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Stuart Dubbs
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
 Phone: 610-398-8111
Office Phone: 610-398-8111
Cell: 484-239-0950
Fax: 267-354-6247 
sdubbs@remaxcentralinc.com
Stuart Dubbs

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Real Estate with Perspective

5 Bucket List Destinations That Won't Break the Bank

May 13, 2016 1:12 am

Bucket list destinations around the world have become much more affordable, thanks to low airfares and a strong dollar. Jet off to one of these exotic, now-inexpensive locales, recently named to Cheapflights.com’s “International Destinations That Won’t Break the Bank."

1. Goa, India
Known for its signature fish curry, Goa boasts plenty for explorer types, with scores of beaches, churches, forts and temples in architecturally diverse styles.

2. Kandy, Sri Lanka
The country’s ancient capital, Kandy’s accommodations are relatively inexpensive, and in proximity to sightseer hot spots, including museums, monasteries, temples and Kandy Lake.

3. Lima, Peru
Bargains abound in Peru, and Lima is no exception. From hiking Machu Picchu and sunning at the beach to dining at world-renowned restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Peru’s capital.

4. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei is ideal for travelers seeking experiences similar to Beijing or Hong Kong—without the premium price tag. While there, take time to ascend Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest structures—it’s worth it!

5. Wellington, New Zealand
Get the most bang for your buck in Wellington, thanks to current exchange rates. The city features a variety of lodging options, including budget hotels, campgrounds, hostels and motels, and a number of free attractions.

Ready to go? For more destinations from this list, visit Cheapflights.com.

Source: Cheapflights.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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"Moving? I'd Rather Do Taxes!"

May 13, 2016 1:12 am

That’s the sentiment from approximately one in five respondents to a recent poll, who’d take filing their taxes by hand over moving. Some would even prefer to give up their favorite food for a month!

Still, the trouble of moving isn’t deterring us from doing it—in fact, according to the poll, over one-third of respondents have moved more than once in the last decade. What makes moving less challenging, the poll found, are professional services:

• Approximately two in five respondents have driven a moving truck in the past, and based on that experience, more than half of them would hire someone else to do the driving in the future.

• Thirty-two percent of respondents have hired a mover to pack and/or load their possessions, and 11 percent of (lucky!) respondents report their employer hired a moving company.

What’s more, many respondents would be willing to compromise if it meant a less taxing move: 53 percent would hire a driver, but pack their items themselves, regardless of cost.

Overall, the results of the poll demonstrate moving doesn’t have to be a hassle—especially if you seek help from a professional.

Source: Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Redoing the Bathroom? 4 In-the-Now Trends

May 13, 2016 1:12 am

(Family Features)—Bathrooms may take up the least square footage in the home, but they have the most potential when remodeling—and for these rooms, function and design matter.

To achieve both in your next remodel, consider incorporating these in-the-now trends:

Floating Vanity – Tap into the minimalist movement with a floating vanity, which not only plays up the modern vibe, but also makes cramped bathrooms feel spacious.

Painted Cabinetry – Bold is the new black. For statement-making cabinets, go all out with colorful wood, or temper the trend with a glazed, rich stain—either will give your bathroom a “now” feel.

Simplified Storage – From pull-outs, tilt-ups and roll-outs to hidden outlets, simplified storage is in. Install base pullouts or toe-kick drawers, or a U-shaped sliding shelf that wraps around the sink’s plumbing, to stow your bathroom essentials out of sight.

Sleek Doors – Traditional cabinet doors add bulk. New, streamlined doors, with hidden hinges (called “full overlay”), half-hidden frames (“traditional overlay”) or inset, complement today’s popular contemporary-transitional design.

Whichever trend resonates, consult with a professional bathroom remodeler before undertaking the project—bathrooms are high selling points come resale, and you don’t want to take any chances.

Source: Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Money Management 101: 3 Age-Appropriate Stepping Stones

May 12, 2016 1:12 am

When it comes to money management, the best lessons are taught early.

“Although it can be awkward at times, talking to your kids about money at a young age is extremely important,” explains Steve Trumble, president and CEO of the non-profit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC). “The most vital lessons for children to learn [are] the value of the dollar and the importance of budgeting and saving. By learning these concepts early on, there is a better chance they will have successful financial lives.

Parents interested in teaching their children about personal finance can follow these stepping stones, recently outlined by ACCC:

For Children in Kindergarten – Grade 2 – Communicate the most basic principle: money must be earned. Set up a savings account for the child(ren), and allow them to deposit earnings they’ve accumulated from completing household chores.

For Children in Grade 3 – Grade 6 – Help the child(ren) develop responsible spending habits. Try this exercise: have them make a list of five things they need and five things they want, ranking both lists in order of importance. Show them the estimated cost for each need and want, emphasizing the savings needed to purchase them.

