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Tuesday, August 30 2011
Having an evacuation and communication plan, and making sure everyone knows where to go in case of an emergency, can be the key to protecting your home and family.

Let’s face it — contemplating catastrophe can be stressful. Some people even feel like they’re courting a disaster by planning for one. That’s a natural response, but it’s not in your best interest as a homeowner.

“Denial is a pretty strong emotional mechanism for trying to put yourself at ease,” says Rick Bissell, Ph.D., a professor of emergency health services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. But, he cautions, “if you deny that a crisis will ever occur, you won’t invest the time or energy in preparing to respond and protect yourself, and you’ll likely be out of luck.” Part of that preparation should include an evacuation and communication plan.

Think about escape routes in advance

It’s hard to think clearly when the floodwaters are rising. That’s why you need to plan how to safely exit your house now, not when you’re panicking during an actual emergency. The particulars of your plan will vary depending on what kind of house you have and whether you live in Tornado Alley or quake-prone Los Angeles, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Have two ways to escape every room. Buy escape ladders for upstairs windows, then practice using them.
  • Check with local and state officials for regional evacuation routes. Learn the safest way out of town, and keep maps handy.
  • Designate a meeting place if family members are scattered. If the rendezvous point is your house, also pick a second location, such as an office or relative’s house, in case home is off-limits.
  • Figure out how you’ll transport Fido; a house that’s unsafe for you is also hazardous for your pet. Some communities designate a Pet Protector, a person responsible for retrieving and/or caring for animals if owners can’t. The Humane Society is a good source of information on disaster planning for your pet.
  • Obtain a copy of your office or school’s emergency plan. If one doesn’t exist, you could volunteer to create it, helping safeguard your family and your community.

Designate a “communication commander”

An emergency can knock out telephone and cell service, so it’s important to have a “communication commander” who can receive and relay messages between family members. Choose someone out of your area whose phone service is less likely to be disrupted, and give that person cell phone, office numbers, and email addresses for everyone in the family. Each family member should carry the communication commander’s contact info, too. Program it into your cell phone address book and label it “ICE”—in case of emergency. If you’re disabled, an emergency responder will search your phone for ICE contacts.

Use technology to stay in touch

Even when some communications methods don’t work, others might. For instance, text messages can often be sent when other cell service is down; the government and private companies are currently working on a nationwide text-based Emergency Notification System. Here are some other technology workarounds that could help in an emergency or power outage:

  • Hook your Internet router to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to keep online service running long enough to send out emergency notifications. You can buy one for under $100 that will keep the computer running for about 15 minutes after the power goes out.
  • Keep a corded phone at home. In a power outage, cordless handsets are useless. You can also buy a hand-crank or solar cell-phone charger, such as the Sidewinder crank from Gaiam or the Brunton Solaris portable solar panel.
  • If you get separated from your family but have Internet access, you can let others know where you are with the Red Cross’s Safe and Well program. On the homepage of redcross.org, click the “List Yourself Here” button. “One of the staples at shelters now is providing computers so people can get online and let people know they’re okay,” says David Riedman, a public affairs officer with FEMA.

Having a disaster plan does more than just keep your own family safe. It also serves your community. “When an individual is prepared to handle an emergency themselves, that alleviates a lot of the pressure on emergency response teams,” says FEMA’s Riedman, freeing up emergency workers to deliver help to those who need it most.

Wendy Paris is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in This Old House magazine and other publications. She keeps chocolate chips on hand in case of emergency.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/home-evacuation-plan/#ixzz1VlrqzQEc
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 29 2011

Shopping for wood countertops, cabinets, or doors? FSC and SFI are the two green certifications you need to know.

If sustainability is important to you when you remodel a kitchen or bathroom or build a deck, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. It’s the best indicator, here in the U.S., that the wood used to make your cabinets, countertops, deck, and more was harvested sustainably.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification is helpful, too, though less rigorous. It’s a good bet when you can’t find FSC products.

Both certifications tell you whether a wood product comes from a forest that’s managed responsibly.

Responsible forest management

It includes:

  • Protecting fragile ecosystems
  • Respecting native cultures and economies
  • Preventing illegal logging
  • Restricting clear-cutting (removing all trees in a tract) and pesticide use
  • Monitoring the “chain of custody,” or ensuring that the wood in the product you’re looking at really came from the forest that was certified.

Where to find certified wood

Ask your retailer or cabinet maker up front about their certified wood options, and whether any are ready made. You can also use FSC or SFI’s online products database to select a retailer that carries certified wood.

Is certified wood more expensive?

The frustrating answer is maybe yes, depending on efficiencies in the supply chain, or maybe no, such as if FSC-certified suppliers, for instance, are competing with wood that’s been harvested irresponsibly. FSC recommends you do comparison shopping among local suppliers and online.

Forest Stewardship Council = the gold standard

FSC is widely considered the best forestry certification program, although industry groups tend to consider it too strict—and environmentalists, too lax. The nonprofit was started by environmental groups in 1993.

Most agree FSC is a stronger certification than SFI, although to what extent is debatable, as both have downsides. FSC has very specific criteria for what constitutes responsible forest management, placing a big emphasis on environmental health. FSC certification is tougher than SFI in several categories, including how much clear-cutting is allowed and how much chemical pesticide can be used.

Downside of FSC: Because it’s harder to achieve, it’s harder to find in the store. But it’s worth the extra effort, because consumer demand can help it spread to a broader audience. Just allow yourself some extra time to locate products, says BuildingGreen, a company that educates building professionals on green certifications.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative less rigorous

SFI has its roots in the logging industry, as an outgrowth of the American Forest and Paper Association, from which it still receives funding despite the fact that it’s now a separate nonprofit. Because it takes money directly from the industry it polices, and because its certification process isn’t as transparent as FSC’s, you could reasonably doubt whose interests come first.

