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Gail Hoover
4789 Route 309
Center Valley  PA 18034
 Phone: 610-791-4400
Office Phone: 610-791-4400
Cell: 610-217-8136
Fax: 267-354-6890 
gailhoover@aol.com
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Gail Hoover

Gail's Inspirations

Survey: Vacationers Stress to De-Stress

August 18, 2015 12:57 am

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing – right? According to a recent Wyndham Hotel Group survey, the process of planning a vacation can trigger stress greater than that induced when visiting in-laws. Yikes!

The most stressful aspect of vacation planning, the survey found, is staying within budget. While nearly all respondents feel they need a vacation, most believe an overseas vacation is out of reach.

The survey also assessed the relationship between parents and children on vacation, finding families that take just one or two vacations a year fight less than those that don’t. At home, a third of parents talk to their children more via mobile devices than face-to-face; on vacation, three-quarters of parents use their mobile devices less, proving a getaway to be the ultimate cell phone dead spot.

Source: Wyndham Rewards

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Pool Safety Tips

August 18, 2015 12:57 am

Safety is crucial in and near water, especially around pools. Whether you plan to splash down in a community pool or enjoy your pool at home, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) strongly advisers pool users to follow these guidelines to prevent accident or injury.

1. Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.

2. Install a four-foot or taller fence around the entire perimeter of the pool and use self-closing and self-latching gates. Ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.

3. Never leave a child unattended in or near a pool or spa, and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water.

4. Designate a “Water Watcher” to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smartphone or be otherwise distracted. Adults can take turns being a Water Watcher.

5. If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.

6. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.

7. Ensure any public pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety requirements. If you are unsure, ask the pool manager if the facility complies with the “VGB Act.”

8. Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly.

9. Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.

10. Have lifesaving equipment such as a life ring, float or fiberglass reaching pole available and accessible.

Source: CPSC.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

August 18, 2015 12:57 am

It is no secret summer is the more popular time of year to complete a home remodel. In fact, remodeling contractor queries on Angie’s List in June, July and August total one-third of all remodeling contractor queries in the other nine months of the year. The most popular remodeling projects, per Angie’s List data, include kitchen, bathroom and bedroom overhauls, updated lighting, and expanded closets and pantries.

According to Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angie’s List, hiring too quickly for a home remodeling project can lead to serious consequences. To ensure you hire the right professional for your project, Hicks advises:

• Researching 5 to 10 potential companies to determine local reputation, how well their work stands the test of time, and if they specialize in the work you want done;

• Getting at least three written estimates to compare costs and timeliness;

• Verifying applicable trade license, bonding and insurance status;

• Insisting on a payment schedule tied to project progress and keeping at least 10 percent back until the job is complete to your satisfaction;

• Including the payment schedule and a termination clause in your written contract that allows you to walk away easier if terms are not met.

Source: Angie’s List

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Telltale Signs of an Uncle Sam Impersonator

August 17, 2015 2:57 am

Following the emergence of new variations of widespread tax scams, taxpayers should remain on high alert to protect themselves from the ever-evolving array of deceitful tactics scammers use, warns the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These schemes — which can occur over the phone, in e-mails or through letters with authentic looking letterhead — try to trick taxpayers into providing personal financial information or scare people into making a false tax payment that ends up with the criminal.

Scammers posing as IRS agents first targeted those they viewed as most vulnerable, such as older Americans, newly arrived immigrants and those whose first language is not English. These criminals have expanded their net and are now targeting virtually anyone.

In a new variation, scammers alter what appears on your telephone caller ID to make it seem like they are with the IRS or another agency such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. They use fake names, titles and badge numbers. They use online resources to get your name, address and other details about your life to make the call sound official. They even go as far as copying official IRS letterhead for use in email or regular mail.

Brazen scammers will even provide their victims with directions to the nearest bank or business where the victim can obtain a means of payment, such as a debit card. And in another new variation of these scams, con artists may then provide an actual IRS address where the victim can mail a receipt for the payment — all in an attempt to make the scheme look official.

The most common theme with these tricks seems to be fear. Scammers try to scare people into reacting immediately without taking a moment to think through what is actually happening. These scam artists often angrily threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation or other similarly unpleasant things. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests, sometimes through “robo-calls,” via phone or email. The emails will often contain a fake IRS document with a telephone number or email address for your reply.

It is important to remember the official IRS website is IRS.gov. Taxpayers are urged not to be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. Taxpayers should never provide personal information, financial or otherwise, to suspicious websites or strangers calling out of the blue.

Remember, the IRS will never:


• Angrily demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

• Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

• Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

• Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

And if you think you’re the target of an IRS impersonation scam:

• If you actually do owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

• If you know you don’t owe taxes or do not immediately believe that you do, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.

