Kerry Ziegler
Phone:  215-679-6877Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  kzhomes@comcast.netFax:  267-354-6922
Kerry Ziegler
Kerry Ziegler

My Blog

3 Ways to Keep Tires Safe during Wet Fall Weather

November 10, 2014 2:10 am

In order to stay safe during stormy weather this fall, here are 3 safety tips for driving on wet roads:

Reduce speed - When roads are slick, stopping distances are longer than usual. In fact, stopping on a wet road can take up to four times longer than on a dry road. So, to keep yourself and your passengers safe, take your foot off the gas when the rain is coming down.

Keep a thick tire tread - Wear on a tire or poor drainage on the road will lead to an inability to move water out of the way fast enough, often causing a loss of control when steering. In fact, the primary function of tread on a tire is to divert water from beneath the tire to improve traction and avoid hydroplaning. Tires become unsafe when the tread is worn down to 1/16th of an inch. When tread is worn down, it can also make a tire more susceptible to a puncture caused by debris and road hazards.

Invest in a tire protection system - A tire is most reliable when it is properly pressurized and protected from punctures. One of the best ways to ensure this is through tire sealant. In addition to its ability to prevent flats by coating the inside of tires with a gel-like coating that's six times stronger than steel, the tire protection system helps to maintain tire pressure. The product lowers tire operating temperature, thereby helping tires to keep their set-point pressures by eliminating porosity air loss.

Source: www.ride-on.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Best Ways to Stay Healthy when Flying

November 7, 2014 2:00 am

Ebola cropping up on American shores has spawned a wave of fear and concern. But as health experts remind us, the dread disease can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is symptomatic. As such, Ebola need not be of great concern to the average airline traveler.

But picking up cold and flu germs on an airplane is a commonplace complaint.  Yahoo! Travel experts provide these tips for staying healthy when you fly:

Wipe your seat with antibacterial wipes – Bacteria hides, and chances are the flight crew did little more before you boarded than get rid of the trash from the last flight. Ignore the funny looks you get and use those wipes on your seat, arm rests, and backrest.

Stay hydrated – Drinking plenty of fluids in-flight helps prevent a chain reaction that leaves you prone to catching something nasty in the very dry air on planes.

Don’t trust the restroom water – Not even to wash your hands. Planes fill up their water tanks wherever they are serviced, and since you don’t know where that might have been, stick to antibacterial wipes and bottled drinking water.

Use only packaged blankets and pillows – Who knows what germs might be lingering in blankets and pillows used by previous passengers? Those that have been laundered are wrapped in plastic, so if the ones you are offered are not wrapped, use your sweater or jacket instead.

Get your travel shots well in advance – It takes seven to 10 days for a shot – whether it’s a simple flu shot or a hepatitis A vaccine for third world travel – to build immunity. Don’t wait till the last minute to be inoculated.

Don’t touch – The more surfaces you touch on a plane, the more likely you will pick up germs. Keep your hands to yourself – or invest in some thin cotton gloves.

Think about wearing a surgical mask – If you’re not in Asia, this could be a tough sell, but wearing one could dramatically reduce your chances of picking up germs from the passenger next to or around you.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Ways a Power Outage Can Cost You Money

November 7, 2014 2:00 am

Despite increases in their frequency and severity, many people who have never experienced a power outage still view outages as merely inconvenient. But they are more than inconvenient; they leave homeowners unable to live life as normal. Research shows that in any given month millions of Americans could be without power, with or without a major storm.

Beyond disrupting everyday life, a power outage lasting just a day or two could cost a homeowner several thousand dollars.

Extended power outages can impact your checkbook in many ways:

Lost refrigerated and frozen goods. The USDA recommends throwing away refrigerated foods stored for more than two hours at over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, because refrigerators and freezers can't stay cold without electricity. For a family with a full-stocked freezer and fridge, that means a loss of at least $200 in tossed food.

