Clear the Air
Winter's cold likely means you've kept your doors and windows closed tight, creating the opportunity for stale air and not-so-fresh smells. Scented candles and air fresheners can only go so far and will likely cover the odor, rather than eliminate it – plus, depending on what you are using, you might be adding toxins, a trade not worth making.
These tips will help you clear the air.
If your seldom-used guest bath smells, it could be due to water not being run through the pipes for a time. Water can sit in the p-trap and get mildewy, causing a rotten odor. Run hot water in both tub and sink for 30 seconds to a minute to move the old water through. Deodorize further by sending a quarter cup of baking soda down the drain. If the odor persists, you might need to call in a professional to check the roof vents to make sure they aren't clogged.
Now, let's talk toxins.
Most of us never think about candles as a potential toxin, but unless you are burning 100% beeswax candles, which are actually natural cleaners, you could be adding toxic chemicals to the air. The same goes for incense. Think about ditching your traditional methods for beeswax candles (with cotton wicks) and grandma's tried and true natural method of aromatherapy: simmering a stick of cinnamon and slices of orange on the stove.
For more suggestions, take a look at these tips from Seventh Generation. Oftentimes, simpler methods from the past are still the best!
For a lot of people, January is the longest month. The hustle of the holidays is over. Visiting family and friends have returned home. The weather is, well, blah, especially for non-skiers/snowboarders, and it can seem dark. All. The. Time.
You can lift your spirits by employing a few little tricks:
Add a bouquet of fresh flowers to your dining table. Pick up some flowers in your favorite colors to adorn your dining room.
Light summer-scented candles. Scents such as coconut, lemon, tangerine, or light florals will boost your mood by reminding you that warmer weather will be here again soon.
Bring in some daylight. Daylight LED light bulbs mimic the natural light of the sun. With more of a blue light, these bulbs better mirror actual daylight.
Host a Hawaiian-themed party. Ask your guests to wear their brightest "Aloha" shirts and come ready to shine.
Fire up the BBQ. Not feeling the Hawaiian theme? Light the grill and cook up some burgers and dogs. Pair them with some potato salad and maybe some chips and salsa, and you'll be feeling the summertime vibe in no time.
Before you light your BBQ, make sure to remove all the snow and ice from around the grill and give it plenty of time to preheat. Grilling in colder weather takes longer, so keep the lid closed, and plan accordingly.
Don't let the winter blues take away your summertime joy. Recreate it until it's here again for real.
With 2022 almost behind us, it's a good time to reflect upon the year, your wins, losses, and any lessons learned. Every new year brings with it possibilities to improve.
Most people vow to exercise, save money, or spend more time with family. Few people remember to set goals to get their homes in shape. Let's look at some New Year's resolutions you can set for your home and how you can go about bringing them to fruition.
Believe it or not, fruitcake is a well-loved dessert known throughout the world. It is only in the United States that this cake is the butt of jokes, probably because they were, at one time, mass-produced for mail order and tended to be dry and of questionable age. Some say the ridicule can be traced to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, but research shows "fruitcake trashing" occurred much earlier in the 20th century.
Though celebrated by some as the delicious tradition it is intended to be (National Fruitcake Day is December 27), others applaud this dense loaf laced with fruit and nuts only when it is flying through the air on National Fruitcake Toss Day, January 3 (or the 7th, depending on which website you visit).
Historically speaking, some believe that ancient Egyptians sent fruitcake to the afterlife with their deceased loved ones. We do know that they did not become common, though, until Roman times, when pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and barley mash were mixed together.
Preserved fruit, spices, and honey were added during the Middle Ages. Sugar became a main ingredient in the 1500s in the American Colonies, and alcohol was widely used starting in the 1800s. Somewhere along the way, nuts became a staple, as well.
Today, fruitcake is served year 'round in Australia, but is generally enjoyed as a Christmas cake across Europe, India, and parts of the Caribbean.
So, will you buck the trend in the U.S. and give this recipe a try? If you don't like it, you can always save it for January 3!
No-Bake Graham Cracker Fruitcake
3/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
3 c. mini marshmallows
1/2 c. orange juice
1 box + 1 inner seal pkg graham crackers
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 c. raisins
1 c. dates, chopped
1 c. nuts, chopped
16 oz. assorted candied fruit, chopped
Combine milk, marshmallows, & orange juice in large bowl. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows soften & dissolve slightly. Crush graham crackers into fine crumbs & mix with spices. Add fruits & nuts, stir. Slowly add liquid mixture and stir by hand until well combined.
Press fruitcake into non-stick, lightly greased, or waxed-paper-lined bread pan or mold, cover with plastic wrap, and then with foil. Refrigerate for 2-3 days for flavors to combine. Slice & enjoy.
Instead of the listed fruit, experiment with craisins, dried apples, peaches, mangoes, blueberries, and/or strawberries, or get crazy and use gumdrops, gummy bears, gummy worms, and/or chocolate chips. If you use dried fruit, soak it in additional orange juice (or brandy) in a glass or ceramic bowl (not metal) a few hours or overnight to soften.
Delta Media Group
Decorating for the holidays is one of the fun perks of being a homeowner, because your whole property becomes a blank canvas. Decorating is a great opportunity to get in the spirit of the season, show off your sense of style, and get your kids (even more) excited for the holidays. No matter how you choose to decorate your home this holiday season, just remember that it's also important to keep home safety in mind as you deck the halls. We've put together 5 decorating tips to help keep your home safe, without cramping your holiday decorating style.
