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

Extend Your Home's Square Footage with an Outdoor Living Room

June 24, 2014 1:33 am

(Family Features) The arrival of summer, along with its sunny skies and beautiful weather, beckons homeowners to create a space to entertain guests and enjoy the great outdoors. Design an outdoor living room that merges style and function, and incorporates elements of indoor comfort.

Arrange away
Treat your outdoor area as you would your living room. If space is limited, use sectionals to create seating in whatever arrangement fits best. Finish the look by layering your favorite accessories, such as handcrafted trays, detailed lanterns and a colorful floral arrangement to create a cheerful centerpiece.

Tie it all together
To let you in on a little secret — outdoor rugs tie everything together and really bring a space to life. Simply layer a rug with a beautiful seating collection, colorful cushions and pillows, and you’ve got an outdoor area that makes everyone comfortable and happy.

Embrace the bold
Some might be afraid to create a statement outside because — it’s outside. But an outdoor living space lends itself to adventures with color and pattern, providing the opportunity to be bold and to go beyond your comfort zone. When shopping for the outdoors, remember — anything goes.

Serve in style
Al fresco entertaining always focuses on food, drinks and friends. A self-service food station or bar enhances the casual tone, freeing guests to grab refreshments whenever they please. This also allows you, the host, to focus on the fun at hand. Look for serving and drink carts that maximize space.

Source: Pier 1 Imports

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5 Tips for a Graceful Social Media Exit

June 23, 2014 12:57 am

An active social media presence should be a core component of your organization's marketing strategy, but it’s important to recognize that not every social channel will be the right fit for your messages. If you’ve noticed stagnant activity on a particular social media channel in spite of your efforts to spur engagement, it might be because your audience is no longer present there. Reallocate your time and resources by making a graceful social exit using the following tips:

Do periodic reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of your social channels.
If you’ve been actively engaged for a while and you haven’t seen any return on your investment of time, you have two options: 1) invest more time in uncovering different strategies until you find something that sticks or 2) move on to a more appropriate social space that resonates better with your audience.

Thank them for their participation.
Whether you’re deleting your account or just leaving a bit of forwarding information, it’s still good to thank everyone who participated in discussions, sharing, or viewing of any of your posts. This shows that you appreciate the time and effort they put into you and your presence.

Let them know you’re leaving, and let them know why.
Announce on the social network that you’ll be exiting, that way any faithful friends or followers who would have wanted to engage with you will know why you’re suddenly silent. Be honest and sincere.

Leave a forwarding address or social channel.
Tell them how to find you. Let them know where you’ll be moving to, and how they can interact and engage with you in the next social space.

Set a firm date for exiting the account, and stick to it.
Put up a goodbye post, or leave a link to the next place. Take whatever strategy that feels right for you. Leave your post up for a sufficient amount of time and then remember to download any data you may need and actually go in at some point to close down the account so that you don’t miss any possible connections in the future.

Source: PR Toolkit

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7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Trip to the Farmer's Market

June 23, 2014 12:57 am

(BPT) - This time of year is about warm weather, vacations and relaxing afternoons. It also heralds the return of farmer’s markets. A trip to the market is a great opportunity to indulge in fresh, healthy produce and to expand your horizons by trying new items or preparing them in different ways.

Here are seven tips to make the most of your visit to the local farmer’s market:

• Note the hours and dates of your local market on your calendar. Set reminders on your smartphone that will alert you when favorite items such as tomatoes, peas, beans and strawberries come into season.

• Prepare your refrigerator and kitchen for the season's harvest. Clean out your fridge's produce drawer, and stock up on items that complement fresh produce, such as salad dressings and seasonings that can be used to turn basic veggies into delicious meals.

• While farmer’s market vendors will almost certainly have plastic bags on hand, take your own reusable bags or baskets to carry your purchase - they're better for Mother Nature. If you'll be buying perishable items, consider packing a cooler as well. Remember to place heavier items (like melons) on the bottom of the bag and lighter ones (such as berries) on top.

