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Buying A Home | 1 Posts
Doers of Good | 1 Posts
Family Fun | 1 Posts
Food | 2 Posts
Holidays | 2 Posts
Home Remodeling | 1 Posts
News | 4 Posts
Outdoor Living | 2 Posts
Selling A Home | 2 Posts
Spring Cleaning | 1 Posts
Valley Life | 1 Posts
January
23

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.

  • Eliminate the Source
    Did a piece of food slip under the fridge or fall behind the trash can under your sink? Perhaps you missed a spot your new puppy visited. Identifying the source is your first step in getting rid of an unwelcome smell.

  • Clean the Dishwasher
    To clean and freshen the dishwasher, place a cup filled with white vinegar on the top rack, and run the cycle as normal without any other dishes in the dishwasher. This will eliminate many of the smells.
  • Check the Drains
    Sometimes food can get stuck in the drains in your kitchen sink, where it turns rancid and starts to stink. If you have a garbage disposal, you can deodorize it by placing some slices of lemon or orange in it, turning on the water and running the disposal. If that doesn't work, send some mouthwash down it, or try some white vinegar.

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.

  • Clean the Carpets
    Since it's winter, you may not want to have your carpets shampooed. But, if they are the source of the smell, you'll want to deal with it. Start by sprinkling baking soda, and letting it sit in place for about an hour. Then vacuum thoroughly. The baking soda will pull out some of the odors.

  • Kill Urine Smells with Vinegar
    The acidity of the vinegar will help it to kill the smell of urine, as well as bacteria. If you've had some accidents from pets on the carpet, mix one part vinegar and three parts water. Rub the mixture into the carpet with a cloth, rinse, and allow to air dry. This will help neutralize the odor without covering it with cleaning chemicals.

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!

January
9

January Blues?

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.

  • Order your supplies or check your local party supply store:
  • Keep your menu simple
    • For drinks, make it easy by serving homemade lemonade, both hard and non-alcoholic. See our blog post with great recipes from last summer HERE. Garnish with a lemon slice and a strawberry or two along with a colorful umbrella.
    • Make easy fruit kebabs with green and red grapes, blueberries, tangerine sections, pineapple chunks, and kiwi slices.
    • Speaking of kebabs, one of our favorite recipes is for baked Hawaiian chicken kebabs that take only 40 minutes from start to table. And you can do them in the oven! Get the recipe HERE.
    • Add some basmati or jasmine rice and a nice green salad with a light dressing, and you're good to go.
  • Music
    • Beach Boys, of course!

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.

December
26

New Year's Resolution Tips for Your Home

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.

  • Declutter and Streamline
    Why wait for spring to declutter? Decluttering is one of the best ways to start the new year. And the best part is you get to feel instantly better about your home. Plus, a decluttered home is so much easier to look after and maintain. Decluttering an entire home is a big job. The best way to tackle the task is going room by room. Contrary to popular beliefs, you don't have to start with the hardest areas. Heading straight into the attic or garage could dissuade all your clean-up efforts. Once you're done decluttering your home, you can declutter other aspects of your life, too, like your digital life and your mind.
  • Reduce Your Energy Use
    Here's a resolution that helps you reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Installing a solar water heating system isn't the only way you can go green. Small things like switching traditional light bulbs with LEDs and getting a smart thermostat could drive your electricity costs down while helping conserve the environment.

    ​​​​​​​Changing your energy consumption habits could also lower your utility costs. Some practices that could help you trim your energy use include:
    • Switching off your appliances when they're not in use
    • Reducing appliance and water use whenever possible
    • Utilizing natural light
    • Buying appliances with a good energy rating
    • Recycling properly
  • Conduct a Safety Check
    Your house may be beautiful, but is it safe? Make a habit of regularly checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replacing the batteries. Repair and replace loose or frayed wires on all electrical devices and have an expert inspect your electrical system for any faults. If you have a pet, you should consider pet-proofing your home. Pets cause over 1,000 house fires each year. Pet proofing will protect your beloved furry friends as well as your home.
  • Improve Ventilation
    Prolonged exposure to polluted air can lead to respiratory conditions and diseases. Use your HVAC system as the first line of defense, and make sure to regularly change your furnace and AC filters. Plus, ensure your kitchen has enough ventilation to get rid of smoke and cooking fumes.
  • Invest in Home Improvement Projects
    Home makeover ideas don't have to involve knocking down a wall or adding square footage. DIY projects are a fun and creative way to spend time with your family and make memories, all while transforming your house into the haven you've always desired.

December
5

Really!

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

DIRECTIONS

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.

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

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.

November
21

Decorate Safely This Holiday Season

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

November
7

BEST-EVER PUMPKIN SOUP 

'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. 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 pieces cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • Chopped green onion (optional)

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.

October
24

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.

October
10

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.

  1. Seal the leaks.
    Check around windows and doors for cracks that leak air. According to the U.S. Department of Energy Research, leaks can increase your heating bill by up to 10 percent. Seal the leaks with caulk or weather stripping as needed.

  2. Schedule heating equipment inspections.
    Call an HVAC professional to give your furnace an annual cleaning and tune-up. Doing this can increase the efficiency and safety of your furnace.

  3. Test the generator.
    Instead of waiting for the winter's first power outage, take your emergency generator for a test run now. Make sure you have extra fuel stored away.

  4. Inspect your home's exterior.
    A damaged exterior lets in water and pests. Check your siding for cracks, curling, dents, looseness, bowing, and decay. Make sure your masonry veneer isn't cracking or flaking, and your stucco is free from cracks.

  5. Clean the gutters.
    Although it's among the most common home maintenance tips, this one has greater benefits than you might imagine. Blocked gutters can cause leaks on your roof and in your basement as well as damage your exterior. Scoop leaves, dirt, and other debris from the gutters then spray them clean. As you clean, check for leaks and rust. Make sure your downspouts are directed away from your home.

  6. Check your roof.
    Damage to your roof puts your home at risk for leaks. Use binoculars or climb onto the roof to inspect for missing, damaged, curled, or loose shingles. Look the ridge shingles over for wind damage. The metal flashing in the roof valleys and around protrusions such as vents should be free from curling and damage.

  7. Inspect your walkways.
    Damaged driveways, sidewalks, and steps worsen when exposed to freezing temperatures and pose a hazard in icy conditions. Repair cracks wider than 1/8th inch, smooth uneven areas, and tighten loose railings.

  8. Prevent frozen pipes.
    Adding insulation to pipes in unheated areas is one of those simple home maintenance tips that can save you a lot of trouble and expense. Outdoors, put your garden hoses in storage and, if your outdoor faucets aren't frost-free, turn off your outdoor water supply and drain the faucets. Drain your irrigation system to prevent burst pipes and damaged sprinkler heads.

  9. Measure your foundation drainage.
    The ground around your foundation should slope away from your home at an angle of 6 inches down over 10 feet. This protects your foundation from water damage.

  10. Get the lawn and garden ready.
    If you spot any tree limbs that could fall or hit power lines during a windstorm, cut them back. Also, trim shrubbery and perennials as recommended for the species. Rake up leaves and either compost them or use them as mulch. Alternatively, check if your city offers a removal service.

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