RE/MAX 440
Joanne Stahl
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
 Phone: 610-398-8111 1426
Office Phone: 610-398-8111
Cell: 610-392-6547
Fax: 267-354-6236 
jstahl@remaxcentralinc.com
Joanne Stahl

My Blog

Holiday Hospitality Tips to Ease Seasonal Stress

December 1, 2017 1:24 am

Is everyone headed to your home for the holidays? While this can be fun, it can also be a headache, especially for the host.

Consider the following tips from hospitality pro Katie Davin, an associate professor in the College of Hospitality Management at Johnson & Wales University.

Skip the couch. Are you sure everybody wants to stay at your house? Uncle Ralph might be too cheap to pay for a hotel, but cousins Sue and Jeff might think that they would hurt your feelings by suggesting it. Some relatives might prefer to have their own space. Research local hotels for good rates. If you are not in a city or a tourist destination, your nearby hotels may not sell out during the major holidays and therefore, offer great rates that could include breakfast and WiFi. Try an online travel agency (OTA) such as Travelocity to see what's out there. For any last minute lodging needs, guide those guests to the Hotel Tonight app.

Wheels. Encourage independence – if most of your guests are flying in, try to encourage at least one of them to rent a car so they are not completely dependent on you and your vehicle. Then they can get out and enjoy the town, shop, or help you with errands. Check your favorite website for car rentals, or try a site that searches for deals for you, such as Kayak.

Fun. Sometimes when we have lived somewhere for a long time, we forget all the fun things there are to do in our town. Find out what is happening nearby – there could be holiday markets, light shows, ice-skating, hiking trails, or other local flavored activities, and your guests might love to get out of the house and do something festive. Check your city's or region's tourism website or Convention & Visitors Bureau to see what's going on. Type your city name and "tourism" or "CVB" into your favorite search engine.

Food. If you anticipate having guests for all three meals, keep breakfast and lunch simple, especially on the days surrounding the holiday. For breakfast, most of your guests will be quite satisfied with good coffee, fruit, yogurt, and toast or pastries from the local bakery. They can help themselves and nobody feels as if they must be at the table at a certain time. If you want to provide something hot, prepare a simple egg dish you can chill the night before and place in the oven when you wake up.

For lunch, have cold cuts, breads, and condiments available. Better yet, send them out to lunch. Tell them you have some "work" to catch up on, and while they're gone, you can chill and enjoy the quiet.

The help-yourself format for breakfast and lunch can lead to crowds of people in your kitchen. Limit the perishable food availability to an hour when you have the biggest crowd. Then return it to the fridge, so the stragglers can help themselves at their convenience. Also, place the cold drinks in coolers outside – back deck, garage, balcony, whatever keeps people from opening and closing your fridge all day. Just watch the temperature if you are in a really cold climate during a cold snap to prevent the bottles and cans from freezing.

Make dinner the star, when the whole gang gets together. When people offer to help (and they will), let them. Have some easy jobs ready to delegate. Almost anyone can peel potatoes, set the table, wash some pots, or stir the sauce. If you have a family member with skills, delegate the hard jobs. If nobody offers to help, ask. Sometimes they want to assist, but don't want to interfere or hover. Alleviate their angst, and minimize your own. Ask.

Breaking the News. After you have compiled your information, you need to communicate it to your guests. If possible, call everyone individually and explain the lodging options, so there's less chance of hurt feelings. For a bigger crowd, put it all together in an email but be diplomatic and hospitable. You don't want your email going viral because it is so bossy and inhospitable. Begin your letter with a sincere message about how excited you are to be hosting the family and/or friends for the holiday. Then get right to it and explain your rationale, in a casual and positive way, such as, "We have a few spare beds if you would like to stay with us, but for those of you who would like to have your own space, several hotels and inns right in town have special rates…."

Happy Holidays. One of the best ways to make your guests feel welcome is for you to enjoy yourself. Guests can feel like a burden if they see that you are stressed-out and trying to do it all yourself. Accept their help, encourage them to venture out of the house, and don't expect perfection from you or them. You will all have a better time and fond memories.

Source: Johnson and Wales University

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Fresh, Fun Home Accents to Improve Your Space

November 29, 2017 1:24 am

Tired of your boring throw pillows and potted plants? If you're looking for some fresh and fun home accents to add a little life to your space, consider the following.

