RE/MAX 440
Gail Ruth

Gail Ruth
4550 W. Tilghman Street  Allentown  PA 18104
Phone:  610-398-8111
Office:  610-398-8111
Cell:  610-390-5434
Fax:  267-354-6263

My Blog

How to Stay Safe While on Summer Vacation

June 23, 2016 1:10 am

Summer vacation is the time to unwind—but that doesn’t mean we should overlook safety.

Incidents can and do happen on vacations, says Jeffrey Pellegrino, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council.

“Prevention is the key to avoiding accidents or illness while on vacation,” Pellegrino says. “It's important to know the level of ability of the people in your group and the environment around you. Know what injuries are life-threatening and understand that small injuries can lead to bigger issues if they are not properly cared for.”

Dehydration, for instance, can happen no matter where you’re traveling, Pellegrino explains. Sprains are one of the most common incidents on cruises, whereas those traveling to the mountains may be more prone to falls. In general, Pellegrino advises travelers to tote remedies like a first-aid kit, bug spray, medications and tweezers.

If a loved one on vacation with you experiences a non-life-threatening allergic reaction, administer an oral antihistamine, Pellegrino recommends. For life-threatening reactions, epinephrine is essential.

If you’ve spent too much time in the sun, move to a cooler area as soon as possible. If needed, apply a topical to abate pain, Pellegrino says. If you’ve been bitten by an insect, use an over-the-counter medication to curb the sensation of burning or itching. If you’ve been stung by a jellyfish, wash the wound with vinegar or baking soda and water for at least 30 seconds.

It’s worth considering becoming first-aid- or CPR-certified, Pellegrino adds. Red Cross provides both in-person and online training. Sign up at RedCross.org/TakeaClass.

Source: American Red Cross

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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8 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Summer Party

June 23, 2016 1:10 am

Celebrations are moving outside for the summer. Green your next outdoor gathering with these tips, courtesy of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP):

• Rent reusable tablecloths, tables and other event supplies to reduce your impact.

• Use reusable plates, cups, and cutlery if possible—or look for disposable plates or napkins made from recycled content. Avoid polystyrene foam products. “Compost-able” dinnerware is only “greener” if you compost it!

• Serve locally-grown foods whenever possible. This reduces the carbon output of transporting goods to supermarket shelves.

• Serve finger foods to minimize the use of plates and utensils.

• Serve drinks from pitchers or bottles, rather than buying individual drinks.

• Provide separate, clearly marked containers for trash and recycling.

• Do not release helium balloons into the air. This protects wildlife, particularly marine animals living inland and in coastal areas.

• Choose edible or plantable items as centerpieces or favors. These are less likely to end up in the trash. Buy local plants from farmers markets or stands, or, source from a pick-your-own location near home.

Enjoy your next party—the environmentally-friendly way—with these tips. The Earth will thank you! 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Millennials: Buying a Home Top Priority over Next 5 Years

June 23, 2016 1:10 am

Millennials may differ from generations before them, but they share at least one aspiration: buying a home.

That’s according to a recent study commissioned by the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), an association of financial professionals, exploring the priorities of millennials. Close to half of millennials in the study, conducted by Harris Poll, are prioritizing buying or renovating a home in the next five years, topping a list that includes paying off student loans and getting married. The study found:

• 48 percent are prioritizing buying or renovating a home;
• 45 percent are prioritizing advancing in a career;
• 41 percent are prioritizing having a financial plan;
• 33 percent are prioritizing paying off student loans; and
• 30 percent are prioritizing getting engaged or married.

Notably absent from milllennials’ priorities is retirement. Millennials in the study expect to retire, on average, at 62 years old—younger than the expectations expressed by other generations—but just 22 percent are saving for it.

“Millennial expectations to retire at a younger age than their predecessors do not match with their lack of financial action,” observes Brian D. Heckert, president of MDRT. “While most say it's a priority to focus on planning, less than 10 percent have actually started doing so. What they may not realize is that having a plan now can give them greater retirement savings and increased financial security during those golden years.”

