William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

Turkey Talk: Thanksgiving Tabletop Décor with a Twist

November 6, 2015 1:06 am

(BPT)—Without a doubt, the turkey majorly influences all things Thanksgiving, right down to our tabletop décor. Turkeys and the platters they’re served on have a colorful history, nearly as old as the holiday itself.

"You can find a turkey platter that will blend well with any china pattern, from the very old to the very new," says designer Julie Robbins. "Turkey platters aren't necessarily bird-themed; you'll find them in designs ranging from florals to even scenic vistas. I suggest starting a wonderful family tradition of dedicating a special platter for your Thanksgiving turkey and making it the centerpiece of your holiday gathering."

Lenox and several other manufacturers produce turkey-shaped platters and other autumn themed serving pieces in alternative metal serveware. This is a special alloy that maintains a constant temperature to keep foods warm or cold when heated or chilled.

Whether you're planning a huge buffet or an intimate dinner with close family and friends, Robbins says the color trends for Thanksgiving entertaining remain a bright version of fall: strong oranges, sages and brilliant turquoises.  Both individual candles and groupings of candles are also popular picks for the Thanksgiving tabletop.

If Tom Turkey isn't the right design element for your table, Robbins says you can still create a seasonal feel, minus the bird.

"You can use fall leaf or even woodland patterns to create a classic Thanksgiving table without going with a turkey motif. Beautiful classic fruit patterns give your table that horn of plenty flair,” Robbins says.

To tie this look together, Robbins suggests combining whole spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, with natural elements like nuts, small pumpkins, fall fruits and colorful leaves to create a cornucopia-type centerpiece.

Source: Replacements, Ltd.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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The Top 5 Energy-Saving Window Treatments

November 6, 2015 1:06 am

Did you know certain window coverings can provide energy savings of up to 10 percent a month? Advancements in window treatments have led to increased energy efficiency in many models manufactured today. The most energy-efficient of these include:

Cellular Shades – Cellular shades are often called honeycomb shades. The shade is made of individual cells that trap air inside them and significantly help control the temperature of a room.

Indoor Shutters – Indoor shutters are still one of the most classic window coverings and they are very energy-efficient in design. Wood shutters offer plenty of charm to a room and are very easy to clean and maintain. They offer great insulation by trapping air between the window and shutter.

Blackout Drapes – The beauty of drapes is they can offer a soft, colorful look that many people love in a room while at the same time providing energy efficiency. When shopping for drapes, purchase ones with thick lining that will protect the interior from summer sun and winter cold. For maximum energy efficiency and appeal, hang drapes high and wide around the windows.

Window Films – Window films are thin sheets of plastic that you can adhere directly to your window panes in order to help insulate and privatize your home. You can also install reflective films that reflect the warm rays of the sun away from your home.

Roman Shades – Roman shades are a cost-effective window treatment for energy saving as long as they are properly selected and installed. Roller shades can help insulate your home from heat and cold transfer.

Source: San Diego Window Fashions

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Technology: The Bane or Boon of Society?

November 5, 2015 1:06 am

As technology seeps into seemingly every aspect of everyday life—and with familiarity so often breeding contempt—it should come as no surprise that it rubs some of us the wrong way. In fact, according to a recent Harris Poll®, many remain divided on how technology impacts the way we live our lives.

On the one hand, strong majorities believe that technology has improved the overall quality of our lives and encourages us to be more creative; at the same time, strong majorities also believe technology is creating a lazy society, is too distracting, is corrupting interpersonal communications, and is having a negative impact on literacy.

Technology has, however, had a positive effect on our ability to learn new skills, according to the poll. Over four in 10 surveyed say technology has also had a positive effect on their relationships with friends, their ability to live life the way they want, their happiness, and their social life. A plurality says the same of its effect on their work productivity and their work life.

In contrast, nearly one quarter of poll respondents believe technology has not had a positive effect on their productivity at home, possibly due to the fact that we still have a hard time unplugging. When faced with a list of technological devices and general life staples and asked how long they could live without each, majorities indicate they could make it a week or less without Internet access, a computer or laptop, a mobile phone or television.

