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Archive for July, 2010

Moving Your Pets Safely
July 29, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Helpful Tips

Both dogs and cats can either travel with you in your car or take a plane ride. Think it over carefully if you are traveling with them in your car. Animals can get car sickness too. They are usually coping with the extra stress of motion and new surroundings as well as picking up on the anxiety of their owners. Be sure to take rest stops to help alleviate all of these symptoms. Have drinking water available with a bowl, access to air when in the car, and room to move. While in the midst of excitement and stress remember to keep your animals on a leash at all times as they will instinctively want to run when the car doors open to get back home to their comfort zone.

Going too fast!

Want to send your critters on a plane ride? Keep these things in mind. Check with your airlines for any specifics you might have to abide by in order to get them on the plane. Your pet will most likely need a pet certificate prior to boarding. Again, call the airline for specifics on that and at the same time see what their regulations are for the size of crates/boxes you need for your pets. When putting your pets in their travel crates or containers make sure they have water and food and possibly a piece of your clothing so the scent will calm them.

For smaller animals such as hamsters, mice, guinea pigs or birds you can transport them as well. Again, make sure they have food, water, and a clean cage with room to move. These smaller animals can’t have the drafts that a dog or cat might enjoy. Sometimes it’s best to cover their cages to keep out any extreme temperatures, drafts or activity outside the vehicle.

Fish on the other hand are not real practical to move. It’s not easy to move an aquarium as a gallon of water alone can weigh eight pounds. It is best to plan to give the fish away to another loving home, or check with your vet, or sell them. You can restock your aquarium when you reach your new destination.

Your veterinarian, boarders, pet store owners and the airlines can be a wonderful resource for you and your pets!

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Easy ways to “Green Up” Your Home
July 29, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Helpful Tips

Go Green!Want to be part of the conservation efforts and sustainability efforts in the world?  Here are some quick tips:

Start with appliances that are not in use.  These can utilize up to 70% of your energy bill.  They continue to use electricity even when not in use.  The best way to combat that is to use power strips as much as possible and then you can unplug a bunch of things at one time.   They can use these for cell phones, lap tops, coffee makers, toasters, etc.

The obvious; switch out those old light bulbs for the new compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’S) which are about 4 times more efficient that the traditional Incan -descent bulbs.  They also can last up to 10 times longer.

Check out those dual flush toilets.  These toilets have two buttons, each dispersing two separate amounts of water.   These can save up to 65% of water used daily by a traditional toilet.  These toilets can cost anywhere from $160-$400. 

Caulking windows and insulating can be huge energy savers as well.  Make sure the caulking material you use is conducive to the material your are applying it to.  Talk with home experts regarding proper insulation type and installation.  Payback on these two items alone can sometimes be seen in the first two years of installation.

Keep your furnace filters clean and use a programmable thermostat.  Have your furnace serviced at regular intervals; maybe a new one is in order. 

Consider Bamboo as alternative for flooring.  It’s environmentally friendly due to the fast rate at which it replenishes itself.  It takes about 5 years or so to mature compare to 35-100 years for hardwoods.  Again, make sure the glue you use is not formaldehyde- based.

Reduce your plastic usage.  They have a huge environmental impact from the minute they are made to when they are tossed or recycled at best.  Help combat global warming.  Get your own grocery bags or if you are only getting one or two items at the grocery store ask NOT to get it in a bag. 

Save those trees.  Use less paper and be conscious of the paper you do use.  Remove yourself from junk mail lists or recycle that mail you toss. You can contact optoutprescreen.com or call 888-567-8688 to opt out of insurance or credit cards offers. 

Another resource for recycling would be your city’s website for local information. A resource for junk mail is Direct Marketing Assoc. Mail Preference Service.  P.O.Box 643, Carmel NY  10512. Write to them and sign up to opt out of most junk mail lists.  It’s a start.  It might take a little of your time but consider that we are tossing approx. 4.5 million tons of this away each year.

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How Important is the Location of a Home?
July 28, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Real Estate

Location of a prospective home is paramount to your buying decision. Of the many things that can be changed about a home after it’s purchased, the location is just about the only one that you can’t change. There are a number of things you’ll need to consider to determine of a home’s location is right for you. Below are some helpful guidelines and tips that will hopefully help you to decide.

Community

Is the community right for you? Does the community reflect the same values that you have? Do you enjoy socializing or do you value your privacy? Look for a home in which the surrounding community has similar values.

Schools

Do you have children? How far away are you children from the schools? Will you have to drive them to the bus stop or all the way to school? Do you plan to attend a community college for continued learning? If schools and/or continued education are important to you, consider a home that is in relatively close proximity to an academic institution.