Source: Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT)

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What to Buy (and Not to Buy) in June

June 22, 2016 1:04 am

With graduations, weddings and Father’s Day to celebrate, you may find your wallet takes a hit come June. Looking for some relief? Here’s the scoop on bargains—and what can wait—from the shopping mavens at DealNews and NerdWallet.

Carpeting/Flooring – June is typically a slow season for flooring retailers, so be on the lookout for low prices—and don’t be shy about negotiating for installation discounts.

Fishing, Gardening and Hardware Equipment – June historically offers deals on fishing equipment and home-related items, like gardening and hardware tools.

Gym Memberships – Gym memberships tend to fall in June (when many exercise outdoors), so take advantage of discounted rates for the fall.

Laptops – School may be out, but many electronics retailers kick-off back-to-school sales in June. Expect deals at Apple stores, Best Buy and online on Amazon.

Lingerie – June is semi-annual sales month at Victoria’s Secret and other lingerie retailers. Gift yourself or a soon-to-be bride with an affordable set.

Outdoor Gear – In June, many outdoor retail chains offering fitness- and sports-wear and accessories slash prices up to 50 percent.

Swimwear – Expect early-season sales on swimwear in June—or, wait until just after July 4 for real blow-out savings.

Hold off on:

A/C Units – The hotter the summer, the higher the prices. Wait for end-of season discounts if you can.

Bicycles – Prices are highest in early summer. Wait until fall for the best buys.

Grills and Patio Sets – Prices are at a premium once summer starts. Delay buying a grill or patio furniture until August, when retailers reduce stock.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Critics' Picks from the 2016 Architectural Digest Show

June 22, 2016 1:04 am

Trends in architecture and interior design come and go. For residential design, it’s important to note the trends that have real staying power—ones that will serve the needs of homeowners well beyond the year-long design cycle.

So, what’s hot, what’s not, and what trends are most practical for homeowners? We look to some of the critics’ picks from the recently-held annual Architectural Digest Design Show:

• Architects-ToyBox.com was among many exhibitors highlighting Sony’s Life Space UX, technology that provides “transformative sensorial impact” of lights, sounds and visuals applied in unexpected ways. On-trend products include:

- LED Bulb Speaker ($239), combining a dim-able LED light and speaker into an ordinary light bulb;

- Glass Sound Speaker ($799), a wireless speaker with ambient LED illumination; and

- Portable Ultra Short Throw Projector ($999), capable of throwing a 22- to 80-inch image onto walls, tables, or any adjacent surface.

• Luke Lamp Co. displayed its sought-after rewired industrial light fixtures, which are currently endorsed by the likes of Twitter and Urban Outfitters.

• Jenn-Air also earned top marks from critics for its Wi-Fi-enabled wall oven and Obsidian refrigerators.

Based on critics’ takeaways from the show, interior design is generally gravitating toward dark, saturated shades (eggplant, navy blue), light finishes (blond wood, copper), and rounded elements (arc-shaped sofas, circular lamps). As expected, eco-friendly products remain top-of-the-heap.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How-To: Start a Container Garden

June 22, 2016 1:04 am

Container gardening is ideal for inexperienced gardeners, or those who have limited space to plant (or inexperienced gardeners with limited space to plant!).

Container gardens add life to a landscape without requiring extensive care, says Claire Watson, spokesperson with Wave Petunias.

Wave and Watson recently teamed with HGTV star Kelly Edwards (“Design on a Dime”) to offer up container gardening guidance. Their top tips:

Look for “personality” planters. Whether you appreciate bold patterns, textures (think ridges) or zingy colors, select planters that suit your personal style—and with adequate drainage!

Remember the one-inch rule. No matter the sizes of your planters, leave one inch of space between the potting soil and the top of the container before planting. If you’re using oversized planters, pad the bottom with plastic water bottles before adding soil.

Mix-and-match plants. Before planting, plan which coordinating species will fill which container. Break up the container visually with plants of varying colors, heights and textures.

