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Keeping You Safe: Preventing Burglaries

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

 

Did you know that almost 40% of annual household burglaries in the United States are not forced entries?  This means that homes were broken into by walking, climbing, or crawling into a house, almost as easy as if the owner’s left the keys in the door! {source

 

Making your home a safe-haven does NOT have to require a lot of money or time -- just a little common sense.  Continue reading for 9 steps that you can take to ensure your home and family stay safe.

 

1.  Lock the doors.  Although this seems obvious, you would be astounded at the number of homes that are left unlocked during the day while residents are at work or at night when they are sleeping.  Be diligent and SMART -- lock the doors AND windows!  Windows should not only be shut, but locked when you are away from home.  There is no point in locking the doors if the windows are open.

 

2.  Make doors and windows visible to the street and neighbors.  Burglars will be deterred from breaking into your home if they know there is a high probability of being seen by neighbors or passersby.  Cut away shrubs and tree limbs that could hide burglars.

 

3. Keep valuables out of sight.  This goes for IN the house and OUT.  Possessions that might be of interest to intruders should be out of view from the windows (privacy curtains work, too!) and your outdoor “toys” (bikes, lawn mowers, grills, etc.) should be stored indoors or in a garage/shed.

 

4. Get rid of trash, like boxes, that may advertise, “Hey!  I got a brand new TV!” This may be as simple as breaking boxes down or disposing of them at another location.

 

5. Leave an illusion that someone is home, even when you are NOT.  This can be done by turning on outside lights at night (consider using a timer if you are out of town) or leaving music and a television on during the day. 

 

6.  Spare keys should be left with a trusted friend, family member or neighbor -- NOT hidden under the flower pot or welcome mat outside your front door.  Burglars make themselves familiar with common hiding spots for spare keys.  Use common sense and don’t make it easy!

 

7.  Secure sliding doors and windows with a strong dowel, steel bar, or 2x4.  This will ensure that even if an intruder is able to pick the lock, he or she will not be able to slide it open.

 

8.  In today’s social society, homeowners tend to share way too much!  If you are going on a vacation or just planning on being away from home for a period of time, DO NOT advertise your absence on social media platforms.  Instead, opt for posting pics and sharing about your adventures after you return home (to your non-broken into residence!).

 

9.  Finally, consider investing in a security alarm to deter burglars and alert authorities if there is a break-in. Many insurance companies offer discounts on home security systems, and we think it might be worth your effort to contact your agent.

 

See?  There is nothing ground-breaking or difficult when it comes to keeping your home safe!  Could you take all these actions and still experience a burglary?  Sure!  But we encourage you to take these necessary, commonsensical steps to prevent break-ins.  Being diligent and educated can pay off when it comes to the protection of your home and family! 

Trending: How To Create a LOVE-LY Master Bedroom

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

With Valentine’s Day just ONE day away, we thought it was the perfect time to talk about what’s happening behind the closed doors of your master bedroom.  And, of course, by “what’s happening,” we mean how your master bedroom is decorated!  

 

(Do we have your attention now?!)

 

Master bedrooms are often overlooked and ignored when it comes to updating and decorating, but we think that your bedroom deserves as much attention and care as your kitchen, living, and dining room.  After all, you DO spend approximately one-third of your life in it!  Might as well make it as comfy and as retreat-like as possible, right?

 

We think so!  Therefore, we compiled a short list of simple, low-cost ideas to makeover your master into a cozy place to crash, where you’ll be sure to have sweet dreams!

 

1.  Make it functional.  From sitting spaces and libraries to exercise areas and home offices, why not make your room work for you?  It may be just as simple as adding a small desk or comfy chair to the corner.  Regardless, seating in the bedroom can make a room feel cozy and inviting. 

 

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2.  Light it up!  Use any windows to your advantage, but also reserve the right to your privacy.  Think: Roman shades or wooden blinds that can be opened during the day to let the light shine in and then closed again at night to ensure maximum privacy and darkness for a good night’s sleep.  And don’t forget the lamps!  We’re firm believers that you can never have too many light sources!  Soft lamp light is sure to make your room feel warm and cozy.