Shopping Centers

How close are grocery stores and shopping centers? Would you prefer to be closer to the grocery store or malls?

Work/Occupation Proximity

How far away is your work? Do you want to commute? What’s the maximum distance you would consider traveling for work? Do you work from home? Know how far you want to travel and consider traffic into your travel time calculations.

Traffic

Living on a busy road can feel invasive and less private. How much traffic are you willing to tolerate? Will you be working from home and traffic won’t be an issue?

Remember, location, location, location. A home can always be renovated, remodeled, demolished and rebuilt. The landscaping can be altered, changed, or redone. But the location of a home is final. Research areas that appeal to you and narrow your search down to those areas.

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Prepare Your Home for Fall and Winter
July 28, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Helpful Tips, Real Estate

Fall LeavesAs fall creeps into the air here are some items that need your attention around the home.  Clean out those gutters one more time before Fall.  With this great weather it’s a good time to repair leaks or replace damaged downspouts.   Replace some gutter screws, get some decorative spout trays for even distribution of water flow or get yourself a rain barrel. 

Central air-conditioning?  This is a  good time to check your system out.  Make sure you’ve cleaned out all the condensation in the drain line.  Clean out any algae or other debris.  You can easily clean those lines with a bleach mixture. 

Before you store away your window screens, make sure they are clean. You can clean them easily with a soft scrub brush and warm soapy water.  Clean both sides of the screen.  Rinse and allow to dry and you’ll be ready for next year.

Windows can be checked for leaks or cracks and you can decide whether they need to be replaced or not.  Tax credits are still being allowed through the end of this year for energy upgrades.

Insulation,  water heaters, and furnaces can be checked out as well.  When were they last serviced?  Have all filters been changed out? There are tax credits still being offered for these energy upgrades until the end of this year.

It’s time to prepare for the Fall and Winter months by getting these easy, smaller projects out of the way.

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Should I Stage My Property?
July 27, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Helpful Tips, Real Estate

This is a question often asked by those who want to know if the cost of staging a home is worth the investment in an already down market. Below is some food for thought that will hopefully help you decide what will work best for you.

The Positives

  • Staging can help people visualize the amount of available space in a room which they can then mentally picture their own furniture and items in the rooms.

  • A clean well staged home can make rooms look larger.

  • Elegant decorating and staging can add character to an otherwise empty home.

  • Staging can help draw attention to the best attributes of the home.

The Negatives

  • Staging a space can make it look claustrophobic and cluttered.

  • Some buyers prefer an empty home that they can picture their own items in.

  • Staging done improperly can be a significant detriment how well the home shows.

  • Staging can be expensive.

Know What Kind of Market You’re In

By knowing what kind of real estate market you’re in, you should be able to get a better idea of whether or not staging your home will be effective or not.

Buyer’s Market

Currently, we’re in a buyers market. There’s plenty of homes on the market to choose from, so anyone selling their home will have some competition. To set yourself apart from the others, staging can be a helpful tool. Elegant decorations can draw attention to the space and “feel” of the room, rather than draw attention to the emptiness which may reveal minor issues.

Seller’s Market

In a sellers market, buyers are competing for your home, so it won’t often require the expense of staging, although it may help your home stand out.

The best advice is to understand your home, and have an understanding of the market. Know whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market. Know your homes best features. Find out from a professional stager what would complement your home perfectly. Regardless, understanding your home will help you determine that staging or leaving the home empty showcases your home the best.

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TurkFest 2010
July 27, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Local Events

TurkFest, the annual Turkish Cultural Festival of Seattle, is recognized for its demonstration of Turkish hospitality through educating and entertaining Seattle community by presenting a thrilling glimpse into Turkish culture. This year, TurkFest celebrates its 10th Anniversary at Seattle Center, inviting us to join a terrific event.

During the festival, visitors will be introduced to numerous Turkish traditions including authentic folk dancing, cooking demonstrations, delicious tea, black Turkish coffee, paper-marbling workshops, and lots more.

The festival dates are October 16-17.
Time: Saturday, 12 pm – 7:30 pm, Sunday, 12 pm – 6:00 pm.
Location: Seattle Center House and Fisher Pavilion roof.
Address: 305 Harrison Street, Seattle WA 98109.

Admission is free.

We encourage you to participate in TurkFest and hope you will have a wonderful experience!

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Taking Advantage of Low Mortgage Interest Rates
July 26, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Real Estate

Mortgage rates for loans are the lowest they’ve been in years. If you’re thinking about buying a home or refinancing to lock in these unprecedented low rates, this is a good time to do it. 30-year fixed pricing is hovering around or below 4.5 percent.