• You'll find the freshest produce and best selection early in the day. Setting your alarm to wake you a bit early could ensure you get the pick of the day's produce.

• Leave the $20 and $50 bills at home. Smaller bills will provide you with greater buying flexibility, and vendors will appreciate the change.

• Scope out the entire market before you begin making purchases. Certain popular items, such as tomatoes, cantaloupe, melons, peas and potatoes will be available from multiple vendors. Strolling through the market first will allow you to compare prices and taste samples to ensure you're picking the best and most delicious buys for your family.

• Unpack bags as soon as you're home and store each item appropriately. Create a menu plan for the week that incorporates everything you've purchased to help ensure nothing goes to waste. Don't forget to incorporate snacks into your meal plan.

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Are You Part of the Nonemployer Explosion?

June 23, 2014 12:57 am

I have been writing about home offices for some time—and for good reason. It appears that more people than ever are taking work home.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced that the number of businesses without paid employees in the U.S. reached 22.7 million in 2012, up 1.1 percent from 2011. That is one million more of these home-based ventures since 2009.

This marks the third straight annual increase in nonemployer businesses, which are businesses with no paid employees, annual business receipts of $1,000 or more ($1 or more in the construction sector) and are subject to federal income taxes.

William Bostic Jr., the associate director for economic programs at the Census Bureau observed in an agency release that nonemployer businesses represent entrepreneurship in perhaps its purest form, including the classic 'mom and pop' shops and people running businesses out of their homes.

This includes 19.6 million sole proprietorships, 1.4 million corporations and 1.7 million partnerships, which account for the total number of nonemployer businesses.

So if someone was interested in making their home more marketable to sell, what areas of the country are most likely to draw folks looking to establish a home based business?

The Census Bureau says Florida had the largest increase in nonemployer businesses, with 57,978 added in 2012. California (39,051), Texas (38,504) and New York (15,207) had the next highest increases.

California remains in the lead, however, with the largest number of nonemployer businesses - 2.9 million.

And if you think home based businesses are not huge contributors to the economy, think again. The Census report states that the total annual receipts for nonemployer businesses were $1 trillion in 2012, an increase of $41.3 billion from the year before.

Considering that the rate of home based business operations is showing no sign of weakening, we will continue to focus on various aspects of establishing, designing and effectively utilizing space where homeowners can work while enjoying the shortest commute possible!

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4 Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults

June 20, 2014 1:12 am

Whether you’re settling into your 60s or heading into your ninth decade, you should be extra careful when taking prescription and over-the-counter medicines. And if you’re caring for older loved ones, you should help them stay safe. The older you get, the more likely you are to be prescribed to additional medicines, which can increase the chance of harmful drug interactions.

Avoid these risks by following these FDA medication guidelines:

1. Take medicine as prescribed. Take your medicine regularly and according to your healthcare provider’s instructions. Don’t skip doses or stop taking medication without first consulting with your provider. (This holds true even if you’re feeling better or if you think the medicine isn’t working.) If you’re having bothersome side effects or have other questions, talk to your healthcare provider.

2. Keep a medication list. Write down what you’re taking and keep the list with you. Consider giving a copy to a friend or loved one that you trust—an important step especially in the event of an emergency and when you’re traveling.

Record the medicine’s brand name, if applicable, and generic name. Also write down how often and what dosage you take. (For instance, one pill daily, 300 mg.) Finally, note when you take each.

3. Be aware of potential interactions. Interactions can occur when:

• One drug affects how another drug works;
• A medical condition you have makes a certain drug potentially harmful;
• A food or non-alcoholic drink reacts with a drug;
• A medicine interacts with an alcoholic drink.

Learn which interactions are possible by carefully reading the drug facts label on over-the-counter drugs and the information that comes with your prescription medications, and by reviewing any special instructions with your healthcare provider. For instance, some medications should not be taken with alcohol, as symptoms such as loss of coordination and memory loss can occur.

If you’re seeing multiple healthcare providers, tell each one about all of your medications and supplements. You can also ask your pharmacist about potential interactions.

