Archives: August 2013

End of Summer Cleaning Tips

Posted on: August 29, 2013

Source (Casa

Summer as we know it is winding down which means it will soon be time to welcome fall, and begin our seasonal cleanup. Summertime in particular can leave our homes a bit messy – and that’s not just because the kiddos are home during the day. We take vacations, bring various trinkets back home and just have an overall relaxed way of living where we can skip a few cleaning days. With autumn on the horizon, there is some summer cleaning that needs to be done. Before back-to-school season officially goes into effect, clean up around your home in efforts to make your abode more tidy. Here are some tips after the JUMP



Kid Friendly Philadelphia: RITTENHOUSE SQUARE

Posted on: August 26, 2013

Philadelphia is a dense city, but it is also family friendly. There are hundreds of playgrounds, parks and hidden away gems perfect for the urban family or tourist with children. Below are some excellent choices for playgrounds, pools, restaurants and festivals to be found in Center City West for an active family:


Markward Playground: Sitting on 4.1 acres, this recreation facility has a ballfield, a hockey court, a sports field, two basketball courts, two tennis courts and two volleyball courts; all adjacent to Schuylkill River park.

Schuylkill River Park: The Park, nestled along the Schuylkill River, spans the area from Lombard Street to Manning Street. For active recreation it offers Schuylkill Pocket Veterans Memorial field – a baseball diamond and soccer field – tennis courts and basketball courts.

Rittenhouse Square Park: Rittenhouse Square is a gem in the heart of Philadelphia: a green, leafy oasis, bounded by Walnut Street, 18th and 20th Streets, Locust and Spruce.


O’Connor Pool: The O’Connor Swimming Pool (The city pool at 26th and South Streets) has been cooling off the neighborhood since the 1920’s.

Lombard Swim Club: A summer haven, surrounded by a wall to shield it from the outside hustle and bustle. Open-air construction circulates fresh air inside, which helps keep the interior temperatures in the men’s and women’s locker rooms down, even on 95-degree days. The grill and patio restaurant satisfy any appetite with impeccable service and delicious choices. And the Adult Deck, complete with shade, a library and a view of the Philadelphia skyline, overlooks what’s at the center of it all: an 82.5-foot pool.


Markward Day Camp: Day trips, arts and crafts, tennis, swimming, sports, breakfast and lunch.

Attractions/ Things To Do:

Barnes and Noble Rittenhouse Kids Activities: Story time and kids events on a weekly basis.

Kid Friendly Restaurants:

Max Brenner: Chocolate, Desserts, Breakfast Lunch and Dinner Options.

Five Guys: Burgers, Fries and Hot Dogs.

The Shake Shack: Burgers, Hot Dogs and Shakes.

Yogorino: Frozen Yogurt.

Hip City Vedge: Vegetarian and Vegan Sandwiches.

Underdogs: Hot Dogs, Sausages and Fries.

Rita’s Water Ice: Italian Water Ice and Frozen Custard.

Red Mango Frozen Yogurt: Smoothies, Frozen Yogurts.

Marathon Grill: Soups, Sandwiches and Salads.

Parc: French-style bistro. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Desserts.


Born Yesterday: Born Yesterday has been home to the most gorgeous baby and kids goods in Philadelphia for over 30 years.

The Children’s Boutique: Children’s clothes and gifts for over 40 years.


Fall Festival in Schuylkill River Park: This family-friendly event will have activities for everyone: fall-inspired crafts, food, local vendors, a raffle and even a silent auction. (October)

Little Friends Festival: The festival encompasses live music, rides, amusements, food, games, crafts and raffle prizes all created with the little ones in mind. (June)

Rittenhouse Square Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony: The Tree Lighting Ceremony features holiday entertainment, character visits, complimentary roasted chestnuts, Santa Claus and plenty of holiday surprises. (December)

End of Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Posted on: August 22, 2013

Source: Yahoo! Voices

A sweltering summer can take its toll on your home both inside and out. Heat will cause surfaces to contract, increasing the chances of cracking. Humidity will increase the growth of mildew, mold and bacteria. Here’s an end-of-summer home maintenance checklist to get your home ready before the winter rains come.

