting option is CFL bulb technology, which has been in the market now for more than 30 years and has greatly improved to mirror the performance of a traditional incandescent light.

With new energy-efficiency standards taking place as of Jan. 1, 2014, consumers will now choose between these more energy-efficient lighting options, including Energy-Efficient Soft White, or halogen technology, CFL or LED bulbs. Consumers will still be able to find a limited supply of incandescent bulbs at some retailers until inventory is gone.

For those wishing to save money on energy bills, having an understanding of the different energy-efficient lighting options available can help to make an informed purchasing decision.

Source: GE

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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