RE/MAX 440
Michael Gillis

Michael Gillis
701 W. Market Street  Perkasie  PA 18944
Phone:  215-469-0213
Office:  215-453-7653
Fax:  267-354-6911

My Blog

Parents Saying No to Children's Lunchboxes

September 26, 2012 6:14 am

A new school lunch survey shows that the vast majority of kids are brown bagging it; and while deli meat is beating out the venerable PB&J, parents are concerned about how it is made, including the use of antibiotics and hormones in animals raised for food.

The "What's In Your Kid's Lunch" survey shows that 69 percent of U.S. parents report packing lunches for their kids, with nearly a third of parents packing a lunch every day. Of those lunch-packing parents, the top item included in lunches (reported by 80 percent) was a sandwich or wrap. Of the parents who turn to sandwiches for their children's noon meal, sliced deli meats beat out jelly, peanut butter and cheese as fillings.

Of those parents who pack lunches for their kids, 94 percent agree that deli sandwiches are quick and easy to prepare, and 81 percent said they really want to know what's in those deli meat products and how they are made. And with 79 percent of lunch-packing parents saying it's important that the deli meats they buy are made from animals not treated with antibiotics and hormones, another 82 percent said it was unfair and misleading that meat companies can label products as natural even when antibiotics are used.

Parents know they don't want antibiotics in their kids' deli sandwiches, but many times they don't know they are getting them. Parents are encouraged to visit to learn more about the "What's In Your Kid's Lunch" survey and get advice on packing a drug-free lunch.

More Survey Findings
-71 percent of lunch-packing parents say that they and their kids get bored quickly with lunch options (not surprising with an average of 180 school days in the U.S.)
-89 percent said it was important to have all food groups represented in a child's lunch
-75 percent admitted worry about how much of the lunch they pack for their children actually gets eaten

Source: Applegate

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Potential Safety Concerns with Home Canning

September 25, 2012 6:14 am

With the renewed popularity of seasonal, local eating and the desire to prepare healthy foods at home, many homeowners are looking to home canning (usually with glass jars) to preserve food for later use. If, however, home canned foods are not properly prepared, they can cause serious illness such as botulism.

If you are home canning your own foods (such as jams, pickles, soups, sauces and seafood), the following steps will help to reduce the risk of contamination or growth from Clostridium botulinum:

-Clean and sanitize your hands, all work surfaces, utensils and equipment, and keep them clean during all stages of the canning process.

-Use a pressure canner when canning low acid foods. A pressure canner is a large pressure vessel optimized for canning and is not the same as a pressure cooker. Strictly follow the manufacturer's instructions for canning foods considered to be low-acid, such as seafood, meats, vegetables and sauces. These low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to destroy any Clostridium botulinum spores that might be present.

-High-acid foods such as fruit, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades and fruit butters will not support the growth of Clostridium botulinum and can be safely processed in a boiling water canner.
Tomatoes are a borderline high-acid food and require an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, to be added for safer canning.

-Attempting to can foods in their fresh state without added liquid is not safe. Ensure that the food being canned is topped up sufficiently, in its can or jar, with suitable liquid, such as syrup, sauce, brine or acidifying agent.

-When following currently tested recipes, do not substitute ingredients, change amounts or the jar size that is in the recipe, because this can cause the recommended temperature, time or pressure needed during pressure canning or boiling water canning to change. This can lead to bacteria remaining in the food. Always follow the recommended recipes and processes along with the recommended temperature, time and pressure.

-Each jar lid should be firmly sealed and concave (curved slightly inwards). Nothing should have leaked from the jar, no unnatural odors should be detected, and no liquid should spurt out when the jar is opened.

-Label your home-canned food, including the date it was canned. For best quality, use within one year from the date they were made.

-Be sure to store your home-canned food in a cool, dry place. Once the container has been opened, refrigerate leftovers immediately.

-If you are buying or are gifting home canned products, ask about their preparation to help you to determine whether the proper safety steps were followed.

Always remember: never eat canned foods if you suspect the item has been tampered with, if the closure/seal has been broken, or if the container is swollen or leaking. When in doubt, throw it out!

Botulism is a serious illness that can result from eating improperly prepared canned or bottled foods. Botulism is caused by a bacterium, called Clostridium botulinum, that naturally produces toxins as part of its normal life cycle. The toxin that causes botulism is colorless, odorless, tasteless and invisible to the naked eye and is not necessarily destroyed by cooking. Preventing the toxin from forming is therefore essential.

