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Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
 Phone: 215-429-7273
Office Phone: 215-538-4400
Fax: 267-354-6992 
petecerruti@yahoo.com
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Peter Cerruti

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Hottest Fireplace Trends for 2014

January 22, 2014 8:39 pm

Over the years, fireplaces have been a familiar feature in many homes, however until very recently, they have undergone very little change from the traditional hearth. According to Napoleon Fireplaces, 2014 is heating up to be a very different year for the fireplace. Fireplaces are becoming the design focus for many rooms in the house and with new technological advances it’s now possible to do more with the fireplace than ever before.

“We’re seeing some very interesting home designs that incorporate fireplaces in many creative new ways,” said David Coulson, of Napoleon Fireplaces. “While the traditional hearth will be a mainstay for many homes, modern fireplaces with crisp lines and glass frames will continue to rise in popularity with new homes and redesigned rooms. That being said we’re seeing several new trends emerge this season that are really changing the way people are thinking about fireplaces.”

Coulson suggests keeping the following hot trends in mind when looking for a new fireplace this season.

• Modern: The upcoming season will continue the trend of sleek and modern fireplaces. Look for clean, linear lines with less metal and more glass. People want the full flame and don’t want black or chrome metal frames blocking the view or interfering with the lighting.

• Gas: Gas fireplaces will continue to rise in popularity this season. The convenience of flicking a switch compared to collecting, piling and lighting firewood is quickly winning out. The younger generation of fireplace buyers want a quick lighting fireplace that is cleaner and easier to maintain.

• Outdoors: 2014 will be a big year for the outdoor fireplace as people create or expand on their backyard oasis. The idea of turning a backyard into another room of your house is fueling the outdoor fireplace trend and Napoleon has developed several new models to accommodate this demand.

• Heat rises: Much like HD televisions, consumers are placing their fireplace inserts higher up on the wall. New technology allows for home owners to insert enclosed gas fireplaces almost anywhere in the house and many people are taking inspiration from designers who are playing with the traditional ideas of where you find a fireplace.

• Unlikely locations: Much like the migration of fireplaces up the wall, more fireplaces are being installed in unlikely rooms. For example, Napoleon makes several models which are ideally suited for the kitchen or bathroom. These fireplaces however are typically used to decorate the room.

In the end, every room is different so it’s important to find the right fireplace that fits.

Source: Napoleon Fireplaces

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to be a Smart Foodie When Dining Out

January 21, 2014 8:39 pm

Dining out can sometimes feel like a gamble: Does the restaurant practice good food safety, or will a bite out result in a night of food-poisoning misery? BeSmartBeWell.com provides diners tips to avoid food poisoning.

Food poisoning is possible at any type of restaurant.
Food poisoning strikes about 48 million people in the United States each year, and nearly half of recent foodborne illness outbreaks were caused by food consumed in a restaurant. Just 21 percent were caused by food consumed in a private home, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It doesn't matter how fancy a restaurant is; if the staff doesn't follow good restaurant food safety practices, there is a risk for food poisoning. "You can get foodborne illness from any type of restaurant—from the lowest level of the mom-and-pop all the way to the fine dining restaurant," says Ben Vaughn, host of Food Network’s Health Inspectors.

Dining out, but staying in control
While most diners do not have the behind-the-scenes access that Vaughn does, anyone can be a "smart foodie." "Just because you're dining out doesn't mean you're not in control," he says.

Tip: Scope the scene.
The first thing a diner should do upon entering a restaurant is take a close look at the public areas. The cleanliness and orderliness of a restaurant can be an indicator of what's going on behind the kitchen door, according to Vaughn.

Tip: Order fresh, order smart.
Smart ordering can help lower the risk of food poisoning, Vaughn says. "Be regionally respectful," he recommends. "The farther food has to travel to reach your plate, the higher the risk it has been improperly handled somewhere along the way. Look for ingredients that don't belong in that area and don't order them."

Tip: Review the health inspection report.
Restaurants are required to post their health inspection reports, or make them available upon request. "Health inspection scores should be posted at the front door. If you don't see a health inspection or you don't see a current health inspection, ask," Vaughn says.

Source: Be Smart Be Well

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Super Bowl Drives Most TV Purchases in 2014

January 21, 2014 8:39 pm

FatWallet.com announced results from its 2014 TV Buyer Survey. Of those surveyed online, 30 percent said they will purchase a new TV this year (35 percent males and 38 percent under age 30). Almost one third of those will buy a TV during Super Bowl sales. The survey also reveals that their purchasing decisions are influenced most by price (45 percent), followed by TV features (35 percent) and brand (20 percent).