For Children in Grade 7 – Grade 12 – Introduce credit carefully—make it clear that it is not “free” money. To demonstrate, allow the child(ren) to borrow money from you, complete with a limit, repayment terms, and a standard interest rate.

Source: ACCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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BBQ Month: 5 Fun Facts

May 12, 2016 1:12 am

For many homeowners, May marks the beginning of grilling season—and this year, the barbecue’s hotter than ever! Get fired up for a summer of backyard eats with these fun facts, recently released by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA).

Seventy-five percent of adults own a grill or smoker. Sixty-two percent of those with a grill own a gas grill. Ten percent of grill owners have a backyard kitchen.

• The most popular days to barbecue are Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, but 63 percent of grill owners do it all year round!

Seventy-one percent of grill owners use their grills to improve flavor; 54 percent do it for personal enjoyment; 42 percent do it while entertaining family and friends.

• The most popular new accessories grill owners plan to purchase are broiling baskets, cooking planks and pizza stones. Fifty percent of grill owners have basic grilling accessories, like mitts and tongs.

• Barbecuing isn’t strictly for dinnertime meals—11 percent of grill owners have even cooked breakfast on a grill!

Source: HPBA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Remodeling on a Budget? 5 Tips

May 12, 2016 1:12 am

Remodeling a home is a major undertaking, one few homeowners take lightly because of the time and expense it involves. While the end result can add value to the property, homeowners are rightly concerned with getting the job done as cost-effectively as possible.

Consumer Reports offers five tips to help keep costs down and spirits up:

1. Choose a Licensed and Bonded Contractor – Not only are you more likely to get the professionalism you expect, but licensed and bonded contractors are also more likely to hold down costs and share any cost overruns that may occur.

2. Haggle – Don’t be shy about asking for a break in price. Some contractors will offer a discount for seniors or the disabled if asked, or will be amenable to competitive bargaining in order to win your business.

3. Stick to the Plan – Ask questions, listen to ideas and be sure of what you want in your remodel before you sign a contract. Every change you make once the work is in progress will likely result in added charges.

4. Prepare for Unknown Damage – Unknown structural damage discovered once the remodel has begun, such as faulty wiring or mold, can result in delays and added cost. Be prepared to allocate additional funds as needed.

5. Don’t Over-Improve – Don’t over-improve for the neighborhood. Understand that one-of-a-kind features, like having the only swimming pool on your block or the only home with commercial kitchen appliances or upscale decorative touches, does not necessarily mean you will recover your investment if and when you decide to sell.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top Chef: 10 Kitchen Tips for Beginners

May 11, 2016 1:09 am

No doubt chefs with years of training have learned a few tricks along the way. The food editors at Family Circle Magazine recently interviewed a panel of these culinary experts, coming out with 10 all-star tips for novice chefs:

1.  Bump Up the Veggies – Making pasta? Toss a few veggies into the boiling water during the last five minutes of cooking.

2. Clean Cutting Boards with Ease – Get the odors out by liberally sprinkling the board with salt, then scrubbing it with half of a lemon.

3. Cook Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs – Add a bit of oil to the water while boiling, and the shells will slip right off when you peel them.

4. Cut It Right for Stir-Frying – Put meat into the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing into thin, even strips.

5. Improvise Buttermilk – Need buttermilk for just one recipe? Put a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup, then add a cup of milk and stir.

6. Measure Ingredients Before You Cook – Chefs call it, “Mise en Place.” Save time by chopping and measuring all of your ingredients and spices beforehand.

7. Melt Chocolate in the Microwave – No need for a double boiler. Place squares or chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 to 45 seconds. The chocolate will continue melting on its own, so stir it after a few seconds to see if more microwave time is needed.

8. Mince Garlic in Two Steps – Cut thin, vertical slices almost to the stem end, then slice crosswise two or three times to mince.

9. Rescue Dishes with the Right Additives – A heavy hand with any seasoning can ruin a dish. If it’s too spicy, add sugar or butter. If it’s too sweet, add lemon juice. If it just doesn’t taste up to par, try adding a bit of salt.

10. Water Will Not Put Out an Oil Fire – If the pan flares, smother the flame with salt or baking soda, or simply turn off the heat and clamp a lid on the pan.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Healthy Home, Happy Home: Choose EPA "Safer Choice" Products

May 11, 2016 1:09 am

A number of household cleaning products are laced with chemicals not only harmful to our health, but also to the environment. How can you identify the safest products?

Look for the “Safer Choice” label, which denotes products that have been federally evaluated and approved for safety. The moniker, recently launched by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is part of a program backed by over 500 partner companies, and is available for more than 2,000 qualifying products.

The program covers a range of household products, including all-purpose cleaners, carpet and fabric shampoos, deck and siding washes, kitchen and bath cleansers, laundry detergents, and more.

