Monday, February 28, 2011

Great Time, Great Cause - Hoops & Sneakers Gala

I can now cross "attend a gala" off my list of things to do! (ok, so it wasn't actually on there but it should have been!!)

As I mentioned in a previous blog, this was my first year on the American Diabetes Association Gala committee. I joined the committee because my good friend Jen Miller was on the committe AND because Linda Crider (who I'd worked with when I volunteered for the Relay for Life) now works for the ADA and was in charge of the Gala. These are two women I admire and love working with.

The event was Saturday evening at the Hyatt Crown Center. There was music, auctions and dancing. The black lab I helped foster raised $1200 and I won (silent auction) tickets to the roller derby!! My friend Terri went with me and we sat at a table with some great couples. It was a great night and I can't wait for next years event!

Here are a few pics from the night:

Tricks to Help You Slash Your Electric Bill

It's been a very cold winter and electric bills are high. Here are some great tips from American Home Shield for keeping your bills low.

10 Tricks to Help You Slash Your Electric Bill

If you’re looking for ways to help you save more and spend less, one of the best places to start could be right at home. Put these tips to work to help cut your next electric bill.

10. Install Motion Detectors on Lights. Kids are notorious for leaving lights on by accident. This easy trick can help you say goodbye to wasted electricity—and high bills.

9. Wash Clothes in Cold Water: Since most of the energy used by top-loading washers is to heat water, washing in cold can help you save each month.

8. Tint Home Windows: For windows that get a lot of sun, you can add a layer of solar window film to deflect sunlight and conserve energy.

7. Program Your Thermostat: Simply set it to raise or lower your thermostat for the times when you're not at home.

6. Unplug Appliances: Even when they're not in use your toaster, laptop and can opener drain power. So unplug them and save.

5. Wash Your Lint Trap: Since dryer sheets can cause a transparent film that burns out the heating unit, it's vital to wash your lint trap with hot, soapy water every 6 months.

4. Change Your Showerhead: Replacing it with a low-flow head can use less water per minute - so there's less to heat.

3. Cook on the Back Burner: By turning on your exhaust fan and using the rear burner on hot days, warm air will be sucked out, which minimizes AC use.

2. Change Your Lightbulbs: Compact florescent bulbs use a quarter the electricity and last longer than regular bulbs. And, they're the environmentally responsible choice.

1. Check Furniture Placement: Rugs or furniture that block a vent can really cost you. Move them and save!

Top 10 New Kitchen Trends

Top 10 New Kitchen Trends in 2010

More and more homeowners are remodeling and making the most of their space with these top 10 hot trends in the kitchen.

1. Kitchens are now featuring a “family room” feel with more seating and dining areas.
2. The most popular color choice for cabinets was white. It works well with almost any architectural style – traditional to contemporary.
3. Stainless steel appliances are still a big hit, especially the fingerprint-resistant steel finish.
4. More and more kitchens are featuring custom additions such as pizza-making stations, coffee bars and wine-tasting nooks.
5. Walk-in pantries are popular for families and allow for ample storage of surplus items and bulk purchase like paper towels and canned goods.
6. Tech-savvy kitchens are featuring more electronics, like wall-mounted televisions and built-in sound systems.
7. Eco-friendly kitchens boost water-conserving faucets, energy start appliances and eco-friend cabinetry.
8. Built-in appliances that look more like cabinets are popping up across the country.
9. Lighting can convert from well-lit workspace to dimly lit formal dinner with the flip of a switch. Recessed lighting combined with chandeliers will do the trick.
10. A save-and-splurge mentality helps keep remodelers on budget. Choose to splurge on appliances instead of countertops or a built-in wine rack instead of a porcelain sink.

American Home Shield is providing the information for general guidance only. Due to the general nature of the property maintenance and improvement advice in this material, neither American Home Shield Corporation, nor its licensed subsidiaries assumes any responsibility for any loss or damage which may be suffered by the use of this information.