Damage to your home.
Without power, sump pumps can't run, putting homes at risk for flooding, and fans and dehumidifiers can't operate to help dry out a wet basement. A power outage during a severe storm can destroy basements and pose significant hazards to homeowners. Basic costs to pump out and thoroughly dry a basement lightly flooded with clean water can start between $500-$1,500 and increase to $2,000-$10,000. But a flooded basement can be prevented, even during the most severe storms, with a home backup generator.

Expenses from staying at a hotel or eating out. If you don't have heat or running water, you might have to move the family into a hotel for a night or two. Add restaurant tabs to that and you've lost another couple hundred dollars.

Additional costs for short-term goods. If you choose to remain in your home, you will need to invest in batteries for radios and flashlights, coolers to store food, and ice to keep that food cold. Incidental costs can range from $200 to $500.

Loss of income. Depending upon the impact on your home and family, you might have to spend a few days away from work. If you work from home, you stand to potentially lose your entire income during a power outage.

Having an automatic home backup power system can help to avoid these costs, and other costs, related to power outages.

A few essential precautions you should take in preparation for severe weather is to stock up on items, like food and water, and make necessary fixes, like boarding windows. Listen to a NOAA battery-operated weather radio for critical information from the National Weather Service. Also, avoid using electrical equipment and telephones. You should use battery powered TVs and radios instead.

Source: www.generac.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Know When to Hold or Pitch Common Household Items

November 7, 2014 2:00 am

Every few weeks, I question whether it's time to pitch out certain household items. While many things we use around the home including most food items have expiration dates, are they really a valid indicator that the item in question is obsolete?

A recent post at grandparents.com responds to that concern with a list of the top 10 household items you should replace. So if you are wondering if it's time to pitch or hold onto certain things around the house, consider these particular items:

Sponges - Filled with bacteria and mold, they're the top source of germs in your home, according to WebMD. To prevent your sponges and scrubbers from becoming encrusted with microscopic filth, swap them out every month or as soon as they begin to have a bad odor. Preserve them on a daily basis by throwing them in the dishwasher - the heat will kill germs and keep your family healthier.

Herbs & Spices - Old bottles of dried herbs and spices won't hurt you, says nutrition expert Janet Brill, there are no health concerns, they simply lose their potency. Seasoning purveyor McCormick these guidelines for shelf life:
  • Ground spices: 3 to 4 years
  • Whole spices: 4 years
  • Leafy herbs: 1 to 3 years
  • Bottled seasoning blends: 1 to 2 years
Faded color and loss of aroma are two other ways to identify old herbs and spices.

OTC Meds - Follow the "spring cleaning" rule, says Marjorie Phillips, Pharmacy Coordinator for Georgia Regents Medical Center and member of the FDA Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee. Once a year, around the same time, throw out all expired prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Expiration dates guarantee that, with proper storage in a cool, dry place, the drug will retain 90 percent of its original potency until that date, she says. Afterward, the medication may have degraded enough to lose potency or, even worse, contain harmful degradation-related byproducts.

Tetracycline is one drug whose byproducts can cause injury if it's been sitting around for too long, but Phillips recommends checking with a pharmacist about individual meds. Medication doesn't magically stop working on the expiration date; it's just safest to follow that guideline according to Phillips.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Simple Swaps for Healthier Holidays

November 6, 2014 12:39 am

(Family Features) Rich, decadent, calorie-laden foods go hand-in-hand with the holidays. By choosing better-for-you snacks and swapping ingredients in some of your favorite recipes, you can keep the pounds from creeping up as you celebrate this season.

You can satisfy your cravings and stay full by consuming high-quality, protein-rich foods with fewer calories and lower saturated fat. Exchanging sugary treats and unhealthy ingredients for flavorful, more nutritious options will let you still enjoy your holiday treats without the guilt (or added weight) when the festivities have passed.