Still, SFI has toughened its standards over the years, including prohibiting logging of old-growth forests and limiting chemical pesticides. BuildingGreen deems it an acceptable solution when you can’t find FSC products.

Caveat about green certifications for wood products

Forestry certifications aren’t the final word on wood. Consider whether the whole package—everything that makes up those cabinets—is really green:

  • Glues
  • Paints
  • Finishes
  • The distance it has to be shipped to reach you

Alternative idea: Salvaging existing wood or buying products with a large amount of recycled content may be just as green a choice.

Karin Beuerlein has covered home improvement and green living topics extensively for FineLiving.com, FrontDoor.com, and HGTV.com. She and her husband started married life by remodeling the house they were living in. They still have both the marriage and the house, no small feat.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/what-is-fsc-certified-wood/#ixzz1VlqPIN31
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 26 2011
Setting up a small office in your small home means finding new uses for closets and other tucked-away spaces.

Yes, you can! Squeeze a small office into your small home, that is. But that doesn’t mean you have to take over one of the kids’ bedrooms—just look for under-utilized space.

After that, it’s decision time: How much to spend, how big to make the office, and how you’ll use it.

Here are five solutions to consider:

1. Kitchen helper. From a $400 store-bought island for bill-paying to a breakfast bench nook with file drawers built in under the seats (cost: $5,000 to $15,000), your kitchen is a treasure trove of small office possibilities. Even a slide-out cutting board (about $500 in a cabinet package) can serve as a nifty desktop.

2. Closet conversion. Get rid of unused stuff or consolidate it in another area, and a 3- to 8-foot-wide closet accommodates a built-in desk, shelves, and lighting. Make a nearby chair do double duty for your desk.

With doors and wiring for lighting and a phone, and possible added drywall, your new small office would cost $2,000 to $4,000. Keep in mind that the more floors and walls that wiring has to travel through, the costlier it gets.

3. Porch possibilities. Convert that long, narrow space on the side of your small home that gets only seasonal use to a year-round office for about $15 per square foot. Use plug-in space heaters and fans for your HVAC system.

Use inexpensive, freestanding shelves to provide storage space. Cost: About $70 for a 30-by-80-inch bookshelf.

4. Those out-of-the-way spaces. Alcoves, lofts, stair landings, basement and garage corners, and bedroom nooks qualify as potential office space. Use freestanding shelving units and bookcases. Plants or privacy screens can “wall” the area without making it feel smaller.

You can build a bench for visitors with storage space inside for about $130. Want a craftsman to build it for you? Add another $300 to $400.

5. Under-used dining rooms. Formal dining rooms can be overrated. If yours isn’t being used regularly, convert it to a small office. You’ll be close to your main entry, making it easy to receive clients and business associates. If a nearby kitchen or other busy household area is a noisy distraction, install French or sliding doors as acoustic barriers.

Terry Sheridan is an award-winning writer who has covered real estate and home ownership issues for more than 20 years. She’s owned homes ranging from 1,500 square feet to 3,000 square feet.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/fit-small-office-your-small-home/#ixzz1VlogoQCG
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 25 2011

A group of auto dealerships has secured the naming rights for the new downtown Evansville Arena. The Tri-State Ford Dealers will pay $4.2 million over 10 years to name the building the Ford Center. The new arena is expected to create more than 300 part-time jobs when it opens later this year.

Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel is pleased to announce that the Tri-State Ford Dealers have acquired the naming rights for the new Evansville arena, which will hereafter be known as the Ford Center. The naming rights agreement, which will be presented to the Evansville Redevelopment Commission for approval on September 7, calls for the Tri-State Ford Dealers to pay the City of Evansville more than $4.2 million over a 10-year period.

“For a global company like Ford to decide that a marketing investment in Evansville is money well spent, well that just confirms that we’re a community on the rise and that we’ve got a stellar facility,” said Mayor Weinzapfel. “We obviously couldn’t predict what kind of response we’d receive when we put feelers out about naming rights for the new arena, especially in the current economic climate, so this is big time. Hats off to VenuWorks, particularly Steve Peters and Scott Schoenike, the Tri-State Ford Dealers, and everyone who made this deal possible.”

“The Ford Dealers throughout the Tri-State Region are excited to partner with the City of Evansville in becoming the naming rights partner of this fabulous facility. It will play an important role in transforming downtown Evansville. It is a place where they can showcase their world-class lineup of fuel efficient cars and trucks. This is a unique opportunity for the Tri-State Ford Dealers to support the City of Evansville while also reaching consumers outside their stores. The Ford Center is a first-class, state-of-the-art facility that mirrors what Ford is all about: Quality, Technology and Innovation,” said Rob Reynolds, Ford Senior Account Supervisor.

“These are indeed exciting times for the City of Evansville and the region with the construction of a new 11,000-seat facility now named the Ford Center. I believe you will see increased activity on Main Street as it transforms into a destination,” added Scott Schoenike, VenuWorks Executive Director, the firm that manages the Ford Center for the City.

The Ford Center is expected to draw more than 300,000 people through the doors in its first year with a variety of diverse family entertainment and sporting events, including serving as the home court for the University of Evansville men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as the home ice for the Evansville IceMen hockey team of the Central Hockey League (CHL).

