RE/MAX 440
Margaret Schickling

Margaret Schickling
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880  Skippack  PA 19474
Phone:  610-584-1160
Office:  610-584-1160
Cell:  610-802-0891
Fax:  267-354-6252

My Blog

How to Plan Your Outdoor Space

March 19, 2018 1:57 am

If you’re a new homeowner - or a veteran homeowner who’s ready for a change - it’s a wise idea to approach your landscaping and outdoor living space with a well thought-out gameplan. Here are some steps to follow for creating a yard that will serve as a welcome extension of your home.

Start by considering how you’ll use the space. While your home may already have a front porch or back deck, there may be an area of your yard that you envision using more, so plan accordingly.

Take a good look at existing trees, shrubs and large plants and consider whether they should stay put or be relocated based on how you will use your yard.

Consider privacy. How important is privacy to you? Determine whether you’ll want to install fences or a row of trees to create a privacy barrier for your most frequented outdoor space.

Think about what amenities are most important to you. Do you plan on entertaining a lot? Then an outdoor kitchen and/or bar may be part of your plans. Cozy, quiet evenings outside? A small firepit or chiminea will do the trick.

Consider furnishings. Outdoor furniture has advanced to new heights, these days. Will you want a full set of cushioned chairs and couches? An outdoor carpet? Or will a simple set of adirondack chairs and a teak table set for dining suffice? Map out what will best suit your space and your lifestyle needs.

Plan for lighting. No matter how simple or extravagant your outdoor space becomes, the right lighting is essential. Plan on a mix of pathway lights and spotlights for practicality. Solar options are ideal. Also consider decorative options, such as string lights and lanterns for ambience.

Plant wisely. Make sure you choose plants that suit your level of gardening enthusiasm. If you’re looking for minimal maintenance, stick with perennials, evergreens and grasses. If gardening is your passion, go for more elaborate flowers and shrubs that flourish with extra care.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Kickstart Healthy Habits

March 19, 2018 1:57 am

(Family Features)--When it seems that everyone around you is feeling under the weather, you can be your own best line of defense against getting sick. Help ward off sickness for yourself and your family with these self-care tips that help promote healthy habits and fight off illness.

Eat right. A diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables can give your body the immunity-boosting nutrients it needs to function properly. Avoid excess, empty calories and instead aim for meals that deliver a healthy balance of all food groups.

Wash, wash, wash. Kids and bacteria go hand-in-hand, literally. Kids' hands are everywhere, including some surfaces that may be more susceptible to bacteria. Hand-washing is a simple way to encourage healthy habits all year round. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand-washing is an important step to help avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.  

Get up and move. Exercise is one of your strongest weapons against illness. A regular routine that gets your blood pumping is good for overall health and your immune system. It can help flush toxins and keep your body in top condition.

Just say no. When it comes to protecting yourself and your family, give yourself permission to draw hard lines about spending time with those who aren't feeling well. Reschedule play dates or other events that might unnecessarily expose your family to germs.

Rest up. When your sleep schedule is off, so is your whole system, and that makes you more susceptible to illness. Everyone's precise sleep requirements are different; you'll know you're getting enough if you feel rested when you wake up. If you're not, and more overnight rest isn't realistic, look for ways to sneak in some extra rest time during the day.

Enjoy the outdoors. Even when it's cooler than you'd like, brief time outdoors can do plenty to lift your spirits and, in turn, your overall well-being. The fresh air and vitamin D from a bright, sunny day are free and easy ways to give your body a boost and help ward off illness.

Source: Softsoap

Published with permission from RISMedia.


4 Cocktail Party Tips for Newbies

March 15, 2018 1:45 am

One of the best ways to ease into home entertaining is the cocktail party: it’s festive, yet relaxed, and saves you the stress and expense of providing a full-course meal. A cocktail party also places understood parameters on the length of the party, denoting an affair that takes place prior to dinner.

If you’re new to cocktail parties, however, it’s easy to get tripped up in the do’s and don’ts. Here are some great tips from the experts at for making your cocktail party a great success:

Keep the guest list in check. While too few people will make any party a bust, cocktail parties should be fairly intimate in nature as opposed to an all-out bash. Aim for a dozen or so guests.

Streamline the cocktails. Have enough beer and wine on hand to accommodate your guests, then make your party festive by serving one or two specialty cocktails to suit the season, such as margaritas and cosmos in summer, or Manhattans and martinis in winter. Pre-mix your specialty cocktails and have them available in decorative decanters or pitchers so that guests can help themselves.