©2011 American Home Shield Corporation and its licensed subsidiaries. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Will You Be My Friend?!

With all the technology and social media out there, how do you decide who you are going to be "friends" with?!

For me, here's what I do on the various social networks:

Facebook - I prefer to KNOW you. If we have a bunch of mutual friends that are either from high school or networking and I'm not 100% sure who you are, I will typically accept your friend request. If I'm not "impressed" by status updates, I will defriend the person. If I have NO idea who you are and you don't send me a message, I will not accept your friend request. Of course everyone can become a fan of my Fan Page!

Twitter - I don't have my twitter account blocked and anyone can follow me who would like. I am selective about who I follow back. I follow a good percentage of the people that follow me but if it's obvious you are spam, I will not follow you. I do not auto-follow anyone and I DON'T like auto-DMs once someone follows you.

Linked-In - I accept almost all invitations to connect on Linked-In. Currently this is probably my least visited social media site.

What is your "criteria" to determine who you will be friends with on these social media sites?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Technology is Simply a Tool

The following quote was in a blog post by Jon Cheplak that my broker sent me. I think it's very true. I love technology and all that is does, but if you don't have personal relationships, technology is not going to "fix" the problem!

"Technology is simply a tool to support us in our relationships with today’s online consumer, accommodating the evolution of human behavior and expectations that go with it. Tech is not designed to remove the “human experience/interaction” in our business, it is here to enhance the experience in how and where we play and interact today. We must evolve to creating an online experience for the online consumer facilitated by an online agent not forgetting many of the traditional ways of doing business. Same old stuff you’ve heard over and over, right? My question…are you taking the action and committed or just givin’ it a whirl?"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show

This past weekend I went to my first Lawn & Garden Show. It was held at the American Royal by Kemper Arena in downtown Kansas City. There were rooms for Lawn & Garden, Home Remodeling & Green Living. We didn't have time to go to the Green Living area. I had never been before. I was a little dissapointed in the number of booths and such but I did get a lovely Orchid (see above) that I am hoping to keep alive. I also have an appointment on Monday for a free estimate from a landscaper about my front yard. (if you remember, I had all the bushes torn out last summer after I got poison oak!). I'll keep you posted on the landscaping project!

Monday, February 14, 2011

3 New Upgrades to Facebook Pages

You probably noticed some changes to Facebook fan Pages in the last few days. Check out my fan page: Realtor Jodi Danziger Here are the changes & thoughts by Inman news writer Katie Lance:

Just Released: 3 New Upgrades to Facebook Pages

Just yesterday there were 3 new changes that were announced that I am super excited about:

1.You can navigate and interact with other areas of Facebook as your Page. This means you can choose to receive notifications about fan activity, Like and comment on other Pages as your Page, and get your own News Feed where you can engage with the latest and most important news from other Pages you like.

2.There are new opportunities for Pages to share. You can feature photos of your Page’s most recent experiences at the top of your Page. You can highlight other Pages you are connected with as well as the people who are managing your Page.

3.Make your Page even more engaging for users. The “Everyone” filter on the Wall provides a new way for people to see the most interesting posts first. There is also a place for people to discover the friends and interests they have common with your Page.

I upgraded all of our our pages yesterday and was very pleased with how easy it was. I really like the new features – especially the option to interact with other pages as YOUR page. I love this new feature – because I use Social Mention to monitor when people are mentioning our brand name or sharing our content (excellent tool – it’s similar to Google Alerts, but for social media.)

Previously, if I wanted to communicate with them or thank them – I would have to do so on their page with my personal profile – now I can do it as a page admin (i.e. I can leave a comment as “Inman News” or as “The Future of Real Estate Marketing Blog.”)

ALSO… and this is HUGE – you can NOW change the category of your page – WHOOO HOO!!! So if you prefer to not have a real estate page but more of a community page you can now do this with your page.

