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Edward E. Hodgson Jr.
1110 North Broad Street | Lansdale, PA 19446
Phone: 215-362-2260 | Office Phone: 215-362-2260 | Fax: 267-354-6844
Cell: 215-850-6973 | email: ed@edhodgsonrealtor.com

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Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Essentials

January 23, 2015 4:48 am

If you're aiming to eat healthy this year, make your goal a reality by stocking your kitchen with the right basics. Registered dietician and author of “Schedule Me Skinny” Sarah-Jane Bedwell recommends getting into the habit of keeping healthy foods on hand at all times.

Here, the most nutritious essentials to stock up on:

Vinegar – The acid in vinegar, including white wine, red wine and balsamic, brightens and balances favors. It’s key to a salad vinaigrette, of course, but a splash can also add depth and sweetness to soups and vegetable sautés.

Peanut Butter – An inexpensive source of protein, peanut butter can be a healthy addition to baked goods or Asian-style sauces on meats and noodles. It also pairs well in the classic sliced apple and dip combo.

Canola Oil – This kitchen workhorse is one of the healthiest cooking oils available and ideal for almost any kind of recipe. It contains the least saturated fat and most plant-based omega-3 fat of all common cooking oils.

Honey or Brown Sugar – Sweetener isn’t just for baked goods. Use a touch to help caramelize foods or bring out the natural sweetness in vegetables.

Low-Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth – Store-bought broth tends to contain higher amounts of salt, so look for low-sodium varieties. Boost flavor by using broth for homemade soup, whole grains or a braised dish.

Whole Wheat Flour – Flour is useful for thickening sauces or binding griddle cakes. Look for the white whole wheat kind, which has a lighter texture and still maintains the benefits of whole grain.

Canned Tomatoes – An essential building block for sauces, soups and stews, canned tomatoes are faster (and most times of the year tastier) to use than peeling, seeding and chopping your own. Again, select ones that are lower in sodium.

Source: CanolaInfo.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Smart Home Devices That Lead the Pack

January 23, 2015 4:48 am

Recent research from Experian Marketing Services found that nearly a third of all Americans use at least one type of smart or connected device. According to the research, 14 percent of homes are smart homes, featuring devices such as connected lights, locks, thermostats or electrical outlets. Since the beginning of November 2014, interest in leading smart home devices has increased 54 percent.

“As everyday things get smarter, consumers will grow more reliant on those things to process information and designated tasks autonomously. [Connected devices] will also allow consumers to ‘unglue’ their attention from computer, tablet and smartphone screens,” says John Fetto, Experian Marketing Services.

Since the beginning of November 2014, interest in leading smart home devices has increased 54 percent. Consumers helping to push these devices into the mainstream are highly connected both technologically and socially, and they are more than twice as likely as the average U.S. consumer to access social media from different devices.

“The rapidly growing trend of the Internet of Things manifested itself during the 2013 holiday season through the popularity of connected fitness trackers, but [in 2014], it was all about the emergence of smart home devices,” says Fetto.

According to Experian’s research, the hottest smart home device products based on share of top-branded search terms are:

• Nest Thermostat (21 percent)
• Dropcam (12 percent)
• ADT Pulse (5 percent)
• Phillips Hue (5 percent)
• Nest Dropcam (4 percent)
• Dropcam Pro (2 percent)
• Wemo (2 percent)
• Nest Protect (2 percent)
• Hue Lights (2 percent)

Source: Experian

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Watch for Ice Buildup at Home

January 22, 2015 4:45 am

Ice buildup is common following cold weather. Often, DIY experts suggest using a rake with wheels or panty hose filled with calcium chloride to clear ice, but the real solution is much simpler.

Ice buildup occurs when the roof (minus the eaves) is warmed by the house below it. Snow melts on the roof and drains down to the eaves, where it refreezes. Because heat flows by conduction, convection and radiation, the main culprit is not the home’s insulation – it’s air leakage.

Since warm air rises, the air in your home in winter ends up in your attic and roof cavity. Instead of adding more insulation, cooling the roof or warming the eaves, have your home air sealed.

To do that, have your home tested with a blower door for air leakage and for the attic's connection with the house – this will serve as the ‘before’ picture. Enlist the help of a BPI-certified air sealing company to seal the floor of the attic, underneath the insulation, with spray foam or another high-performance sealant. After the seal, test your home again to gauge your ‘after’ picture.

Source: IAER

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Home Maintenance Guide for All Seasons

January 22, 2015 4:45 am

(Family Features) Homeowners can save big on emergency repairs by completing a few home projects each season. From winter to spring and beyond, follow HomeAdvisor’s seasonal maintenance guide to avoid costly fixes throughout the year.

Winter
Refrigerator – Letting the coils behind your fridge build up with dirt and grime can decrease its efficiency and cost upwards of $300 to repair. Vacuum the coils thoroughly each winter.

