Find innovation at the 2014 Parade of Homes

You can tour 12 spectacular new homes that showcase the latest-and-greatest in design, products, décor, technology and landscaping.  Whether it’s the paint colors, cabinet options, extras in the owner’s retreat or many more elements both inside and out – the Parade displays a multitude of ideas that are sure to inspire. The Parade runs July 19 – August 3, 2014 (rain or shine),MondaySaturday:  Noon – 9 p.m., Sunday:  Noon – 6 p.m.

For more information, click here.

Quality Living From the Team that Cares

PurpleStride- A Great Cause!


Keller Williams Realty of Central Ohio is one of the main sponsors for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in Columbus, OH. We are excited to be a leader in this capacity to help raise awareness and collect donations to fund more research.

Please follow the link below to make a donation or register for the PurpleStride 5k on October 25!

Quality Living From the Team that Cares


5 Over-the-Top Home Security Devices

‘Tis the season when families bring home the hottest electronics and gifts—and then go on vacation. Not a shabby set-up for would-be burglars. So, for kicks, we tracked down some of the most unique high-tech security devices, ranging from a mind-controlled robot dog to a personal helicopter drone. And in case you’re not a millionaire electrical engineer, we’ve thrown in some do-it-yourself tips to help you protect your new gadgets and gear.

Mind-controlled robot spy dog

Conventional dogs can scare aware away potential robbers while you’re not home, but this little tricked-out toy is more than man’s best friend—it’s an extension of man itself. Unlike a real live Fido, this remote-controlled gadget can show the owner what’s in front of it via camera, can project the owner’s voice in real time, and can be told where to go, not by treats or joysticks, but by brainwaves. It’s a gadget befitting a superhero villain.

Tip: To stop intruders right off the bat, upgrade your locks and strike plates by installing 4-screw strike plates and Grade 1 or 2 deadbolts.

Cell phone-operated locks

Everybody forgets to lock a door now and again. But not everybody has a remote system to control their locks with a cell phone and a text-messaged pin code that’s as encrypted as a password for a bank website. With this doozy, you can lock your doors or let in friends from anywhere that has cellular service. It can also notify you whenever the system’s been used.

Tip: You don’t need a cell phone to lock and unlock your doors. You just need to be careful. Before going anywhere—on a vacation or just a trip to the grocery store—make sure all of the locks on your doors and windows are functional and, you guessed it, locked.

Tweeting laser tripwire

No, it’s not science fiction. It’s actually possible to set up a laser trip wire that tweets when touched, and even takes a photo of the guilty party—though it takes more tech skills than money to build this Mission Impossible device, as is clear from the how-to on

Tip: They may not be as sci-fi fantastic as laser beams, but motion-activated lights are an effective way to deter break-ins. At less than $50 a light, they’re a cheap, real-world way to thwart would-be burglars.

Personal drone

Housed in a mailbox-like enclosure, this observant gadget can launch into the sky, record video, and return to home base all on its own—and it can be up and running within one minute of a security breach. (The biggest sci-fi fans could also use it for lightsaber training.)

Tip: Take basic security measures outside your house like locking your tool shed with a deadbolt. If your tools are easy to access, a burglar doesn’t need to bring his own to break into your home.

Fog shield

An added deterrent for the high-security home, this motion-activated fog shield acts much like the dance-floor variety, except it’s programmed to go off when an intruder is in close proximity. It won’t do much to stop the intrepid burglar, but in a tight enough space, the dense smoke might confuse them enough to second guess the heist—or break into an impromptu Macarena.

Tip: Whether or not you have an advanced security system, always remember to disable your automatic garage door opener and lock it before you go on a long trip.

Read more:
Quality Living From the Team that Cares

Summer Season Coming to an End

It is almost the beginning of August, which means that summer is coming to an end. If you are like me and haven’t been on vacation yet, there is still time!  Here are some pretty cool ideas that are inexpensive and better yet, are located in Ohio.  Happy vacationing!