Key survey results for those that said they will purchase a new TV this year:

• Almost one third (32 percent) are most likely to buy a new TV during Super Bowl sales, 25 percent during Black Friday sales, 8 percent during December/Holiday, 6 percent during Cyber Monday and 18 percent noted a wide variety of other seasonal sales event throughout the year.
• More than half said they will spend less than $500 with 14 percent to spend less than $300, 34 percent between $300-$499, 34 percent between $500-$699, and 32 percent will spend $700 or more.
• Samsung was top choice for TV buyers (33 percent), especially with higher annual income shoppers, and is almost twice as popular as Sony (18 percent), followed by LG (16 percent) and Vizio (14 percent) rounding out the top four. Only 4 percent said they will most likely buy a budget brand TV in 2014.
• The majority of TV buyers (80 percent) will seek 1080p resolution and more than one third (35 percent) prefer it to have "smart" capabilities (45 percent under age 50). Only 6 percent said they will be buying a 4K TV (surprisingly 10 percent for those with an annual income under $30k), while 14 percent are still satisfied buying a 720p TV.
• Mid-size 40-54" TV models are most popular with 45 percent (56 percent under age 30), while 31 percent will buy a new TV 55" or bigger. Only 6 percent will purchase a new TV 70" or bigger.
• Surprisingly, more than 7 percent said they will make their TV purchase via mobile device.

"The Super Bowl offers the perfect storm for shoppers to improve their game watching experience while saving money on a high quality, big-ticket item," states Brent Shelton, FatWallet spokesperson.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Steps for Millennials to Define Their Financial Future

January 20, 2014 8:39 pm

Like other age groups, not saving enough for retirement is the biggest vulnerability facing Millennials. However, they’re the only generation that doesn’t seem to know it, as Millennials ranked more urgent needs like managing cash flow, getting out of debt and investing as higher priorities. Here are some steps Millennials can take to strike a better balance between the needs of today and tomorrow.

1. Take control over your day-to-day finances. Millennials rank managing cash flow as their top priority. The first step is to find out where your money is going by looking at previous bank and credit card statements and categorizing them on a worksheet or a free site like Mint or Yodlee MoneyCenter that can track spending online or via smartphone apps. You can then search for ways to cut back on some of those expenses to bring your spending in line with your income and free up money that can be used to pay down debt or save for the future.

2. Know the difference between good and bad debt. Getting out of debt was their second most important priority, but not all debt is equal. Debt taken to enhance career opportunities like a student loan, to purchase a vehicle needed to commute to work, or to invest in an appreciating asset like a home tends to be low interest and can be characterized as “good debt.” Credit card debt taken to purchase the latest iPad is typically charged much higher interest rates and should be considered “bad debt.”

While auto and student loans may be frustrating, they don’t typically cost as much in interest or have as negative an impact on your credit score as credit card debt. In fact, it may make more sense to invest extra money rather than pay down these good debts since the investments can be expected to earn more than you save in interest. On the other hand, you should pay any high-interest debt off as soon as possible.

3. Protect your credit. Millennials are already the most likely age group to check their credit report on an annual basis, likely due to the impact it has on their opportunities for jobs and home ownership. You can take it one step further by signing up for free credit advice and monitoring on sites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. For even stronger protection, you may want to put a security freeze on each of your credit reports to prevent would-be identity thieves from opening credit in your name.

4. Run a retirement calculator. With retirement so far off, only 29 percent of Millennials have run a retirement calculator, the lowest percentage of the generations. This lack of awareness is their greatest weakness. Using an employer-provided program like Financial Engines or Schwab GuidedChoice, or a retirement calculator can be an eye-opener.

5. Start saving for retirement. Millennials are the generation most likely to not be saving for retirement at all. While their incomes may be relatively low, and many are struggling with student loan payments, Millennials should still begin building the habit of regular saving. One place to start is to make sure you’re contributing at least enough to your employer’s retirement plan to get the full match and not leave any of that free money on the table. This also forces you to save money before you even have a chance to spend it. You can then gradually increase that contribution rate over time.

6. Open a Roth IRA. One place to put additional savings is a Roth IRA, which can be used to save for both short-term goals like emergencies, going back to school, or buying a home, and long-term goals like retirement. That’s because whatever you contribute to a Roth IRA can be withdrawn tax and penalty free at any time and for any reason so the money won’t be tied up. (Earnings can also be withdrawn penalty-free for education expenses and up to $10k for a first-time home purchase.)