Source: The Harris Poll®

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Finally! How to Get and Keep an Organized Garage

November 5, 2015 1:06 am

When’s the last time you parked your car in your garage? For most homeowners, garages are catch-alls for everything from outdoor furniture to bulk grocery items. In fact, according to a recent Gladiator® GarageWorks survey, one-fourth of Americans can’t fit even one car in their garage.

“The garage can be the forgotten room of the home, but it can be such a useful resource for homeowners,” says Karl Champley, master builder and home improvement television and radio personality.

To make the most of the space in your garage, Champley recommends the following organizational tips:

1. Have a Game Plan

The garage can be many different things to different homeowners, so it’s important to determine what purpose the garage needs to serve. While the majority of homeowners use it for parking the car and household storage, many people use their garage for hobbies and personal projects.

Try dividing your garage into "zones" with specific areas for lawn and garden equipment, sporting goods, tools and other hobbies. Once a plan is established, it is much easier to begin the organization process.

2. Eliminate the Waste

Garage too cluttered? Holding a garage sale or dropping off boxes of donated items to a community donation center are two great ways to recycle unused items. Homeowners should remember that disposing of old paint containers or automotive fluids should be done properly. Bottom line: get as many unused items out of the garage as possible.

3. Maximize the Space

Three out of four homeowners surveyed said they wish their garage was better organized. One way is to have a garage storage solution that takes advantage of the wall space that garages provide.

"Getting items like boxes and bikes off of the garage floor with modular hooks and shelving is a big plus for homeowners," says Champley. "It frees up significant floor space for cars and other items."

4. Take Pride in the Garage

An ideal garage organization system grows with homeowners as they grow, while providing functional, flexible storage options for a number of different products.

"Some people take great pride in the brand of car they drive, the brand of lawnmower they ride or the tools they own, but may not put that same amount of pride into how they store those expensive items," says Champley. "You really want to make sure you take the same pride in garage storage as you do with the items you are storing."

Source: Gladiator® GarageWorks

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Maintenance Tips to Fireproof Your Home

November 5, 2015 1:06 am

Regular maintenance of your home’s systems and appliances not only prolongs their lifespan, but also helps prevent accidental fire. To keep your family and home safe from disaster, follow these maintenance guidelines, courtesy of the National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA).

Clothes Dryer
According to the National Fire Protection Association, clothes dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 22 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments between 2006 and 2010.

Most of those involved dryers, and many of them were due to buildup of dust and lint in the clothes dryer exhaust duct. Make sure to not only clean out the lint trap with each use, but also occasionally clean the dryer exhaust duct and behind and under the appliance as well. The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires was a failure to clean.

Electrical System
Have a licensed electrician review your home every 10 years. Small upgrades and simple safety checks, like making sure outdoor grounds and connections are secure, can prevent larger problems.

It is also a good idea to do a visual inspection of anything electrical to be sure there are no frayed cords or wires and any exposed wiring.

Look in the attic and crawl spaces for wiring which appears to have been damaged by pests or insects. Some old wiring is insulated with material insects eat or chew on, and squirrels or other rodents will often chew the insulation off.

Warning signs that may indicate a potential problem with your homes electrical system include frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers, dim or flickering lights, overheated plugs, cords, or switches, and bulbs that wear out too fast.

Fire Detectors
Test your fire detectors to make sure they work and refresh the batteries. Take the time to check all of the detectors in the home. If you feel specific rooms that do not have a fire detector may need one, now is a good time to add them.

Furnace
Your furnace should be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified HVAC technician. The older the furnace, the more important this service is. Newer gas furnaces are equipped with many features that shut the furnace off when a problem is detected.

If you perceive a dusty or burnt smell when turning on your furnace for the season, there is likely no need for concern. The majority of the time it’s just burning the dust out of the combustion chamber due to lack of use. Changing your furnace air filter may help, but if the odor persists, call a technician.

If you think you are saving money by closing vents in rooms not utilized during colder months, think again. Blocking vents actually causes the system to work harder, and if you close off more than 20 percent of the registers in your house, it can cause high resistance and unnecessary heat buildup in the furnace.

