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Joelle Embres' Blog

By Joelle Embres | Agent in Parkland, FL
  • *Anniversary Special*

    Posted Under: General Area in South Florida, In My Neighborhood in South Florida  |  June 28, 2012 11:27 AM  |  299 views  |  No comments
  • Barbeque Cleaning (edit/delete)

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in South Florida, In My Neighborhood in South Florida  |  June 27, 2012 8:53 AM  |  508 views  |  No comments

    It is the first really warm spring weekend, the flowers are blooming, the grass is green, the bugs are biting, what a perfect day for a barbeque! Only after dragging out the patio furniture, grabbing a cool drink and pulling a couple steaks out of the freezer do you open the cover on the barbeque. The thoughts race through your mind….. we actually ATE food cooked on this thing? Did winter begin before we cleaned up after our last barbeque? Can we afford a new barbeque?

    I actually had a lengthy conversation with a friend on the merits of buying a high end barbeque. His thoughts were, that no matter how nice the barbeque, it still needed to be cleaned. He figured that instead of buying an expensive stainless steel unit, he would just buy a cheap barbeque every other year, and then give it away to charity at the end of the second summer instead of having to ever do a thorough cleaning. This works for him, partially because he has more money than brains, but for the rest of us, we usually have to get that old barbeque to be semi-sanitary again.

    Usually the most disgusting part is the grill and the bottom of the barbeque. Remove the grill, and place it on a newspaper outside. Spray it with oven cleaner, and cover it with a plastic garbage bag. Let it sit overnight, and the next day remove the grill and flip the bag inside out to contain the grease and oven cleaner saturated newspaper. Be certain to wear gloves, as oven cleaner is VERY caustic, and it can burn the skin very easily. Rinse the grill off with your garden hose, but try not to wash the chemical into your lawn, as it has a tendency to kill it.

    The grill may not be perfect, however the bulk of the burnt on grease should come off with the oven cleaner. As a bachelor, I used the argument that the burnt on residue added to the flavor of subsequent meals. That argument went out the window with my old rugby shirt the day I got married, mind you it is probably for the better. There have been studies finding that the carbon deposits from burnt animal fat can be carcinogenic, so there certainly is reason to keep your grill clean.

    If you have lava rocks in your barbeque, remove them (Bang them off, but don’t wash them) to get at the burner and all the gunk at the very bottom. If possible, remove the burner from the barbeque. Spiders love to set up house inside of the venturi tubes (the one or two tubes leading from the temperature dial, to the burner). You can clean the tube up to the burner using a pipe cleaner, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but the less debris there is to clog up all of the tiny element holes the more even you will find the heating. You can actually go around the element, poking each of the holes with a pin to be certain the gas can get through each opening.

    Scrape as much of the grease, rust, lava rock chips, carbon residue, from the bottom of the barbeque. There is likely even a little hole where excess grease will drain down into an old soup can. Be sure it is not clogged, and it is helpful if the collection can is present.

    While the whole barbeque is disassembled, you can rinse it down with your garden hose. Keep in mind that you will likely need to clean your patio or deck when you are done, so do your barbeque first! The outside of the cast aluminum or cast iron lid can be cleaned with a mild detergent, and rinsed well. Failure to rinse thoroughly, may leave a white soap residue, however even with thorough rinsing, the barbeque may still look rough after wintering the elements for a few seasons. Most home center’s carry barbeque paint, this time of year, which is a high temperature flat black paint. It will make your barbeque look almost new, however there is no better idea than to protect the original finish with a $20 barbeque cover.

    There are several different types of grills, including stainless steel, chrome, ceramic coated metal, and plain old iron. Use caution when cleaning a ceramic grill, as abrasive metal brushes can scratch the finish and cause premature failure. With iron grills, season them before using. After the grill has been cleaned with soap, brush with a light coat of cooking oil, and put the barbeque on high heat for 15 to 30 minutes. Some people recommend brushing your grill with oil each time you cook, as it will prevent food from sticking, however a chef I know told me when cooking a steak, you only flip it over when it lets go of the grill itself. If it holds on, let it cook longer, until it looses its grip. And then you flip it ONLY once. I think the best advice is do what works for your style of cooking and your barbeque.