Stay on track for healthier, happier holidays this year with these tips:
  • Plan ahead before you hit the party buffet table by eating a protein and fiber-rich light meal or snack beforehand.
  • Limit your alcohol and intake of sweetened drinks; flush your system with water.
  • In place of candy and sweets, keep healthy nibbles on hand, such fruits, nuts and steamed or dried edamame. Individual packages of these nutritious snacking options also make excellent stocking stuffers.
  • For sweet, rich, baked goods such as cookies, soft-yeast breads and quick breads, swap some of the traditional flour with soy flour, which will substitute for up to 30 percent of the wheat or rye flour.
  • Modify your favorite recipes to reduce saturated fat, sugar and salt. Vegetable oil, cinnamon or nutmeg and herbs and spices deliver mouth-pleasing flavors that eliminate the less healthy alternatives.
Source: Soyfoods Association of North America

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Retiring Soon? Last-Minute Strategies to Consider

November 6, 2014 12:39 am

Despite continuing economic recovery, many older Americans do not have sufficient funds to sustain their lifestyles in retirement. If you’re preparing to retire soon, consider augmenting your savings with these strategies.

1. Max out your contributions. The IRS sets higher limits for those aged 50 and older, so take advantage of it by cutting expenses and putting those savings into your retirement accounts.

2. Relocate to a less expensive area. With many soon-to-be retirees building significant equity in their homes, it may be worthwhile to sell and move to a location that accommodates a lower cost of living.

3. Become a part-timer. Supplement your savings with part-time employment. Many retirees find this to be not only a productive use of time, but also an opportunity to explore interests they could not pursue while working full-time.

4. Test your retirement lifestyle. For those who are uncertain they can live on their retirement savings, financial experts recommend spending two years before retirement living within those means.

5. Postpone retirement. If your savings fall short, consider delaying retirement altogether. When you do retire, you’ll receive higher Social Security payments than you would have if you collected earlier.

Those nearing retirement should consult a financial advisor or tax professional before making changes to their investment strategies.

Source: Bankrate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top Kitchen Design Tips

November 6, 2014 12:39 am

Kitchens remain a top remodeling project in 2014, according to the Member Profile Study done by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Eighty-two percent of NARI members identify kitchens as its No. 1 service.

“Consumers want practical, comfortable kitchens that are efficient to use and easy to live in.” says Tom O’Grady, CR, CKBR, chairman of NARI’s Strategic Planning. “Bigger isn’t better, but homeowners still want a feeling of space, and open concept and islands are still part of kitchen trends in 2014.”

Improving the overall look and feel of the kitchen was most often cited as the main motivating factor by homeowners for remodeling, followed by improving function.

Lighting:
The continuing trend of fewer upper cabinets in the kitchen creates more space for decorative task lighting, often on adjustable arms that gives the option to have the light directed where it is needed most. Decorative task fixtures in black, iron and aged brass finishes make a statement. Other trends include:

  • Pendant lights over kitchen islands continue to be a great opportunity to bring style into the mix.
  • Chandeliers in kitchens add a pretty and an unexpected sparkle and can soften up the hard lines and smooth surfaces of appliances and countertops below.
  • An oversized lightening fixture becomes a focal point in an otherwise plain room.
  • Under cabinet lights, controlled by a dimmer, provide ambiance.

Built-in cabinetry that looks like furniture

Mixing and layering finishes and woods to create a custom look is another key trend, as is built-in accent cabinets that act as framework for the rest of the cabinetry.  These cabinets, often designed tall and narrow with glass fronts provide the look of a built-in china cabinet to showcase collectables. In general, upper cabinets are less popular because they stop the line of sight, especially to backyard garden views.

  • Appliances are subtly hidden behind the cabinetry for a clean, streamlined appearance.
  • Colorful kitchen cabinetry has made a big comeback. Palettes using and mixing blues,
  • orange, browns or greens countering neutral white, wood or dark finishes are providing
  • kitchen flair.
  • Dramatic contrasts of light cabinets and dark countertops provide visual impact.

Wine storage

  • With the explosion in the wine market over the past few decades, wine is becoming more of a lifestyle choice and factoring into kitchen designs.
  • Dedicated “butler” areas for entertaining, sampling and sharing wine with guests are very popular, allowing the cook the opportunity to socialize while doing food prep.
  • Integrated wine coolers, an answer to tight kitchen spaces, are nestled into cabinetry along with wine racks to showcase a homeowners’ collection.

