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

Is August too Late to Start a Vegetable Garden?

August 8, 2017 12:54 pm

Many gardeners who toiled through spring are harvesting a bounty of homegrown veggies, herbs, and fruits right about now. However, for those of you who feel like you're missing out: August is not too late to start a vegetable garden.

For those early bird gardeners, Steve Albert at Harvesttotable.com says if you don't expect a first frost until mid-autumn, now is time to extend the life of your garden by planting second or even third rounds of spring crops. He says just check the days to maturity for each crop you want to grow, and add a week or two to factor in the shortening of days as autumn approaches.

In regions where frost comes in late autumn, Albert says start celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts can be planted as late as September and early October.

The experts at ufseeds.com concur that August is an ideal time to plant seeds for a second gardening season that can be as productive as any major early spring plantings. They say late summer is the perfect time to plant:

Bush and pole beans now that the soil and air are warmed up. Try a continual 7-10 day sowing of different varieties. This will give you continual bean crops and not one large harvest with wasted crop.  

Cover crops to add nutrients to your soil for the following year. Start in August so they get some good growth before winter comes.  

Fast growing vine or bush cucumber plants, being careful to pick a variety for the space you have in your garden. Vine cucumbers can be the best tasting but need far more space than bush varieties.

Fall flower bulbs - many varieties can be planted this fall for blooming in early spring.

Kale and lettuce. Try growing early harvest varieties that will produce a harvest before cold weather rolls in.

Radish - a quick and easy vegetable to grow. Plant now and you can have them ready in 30 days.

Spinach, which is more of a cool weather vegetable and is great to grow in August.

Happy gardening and bon appetite!

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How to Be a Better Volunteer

August 7, 2017 12:51 am

(Family Features)—Volunteers are the driving force for many community causes. Get your start as a volunteer with these tips:

1. Identify a cause or organization that strikes a personal chord. Investing personally helps ensure you genuinely enjoy the time and means you're more likely to give your best effort.

2. Explore what you can give. It may be basic labor like sorting donated items, making calls or stuffing envelopes, but there could also be room to lend your own special skills or talents, such as bookkeeping or artistry.

3. Approach your volunteer role as you would a paying job. Meet with leaders beforehand to gain a clear understanding of mutual objectives, organize a work schedule and deliver on your commitments.

4. Invite friends or family to join you to make giving back to your community an experience you can share together.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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3 Strange Things to Clean With

August 7, 2017 12:51 am

When cleaning your home, look past the vacuum and mop to get the job done right. Below are three strange household items that can be a huge help when cleaning.

Mismatched Socks
You know those socks that seem to lose their partners in the wash? Put them in a pile and use them for cleaning! Unlike a rag, you can slip your whole hand inside the sock, which offers better accuracy and mobility when cleaning the shower, counters and more.

Aluminum Foil
Did you know you could clean your old tarnished silver with boiled aluminum foil? Yep, you read that right! Simply boil one liter of water, a tablespoon of baking soda and one strip of foil. Once rolling, drop your tarnished silverware in for 10-20 seconds and remove with tongs. Voila!

Toothpaste!
Clean smudges from your windows, streaks from your glass and stains from your silver by scrubbing with a little bit of toothpaste. Afterward, wipe clean to avoid any lingering residue.

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8 Odd Things to Wash in the Dishwasher

August 7, 2017 12:51 am

Move over, dinner plates! The dishwasher can actually be used to wash a myriad of strange items. Below is a good rundown. A quick bit of common sense: if sudsing up something super greasy or grimy (like an old hubcap), don't mix your eatery into the same load.

Rubber boots and flip flops. Want to wash your favorite rubber footwear? Pop them in the dishwasher upside down.

Kitchen spongers. Toss them into the silverware tray for a speedy sanitize!

House keys. Ever wonder how filthy your house keys get over the years? So long as none of your keys have electric starters, pop the whole ring into the silverware tray.

Grill rack. Is your grill rack covered in grease? Place it on the top tray and set the heat to high to get it gleaming again.