    Re-assemble your barbeque, placing the lava rocks DIRTY side down (to burn off the excess grease) and take it for a test run. Once you hook up your propane tank, get a cup of soapy water, and rub it over the connections and hoses. If there is any bubbling, shut of the gas and do not use the until a professional has checked out the entire assembly (tank and barbeque). When turing on the propane tank, open the knob only half a turn. The barbeque will still get enough gas, and if there is an emergency, it can be turned off with one quick turn, in a matter of seconds. For the first use of the season, it is wise to let the barbeque run on high for 45 minutes or an hour, to burn off all the soap, mildew, bacteria, mold, bugs, moisture, oven cleaner, excess grease, and all of the other things that make barbequing outside the best part of summer!!

    Happy grilling!

  • Stay Cool Summer Cleaning Tips

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in South Florida, In My Neighborhood in South Florida  |  June 27, 2012 8:49 AM  |  514 views  |  No comments

    Stay Cool Summer Cleaning Tips

     

    Dehumidify.

     Want to cut down on mold growth in your bathroom grout and shower tracks? Keep your bathroom exhaust fan running while you take a bath or shower and for 30 minutes afterward. It helps eliminate excess mold.

    Stop dirt in its track.

     Your best home investment in summer, bar none, is a sturdy nylon mat—one for each doorway. A no-shoes rule also helps cut down on dirt; create shelving near an entrance where shoes can be left and retrieved easily.

    No-scrub showers.

     There's nothing I hate more than cleaning a hot humid shower stall during summer. That's why I love the Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Shower Cleaner. Its heavy-duty formula is sprayed on all four walls automatically, at the touch of a button. You don't even have to wipe it down, and it will clean soap scum and mold and mildew stains over time. This is truly the no-sweat way to always have a clean shower.

    Mirror patrol.

     Mirrors get gunky faster in summer due to the high humidity. Schedule a "Glass Patrol Day" to clean all your glass surfaces in one fell swoop with Windex® Original Glass Wipes.

    Cleaner toilets, faster.

     Cleaning toilet bowls is one of my least favorite chores, especially in summer, when bathrooms really steam up. The textured scrubby pad on the Scrubbing Bubbles® Fresh Brush® 2-in-1 Toilet Cleaning System cuts down on hard-scrubbing time and scrubs better than an ordinary toilet brush. And it's so easy—the long handle helps your hands stay clean.

    Soap alert.

     A hair conditioner I loved always left a ring around my tub. A bath soap my husband also favored left chalky white residue on the shower walls. So we tried out different soaps to see which left the least residue. Keep experimenting until you find what's right for you.

    Dust busting.

     The Pledge® Multi Surface Duster is such a joy to use. It includes a unique multi-surface spray right in the handle—and the fluffy fibers are especially designed to optimize your dust pickup. The bendable head and extra long handle let me dust hard-to-reach areas easily. It just seems to make my dusting go faster, and all that's left behind is a great shine.

    Easy organizers.

     Summer homes seem to accumulate paper of all kinds—extra bills, receipts, tickets, souvenirs, etc. If kids come home with artwork, display it immediately on the fridge with magnets, and then eventually transition it to a Ziploc® Brand Big Bag for longer-term storage. Be sure to mark the bag with your child's name and year. Tack important numbers (for physicians, babysitters, police, fire control, poison center, travel agents, taxis) inside a kitchen cabinet. Designate one drawer just for stubs and receipts and keep them organized in a Ziploc® Brand Container or Ziploc® Brand Storage Bag.

    Cool down and filter.

     Air conditioning does more than keep your home cool. It allows you to keep windows closed so dust stays outdoors. If you like to keep windows open, use window filters that keep airborne particulates and dust out of your home. I purchased mine at my local hardware store and I love them—they also keep out pollen!

    Spot-free sink spouts.

     Wiping your stainless steel fixtures with Pledge® Multi Surface Cleaner will help remove dust buildup, smudges and smears easily.

    Spill-free refrigerators.