Hanging accent lights. Caged, bubbled, modern, antique—there are a myriad of styles for hanging accent lights, which can be clustered, paired, or used solo to fill up an empty corner or decorate a blank wall.

Mantels. Who says a mantel should only sit above a fireplace? You can easily install a freestanding mantel to rest photos, art, or your favorite books. Another trick? If your walls are dark, paint your mantel to match, and your items will suddenly be floating.

Dips. Dipped painting frames, art or even doors are all the rage right now. Imagine a series of white picture frames with their bottom dipped in gold. The best part? You can DIY these in a couple of hours. All you need is your item for dipping and your favorite shade of paint.

Painted fireplace. Whether your fireplace is no longer active, or it’s only active for a few months a year, painting the inside a fun pop of color can add life to your space. Think a bright blue, merry orange or buttery yellow.

Vertical garden art. That vertical garden is no longer reserved for your back patio. If you have a blank wall, hang a grid-style vertical garden and decorate it with cool succulents, your favorite herbs, or a climbing vine.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Countdown to Your Next Dinner Party

November 29, 2017 1:24 am

If you’re hosting an event in your home soon, and you’re dreading it, then it’s time to put a new plan in place. By creating and sticking to the right strategy, you will turn the stress level way down so that you can actually enjoy yourself. This countdown will help you get there:

10. List it out. Make several lists well in advance of your event: the guest list; the menu; the shopping list; the cleaning list; the miscellaneous to-do list.

9. Take care of repairs in advance. Have a leaky faucet or broken dining room chair? Get it fixed now. Waiting until the day before will undoubtedly result in maximum stress.

8. Choose a proven menu. This is not the time to try new recipes. Go with what you’ve made before, is relatively easy and what is loved by all (or at least most).

7. Shop and store. Buy non-perishables as far in advance as possible and tuck them away in a corner of your pantry closet, garage, guest room, or whatever space is not in use.

6. Make ahead and freeze. Make whatever dishes—or parts of dishes, like pie crusts—you can in advance and freeze them. No room in your freezer? Borrow a neighbors.

5. Wash and press tablecloths, napkins and any other linens you will be using two days before. Then, fold or hang them in a spot that’s out of the way.

5. Clean china, silver and crystal a few days before, then leave it covered with linens on your dining room table.

3. Decide which serving pieces and utensils you will need, and dig them out of their respective hiding places. Clean them and set them out on your counters so they’re ready to roll.

2. Set the bar the night before, refrigerating beer and wine in a cooler outside if the fridge is too full.

1. Do a quick onceover with the vacuum in the main areas where guests will congregate, set out candles, accent bowls with goodies, and set the table early. Have your outfit pressed and ready to slip into at the last minute.

All that’s left to do now is enjoy!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Should I Stay or Should I Go? How to Know When It’s Time to Sell

November 28, 2017 1:24 am

Part of being a homeowner is dealing with the intermittent thought, “Hmm, maybe I should put my house on the market...”

Obviously, deciding to sell your home is no small decision. In fact, it’s right up there with deciding to buy a home in the first place. Here are four indicators that can help you decide whether now actually may be a good time to list your home:

You’re out of space. While it might be nice to have more room for your shoes, does that warrant a new home? On the other hand, is there a baby on the way? An in-law moving in? If your household is getting ready to grow, it may be time to move on to a house that will accommodate your expanding needs.

You’re in a hot market. If “sold” signs are popping up frequently in your neighborhood and prices are rising quickly, it might be worth talking to your real estate agent. If now is the time you can potentially make a big return on your investment, you might want to consider making a move.

You’re sick of yard work. If raking leaves and restaining the deck are no longer considered fun projects, you may be at a stage where you’re looking to scale down to a more streamlined, less work-intensive living situation.

Your life has changed. If you’ve had a major life event—marriage, divorce, new job, retirement—it may necessitate a new home and/or a new location that makes more sense for your new life. Consider whether your current home is still the right fit.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Burn Bright With These Candle Safety Tips

November 28, 2017 1:24 am

(Family Features) --Candles are one of the most common sources of home interior fires. While they can be beautiful and atmospheric, they can also be dangerous, especially in busy homes with lots going on.