Hubcaps. Crazy but true! Just add a cup of white vinegar to your detergent and hit start.

Nail clippers. Pop these in the silverware tray and they're good as new.

Tools. Get your favorite tools gleaming with a quick cycle in the washer.

Contact lens cases. The dishwasher is a great place to sanitize these every couple weeks or so.

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Can You Retire on a Cruise Ship?

August 4, 2017 12:48 am

For many of today's retirees who are younger, stronger, and far more active than retirees of yore, the idea of retiring to a cruise ship lifestyle—adventure, luxury dining, daily maid service and more—has very definite appeal.

In fact, with a full agenda of activities and entertainment, medical care available if you need it, and no dishes to wash or beds to make—ever—at a cost that may be no more prohibitive than retirement village living, it may make more than a little sense.

So say the alternative retirement planners at Cruise Retirement Ltd., who make it possible for people 50 years-plus to purchase a stateroom on a luxury cruise ship and enjoy unlimited travel in style. You can have full access to cruise ship amenities, see the world's most exotic destinations, and pay all your bills (with the exception of personal extras) with a single monthly payment.

You take your cruise ship friends with you all over the world, families can visit you in any port, and you'll never lack for something to do or a dance or dining partner.

For retirees who don't need regular medical supervision, it may be a wonderful option—so much so that a number of cruise companies directly target the retirement and pre-retirement set.

How financially viable is the idea?

According to a survey published in PubMed, which aggregates biomedical data for the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), living on a cruise ship costs only about $2,000 more annually than staying in a retirement village or an assisted living facility—although critics have said that rising prices may make that figure outdated.

Still, the next time you (or your parents) embark on a luxury cruise, don't be surprised if you (or they) consider staying on that ship for years!

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5 Ways to Help Your Community

August 4, 2017 12:48 am

(Family Features)—Social responsibility comes in all shapes and sizes, but ultimately it comes down to one common purpose: making the world a better place. From volunteering at local shelters and community centers to feeding those in need at your local food bank, there are countless ways to give back within your community.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 25 percent of people in the U.S. volunteered in 2015. However, studies on health and volunteering show that people who volunteer report feeling emotionally, mentally and physically better. Multiple studies show that volunteering has been linked to lower stress levels, lower levels of depression and longevity.

If that's not incentive enough, lending support to organizations in your community can often bring immediate and tangible results that give you a connection and sense of community. There are some programs that even enable people to make a difference by matching them with volunteer or funding opportunities.

"It's exciting to see communities strengthened by their residents," says Angela Allen, program manager for the America's Farmers Grow Communities program, which focuses on supporting local nonprofits in rural communities with the help of local farmers. "The good news is there are several simple and easy ways people can get involved in their communities and make a difference.”

Here are five ways that you can lend a hand:

Volunteering. Nonprofit organizations rely on the support of loyal donors and volunteers to deliver on their missions to improve the communities they serve. Time and talent are among the most valuable gifts you can give a deserving cause. One of the greatest benefits of volunteering is the chance to put your energy and abilities to use for a cause you care about, whether it's feeding the hungry, rescuing animals or some other cause that is close to your heart. Volunteering provides a feel-good way to pursue your personal interests.

Giving blood. According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. There is an ongoing need to replenish a communities' blood supplies, whether for medical uses or in the aftermath of a tragedy. Giving blood is fast, relatively painless and can save lives.

Donating. Money doesn't make the world go 'round, or so the saying goes. However, it can make a difference when it comes to bettering the community. Nonprofit and community organizations rely on monetary contributions not only to fulfill their existing program needs, but also to expand those services to impact more people. Rather than a single, one-time gift, consider setting up an ongoing donation so your impact continues over time. For small or rural nonprofits in particular, a little bit goes a long way. Another touching way to donate funds: give in honor of a loved one, either as a gift for a special occasion or in memoriam. Rather than giving your parents a gift for Mother's Day or Father's Day, think about a small donation to their favorite charity.