On the other hand, whatever isn’t withdrawn grows to be tax-free after age 59 1/2. (Any earnings withdrawn before age 59 1/2 could be subject to taxes and a 10 percent penalty.) The key is to leave the Roth IRA invested someplace safe and accessible like a savings account or money market fund until there’s enough emergency savings (at least 3-6 months of necessary expenses) accumulated somewhere else. At that point, it can be invested more aggressively for retirement.

7. Get investment help. Investing was the third highest priority for Millennials and an area where their behavior trailed the other generations, probably due to their lack of investment experience. Target date retirement funds can simplify the process but they may actually be too aggressive for many Millennials as 43 percent characterized themselves as conservative investors. See if you can get more customized guidance and advice through your employer or use online tools like FutureAdvisor and Jemstep for free investment recommendations (there are fees if you want to have them manage the money for you).

Source: Financial Finesse

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Sticking with Your Financial Resolutions

January 17, 2014 8:36 pm

(Family Features) With the new year underway, there is a heavy focus around resolutions. Whether you are making a resolution to celebrate a fresh start or looking to make a change no matter the time of year, maintaining resolutions can be difficult. In fact, a recent survey from Bank of America found that 49 percent of respondents don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they prefer to set goals throughout the year.

Goals tied to the new year, and those set at various points in the year, are all aimed at making significant life changes. According to the survey, 81 percent of resolutions involve health and fitness, 45 percent involve personal finances and 30 percent are targeted toward making changes in social life and relationships. With the large number of people planning to make changes in their finances, it is helpful to determine how to best ensure you achieve your goal.

Research shows that consumers who understand their behaviors and motivations are more likely to build and keep positive habits for the long term. That’s why it’s so important to have strategies to keep those financial resolutions throughout the year. A few pointers to stick with your financial resolutions include:

Prepare before your resolution begins
Putting thought into your resolutions before you spring into action can put you on the path to change. Starting early with a few small changes can also improve your odds of staying the course to achieve your goals.

Develop an action plan
It’s fine to make a resolution, but the odds of sticking with it improve dramatically if you create an action plan of smaller steps to support your goals. Creating a budget? Start by tracking your spending to see where the money is going. Then create a budget that’s tight but workable, to give you more flexibility to pay down debt, increase savings or invest for retirement. If you have to carry a balance, but want to responsibly manage your credit card, consider a card that helps build positive habits.

Write it down
Forty percent of survey respondents say they use written reminders to help stay on track with their resolutions. Try writing your resolutions on Post-it notes, in Evernote, in calendar reminders or on notes stuck to the refrigerator — whatever you’ll look at regularly — to keep yourself committed and on track.

Get a little help from your friends
Sometimes a gentle reminder from a family member or friend can work wonders. Share your resolutions with a trusted person and ask for occasional reminders.

Partner up
Find a friend or loved one with the same resolution and agree to motivate and support one another to stick to your goals. It’s easier to manage a diet, exercise plan or budget if you have support. Twenty percent of respondents plan to partner up to keep to their resolutions.

Start your New Year’s resolutions thinking today, and keep the big goals in mind every day, whether they aim for better health, sounder finances or better relationships. With the right attitude and commitment, 2014 could be a very good year.

Source: Bank of America

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Eat Clean, Eat Simple

January 16, 2014 8:36 pm

Potassium Sorbate? Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate? Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate? Good Food Made Simple – a brand committed to using clean, simple ingredients – believes that if you can't pronounce an ingredient, or don't know what it means, you should be highly skeptical of eating it. That's why the company is launching "Eat Clean, Eat Simple," a national campaign that helps people take control of what they put in their bodies by educating and inspiring them to read and understand ingredient labels – not just glance at the Nutrition Facts.

A recent survey reveals that despite warnings about harmful ingredients found in packaged foods, Americans still purchase and consume foods that contain ingredients directly linked to long-term health problems. According to the survey, only 35 percent of Americans always read ingredient lists before purchasing packaged food. Of those people, only half of them do so to make sure that all of the ingredients are clean – with no preservatives, no additives, no hydrogenated oils (a source of trans fat), no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners.

"Consumers are used to the convenience that comes with packaged foods, however, convenience often comes with a trade-off of less than wholesome ingredients," said George Gavris, managing partner at Good Food Made Simple, Inc. " We are launching Eat Clean, Eat Simple to inspire educated label reading, providing clarity and context along the way, so people can understand the importance of eating real, wholesome foods and how it affects your health," he said.
People don't always understand what's in their food.

• Real stat: Despite 87 percent of respondents stating that clean food products are important to them, 57 percent of these respondents report having purchased a leading macaroni and cheese product that is filled with preservatives and additives in the past two years.
• Real food for thought: Carry a cheat sheet – which can be found on www.goodfoodmadesimple.com/eatclean – in your wallet to further educate yourself on unacceptable ingredients. It's simply expected that preservatives and additives are in our food.