Never leave lit candles unattended, and take these additional precautions to have a safe and fun season:

-When candles are lit, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked over.
-Keep candles, matches and lighters out of reach of children.
-Be conscious of nearby surroundings. Never place a candle near drapery, decorations or other flammable items that may easily catch fire. Also avoid drafty areas or fans, which can accelerate flames or accidentally blow a flammable item onto a candle.
-Know that the safest way to extinguish a candle is with a snuffer.
-Consider using wickless or flameless candles. There are numerous options that cast a warm glow so you can enjoy the ambiance of a candle without the risk.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How-To Have a Safer Office Holiday Party

November 28, 2017 1:24 am

If you're planning an office holiday party for your crew, you likely have a laundry list of items to tackle, and safety shouldn't be at the bottom of that list. To help, XpertHR offers nine ways an employer can minimize the risk of liability when it comes to holiday parties:

Enforce Discrimination, Harassment and Employee Conduct Policies. Workplace policies regarding discrimination, harassment, employee dating, employee conduct and its dress code remain in effect even during the holiday party, and employees as well as supervisors will be liable for violations.

Have Supervisors Set a Good Example. Supervisors should lead the way and set a good example for the rest of the employees by enforcing and complying with the employer's policies regarding discrimination and harassment, as well as the employer's code of conduct.

Exercise Caution if Serving Alcohol. If an employer decides to serve or allow alcohol, it should designate a management employee to monitor alcohol intake and make sure employees do not become too intoxicated or incoherent.

Keep the Focus Off Religion. In planning for a holiday party, it’s important for an employer to avoid overly religious symbols and music.

Do Not Make Attendance Mandatory. Some employees may not want to attend the holiday party, and if attendance is mandatory, it may be considered working time, which may entitle hourly employees to overtime.

Carefully Plan the Menu and Entertainment. Make sure to take the individual needs and concerns of diverse employees into account.

Be Inclusive of All Employees. Invite employees working in all offices or job sites, in addition to those who telecommute or work remotely.

Consider Whether to Invite Spouses or Significant Others. Remember to be inclusive of all employees, and respect their personal relationships.

Respond to Complaints in a Timely Fashion. Once on notice that an employee is complaining of discrimination, harassment or inappropriate conduct, the employer and HR have a legal duty to follow up and document the complaint and begin an investigation if warranted.

Source:  XpertHR

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Mindful Driving Tips

November 23, 2017 1:24 am

Distracted driving rarely ends well. But with so much going on in your life (and your backseat), staying focused while on the road can be difficult. World champion drag racer Elaine Larsen of Larsen Motorsports knows all about the importance of focus while on the road.

"It's all about common-sense driving techniques, awareness and proper maintenance," Larsen says. Below are her top mindful driving tips.

Minimize distractions. For Elaine in her jet dragster, that means no talking into her headset; for the rest of us, that means no texting and driving and being mindful of other distractions like a blaring radio or friends or pets who have come along for the ride.

Focus on where you’re going. Whether that means checking traffic conditions before you leave, monitoring road closures or construction, or even scouting your route in advance, familiarity with what's outside your windshield contributes to safe, more focused driving.

Keep your windshield clean and clear, and keep an eye on what's happening down the street. That helps reaction time if something unexpected happens.

Keep the inside clutter-free. Ever tried to put the brakes on with an empty soda cup stuck beneath the pedal? Be sure to have your insurance and registration paperwork within easy reach, as well.

Before leaving, conduct a visual inspection. Tires properly inflated? Any loose parts hanging down? Headlight and taillight assemblies intact? You may also want to consider checking the terminals on your battery for corrosion.

Source:  Florida Institute of Technology

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Stop Sitting so Much

November 23, 2017 1:24 am

Did you know that even if you run three miles every morning, it won’t offset the potential damage done by spending the next eight hours sitting at your desk? Some even say that sitting is the new smoking.

According to the Mayo Clinic, too much sitting poses a wide range of health risks, including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels and an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Prolonged sitting also takes its toll on your emotional health, increasing anxiety and stress during the course of the day.