Applying for funding opportunities. Another way to help your community thrive is by exploring avenues to create new funding opportunities for nonprofits. For example, the America's Farmers Grow Communities program provides farmers an opportunity to help a nonprofit of their choice. Eligible farmers can enroll in the program until November 1 at GrowCommunities.com for a chance to direct a $2,500 donation to a local eligible nonprofit organization. Since 2010, the program has given more than $26 million to nonprofits, including food banks, emergency response organizations, youth agriculture programs and more.

Paying it forward. Not every step you take in support of your community has to be a large one; in fact, the ripple effect of a series of smaller deeds can have a truly momentous impact. You can set the feel-good wheels in motion in your own community by simply thinking about a time when someone generously gave their own resources to benefit you and paying forward that kindness with a matching endeavor. You might let a frenzied mom go ahead of you in line at the grocery store or pay for a meal for the elderly couple behind you at the drive-thru. Small gestures spread a feel-good spirit that can encourage others to do their part to make the community a better place, as well.

These are just a few ways that you can give back. Get out and meet with your friends and neighbors in your community to discover how you can best use your time and talents to help the greater good.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Help Your Kids Get Back to School

August 4, 2017 12:48 am

While summer is still in full swing, the annual back-to-school hustle isn't far off. Whether you have kids in Pre-K or high school, Huntington Learning Center shares the following five tips to help parents start the school year off on the right foot:

Get Organized: Now's the time to get everything prepared for the school year. Set up a homework area that is comfortable, well-lit and free of distractions. Prepare an organization system for homework and any paperwork that comes home for the parents. Stocking up on brand-new school supplies can get your child excited about the year ahead of them, and don't forget to grab a new planner for the student to stay on top of assignments.

Do Some Refresher Work: Incorporate school work into your child's schedule as the first day of school approaches. To practice writing, have your child keep a daily journal on the things they did during the day, and integrate reading in the nightly routine. If possible, pull out any workbooks or assignments from last year and review the material with your child.

Get Back Into Routine: Summer schedules are oftentimes more relaxed than during the school year, so prepare your children for school once again by implementing the school routine a few weeks before school actually starts. Begin enforcing an earlier bed and wake time that are similar to the school year routine and think about getting a family calendar started.

Review Expectations: Strong parent-student communication is a key to success, so establish an open communication system. Before the school year starts, be open with your child about your expectations about performance and assignment completion. When the syllabus comes home, walk through the upcoming year with your child, discussing large projects or tests and how to best tackle them.

Talk About Goals: Goal-setting can be a powerful tool. Talk with your child about the things that he or she would like to accomplish or change this school year on both the academic level and others. If your child had any difficulties last year, let him or her know you are there to help and want to maintain open communication about school.

Source: Huntington Learning Center

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7 Ways to Save Big on Groceries

August 3, 2017 12:48 pm

Most homemakers have heard the advice by now to spend less time in the center aisles of the grocery store. The freshest, most economical and nutritious food choices are typically found at the store's perimeter, home of the produce, dairy and deli/bakery aisles.

When you do shop the store's center aisles, however, budget watchers advise there are areas especially worth avoiding. To get more bang for your grocery buck, watch out for these potential budget-busters:
Herbs and spices – Tiny jars of these cooking aids are way too expensive at the supermarket. Larger amounts at lower prices are available at ethnic grocery stores. Better yet, grow your own basil, parsley and cilantro for pennies in windowsill pots.

Cooking tools and bakeware – Expect to pay up to 30 percent less at dollar or discount stores for your whisks, bowls, muffin tins and more.

Snack-size foods – You're paying a hefty premium for small or 100-calorie packages of your favorite cookies and other packable snack foods. Buy the larger size and re-package it yourself into small plastic bags.

Greeting cards – It's a rare supermarket where you'll pay less than $4 or $5 for a birthday card for Grandma. She'll love you just as much if you pay a quarter of that by buying it the local dollar store.