Furnace – Rather than replace a neglected furnace, have it serviced to make sure it is operating safely and to its fullest capacity.
Spring
Plumbing – Small problems, such as a dripping faucet or clogged drain, can turn into big headaches if left unchecked, and repairing water damage can cost seven times more than hiring a plumber. Inspect all plumbing fixtures and call a plumber if you notice any leaks.

Roof – The average cost of replacing a roof is $7,744. Check for damage and make general repairs in the spring to extend its lifespan.
Summer
Paint – Completely repainting a home’s exterior costs an average of $3,180. Touch up your home’s exterior paint to protect against weather and insects.

Trees and shrubs – The average cost of trimming trees and shrubs is $577, but leaving them untrimmed can lead to roof damage – a far greater expense to repair.
Fall
Gutter and downspouts – Ignoring your gutters can affect the foundation of your home, leading to $4,000 or more in repair costs. To save money, clean the gutter and downspouts thoroughly each fall.

Windows and doors – Homeowners spend 40 percent on heating and air conditioning in a drafty home. Install weather stripping to prevent unwanted air from leaking into a home in winter. You’ll save long-term on utility bills.
Source: HomeAdvisor

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Pet Owners: 10 Questions to Ask Your Vet

January 22, 2015 4:45 am

Whether visiting for preventative measures or to treat an illness, your veterinarian may prescribe medication for your pet. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s important to fully understand the medication to ensure your pet’s continued good health or recovery.

If medication is prescribed during your next visit, ask your veterinarian these questions.

1. Why has my pet been prescribed this medication and how long do I need to give it?
Your veterinarian can tell you what the medication is expected to do for your pet and how many days to give it.

2. How do I give the medication to my pet? Should it be given with food?

Your pet may have fewer side effects from some medications if they are taken with food. Other medications are best to give on an empty stomach.

3. How often should the medication be given and how much should I give each time? If it is a liquid, should I shake it first?
Giving the right dose at the right time of the day will help your pet get better more quickly.

4. How do I store the medication?
Some medications should be stored in a cool, dry place. Others may require refrigeration.

5. What should I do if my pet vomits or spits out the medication?
Your veterinarian may want to hear from you if your pet vomits. You may be told to stop giving the drug or to switch your pet to another drug.

6. If I forget to give the medication, should I give it as soon as I remember or wait until the next scheduled dose? What if I accidentally give too much?
Giving your pet too much of certain medications can cause serious side effects. You’ll want to know if giving too much is a cause for concern and a trip to the animal emergency room.

7. Should I finish giving all of the medication, even if my pet seems to be back to normal?
Some medications, such as antibiotics, should be given for a certain length of time, even if your pet is feeling better.

8. Could this medication interact with other medications my pet is taking?
Always tell your veterinarian what other medications your pet is taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, and herbs or other dietary supplements. You may want to write these down and take the list with you to the vet’s office.

9. What reactions should I watch for, and what should I do if I see any side effects?
Your veterinarian can tell you if a reaction is normal or if it signals a serious problem. You may be asked to call your vet immediately if certain side effects occur.

10. When should I bring my pet back for a check-up? Will you be calling me to check on my pet’s progress, or should I call you?
Your vet may want to examine your pet or perform laboratory tests to make sure the medication is working as it should.

Source: FDA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Why Your Attic Could Be Draining Your Wallet

January 21, 2015 4:45 am

(BPT) - While homeowners may not immediately think of their attic as a major source of energy loss, the fact is, it is responsible for as much as 25 percent of the energy lost in the average American home. Air leakage, caused particularly by the attic, can place a strain on your wallet every month.

The good news is, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the attic is one of the easiest places within the home to address energy loss. There are several smart home renovation investments that homeowners can make to reduce excessive energy loss through the attic.

One of the most effective methods to eliminate air leakage (and live greener!) is insulating your attic with a high-performance solution. Traditional insulation is prone to sagging, which can leave gaps and absorb moisture, causing a significant loss of energy. Replace your home's insulation with a spray foam insulation to both insulate and air seal the entire attic space. According to insulation experts at Icynene, quality spray foam insulation can noticeably reduce heating and cooling costs – by up to 50 percent, in some cases!

And, a growing number of building professionals are recommending spray foam insulation as a valuable, cost-effective solution. Suitable for any climate, spray foam insulation helps retain conditioned air, allowing the heating and cooling equipment to work more efficiently rather than compensating for energy losses through the attic space.

Other solutions to energy loss are to have your home professionally caulked and sealed and to have whole house fans installed. These fans help by pulling air through the house and are particularly effective during warmer months.

You may also want to check if your home is outfitted with a polyolefin plastic house wrap, which is designed to minimize air leakage This type of wrap is commonly installed during the construction process as part of an integrated system.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Every First-Time Renter Should Do

January 21, 2015 4:45 am

There’s no question that renting presents a financial challenge for some millennials. If you’re considering making the leap to renting for the first time, weigh your options carefully by taking these steps. Preparing in advance will make you a happier renter – and lead to long-term savings.

Know your credit rating.
A landlord can and will consult your credit score before approving your lease. Before touring apartments, ensure your credit is good standing. Any discrepancies in your credit history can cost you your dream digs.