  • Hocking Hills State Park

    Hocking Hills State Park is located in Hocking Co. near Logan, an hour southeast of Columbus. The scenery is breathtaking, with recess caves, cliffs & waterfalls. Spectacular natural features include Old Mans Cave, Ash Cave, Rock House, Cantwell Cliffs & Cedar Falls.

    The Ash Cave trail is wheelchair accessible, and most other features are easy to moderate hikes from parking areas. The park offers many hiking trails totaling 10 miles, along with 4 miles of mountain biking trails and 40 miles of bridle trails on adjacent state forest (bring your own horse).  There is an archery range and trail with a variety of targets.

    Picnic areas have tables, grills & 4 reservable shelters. Programs provide entertainment all year. The visitor center at Old Mans Cave features local geology & history.

    The 2-bedroom vacation cottages have kitchen, bathroom w/shower, living room, fireplace, TV, screened porch, & heat/A/C. The campground has 156 campsites with electric and 13 non-electric sites, plus 3 hassle-free Camper Cabins. Several cottages are pet friendly.

    Campground amenities are showers, restrooms & campground pool. Pets permitted on designated sites. The Dining Lodge, located near Old Mans Cave, is open seasonally with restaurant, lounge, game room & outdoor swimming pool. (No overnight facilities available.)

    Camping rates (weekends) range from $22/night to $29/night for non-electric/electric sites. Camper cabins are $40/night. Cottages range from $105 to $130/night. Call 1-866-644-6727 for reservations.

  • The Columbus Zoo and AquariumLocated just north of Columbus, in Powell, The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a non-profit zoo that’s home to over 9,000 animals representing over 675 species. In 2009, it was named the number one zoo in America by USA Travel Guide.

  • Mohican Adventures Canoe & Fun Center

    Escape to the great outdoors with Mohican Adventures Canoe & Fun Center, Ohio’s First & Finest, celebrating 53 years of service.  We offer canoes, kayaks, rafts, and tubes on the beautiful state scenic Mohican River. Trips vary in length with a gentle flowing current and occasional faster rapids for 2 hours, 5 hours or 2 days. PRICES VARY DEPENDING ON THE LENGTH OF THE TRIP.

    They offer group rates, fun packages, 3 picnic shelters with grills, free parking, camping, cabins, go karts, miniature golf, aerial park and more. Purchase our fun package for the best value. Open April 1 to Oct 31 from 9 to 5 in season. Call ahead for times in April/May and September/October. Hungry join in at Trails End Pizza Co for some great food located across the road.  So come to Play and Plan to Stay in Mohican Country.

    Mohican Adventures Canoe and Fun Center also has used canoes and kayaks for sale in the Spring and Fall.

  • Wildwater Kingdom

    Located 31 miles southeast of Cleveland, Wildwater Kingdom has amazing fun for the whole family in its waves of waterpark excitement. A 17-acre outdoor facility,  Wildwater Kingdom is northeast Ohio’s premier waterpark.  From the 60-foot-tall Liquid Lightning tornado slide andThunder Falls, Ohio’s tallest water slide complex, to the Splash Landing family activity center, there is something for every age and thrill level.

    Water-lovers will also enjoy Coral Cove, an activity pool where guests can play water basketball and climb on floating objects, and the 390,000-gallon Tidal Wave Bay wave pool that simulates the action of the high seas.

    Guests who want to sit back and relax will enjoy private VIP cabanas that are available for daily rental.  The cabanas feature lounge chairs, a table and chairs and full food and beverage service.

    Operating hours, dates, pricing and schedules are subject to change without notice.  Please visit for the most up-to-date information.

  • Cedar Point Amusement Park/ResortFor 16 years running, Cedar Point’s been voted the Best Amusement Park In The World by Amusement Today readers.  The whole family will love Cedar Point. With over 150 rides and attractions, award-winning entertainment, four children’s areas, and beach, there’s something for everyone.