Protect your deck, patio or porch

Sweep away the summer dust and check the surface of your outdoor spaces for signs of holes, cracks or chipping paint. Use wood putty or stone filler to repair any surface damage. Sand away chipping or cracked paint or stain, then repaint the surface before the wet season starts.

Repair your driveway

Fill any cracks in your paved driveway to prevent winter rain from eroding the surface further. Depending on the type of surface and the desired look, use cement, epoxy filler, liquid cement filler, asphalt filler or concrete crack sealant. Be sure to remove any vegetation growing in the cracks first.

Clean your kitchen sink and garbage disposal

Humidity and sun will increase bacteria population in your kitchen sink. Pour garbage disposal cleaner down the drain to remove small clogs and disinfect the drain. To remove any food stains or rust in your sink, use bleach or calcium, lime and rust cleaner.

Clean or Replace the Air Filter

Summer humidity will add bacteria, mold and mildew to your dusty household air filter. Wash the old filter and leave it to dry in the sun. For disposable filters, buy a replacement at home improvement stores, or order a hypo-allergenic, mildew resistant filter at specialty online stores.

Clean your garbage cans

To counter the effects of summer heat and humidity, wipe your garbage cans and the area around them with anti-bacterial wipes. Then spray the area with disinfectant spray that will kill lingering bacteria. Place a garbage bag in the can immediately after spraying to keep the cleaning agent trapped in the can.

Clean your bathrooms

Mildew, mold and soap scum build up more quickly in the hot summer months, especially in humid bathrooms. Use a strong soap scum cleaner for your tub, tile and shower glass surfaces. Spray mildew or mold with bleach based killer. Leave clean grout to dry, then repair any cracks with fresh grout, or reseal the area with bath silicone sealant.

Clean Gutters

Gutter debris from the previous winter might clog your spouts and cause gutter overflow when the rain starts. Use gutter cleaning tools that fit the height of your gutters and your accessibility. To avoid having to repeat the cleaning after the fall foliage, trim any low hanging trees near your gutters.

Vacuum Upholstery

With windows kept open throughout summer and fans circling air, furniture upholstery, pillows and curtains collect more dust than usual. Vacuum pillows and upholstery using the attachments on your vacuum cleaner. Freshen your curtains according to their type of fabric, by dry cleaning, vacuuming or placing the curtains in your clothes dryer.

Prepare outdoor furniture for winter

Wash the summer dust off your outdoor furniture and leave it to dry in the sun. If you detect signs of rust or paint chips and cracks, spray paint the furniture with outdoor paint for wood, metal or plastic. Buy a cheap painter’s tarp at your home improvement store to cover your furniture if you store it outside in winter.

Trim trellis vegetation

If your garden, backyard or porch are shaded with a vine-coated trellis, trim down the vegetation before winter. This will reduce debris in your outdoor space as the rain starts. In addition, wet leaves and branches may begin to rot on the vine and damage the wood surface of your trellis unless you remove them.

Neighborhood Profile: NEWBOLD

Posted on: August 19, 2013

History:  Real estate developer John Longacre, known to residents as “the original founder of Newbold,” saw potential in the undeveloped area, so he started purchasing properties that turned into residential and commercial spaces in the early 2000s. Later, he developed the nonprofit, Newbold Community Development Corp., which later shared its boundaries — Tasker to Wolf, Broad to 18th streets — with Newbold Civic Association, which launched around ’06.

Other, mainly newer, residents spanning Washington to Passyunk avenues with like ideas of how to improve their neighborhood began meeting at one another’s homes in ’07. Soon those neighbors formed Newbold Neighbors Association.