• If you’ve been targeted by any scam, be sure to contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Source: IRS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners: What to Do Before and After a Hurricane Hits

August 17, 2015 2:57 am

Though it is wise to brace your property against hurricane damage, the unfortunate reality is that many homes are not prepared. According to a recent ServiceMaster Restore Franchise Hurricane Preparedness Survey, 90 percent of hurricane restoration servicers surveyed believe homeowners are ill-prepared when it comes to hurricanes. The same amount agreed that homeowners can spend up to twice as much on repairs if they do not take simple precautions in advance.

"We can't stress enough the importance of having a plan," says Kim Brooks, president and CEO of ServiceMaster DSI. "Unfortunately, people often don't take weather warnings seriously, and once they do, panic sets in and they run out of time to take care of simple precautions to secure their property. Knowing what to do before and after a major storm, and knowing when to call in the professionals for assistance, including who to call, can help home and business owners avoid costly damage to their properties in the long run."

Ahead of and after a major hurricane or storm, Brooks and the team of experts at ServiceMaster Restore suggest a three-part strategy to help reduce potential damage, expense and inconvenience.

• Prepare in Advance – Don't wait for weather warnings to create an action plan. For instance, take steps now to fasten the roof to the frame of the home. Once severe weather is predicted, begin boarding up windows and ensuring rain gutters are clear. Secure loose outdoor items, have a fresh supply of batteries on hand, as well as emergency supplies such as water, medication and non-perishable food. Take photos and make lists to document essential possessions. Most importantly, have a plan for post-hurricane repairs and information on hand for professional restoration companies to help mitigate damages in a timely manner.

• Assess Hurricane Aftermath
– Safety after a hurricane or heavy storm is critical. Debris, live power lines and electrically charged water are just a few of the safety risks to keep in mind. Evaluate the situation and structural damage before entering the home or attempting DIY cleanup, which can cause more damage and lead to additional expenses. When possible, water cleanup should begin right away (within 24-48 hours) to avoid mold, rust and further damage. For instance, remove wet area rugs to prevent seepage of water up drywalls and discard damp, non-valuable items to help avoid potential mold contamination. To mitigate loss, contact a professional restoration company immediately.

• Recognize Lingering Problems – Be on the look-out for mold following excessive water or flooding. Mold needs wet conditions to grow and is most often detected by sight or smell. If you notice mold spores or a musty smell in a room or area, remove any lingering wet items. Don't rely on products that promise to kill mold, including bleach, as it only causes mold to go dormant. The only way to truly get rid of mold is to cut it out of an area - an undertaking best left to professionals to avoid further costly damage and inadequate cleaning.

Source: ServiceMaster Restore

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Patterns That Will Make Your Home Pop

August 17, 2015 2:57 am

(Family Features) No matter where you turn, pattern inspiration is all around you, from modern architecture and traditional flooring to animal furs, floral arrangements and fashion runways. As homeowners and designers look to personalize spaces and create impactful interiors, patterns are being replicated with paint on walls, floors, furniture and more.

"Pattern always catches my eye and is my go-to element for adding something special to a space," says Design*Sponge Founder Grace Bonney, author of the best-selling book "Design*Sponge at Home."

Here, Bonney and the experts at ScotchBlue and Patternbank share five up-and-coming trends in pattern for the home.

1. Striking Linework
The once simple stripe has found new life with a bold, modern twist. Sharp angles and a fractured, abstract look bring dimension to the standard stripe, and add strong visual impact to even the most awkward spaces around the home. Consider using neutral paint colors for more traditional and elegant looks or brighter colors to infuse energy into the space.

2. Mod Optic

Bold geometric designs are making their way into home decor with subtle shifts in scale and color. These strong three-dimensional patterns create a clean, modern style that communicates sophistication and audacity. Infuse contrast and depth to create a clean, modern backdrop for existing decor. The pattern allows you to play with a combination of light and dark colors as a way to add different levels of drama based on the space.

3. Geo Elemental
From north and south to east and west, global influences can be seen in architecture, interior design and on the fashion runways. Merging traditional shapes such as zigzags and diamonds with various color treatments adds a modern feel to deep-rooted tradition, creating a meeting point for contemporary and universal. The lively repetition of eye-catching, sharp lines is ideal for spaces that draw attention in one direction and evoke a strong sense of place. Using earth tones and natural colors add to the global feel of the pattern, while cool neutral colors provide a calming aura.

4. '70s Revival
With retro trends making a comeback in both fashion and design, modernizing retro-themed patterns energizes the home and carries a whimsical accent throughout the space. Give a nod to the stylish looks of the '70s by building on lavish shapes with modern styling and fresh forms. The combination of high-contrast colors and the big impact of the pattern help make the space feel dynamic and lively.

5. Found Fragments
Layering pattern on pattern gives you the creative license to have fun experimenting and showcasing your personal style. With clean lines or shapes juxtaposed against existing prints and designs, this pattern keeps your space down-to-earth while still being on trend. Diversify existing decor elements by layering multiple patterns and mediums to adapt any space to match your changing styles.