Have enough food, but not too much. Resist the urge to go overboard on food by keeping in mind that guests are not expecting dinner. Prepare a couple of hot hors d’oeuvres, then make the rest no-prep items, such as olives, seasoned nuts, one or two fine cheeses, and crudites.

Do all your prep in advance. Most importantly, make sure all your work is done in advance so that you can actually participate and enjoy your party. Make your hot appetizers ahead of time, place everything out before guests arrive, including small plates, napkins, water and anything else that might be needed so that you’re not running around handling requests. All that’s left to do? Enjoy!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Ways to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace

March 15, 2018 1:45 am

(Family Features)--Although women are making strides in the corporate world, there is still work that can be done to level the landscape.

Research from Catalyst, a global nonprofit focused on empowering and accelerating women in business, shows the needle is moving, albeit slowly. In nearly 10 years, the number of women in senior roles in the United States increased just 1 percent. At Standard & Poor's 500 index companies, overall women's representation is far behind: 5.2 percent CEOs, 11 percent top earners and 26.5 percent senior-level officials and managers. Less than 5 percent of senior level positions are held by women of color. Men still lead more than 95 percent of the most powerful companies in the United States.

If you're looking for ways to promote change in your workplace, explore these five steps that can help build a work environment where everyone can advance and succeed:

Engage in programs that celebrate women of color. Tap into resources that honor women in leadership and foster growth for aspiring women leaders from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, such as those available through Catalyst. The nonprofit offers a host of ongoing workshops, programs, trainings and consulting services designed to promote inclusive workplaces, along with events around the world. For example, the "Catalyst Skyline Takeover," which is a visual realization of the international business community's commitment to greater diversity, inclusion and gender equality in workplaces around the world features dozens of global companies "lighting up" their buildings with the female symbol.

Assess and formalize pay scales. As numerous studies indicate, wage disparity is one of the most obvious signs of inequality in the workplace. A fair pay scale outlines specific responsibilities and corresponding compensation rates and can be applied to roles across the board regardless of race, gender or other potential discriminatory factors.

Ensure growth opportunities exist. Leveling the pay scale is an important step, but ensuring equal access to the positions at the higher end of that scale is an essential supporting move. Simply saying you'll pay a woman the same as a man in the same job falls short if all candidates, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity are not given the same chance to compete for more senior positions.

Implement mentorship programs. Positive role models can give future leaders the vision to dream big and the guidance to make those dreams a reality. Putting aspiring women leaders in close contact with other women who have attained success in their field helps set a course toward achievement. It also helps men to advance and develop unbiased leadership. Since the majority of business leaders are currently men, change for women can only be accelerated if all those in leadership positions work together.

Support parental involvement. Historically, the issue of parenting and the workforce has been dominated by discussions around maternity leave policies, but more recently, that dialogue has evolved. Men, too, desire more time with their families, and through equal parental leave policies, workplaces can allow women and men within all types of family structures to thrive in their careers and at home.

Source: Catalyst

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Prevent Home Flooding Disasters

March 15, 2018 1:45 am

When it comes to home damage, a busted pipe can create major havoc. But how can you plan ahead to save your space for water damage?

"The best solution is prevention," says Michael Petri, owner of Petri Plumbing & Heating. Below are Petri's top prevention tips.

Locate and tag your valves. It's important to be able to locate and turn off a main water or gas valve quickly in case of emergency. Petri offers this as a free service, but most plumbers will find and tag these for you.

Inspect and maintain your pipes. Most home flooding damage is caused by corroded, rusty or frozen pipes. Have your pipes inspected annually to check for problems and proper insulation. Even with spring around the corner, temperatures are still dipping below freezing, and burst pipes are still a possibility.

Look for signs of a problem. Pay attention to signs of a leak, including an increase in your water bill, banging pipes, rust stains, moisture on the walls or floor, or wet soil at the foundation. Also, search for weaknesses in supply and drain lines around toilets, water heaters and washing machines.

Protect drain lines. Never pour grease down the drain. Plant trees away from drain lines so roots won't damage pipes. If you live downhill or below street level, you may need a plumber to install a backflow prevention assembly to prevent sewer drainage from backing up.

Tackle problems quickly and professionally. If you suspect a leak or other plumbing issue, don't procrastinate repairs or have someone who isn't qualified attempt the project. A minor inconvenience can become a major problem if it isn't handled quickly and effectively. You risk more significant damage to floors or ceilings, as well as possible mold contamination.