It is important to understand the principles behind home canning so that food is produced safely at home. If necessary, consider taking short courses on food canning that are often available locally in your area.

Source: Health Canada

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Avoiding Non-caloric Beverages Can Help Avoid Weight Gain in Teens

September 25, 2012 6:14 am

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that adolescents who eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages for one year gained less weight than those who didn't, shedding light on an effective intervention to help combat adolescent obesity.

This is one of the first high-quality randomized control trials to examine the link between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and their direct impact on weight and body mass index (BMI), as well as how a teen's home environment impacts sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in general.

Adolescents who received deliveries of non-caloric beverages for one year gained an average of four fewer pounds than their peers who continued to drink sugar-sweetened beverages. Within the two-year study, the one-year intervention also included motivational calls with parents, check-in visits with participants and written intervention messages to stop drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.

The 224 study participants were overweight or obese 9th or 10th graders who regularly drank sugary beverages. The study intervention was designed to reduce consumption of these beverages. Researchers used a novel method of intervention: delivering non-caloric beverages to participants' homes for participants and their families.

During the year-long intervention, the experimental group of adolescents—who virtually eliminated consumption of sugary beverages—gained four fewer pounds and had essentially no BMI increase compared to the control group, which continued to drink sugar-sweetened beverages regularly (although at reduced levels possibly due to local public health efforts). In addition, Hispanic adolescents showed the greatest benefit—gaining 14 fewer pounds than the control group. No other single food product has been shown to change body weight by this amount over a year simply through its reduction.

This study underscores the need for healthy choices to be more easily available to adolescents, as well as the need for more research into effective interventions among minority populations with particularly high obesity rates.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Lattes: A Nutritious and Delicious Breakfast Complement

September 25, 2012 6:14 am

There's good news for the millions of Americans who start each day with a cup of coffee. Making a latte at home for breakfast is not only a delicious start to the day, but it can provide much-needed nutrients including calcium, Vitamin D and potassium that most Americans are lacking. Your morning latte delivers a full serving of milk's nine essential nutrients, including eight grams of high quality protein – even more than an egg.

Breakfast with milk, whether in a latte, your cereal or straight from a glass, can help you feel satisfied, focused and energized, so you can make the most of your day. At a time when specialty coffeehouse prices can be high, being your own barista at home could also help save you money. For only a quarter a serving, coffee's latte counterpart, milk, adds nutrients without breaking the bank.

Whatever your personal latte order, the National Milk Mustache "got milk?"® Campaign has at-home recipes for easy ways to make your morning latte the way you like it. Whether it's a simple two parts milk, one part espresso drink or a triple shot with extra foam, caramel drizzle and cinnamon, being your own barista is as easy as:

-Espress-o Yourself: Thinking about getting an espresso machine? Great! If not, no problem... just brew your coffee beans stronger than usual.
-Get Frothy with It: Milk frothers are a great gift. But you can also heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave, then whisk for extra foam.
-Have Fun with Flavor: Check your spice cabinet to add great flavors like cinnamon or nutmeg. You can also buy your favorite syrups for a coffee shop-worthy flavor boost.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Light up the Landscape - How to Make the Most of Outdoor Lighting

September 24, 2012 6:12 am

Outdoor lighting is one sure way to make your home more secure. Done right, it adds a welcome air of warmth and glamour that can enhance any home.

Illuminating walkways, steps and entryways gives the property a lived-in look even when you are away—and provides a measure of safety for you and your family when you arrive home after dark. Wall lanterns and fixtures are readily available in a variety of styles and materials. A walk through your local home store will give you lots of ideas—and here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan:

-For security and safety, light up driveways, walkways, stairs and grounds with post lanterns, tier lights and floodlights.
-Enhance the ambiance by using low-voltage landscape lighting to light up trees, shrubs and flowerbeds. Low voltage lighting uses only 12 volts of electricity and is very safe to install.
-Floodlighting is a versatile way to illuminate wide areas, such as garden ponds, ivied walls or gazebos.
-Use path lighting to increase safety by lighting up areas where people walk, drive or climb steps.
-Use up-lighting techniques to add visual interest to trees, statues and fountains.
-Use sufficient wall lighting to add visibility around the swimming pool or walkway areas.
-Unique landscape features such as sculptures and shaped shrubbery can be highlighted using spotlights. A sequence of spotlights creates an interesting mosaic of colors and textures.
-For maximum safety, lights and cables should be installed at least five feet from the edge of a swimming pool.
-Light fixtures should not be covered by foliage, tree branches or bushes. To ensure maximum light output, check the areas around all fixtures several times a year and prune surrounding foliage as necessary.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Sleep to Improve Alignment and Help Alleviate Back Pain

September 24, 2012 6:12 am

If you're waking up with back pain, it may be due to the way you're sleeping rather than a medical ailment. That's according to renowned balance expert Jean Couch, founder of the Palo Alto-based Balance Center.