     Place shelf liners, available in grocery stores, in your refrigerator drawers. When they become soiled, just replace them and wipe the sides and fronts of the drawers clean—no need to take the drawers out of the fridge.

    Sweet-smelling trash cans.

     Garbage smells even worse in summer heat, but you don't have to commit to heavy scrubbing. Just store extra liners on the bottom of your trash can to protect it from spills and leaks. If a bag gets soiled, just discard it; otherwise, pull up the next bag as your liner. And summer is a great time to spray down your cans outdoors with a hose and a little dish soap—think about doing it when you wash your car.

    Paper is not evil.

     Summer party guests at my home eat on paper plates during informal gatherings. I'd rather be spending time enjoying their company than cleaning up afterward.

  • Play adult All- Star sports

    Posted Under: General Area in South Florida, Parks & Recreation in South Florida, In My Neighborhood in South Florida  |  June 27, 2012 8:46 AM  |  562 views  |  No comments

    Playing sites include Bamford Park in Davie, Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek and Miller Park in Delray Beach. Games will take place Sunday mornings starting July 15.

    allstarssoftballclub@yahoo.com, or call 786-380-0035.

    springs offers soccer camps

    Registration is open for the 24th year of the Simply Soccer Summer Camps in the city of Coral Springs. Regarded as the longest-running soccer camp locally, boys and girls ages 5-14 are being sought for play.

    A Tiny Tot program is being offered weekly for kids ages 5-6 from 9 a.m. to noon. A second child discount is provided upon request.

    Campers must bring a soccer ball, swimsuit, shin guards, water bottle and lunch. City residents and others are invited.

    sign up for basketball camp

    For sign-up information, visit bttbinc.org, or call 954-834-6087.

    register to play Wheelchair hoops

    There isn't any charge for residents and others. Those interested may call Fran Wade at 954-748-3084.

    The Broward County weekday morning golf league is offering ongoing matches. Participants enjoy a diversity of courses, low cost and league-style play.

    application, or further details.

    Dania Jai-Alai and the American Amateur Jai-Alai offers beginner, intermediate and advanced amateur jai-alai programs, including beginner's leagues now being formed for men and women and for children ages 8 and older.

    Pelotas and rubber, or plastic balls, are supplied. Cestas and helmets are available for rental, or purchase. There isn't any charge for the first session.

    admanUSA@aol.com, or Steev (nights) at 561-866-4699, or email SteevR@msn.com.

  • Cleaning up your credit after a foreclosure

    Posted Under: General Area in South Florida, In My Neighborhood in South Florida, Credit Score in South Florida  |  June 25, 2012 7:13 AM  |  519 views  |  No comments

    your credit score -- which just gives you the chance to take on more debt -- take steps to establish a foundation for a better financial future.

    credit report and correct any errors; and set up payment reminders or automatic-bill-pays so that you do not miss payments accidentally. About 80 percent of your credit score is based on how much you owe and your payment history, both the on-time part of it and the overall length. If you make your payments on time, pay off as much debt as possible, and don’t close old accounts, your credit score should rise from the ashes like a phoenix before you know it. Going through a foreclosure or a short sale is a very difficult process, but many of my clients have moved past it, cleaned up their credit and even taken out another mortgage.

  • Home Selling Tips and Suggestions

    Posted Under: General Area in South Florida, Home Selling in South Florida, Property Q&A in South Florida  |  June 25, 2012 6:52 AM  |  852 views  |  No comments

    How to efficiently sell your house and get the best price

    Selling a house is a competition, and you are up against all of the other homes for sale in your area. To shorten the time it takes to sell your home and get the best price possible, you need to help your house stand out from the crowd. Here are four steps you can take to improve the marketability of your home and attract potential buyers.

     

    1. Select a real estate agent to help you sell your home.

    Real estate agents can provide you with invaluable marketing resources that can get your house sold. Their knowledge of effective sales tactics, negotiating skills, and familiarity with the neighborhood around your house can be extremely valuable. In addition, they know how to best advertise your house to a wide audience of potential buyers and other real estate agents.

     

    2. Work with your real estate agent to come up with a realistic listing price based on comparable homes in your neighborhood.