But what are you to do if you have one of the myriad of jobs that revolve around a desk—compounded by more sitting behind the wheel and an hour or two in front of the TV at night? Here are some simple—yet hugely important—ideas to get you up and moving around throughout the day:

Have a few calls to make? Stand up while you make them. Better yet, if you’re on your cellphone, do a little pacing while you talk.

Do more in-person communication. Instead of shooting off another email or text, take a stroll over to your colleague’s desk to deliver your message in-person.

Have walking meetings. Ditch the conference room and take a stroll to the nearest Starbucks for your next meeting. Or take a few laps around the nearest track.

Get a standing desk. There are a lot of affordable options in this arena, including simple attachments that allow you to raise your desktop when you’d like. Or, if you can afford a splurge, opt for a treadmill desk.

Never work through lunch. Even if it’s just a 20-minute break, get out and move around at lunch time. Run an errand or take a few laps around the parking lot. Inclement weather? Go browse the shelves at your local library, or at the very least, eat standing up in the break room.

Set your phone alarm to remind you to get up and move at least once every hour, even if it’s just standing and stretching.

Any kind of casual movement that gets you upright will help the effort. Your mind and body will thank you.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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For Parents and Grandparents: Fall-Proofing Your Home This Holiday Season

November 23, 2017 1:24 am

Whether you're a new parent or grandparent, raising a young child is full of fun, excitement, and sometimes, safety scares. If you're expecting a crowd this holiday season that includes a little one, or if it's your first holiday with your own tot, below are a few tips from AAOS and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) to keep safety scares and falls minimal.

Reduce clutter. It's easy to accumulate clutter, such as boxes of décor and stacks of gifts from holiday shopping. Take the time to declutter your home, especially the hallways and stairs.

Designate a play area. Children may receive lots of new toys for the holidays and scatter them around the house. It's important to contain those toys in a dedicated play area and clean up after playtime to avoid tripping.

Keep walkways clear. Keep the path between your front door, driveway and mailbox well-lit and clear of debris.

Install nightlights. Keep the halls/walkways in your home well-lit and consider a nightlight in the bathroom. A clear path is especially helpful for family members or guests who are trying to get to the restroom in the middle of the night.

Secure all loose area rugs. Place double-sided carpet tape or slip-resistant backing on all loose rugs around your home. Don’t forget bathroom rugs.

Rearrange furniture. Ensure no furniture is blocking pathways between rooms.

Consider stair gates. If young kids will be visiting your home for the holidays, or you have children who live in your home, consider installing childproof gates at the top and bottom of your stairs to prevent children from accessing them without adult supervision.

If a fall happens, do not panic. Take several deep breaths, assess the situation and determine if you’re hurt. If you’re badly injured, do not try to get up. Instead, call for help from a family member or neighbor. If you’re alone when a fall happens, slowly crawl to the telephone and call 911 or a relative.

Source: AAOS and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA)

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Stretching a Small Living Room

November 22, 2017 1:24 am

Some people see a small living room as a cozy, intimate space. Others say they simply feel cramped. For those who fall into the latter category, professional decorators offer the following seven tips for making any living area look more spacious:

Clear out the clutter. Nothing makes a room look cramped like having too much stuff in it. Move magazines, collections and small décor items onto shelves, into drawers, or behind table skirts.

Open the pathway. When furniture blocks the view into a room, the whole room looks smaller. Move the sofa out of the middle of the room and choose low profile furniture, like short sofas, low tables and armless chairs. Remember that less is more. Get rid of any pieces you don’t need, and place taller pieces against the wall rather than out in open space.

Choose lighter hues. Warm, dark colors create a feeling of intimacy, while light, cool colors make any room seem more open and airy. For maximum effect, choose light shades of blue or green—or a combination of the two.

Let the light in. Any room will look more spacious if it’s well-lighted, either naturally or with a bit of help. Get rid of draperies and add more lamps, or install track lighting or recessed lights.

Try see-through pieces. By using materials you can see through, anything beyond them seems further away. Glass or lucite tops for dining or coffee tables will open up the view and make the room look bigger.

Use reflective surfaces. A mirrored wall will make any room look larger. If that seems to be too much, try a large framed mirror on one wall to help create an illusion of space and light.

Keep it monochrome. Select solid color upholstery instead of bold plaids or patterns. Use texture for interest and stick to neutral tones.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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