RE/MAX 440
Peter Patkos
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 215-327-7491
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Fax: 267-354-6879
Peter Patkos

My Blog

Helpful Tips for Stress-Free Holidays with Your Pet

December 21, 2012 9:46 am

In the spirit of the season, the Advocacy for Pets and Affordable Wellness (APAW) has announced seven unconventional tips to help pet parents, as well as anyone hosting a pet visitor, enjoy the holidays while ensuring their pets are safe, healthy and happy. As part of the organization's ongoing commitment to pet affordability and wellness issues, APAW offers valuable, pet owner insights and simple solutions to counteract unexpected situations that could affect the well-being of any four-legged friends during the holidays.

Heed the following seasonal tips and guidelines to prepare your home properly and ensure pet wellness during the holidays:

1. Calm your pet using food-grade peppermint oil. One teaspoon warmed and gently rubbed on a pet's paws will relieve stress and tension.
2. Secure your garbage can at all times. Harness your pet's curiosity and safeguard against unnecessary emergency visits and expenses by taking steps to fasten garbage bags and toss unwanted gift wrapping and other festive materials that could cause potential digestive problems.
3. Use cinnamon oil spray to keep your dog or cat away from the holiday tree. Fill a 3oz. spray bottle with water and 5-7 drops of cinnamon oil—spray around the base of the tree to deter pets from tampering with it.
4. Administer flea and tick medicine prior to arrival of guests. Proper application of this topical medication will help make your home more inviting and comfortable for your guests.
5. Keep over-feeding at bay. Supply healthy snacks for guests to feed your pet and cut back on regular food intake.
6. Use potting soil as an alternative to cat litter. This handy household ingredient can be used as a temporary fix when necessary.
7. Give your pup a quick clean. Mixing cornstarch with baking soda and salt yields a simple dry shampoo to freshen up a dog's coat—perfect for surprise visits and holiday photo ops.

Source: Advocacy for Pets and Affordable Wellness

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Consumer Reports Poll: With Just Days Left, 132 Million Americans Have Not Finished Their Holiday Shopping

December 21, 2012 9:46 am

With just a few shopping days left until Christmas, a whopping 68 percent of shoppers – a projected 132 million Americans – have yet to finish their gift shopping, according to the latest Consumer Reports Holiday Poll. Seventeen million are estimated to hit stores on Christmas Eve.

"We found in a previous poll that 20 percent of Americans dread shopping for gifts, which could explain why there are so many procrastinators this year," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. "Those who haven't finished shopping can expect crowded stores – including on Christmas Eve."

When asked which gift they were most likely to grab at the last-minute, 62 percent of shoppers said they would go with a gift card or gift certificate, 27 percent would opt for cold hard cash, while 15 percent would go with booze. Lottery tickets and candy would be a last-minute choice for 12 percent respectively, while 4 percent would issue an IOU or gift-to-be-determined.

The Consumer Reports Holiday Poll also revealed who holiday shoppers would most likely leave-off their gift list if they ran out of money or time to shop. Thirty-one percent said service providers would be chopped from their list, making them the most likely to be overlooked. But 14 percent of married shoppers said their spouse/partner would most likely not receive a gift, an option that was embraced by twice as many women (18 percent) than men (9 percent). Others most likely not to get gifts with time or money running short include co-workers, the family pet, an extended family member and the boss.

Even though some might not buy their spouse/partner a gift, 98 percent of Americans are looking forward to spending time with their spouse/partner this holiday season – including 88 percent who are looking forward "a lot." Who in their family are Americans not crazy about seeing? Extended family members like an aunt, uncle or cousin topped the list. Thirty-three percent are not at all thrilled about seeing their step-parents, and 22 percent could do without spending time with their siblings.

Thus far shoppers have spent a median of $340 on holiday gifts this season, which is 70 percent of the $483 total they told Consumer Reports they planned to spend on-average this year in a previous poll. And more Americans said that their shopping experience this year has been pleasant (41 percent) or fun (18 percent) than rushed (14 percent), nerve-wracking (9 percent) or disappointing (6 percent).

When asked who topped the list of worst gift-givers, 30 percent of those surveyed said their extended family members. Co-workers, in-laws and friends were also identified as most likely to give lousy gifts.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Transforming Your Bedroom into a Stylish, Functional Retreat

December 21, 2012 9:46 am

(Family Features) In today’s busy, on-the-go world, having a haven to come home to is a must. And for many people, that sanctuary is the bedroom.