Source: Petri Plumbing & Heating

Published with permission from RISMedia.


There’s an App for Personal Finance, Too

March 14, 2018 1:42 am

Where would we be without our favorite apps? From tracking our steps to buying our movie tickets, smartphone applications have enhanced and simplified our lives on many levels. According to financial expert and author Eric Tyson, you can also make your financial life easier and more convenient with personal finance apps.

While not every app is right for every person, Tyson, the author of “Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s For Dummies®” says the following personal finance apps are usually safe bets:

FRED. The St. Louis Fed's signature economic database, FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data), provides a wealth of data on the economy and financial markets through this app, without ads.

Vanguard. According to Tyson, the Vanguard app "has a broad array of cost-effective funds with solid long-term performance.” He also recommends the T. Rowe Price and Fidelity apps, and advises checking to see what apps are offered from your favorite investment firm or bank.

Goodbudget. Tyson likes the simplicity and practicality of this expense-tracking app. The basic version provides up to one year of expense-tracking history in 10 main categories. There’s also a paid or premium version, which provides up to five years of expense tracking with unlimited categories, as well as email support.

GasBuddy. This free app will show you gas prices at various service stations in your area so you can compare and get a good price when you fill up.

Tollsmart Toll Calculator. This is a low-cost app that lets you compare toll costs for alternative routes.

Camelcamelcamel. A price tracker that scans items on Amazon, shows you their price history, and sends you alerts when a product you're interested in drops in price.

PriceGrabber. This app scans items everywhere online, allowing you to save money on commonly purchased items.

Eric Tyson, MBA, is a best-selling personal finance author, counselor, and writer. He is the author of five national best-selling financial books including “Investing For Dummies,” “Personal Finance For Dummies,” and “Home Buying Kit For Dummies.” He has appeared on NBC's Today show, ABC, CNBC, FOX News, PBS, and CNN.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Make a Living Landscape

March 14, 2018 1:42 am

Whether you just moved into a new home with a less than optimal landscape, or you're ready to revamp the landscape in your existing spot, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) shares these tips to help homeowners become backyard ready and make the most of their outdoor living room.

Assess the Existing Living Landscapes. Take a look at what currently exists in your yard to determine what you love about it and what you’d like to change. Don’t be afraid to ask the previous owner about the plantings. They might be able to provide a list of landscape items to make your job easier.

Plan for Outdoor Living. Determine what will work with the existing living landscape for your entire family, including your kids and pets. Take into account your family needs and lifestyle. Then, research options for enhancing your family yard with hardy turfgrass, climate-appropriate plants and a mix of adaptive and native plants to foster biodiversity. Plant to preserve your corner of the ecosystem with a good mix of grass, trees, shrubs and flowering plants to support our pollinator friends: birds, bees and butterflies. 

Plant With Your Pets in Mind. If you have a turfgrass lawn, you’ve got a playground. However, you should know that there are many types of grasses—and some are better than others for pets, especially dogs. Also, if your yard has artificial or synthetic grass, you’ll want to replace it with real turf. Plastic grass is bad for the environment, hard to keep clean, and can get too hot for your pet’s paws. And, remember, avoid toxic plants that can be harmful to pets.

Remember: Right Plant, Right Place. When you’re ready to dig in and plant in your family yard, remember the “Golden Rule” of living landscapes: put the right plant in the right place. Select plants that will thrive in your climate zone. The microclimate in your new neighborhood may be very different from the one you just moved from—even if you didn’t relocate a great distance. Familiarize yourself with your plant hardiness zone to determine what types of turf, trees, shrubs and plants will thrive in your new location. 

Learn About Restrictions and Rules. Some neighborhoods with homeowners associations (HOAs) have restrictions about what you can and cannot plant in your yard. Other communities may have watering limitations during part of the year requiring a smart irrigation system. Become familiar with the rules so you can plan accordingly.

Conduct an Outdoor Power Equipment Inventory. The power equipment you needed at your previous home may not suffice at the new property, or perhaps it’s time to upgrade your equipment to better suit your needs. Take an inventory of your existing outdoor power equipment (lawn mower, leaf blower, etc.) and match it against the needs of your yard. At the very least, now’s also a good time to get your outdoor power equipment serviced for the upcoming season.

Source: OPEI,,

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Small Changes for Better Living

March 14, 2018 1:42 am

(Family Features)--A busy schedule doesn't have to prevent you from taking steps toward a lifestyle that fosters overall well-being. There are many easy, small changes you can make toward better living that can make a noticeable impact.