"Misaligned bones create chronic tension," Couch explains. "We can alleviate tension and pain by sitting, standing, bending and sleeping differently. Practicing proper alignment in bed takes stress off the joints and allows the muscles to relax for a more restful sleep."

Here are a few tips on how to achieve optimal spine alignment during sleep:

-Sleep in an elongated position, not in a ball. This lengthens the spine and increases moisture and nutrition to spinal discs. People often curl up because of back pain. An elongated alignment promotes a healthy back.
-When sleeping on your side, place the upper arm on hip or side. If the arm drops forward, consider putting a pillow under the armpit. This widens the shoulder girdle and aligns the entire shoulder area.
-Position your pillow properly. If lying on your side, your pillow should be positioned as high as your shoulder is wide. If the pillow is too low, your head will drop down and your neck will kink; if too high, it will push the head up. Either situation is hard on the neck and spine.
-Make sure your pillows can be shaped to provide the right support. Down pillows can also help, as they can take shape depending on comfort needs at any given moment.
-Back sleepers should create a wedge shape with their pillow, with more height and dimension toward the top of the head. This forces the chin down and lengthens the neck, decreasing snoring and possibly helping with sleep apnea. The wedge shape also helps to relax the lower back.

Source: McRoskey Mattress Company

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Luxurious Bathroom Ideas for the Home

September 24, 2012 6:12 am

A great bathroom could add real value to your property, so it's vital you spend the time and effort creating the perfect sanctuary. By handpicking the finest accessories to fine-tune your bathroom, you can turn it into a luxurious haven.

Sharp lines and clean appearances can boost a simple washroom into a cutting edge design. Dogi's Fontane range is a stunning collection of natural furniture pieces made from solid wood ash, providing a minimalist feel for your home. Enhancing your bathroom's shape and size through discrete storage, each piece is custom-made, maximizing surface space through multi-storage units. With a range of styles, colors and sizes to choose from, you won't be short of ideas to match existing bathroom features.

Fittings and accessories should never be ignored when furnishing your washroom. A key piece, such as a basin, can really enliven the look and bring a touch of luxury to any space. Glass Design creates washbowls that are a great example of cutting-edge design meeting decadence. Each piece is uniquely designed, using materials that capture the soul of the product, adding a new lease of life to your abode.

If you have a medium- or large-sized bathroom, consider investing in a freestanding bath. It provides a focal point, adding grandeur to your bathroom. Make sure you think about the look and feel you want before investing, as this is a key product that will influence the whole look and feel of your room. From traditional Victorian to industrial-inspired designs and Japanese influences, there is a great range of inspiring pieces to choose from.

Source: C.P. Hart

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Many Adults Would Plan to Live Frugally if They Won the Lottery

September 21, 2012 6:12 am

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams? While it's easy to fantasize about what one would do with a lottery jackpot, a new survey reveals that many U.S. adults would continue to live normally if they won the lottery. In fact, 64 percent of U.S. adults said they would be extremely or very likely to continue to live frugally and 55 percent would still be extremely or very likely to use coupons. This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin from September 5th – 7th, 2012, among 2,570 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

In addition to frugal living and coupon use, hypothetical lottery winners said they would be extremely or very likely to maintain other cheap living habits, including:

• Shopping at dollar and/or discount stores – 53 percent
• Only buying items on sale – 51 percent
• Continuing to work at current job – 36 percent

Regardless of lottery-winning plans, nearly four-in-ten (37 percent) of U.S. adults buy lottery tickets at least sometimes, while 13 percent of buy them very often or often. Those in the Northeast (43 percent) are significantly more likely than those in the West (30 percent) and Midwest (35 percent) to buy lottery tickets at least sometimes.

Comparing gender, more males (42 percent) buy lottery tickets at least sometimes than females (32 percent). When it comes to age, significantly less U.S. adults ages 18-34 (28 percent) buy lottery tickets at least sometimes, than those ages 55 and up (41 percent).