 

Lastly, does your master have a great view that just can’t be beat?  If so, take advantage and arrange your room accordingly. 

 

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3.  Small changes can make a BIG difference!  Simply put: pick some paint and invest in a new, fresh bedding set!  This IS a place that you’re planning on spending a significant amount of time, right?  Well, then, fancy it up!  Start with finding a new sheet set, duvet, comforter, or quilt that fits your personality and decorating style, then choose a paint color to match.  Trust us -- you will be AMAZED at what these simple updates will do for your sweet dreams!

 

 

4.  Make it personal!  Your room should reflect youFrom simple pieces of personalized artwork and gorgeous photo galleries, to vinyl decor and wall treatments, your options for self expression are endless.

 

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5.  Regardless of how beautiful your bedroom is, YOU will not want to spend any extra time in there unless it is comfortable!  And, while this may be a bit more of an investment, we encourage you to collect furniture that comfy and well-crafted.  But don’t forget to look beyond the fancy furniture to pillows, blankets, rugs, and other cozy textiles.  Additions such as these are relatively low-cost and have a big impact.  So, begin there and when the time is right, start your furniture shopping with comfort and durability in mind.

 

Bottom line?  Making your master dream-worthy doesn’t have to be costly and exhausting.  Start simple, think outside the box, and work towards a comfortable and inviting space where you can rest easy and retreat when necessary. 

 

And with that, friends, we’d like to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day filled with L-O-V-E and many sweet dreams!

2014 Des Moines Home & Garden Show

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Raise your hand if you’re in desperate need of a break from this long winter! We certainly are!

 

Well, we’re here with some good new for us all -- the Des Moines Home & Garden Show is happening now.  Like, TODAY through Sunday!  It is the perfect way to distract yourself from these cold, snowy winter days AND help you re-focus on what it is to come...warm, sunny spring and summer days conducive to home improvements and gardening goodness.

 

The 36th annual Des Moines Home & Garden Show is sure to be full of fantastically fun features, such as over 400 exhibitors, national and local celebrities (helllloooo, Ty Pennington!), and all of the latest products and services in the building and remodeling industry.  A show known for its feature gardens (designed with local celebrities), the Des Moines Home & Garden Show guarantees that attendees will not be bored!  You are sure to find “innovative products, new ideas, practical advice, and great deals in remodeling, home improvement and gardening, with hundreds of experts under one roof.”  In addition, with an increasing demand for the full range of home furnishings, interiors and outdoor lifestyle products, this exhibition is the ideal place to keep up on the latest and greatest, and to bring a little spring and summer inside during this frigid February.

 


From widows and flooring to cabinets and landscaping, and so much more, be sure to come, shop, compare and save! 

 

 

DATES & HOURS

 

 

 

 

Thursday - February 6, 2014

 

12:00 pm

-

9:00 pm

Friday - February 7, 2014

 

10:00 am

-

9:00 pm

Saturday - February 8, 2014

 

9:00 am

-

9:00 pm

Sunday - February 9, 2014

 

10:00 am

-

6:00 pm

 

 

LOCATION

Iowa Events Center

730 3rd Street

Des Moines, IA 50309

515-564-8000

www.iowaeventscenter.com

 

 

ADMISSION

Adults

$ 11.00

 

Adults (Online)

$ 9.00

 

Children Ages 7 - 12

$ 4.00

 

Children Ages 6 & Under

FREE

 

Group Tickets (Minimum of 20 tickets)

$7.00 each

 

 

 

Tickets can be purchased at the evening or in advance by visiting the website

 

What To Serve At Your Super Bowl Party

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Are you in the midst of planning a last-minute Super Bowl party, but just don’t know what to serve?  Just like the decorations, your food options are endless!  And what was supposed to be a fun get-together with your fellow friends & football fans, is now a source of stress.  Well, stress no more!  We are here to save the day...or at least give you some great crowd pleasing, easy ideas for hosting the best Big Game bash!

 

So, here we go!  Our favorite football party foods, in no particular order.