Avoid water-logging. Overwatering can stunt growth. To determine when it’s time to water, place your finger into the soil; if it feels dry, it’s time!

Keep in mind, also, that container gardens are just one component of an outdoor space, adds Watson. Your new container garden may complement an existing outdoor space, or inspire a whole new design.

Source: Wave Petunias

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Have a Stellar Staycation

June 21, 2016 12:01 am

(TNS)—Finding your finances have fallen short of your vacation goals, but still want to have fun during your time off from work? Don't worry. Staycations don't have to be dull or dreary. By strategically balancing day trips and a few overnight splurges, you can still enjoy your down time and return to work feeling refreshed. Here are some of my favorite ways to do so.

Hikes

Easy-to-moderate day hikes are a great way to grab some quality family time, especially if the trails are acceptable for four-legged children to be included, as well. Recently, while staying at an exotic wildlife sanctuary outside of Tampa, we were invited on a day trip with the sanctuary founder and several seasonal college interns majoring in biology, zoology and other fields related to animals and the outdoors. Our destination? The Circle B Bar Reserve in the town of Lakeland for a day of trail hiking and wildlife spotting.

With the majority of the group being on a college budget, we pinched pennies by packing a picnic lunch and collecting digital photos as our chosen souvenir. The reserve has no entrance fee, and plenty of restroom options and covered pavilions. We were there for hours, spotting birds, turtles, snakes, alligators and more in their natural habitat. It was refreshing to see a group of young people so thrilled with a nature outing that they couldn't stop talking about it for the entire drive, especially since the only costs associated with the day trip were gas and picnic supplies, such as ice and bottled drinks.

History

It's always fun to learn a little something while you enjoy a day trip. Within striking distance of the house we recently sold in Florida, a number of historical tourism options exist for interested travelers. For example, St. Augustine's Castillo De San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monument are each worthy of a day trip in their own right. Similarly, the Tampa Bay History Center and the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park in Homosassa offer fun day outings for the whole family, as well. Hanging close to home for reasons of school schedules or air fare budget constraints doesn't mean you have to sit home every day. Period mansions, battlefield sites and historical re-enactments all make great excursions for enthusiastic staycationers.

Hotels

Overnights or multi-day getaways can easily be incorporated into a staycation, particularly if you book your accommodations midweek to avoid weekend price hikes. The money saved by traveling on less expensive days can be redirected for fun splurges such as spa treatments, happy hour snacks or even outlet shopping. By carefully choosing a hotel with plentiful amenities, breakfast service and evening manager's receptions, you can easily maximize the value of your expenditure for greater wow factor. During a two-week vacation, even one brief trip out of town can be incorporated for less than the cost of a single plane ticket. This splurge, combined with a few day trips and at-home indulgences, can help even the most modest budget feel more luxurious.

TrekHound.com founder Myscha Theriault has sold her home, all her furniture and most of her other belongings to travel the world full time with her husband. You can follow her adventures on Twitter via @MyschaTheriault.

©2016 Myscha Theriault
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Smart Home Wars: Is Google's Brillo Gaining on Apple's HomeKit?

June 21, 2016 12:01 am

When it comes to following the complex world of developing smart home technology, I rely on a pack of savvy experts to stay plugged in to the latest news.

There was a bubble of excitement in recent weeks, with Jordan Novet at VentureBeat.com reporting the launch of an early access program for Google's Brillo, an open-source, Android-based operating system intended for low-powered, Internet-connected devices.

Now that developers can sign up to try Brillo, it's pretty certain widespread usability won't be far behind. As Jamie Carter at TechRadar.com commented: "Who wants separate apps to control lighting, heating, security cameras, the TV and the hi-fi?

"Whether we need yet another wannabe 'Internet of Things' (IoT) platform promising to be the unifier is questionable," Carter says, "but there's no doubt Google's Brillo could be the platform that at last brings standardization to the IoT."

Another of TechRadar's contributors, Jamie Hinks, defined IoT as a growing network of objects that can communicate with each other and complete tasks without any human involvement.