The Ford Center is expected to create more than 300 part-time jobs in positions such as ushers, ticket sellers, ticket takers, concessions, and catering. In addition, local businesses around downtown and throughout the Evansville area will certainly see a positive impact because of the Ford Center, particularly restaurants and bar establishments that event attendees will patronize before and after Ford Center events.

Source: City of Evansville & InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=49294

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 24 2011
    
 Recent stock market gyrations have been challenging and general economic news hasn’t been inspirational, to say the least. Fortunately we live in the Tri-State where both economic data and housing sales are better than last year and moving in the right direction. Nationally there are actually slightly fewer employed people that there were last year at this time. On a statewide basis, there are almost 50,000 more people working and the unemployment rate has dropped from 10.1% to 8.5%. In our area there are almost 9,000 more people working and the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.4%.
 
     Home sales are also up for the past two months, compared to June and July of last year. Closed units in our MLS were up 8% compared to last June and July. I expect a similar trend for the remainder of this year. Another subtle shift from last year is in the price range of homes sold. Last year, partially due to the home-buyer’s tax credit, less expensive home sales increased significantly from the previous year. This year sales of homes priced under $150,000 have declined just over 10%. Homes priced from $150,000-250,000 have been essentially unchanged, while homes priced over $250,000 have increased over 9%. Keep in mind, that the median sales price in our market is under $110,000, so there are always more homes sold under $150,000 than over that amount.
 
     Our marketing and technology departments continue help me provide tools to make buying homes for my clients easier. I know I have already mentioned TuckerMobile.com. This GPS enabled mobile site continues to attract more traffic with over 30,000 unique visitors last month. Recently we acquired TuckerOpenHouses.com. Starting on Thursday of every week, you can view not just F. C. Tucker Emge open houses, but any home scheduled to be open that is posted with our MLS service. It is a great tool because you can search for open houses just like you search for any other listed property. Give it a try; I’m sure you will like it.
 
    Although real estate prices have not changed considerably here, it never hurts to get a yearly market analysis on your home. Kathy and I would be more than happy to prepare one for you. Just give us a call at 812-499-9234 and we will get things rolling.
 
   Enjoy the rest of the summer months. We are sure looking forward to cooler temperatures.
Posted by: AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 22 2011

Low-cost kitchen storage strategies bring calm to your kitchen, banishing stress-inducing clutter and leaving the space calm and orderly.

Good news for budget-minded cleaning compulsives: Getting organized in the kitchen won’t drain your piggy bank. Stash more cash and control the chaos with these low-cost kitchen storage solutions, all readily available at home centers, discount stores, and online.

Rack attack: Store pots, everyday dishes, spices, and wine on racks that are freestanding, wall-hung, and ceiling-hung—and voila! Everything is in its own location, visible, and easily accessible!

Position the racks where they make sense: A pot rack above the cooktop; a dish rack close to the dishwasher for quick unloading; spices near the range or meal prep area; a wine rack near the wine glasses and dining table.

You’ll find racks in metal, wood, and other materials, starting as low as $10 to $15.

Shelf expression: You can size an open shelf to fit anywhere you need it and paint or stain it to match your décor. Use shelves for storing such kitchen necessities as cookbooks, attractive dishware, oils and vinegars, and spices.

Home improvement centers have storage sections where you can hunt, but don’t overlook the office supply and bathroom sections for even more low-cost shelves.

You’ll find cool shelves starting as low as $8.

Great divide: Organize the contents of kitchen drawers and cabinets with wire or wood inserts. Drawer dividers keep utensils sorted and orderly. Vertical dividers inside cabinets create a spot for storing trays and cookie sheets. You’ll also find special inserts for storing knives and spices neatly inside drawers.

Available in wire, wood, or plastic, dividers start at about $3.

Elevated thinking: Wire stacking shelves have legs to elevate the storage surface. Set a stacking shelf on a countertop, existing shelf, or inside a cabinet to increase kitchen storage space. Use a stacking shelf for canned goods, dishware, spices, and more.

Prices start at about $6.

Hang ups: Install pegs or hooks along a backsplash, inside cabinets, or anywhere on a kitchen wall to create a place for cups, hot pads, cooking utensils, keys, and recipe clips. Hooks are available that fit over doors or come equipped with magnets that adhere to any metal surface.

Pegs and hooks start as low as $1.

Basket case: Baskets come in a variety of materials to complement your décor, from natural woven grasses to canvas to colorful plastic bins. Set baskets on open shelves, inside cupboards, and on the kitchen counter to round up small items, such as napkin rings and bamboo skewers.

Baskets are great for storing dish towels, cloth napkins, and coupons. Prices start as low as $1.

With four home renovations to her credit, Jan Soults Walker is a devotee of improvements, products, and trends for the home and garden. For 25 years she’s written for a number of national home shelter publications, and has authored 18 books on home improvement and decorating.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/low-cost-kitchen-storage-cheap-stress-reduction/#ixzz1VIJCE6hE
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 19 2011
More homeowners prefer to pay off their mortgages sooner as interest rates have stayed near rock-bottom and weak labor conditions have caused them to reduce their debt loads, a survey showed on Monday.

The current trend in refinancing into shorter-loan terms is a stark contrast to the one during the height of the housing boom, when families were taking out bigger mortgages against the rising values of their homes.

Of those homeowners who refinanced a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage during the second quarter, 37 percent moved into a 15-year or 20-year fixed-rate loan. This is the highest since the third quarter of 2003, mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) said.

In the second quarter, interest on the 30-year mortgage averaged 4.65 percent, compared with a 3.84 percent average on 15-year mortgages, the company said.

"It's no wonder we continue to see strong refinance activity into fixed-rate loans," Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said in a statement.

