Chicago's North Shore - North and Northwest Suburbs Real Estate Archive


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Managing Asthma In the Home

by Allyson Hoffman

Improving and maintaining good indoor air quality is key in asthma management and limiting the presence of irritants in the air in your home. Below are a few steps you can take to improve air quality in your home as found in the article Creating an Asthma-Safe Home by KidsHealth.

Improving Air Quality

  • Don’t allow smoking in your home. Quit or smoke outside.
  • Use unscented or non-aerosol varieties of household cleaning products.
  • Verify that all your gas appliances are properly vented outside.
  • Run air conditioning when pollen or mold counts are high or when there are ozone or pollution warnings.
  • Change air conditioning filter regularly.
  • Reducing the Presence of Dust Mites
  • Vacuum and dust regularly.
  • Avoid the use of feather or down pillows or comforters.
  • Wash your children’s bedding in hot water and also dry it on a high setting.
  • Cover mattresses, pillows and box springs with mite-proof covers. Regularly wipe down covers.
  • Remove carpeting in your child’s room.
  • Window coverings in your child’s room should be easily washed or cleaned. Horizontal blinds are not recommended as they accumulate dust on their multiple surfaces.
  • Store children’s books in a room other than his or her bedroom
  • Keep stuffed animals to a minimum. Favorite plush toys should be washed and dried regularly on the hot settings. Placing plush toys in a plastic bag in the freezer for a minimum of 5 hours will also kill any dust mites present.
  • Avoid using a humidifier particularly in your child’s room.

Reducing Moisture and Mold

  • Fix leaky pipes, faucets, or roofs. Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
  • Make sure your bathrooms and basement are well ventilated. Install and use exhaust fans to help lower moisture in these areas.
  • If you have any damp closets, clean them thoroughly and leave a 100-watt bulb on all the time to increase the temperature and dry out the air.
  • Run a dehumidifier in the basement or other damp areas. It's important to empty and clean the water pan often.
  • Remove wallpaper and wall-to-wall carpeting from bathrooms and basement rooms.
  • Run the air conditioning (this is especially helpful if you have central air), making sure to change the filter monthly.
  • Avoid houseplants, which may harbor mold in their soil.
  • Clean any visible mold or mildew with a solution that's one part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water. Don't paint or caulk over moldy surfaces without cleaning them first.
  • When painting bathrooms or other damp areas of your house, use anti-mildew paint.
  • If there's visible mold on ceiling tiles, remove and replace them. Also check to see if there's a leaky pipe that may be causing the problem.
  • Replace or wash moldy shower curtains.

Pets in the Home

  • Keep pets outside. If you can't, at least keep them out of your child's bedroom and playroom.
  • Wash and brush your pet every week.
  • Make sure your child doesn't play with or touch your pet and keep him or her away from the litter box if you have a cat.
  • Wash your hands every time you touch your pet.
  • If you have a pet that lives in a cage, keep it in a room that your child doesn't spend time in regularly. Also, have someone other than your child clean the cage daily.

For more detail information and tips how to create an asthma-safe home visit the KidsHealth website and talk with your child’s doctor about their specific triggers.

Many of us have allergies, and children with asthma, and we want to ensure family members live and play in surroundings that won’t aggravate this chronic disease, and this starts at home. When it comes to children, we want to keep them as safe as possible; however the reality is we have little control over conditions outside of our own homes. By beginning with your own home you can implement a few no-cost or low-cost lifestyle changes that will help turn your house into an asthma safe home, for family members suffering from this condition.

Identifying the Triggers Allergens
If you are unsure what triggers are specific to your child, or children, with asthma, please consult your physician, as they will be able to help identify these triggers and advise you in this regard.

Image courtesy of Lori Lindner/

Chicago's North Shore Farmers' Markets

by Allyson Hoffman




It's that time of year when we all love the summer smells. the beauty of  the trees and flowers in bloom and shopping for that perfect fruit or vegetable at the local farmers' market. The farmers' markets are preparing to open for the season and below is a list of a few great local markets to find the sweet tastes and smells of summer.

Evanston Farmer’s Market - Opens May 17th

When: Saturdays
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: University Pl. and Oak Ave.

Highland Park Farmer’s Market - Opens June 6th

When: Fridays
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: Port Clinton Square, 600 Central Ave.

Northfield Farmer’s Market - Opens June 7th

When: Saturdays
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Location: Happ Rd., across from New Trier’s freshman campus.

Deerfield Farmer’s Market - Opens June 14th

When: Saturdays
Time: 7 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Location: Deerfield Rd. and Robert York Ave.