• Real stat: Sadly, 50 percent of respondents say they would expect to find additives and/or preservatives – such as Calcium Carbonate, Guar Gum, Caramel Color and Vitamin A Palmitate – in instant oatmeal.
• Real food for thought: Next time you purchase this common breakfast food, look for options that only contain recognizable ingredients. People need to make time to learn what ingredients mean for their health.

• Real stat: 41 percent of people say they only sometimes read ingredient lists because they don't have time. Just over one in five say it's because they don't understand most of the ingredients.
• Real food for thought: You might be rushed and you might be tongue-tied, but that's no excuse for not understanding what you are putting in your body. Look for foods with ingredients you understand and trust. Studies have shown that even a small amount of trans fat can result in an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

• Real fact: When asked if they would buy a product with trans fats, only 11 percent of people say never and 34 percent say sometimes.
• Real food for thought: Know your fats! Even if you are making foods at home you could be adding ingredients that include trans fats. Over time, trans fats clog your arteries and can harm your health.

Source: Good Food Made Simple

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Consumer Sentiment Up as 2014 Begins

January 16, 2014 8:36 pm

As the new year begins, consumers are feeling better about the economy than they have since last summer, according the latest monthly NACS Consumer Fuels Survey that examines how gas prices affect consumer sentiment.

Though most consumers still say that they are pessimistic about the economy, 43 percent of consumers say that they are optimistic about the economy, the highest level of optimism since July 2013. The rise in optimism is seen consistently across all parts the country, even in the Northeast and Midwest, where consumers were affected by record-cold temperatures during the January 7-9 polling period.

For more than a year, at least 83 percent of consumers have said that gas prices impact their feelings about the economy and that sentiment continued in the first month of the new year, with 85 percent of consumers indicating that.
However, for only the third time in the past 12 months, a rise in gas prices did not lead to a rise in pessimism, or vice versa. The increase in optimism occurred in a month of rising gas prices in which gas prices increased by roughly a nickel a gallon.

Instead, consumers are feeling very optimistic about gas prices in the near future. More than half (53 percent) of consumers say that gas prices will be the same or lower in the next 30 days, with a record-low 7 percent saying that prices will be much higher.

Also reflective of the current consumer optimism, drivers say prices would have to increase significantly before they would consider reducing the amount that they drive. On average, gas purchasers say prices would have to reach $4.04 a gallon before they would cut back driving— a 71 cent price increase beyond the current national average. This price differential is the second-largest since NACS began measuring this statistic in May 2013.

"Future prospects are outweighing current conditions in defining consumer sentiment," said NACS Vice President of Government Relations John Eichberger. "While it remains to be seen if conditions do in fact improve, consumer optimism is great news for consumers, retailers and the economy as the new year begins."

Source: National Association of Convenience Stores

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Simple Tips to Stick to Your Resolution

January 15, 2014 8:36 pm

The start of a new year is often a time for reflection and a resolve to change. Whether the resolutions are big or small, most people by now are already starting down the path to a new and better version of themselves. A new WebMD survey about resolutions revealed that one in three people are making 2014 resolutions each January but almost 60 percent end up dropping them by the end of March.

While the WebMD survey results indicated that most people resolve to exercise and lose weight, others vow to commit to different healthy habits such as getting organized (39 percent), being happier (39 percent), and learning something new (37 percent) – all of which make the list for 2014 resolutions.

An overwhelming 79 percent said that the best way to get them motivated to stay on course would be by following small, achievable tips and advice that would make a measurable impact on their health. These tips, provided by Colgate, offer easy-to-follow steps to help you stay on track for a better, healthy lifestyle this year.

See Your Doctor – Many of us can fall into the habit of just going to the doctor when we aren't feeling well. Break that cycle by scheduling your annual physical and check-up and start going to the doctor when you are feeling fine.

Take a Walk – Working in front of a computer all day can lead to poor posture and eye strain. Try taking a short walk every 30 minutes to give your eyes a break and get a boost of energy.

Disconnect – Technology is everywhere. Take some time to disconnect and get away from the TV and other gadgets. Spending time away from the screen with your family or even alone may be just the break you are looking for.

Bring the Gym Home – Expensive gyms aren't the only way to get fit. Purchase a jump rope or resistant bands and look for small pockets of time throughout the day when you can get in your own personal workout without having the leave your house.

Refresh Your Mouth Health - Add oral care to your healthy checklist this year.