Refinancing has comprised the bulk of U.S. mortgage activity since the housing bust that led to the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.

During the second quarter, the refinance share of mortgage applications, versus the share of applications for loans to buy a home, averaged 70 percent, Freddie Mac said.

Source: http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110815/bs_nm/us_usa_mortgages_freddiemac

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 18 2011

SANTA CLAUS, IN - Holiday World is no stranger when it comes to topping "best of" lists. They've had number one rides, been called the nation's friendliest and cleanest park, and now comes another distinction.

Travel website, tripadvisor.com, has named Holiday World's Splashin' Safari as the number one water park in the country.

In giving Splashin' Safari the top spot on their list, Tripadvisor.com cited what they referred to as "aquatic delights" such as the Wildebeest water coaster, and the parks practice of providing free soft drinks and sunscreen.

"This is huge," says Holiday World & Splashin' Safari president Dan Koch. "Our country has so many excellent water parks; it's humbling to be declared the best."

Last week, Holiday World officials announced they will be adding yet another attraction to Splashin' Safari. A second water coaster called "Mammoth" will open next May.

Here is tripadvisor's top ten water parks list:

  • 1. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana
  • 2. Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando, Florida
  • 3. Noah's Ark Water Park, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
  • 4. Morey's Piers, Wildwood, New Jersey
  • 5. Kahuna Laguna, North Conway, New Hampshire
  • 6. Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia
  • 7. NRH20 Waterpark, North Richland Hills, Texas
  • 8. Adventureland, Des Moines, Iowa
  • 9. Aquatica (SeaWorld's Waterpark), Orlando, Florida
  • 10. Wild Water & Wheels, Surfside Beach, South Carolina

Source: http://www.news25.us/story/15248434/holiday-world-named-number-one-water-park-in-country

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, August 17 2011

Do you dream of owning property? Perhaps multiple investment properties from which to earn a monthly stream of income? Ah, the life… 

But before you contact your real estate agent, consider what’s really involved. If you want to create an income immediately, you’ll need to rent your property. Though the proposition may sound simple, it is anything but. The information that follows details the downsides to property management.

It’s not meant to dissuade you from moving forward, but instead to show you that there are downsides as well as advantages to buying and managing rental property. Don’t let the potential to earn money cloud your vision when considering whether or not you’re cut out for it.

Read More Here: Issues With Becoming A Landlord

Source: http://www.moneycrashers.com/five-issues-with-buying-rental-property-and-becoming-a-landlord/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, August 16 2011
Connecting to the Internet over Wi-Fi hot spots in public areas, such as cafes or hotels, may be risky if you’re sending sensitive information over an unsecured network. Cybercriminals can conduct electronic eavesdropping, known as “sniffing,” by tapping into your information via public Wi-Fi hotspots and downloading or storing it for review later, security experts warn.

Many Web sites, such as banking sites, are encrypted. But the information you transmit from your laptop over a public Wi-Fi network to access that information may not be, says Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director for the Wi-Fi Alliance, a global nonprofit industry association.

Another danger that security experts warn about is logging into a public hot spot home page that can be a phishing scam. The page may trick you to reveal your credit card number, birth date, or other personal information that could put you at risk for identity theft.

"You should always assume the worst and that you don't have security protection and conduct yourself accordingly," says Davis-Felner.

Some road warrior professionals use a virtual private network (VPN), which is software that protects data transmissions when accessing any work data. Others are also using a MiFi, a secure mobile Wi-Fi hotspot over a cellular network, to keep their data safe from attacks.

Source: “Mobile Security Challenges Travelers; Always-on Devices Can Leave You Vulnerable to Criminals,” The News &

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 15 2011

Today’s cost-conscious home owner is focused on two things: reducing costs and protecting the value of their home. You can do both with these five home improvement projects that cost less than $25 and can save you thousands in future repairs, according to HouseMaster, a home inspection franchise.

1. Be aware of termite or carpenter ant damage. Home owners who diligently check their property and foundation can alleviate serious termite or carpenter ant problems. Before selling or purchasing a home, look closely for any signs such as “mud tubes” or wood damage. Also, moving wood piles and debris away from the home can eliminate termite or carpenter ant problems.

2. When it rains, it pours. One of the most common places for water damage is in a bathroom. When grout breaks down, water can easily get behind the tiles and cause them to come loose. An easy solution to this is to re-grout, caulk, and use sealant on bathroom tile and surrounding fixtures. In other cases, where water penetration is affecting the foundation of a house, a splash box is a cost-efficient solution to direct water away from the foundation.

3. Clean the gutters. Stained siding under a gutter indicates overflowing, which can cause structural damage. In addition, overgrown vegetation on gutters can cause clogging or potential termite issues. Trimming vegetation away from the house and cleaning gutters offers many advantages and minimizes the risk for potential costly repairs in the future.

4. Replace rusting roof flashings. Flashings deteriorate over time and can allow water penetration, resulting in expensive damage to the underlying roof structure. For under $25, replace roof flashings or apply sealant to the problem area.

5. Seal your deck. If not properly maintained decks are very susceptible to the effects of weather exposure. Once wood becomes rotted, it’s more likely to be infested by termites, carpenter ants, etc. Purchase deck sealant at an inexpensive price to seal your deck and prevent future damage.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/5-home-improvement-projects-under-25/#ixzz1UjSSYpVS
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 12 2011
One of the best things about owning your own home particularly in the summertime is the opportunity to enjoy your privacy and to entertain guests. Want to make the most of these luxuries? We have compiled a list of fun summer activities that we thought you might enjoy.
 