Change your furnace filter at least once every three months. If you plan to have any remodeling work done in your home, be sure to change the filter once it’s completed as dust, dry wall debris and other byproducts of such work can clog the filter much more quickly.

Water Heater
The most common problem with water heaters is failure that causes flooding, but water heaters can also cause house fires. Take the time to inspect your water heater at least once a year. Remove paper, accumulated dust or other combustibles from the heater enclosure.

Many experts suggest keeping boxes and other storage items at least three feet away from the furnace or water heater.

If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, like California, water heaters must be properly strapped so that they don’t fall over during an earthquake. Water heaters weigh several hundred pounds when full, so a proper seismic strapping kit must be installed.

Home service contracts cover service, repair or replacement of the major systems and appliances in your home that fail due to normal wear and tear. Heating and electrical systems as well as appliances including oven/range, water heater, kitchen refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, trash compactor and specialty items such as built-in bathtub whirlpool, and central vacuum systems are items generally covered in a home service contract. Optional coverage is also available, and varies by state.

Source: NHSCA

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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3 Questions Every Job Candidate Should Be Prepared to Answer

November 2, 2015 9:21 am

In a less-than-flourishing employment market, job-seekers have to compete for positions. One good way to improve your chances is to sharpen up your interview skills.

“There are three things I look for in every candidate, Lori Senecal, CEO of the CPM Partner Network, told Adam Bryant of the New York Times. “I always ask three questions to determine which job-seekers can deliver.”

Savvy candidates would do well to address the issues behind Senecal’s three main questions—whether or not they are specifically asked – at some point during the interview:

What have you invented? – This doesn’t mean you have to have built a robot that brings beer from the fridge, explained Senecal. It’s to establish that you have a creative mindset and an ability to find fresh solutions – a new, more efficient way of doing something…or filing something…or approaching something. What in your school years or a previous job moved you to solve a problem?

What is your greatest achievement? – This may be less to learn about your achievement (which has probably been answered with question one) than to test your willingness to be part of a team. Senecal finds an ‘I/we’ mindset more significant than an ‘I/me’ perspective. Think about a time when you worked with a team to achieve a positive outcome.

Have you ever had to stick your neck out for the greater good of a mission? – "I want people who are willing to take bold action to move the mission forward," Senecal said. She looks for talent that embodies original thinking, passion and dedication, and a spirit of collaboration—traits it will most likely take to excel in a creative work environment. Was there a time when you bucked the established view in order to get something done?

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Space-Saving Tricks to Open Up a Small Kitchen

November 2, 2015 9:21 am

A well-designed kitchen should offer minimum clutter and maximum efficiency. Whether you are redecorating or totally remodeling, check out these space-saving ideas shared by noted kitchen designers with House Beautiful editors:

Re-think the design – If your kitchen is not wide enough to add an island, rethink your existing counter. Jutting a small counter piece out from the wall to form an L-shape can up the available workspace by a lot.
Smart cabinets – For more accessible pantry space, think about slide-out shelves in upper kitchen cabinets that can slide out over countertops.

Tucked-away seating – When not in use, backless stools can be slipped under the breakfast counter or even under a kitchen island to save space, while offering seating when you need it.

Open shelving – Think about replacing upper cabinets with open shelving, which can hold more and make a small kitchen look larger than it really is.

Go lighter – a small kitchen can look larger just by replacing or refinishing dark wood cabinets and/or backsplash tiles in a much lighter color.

Hang pots and pans – An antique pot rack on one wall keeps pots and pans within easy reach and frees up lots of cupboard space.

Hanging knife rack – A knife block is nice, but it takes up lots of space. Free that counter space by hanging a knife rack on the wall.

Add mirrors – It’s a trick of the eye, but using antiqued mirrored glass in place if regular glass in your cabinet doors will enlarge the look of a small kitchen.

Roll with it – If you have someplace to tuck it away when not in use, a moveable rolling cart – even a folding cart – offers a great way to gain needed counter space while you are working in the kitchen.