Glenview Farmer’s Market - Opens June 21st

When: Saturdays
Time: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Location: Wagner Farm, 1510 Wagner Rd.

 Image courtesy of condesign/

Tips For Going Green - 1 Step at a Time

by Allyson Hoffman
Minor changes at home can add up to real benefits for the planet, not to mention your own health and save money. 
It may be a cliché, but the best way to be Earth-friendly is to cut down on what you consume and recycle whenever you can. The U.S. generates about 208 million tons of municipal solid waste a year, according to the National Institutes of Health. That's more than 4 pounds per person per day. Every little bit helps; recycling just one glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.  
You can’t Go Green overnight, but you need to start somewhere. Here are some more easy ways to green your home: 
Green up your appliances. Do you have an old refrigerator in the garage? It could save you as much as $150 a year by getting rid of it, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Appliance use comprises about 18% of a typical home’s total energy bill, with the fridge being one of the biggest energy users. If any of your appliances is more than 10 years old, the EPA suggests replacing them with energy-efficient models that bear their "Energy Star" logo. Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. According to the Energy Star site, if just one in 10 homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would be equivalent to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. 
Also, consider what you put in that energy-efficient refrigerator.  Buying local cuts down on the fossil fuels burned to get the food to you while organic foods are produced without potentially harmful pesticides and fertilizers.  
Watch the temp. Almost half a home's energy consumption is due to heating and cooling. 
  • Turn down the thermostat in cold weather and keep it higher in warm weather. Each degree below 68°F (20°C) during colder weather saves 3%-5% more heating energy, while keeping your thermostat at 78°F in warmer weather will save you energy and money. A programmable thermostat will make these temperature changes for you automatically.  
  • Clean your furnace's air filter monthly during heavy usage.  
  • Consider a new furnace. Today's furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 1980s. (And don't forget to check out furnaces carrying the Energy Star label.) 
  • To keep your cool in warmer weather, shade your east and west windows and delay heat-generating activities such as dishwashing until evening. 
  • Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners. Light clothing in summer is typically comfortable between 72°F and 78°F. But moving air feels cooler, so a slow-moving fan easily can extend the comfort range to 82°F, according to "Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings" by Alex Wilson.
Save water. The Web site "Water -- Use it Wisely," created by a group of Arizona cities, lists 100 simple ways to save water. We’ll share just a few here:
Put an aerator on all household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50%.  
Of course, you don't need products to save water -- behavioral changes also add up quickly: using a broom instead of the garden hose to clean your driveway can save 80 gallons of water and turning the water off when you brush your teeth will save 4.5 gallons each time. 
Clean green. Stop buying household cleaners that are potentially toxic to both you and the environment. In his book, "The Safe Shopper's Bible," David Steinman suggests reading labels for specific, eco-friendly ingredients that also perform effectively. These include grain alcohol instead of toxic butyl cellosolve, commonly found in carpet cleaner and some window cleaners as a solvent; coconut or other plant oils rather than petroleum in detergents; and plant-oil disinfectants such as eucalyptus, rosemary or sage rather than triclosan, an antifungal agent found in soaps and deodorant. Or, skip buying altogether and make your own cleaning products. Use simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vinegar, washing soda (sodium carbonate), lemon juice and borax and save money at the same time. Check out these books by Annie Bertold-Bond for cleaning recipes: "Clean and Green" and "Better Basics for the Home."  
Let there be energy-efficient light. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) use 66% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.  
Save a tree, use less paper.  You can buy "tree-free" 100% post-consumer recycled paper for everything from greeting cards to toilet paper. Paper with a high post-consumer waste content uses less virgin pulp and keeps more waste paper out of landfills.
Other tips:
  • Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Each person will receive almost 560 pieces of junk mail this year, which adds up nationally to 4.5 million tons, according to the Native Forest Network. About 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread, and ends up in a landfill. To stem the flow into your own home, contact the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service at P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512, or download the online form. Opt out of credit card or insurance offers at or by calling 888-567-8688, a single automated phone line maintained by the major credit bureaus.  
  • Buy unbleached paper. Many paper products, including some made from recycled fibers, are bleached with chlorine. The bleaching process can create harmful byproducts, including dioxins, which accumulate in our air, water and soil over time.
Finally, here's a third answer to the old "paper or plastic" question: No thanks. Carry your own cloth bags to the store to avoid using store bags. 
Reduce plastics, reduce global warming. Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags -- from grocery and trash bags to those ultra-convenient sandwich bags. Unfortunately, plastics are made from petroleum -- the processing and burning of which is considered one of the main contributors to global warming, according to the EPA. In addition, sending plastics to the landfill also increases greenhouse gases. Reduce, re-use and recycle your plastics for one of the best ways to combat global warming. 
Use healthier paint. Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air quality problems with negative health effects, according to the EPA. These unhealthy ingredients are released into the air while you’re painting, while the paint dries and even after the paints are completely dry. Opt instead for zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers today. 
Garden green. First, use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Compost provides a full complement of soil organisms and the balance of nutrients needed to maintain the soil’s well-being without the chemicals of synthetic fertilizers. And healthy soil minimizes weeds and is key to producing healthy plants, which in turn can prevent many pest problems from developing to begin with.
  • Use native plants as much as possible. Native plants have adapted over time to the local environment and support native animals. They also use less water and require less of your attention.  
  • Focus on perennials. Gardening with plants that live for more than one year means you don't have to pay for new plants every year; it also saves the resources used commercially to grow annuals. 
  • Stop using chemical pesticides. American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year, according to the EPA. These toxic chemicals escape gardens and concentrate in the environment, posing threats to animals and people, especially children. A better alternative is to try a variety of organic and physical pest control methods, such as using diatomaceous earth to kill insects, pouring boiling water on weeds or using beer to bait slugs. You can find more non-chemical pest control tips at the National Audubon Society's site.
Finally, consider using an old-fashioned push mower. The only energy expended is yours.
Image courtesy of FutUndBeidl/