 

Make it a tailgate!  We wrote a whole post on terrific tailgating, but just to refresh your memory -- fire up the grill, serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and dip.  Then, pull out the yard games (weather permitting!  We’re thinking a basement or garage might be a better Iowa option...) and let your guests enjoy the low-key, lots-of-fun atmosphere.

 

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Get guests involved -- Call it a Super Bowl Party Potluck.  This doesn’t have to resemble a post-fellowship-jello-salad-in-the-church-basement potluck that you’re familiar with!  Nope, ask guests to bring their very favorite appetizer, snack, side, main dish or dessert.  As the host you can opt to provide the table settings and drinks...or not!  Your party, your rules!  Have fun with it and don’t feel bad about asking friends to contribute.  You are hosting, afterall! 

 

 

Pardon our pun, but we think a Souper Bowl could be fun!  From chicken noodle and potato to stew, chowder, and chili, a variety of warm soups would surely please even the pickiest of partiers.  And you can even up the ease by calling on your crockpot.  Prepare the soups early, then join your guests and enjoy the festivities.

 

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Walking Tacos/Nacho Bar would be as easy as it sounds! Let your guests get involved by creating their own nach/walking taco concoction.  Offer up taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, sour cream, salsa, and so much more.  No one will go home hungry. 

 

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We’re stating the obvious here but -- PIZZA!  Really, it can’t get any easier than picking up the phone and ordering a couple of pies!  Everyone loves pizza...almost as much as parties!

 

 

Finally, for all of you over-achievers...Go BIG!  We’re thinking this would earn you some MAJOR party points!

 

 

 

Selling Your Home In The Winter Months

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

 

What could be more stressful than selling a home?  Selling a home in the winter, of course! And while January might seem a little late (according to the calendar!) to be broaching this subject, us Iowans know that, realistically, we still have 3-4 more months of “winter-like” weather.  This means that there is still plenty of time to take action and get your home listed and sold before spring even decides to show up!  Here are our top tips for selling your home in the winter months!

 

Take control of the snow and ice situation.  Keeping snow and ice at bay and away from your walkways and entryways is important if you want prospective buyers to get into your home safely and with ease.  Just like mowing your lawn in the summer, shoveling and maintaining your home’s exterior in the wintertime, helps the house look well taken care of and loved. Bonus tip: Even if you’re not currently living in the home, make arrangements with a friend, neighbor, or business to do snow and ice removal.

 

Go for a warm and cozy feel.  It might mean adjusting your thermometer a bit, but warming your home before a showing will help prospective buyers be comfortable.  And while you’re going for that comfortable feel, cozy things up a bit with pillows and throws in the living spaces, and perhaps a large folded-over comforter on a bed.  Make prospective buyers see themselves living comfortably in the house.

 

Make the most of natural lighting and supplement with good interior lights.  Lighting is especially important during the winter months when our days are shorter and the sun doesn’t always shine.  Take advantage of any and all outside light by opening all window coverings and turning on all (yes, all!) the lights in the house.  Again, we’re going for coziness here!  Bonus tip: Ensure that all light fixtures are clean and bulbs are burning bright.

 

Keep the windows clean.  Daylight during the winter can draw attention to dirt and grime that otherwise might go unnoticed.  Keep a prospective buyer’s focus on the home, not it’s state of cleanliness, by washing the windows.  If this isn’t a project you feel comfortable tackling, hire it out!  Trust us, a good window cleaning is worth the investment.

 

Make your home pleasing to the nose, not just the eyes.  Capitalize on our strong sense of smells, and feelings that those elicit by making sure that your home has a pleasant aroma -- without going overboard.  It can be as simple as baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies or burning a candle a couple hours before a showing (just remember to turn off the oven and/or blow out the candle!).  We’ve blogged about the Stinky Side Of Real Estate before and encourage you to re-read that to re-freshen your memory AND home prior to your first showing or open house!

 

While there may be fewer buyers during the wintertime, generally, the ones that do exist are serious and have a some sense of urgency.  Capitalize on this by making your home stand out from the others with just a little effort and preparation.  And, as always, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, let us help!  Contact us anytime!