4. Review medications with your healthcare provider. Schedule at least one annual review of your medications with your healthcare provider to confirm which medications are still necessary and which you can stop taking (if any). If a certain medication seems out of your budget, ask your healthcare provider whether there is a cheaper, and still effective, alternative. This review can help you avoid potential interactions and can even lessen costs.

Source: FDA.gov

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Brighten Up Your Summer with Fresh Decor Trends

June 20, 2014 1:12 am

Bring the warm, sunny days of summer into your home while embracing some of the season's latest trends. Incorporate these decor tips to brighten up your space:

• Look for unique geometric prints or patterns and utilize them in your decor whenever possible. Try them on fabrics, rugs and tiles for a fun update to any room.
• This summer, go matte when it comes to things like glass, tile, wood flooring, countertops, cabinets and natural woods. This modern finish is in full force and applies to elements that would normally have a polished or glossy finish.
• Refresh old bedding with a simple duvet and shams in a crisp, clean white for summer. Add a pop of color with accent pillows and a brightly colored quilt or throw that can be changed out easily and regularly.
• Replace traditional blinds with simple drapery panels, fabric roman or woven wood shades to bring natural light and a modern feel into a space.
• From chair frames to wood flooring, natural toned woods are gaining popularity this season—it's no longer just for rustic or reclaimed furniture. Use this wood for a more contemporary, on-trend look.
• A bold patterned rug can anchor a room and pull together any color palette. Stick to solid shades for the rest of the room and tie it all together by pulling from the colors found in the rug.

Source: Ace Hardware

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Do You Have Good Water Sense?

June 20, 2014 1:12 am

(BPT) - When you turn on the water faucet in your kitchen, do you think about the water that goes down the drain without being used in any way? Or have you wondered how you might be able to reduce your water bill?

Have good water sense and cut water usage in your home and backyard with these tips:

Toilets - If you have a toilet manufactured before 1992, it's the biggest water hog in your home. These fixtures use about six gallons of water per flush, according to the EPA. New high-efficiency toilets use less per flush, and thanks to better flushing technology, there’s no sacrifice in performance.

Faucets - Leaky faucets or faucets without new aerators could be wasting water right before your eyes. Invest in new faucets that produce less water per minute, and remember to turn off the water when it's not in use. When brushing teeth or washing hands, for example, only let the water run when you need it for rinsing.

Gardening and lawns - Everyone wants a green and healthy-looking lawn and garden in the summer, but many homeowners actually overwater the lawn. For sprinkler systems, there are high-tech sensors that only turn on the sprinklers when the soil is too dry. There are also systems that connect to local weather systems to program when the water will turn on. In addition, it is best to install sprinkler heads that apply water directly to the plants instead of allowing the water to blow away and evaporate in the air. Rain catchers can be a great natural supplement to water needed for your gardens.

Laundry - The average family washes between seven and eight loads of laundry per week, according to the EPA. This number might be even higher for larger families and those who wash reusable diapers (which also has its environmental benefits). For traditional laundry machines, each load requires nearly 41 gallons of water. To help cut down on the water needed for your laundry, be sure to only run a load when the machine is full. If your machine is older, consider replacing it with an Energy-Star high-efficiency model, which can use 35 to 50 percent less water.

Source: EPA.gov

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Three Ways Your Family Can Create a More Sustainable Household

June 19, 2014 12:36 am

(Family Features) - Just because school is out, doesn’t mean learning has to stop. The summer months are a great opportunity for families to spend time together and see firsthand that small actions to live more sustainably can together make a big impact on the future. Get your family in on the action and encourage others to adopt sustainable habits at home with these tips from Unilever:

Go Green in Your Bathroom
Nearly 40 percent of Americans toss plastic bottles from the bathroom in the trash, not realizing that along with cardboard product packaging and toilet paper spools, many bathroom toiletry bottles are recyclable. There’s also some fun up-cycling you can do to make use of empty plastic bottles. Turn your empty bottles into a handy caddy for everything from keys to mobile phones — a craft that’s perfect for kids to create for everyone in the house.