Last thoughts…

Every time Facebook has a change there is always the “scary” factor – the simple fact that they can change or edit anything at any given time. My advice has and always will be – don’t let ALL your content live on Facebook – if Facebook were to go away tomorrow where would your content live? This is why I highly recommend posting most or all of your content on your blog – preferably a WordPress blog.

Would love your thoughts on these new changes – leave me your feedback below!

Written by: Katie Lance, Senior Marketing Manager, Inman News @katielance

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hoops & Sneakers Gala

After taking some time off from volunteering, I joined the American Diabetes Association's Gala committee a few months ago. We are quickly approaching the big event, the Hoops & Sneakers Gala on February 26th! I am very excited for my first Gala and to help raise some money for a great cause!

There are a ton of auction items including this ADORABLE lab puppy! I have gotten the honor of helping to foster him until the gala. He is VERY loveable and has a GREAT personality! My friend Kristin & I are taking turns watching him until the event. He'll be socialized with dogs and kids!

Check out for more information on this great event!!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What are these funny looking bar codes?


I'm sure you've seen QR codes popping up everywhere. Flip through any magazine and you will see them on a number of ads. What are these? They are bar codes that can send you to a website or information for a company. You can easily download an app from many cell phones (I personally use ScanLife) to quickly scan the code and see usefully information from many companies.

These codes are still growing in popularity in the US. It is still undetermined if they will fully take off but they are very popular in Europe & Japan providing mass transit schedules and restaurant menus.

I have played around a little with QR codes but definitely have not used them to their full extend. Do you use QR Codes? Have them been successful?

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Tax Benefits of Home Ownership

The tax benefits of home ownership
Real Estate Tax Talk

By Stephen Fishman
Inman News™

February 04, 2011

The tax benefits of buying a home include:

Home mortgage interest deduction: The interest paid on a mortgage or mortgages of up to $1 million for a principal residence and/or second home is deductible as an itemized deduction. In the early years of a home loan most of the payments consist of interest, so this deduction is particularly substantial during the first years of home ownership.

Depending on the state a buyer lives in and his or her tax bracket, this deduction can reduce the cost of borrowing by one-third or more.

Home equity loan deduction: Homeowners can borrow up to $100,000 against the equity in their home and deduct the interest as an itemized deduction. The money can be used for any purpose, such as paying off high-interest credit card debt. In contract, the interest on credit card debt is not deductible.

Property tax deduction: Homeowners also get to deduct from their federal income taxes the state and local property taxes they pay on their home. This is another itemized deduction that renters don't get.

Deductible home buying expenses: Various closing costs ordinarily involved in a home purchase are also deductible as itemized deductions, including loan origination fees (points), prorated interest on a new loan, and prorated property taxes paid at settlement.

$250,000/$500,000 home-sale exclusion: Perhaps the greatest tax benefit of owning a home comes when a person sells it at a profit. Homeowners who lived in their home for two of the prior five years prior to its sale need pay no income tax on a substantial amount of their profit -- $250,000 for single homeowners and $500,000 for married homeowners who file jointly. This exclusion can be used once every 24 months.

14 days of free rental income: Another little known tax benefit of owning a home is that the owner can rent it out for up to 14 days during the year and pay no tax at all on the rental income. In contrast, a renter who sublets his or her rental must pay income tax on all the rental income he or she earns.

Tax benefits of renting:

The only tax benefit that a renter can qualify for by virtue of being a renter is the home office deduction. This is a business deduction available to renters who own a business and have a home office they use regularly and exclusively for business purposes.

Some employees can qualify for this deduction as well. The deduction is limited to the amount of profit earned from the business each year. If a renter pays a lot of rent, this deduction can be substantial. Homeowners who are in business and have a home office can also qualify for the deduction.

Of course, the value of the tax benefits of buying a home depends on the state the buyer lives in and his or her tax bracket. Buyers who live in high tax states like New York or California get the most benefit.