    Before you set the asking price for your home, visit a number of other homes in your area that are listed in the price range you are considering. Be honest with yourself and try to objectively decide if a buyer would choose your home over the others that are available for a similar price. If the answer is no, you may need to consider listing your house at a lower price or investing in home improvements that will justify your desired asking price.

    3. Take an active role in marketing your home.

    Your real estate agent will develop a marketing plan for selling your home that includes tactics such as open houses, placing ads on Web sites and passing out flyers. But you can also take an active role in marketing your house. You and/or your real estate agent should consider creating a booklet that highlights some of the interesting things about your house and neighborhood that might not be obvious to a prospective buyer (e.g., quality of the school districts, proximity to shopping centers and public transportation, safety of your neighborhood). The booklet doesn’t need to be fancy - just a few sheets of paper with some photos and information - and it can make a big difference in helping make a positive impression on home buyers.

    4. Make your home more appealing.

    Give your house curb appeal.

    • Mow the lawn, plant new flowers, and trim hedges and bushes.
    • Keep the sidewalk clear, and spray down sidewalks and the exterior of your house with a hose or a pressure washer.
    • Paint weathered window trim, doors and fences.

    Spruce up the interior.

    • Wash windows.
    • Vacuum carpets frequently and wax floors.
    • Dust furniture (and don’t forget ceiling fan blades and light fixtures).
    • Touch up nicks and scratches in the paint; repaint rooms that look faded or outdated in a neutral color
    • Strip faded, outdated or "theme" wallpaper and repaint in a neutral color
    • Put new caulking around tubs, showers, and sinks.
    • Polish chrome faucets.
    • Put air fresheners in damp, musty areas (including any area that has pet odors).

    Make minor repairs.

    • Patch up holes in walls and fix cracked floors or counter tiles.
    • Repair leaky faucets.
    • Fix doors, closets, and drawers that don’t open and close properly.
    • Replace light switches that don’t work.

    Tip: When the home inspection is performed for a prospective buyer, they will probably ask for these repairs to be made anyway, so you might as well do them ahead of time when it can help make your house as attractive as possible.

    Eliminate clutter.

    • Remove unnecessary pieces of furniture to make rooms look bigger.
    • Remove everything from kitchen counters to make counter space look bigger.
    • Remove anything that blocks clear passage through hallways.
    • Box up any clothes or shoes lying on closet floors.
    • Rent a storage unit to hold items that may be creating clutter.
  • items often get broken during a move

    Posted Under: General Area in South Florida, Property Q&A in South Florida  |  June 25, 2012 6:47 AM  |  547 views  |  3 comments

    Which items often get broken during a move?

    If you're moving to a new house or apartment, be advised: Some things are made to be broken.

    When it comes to moving, you've got to be careful.

    That's because some things - no matter how sturdy they appear on the surface - are made to be broken.

    "People don't realize how big of a job it can be," says John Bisney, a spokesman for the American Moving and Storage Association. "They think, 'No big deal, load up a U-Haul and we're good to go.' "

    But breaking items during the moving process can be a big deal. Whether you go with the do-it-yourself (DIY) route or hire a moving company, the hassle of replacing or repairing busted items can cost time, money, and, in some cases, broken hearts.

    Which items are among the most likely to get smashed and dashed at moving time? Keep reading to find out...

    #1 - Electronics

    Computers, TVs, and home entertainment systems are among the most likely victims of breakage when it comes time to  move. If you drop electronics, the sensitive and delicate components can suffer major damage.

    A possible solution?

    Save the boxes and packing materials that originally came with the items, says Abbey Claire Keusch, a professional organizer based in Los Angeles. When the time comes to transport the gear to your next home, re-pack your gadgets in the boxes and materials the way you purchased them.

    #2 - Your Back

    Back pain, pulled muscles, and broken bones are among the physical injuries you can suffer by trying to move that refrigerator or piano without the right equipment or people power.

    "Moving is hard physically and emotionally," says Steve Weitekamp, president of the California Moving and Storage Association.