Have some money in the bank. If you’re serious about renting, save up at least three months worth of living expenses before moving in. Depending on your landlord’s policy, this will cover a security deposit or first and last’s month’s rent, as well as any unforeseen expenditures.

Shop within your budget. Stick to rentals that your budget can reasonably accommodate. Financial experts recommend spending no more than 30 percent of your monthly income on rent, but that’s not always a realistic number, especially in big cities. If you live in a high rent area, bump up your percentage to no more than 50 percent.

Factor in household items. Many first-time renters forget that everything in the apartment must be financed by their income, including small items such as toilet paper and garbage bags. Budget for household necessities, and while you’re at it, factor in renters insurance, too.

Stick to basic big ticket furniture. When you first start renting, avoid the temptation to furnish every square inch of your apartment. You only really need three things: a place to sleep, a place to sit and a place to eat. Other furnishings can come later, after you’ve established a workable monthly budget.

Learn to grocery shop. Instead of going out for meals or ordering takeout, spend some time in your local grocery store learning sales schedules. And get yourself a cookbook – preparing your meals on your own will save you hundreds in food costs each year.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Ways to Save Big on Winter Travel

January 21, 2015 4:45 am

Winter months are generally less expensive for travelers. Booking platform One Degree World (www.1degreeworld.com) recommends that snow birds take advantage of winter travel deals with these tips.

Choose your booking day wisely.
Try to book airfare mid-week and travel off-season, advises Aleza Freeman, One Degree World. “I always pick a general timeframe in which I’d like to travel, then let the prices dictate the actual dates,” she says. “If you can’t be flexible, try booking at the last-minute.”

Consider a stay-cation.
For those of us lucky enough to live in vacation areas, be a tourist in your own town. Oftentimes locals are eligible for huge discounts on hotels and attractions, and you just may discover some hidden gems you never knew existed.

Find local hot spots.

It’s no secret that prices skyrocket in tourist areas. Explore off the beaten path and go to local haunts, which are often less expensive than tourist trap establishments. “There’s absolutely no reason to stick to the typical attraction these days,” Freeman says.

Splurge on priorities.
If staying in the lap of luxury is your thing, don't skimp on the hotel. Instead, try to get a great deal on a flight. Are you a foodie? Make sure you eat at the best places, but look for lower priced hotels for your accommodations. "There's a deal out there for everything," Freeman says. "You just have to find the one that's right for you."

Source: One Degree World

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Ins and Outs of Building Permits

January 20, 2015 4:45 am

If you’re considering a home improvement project, you may need a permit. Permits can cost as little as $25 and up to $1,000 or more, or can be calculated as a percentage of the total remodeling budget.

How do you know if you need a permit? Permits are generally not necessary for projects that update the aesthetics of the home, such as new appliances, flooring and carpeting. Major renovations, such as a kitchen or bath remodel, almost always need a permit. A good rule of thumb is to evaluate whether the project will disrupt the layout of the home, i.e., cutting a new window or tearing down a load-bearing wall.

For safety purposes, some municipalities require permits for projects that can affect the wellbeing of the home’s occupants. These projects include things like electrical wiring, plumbing or a new fence.

If you’ll be enlisting the help of a qualified contractor, research their practices before hiring. Don’t be afraid to ask for the contact information of the person responsible for pulling permits, and verify that they are, in fact, playing by the book. Your contractor should also tell you if their estimate includes permit fees – if not, ask.

If you’re going to complete the work yourself, always check with your local permitting department before beginning any project. Talk to someone who can tell you whether a city inspection is necessary and what documents are needed before you apply.

Source: Homes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fiberglass Front Doors Bolster ROI

January 20, 2015 4:45 am

According to the recently released Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, entry doors offer the highest return on your remodeling dollar. The report found that by replacing an entry door, homeowners can expect almost 97 percent return on investment, a key factor when buying or selling a home.

"Consumers stand to recoup nearly all of their initial investment in the entry door when it comes time to sell their home," said Keith Kometer, VP of Residential Product Development for Masonite, a leading global designer and manufacturer of residential exterior and interior doors. "The value of a new entry door is due in part to the added level of security and durability it adds to a home, but it also adds to the home's overall curb appeal."

Curb appeal is key to attracting potential homebuyers. It is also important to homeowners looking for a simple, cost-effective way to enhance the look of their house.

"The front door can be an emotional focal point," said Kometer. "It's an important part of the overall feel of a home."

Fiberglass technologies bolster the financial ROI on the purchase of a new entry door. Some varieties will not rust or dent, and they resist splitting, cracking and warping.

"The cost to install a fiberglass door can be relatively low, especially compared to more intensive home improvement projects such as a kitchen remodel," said Kometer.

To get the most from your investment, entry doors should be tailored to the theme of the house. Replacing an entry door is easiest when the weather is still warm, but January and February are ideal months for homes in the Sun Belt region of the U.S.

Source: Masonite

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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