If you're planning a home renovation project this year, consider incorporating some of these trends to update your kitchen. Before construction gets under way, consult with a professional remodeler about the renovation projects you have planned.

Source: NARI

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make Holiday Travel Hassle-Free with These 5 Tips

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

During the 2014 holiday season, millions of passengers will be traveling through U.S. airports. This translates into long lines, congested traffic and stress, particularly for those traveling with small children. The travel experts at The GO Group recommend:

Checking your flight before you leave for the airport – Nothing is worse than arriving at the airport and discovering that your flight has been delayed or cancelled. To ensure this won't happen, have your airline notify you about flight status via text or email, or phone your airline before you leave.

Avoiding rush hour – Try to avoid departing during rush hours, which are 6:45 to 9:30 a.m. and 3:45 to 6:30 p.m. Both the traffic to and at the airport will slow you down.

Arriving early – Domestic and international passengers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure during the holidays when crowds and security are greatest. Be prepared for even longer times in the event of inclement weather and increased security during unforeseen crises or security threats.

Skipping the boarding pass line – If your airline has the option, print your boarding pass before you get to the airport so you do not have to wait in line. Even easier, store your boarding pass in your phone which can be scanned at the airport.

Bypassing lengthy TSA screening – The holidays draw people who don't travel frequently and aren't familiar with the screening process. Traveling with children always takes more time, too. Avoid the aggravation by applying for The TSA Precheck which, for a fee, allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited security screening at 300 participating U.S. airport checkpoints.

Follow these tips for safe, stress free and happy travels!

Source: The GO Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homebuyers Have Mixed Emotions When House Hunting

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

While mostly positive about the process required to own a home, homebuyers report mixed emotions when hunting for the home of their dreams, according to a recent survey by BMO Harris Bank.

While overall stress levels about the home buying process are moderate, Americans still have some concerns. Their biggest worry is that they will find something wrong with the house once they move in (79 percent). In addition, 69 percent fear that housing prices will drop after the purchase, and 61 percent fear the possibility of not being able to afford their mortgage.

Based on the survey, homebuyers reported feeling a mix of excitement and fear when shopping for a home.

Feelings Associated with Home Buying

                          All Homebuyers          First-time Homebuyers
Excited             44 percent                   47 percent
Hopeful           33 percent                   43 percent
Cautious         32 percent                   26 percent
Optimistic       28 percent                   26 percent
Happy              26 percent                   37 percent
Anxious           25 percent                   31 percent

Source: BMO Harris Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Save on Splurge-Worthy Home Styles

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

(Family Features) In the design world, alternative materials that emulate high-end looks are coveted for their lower price point, low maintenance qualities and close resemblance to the real thing. For a lavish update to your home’s décor, incorporate these budget-friendly alternatives.

1. Bling
– Sparkling golden tones are on trend this season, but few homeowners have the financial means to deck out their homes with mirrors, sconces and other decorative items made of genuine gold. Fortunately, these are available in finishes that mimic the look of real gold, with price tags that won’t break the bank.

2. Trendy tile
– Instead of spending a fortune on hardwood flooring or natural stone, consider installing wood- or stone-look porcelain tiles that eliminate concerns for water damage, warping or wear and tear.

3. Natural elements – Feature walls made of natural materials like grass cloth and bark can add a unique quality to any room, but can also be damaged easily in high-traffic areas. Get the look for less by selecting a vinyl option that simulates the natural material.

4. Stylish wall treatments
–Forget expensive faux paint finishes that give the illusion of depth. Using some simple painting tools, multi-tone paint and a material such as joint compound, you can inexpensively create a stucco surface that adds genuine texture you can see and feel.

5. Touchable textiles – Contemporary designers rely on opulent textiles like leather, suede and fur to create a high-end atmosphere. Enjoy the same look without the expense by opting for synthetic versions, which prove more practical for everyday wear and tear.

Achieving a trendy, lavish style for your home doesn't have to cost a fortune, and often, imitation materials will deliver comparable results that stand up better to the test of time.

Source: Daltile

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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