 

Steve Hidder, Broker/Owner
Ankeny Real Estate Service
219 SW 3rd Street
Ankeny, IA 50023
(515)964-3662

www.ankenyrealestateservice.com

New Years Resolutions For Homeowners

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

 

As you’re working hard on all those fresh New Years resolutions, we encourage you to set some goals for your home and finances.  Whether you’re a homeowner or planning on becoming one soon, here are 5 home-based resolutions you can make -- and maybe even keep -- this year!

 

1.  Make extra mortgage payments.  This is common sense, but can make a huge difference.  The more payments you make in a shorter period of time, the less you end up paying long-term, and the faster you’ll rid yourself of that mortgage payment.  Making extra payments also allow the equity in your home to grow faster.

 

2. Get organized/de-clutter.  Less is always more...especially when it comes to overflowing closets and cupboards.  The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to tackle the clutter!  And, to avoid feeling overwhelmed, why not set a goal to organize and de-clutter one room per month?

 

3. Lower your energy bill and save money.  We’ve talked about lowering your heating bill during the cold winter months, but here are just a few small, simple ways to go green and save money:

● Turn off your air conditioning before you leave for vacations in the summer.

● Have your ductwork sealed and insulated.

● Jam-pack that dishwasher before running it each and every time.

● As your mom always said, turn off the lights when leaving a room.  Take this a step further and put outside lights on a timer.

● Reduce the length of your shower by just a quick 5 minutes.

 

4. Review your homeowner’s insurance. It is important to review your policy on occasion and the new year is the perfect time to check your coverage.  Taking the time to speak with your insurance provider can save you money in the long run.

 

5.  Get in shape! (Keep your home maintained!)  In case you missed it, we’ve made this one easy for you -- just refer back to a couple of our previous blog posts to keep you in line!

 

Preparing your home for fall.

 

Preparing your home for spring {here} and {here}.

Q & A with an Ankeny Educator: Meet Mrs. Delaney

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

We're back this week with another round of questions and answers from one of Ankeny's finest educators, Mrs. Ashley Delaney!  You all know how we feel about the amazing people teaching, leading, and influencing our community's students and Mrs. Delaney is no exception!  Won't you join us in taking a minute to meet this dedicated wife, mom, and teacher?

Name:  Ashley Delaney

Position:  ELP teacher at Southview

Number of years in education:  11

Years taught in Ankeny:  2

Family:  Brett, Brynn (3), and Kiernan (1)

Hobbies:  Food is my passion.  I love to cook and garden.  There is something lovely about eating what you grow and appreciating nature’s ability provide nourishment.  I also enjoy reading with my children and outdoor activities.

 

What is the best thing about teaching in Ankeny?

The best part about teaching in Ankeny is the people.  I thoroughly enjoy my colleagues and the families I work with. 

 

What gets you excited about the direction that Ankeny schools are heading?

I sincerely believe teachers want every student to learn and grow daily.  They work tirelessly to develop learning opportunities for students that are developmental appropriate and interesting.  The community rallies around these passionate professionals to help make this possible.  It is wonderful to see families, business, and other stakeholders work with educators to make our schools outstanding.

 

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is keeping up with my students.  Day-to-day what I am teaching depends on what students need.  One day I could be extending a Physics concept and the next I could work with analyzing poetry.  Their needs and outstanding abilities never cease to impress me.

 

What motivates you?

Being a part of the development of a child is the greatest honor.  I believe it truly does take a village to raise a child into a well-rounded, empathetic citizen of the world.  As a parent, I want my children’s teachers to feel the same way.  I treat my students as if they are my own.  Ultimately, I want all of them to understand their intelligence and education doesn’t make them above the world, it makes them responsible for it.

Home Fire Safety Tips For The Winter Months

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

 

Cozy winter fires are the best, aren’t they?  Well, at least when they’re contained to a fireplace!  In the midst of these frigid temperatures, we are all spending more time inside, which is why we want YOU to be informed with ways you can prevent {non-fireplace} flames in your homes. Read on for fire prevention tips and tricks AND for a downloadable/printable checklist from the National Fire Prevention Association.