    It’s all about new and exciting experiences for the family in 2014! Two new rides are greeting visitors this season. First, the new Pipe Scream thrill ride will rock and roll you on over 302 feet of track, flying 43 feet above the midway at 43 mph!

    Across from Pipe Scream, take flight on Lake Erie Eagles! As the ride spins, the eagles will swing outward – and riders have the unique opportunity to control their flight experience from mild to wild!

    The park features more than 70 rides, including 17 coasters, with four more than 200 feet tall.  Millennium Force holds the title of number one steel coaster on the planet. Cedar Point also offers three children’s areas, including Planet Snoopy, an ice-skating extravaganza and musical entertainment.  Overnight guests enjoy accommodations, from the beachfront Hotel Breakers to waterfront cottages and cabins.

    All Resorts offer guests huge savings on regular one-day Cedar Point admission tickets.  Resorts guests also enjoy Early Entry, the opportunity (with paid admission) to enjoy select rides an hour before the park opens to the general public (weather and maintenance conditions permitting).

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

    When it comes to music attractions, you simply can’t beat the world’s only Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum! Your visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame helps fund our efforts to educate the world on the social significance of rock and roll. Like the music we celebrate, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is alive with the energy, passion and the spirit of music. The150,000 square-foot museum features seven floors, four theaters for films, special events and free public programs and ever-changing exhibits - plus, you can even rent the Rock Hall for a special event.Tour at your leisure. You can spend as little as an hour, or up to an entire day exploring all the Rock Hall’s exhibits. There are many other worthy Cleveland attractions for you to enjoy during your visit to the North Coast, but this is the premier destination for the history of rock and roll!
    Photography: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomes photography throughout the entire museum. No video or flash please.

  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The RainForest

    Northeast Ohio’s most popular year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, founded in 1882, is one of the oldest and largest zoos in the United States. Located on 183 rolling, wooded acres just minutes from downtown Cleveland, the Zoo is home to 2,000 exotic animals representing 600 species from six of the world’s seven continents. Explore the jungles of The RainForest, experience elephants like never before in African Elephant Crossing, roam the Outback of Australian Adventure, take in the grassy plains of African Savanna, journey through the wilds of Northern Trek, discover the exotic at the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building and stroll along scenic Waterfowl Lake. Take a spin on the new Circle of Wildlife Carousel and explore the adjacent children’s Nature Discovery Ridge. 

  • the Wilds

    The Wilds, located near Cumberland, Ohio, is one of the largest and most innovative conservation centers in the world, spanning 14 square miles in Southeastern Ohio. Board a Safari Transport or Open-Air Safari to view and learn about rare and endangered animals from around the world roaming freely in large, natural habitat, including rhinos, giraffes, zebras and antelope.

    Visitors can pick their own P.A.C.E. — Personal Adventure in Conservation Education — and depart the transports during the tour at destinations like the Lake Trail and the new Mid-Sized Carnivore Conservation Center that features cheetahs, African wild dogs, and dholes. Also available are evening Sunset Safaris, Family Camp Weekends, private Wildside Tours, overnight packages at Nomad Ridge at the Wilds, special monthly theme activity weekends, the Overlook Cafe, Gift Market, private and group tours, Birding Station, Butterfly Habitat walking trail, summer youth WildeCamps, Lodge at the Wilds, Winter Safari Tours, memberships and more.

    The Wilds is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day and weekends in the months of May, September and October.

  • Ohio Caverns

    Ohio Caverns is the largest and most beautiful of Ohio’s caves. Its exquisite crystal-white stalactite and stalagmite formations are found in great profusion or artistic settings. The cave formations are still actively in the process of development.  Still photography is welcome to capture you memories. Visitors are conducted through the Cavern on guided tours at frequent intervals. No matter how far you travel, you will find your visit to Ohio Caverns provides you with rich memories of its great beauty and educational value.

    Many conveniences are provided for your comfort and recreation.  A 35 acre park is located directly above the cavern and contains shelter houses, picnic tables, gemstone mine and a playground.  A souvenir and gift shop is located within the entrance building.  A courteous and attentive staff is at your service.