This area is historically part of Point Breeze, however Longacre (also the owner of the South Philadelphia Taproom) dubbed the neighborhood “Newbold” in 2003 in an effort to differentiate it from the rest of Point Breeze. Longacre drew inspiration for the name from the original name of Hicks Street.

Famous residents include singer/pianist Buddy Greco, a native of the 2000 block of South Chadwick Street; disc jockey Jerry Blavat, formerly of of 17th and Mifflin streets; singer Al Martino, a 15th-and-Tasker-Street native; The Four Aces’ lead singer Al Alberts, of the 1800 block of Chadwick Street. (From Wikipedia, South Philly Review)

Boundaries:  Washington Avenue to Wolf Street, Broad to 18th streets.

Zip Codes:  19145, 19146

More Information: Newbold Neighbors AssociationNewbold Civic Association

Schools: George W. Childs School,  St. Thomas Aquinas

Public Transportation: SEPTA Ellsworth Federal Station


Designing a Flower Garden? Don’t Make These 5 Rookie Mistakes

Posted on: August 15, 2013

(From the National Association of Realtors Weekly Report)

Excited about designing your first flower garden? Calm down before you make these 5 rookie mistakes:

Mistake 1: Disregarding the sun
Do you know how many hours of full sun your garden gets each day in each season?

If you can delay gratification, study your yard over a year before designing a garden. See how long the sun shines in the fall, spring, and summer. Read planting labels to determine how much sun a particular plant needs.

Sun-loving plants, such as roses, need at least 6 hours of sun a day; partial sun/shade plants need 4 to 6 hours; and shade plants need little or dappled sunlight: more sun can burn their leaves.

Mistake 2: Failing to consider color

It doesn’t matter what color story you tell, just make sure you know the story before you plant. Here are some ideas:

Pull out your color wheel and find plants with complementary colors, such as yellow coreopsis with violet salvia.

Monochromatic gardens are stunners. Dot your one-color story with whites (daisies) and greens (hostas), considered neutrals in the garden world.

If you want to attract birds, add plants with vivid colors. Hummingbirds like reds, and goldfinches fly to yellows.

Pick blooms that contrast with the exterior paint color of your house, so plants will stand out and add to your curb appeal.

Mistake 3: Over-planting
When it comes to perennials, remember this rule: First year they sleep; second year they creep; third year they leap. Be sure to leave 2-3 feet between plants, giving them room to breathe and space to grow.

Mistake 4: Favoring lines over bunches

Tulips look like lonely soldiers when planted in lines. Instead, arrange bulbs and plants in more natural-looking, odd-numbered clusters of 3, 5, 7, and so on.

Mistake 5: Forgetting that size matters

Check labels for mature plant heights. Tallest go in back; medium in the middle; shortest in front. And don’t forget to install a focal point, like an ornamental tree or fountain.

The 6300 Germantown Business Alliance and the Historic Concord School House to hold Back-to-School Giveaway

Posted on: August 14, 2013

Who:  6300 Germantown Business Alliance, & the Historic Concord School House

What: The 6300 Germantown Business Alliance and the Historic Concord School House will hold a Back-to-School giveaway for school supplies for the first 150 students, accompanied by their parents/guardians, who come to the School House.

When:  Saturday August 17th from 10am to until the backpacks are gone (last year by noon).

Where:  The Concord Schoolhouse, 6309 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19144

This is the fourth year that the 6300 Germantown Business Alliance and the Historic Concord School House will give away school supplies to local children. This year’s event continues to garner more community support than in the past years. In the past the event was completely funded by the 6300 Germantown Business Alliance, the Concord School House, and individual business owners on that block. There has been such a strong response and desire for more supplies that this year businesses from the greater area were approached to Co-Sponsor the event, and they have been very supportive.

Additional 2013 Co-sponsors include: Elfant-Wissahickon Realtors/The Neil Kugelman Team,  Trolley Car Diner, and Historic Germantown.