 

First of all, plain and simple common sense and awareness is the key to keeping flames at bay.  While these ideas are elementary in principle, the impact of follow-through is anything but!  Here are Ankeny Real Estate Service’s top tips for your winter fire prevention:

 

1. Heaters need space!  Anything producing heat (furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater) should have ample room to do their job.  The NFPA recommends a distance of at least 3 feet between a heater and anything flammable (newspaper, kindling, firewood, clothing, upholstered furniture, bedding, etc.)  Also, take care to never use a space heater with a worn cord or one without the automatic shut-off function, should the heater get tipped over.

 

2. Keep a close eye on those cooktops and NEVER use your stove or oven to heat your home.  Did you know that cooking is the leading cause of home fires?  It’s true!  And the perfect reason to never walk away from the stove when cooking.  Always turn off your burner before stepping away.

 

3.  Prepare your fireplace before use, then be sure to maintain and use it appropriately. Do not let dry leaves and needles pile up on your roof, then be sure the spark arrestor on your chimney is in place.  Furthermore, fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected yearly. Fireplaces should have a steady screen that prevents flying sparks.  When cleaning out your fireplace, hot (and even just warm!) ashes need to be put in an approved metal container, with an airtight lid.

 

4.  Extension cords. Thousands of fires yearly are attributed to faulty electrical cords. Cords should be checked for cracks and frays.  Additionally, never place extension cords in front of heaters, fireplaces, or any place they could fall onto a heat source.

 

5.  Candles. Because of the open-flamed nature of candles special care needs to be taken when using and handling these.  See the National Fire Prevention Association’s guide to candle safety {here}.  Summary:

● Don’t leave candles near combustibles.

● Don’t fall asleep with a candle burning.

● Burn candles in a candle holder or jar, never directly on a flammable surface.

 

6.  Install Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms. Detectors should be installed on every level of the home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas.  Smoke alarms have, approximately, a 7-year life span, and batteries should be changed twice yearly (daylight savings times serve as great reminders).

 

7.  Safety escape route. Your family should develop and practice a home escape plan.  These plans should include two ways out of every room and an outside meeting spot. Consider investing in AND learning how to use a fire escape safety ladder.

 

For additional information on home fire prevention, be sure to visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/prevent-home-fires.

 

AND, don’t forget to click {here} for your own printable checklist from the NFPA to prepare your home for heater season.

The Stinky Side Of Real Estate

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

When preparing a home to sell, it is common for us to think about and focus our efforts on how it looks.  Are the floors mopped?  The china buffet dusted?  Is it staged to look homey, yet not to personal?  How about that curb appeal?  Surely the lawn is cut, watered, and perfectly manicured!  But we’re here to tell you, friends – concentration on just the physical, visible selling points of a house can lead to the costly mistake of overlooking (ahem, smelling) the scent of a home.  The unseen, stinky funk of a property can not only hinder the selling process, but completely prevent it, as well.

Studies have shown that our sense of smell is a powerful one that connects the aromas picked up by our noses to the limbic system of the brain.  And THAT is where the magic happens -- smells elicit emotions, attractions and memories. It is a subconscious psychological process that we have no control over.  This means that even if they wanted to, your prospective buyers couldn’t walk into your home and say, “I am going to ignore the wet dog/dirty sock smell and ONLY focus on the open foyer and spacious kitchen that I so desperately desire.”  Nope, it’s NOT going to happen!  So, why not use this super sense to your advantage?  Wow prospective buyers with fresh, clean scents and positive, fond memories of your home after they leave, rather than nose plug-worthy nastiness and feelings of disgust. 

We’ve compiled a list of 3 things you can do to ensure that your home will pass the smell test.