Of course, Google is never far behind a smart new Apple development (or ahead, depending on the day/hour).

A recent Forbes.com feature unpacked Brillo's early access invitation while reminding readers that Apple still has quite a headstart with its HomeKit platform.

Forbes contributor Janakiram MSV recalled that the HomeKit SDK and developer program was announced almost a year ago, and that mature home-automation platforms such as Insteon already support it.

But Android users could be enticed by one of Brillo's pre-eminent components, Weave, which helps devices securely connect to networks while enabling users to connect and collect usage data from mobile and desktop hardware.

Data can be viewed and analyzed in the console to understand consumer usage patterns; crash reports can be analyzed to debug remote devices deployed in the field; and administrators can push patches and the latest version of the software through over-the-air (OTA) updates.

We'll continue to keep an eye on Brillo and touch base again as new developments with this, Apple's HomeKit and other smart home platforms vie for consumer, homeowner and home builders' attentions.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Goods Worth Buying Second Hand

June 21, 2016 12:01 am

Moving into your first home is an exciting time. The space is all yours. It’s a blank slate. You can decorate it any way you like. But that doesn’t mean you need to go overboard with expensive housewares and furnishings.

“Buying second hand goods is an inexpensive and functional way to get your new home up and running,” says Trent Hamm, founder of the consumer website TheSimpleDollar.com. “They can serve you for a long time if necessary, but they are replaceable any time you are ready.”

Hamm suggests steering clear of used mattresses and stuffed furniture unless they come from a trusted source, as they can harbor fleas or bedbugs. Do check out garage sales in better neighborhoods, as well as dollar stores, Craigslist, or second hand stores, for these items:

Bed Frame – You can move beyond the ‘mattress on the floor’ stage with an inexpensive used bed frame. There’s no beauty involved here, as the frame is always covered, so why not shop for second hand?

Cookware – Lucky you if you find a well-used iron skillet in good condition, or a few good saucepans, skillets, and baking accessories in assorted sizes.

Décor – It’s easy to find things like picture frames and wall hangings that appeal to your sense of style—as well as a huge variety of vases and other décor items that add a homey touch to your living space.

Dining Table and Chairs – Buy an in expensive used starter set that you can upgrade whenever you are ready.

Dishes, Glasses and Silverware – They may not match, but eclectic mixes are all the rage these days—
and you will have a great variety to choose from. You may even find a matching set, if that’s what you prefer.

Lamps – A great variety of used lamps from floor lamps to table top models are always readily available at very pleasing prices.

Toaster Oven – Better than a traditional toaster, these readily available ovens are great for toasting bread or bagels, and for heating small items or grilling sandwiches.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Rental Property Managers: Take Note of Online Security

June 20, 2016 12:19 am

More rental seekers are turning to online applications to secure housing—but as this method gains popularity, rental property managers must contend with online security concerns.

“In today’s online and mobile era, residents expect quick approvals and smooth application processes, but property managers must remain cognizant of the potential fraud threat,” says Mike Doherty, senior vice president of TransUnion’s Rental Screening Solutions Group. TransUnion recently surveyed a sample of property managers, finding close to 70 percent with concerns about fraud and identity theft, and nearly 40 percent unsure of the accuracy of information submitted by rental seekers in applications.

“This [40 percent] is a significant number because the survey also revealed that about one in four property managers said the cost of evictions has increased when identity theft or online fraud has occurred,” Doherty says.

For the property managers surveyed, income and employment information are the most important factors when screening applicants. Criminal background checks, rental and eviction history and credit history also play a role in the decision to approve or deny an application.

“Credit history, prior rental payments and other screening techniques allow property managers to make smarter and better objective decisions on leasing to prospective residents,” says Doherty. “As an emerging issue in the multifamily industry, property managers should pay additional attention to their online fraud and identity theft protocols to protect their business while allowing strong applicants through the rental application process faster.”

Approximately 80 percent of rental property managers have increased rent on their unit(s) in the last year, according to the survey, and more than half increase rent once a year.

Source: TransUnion

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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