EPA scientists have stringently assessed the products with the Safer Choice label, determining that they contain ingredients healthier to humans and less damaging to the environment.

“[The] EPA has developed its new Safer Choice label so that it will be easier for shoppers to choose cleaning and home care products that are safer for families, pets, communities and the environment,” says EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Our Safer Choice program empowers consumers to protect their health and minimize the impact on the environment through everyday purchasing decisions.”

Source: EPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is Earthquake Insurance Necessary?

May 11, 2016 1:09 am

Though an uncommon occurrence, many areas of the U.S. are susceptible to earthquakes. Should homeowners in these risk regions purchase earthquake insurance?

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), earthquake damage is not covered under standard homeowners or renters insurance, and, in most circumstances, coverage must be purchased through a supplemental policy.

“All Americans need to be financially prepared, and have an up-to-date home inventory and an evacuation plan,” says Janet Ruiz of the I.I.I. “Purchasing an earthquake policy will protect their home from the disasters that pose a risk to their personal safety and property.”

Generally, the supplemental policy provides coverage for property damage brought on by cracking or shaking—other damage sustained as a result of the quake, such as fire or water damage, is typically covered by the standard policy.

It is important to note that homeowners in California have the option to obtain insurance coverage from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). The CEA limits coverage to that of the insured value of the home, as stated on the standard homeowners insurance policy.

Earthquake insurance carries a deductible, generally in the form of a percentage of the insured value of the home, rather than a dollar amount. Insurers in states with a higher-than-average risk of earthquakes, such as Nevada, Utah and Washington, often set minimum deductibles at around 10 percent—equal to $10,000 on a home that would cost $100,000 to rebuild. In most cases, homeowners can get higher deductibles.

Only about one in every 10 households on the West Coast has coverage for quake-caused property damage, the I.I.I. reports. Still, earthquake insurance sales have risen, especially in Oklahoma, where fracking-induced quakes have become cause for concern.

“While we’re seeing an increase in earthquake coverage in the most vulnerable states, everyone—no matter where they live—should contact their insurance professional to make sure that they have the right type and amount of insurance,” says Ruiz.

Recently, central states have seen a spike in seismic activity, with a total of 32 quakes registering 4.0 or higher on the Richter scale last year. Umnak Island, Alaska, saw a 6.9-magnitude quake last year—the highest of the year—and a 6.0-magnitude quake hit South Napa, Calif., the year prior.

The costliest-ever earthquake, the 1994 Northridge quake, caused $15.3 billion in insured damages.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Yard Work: Time-Saving Tips from HGTV Experts

May 10, 2016 1:09 am

Ah, yard work. We take pride in our manicured landscapes, but begrudge the work it takes to get them.

“Landscaping is our business and our passion, but we still want to take care of our yard work in a way that makes life easier, so we can spend time doing the other things we enjoy,” explains Chris Lambton, star of HGTV’s “Going Yard.”

Lambton and his wife, Peyton, who also hosts the show, recommend starting your lawn care routine early in the day. This ensures you’ll be working in cooler temperatures, and leaves time later in the day for other activities.

Worried about waking the neighbors? Don’t be, say the Lambtons. The cordless outdoor power tools of today are virtually noise-less compared to gas-powered equipment.

Yard work doesn’t have to be strenuous, either, the Lambtons add. Battery-powered mowers are fume-free, easy to maneuver and lightweight. As with gas-powered mowers, the blade should be adjusted to the correct height for your lawn.

“The height of your mower blade is determined by a combination of factors, including temperature, season and type of grass,” Chris says.

A good rule of thumb: never cut your grass more than one-third of the total height. Any more will leave your lawn susceptible to burnout and weeds.

What about edging? The Lambtons endorse it. They advise edging along driveways, garden areas, patios and sidewalks, either with a trimmer or hardscaping.

If using a string trimmer, walk in the same direction as the machine spins. If it spins counter-clockwise, walk left to right.

“Edging is an important landscape design element that transitions one space to another," says Chris. “When done with a cordless string trimmer, it's a small yard maintenance step that adds huge curb appeal.”

Yard work should also include maintenance of social gathering spaces, adds Peyton. Sprucing up an entertainment area is as simple as tending to the bushes and shrubs surrounding the space.

“Shrubs can grow into your patio, invading your dining and social areas,” Peyton says. “A mid-powered, cordless hedge trimmer is the perfect tool for quick clean-up of the perimeter of a designated party area.”

Clean up any debris once all of the yard work is done, the Lambtons say. This allows for a “clean sweep” that takes less time than cleanup after each chore.

“Remember to look beyond the trimmings that are visible on the ground,” Peyton says. “Use an axial blower behind and on top of the shrubs and hedges you've just trimmed to clear the area of the mess.”

The Lambtons’ litany of lawn care to-dos are put into practice both at home and on the show. Time-saver? Check.

Source: Greenworks™

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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