By the way, if you need any additional advice pertaining to real estate or to your home, please don't hesitate to call Rolando at 499-9234 or Kathy at 499-0246 or visit our Web site at: www.TheTrentiniTeam.com
 
 
FIVE FUN SUMMER ACTIVITIES FOR HOMEOWNERS
 
·                     Barbecue: Nothing says summertime as much as an old-fashioned barbecue! Do you have friends or family who still haven't had the chance to see your beautiful new home? Invite them over for an afternoon of sun, fun and a tour of the house.
 
·                     Campout fun: Another longstanding tradition is the summer campout but this doesn't mean you have to drive hundreds of miles to find a great location. Your backyard is a great camping spot! Dig the flashlights, tents and camping gear out of the garage and thrill the kids with a backyard campout!
 
·                     Cool and clean: It might not sound like fun, but having a neighborhood car wash is a great way to keep cool and make friends with the people who share your street. Rally the neighbors and make a day of it the kids will have fun squirting each other with the hoses, and you'll have a shiny, clean car!
 
 
 
·                     Who dunnit: Throw a mystery dinner party, and invite your guests for an evening of fun and intrigue (and show off that dining room!). Kits can be purchased at most toy stores (or via the Internet) for a reasonable price, and you'll have a wonderful evening that will be memorable for everyone!
 
Grab a mallet: While you may have once thought that croquet was a sport for fuddy-duddies, it is rapidly growing in popularity. Show off your perfectly manicured lawn by inviting a few friends over for an afternoon croquet party. If you're feeling really adventurous, try some horseshoes as well!
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 11 2011
There is nothing that I like better than to find an additional use for a common household item. This can cut down on having to buy additional cleaners and/or chemicals for my household, which is always good. And of course, invariably these additional uses will save you money. Once I got into living frugally, I really began to research these “extra” uses. Some of them are quite ingenious! I’ve come up with a short list of multiple uses for five common items you likely have around your house. The list is by no means inclusive, so feel free to add your ideas in the comments section. I know that some of you house moms and dads have some great ideas out there!

Dryer Sheets

The best part I like about these additional uses is that for a lot of them the dryer sheet doesn’t even have to be new. So with these ideas, you are really getting something for free while also recycling your products. Dryer sheets can be used to get pet hair off of furniture and clothing, and, if you put a little fabric softener on one, you can then remove dust from a TV screen or computer monitor and keep it from coming back.

Some additional uses…

  • Remove burnt food from casserole dishes (soak in warm water with the sheet)
  • Get rid of and prevent odors just about anywhere you can think of (even in your shoes!)
  • Remove soap build up from your shower
  • Place in your clothes drawer or suitcase while vacationing for that “just washed” smell all the time
  • Clean paint brushes (soak in warm water with the sheet)

Aluminum Foil

Would you like to cook the perfect pie crust? Wrap the edges in aluminum foil. Line your grill with it and pokes holes in it to prevent chicken/meats from cooking too fast. Scissors need sharpening? Cut through a few pieces of foil, and presto—sharp scissors.

A few more…

  • To reuse a paint brush for the same job without having to clean it, wrap it in foil, place in fridge
  • Wrap doorknobs with it while painting
  • Line paint tray with it rather than buying the premade plastic inserts
  • Polishing silverware. What a time saver! Line a pan with foil, fill with cold water. Add a little salt, put silver in for three minutes. Rinse and dry.

WD40

This list could be a mile long. Far too many uses to get into all of them. But keep in mind that the manufacturer does not recommend a lot of the uses for how people use it. I’ve included only some of those that have the blessing of the makers of WD40. In addition to it lubricating almost everything, it will also:

  • Loosen zippers
  • Clean roof racks on vehicles
  • Remove bug “guts” on your car’s grill
  • Removes remnants of duct tape
  • Keeps rust away from most tools
  • Keeps pigeons away (they dislike the smell)
  • Removes black scuffmarks from kitchen floors

White Vinegar

One of my new found favorites. You can substitute a little white vinegar for just about any household cleaning job. White vinegar can be used to clean the hoses in your washing machine, the insides of your coffee maker, the inside of your steam iron, and a variety of other things. Freeze some with some water and grind through your garbage disposal to get rid of odors there too! Some others you may not have known about are…

  • Remove chewing gum
  • Help pain from sunburn
  • Soothe a sore throat
  • Itching
  • Ear infections
  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Remedy for acne
  • Body odor
  • Cure for hiccups

This list could go on forever…

Toothpaste

Toothpaste can clean, it can deodorize, and it can make you more beautiful! A short list of some unintended uses for toothpaste:

  • Remove pimples
  • Polish nails (nails are similar in their makeup to teeth)
  • Car freshener (wrap some in paper towels and put under your seat)
  • Clean walls, jewelry, shoes, and even piano keys
  • Hang posters on the wall (no lie)
  • Sub for spackle (will fill nail holes on walls)

So there you go. A whole host of new uses for items I am pretty sure you have lying around the house. A few of these I already knew about, a lot of them I didn’t. I can’t even imagine the savings if you employ half of these ideas.

Care to elaborate on any of these lists?

Source: http://www.moneycrashers.com/little-known-uses-for-five-common-household-items/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 10 2011

Carbon monoxide (CO) in your home can be a quiet, deadly killer. You can’t see or smell it, but in high enough levels, it can kill someone in moments. CO is produced whenever any fuel is burned – oil, gas, wood, charcoal, etc…Typically, the amount released into your home environment from well-maintained and properly operating appliances, but still hundreds of people die every year from CO poisoning.

Symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • nausea
  • fainting

If you suspect CO poisoning – get to fresh air, and get an emergency room quickly. Be sure to let the doctor know you suspect CO poisoning.

Prevention is the best way to avoid CO Poisoning

  • Have your fuel burning appliances checked regularly
  • Don’t idle your car in your garage
  • Choose appliances that vent outside whenever possible
  • Follow all instructions on your fuel burning appliances
  • Install CO detectors
  • Don’t ignore any symptoms, especially if multiple members of the household experience them
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 09 2011

The Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville reports it has helped secure more than 900 job commitments and $13.2 million in capital investments so far this year. The organization says the professional & business services sector is expected to create the most jobs and investments. Innovation Pointe, a high-tech business incubator managed by the group, is also seeing growth.

EVANSVILLE, IN — The year 2011 is looking optimistic for the Greater Evansville economy. Over 900 jobs have been announced with more than $13.2 million in capital investments expected over the next five-year period. According to the Applied Economics Impact Model, the jobs created in Greater Evansville will have an economic impact of $890 million over the next five years. “This figure represents the total impact these projects will have on our community and takes into consideration the primary jobs created by the companies as well as secondary jobs such as construction, personal and professional services, retail, etc.,” said Donna Crooks, Business Development Director for the Growth Alliance.

The Professional & Business Services sector is expected to create the most jobs and capital investments. Nearly one-half of the projects represent the Manufacturing sector which continues to be strength of the area. “The amount of activity experienced in Greater Evansville in the past 6 months is certainly encouraging for the economic growth of the area considering the current state of our national economy,” said Debbie Dewey, President of the Growth Alliance.

The Growth Alliance also remains committed to assisting existing companies in the area. Three out of the seven companies assisted this year are local businesses that made a commitment to bring new jobs or to keep existing jobs in Evansville instead of choosing other obtainable locations within the United States.

Innovation Pointe, a high tech business incubator managed by the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville is currently occupied by 29 clients, and approximately 75+ employees. In 2011, the Growth Alliance has personally met and assisted 34 potential Innovation Pointe clients. Of the 34 potential clients, 9 have located at Innovation Pointe.

The Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville and Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, (NSWC) Crane) have an innovative Technology Transfer agreement that holds tremendous potential for area businesses. The Technology Transfer agreement allows the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville access to federal lab technologies and patents, making them available to area businesses and entrepreneurs that are looking to new ideas for products, services and problem solutions. In 2011, four companies have engaged in Technology Transfer activities to identify federal lab technologies that respond to specific company needs and areas of interest. Of the four companies, two are actively investigating new materials developed through federal labs.

The Growth Alliance also works hard to support the City’s redevelopment plan to produce a vital Downtown that attracts businesses. In 2011, the Growth Alliance has assisted four new and two existing companies with interest in development or expansion in Downtown Evansville. In addition to this, 16 Downtown businesses were assisted through the Downtown Design Review process in regards to exterior renovations and/or changes to property in the Downtown Redevelopment Area.

Even with the oppressive heat, the 2011 Vanderburgh County Farm Bureau Farmers’ Market, hosted by the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville, has proven to be successful. The Friday market currently has 32 registered vendors, with additional vendors applying each week.

The Fourth of July Freedom Celebration & Fireworks Spectacular produced by the Growth Alliance continues to be a summertime favorite for many tri-state families. Attendance continues to grow with a reported 40,000+ spectators at the 2011 event.
For further information regarding the Mid-Year Report of Performance from the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville, you may visit, http://www.evansvillegage.com/wp-content/uploads/MID-YEAR-REPORT_FOR-WEBSITE-revised.pdf

###

The Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville is a non-for-profit 501c(3) that was created in early 2007 because government and business representatives were searching for a comprehensive focused approach for economic development. The Growth Alliance provides support for strategic programs that enhance the overall economic vitality of the area.

Mission: to drive and support economic development activities for the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County, Indiana aimed at: attracting and creating new jobs and new revenue dollars, retaining existing jobs and revenue dollars, effectively allocating available resources and recognizing the priorities of basic industries in driving sustainable growth.

Source: The Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville & InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=49099

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 08 2011

Homeowners are familiar with the tax deductions that are available to them but there are also potential deductions available for those who own rental properties. Realtor® Joe Cline of Austin, Texas lists seven possible deductions that rental property owners will want to be aware of:

Do you own any property that you rent out as investment? If yes, did you know that you can take advantage of tax deductions provided for owners of rental properties? That is right; aside from the income you earn by renting out and the possible profits from appreciation of your capital, owing a property can also reduce your income tax. In fact, rental real estate offers the most tax benefits compared to almost any other investment out there. Here are some of the possible tax deductions property rental owners can enjoy:

 

1. Tax deduction from interest
Rental property owners can take advantage of interest as their biggest tax deductible expense. If you are paying interest payments on a loan you obtained to buy the property, or if you pay interest on credit cards for services and goods incurred due to rental, you can declare these for tax deduction purposes.

 

2. Tax deduction due to property depreciation
Rental property owners may also recover the cost of their property by considering depreciation. Depreciation takes into account the deterioration and the wear and tear caused onto the property over time.

 

3. Deduction from repairs
Taxation regulations also allow deductions brought about by repair and improvement-related expenses, as long as these repairs are necessary and reasonable. The costs of improvement are fully deductible in the same taxation year as they were incurred. Fixing gutters, repainting, fixing leaks and floors, and replacement of broken windows – these are some examples of tax deductible repairs.