1. Choose the long route. For many people, it's an automatic move to find the closest parking space that’s located the shortest distance to the door. With your lifestyle goals in mind, consider taking a different approach. Look for ways to work in more physical activity. Seek out a spot in the back of the parking lot as an opportunity to increase your steps for the day, or choose the longer scenic route when walking your dog at the park for a more pleasant experience all-around.

2. Go for guilt-free snacks. Better living isn't about giving up everything you like; it's about balance and moderation. Look for snacks made with real, premium ingredients like dark chocolate or crunchy California almonds.

3. Take time to recharge. Even when you're strapped for time, carving out a few minutes for yourself each day to focus on your mental well-being is important. This can include simply enjoying a few moments of silence or something more specific like meditating or journaling. Busy people tend to carry more stress, so looking for ways to inject these calming activities into daily schedules can help keep you refreshed and bring you more happiness.

4. Practice self-care. Especially when you're busy, it's easy to slack on self-care, but combine that with elevated stress and you may be especially susceptible to not feeling your best. Give yourself a boost with a daily vitamin or try a warm bath with Epsom salt to soothe your senses.

5. Space out your meals. Waiting hours to eat can cause people to overeat at major meal times—especially dinner. Taking time to plan simple snacks throughout the day helps ensure cravings are met and overeating is avoided when the dinner bell rings. Consider keeping a snack on-hand for guilt-free snacking when hunger strikes.

Source: Nonni's Foods

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Green Your Home for St. Pattys

March 12, 2018 1:33 am

Going green for St. Patty's doesn't always mean wearing your favorite emerald t-shirt or adding dye to a batch of cookies. You can make eco-friendly choices to "green" your life, starting with yor home.

Appliance upgrade. If you have a tired old appliance, like a fridge, washing machine, dishwasher or toilet, consider a new, energy-approved version to slash energy costs and consumption.

Switch to less caustic cleaners. Choose a natural cleaner to keep your home spotless. You can easily make your own with vinegar and baking soda, or head to the natural aisle of the store for premade options.

Lights out. Choose one or two days a week where the lights are out early in your house to slash energy consumption. You don't need to send everyone to bed early. Instead, have the whole family congregate in one room to make use of light for reading, web browsing, or even better - game night!

Buy local. Creating a St. Patty's feast? Consider buying as many local ingredients as you can, which supports the local economy and cuts down your carbon footprint as the goods did not need to travel. Local farms often have cabbage and potatoes this time of year, or seek out locally produced canned goods, bread, and even beer!

Use less. Put a paper ban on your home. Make grocery lists digitally, keep a white board for notes and reminders, and stash reusable bags in the car for trips to the store.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Avoid Problems with Your Spring Renovations and Repairs

March 12, 2018 1:33 am

As soon as winter weather starts giving way to fairer days, folks start itching to get any planned repairs, maintenance and renovations started.

If you want to protect yourself from rogue and incompetent builders, take some advice from the Connecticut Better Business Bureau's Howard Schwartz who suggests a few time-honored procedures.

Schwartz says it is essential to obtain multiple estimates before signing a contract. Study these estimates to learn what type of work is needed, the quality of materials they plan to use, how long the job may take, and its total cost.

Schwartz says details may vary, but if one estimate is substantially lower than the others, ask why. Here are a few more tips:

Check to learn how long a contractor has been in business, contact information, verified customer reviews, complaint details, and how the business responded.

Don’t be lured into signing a contract if someone offers a ‘today only’ special. That is a sales tactic designed to get you to sign a contract or put down a deposit without giving you an opportunity to do your research.

Obtain references from recent customers. You may want to speak with other property owners who had work done recently.

Get everything in writing. All verbal promises should be contained in the contract, as well as a detailed description of the type of work needed, the quality of materials, how long the job may take, specifics about the deposit and payment schedule ,and guarantees for the quality of work and materials.

Pulling permits. Contractors should obtain necessary permits as part of the job. If they’d rather not go for permits, it might be a warning sign.

Compare apples to apples. Choosing a prospective contractor is simpler if you ask for quotes based on the number of hours needed and the same quality of materials.

Finally, avoid putting down a large deposit. Schwartz says a typical schedule follows the “Rule of Thirds.” The first payment is made when signing the contract, the second when work begins, and the final payment when the job is finished and you are satisfied with the quality of work.

Published with permission from RISMedia.