With the combination of such wide support, 150 local children will be supplied with backpacks loaded with pens, pencils, rulers, erasers, notebooks, crayons, folders, and calculators. Children wishing to receive a backpack must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Children must be present to receive a backpack. Please note, all supplies will be given on a first come, first serve basis, and we hope that we will give away all 150 backpacks well before 12 pm. Also the Concord School House will be open for tours.

Councilwoman Cindy Bass’ office was very supportive of the 2012 event. Chief of Staff Rosa Woods, and Constituent Service Liaison Brandon Vaughan both helped assemble the backpacks on Friday evening before the event. On Saturday both Theresa D. Brunson, Esq., Director Of Legislation and Darlene Boykin, Scheduler and Special Assistant gave many hours towards directing the crowds of families to the supplies and tours of the school house.  Kyasha Tyson, Legislative Assistant to State Representative Cherelle Parker provided Voter ID information for the visiting parents.

Neighborhood Profile: PORT RICHMOND

Posted on: August 12, 2013

History:  Port Richmond is a neighborhood in the River Wards section of Philadelphia. It is notable for its extremely large Polish immigrant and Polish American community. The neighborhood is also home to sizable Irish, German and Italian communities as represented in the various churches and organizations. In more recent years, a sizable Albanian community has moved in. Adjacent neighborhoods are Bridesburg and Frankford to the northeast, Juniata to the north, Kensington to the west, and Fishtown to the south.

In colonial times, most of today’s Port Richmond was owned by Anthony Palmer, the founder of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood.

During the 1800s, with the advent of the steam engine aboard ships, Port Richmond was a major terminus for colliers who received coal from the Reading Railroad facility at the port, and transported it to steam ships at other locations.

Colliers, as well as other merchant and military ships, continued to visit Port Richmond for coal until after World War I when coal-burning steam engines on ships were replaced by more modern oil and diesel engines.

Port Richmond, at the beginning of the 20th century, was a working-class neighborhood, and most workers simply walked to their nearby workplaces with lunch pail in hand. Cars were not common and those who had them stored them in stables. Streets – unlike now – were generally free of parked vehicles, allowing vendors space to easily proceed down the narrow side streets with their horse and wagon on a daily basis.

Port Richmond played a major maritime role in American wars from the American Revolution and onwards through World War 2. The William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company, established in 1830 and located nearby, provided skilled work for local workers, who built the battleships USS Indiana and USS Massachusetts for the Spanish-American War in the late 19th century.

The shipyard, and others in the area, also built surface ships during the Civil War- such as the USS Kensington – and during World War 1 and 2 when Cramps’ workforce employed 18,000 skilled workers.

During World War II, Port Richmond contained numerous docks and wharfs for the loading and unloading of war cargo. In addition, the riverside area contained numerous ancillary facilities, such as warehouses, work shops, and offices.

The Reading Railroad had used the port as a terminus for the transfer of coal, and, during the war, railroad service remained a vital function of the port, for its ability to quickly transfer goods to and from the port. The old Orinoka Mills in Richmond, was used as a training and wartime production facility in association with Mastbaum during the war.

Today, the port is a shell of its former World War 2 self, although some marine services still remain, such as the Tioga Marine Terminal at Tioga and Delaware Avenue.

Today, Port Richmond is a vibrant neighborhood with a deep and proud cultural history encompassing several centuries.

Stores, some located down side streets, are small and numerous because of the nature of the existing row home architecture where row homes and homefronts have been converted to use as stores. However, many of these stores and drinking establishments offer food, drink and charm which is unique to the neighborhood. There are many Polish delis and restaurants throughout the neighborhood, evidence of the Polish ethnic background of the neighborhood. The neighborhood continues to attract Polish immigrants.

In addition to the area’s Polish ethnicity, Lithuanians – who have historically always been strongly linked with the Polish nation – hold their festivals and dances, as well as catered affairs for the community, at the Lithuanian Dance Hall on Allegheny Avenue, just a few blocks west of Richmond Street. The Lithuanian Music Hall is currently the home of the Theatre Company of Port Richmond, a community theater providing entertainment to the community since 1984.