 

4. Deduction from insurance
You can also reduce your income tax by deducting the premiums you pay for insurance related to your rental transactions. This includes landlord liability insurance, fire or theft insurance for your rental property. If you hired employees, you may also deduct the amount you pay for their health or compensation insurance.

 

5. Deduction from professional and legal services
You can deduct all fees you pay for accountants, lawyers, real estate advisers, property management services, and other professional services you hire for your rental activity. These are considered part of your operating expenses.

 

6. Tax deduction from hiring employees and/or independent contractors
If you hire the services of other employees to perform something related to the rental, you can also deduct the wages you pay them as part of your business expense.

 

7. Deduction from travel expenses
If you spend on travel expenses because of your rental business, such as when collecting rent or inspecting your rental property for maintenance, you can deduct your fuel expenses, meals and other related expenditures. Even overnight travel may be deductible, as long as there are proper records to back up the claim.

 

As a rental property owner, there are tax deductions you can take advantage of to lower your yearly taxes. The abundance of these deductible expenses makes rental real estate one of the most attractive investments there is. Know which types you qualify for, and see how much potential savings you have been missing out on.



Read more: Seven Possible Tax Deductions For Property Rental Owners | REALTOR.com® Blogs
Posted by: Rolando Trentinni AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, August 05 2011

 


The State of Indiana has imposed a state sales tax regulation for the home service contract industry.

 

As of August 1st, a 7% sales tax will be added at closing to the price of all home service contracts.

 

Please make sure that you are quoting the correct amount to your clients.  The title company must also have the correct amount of the home warranty on the HUD.

 

For pending transactions, even though the sales tax was not in effect when the contract was written, the state requires that the tax be collected at the time of closing.  Any closing after August 1st, 2011 is subject to the 7% sales tax.

 

For example:  A home warranty for $399 would have to add $27.93 (7%) for a total of $426.93.

 

This applies to all home warranty companies.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 04 2011

 

When you sign papers to buy a new home, your thoughts might immediately drift to what you’d like to buy to turn it into your perfect place. New appliances, new furniture, it all adds up. Before you pull out the credit cards you may want to consider the advice of Tuval Mor, a broker with Keller Williams in New York City, New York who cautions new home buyers about spending during the ‘quiet period:’

Ah, the thrill of purchasing your dream home can inspire you to go out shopping for the perfect living room set with matching drapes, before the closing. If you planned on doing that with credit, best to wait till after the closing. Due to high foreclosure rates throughout the nation, Fannie Mae has instituted a new Loan Quality Initiative which requires that any lender determine that “borrower liabilities incurred up to, and concurrent with, closing are disclosed and evaluated in qualifying the borrower for the loan.”

This period between the approval and the closing is usually called “the quiet period.” Lenders can vary in how they enforce this new initiative that just came into effect, but in many cases what this means is a second credit report pull right before closing. Did you buy a new professional cookware set for your new kitchen on a new Sears’s card that the cashier talked you into for the 10% discount? Well if you use the entire $1000 limit on your purchase, this seemingly innocuous purchase could throw your debt-to-income ratio off.

Fannie Mae and others have done studies and found consumer behavior patterns correlating with mortgage losses and as a result have incorporated sophisticated new credit surveillance systems into the mortgage industry. It is important for home buyers, and also those looking to refinance their mortgage, to be aware that unlike the boom years, today every action that pertains to their credit will be considered until the closing, and that credit splurges during the quiet period are a clear no-no in today’s mortgage environment.

The good news is that if you put those credit cards on ice until your new home is really yours, you should have a smooth closing. And with all the thousands of dollars you’ll be saving with these historically low interest rates (around 4%), you can afford to splurge on the perfect furnishings and accessories… just wait a little bit, until after the mortgage is closed!



Read more: Hold Off On Big Purchases For Your New Home During The 'Quiet Period' | REALTOR.com® Blogs
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 03 2011

In a recent post we addressed the issue of controlling moisture inside the home. But how do you protect your home from heavy rains and snow? Realtor® Tom Slupske of Maple Grove, Minnesota gives five ways to control moisture outside the home before it can get in and cause damage:

These days, homes are at a greater risk of water damage than ever before. Heavier precipitation and less predictable weather patterns increase the chance of unwanted water entering our homes.

Water damage is serious business. It is a drain – financially, emotionally, even physically. Just one inch is all it takes to destroy sentimental or irreplaceable items, or to create structural damage that can depreciate the value of your home. The bacteria and mold it can leave in its wake can affect air quality in your home and create potential health risks. The best way to deal with water damage is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Here are some easy things you can do outside your home to help keep you safe and dry.

Disconnect downspouts from the municipal sewer system.Extend downspouts at least 6 feet away from your basement walls and drain away from your house towards the street or backyard.

Install a rain barrel to minimize the amount of surface water that could enter your home.

Grade the earth or hard surfaces around your home to slope away from your foundation.

Before temperatures drop to freezing, turn off the water supply to outdoor taps and faucets, then open the taps to drain the water completely. Leave taps in the open position until spring.

Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and other debris – clean them out at least once a year – late fall is a good time.

With a little know-how and some routine maintenance, you can stay ahead of the wave and keep unwanted water out.



Read more: Controlling Moisture Outside The Home | REALTOR.com® Blogs
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 02 2011
Recently, a friend of mine told me her young son was jumping out of his crib. He is only a year and a half, and his new ability took his mother by surprise. She had concerns about the safety of her son, and concerns about the costs associated with buying her son a new toddler or twin bed.

Whether you’ve been saving up to buy some furniture to decorate your home, or you need to make an unexpected furniture purchase, there is no need to worry about the cost. Fortunately, there are a variety of places to shop, and many ways to save money on furniture.