Conquer the corners – Try a lazy Susan solution to turn that smidgen of unusable cabinet space in the corner of your kitchen into a useful bit of extra storage space.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Dos and Don'ts If You're Eyeing A Home Equity Loan

November 2, 2015 9:21 am

With interest rates still hovering at historic lows and the economy and job picture improving across the nation, many property owners are eyeing home equity loans to underwrite a variety of products and purchases. So we're tapping the folks at Take Charge America, a nonprofit financial planning and resource site (takechargeamerica.org) for some common-sense, home equity dos and don’ts:

DON’T use home equity to purchase unnecessary luxuries.

DO use home equity for improvements or additions that add value to your home. It may also be appropriate to use home equity to purchase income-producing property or an investment that’s expected to generate a higher return than the cost of the loan.

DON’T tap home equity if you plan to sell in the near future.

DO consider home equity to cover expenses from unexpected events. If you do not have emergency savings, your home equity can provide financial relief related to unexpected events, such as an injury preventing you from working.

DON’T take out excessive equity. Since a home equity loan or line of credit decreases the amount of equity you have in your home, if you have taken out too much equity and the real estate market drops, you can end up losing all the equity in your home. Further, if you have negative equity, the lender may demand immediate payment of the loan.

DO consider home equity for use in retirement. Retired homeowners who have paid off their mortgage can sell their home and cash out the equity by downsizing. Further, homeowners 62 and older have the option of reverse mortgages, which basically means the bank will give your equity back to you while you’re still living in it. The homeowner does not need to repay the mortgage for as long as he/she lives in that house.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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8 Tips for a Spooky—but Safe—Halloween

October 30, 2015 9:21 am

Each Halloween, safety should be a top priority for parents of trick-or-treaters. “Parents should educate kids on the true phantoms of the night while trick-or-treating," says Dr. Steven Frick, spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “They aren't ghosts and goblins. Instead, they'll need to watch out for aggressive neighborhood dogs, vehicles on the road, poorly lit houses and uneven terrain and be prepared for what to do during these situations."

Specifically, the AAOS suggests the following:

• Walk on sidewalks and never cut across yards or driveways. Obey all traffic signals and remain in designated crosswalks when crossing the street.

• Costumes should be flame-resistant and fit properly. The child's vision should be unobstructed by masks, face paint or hats. Costumes that are too long may cause kids to trip and fall, so trim or hem them as necessary.

• Bright-colored costumes make it easier for children to be seen at dusk or in the dark. Add reflective tape to costumes and treat bags to provide additional visibility.

• Wear sturdy, comfortable, slip-resistant shoes to avoid falls.

• Trick-or-treaters should only approach houses that are well-lit.

• Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen. Do not point your flashlight above chest level to avoid obstructing the vision of other trick-or-treaters.

• Be aware of neighborhood dogs when trick-or-treating, and remember that pets can impose a threat when you approach their homes.

• Carry a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.

Source: AAOS

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Design Book: Go Mod with Metal, Geometric Shapes

October 30, 2015 9:21 am

(BPT)—Once limited to simplistic, clean lines and cool color schemes, modern interior design has evolved to include sleek, minimalistic looks with gentle, warm, organic elements. With the right accents, this “approachable” take on modern design can be effortlessly incorporated into any home.

Not sure if modern design is right for you? Test the waters with these ideas, curated by the experts at Delta (www.deltafaucet.com).

Let There be Light

The right lighting is critical when creating a space that channels modern design. Remember quality of light and placement are key. If you wish to highlight certain room features, spot lighting can be incorporated, whereas skylights work well for added natural light.

Bring on the Bling

Metal accents often serve as the focal point of modern design. Start with the basics: hardware, faucets and fixtures. If you gravitate toward warm finishes like bronze tones, choose accents with clean, minimalistic silhouettes. If you prefer finishes with cool blue undertones, like chrome and stainless, look for hardware with organic shapes inspired by nature.

Color Your World

Use a neutral, like grey, white or beige, as the primary color in your home to enhance a contemporary feel. To elevate your home's color palette, incorporate organic materials such as wood or slate in dark, rich tones.

Create Harmony

To maintain a modern feel, complementariness is the key with accessories. Look for a few small items that work within organic schemes. For instance, geometric-shaped mirrors work well across from windows to enhance natural light, and a touch of greenery can come to life in a minimal, white pot.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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