Many Port Richmond homes have been refurbished and are now occupied increasingly by younger people, who no longer walk to work at the once bustling Port Richmond docks or to the tanneries and looms of their predecessors, but are employed in various parts of the city of Philadelphia, returning home in the evenings to the comfort of their picturesque neighborhood. (From Wikipedia)

Boundaries:  The neighborhood is bounded by the Tacony Creek to the northeast, Cumberland Street to the southwest, I-95 and the Delaware River to the southeast, and Aramingo Avenue to the northwest.

Zip Codes: 19134.

What to See and Do: Yelp- Port Richmond

More Information: Not For Tourists: Port Richmond and Fishtown

Schools: School District of Philadelphia Public SchoolsOur Lady of Port Richmond, Mother of Divine Grace, James Martin School, St. George School

Public Transportation: SEPTA Bus Routes 25, 73, 60Route 15 Trolley


Diamond in the Rough: 10 Ways to Refresh your Home's Curb Appeal

Posted on: August 6, 2013

(From Houseplans and

Is your home in a curb appeal rut? If so, there are some things you could do to bump it up! Follow the LINK to 10 sure-fire ways to refresh your curb appeal!


Neighborhood Profile: ELKINS PARK

Posted on: August 5, 2013

History:  Elkins Park is in Montgomery County, Pa and is split between Abington and Cheltenham Townships.  Cheltenham Township, as it exists today, is the product of over 300 years of history. The interactions of numerous generations have created a tapestry of events and people that have shaped both the physical and cultural development of the Township.

The story of Philadelphia’s first suburb is filled with names of local, regional, and national significance. The physical manifestation of this history is the unique building stock that lends Cheltenham Township its sense of place and character. It is the express desire of the Township to promote and preserve these historical artifacts through the expansion of regulatory tools and historic preservation efforts.

Cheltenham Township was created in 1682 as part of Philadelphia County. It was not until September 10, 1784 that Montgomery County was formed and Cheltenham became its smallest Township. William Penn deeded land grants to fifteen fellow Englishmen. Each was deeded a small parcel of land in the City of Philadelphia and a larger area, comprising of between 100 and 500 acres, in Cheltenham Township.  (Cheltenham

Boundaries:  Elkins Park borders the City of Philadelphia along Cheltenham Avenue, and is roughly 9 miles from Center City, Philadelphia.

Zip Codes: 19027.

What to See and Do: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Beth Sholom Synagogue, Lynnewood Hall, Richard Wall House, High School Park

More Information: Abington Township, Cheltenham Township.

Schools: School District of Cheltenham Township.

Public Transportation: SEPTA bus routes 28, 55, 70 and 77 and  SEPTA Regional Rail trains on the Warminster LineWest Trenton Line and Lansdale/Doylestown Line at the Elkins Park Station.


Town By Town: A lot is happening in East Falls

Posted on: August 1, 2013

This article quotes Elfant Wissahickon’s own Connie Gillespie, REALTOR, and all-around expert on the area:

Urban village or cool neighborhood? Both aptly describe East Falls, an ever-evolving slice of Philadelphia that climbs from the banks of the Schuylkill to Wissahickon Avenue. “East Falls is tiny, but it has a wide range of people and housing, from mansions on winding streets to tight rowhouse communities,” developer Tim McDonald says.

McDonald will soon be part of that mix. He and his brothers have partnered with David Grasso to build Ridge Flats, a 146-unit project that will combine passive-energy technology with modular construction on the former Rivage site at Kelly Drive and Calumet Street. These days, there’s so much going on here that it’s hard to know where to begin, yet Kelly Drive at Midvale is appropriate.