1.  Eliminate smells from their source. What you do to truly eliminate an odor depends on the odor itself, but almost always a good, deep cleaning is the first step.  And by deep cleaning, we don’t mean, a mother-in-law-is-coming-for-the-weekend-and-I’d-better-wash-the-sheets-clean.  An in-depth sanitation might necessitate professional services, but should include carpet cleaning, and washing of all upholstery, sheets, curtains, blankets, and textiles. Carpet that has been repeatedly urinated on by pets (or children! or adults?) might need to be replaced, and walls subjected to cigarette smoke or strong cooking odors should be repainted.  While your home is on the market, be mindful of your meal making! Fish, bacon, onion, garlic, and curry, in particular, are especially strong and can linger for days.  So, while you’re on “home showing stand-by,” try to find a way to curb that Curry Bacon Wrapped Fish with a side of sautéed onions and garlic craving!

2.  Take Fido (& Fifi) with you! Even if you think your four-legged friend is as fragrant as fresh flowers, it is likely that you are just used to his/her scent.  It is called sensory adaptation and it can cause major problems for homeowners if they are unable/unwilling to recognize these familiar, yet not-so-fresh fragrances.  We recommend packing up the pets, as well as any kennels, pet beds, toys, or litter boxes any time your home is being shown to prospective buyers.

3. Bring in a fresh, honest, and objective nose.  Finally, due to the phenomenon of sensory adaptation mentioned above, we encourage you to employ the advice of a close friend or family member who won’t be afraid to tell you if your home doesn’t pass the smell test. Just remember: if they tell you that your house stinks, don’t shoot the messenger.  Your loved one’s upfront (and warranted!) honesty could play a crucial role in the sale of your home!

Tips For Reducing Your Heating Bill This Winter

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

With the colder (read: frigid!) months now upon us, you might find yourself concerned with the ever-rising cost of utilities as temperatures fall.  The winter months are already packed with additional holiday expenses, so why not do yourself a favor and save some money when it comes to your heating bill?  We’ve compiled a list of a few tips for reducing your heating bill that won’t break the bank OR require much time and energy.  These are simple and quick steps for cutting the crazy expenses of utilities so you have more money to spend on the things you enjoy!

 

1.  Turn down the thermostat.  Yep, it’s as easy as that.  Now, we’re not suggesting you live in an uncomfortable climate, but we are saying that your home doesn’t need to feel like the tropics either!  Find a temperature that is comfortable for you and your family, then program your thermostat.  Chances are, if you’re lowering the thermostat by only a few degrees, you won’t even notice the change!  Additionally, it is wise to turn down the temp when you are out of the house (during the workday) and at night when you are sleeping.  Turning down the temp can shave 5-10% off your heating bill -- a savings that is sure to show over time!

 

2.  Take advantage of sunlight!  Open those window coverings during the days to let the light shine in!  Hey, it’s free heat!  Conversely, be sure to close them again when it’s dark to trap the heat from escaping through the windows.

 

3.  Wear socks.  As silly as it sounds, when your feet are warm, your body feels snugger, too!  And if you’re still shivering?  Grab layers and a blanket!  Don’t let your first response to feeling chilly be cranking up the heat.  It takes a little thought and maybe some self-control, but in the end, the effort will be worth the saving.

 

4.  Winterize windows.  This can be as easy as putting up the plastic sheets over wind-leaking windows.

 

5.  Delete the drafts! Wherever wind and cool temps are entering, heat is sure to be escaping.  Seal leaks around windows, doors, ducts, or pipes. Caulking and weather stripping can be purchased at home improvement stores for this purchase.  With just a little bit of elbow grease and effort, this work pays off when winter weather stays away. 

 

6.  Replace your furnace filter regularly. A blocked filter can lower the efficiency of your furnace and drive up the cost of heating your home.

 

7.  Set those ceiling fans to help, not hinder, your heating efforts.  During the winter months, set your ceiling fans to suck warm air up and distribute it throughout your home.

 

Still in a pinch to pay that heating bill?  This website (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/iowa/renting/energyprgms) offers many potential solutions for assistance.  In addition, utility companies will often give over-the-phone or in-person, specific tips for heating bill reduction. The time it takes to make the call might be all you need to save some green!

Displaying blog entries 151-160 of 177