    Regardless of weather conditions the temperature of the Ohio Caverns remains a constant 54 degrees throughout the year.  The air inside the caverns is always fresh and invigorating.  Once inside the cavern the tour route is level concrete which will allow you to enjoy the natural beauties of the cavern safely and conveniently.

  • African Safari Wildlife Park

    Experience life on the African plains at this 100-acre preserve, African Safari Wildlife Park is home to more than 400 animals. Midwest’s only Drive-Thru Safari also offers daily animal shows and pig races. The African Safari Wildlife Park is open seasonally March 1- December 1. The African Safari also has Pig Races, Animal Shows, and Camel Rides for children.

  • The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay

    Walk among hundreds of exotic butterflies in our indoor garden. Visit our gift shop filled with unique educational gifts for everyone. Discover how much fun nature can be.

    Hop on the Put-in-Bay Tour Train for a great narrated, historical tour of the island, then visit the Butterfly House after the train drops you right at its front door.
    Island Fun Packs are a great money-saving option, combining many attractions into one discounted package, available at Miller Boat Line, The Jet Express or the Lake Erie Islands Regional Welcome Center. Also available at the Depot Downtown.  The Island Fun Pack includes your ferry ride to the island, your narrated tour aboard the Put-in-Bay Tour Train, admission to Perry’s Cave, The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay, Heineman Winery & Crystal Cave, and a round of miniature golf at The War of 18Holes.  In 2014, we added The Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center to the Fun Pack!


  • Cleveland Botanical Garden

    Explore the exotic worlds of Costa Rica and Madagascar in the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse. Also, enjoy 10 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, including a rose garden, a Japanese garden, the nationally recognized Western Reserve Herb Society Garden and the award-winning Hershey Childrens Garden. Now open year round.

  • Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

    The former home of Goodyear Rubber & Tire Company co-founder F.A. Seiberling and his family, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens is one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival architecture in America. It is opened to the public Tuesday – Sunday from April 1 - December 30. The entire estate is closed to the public on Mondays, except Memorial Day and Labor Day when regular operating hours are in effect.

    The 65-room, 65,000 sq. ft.  Manor House  is decorated with treasures collected from around the world. The estate is 70 acres of artfully landscaped gardens and grounds designed by Warren Manning and includes the fully-restored English Garden, designed by pioneering female landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman.

    The West Terrace and  Japanese Garden have been recently restored. Also visit the Rose Garden, Great Garden and the woodland Dell. There are scenic vistas, and the Lagoons (remnants of the old stone quarries on the property) overlook the Cuyahoga Valley. In addition to touring the Manor House and enjoying the gardens, guests are invited to enjoy the historic Gate Lodge (where Alcoholics Anonymous was founded) and  the  Corbin Conservatory.

    Before or after your  tour, stop by Molly’s Shop & Cafe for a keepsake and and lunch or scrumptious treat.

    Quality Living From the Team that Cares

Homemade Cleaners

These mix-it-yourself cleaners use environmentally friendly ingredients — like baking soda and vinegar — and are quite inexpensive. If you’ve run out of your favorite cleaning solution, don’t run to the store; try one of these standbys instead.

Great for: Windows and mirrors

• 2 cups water
• 1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (70% concentration)
• 1 to 2 drops of orange essential oil, which gives the solution a lovely smell (optional)

How to use: Combine ingredients and store in a spray bottle. Spray on a paper towel or soft cloth first, then on the glass. Hint: Don’t clean windows on a hot, sunny day because the solution will dry too quickly and leave lots of streaks.


Great for: Rust stains on porcelain or enamel sinks and tubs

• Half a lemon
• 1/2 cup borax (a laundry booster; find it in the detergent aisle)

How to use: Dip the lemon into the borax and scrub surface; rinse. (Not safe for marble or granite.)


Great for: Oven hoods, grills

• 1/2 cup sudsy ammonia mixed with enough water to fill a one-gallon container. (Sudsy ammonia, which has detergent in it, helps remove tough grime.)