That’s where the East Falls Development Corp. has been working with retail enterprises to put a more welcoming and attractive face on the business district along Ridge Avenue. Whether it’s new signs at Johnny Manana’s on Ridge or the 50-space parking lot between North and South Ferry Streets under Roosevelt Boulevard, the goal is “cohesiveness,” says Stacy Simon, liaison to East Falls’ business community. “There is a lot of change and growth these days,” Simon says, “a strong revitalization period” marked by cooperation with business owners.

Not only commercial revitalization, but residential as well, says executive director Gina Snyder, noting that, since 2002, $270 million has been invested by private and public sources in real estate and infrastructure development of East Falls. The residential real estate market, which benefited for years from buyers and renters looking for Center City proximity without Center City prices, is on the mend again.

“It had been a bit flat for the last two years, but the market really took off beginning in January, says Connie Gillespie, an agent with Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, who has sold houses here since 1985 – the same year she and her family moved to East Falls from Center City.

Prices have not returned to boom levels, “but they are stable, and maybe even going up,” says Gillespie. Properly priced houses are selling quickly, and though there is still more demand than supply, she says, “I’d rather have that than a glut.” The median price is $245,000. Rowhouses and twins go for $200,000 to $300,000, detached houses for low $400,000s to mid-$500,000s, she says. Buyers tend to be younger professionals, singles, and couples drawn by access to the expressway, Route 1, and two SEPTA stations (East Falls on the Manayunk-Norristown line, and Queen Lane on the Chestnut Hill West line).

The rental market here is dominated by students from neighborhood schools such as Philadelphia University, Eastern University, and the Drexel School of Medicine at the former MCP Hospital/Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, as well as Temple and Penn.

Dobson Mills on Ridge Avenue at Scotts Lane has 300 luxury apartments, Gillespie says. Sherman Mills, along Scotts between Ridge Avenue and the expressway, has apartments plus commercial space and artists’ studios.

East Falls has little buildable land left, but there has been a lot of infill – from townhouses on Haywood Street off Indian Queen Lane built in the 1990s (priced in the mid- to upper $200,000s) to two under construction (listed at $459,000) on Stanton Street near Skidoo Street. Then there’s Hilltop at Falls Ridge at West School House Lane and Ridge Avenue, where developer John Westrum is building townhouses starting at $239,000. Seven sold in the last three months, priced at $289,000 to $336,900, according to

“We are up 100 percent in 2013 over 2012 sales,” says Westrum, “and 250 percent over 2011 sales.” He had sold 19 of the original 30 homes he built at Hilltop before the market collapsed in late 2007, but had trouble selling the five $725,000 units he needed to move to raise the money to build more – even after reducing their prices to the mid-$500,000s. Ultimately, in September 2008, the remaining 11 homes were sold at auction, with the high-end ones going for the lower $500,000s and the rest in the upper $200,000s to upper $300,000s.

Though East Falls always has had much to recommend it, Gillespie credits the development corporation with “branding” the neighborhood and keeping things moving forward. Developer Ken Weinstein says the 50-space parking lot the corporation created under the Route 1 bridge helped him decide to buy and rehab the old public bathhouse on South Ferry Street as the Trolley Car Cafe. (He also owns the Trolley Car Diner in Mount Airy.) “We probably would not have saved the building and opened the cafe if it wasn’t across the street from the recreation path and did not have 50 parking spaces across the street,” Weinstein says.

“Many people come by bike and walking, but some still use the old-fashioned method of driving to get to us,” he says. East Falls is well-situated, only 10 minutes from Center City, Weinstein says, “but it has not yet reached its potential. “It is just a matter of time before more business owners and residents discover this wonderful community.”

Town By Town: East Falls, By the Numbers

Population: 14,372 (2010).

Median income: $61,794 (2010).

Area: 1.46 square miles.

Homes for sale: 97.

Settlements in the last three months: 42.

Median days on market: 92.

Median sale price (single-family): $245,000.

Median sale price (all homes): $245,000.

Housing stock: From the mid-19th century to 2013.

School district: Philadelphia. SOURCES:;; Prudential Fox & Roach HomeExpert Report.