This is why the blanket statement "it's always better to buy than rent" is not always true. It all depends on the buyer's individual circumstances.

You should encourage prospective buyers to run the numbers. There are some excellent websites you can refer clients to that have online calculators they can use to compare the costs of renting vs. buying a home.

A good rent vs. buy tool can be found on the Smart Money Magazine website:

Freddie Mac also has a good online calculator:

Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including "Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants," "Deduct It," "Working as an Independent Contractor," and "Working with Independent Contractors." He welcomes your questions for this weekly column.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Best Bathroom Floors

One of the items on my "to do" list for my house is redoing my bathroom & kitchen floors. I bought my home from a rehab company so they put down your basic linoleum. It doesn't look bad, but it gets VERY dirty in the kitchen and is starting to peel around the shower & tub in both bathrooms. I would LOVE to tile both bathrooms and the kitchen. The tile work and grout is easy for me, I just would need help laying the flooring for under the tile and removing the toilets (in the bathroom) and fridge (in the kitchen). The article below has some good ideas for bathroom flooring!

Best bathroom floor: tile, vinyl or wood?
Minimizing the 'slip-and-fall' factor
By Bill and Kevin Burnett
Inman News™

February 02, 2011

Q: In a recent column, a reader's peel-and-stick bathroom flooring was coming up and you recommended putting down tile in the bathroom. My experience with tile has been that it gets very slick when wet, which would certainly be problematic in a bathroom.

Is there a type of tile one can use in a bathroom and/or kitchen that would allow you to have the beauty of tile but not the "ice rink" effect when it gets wet?

A: We've had the same experience with tile floors. Step out of the shower and va-va-voom -- on your tail you go.

Often, bathroom tile is glazed, shiny and smooth. A simple solution is to use rubber-backed bath rugs over the tile to keep your footing. But we understand that covering most of a tile floor with a rug is not very practical. So here are a couple of alternatives.

First, if you choose a tile floor, avoid glazed tile or marble. Instead, pick a material that's either textured or has a matte finish. They provide more traction and a better chance to keep you upright.

Kevin recently visited a friend in San Mateo, Calif. She had just completed a total remodel of her home. She installed textured ceramic tile in both the master and guest baths. She was very aware of the slip-and-fall factor, thus the textured finish. Kevin test-drove the shower in the master bath and found that a rug was necessary when stepping out of the shower, but when the rug soaked up the water from his feet, the textured finish performed fine.

Another tile alternative is Saltillo. This is a porous terra-cotta tile from Mexico that requires regular sealing with a quality acrylic sealer. The plus is that it's got a skid-resistant surface. The minuses are the maintenance factor and the tile's irregular shape. If you're looking for uniformity, this option is not for you. But if you're after a rustic look, this may be the ticket.

Now, don't fall over in a dead faint, but another alternative you might consider is an engineered wood floor. It's not for everyone, but it might work for you.

The negative, of course, is that this type of floor doesn't withstand large amounts of water well. If this is the only bathroom and there are kids, wood is not an alternative. But if the bathroom is adults only, the beauty of wood is a definite alternative.

Engineered wood consists of a top layer of hardwood -- bamboo, for example -- that is pressure-glued to alternating layers of plywood. The cross-grain construction gives the flooring good stability, unlike its solid wood counterpart. Also, the factory-applied finish is water-resistant. Notice, we did not say waterproof.

Because Kevin's wife, Heidi, is absolutely against a tile floor (she says if he lays it, she'll take a hammer to it), engineered wood is starting to look like an alternative. We suggest you go with a "floating floor" to mitigate the moisture changes in the air and allow the floor to move a little with changing humidity.

A wood floor will provide more traction than smooth tile, but will still require a rubber-backed bath rug for entering and exiting the tub or shower and to reduce the amount of water on the floor.

The bottom line is that there's no perfect solution. Water will have its way. For our money, a matte, textured tile is the best solution followed by a top-quality sheet vinyl or linoleum.