    From the physical standpoint, moving is a strenuous activity that adds a measure of danger when you have to move items up flights of stairs or repetitively lift heavy objects. On top of that, you're asking for trouble if you try moving things by walking backwards.

    The Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute, a resource center for technical information, writes on its website that you should always face forward when moving furniture to lessen your chances of falling. Otherwise, use a cart for larger pieces and go over the moving route in advance.

    #3 - Tables

    Wrestling with tables or other odd-shaped items during a move can be a recipe for disaster if you're in DIY mode. These items can be clunky, bulky, or a logistical nightmare at best, according to Bisney.

    Tables with marble tops - or anything made of marble, for that matter - can be particularly hazardous to transport, says Rob Ursino, marketing and communications manager of Movers Specialty Service

    "Marble, despite being heavy, is fairly fragile," Ursino notes. "But when it lands on something, it does with a lot of force."

    #4 - Mirrors

    Seven years of bad luck might be in your future if you try to move mirrors yourself.

    Here's why: "Obviously, [mirrors are] a fragile item, but if you wrap it yourself, you might not know how securely it's wrapped," Keusch reasons. "I don't think people realize how much padding is needed."

    Mirrors also can be prone to breakage because the frames holding them can't withstand the force of being dropped or jostled, Ursino says.

    Bisney has a secret weapon that can be used to help pack items such as mirrors. He says don't sleep on your pillows when you're moving - use them as cushions for mirrors and other fragile times!

    "Pillows make great packing and they work real well for a lot of problems," Bisney says. Plus, "You've got to pack them anyway."

    #5 - The House

    Whether it's the place you're leaving or the place you're moving into, property damage caused by hauling items could wind up costing you unwanted expenditures.

    Door jambs, walls, and floors are prone to getting hit and scraped when moving larger items. According to Ursino, this is particularly true of things that should be assembled inside the house, like a home gym.

    "People get tired," Weitekamp says. "They stop caring about what they are doing and just want to get finished. Once in this frame of mind, it's easy to accidentally pull the leg of a chair through a hallway window or a bedroom door."

    If you're worried about leaving any scratches on your old or new abode, one smart option might be to hire some experienced movers.

    #6 - Glassware/China

    Glassware, China, and dishes are among the most easily broken items during a move, according to Keusch. These pieces are extremely fragile and can shatter when they're packed together like sardines.

    "People don't put enough padding in between it or around it," Keusch says, referring to glassware. "Use paper and bubble wrap and leave space between them and the box."

    Fragile glass items can also be easily damaged when other items come in contact with them during transport.

    "Don't put books and something breakable in the same box," Keusch warns.

    #7 - Framed Artwork

    Paintings and artwork are subject to various kinds of damage during moves if you drop them or pack them next to objects with sharp edges.

    Pierced canvases, broken frames, and smudged paint are among potential disasters that can mar your favorite portrait or landscape before they hang on the wall of your new home.

    "Very many times, frames are very ornate, expensive, and easy to crack," Ursino says. "What happens is that people try to pack things tight in a truck and they put boxes on top of paintings. If you do that, it's easy to put holes in them."

    #8 - Booze

    Your favorite bottle of vintage Merlot or handle of tequila might not endure its move to a new location without care and consideration.

    Drop it, and you'll definitely be crying over spilled booze. But certain types of alcohol, like vino, can be "broken" in other ways during the course of moving. Hot weather is one such culprit.

    "Wine in itself is subject to temperature, and temperature change can ruin an entire case," Ursino says. "A lot of times, people are taking them in cars and not really packing them properly."

    #9 - Washer/Dryer

    If having fresh, clean clothes is important to you...now's the time to pay attention.

    Washers and dryers, among other heavy appliances, have a good chance of being broken during a move, according to Ursino, who notes that front-loading washers are among the most damage-prone.

    "They're a new phenomenon in the last 10 or 15 years," Ursino says. "They have a spinning drum and that drum has to be suspended properly in the move."

    A washer that's broken during a move can cause significant water damage. The bad part is that you might not realize it until it's too late.

    Ursino recommends using a manufacturer's shipping kit - which locks the washer's drum in place - to minimize transit damage.

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