How to use: Dip sponge or mop in solution and wipe over surface, then rinse area with clear water.


Great for: Kitchen counters, appliances, and inside the refrigerator

• 4 tablespoons baking soda
• 1 quart warm water

How to use: Pour solution on a clean sponge and wipe.


Great for: Badly stained washable or bleachable garments

• 1 gallon hot water
• 1 cup powdered dishwasher detergent
• 1 cup regular liquid chlorine bleach (not ultra or concentrate)

How to use: Mix and pour ingredients into a stainless steel, plastic, or enamel bowl (not aluminum). Soak garment for 15 to 20 minutes. If stain is still there, let it soak a bit longer, then wash garment as usual.


Great for: Anywhere you’ve accidentally left a water ring (but not on unfinished wood, lacquer, or antiques).

• One part white non-gel toothpaste to one part baking soda

How to use: Dampen a cloth with water, add toothpaste mixture, and rub with the grain to buff over the ring. Then take a dry cloth and wipe off. Use another soft cloth for a final shine. Polish as you normally would.


• 1/4 cup powdered lemon or orange drink

How to use: To remove rust from the inside walls, pour the powder (which contains citric acid or citric acid crystals) into the detergent cup and then run a regular cycle. Repeat as necessary.


Great for: Non-lacquered cabinet pulls, bathroom appointments, and more

• White vinegar or lemon juice
• Table salt

How to use: Dampen a sponge with vinegar or lemon juice, then sprinkle on salt. Lightly rub over surface. Rinse thoroughly with water, then immediately dry with a clean soft cloth.


Great for: Natural stone countertops

• A drop or two of mild dishwashing liquid (non-citrus-scented)
• 2 cups warm water

How to use: Mix the detergent and water. Sponge over marble and rinse completely to remove any soap residue. Buff with a soft cloth; do not let the marble air-dry. Caution: Never use vinegar, lemon, or any other acidic cleaner on marble or granite surfaces; it will eat into the stone.

Never combine ammonia-based cleaners with chlorine bleach or products containing bleach, such as powdered dishwasher detergent. The fumes they’ll create are extremely dangerous. Before doing any mixing, read the product labels first.

Quality Living From the Team that Cares

CEO Jamie Dimon said his bank was pulling back, and may ditch completely, FHA lending, a key government program meant to promote homeownership.

A great read for all of the homeowners, and future homeowners, out there. Courtesy of

Get ready for the bankers to say I told you so.

Earlier this week, on a conference call with analysts following its second quarter earnings, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said his bank was pulling back, and may ditch completely, FHA lending, a key government program meant to promote homeownership. The reason: all those government fines that JPMorgan and other banks have had to fork over recently.

“We collected $600 million on [FHA] insurance. They disputed $200 million. The government called that fraud. We reimbursed $600 million to get out of the lawsuit,” said Dimon in response to a question from an analyst. “So the real question to me is, should we be in the FHA business at all?”

Bankers have been saying for a while that increased regulation will cause them to cut back on lending and other services. Banks have already started to step away from the business of offering cheap money transfers for immigrants and others. Regulators have forced banks to put in place more controls to make sure those services are not being used by terrorists or drug traffickers to launder money.

“Dimon was expressing a widely held frustration about the crackdown,” says Burt Ely, a bank consultant. “If the government is going to get tough on the banks, some are going to say forget it.”

The FHA program offers government insurance to lenders for mortgage loans with as little as a 3.5% down payment from borrowers, and it opens the mortgage market up to consumers with lower than average credit scores. Since the financial crisis, the program has been key in getting money to first-time homeowners. In recent years, about a third of all mortgages taken out for home purchases have been backed by the FHA program.

“I think [Dimon] is sick and tired of writing the government checks,” says Paul Miller, the analyst who asked the question that spurred the comment about the FHA.