One Ingredient, Five Ways
Each year the world produces about 1,477 pounds of edible food for every person on the planet, but only about half of that is ever eaten. Empower the kids of the household to plan a menu for the week by thinking up five meals with one main ingredient, and teach the entire family that simple ingredients can go a long way. Challenge your children to get creative with their menu planning.

Be Your Own Farmer’s Market
Growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and positively impact the environment. Add some fresh flavor to your next family dinner by up-cycling empty containers like mayonnaise jars to create a garden of your favorite herbs and vegetables.

Source: Unilever

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Sure-footed Tips for Choosing New Flooring

June 19, 2014 12:36 am

(BPT) - When spring cleaning uncovers a worn floor, it may be time to consider purchasing a new one, especially if you're selling your home in the near future. A new floor, like refreshed paint and updated fixtures, makes a home more enjoyable to live in as well as more marketable.

Floor purchases are often postponed because homeowners are confused about how to make a selection. But Erinn Valencich, celebrity designer and contestant on NBC's reality home- design show, American Dream Builders, says choosing a floor is easier than you think. She offers three easy steps to help guide you through the process:

1. Think color first. When redoing a room, always starts with fabric swatches to determine a color palette. So if you're refreshing a room, you'll want to select a floor that will complement the new color palette of your fabrics and walls. Find a floor color that contrasts with the walls and furniture in the room. If you have rich, dark walls, a lighter floor creates a dramatic difference. White and light walls may look more dramatic when paired with mid-tone or dark floors.

2. Choose your style. With the resurgence of vintage looks in furniture and accessories, reclaimed, time-worn and rustic textures are extremely popular while smooth surfaces are always a classic. Try combining a rustic textured floor with the clean lines of a contemporary space. There's no right or wrong, so choose what speaks to you and your style.

3. Visualize your floor in your home. When you've narrowed your choices, it's time to visualize the new floors in your home. There are several ways to do this. Most manufacturers provide some type of visualization tool on their websites. Once you've narrowed your choices even further, it's best to see actual flooring samples in your room with available light. Samples can either be ordered online or checked-out from your local retailer. It's wise to involve your retailer early on in the process; he or she can provide great information on product specifications, durability and maintenance. Your retailer will also measure the room, order flooring and arrange installation.

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Top 4 National Parks to Visit This Summer

June 19, 2014 12:36 am

The United States is home to 59 national parks, according to luxury vacation provider Travel To Go. With many diverse parks spanning the country, the accommodation site encourages travelers to opt for vacations at national parks this summer. Travel To Go recommends adventure seekers visit these top four parks:

1. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It's no wonder the Smokies are America's most visited park. The park boasts 800 miles of hiking trails through the Appalachian Mountains, with some of the mountains peaks as high as a staggering 6,000 feet. The park is also peppered with many waterfalls, rivers and streams. What makes this National Park so popular is its diversity and the wide array of activities it offers visitors.

2. The Grand Canyon
The second most visited park is said to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Depending on the angle and the location of the sun, this park changes features frequently making virtually every photo opportunity unique. Aside from the breathtaking geography of the canyon and the panoramic view, the Colorado River below is nothing to scoff at. The whitewater rafting is second-to-none and runs from challenging to expert. Attracting hikers, the canyon offers a moderate level hike to one that is longer and requires more skill.

3. Yosemite National Park

Ranked as the third most visited park, this central California Park is roughly the size of Rhode Island. Best known for its breathtaking waterfalls, the park is also popular for its granite cliffs, sequoias and wildlife, which bring millions of visitors each year to rock climb, hike, bike and take photos. Travel To Go recommends visiting early in June when the snow melt feeds the waterfalls, however, there really is no bad time to visit the park.

4. Yellowstone National Park

No. 4 on the list is known for its geysers, grizzlies and bison. The most popular geyser, Old Faithful, garners so much attention that traffic jams are not unusual. Yellowstone boasts the honor of being America's first national park. Travelers looking for the best time to visit the park will want to plan a trip after May, as the roads are open all around the park by that time.

Source: Travel to Go

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