Where to Shop for Furniture

1. Online
Acquiring furniture consists of two main steps: shopping and buying. Before you buy, you need to shop. By shopping online, you can get a better idea of what styles you like, and how much you can expect to pay for the furniture you need. You can also browse more stores in a shorter amount of time, without spending money on gas.

Once you have a better idea of what you need, and what you can expect to pay, start browsing stores to buy furniture. Look on a variety of different websites, including eBay, Ikea, Macy’s, Overstock.com, and Pottery Barn. If you peruse online auctions, discount shopping websites, and department stores, you can find a range of prices for similar items.

Pay close attention to the construction of the furniture, and compare prices for hardwood and laminate. Hardwood furniture lasts longer, but inexpensive laminate furniture can be an excellent choice if you plan on replacing it in the next five years.

2. Thrift Stores
A friend told me recently that he bought a really nice, sturdy dining room table at Goodwill. He brought it home, sanded it down, and painted the table. Best of all, he only paid $25 for it, and $20 for the restoration supplies. His wife loves the new table, and especially loves the price he paid.

You may have to put a little elbow grease into cleaning up used furniture, but in the end, you’ll have something cheap and unique that you can be proud of in your home. Pay close attention to scratches, dents, and other signs of wear and tear when shopping for used furniture. Determine whether you can fix the damage, or if you can live with it.

Watch for special sales days, to get the best deal on your used furniture. Goodwill and the other large thrift store chains offer additional savings on specific items in their stores during sales. Thrift stores also offer discounts to senior citizens.

3. Garage Sales/Estate Sales
In addition to thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales offer many treasures. Use your imagination when looking at pieces, to think how you might use them in your own home. For example, an old stereo cabinet could be a fun alternative to a newly constructed entertainment center. However, keep in mind that the furniture found at garage sales and estate sales may require some refurbishing.

A little luck finding the perfect piece never hurts, but try employing the buddy system, where friends and family members shopping at garage sales keep an eye out for the furniture you need.

4. Classifieds/Craigslist
Check out the classifieds and Craigslist to quickly find used furniture, without going from garage sale to garage sale. Use some creativity as you look through the listings to envision how you could restore and use each piece in your home.

Use a variety of words and phrases when conducting your online search on Craigslist. For example, search for wardrobes and armoires, couches and sofas, and end tables and side tables, to narrow your search and find the furniture you need.

5. Freecycle
The Freecycle Network enables people to give away their unwanted items to other people for free, as a way to recycle. Sign up on the website to begin searching for free furniture in your area. These items may need refurbishing, but since they are free, that certainly makes up for any supplies you may need to buy for restoration. When you use Freecycle, you also act as a good steward of our planet, by keeping waste out of the landfills.

6. Warehouse Clubs
When my husband and I were shopping for a bedroom set, we happened to receive a flyer in the mail from Costco. I occasionally shop at there, but I never knew that warehouse clubs sold furniture. After researching the Costco product line, we found deeply discounted, high quality furniture. They also offered free delivery for the items we purchased.

Based on my experience buying my Costco bedroom set, I would definitely shop at a warehouse club for furniture in the future.

7. Outlets
Outlet centers offer great deals as well. I bought furniture from a Pottery Barn outlet for a fraction of the original cost. Outlets do not always offer bargain prices, however, so make sure you comparison shop before buying furniture from an outlet mall.

Tip: Before you buy furniture from an outlet store, do some research to find out the original, pre-sale prices. Unless the furniture at the outlet mall is substantially discounted, you may want to wait and see if the item goes on clearance.

8. Clearance/Scratch and Dent Area
Many furniture stores have a clearance area, or a “scratch and dent” area, in the back of the store. When you enter, head straight for the back of the building. My husband and I found a table we wanted, along with some chairs, for a quarter of the retail price, mainly because each piece had a tiny scratch on it. If we had missed the clearance area, we would have paid full price for the table, and all of the chairs.

When you examine items in the clearance area, make sure to inspect the furniture carefully for damage. Remember, everything ended up in the clearance because it didn’t sell, so it may have scratches, stains, or other signs of wear.

9. Ikea
Ikea has a contemporary style, while providing unique storage in order to maximize your space. While Ikea does offer great prices, if their modern style does not match well with the motif of your home, you may not want to take the time to get lost in the store. Ikea has inexpensive furniture, but watch out; many of the items require self-assembly.

10. Auctions
Auctions offer another way to buy furniture for bargain prices. Visit auction houses in your area to find out more about the types of upcoming auctions they have planned. When you bid on an item, remember to stick to your budget. You don’t want to overbid or get caught up in the moment, and bid more than you can afford.

When buying used or antique furniture at an auction, examine it carefully beforehand. Look for evidence of wear and tear, scratches, tears, and other types of damage. Determine if the furniture needs restoration, and if it does need refurbishing, consider the cost of the work and the supplies as part of the overall cost.

11. Hand-me-Downs
Make sure friends and family know that you need furniture, and accept the gift of used furniture from them. It might seem embarrassing, but most people start out this way, by accepting an old couch or TV from a friend or family member.

You help your loved ones clear out some much-needed space in their homes, and they help you furnish your home. One day, you can return the favor, giving some of your gently used furniture to someone else in need.

Read more here: http://www.moneycrashers.com/proven-ways-save-money-furniture-store/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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The Trentini Team
F.C. Tucker EMGE REALTORS®
7820 Eagle Crest Bvd., Suite 200
Evansville, IN 47715
Office: (812) 479-0801
Cell: (812) 499-9234
Email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com


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