“Today’s bedroom is for more than just sleeping,” says Emily Henderson, host of “Secrets from a Stylist” and HGTV’s Season 5 “Design Star” winner. “From working and engaging with media to reading, relaxing and watching TV, we are doing more in our bedrooms than before. But that doesn’t mean we have to compromise great style and comfort.”

Henderson recently shared a few of her designer secrets to help anyone create a peaceful and luxurious haven.

Choose the Right Color Palette
Color really sets the mood for a room. While soft, cool colors and neutrals create a soothing mood, strong colors add drama.

A good rule of thumb when choosing colors is 60-30-10. Sixty percent of the room should be the dominant color (walls), 30 percent a secondary color (upholstery) and 10 percent an accent color (accessories).

When choosing your colors, start with something you love as your inspiration. It can be a painting, a pillow or even your favorite vase. Use that item to build out the perfect color palette for your bedroom.

Beautify Your Bed and Bedding
The Better Sleep Council says that, in general, a mattress set that has been in use for seven years should be replaced in order to give you the best comfort and support possible. If it’s time to replace your mattress, think about upgrading your whole bed. To get the designer look you see in magazines and on websites for your bed, Henderson says you need to choose great bedding, and learn how to layer it.

“Make sure you have tons of textures and layers,” she said. “More than any other room, upholstery is important. In your bedroom, you want everything soft. The key is to contrast textures like wools, linens, cashmeres and knits to make it feel inviting. Remember to keep everything in your color palette to avoid it looking messy or feeling busy.”

Here is her step-by-step guide to layering bedding like a pro:

Start with sheets — Make sure you have comfortable sheets that feel good against your skin. You can choose a solid color or a pattern that complements your bedspread.

Add a blanket — The next layer is a soft blanket. Depending on the season and the climate in your area, you can go with a lighter cotton or fleece blanket, or a heavier wool one.

Top it off — A quilt, duvet or bedspread is the top layer of your bedding and has the most visual impact. It needs to pull together all the layers of your bed and complement the colors of your room.

Accent each layer — Fold the top layer back about a quarter of the way down the bed. Follow with the blanket and the sheet, leaving each layer visible.

Add pillows and accessories — Use larger, European style pillows and shams for a backdrop, your sleeping pillows in front of those, then an accent pillow or two. Add a textured throw or silky quilt folded at the end of the bed for a finishing touch.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Are You Seeing Spots...On Your Dishes?

December 20, 2012 3:46 am

(Family Features) If your dishwasher is turning out dull, spotty dishes and leaving you frustrated and annoyed, you’re not alone. Spotty and cloudy dishes are a common nuisance for many dishwasher owners across America.

In fact, a recent survey found that people experience spots and cloudy film on their dishes straight out of the dishwasher an average of five times per month, and 70 percent felt annoyed or frustrated because they didn’t know the cause. The battle of dull dishes has left many Americans wasting excess time and money by changing their detergent (49 percent) or rewashing by hand (47 percent).

But what many don’t know is that the spots are probably caused by the removal of a key grime-fighting ingredient from detergents – phosphates. In 2010, dishwasher detergent manufactures were forced to rework their formulas because of environmental concerns, as required by State laws passed in over a dozen states. While the new formulas may be gentler on the planet, some are lacking in cleaning power.

Despite the formula changes, dishwasher owners can still be spared the domestic dread of cloudy and spotty dishes and achieve sparkling and pristine dishware right out of the dishwasher.

To save time and avoid rewashing by hand, try these simple tips for sparkling clean dishes and glasses:

Boost your detergent’s performance. Let your dishes shine by giving your dishwasher detergent a boost of extra power with a product such as a dishwashing booster. To restore the sparkling appearance of your dishes in just one wash, add two squirts to the bottom of the dishwasher. For ongoing use, fill the rinse agent dispenser with dishwashing booster about once a month to keep dishes clean and spot free, wash after wash.

Properly load your dishes. To optimize cleaning, load the dishwasher so that dishes are facing in toward the center, and in line with the jets. Glasses, plastic and small items should be placed on the top rack facing downward, and large items like pots, pans and dinner plates should be placed on the bottom rack along the sides.