Paper and party goods – One-stop shopping is tempting when you're picking up a birthday cake from the bakery department, but you'll save lots if you buy those disposable plates, cups, gift bags and cutlery at the nearest dollar store.

Magazines – If you pick up single issues of your faves each month, stop and become a subscriber. You can save up to 40 percent per year, and you'll likely get your new issues before they arrive at the store.

Personal care items – While supermarket prices may be lower for brand shampoos and similar goods than they are at some drugstores, shop to find out for yourself. Best prices on these can be found at warehouse or big-box stores, or if you're up for trying off-brands, the shelves at the discount or dollar store can net you huge savings.    

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How to Create a Dreamy Outdoor Living Space

August 3, 2017 12:48 pm

Are you looking to get more out of your outdoor spaces? Dreaming of days spent lounging al fresco with friends and family? You're far from alone.

"The research shows the most loved areas of the home combine relaxation, socialization and functionality," says Stephen Schroeter, Napoleon Products senior vice president of Sales and Marketing. "Outdoor spaces provide a great opportunity to accommodate all three, yet they are still vastly underutilized by most homeowners."

Following are Schroeter's top tips for creating the outdoor oasis of one's dreams:

Add an Outdoor Kitchen – Outdoor kitchens are growing in popularity, and for good reason. Not only do they meet a basic need, but they do so in a fun, engaging atmosphere. No one wants to be stuck inside preparing a meal when the party is out under the sun—or stars. The showpiece of every great outdoor kitchen is a quality, professional grill, which can be freestanding or built-in to save on space. Other culinary considerations include outdoor refrigerators or beer dispensers to keep beverages cold and flowing freely, pizza ovens, and sinks for easy clean-up.

Establish a Gathering Place – One of the most important features of an outdoor space is an area for socialization. A central location with a variety of seating options creates a welcoming atmosphere. Adding the element of fire to a space sparks emotion, provides a focal point, and enables the space to be used later into the season. Consider a built-in fireplace or a fire pit that can be moved to different locations depending on the situation.

Create Privacy, Divided Zones – Escape the hustle and bustle while making a space feel more intimate with the use of barriers like large plants or trees, a pergola, or privacy panels. Designing distinct spaces with divided zones helps create the feel of a secluded getaway and gives each area purpose.

Design for All the Senses – The best spaces are those that delight all the senses. In addition to designing a comfortable, beautiful space, consider adding outdoor speakers for music that sets the mood, or a water feature that eliminates street noise. Relax and enjoy the delicious smell of grilling or the experience of roasting marshmallows over an open flame. Consider adding fragrant bushes to fill the night with a sweet scent. Get creative.

Add Accents – Small touches can go a long way. Homeowners can personalize a space with items that define their style and personality or focus on a fun theme. Don't be afraid to add bold pops of color—an outdoor living area is a great place to explore a more adventurous design than might be considered inside the home.

Source: Napoleon

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How to Help Your Teen Drive Safer

August 3, 2017 12:48 pm

If you have a teen prepping to get on the road, you're likely already talking about safety solutions. Studies have shown that parents are key influencers when it comes to teens' behaviors behind the wheel, not only by instruction, but by their own habits and the way they lead by example. Dr. Gene Beresin of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds offers the following tips to help parents encourage safe driving behaviors:

Keep practicing: Nearly 40 percent of teens say their parents stop practicing driving with them after they get their license. Teaching shouldn't stop when teens leave the DMV with a license in hand. Parents should continue to drive with their teens and remind them of safe driving behaviors with frequent check-ins and conversations.

Hold each other accountable: Mom, dad and teens can all be held accountable and parents can set a good example with today's new monitoring apps, which track and score driving behavior based on factors including phone usage while driving, acceleration, hard braking and speeding, and even rewards drivers with a discount on auto insurance in select states.

Reward safe driving: Parents can consider regularly rewarding their teen for safe driving. Rather than focusing on the consequences of bad driving behavior, a reward like a break from a specific chore or a $10 gift card could be an effective way to remind teens to think about their actions while driving.

Source: www.libertymutual.com/teendriving

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