Why You Should Buy

  1. You’ll get a locked in low mortgage rate that will remain unchanged for 30 years.
  2. Your monthly payment may be more affordable.
  3. Home prices are lower.
  4. Save money by locking in a low rate.

 Keep in mind, there is a good possibility that the recession will continue. This means that the home you buy may not appreciate in value quickly, and may even lose value initially, however, the locked in low interest rate will help ensure the possible benefits of long term investment in a home of your own.

What To Expect

–        30-year fixed rates will probably increase over time. Lock in your rate.
–        Don’t plan on buying a home with the intention of having it start to appreciate immediately.
–        A 30-year fixed rate will be locked in at that rate.

 Refinance Now!

 If you haven’t already, refinancing your loan to match the lower rates can save you a ton of money over time. If the thought has crossed your mind to get your loan refinanced, talk to your loan officer. No matter how long you’ve held your mortgage, there’s a chance that a refinance can:

–        Reduce out of pocket costs.
–        Lower your existing mortgage rate.
–        Reduce your total mortgage payment substantially.

 Mortgage markets change and vary rapidly and without notice. By locking in a low rate now either through the purchase of a new home or via refinance, you may ensure a lower monthly payment with a fixed low interest mortgage rate.

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New Credit Card Rules and How They Apply to You
July 23, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Helpful Tips

Credit CardsNew credit card rule have been enacted from the CARD (Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure) Act, created to protect consumers from predatory practices. Credit Card companies must now give you 45 days advance notice before raising your rates. Their billing statements must be reveal how long it takes to pay off a balance with just a minimal payment being made as a minimal payment increases your interest. Your interest can now only be increased once a year; no longer at the whim of the credit card companies.

They will now have restrictions on over-the-limit fees. You will no longer be able to automatically go over your limit at the point of purchase. Thus, no automatic over-the-limit fees will be applied. There are now fee caps. All Annual or application fees cannot equal more than 25% of the initial card limit.

Under 21? You will now need an adult co-signer or proof that you can pay the card. Gives parents and kids a chance to learn about the responsible usage of credit. Your statements will now be delivered no less than 21 days before your payment is due. Standardized billing with standardized times for receiving payments. Double billing within one month doesn’t exist any longer either as companies were double-cycle billing to change how interest was being calculated.

The new rules don’t cover corporate cards so watch for rate hikes there as the industry as a whole will take a loss in revenue of up to 10$ billion annually due to the current changes. Be sure to look for new fees; like annual fees, processing fees or activity fees. There will probably be cuts in rewards points as well.

Shop around for other cards. Check out all the above mentioned points. Keep those hard earned dollars of yours in your pocket, pay off your balances monthly and check out those smaller banks or credit card companies. Some of the worst offenders of practices that have changed were from some of our largest institutions.

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A Taste of Edmonds 2010
July 23, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Local Events

Festivals are always fun! They bring us happiness and lots of pleasure. The more festivals we visit, the more temptation we have to see them again. So, why would we stop you? It’s summer, and summer usually is the best time to visit festivals and enjoy the great time with your friends and family. So, come to Edmonds to celebrate “A Taste of Edmonds” festival for its 28th anniversary.
A Taste of Edmonds is Snohomish Counties’ largest festival. Every year, more than 100,000 people attend the festival to enjoy the amazing arts and crafts, entertainment and rides, and of course to taste beer and wine.
Don’t miss out on one of the best local festivals. Mark your calendars for August 13, 14, 15, and we hope to see you there!

Times
Fri, Sat, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sun, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Admission
$3.00 admission

For more information, please visit http://www.edmondswa.com/events/taste-of-edmonds.html or call at 245.776.6711. You can also send your email at Taste@EdmondsWA.com

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Getting Green With School Supplies
July 22, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under General, Helpful Tips

Back To School!Fall is a great time to shop for earth friendly supplies and teach our children some healthy alternatives at the same time.  An average family can spend up to $250.00 on school supplies ie paper, notebooks, lunch boxes, pencils, pens, crayons etc. Not to mention electronics.  Many of these supplies contain toxins that can affect our children’s learning and come with a cost to our environment. 

 Shop for nontoxic art supplies.  Double check those paints, markers and glues for toxic ingredients.  Look for the AP label for safe supplies.  (The Art and Creative Materials Institute or ACMI)  This label will indicate that the products are less toxic though not necessarily free of toxins. 

Paper is a huge culprit for toxins as bleach is used to brighten the paper so be careful when purchasing paper for your kids. Much of the paper used for school supplies come from endangered forest in the southern US and Indonesia.  The paper industry is the 4th largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the 3rd largest of industrial waste.  Choose your paper carefully, use it sparingly and recycle appropriately.

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