Whether you’re hosting an intimate get-together or throwing a grand soiree, adding a dishwashing booster and properly maintaining your dishwasher can help ensure your dishes come out sparkling clean with each wash. Rest assured your smile will be gleaming as bright as your dishes.

Source: OxiClean

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Airport Security Procedure Changes

December 20, 2012 3:46 am

Recent changes to the screening process at airports across the country will help millions of travelers board their planes quicker and easier during the busy traveling season and allow officers to focus on passengers who might represent a bigger risk.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has recently updated its screening process to help children, seniors, and trusted travelers move faster through airport checkpoints while ensuring the security of all travelers. Below, you’ll find some of the latest changes.

New Screening Process for Children
Children, 12 or younger, can now go through airport security without taking off their shoes. To minimize the need for pat-downs, children are now allowed to go through metal detectors and body scanners several times to clear any alarms.

It's also worth remembering some of the existing processes for screening children at the airport:

• Officers will never separate children from their parents or guardian
• All children's luggage will go through the x-ray machine
• Travelers with small children are able to take more than 3.4 ounces of liquid, such as breast milk, juice, and medicines

New Screening Process for the Elderly
Screening changes for passengers who are 75 years or older are similar to the screening process for children. That is, elderly people will also be able to go through airport security without removing their shoes. They can also go through a security checkpoint without removing a light jacket.

To minimize pat-downs, the elderly will be able to go through the metal detector and body scanners several times to clear any alarms. The TSA has a hotline to answer questions about the security process for passengers with disabilities and medical issues. The toll-free number is 1 (855) 787-2227. Be sure to call 72 hours before traveling so you have enough time to make any changes before going through security.

New Program for Frequent Travelers
The TSA also has a new program to help frequent travelers move through security checkpoints faster. The program is called "TSA Pre" and is available in more than 30 U.S. airports to frequent passengers of a limited number of airlines, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines.

Travelers who enroll in the program:

• Do not need to take off their shoes and belts while going through security
• Can keep their computers inside their bags
• Can go through security without taking off a light jacket
To enroll in the "TSA Pre" program, or to learn more, visit


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Holiday Decorations Provide a Cutting Edge...if Done Right

December 20, 2012 3:46 am

Holiday decorating, when tastefully done, can be the eye candy you need to sell your home. With a little holiday flair, you can transform your home into a winter wonderland that will grab the attention of any type of buyer.

Since you don't want to turn off any potential buyers, leave the inflatable Santas and reindeer in the attic. Not only do they take up much-needed space in your front lawn, but they also make symbolic statements that you are best avoiding.

Choose one theme or look and stick with it throughout. Pay attention to proportion and balance; make sure your decorations suit the home appropriately and add to rather than hinder the home's décor.

Don't overdo exterior holiday lighting; rather, use them for a determined purpose. Christmas lights can be used to light up a walkway for night viewings and can add a nice sparkle to that pine tree sitting in your front yard. If your house ends up looking like something out of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, you have gone too far. Scale back and be more conservative than you usually would be with your decorating.

Keep your decorations elegant and simple. When decorating, think "winter" and not "Christmas." White lights help give your home a seasonal look without symbolizing any specific holiday, while pine wreaths serve the same purpose for the exterior or interior of the home.

If your family cannot do without a tree, stick to tall and thin trees. You want your home to feel open and spacious even with sporadic decorations about. Stick to two or three colors when decorating your tree; less is more when trying to sell your home. Lastly, be sure to take your tree down before the new year.

If your home is on the market, you can still give it a festive and seasonal look without going overboard. By brightening your home up for the season, you can incite buyer interest in your home.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips for Using Portable Generators Efficiently and Safely

December 19, 2012 3:46 am

When storms terrorize your neighborhood, knocking out the power for indefinite periods of time, portable electric generators are a great way to keep the electricity flowing. Especially during this time of year, portable generators can keep your house warm should you lose power on a cold, chilly night.

Despite the many pros to using generators, there are a few common dangers that should be avoided in order to ensure safety while running a generator, including carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and electrocution or electrical shock. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and Reliance Controls offer the following tips for safe usage and warn against the improper use and installing of portable generators:

• Never use a gasoline-powered generator inside your home or garage. High levels of carbon monoxide are generated quickly and opening doors or windows will not prevent build-up. Always use your generator outdoors and away from the home and open windows. Use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the levels of hazardous gas.