Source: 3M

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are Back-to-School Sales Better than Black Friday?

August 14, 2015 12:51 am

When purchasing laptops and tablets, smart shoppers plan to take advantage of the year’s biggest seasonal sale – and it’s not Black Friday.

According to a FatWallet.com survey, back-to-school sales trump Black Friday and Cyber Monday when it comes to scoring the best deals on devices for students like laptops, tablets and smartphones. With almost half of parents agreeing high school students should have their own laptops (and nearly three-quarters believing teenagers should own a smartphone), saving big before the school year begins is much more preferable to saving during holiday sales.

Per the survey, approximately 90 percent of parents will spend the “same or more” on school-related products this year, including general school supplies, backpacks, clothes, shoes, and textbooks. More than half of parents will purchase back-to-school items online; just seven percent will purchase items online through a mobile device.

Source: FatWallet.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Slide to Two-Month Low

August 14, 2015 12:51 am

According to a recent Bankrate.com national survey, mortgage rates have declined to a two-month low, sparked by a surprise devaluation of the Chinese yuan. By itself, such an action has little effect on the U.S. economy, but the consequent drag on economic growth from a larger trade deficit and a further downward influence on inflation could prompt the Fed to delay the first interest rate hike.

According to the survey, the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate slid to 4.04 percent, and the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate ticked lower as well, to 3.26 percent.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) were on the downswing also, with the 5-year ARM dipping to 3.20 percent and the 7-year ARM dropping to 3.39 percent.

The larger jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage rate stepped back to 4.00 percent, still remaining below the smaller conforming 30-year fixed mortgage.

At the current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.04 percent, the monthly payment on a $200,000 loan is $959.45.

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Secrets to One-Room Living

August 14, 2015 12:51 am

(BPT) – As we seek to simplify our lives, the desire for small-space living–even one-room living–seems more attractive than ever. Whether you're ready to join the tiny house movement or just want to get the most out of a compact space in your home, there are easy things you can do to make a small space look, feel and function like a larger one.

"There's no need to sacrifice great design if you live in a small space. A few simple changes are all you need to make it feel bigger, more beautiful and a reflection of your personality," says Sherwin-Williams Director of Color Marketing Jackie Jordan (sherwin-williams.com).

1. Look Overhead and Underfoot – Consider using every conceivable space to please the eye–even the ceiling. "I love the idea of reflecting the shape of your dining room table with a bold accent color on the ceiling above it," says Jordan. Another idea: define a space at the floor level with an area rug beneath a couch and side table.

2. Integrate Multitasking Solutions – If you're always multitasking, your furniture can do the same. Place an ottoman with a hidden storage compartment or flip-top serving tray beside a comfy chair. Move a twin bed next to the wall and add big patterned pillows to create seating space by day and sleeping space by night. The pillows can also provide extra floor seating for entertaining.

3. Write It on the Wall
– Walls can also be multifunctional. Sketch Pad, a clear gloss coating, can turn any surface into a dry erase board, and goes over any paint color. Instead of cluttering up the walls with bulletin boards, write directly on the wall by a computer desk, or scribble messages and doodles in the kitchen. Simply wipe it clean with a dry eraser.

5. Find a Focal Point
– It can make a space feel larger. Try painting a corner, such as a reading nook, in a bright, bold color for a mini-room effect. Or paint a piece of furniture or picture frame and elevate it to something special.

6. Get Creative with Cabinetry
– Take advantage of cabinetry with built-in storage features, from pullout racks that create added pantry space to bathroom cabinets equipped with laundry hampers, hairdryer hooks and bins for grooming items.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Most Americans Favor Limits on Drone Use

August 13, 2015 12:48 am

Though the first FAA-approved drone delivery of a package has already taken place, more than three-quarters of Americans support restrictions on the use of drones, according to a recent survey by legal information site FindLaw.com.

The FindLaw.com survey found that Americans have mixed views on which specific restrictions they would like to see. These include:

• Drone operators must pass a knowledge test and obtain certification from the FAA (54 percent)

• Drones must always remain with the operator’s visual line of sight (37 percent)

• Drones cannot be flown over people who are not directly involved with the flight (36 percent)

• Drone flights must be limited to 500 feet in altitude and 100 mph in speed (31 percent)

The use of drones for business or commercial purposes, such as package delivery or news photography, is currently banned in the U.S. The FAA has proposed new regulations specifying how drones can be used in business.

“Commercial drones are an emerging area of regulation, and the FAA is trying to balance the commercial use of drones with the need for safety for people on the ground and nearby air traffic,” says FindLaw.com Attorney and Editor Stephanie Rahlfs. “The FAA is seeking public comment on its proposed regulations, and people are encouraged to voice their views on what level of regulation they feel is appropriate.”

Source: FindLaw.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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