When asked what they would do with the money if they won a large amount in the lottery, some U.S. adults took the practical route while others had more creative dreams. A random sampling of U.S. adults shared the following plans for if they won big lottery payout:

• Build a homeless shelter.
• Pay for medical procedures that my insurance won't cover.
• Establish a charitable foundation.
• Set up college funds for my children and grandchildren.
• Get a divorce.
• Get rid of my student debt.
• Find a job that I really want to do, rather than work at a place I can't stand just earn a paycheck.
• Endow a scholarship at my college.
• Buy my parents a home closer to me so I can take care of them.
• Donate 10 percent to my church.
• Makeover my home and hire a maid.
• Get prescriptions that I can't currently afford.
• Hire a hairdresser and masseuse daily and have a chauffeur.
• Take my family to Disney World.
• Open an orphanage.
• Buy a Steinway D Concert Grand piano.
• Pursue my dream job of teaching.
• Purchase a large RV and travel the country visiting family and friends, and camping and hiking with my spouse.
• Start my own business.
• Work for free for a non-profit.

Source: Coupon Cabin

Published with permission from RISMedia.


New Research Unveils Impact of Breakfast in the Classroom

September 21, 2012 6:12 am

Most parents know that breakfast is important for their children, yet a significant number of children still aren't getting the breakfast they need each day and teachers are seeing the effects in the classroom.

In fact, new research reveals that more than three quarters (77%) of teachers have given food to a student they thought was hungry. This startling number reinforces that even though parents may think their kids are fine when they leave the house without eating, the effects of skipping breakfast kick-in an hour into the school day - leading teachers to take measures to cope.

Canada's Breakfast Report, a study of Canadian moms and teachers, shows big discrepancies between what parents think and say about breakfast and what teachers are seeing at school. Only 7% of moms claim that, they have let their children go to school at least once a week without eating breakfast. Conversely, teachers believe that number is actually four times higher (29%) based on the behavior of kids in the classroom. Critically, more than half of teachers (56%) believe poor grades can be related to children not eating the breakfast they should each day.

Though parents are struggling to overcome some barriers, experts say it's crucial that they make it a priority to get their children back to the breakfast table.

"Spending the time as a family to eat breakfast is like putting money in people's physical, mental and emotional banks," says developmental psychologist Dr. Tony Volk. "Not eating breakfast goes beyond the food itself - it can impact a child's ability to concentrate which affects their grades, behavior and ability to socialize."

The good news is that when children come to school after eating a balanced breakfast, teachers see encouraging results:

• 82% of teachers agree that breakfast improves a student's capacity to learn;
• 62% see an ability to retain learning;
• 69% say it improves a student's ability or willingness to interact with other students.

The report also shows that two-thirds (66%) of moms agree that ideas for making breakfast more fun could help their family eat breakfast more frequently. Moms cited a number of ways that breakfast could be more fun including; changing up routines, listening to music and trying new and fun foods.

Source: Nutella

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Protect a Home from Severe Weather with a Metal Roof

September 21, 2012 6:12 am

Hailstorms, hurricanes, heavy snow and wildfires can all cause extensive damage to a home. The roof takes the brunt of extreme weather, protecting everything and everyone from the elements. Choosing the right roofing product can mean the difference between a minor repair or a major problem. In the U.S., approximately 10 percent of homeowners now choose a metal roof when remodeling.

Metal roofing systems are designed to stand up to extreme weather conditions. In extreme cases, such as high wind conditions common in a wildfire, burning pine needles and debris can easily ignite a traditional asphalt roof. A metal roof may be the best protection one could get.

For homes in hurricane-prone areas, metal roofing's durability is a key factor to consider when re-roofing. Many metal roofing systems have a 120-mph wind rating and uplift resistance that exceeds new building code requirements. Metal roofing materials interlock, forming a protective barrier that other roofing materials do not provide. The interlocking system makes the roof stronger and more resistant to high winds.

In addition, naturally durable metal roofs are highly resistant to hail damage. Hail will not penetrate a metal roof. Metal roofing products have the highest impact resistance and hail rating granted by Underwriters' Laboratory (UL). Most metal roofing products earn a UL2218 Class 4 rating, meaning that a sample of the product did not crack when it hit twice in the same spot by a 2-inch steel ball, which would translate into a huge hailstorm.

If you are looking to buy a new roof for your home, you should at least consider the investment value in a metal roof. In fact, 61% of consumers who choose a metal roof cite durability as the top reason for their choice.

For more information, visit

Published with permission from RISMedia.