• Store generator fuel safely. Keep it away from living areas and fuel-burning appliances. Properly label your containers as well. Make sure the generator is off and cooled down before attempting to refill it.

• Check the extension cords you plan on using beforehand. Make sure they are rated for the load, free of cuts or worn insulation and have three-pronged plugs.

• Be careful not to overload the generator. Only use it when absolutely necessary to power essential appliances.

Another ESFI recommendation is that you do not connect your generator directly into your household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch being installed. A transfer switch is an electrical device that is permanently installed near the service panel in your home. It prevents the utility power and the generator power from powering your household circuits at the same time. A transfer switch also eliminates the possibility of backfeeding, which is when generator power travels back up the utility service line. Backfeeding can result in fires and serious injury or even death to you, utility workers or electricians working on nearby electrical systems.

The National Electrical Code®, which sets national standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks, requires that transfer switches be used with all portable generators supplying alternate power to a home or business.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Most Homeowners Not Downsizing

December 19, 2012 3:46 am

Whether a millennial, Gen Xer or baby boomer, homeowners overwhelmingly want their next home to be the same size or larger than their current home, according to a recent survey by national homebuilder PulteGroup, Inc. This latest PGHI survey polled current homeowners on size and feature preferences for their next home.

"It was interesting to see that 84 percent of homeowners ages 18-59 don't have plans to downsize their next home, even among baby boomers," said Deborah Meyer, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of PulteGroup. "The PGHI survey results also show that today's buyers are equally focused on smarter use of the spaces within their homes."

Further proof that increased house size is on the rise comes from recent U.S. Census Bureau data which indicates the average size of a newly built home was 2,480 square feet in 2011, which is an increase of 3.7 percent from 2010. This represents the first annual increase since 2007.

Generational Differences
More than half of millennials, homeowners between the ages of 18-34, would like their next home to be larger than their current home with 68 percent of those respondents saying the larger home would be used to accommodate their growing family.

Meanwhile, showing the diversity of Gen Xers, nearly 40 percent of respondents ages 35-54 want a larger home to accommodate a growing family (37 percent) and need more room and storage space (29 percent).

One of the most interesting survey results came from baby boomer respondents. Only 28 percent of those ages 55-59 said they want their next home to be smaller, citing retirement and becoming an empty nester as the top reasons for downsizing.

Forget Formality, Homeowners Want More Space
According to the survey, 21 percent of homeowners ages 18-59 rarely use their formal dining room while 17 percent said they rarely use their formal living room. When asked to rank the most important feature in their next home, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents want larger, open spaces, including master bedrooms, larger rooms and open floor concepts.

When asked to rank their top five "must haves" in their next home, respondents indicated they want:

• Larger rooms
• Master bedrooms suites
• More storage space
• Patio/outdoor living space
• Energy efficiency

While men and women ages 18-59 agree on having a master bedroom suite, 62 percent of women said they also would like to have more storage space while 45 percent of men want more technology in the home. And, as older men (55-59) embark upon retirement, they rank having a study/den in their top five must-have features.

Family Closeness Still a Factor in Choosing a Home's Location
Homeowners are willing to give up a lot to get what they want in their next home, but across all generations they don't want to give up being close to their family.

When asked what homeowners 18-59 would be willing to give up for the "must haves" in their next home:

• 52 percent cited being close to public transportation
• 35 percent said they're willing to give up being close to entertainment and shopping
• 28 percent said they would give up being near parks and better schools

However, the last thing homeowners want to give up is being near their family with only 21 percent saying moving away from their family would be an option.

Source: PulteGroup

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Factors to Keep in Mind When Pricing Your Kitchen Remodel

December 18, 2012 3:44 am

Homeowners who are looking to remodel their kitchen should keep the following factors—that can significantly affect the price of their remodel—in mind as they begin to make plans to upgrade their kitchen. According to Kitchen Tune-Up, homeowners should pay attention to the following five factors before they begin a renovation.

1. Wood species or cabinet covering material. The material that covers the cabinet will effect the overall pricing of a kitchen renovation, but not as much as you might think. A stainless steel clad cabinet will be the most expensive and a melamine (thin plastic laminate) surface will be the least costly. Cherry is usually about 7-10 percent more than oak, while hickory, oak and pine usually run very close in price. Unusual cabinet woods like alder, mahogany, fir, rift cut woods, redwood, teak, etc. will usually cost more than common oak or pine.