Source: www.ColgateTotal.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Manage Hunger with Wholesome Foods

January 15, 2014 8:36 pm

(Family Features) Whether you’re following a weight loss plan or simply maintaining healthy habits, finding foods that are nutritious sources of protein and promote satiety can help curb your urge to snack throughout the day.

Wholesome soy foods can replace other foods in your diet that might be adding too much fat, sugar and cholesterol. Soy foods also provide high-quality, complete protein, shown to increase satiety, the feeling of fullness.

“Soy protein can play a major role in satiety,” said Russ Egbert, director of protein research at Archer Daniels Midland Co. “We know that diets that are high in protein are more satiating than diets that are high in carbohydrates or high in fat.”

Regardless of your lifestyle or age, protein is an essential nutrient your body needs, and compared to other common protein sources, the soybean is a giant. The soybean is upwards of 38 percent protein, says Karl Weingartner, director of the International Soybean Program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Fish such as salmon contain about 18 percent protein, while a T-bone steak is about 22 percent.

In addition, a recent study published in Molecular Food & Nutrition Research found that soy fiber has “favorable effects on body weight, body mass index and fasting LDL-cholesterol levels in overweight and obese adults,” all factors that are helpful in weight loss and managing high blood pressure.

“The soy bean by its nature is a complete food. It’s very high in protein, it contains valuable oils, essential fatty acids, fiber, even the sugars in it are considered to be prebiotics,” said Peter Golbitz, director of international business development for the SunOpta Grains and Foods Group.

Simple substitutions make it easy to incorporate soy into your favorite dishes:

-Combine an avocado, a cup of extra-firm tofu and salsa for a lighter guacamole
-Substitute soy milk into garlic mashed potatoes
-Energize your child’s morning breakfast with protein-rich soy yogurt
-Fix a quick, healthy dinner with soy-based burgers in place of traditional ground beef
-Toss fresh edamame on top of your favorite salad
-Select delicious whole soy nutrition bars as snacks

Or, you can experiment with new recipes such as this protein-rich, low-carb Soy and Spinach Artichoke Dip for guilt-free indulgence.

Soy and Spinach Artichoke Dip
12 servings

1 pound silken tofu, crumbled
1 pound low fat cream cheese, cubed
1 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 pound marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish

Beat tofu until smooth. Mix in cream cheese, mayonnaise and pepper in mixer bowl. Fold in spinach, artichokes and green onions.

Divide mixture equally into 12 (4-ounce) au gratin dishes. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top, if desired.

Bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly and browned on top. Serve with low-carb crackers or bread for an all-around low-carb snack or lunch!

Nutrition per 4-oz. serving: 62 calories, 6.6 g protein, 5.7 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber, 1.4 g fat, 254 mg sodium

To find more recipes featuring soy protein, visit www.soyfoods.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Getting a Better Night's Sleep

January 15, 2014 8:36 pm

Adults need on average 6 to 9 hours of sleep a night. If you wake up already feeling tired, then you probably aren't getting enough sleep. In 2007, motivated by her own struggle with insomnia, Cool-jams founder and CEO Anita Mahaffey launched her signature line to help everyone sleep easier. Seven years later, Cool-jams has a few suggestions for getting a good night's sleep based on their continued research combating insomnia.

"A good night's sleep is controlled by temperature," Mahaffey explained. "Research shows that decreasing core body temperature is essential for falling and remaining asleep."

While the ideal temperature varies from person to person, experts suggest keeping bedroom temperatures no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Other ways to help regulate body temperature is taking a bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime, sleeping with a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed, and sleeping in comfortable, moisture-wicking sleepwear and temperature regulating bed sheets.

"Light governs sleep patterns," Mahaffey said. "Your body's wiring tells you to get up when there is light and to sleep when it is dark."

When it is dark, the body produces melatonin, a hormone that initiates sleep. This hormone not only promotes good sleep, it also impacts long-term health. When sleep is disrupted by light, it leads to lower melatonin levels, which can increase cancer risks. To reduce insomnia, avoid TV before bed, sleep in a pitch-dark room, install blackout drapes, cover up the clock radio's light, and avoid night-lights.

"What you eat plays a role in how you sleep," Mahaffey said. "Certain foods keep you awake while others promote a better night's sleep."

When consumed late in the evening, grains and sugars make it harder to sleep because they cause blood sugar to rise, which inhibits sleep. Yet, eating a high-protein snack near bedtime can aid in melatonin and serotonin production, helping promote a solid snooze. Additionally, it's wise to avoid alcohol.

"Even though alcohol causes drowsiness, it prevents you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep," Mahaffey explained.

Source: Cool-jams

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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