The Best Gas Prices In Your Area

by Allyson Hoffman


If you're trying to cut your gas expense, this site my help.

Just enter your zip code in the site below and it tells you which gas stations have the lowest and the highest gas prices in your zip code.  It will even give you a map to show where they are.

Image courtesy of JirkaF/

Happy Mother's Day

by Allyson Hoffman

Growing up we have all had our mother's scold us or give us advice, that at the time may have not meant too much to us. Whether we like to admit it or not, those little pieces of advice and information have stuck with us and without a doubt had an impact on us as we grew up.

Below are a few phrases I am sure you heard as a kid, and may even have used them on your own children. It isn't until we are grown adults, that we realize that Mom was only saying these things out of love and concern for us.

  • Money does not grow on trees.
  • Always change your underwear; you never know when you'll have an accident.
  • What if everyone jumped off a bridge? Would you do it, too?
  • Don't make that face or it'll freeze in that position.
  • If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
  • Don't put that in your mouth; you don't know where it's been!
  • Be careful what you wish for, it might come true.
  • Close that door! Were you born in a barn?
  • Because I'm your mother that's why.
  • If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times.
  • Because I said so.


Wishing all you mother's a Happy Mother's Day.


Happy Mother's Day!
Image courtesy of MZPlus/  

Spring and Summer Cleaning Your Garage

by Allyson Hoffman



It is the time of year when we all like to do a little Spring cleaning to ready ourselves for a beautiful summer. Most of us spend our time cleaning and organizing the inside of our homes, but does that extend to our garages?

Garages are a great place to store all those products, or household hazardous waste, we don't want inside our house. These products may include (and are not limited to) automotive fluids, paint and lawn care products.

Now is the time to spring clean and rid your garage of these household hazardous waste (HHW) products and, where available, replace them with more environmentally friendly products.

Motor Oil can be disposed of at dealerships or vehicle repair shops.

Fertilizer for lawn care can be replace with certified organic products. Ask your local garden center for any certified organic products they may carry.

Pesticides can be disposed of by contacting your local sanitation department. An alternative to this HHW would be a less toxic product that can also be found at your local garden/yard center.

Paints should not be kept for long periods of time and can be disposed of at designated areas of your local sanitation department. New paints can be purchase with a low VOC (volatile organic compound) content.

If you're unsure of how to properly dispose of the Household Hazard Waste found in your garage, contact your local sanitation or fire department.

Image courtesy of DiamondBack Truck Covers/

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6




Contact Information

Photo of Allyson Hoffman & Paul Wells Real Estate
Allyson Hoffman & Paul Wells
RE/MAX of Barrington
306 W. Northwest Highway
Barrington IL 60010
Allyson: 847-310-5300
Paul: 847-913-6100

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RE/MAX of Barrington
306 W. Northwest Hwy.
Barrington, IL 60010

Allyson Hoffman
(847) 310-5300
[email protected]

Paul Wells
(847) 913-6100
[email protected]