2. Kitchen layout. The layout of the kitchen and the cabinet configuration will largely affect the price of a remodel as well. For example, a lazy susan will cost more than a sink cabinet, a stack of drawers will be higher priced than a one drawer/two door base cabinet, a U-shaped kitchen costs more than an L-shape with an island and a wall oven/cooktop combination makes the kitchen cost about $1,000 more than a free standing range. Setting a budget to design within can often save homeowners many hours of re-design.

3. Cabinet door style. A door with many details will usually cost more than a simple door. If an arch is added to a square panel, homeowners can expect to pay more. A door with lots of grooves or molding generally costs more than a simple door and a full overlay door (door that covers almost the entire cabinet face) costs more than a traditional overlay door. Doors set inside the cabinet frame (called inset) cost more than doors that are mounted over the cabinet frame.

4. Type of cabinet finish. The type of cabinet finish you choose will vary the pricing of a kitchen remodel as well. Painted cabinets will run 10-15 percent more than a standard stain finish and glazes or layered finishes will run 7-15 percent more than a standard stain due to the extra labor.

5. Cabinet construction methods and materials. Don’t skimp in the area of cabinet construction in order to save money on your kitchen renovation as better construction methods make a kitchen durable. In fact, cabinet construction may be 60 percent of the entire cabinet cost.

For more information, visit

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The Truth about Carpet, Asthma and Allergies

December 18, 2012 3:44 am

Not only does carpet add warmth and comfort to any room, it also helps keep the air free of allergens and pollutants when properly vacuumed and maintained. What falls to the carpet—such as allergens, common dust, pet hair and other pollutants—tends to stay on the carpet until it is vacuumed, unlike smooth surfaces that allow these particles to re-circulate. Properly maintained carpet leads to improved air quality and a healthier indoor environment because regular vacuuming with a Carpet and Rug Institute-certified vacuum cleaner locks pollutants in the machine and removes them from the air you breathe.

Here are several facts that support the use of carpet to help prevent asthma and allergy symptoms:


-There is no scientific study linking the rise of allergy and asthma to the use of carpet. Indeed, several studies actually disprove any correlation.

-According to Carpet and Flooring Review, a 15-year Swedish study found no link between carpet usage and the incidence of allergy or asthma. In fact, even when carpet usage in Sweden decreased by 70 percent, allergy reactions in the general population increased by 30 percent.

-Carpet may even be helpful to people with asthma: an 18-nation study of nearly 20,000 people found a statistical relationship between carpeted bedrooms and reduced asthma and allergy symptoms and improved breathing.

-A 2003 study of more than 4,600 school children in New Jersey found that having carpet in a child’s bedroom was associated with fewer missed school days and less need for asthma medication.

Studies have compared the distribution of airborne dust associated with normal activities on hard and soft flooring surfaces. Findings show that walking on hard surfaces disturbed more particles. These particles became airborne and entered the breathing zone. In contrast, carpeted surfaces trapped more particles so that walking disturbed fewer particles. The result was less dust in the breathing zone over carpeted floors.


Vacuum regularly and thoroughly. It may come as a surprise that something as simple as regular vacuuming can have a big impact on the air you breathe. When vacuuming, remember to keep the following guidelines in mind:

-Use slow, repetitive front-to-back motions in an overlapping sequence. A quick once-over doesn’t do much. Move slightly to the left or to the right every four strokes.

-Don’t ignore the corners or crevices where dust builds. Use the proper attachments to clean those difficult-to-reach areas.

-“Top-down” cleaning saves you the step of vacuuming after dusting. Dust blinds, windowsills and furniture surfaces first and then vacuum away any fallen dust.

-Remember to remove and replace or empty vacuum bags when they are half to two-thirds full.

-Professionally clean your carpet every 12 to 18 months. Regular vacuuming removes soil and dust, but periodic professional cleaning is needed to remove embedded dirt. Check with the manufacturer of your carpet for professional service provider recommendations, many of which can be found at

Purchase and install carpet certified with the Green Label or Green Label Plus. These programs make certain that carpet and adhesive products meet the most stringent criteria for low chemical emissions.

By appropriately cleaning and maintaining your carpet, you can hopefully keep your family healthier and control your allergies.

For more information, visit

Published with permission from RISMedia.