Check It Twice – Holiday lights are among the most popular decorations, and for good reason! They're bright, beautiful, and can transform the look of your entire property. Before you start stringing up those lights, however, be sure to check for any signs of wear. If there are broken lights or exposed wires, it's time to purchase some new outdoor holiday lights. Remember that outdoor lights are exposed to the elements, so even minimal signs of wear can pose a risk. Bonus Tip: If you're in the market for new lights, try LED lighting rather than incandescent bulbs. LED lights are more energy efficient, burn cooler than incandescent bulbs, and come in just about any color you can imagine.
Don't Overload Outlets – Overloading a single outlet is a fire risk, even if you're plugging in new, energy efficient decorations. Avoiding tangled wires is also good for holiday decorating safety, and it's easier to do when you use multiple outlets. Always plug decorations into outlets with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, which are designed to shut down the circuit automatically if certain signs of electrical danger are detected.
Indoor/Outdoor – That giant, inflatable Santa Claus won't fit in your living room, so it's probably a safe bet that he can be used outside. But not every decoration makes the distinction so clear. For any decorations that rely on electricity, always check whether they're rated for outdoor use before you plug them in outside. This is a great step to take care of while you're shopping for decorations, as the necessary info should be available right on the packaging.
Rooftop and Ladder Safety – For many homeowners, the holiday season is one of the few times each year when we take our ladders out of long-term storage and venture onto our rooftops. Stay safe by taking your time, having a plan, and wearing sturdy boots (or sneakers) with strong treads. If you do plan on climbing on your roof or using a ladder to decorate, never do so alone. Make sure there's someone on the ground to "spot" you and aid if you run into trouble.
Clean Gutters – Since you're likely to be spending time up there anyway, it's a great idea to clean your gutters before stringing up any holiday lights. Dried leaves and plant matter in gutters can serve as kindling when a faulty wire leaks electricity. As a bonus, keeping your gutters clean is a great way to lower your risk of water-related roof damage throughout the year.
The biggest thing to remember for holiday decorating home safety is that electricity can be dangerous, especially if you're using older decorations. Check any decorations for signs of wear before putting them up, make sure that any decorations you wish to use outside are rated for outdoor use, and keep your gutters clean to reduce fire risk. And of course, don't forget to have fun!
'Tis the season to warm your body and soul with hearty comfort foods. Nothing says autumn more than a pot of wonderful, homemade soup simmering on the stove. Give this seasonal favorite a try. Pumpkin isn't just for lattes! We think you're bound to love this soup.
In large pot, combine the first 8 ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Using a food processor or blender, puree soup in small batches. Return soup to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream. Pour into bowls and garnish with as many toppings as desired.
Home Renovations That Offer the Best ROI for Resale
The following is a guest post by GUSTAVO GONZALEZ, Senior Manager of Content and Multimedia at Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC
Looking to make some upgrades and wondering which will have the biggest payoff? If you guessed kitchen and bathrooms, you're spot on. Another good one is landscaping. Whether they're big or small, a few upgrades can pay big dividends when it's time to sell your home. Follow these tips to prioritize and put more money in your pocket when you're ready to sell.
Before you do anything, make sure you consider the value of your house, the neighborhood, the housing market where you live, and how soon you will sell after you make the improvements. If you live in a neighborhood where properties are selling for $300,000, doing a $150,000 renovation may not add as much to your property value as you might think.
Kitchens and Baths
One thing to keep in mind is that just because a remodel is expensive doesn't necessarily mean it will give you the best return on investment. Even minor updates can yield a big return. Consider painting, refinishing surfaces, and upgrading appliances, which can lead to a big payout.
Sticking to a budget is always important, and keep in mind that an average, medium-sized kitchen remodel can cost between $20,000 – $50,000, while the average bathroom remodel is $10,000. In most cases, homeowners see a return of 100% or more with a kitchen or bath remodel, so it's definitely worth the investment. Plus, you get to live in a beautiful new space.
A Finished Basement
If finishing your basement is something you've been putting off, now might be the perfect time. According to cost versus value surveys conducted annually by Remodeling magazine, "The average return on investment for a basement project is around 75 cents on the dollar. Besides the financial gains, refinishing a basement will add new functionality to your home: more bedrooms, more efficient storage, and more space for entertaining." Seems like a sure-fire win, win.
Add Curb Appeal
When buyers see that the outside of the property is taken care of, they'll be more excited to see the inside. Remember, first impressions make lasting impressions. According to Anji, "Curb appeal can increase your home value by 7%. Buyers are increasingly prioritizing outdoor living spaces and an attractive lawn has the biggest ROI at 256%. Trees can add $1,000 to $10,000 to your home value and simple landscape maintenance tasks usually pay for themselves."
Whether you're in the market to sell your home or just want to make some budget-friendly renovations that you and your family can enjoy, making the right upgrades can help enhance your quality of life and add a few more dollars to your bank account down the road.
It's Time to Get Ready for Fall
Delta Media Group
Fall is the perfect time of the year to do seasonal maintenance to keep your home running smoothly. Checking these items off your must-do list now will save you money and frustration later.