Consumer advocates say if the nation’s largest banks were to pull out of the FHA program, many Americans would suffer. “What you would see is a severe reduction of blue collar people and minorities able to get loans,” says John Taylor, who is the head of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

On Wednesday, at a lunch in Washington of current and former bank regulators, Tony West, the U.S. Associate Attorney General, who has overseen the recent multi-billion settlements with banks, was asked whether he thinks the fines will limit the credit that banks offer consumers. He said the government was looking into the issue.

But here’s the thing: While FHA lending is down overall, JPMorgan loans in the first quarter accounted for a larger percentage of the direct loans made through the government program compared to the same time period last year. And the bank plays an even bigger role in the secondary market for FHA loans, buying up and funding mortgages that others make.

In the secondary market, JPMorgan’s activity is down 64% in the first half of this year. But so were all the big banks, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. For example, Wells Fargo funded 59% fewer FHA loans in the first half of the year. Overall, the FHA lending market is down. And the amount of FHA loans that JPMorgan is funding is down more than its rivals.

But JPMorgan’s home loan business in general was down to a larger degree compared to its rivals. So the drop in FHA lending could simply be a part of that trend. And Dimon could just be using FHA and his frustration with the government as an excuse.

JPMorgan loans that have some sort of government guarantee—including loans sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac—were down 73% for the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. That’s a bigger drop than the shift in the bank’s FHA business by itself.

Of course, JPMorgan could be looking to stop doing mortgage business with the government completely. But that would be tough. Right now, the government—through FHA, Fannie, and Freddie—is involved in about 80% of all mortgage lending. “You can’t be a serious mortgage market player and not be involved in government programs,” says Guy Cecala, who runs Inside Mortgage Finance. “And it’s hard to be a large national bank without a larger mortgage business.”

What’s more, banks have to meet Fair Lending andCommunity Reinvestment Act requirements. If Dimon does chose to go it alone, he will still have to make many of the same loans, but hold them on the bank’s balance sheet without a government backing, at least until the mortgage market opens up again. That could end up increasing the bank’s risk, something Dimon is saying he is trying to avoid.

“I think Jamie just got a little hot under the collar,” says NCRC’s Taylor. “I don’t think he really thought through what his statement means.”

Quality Living From the Team that Cares

Trendy Bathroom Upgrades for a Quick Sell

A recent poll on Houzz, a popular home design website, asked consumers what bathroom improvements they desire most. Many of the answers were both luxurious and affordable, and others were downright simple changes to make. Here are five hot bathroom upgrades and some ideas for incorporating them into your home to ensure a quick sell.

skylight1. Skylights

In rooms where privacy is a concern, skylights can provide both natural light and ventilation. They’re beautiful, endowing bathrooms with a major “wow” factor, and practical.  Energy Star-qualified no-leak, solar-powered fresh-air skylights can help trim electricity costs by providing natural light and passively venting moist, warm air from the room.

bathroomb2c2. Lighted vanity mirror

Home improvement stores, design studios and online retailers carry a variety of lighted vanities in shapes, sizes, styles and light sources (LED, CFL or incandescent) to suit virtually every taste. Installing one is a simple do-it-yourself job that has a big impact on a bathroom’s appearance and usability.

3. Double-flush toilet

Dual-flush toilets use only the water you need to get the job done, so they contribute positively to a home’s overall footprint and can help save on water bills. They’re a lower-cost upgrade, and even more cost-effective when installed by a savvy DIYer.

4. Towel warmers

Wall-mounted or free-standing, plug-in or hard-wired, all towel warmers work the same way; heated bars warm towels hung on the rack, providing a cozy, warm towel every time you bathe. Plug-in versions install easily, while hard-wired ones may require professional installation.

footrest5. Shower foot rest

Foot rests are an economical improvement – some suction-cup styles cost under $20. For a more refined look or enhanced sturdiness, it’s possible to find one that anchors into the wall through screws, or a style built into shower surrounds. If you’re redoing your shower stall, it’s the perfect time to add a stylish, sturdy foot rest.

Quality Living From the Team that Cares


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43 other followers

%d bloggers like this: