Time to plan your escape

Posted by at 2:39 pm

Want to combine the unpleasant experience of being locked in a room with the tedium of solving complex puzzle problems? While this may not sound like a lot of fun at first, the “escape room” experience has become something of a cultural phenomenon. But you don’t have to pay big dollars for a high-tech experience at one of the many businesses hosting the games. Whether dinner parties, family game night or birthday bashes, you can design and build your own escape room at home. It can be a bit intimidating. Isn’t it going to be a lot of work and cost? After all, don’t businesses make huge outlays for authentic costumes and high-tech gadgetry? Take a deep breath. The true magic of the escape room experience lies in creating puzzles that are difficult without being frustrating, and hiding essential clues...
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Accessorize your dwelling with an ADU unit

Posted by at 2:56 pm

As home prices continue to  rise, many folks are left wondering how they can afford a piece of the American dream. Some have broached the idea of sharing, but co-ownership – even among family – is a little too cozy for most. The tenancy approach is probably the easiest. That’s why many buyers today are looking for homes with potential to add “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs. ADU residences can be build-ons, re-purposed space or even a separate, free-standing unit. The main draw is practicality. ADUs provide a sense of autonomy for the renter at a lower cost, and can provide the homeowners with help paying their mortgage. The majority (62 percent) of U.S. households are made up of one or two people, while most new and existing homes are designed to accommodate three or four. Legacy housing stock is...
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June 27th, 2018

The Book on Cleaning

Posted by at 12:09 pm

Finished spring cleaning, still thinking about it, or somewhere in between? Seasonal cleaning is just a state of mind! Get inspired to do some summertime spring cleaning with these three recently published books. Each contains a look at cleaning philosophies from a different country, and how a tidy lifestyle can lead to a happier you. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter https://www.amazon.com/Gentle-Art-Swedish-Death-Cleaning/dp/1501173243/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528753350&sr=8-1&keywords=the+swedish+art+of+death+cleaning Not about death at all, but living a life so tidy that when you pass on, you’ve left an easy job to the ones who have to go through, and make choices about, your possessions. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing/dp/1607747308/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528753628&sr=1-2&keywords=life+changing+art+of+tidying+up If your home only contains items which spark joy, and you give thanks to the items...
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May 30th, 2018

Summer weeding program

Posted by at 10:09 am

When you own a home of your own, you may suddenly be moved by an overwhelming desire to make it beautiful – both inside and out. A lush, green lawn is the foundation of any home landscaping project, but left uncared for, the lovely expanse you bought into will soon be infested with ugly weeds. You can fight back. The best way is to stop worrying so much about the weeds, and start worrying about the grass. A lawn with lots of weeds is trying to tell you something. First, if you haven’t followed a regular thatching and aeration schedule, now might be the time to start. Next, most lawn experts swear you can shade out most weed growth by mowing to a uniform height of at least 3 inches. Any shorter, and it lets too much light hit the...
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March 16th, 2018

Under lock and key

Posted by at 12:36 pm

Your new home doesn’t have to be a prison, but it needs to be secure! One of the most important reasons for having your own place is having a safe place for your own “stuff.” More than 2 million burglaries are reported each year in the U.S., or about one every 15 seconds. Don’t become one of these alarming statistics! The most expensive solutions, in this case, are the best. Studies show that homes with a professionally installed home security system and monitoring are far less likely to be targeted by burglars. According to security firm ADT, facial recognition locks will be standard security by 2025 – just like the movies. But the costs of these high-tech systems can be prohibitive. For those of us with less disposable cash, there are plenty of affordable actions that are nearly as effective. It’s quite...
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Tax Refunds Can Help Bring You Home

Posted by at 12:34 pm

Are you one of the many millions receiving a refund on your 2017 tax return? Like many Americans, you may be tempted to use the refund on a mini spending spree. Easy to understand – who doesn’t like a new wardrobe, fancy dinners, or the latest electronics upgrade? But if you’re thinking about buying that first home, resist that urge to splurge! Here’s a few ways to use that small spring windfall to unleash a torrent of future wealth through home ownership: Build down-payment savings: Whether it’s a few hundred or several thousand dollars, think about depositing your refund into a down-payment savings account. The more you can put toward that initial payment, the less you have to borrow, and the lower your monthly payments. Tax refunds are relatively small for most people, so saving two or three years’ worth...
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All the dirt on rinsing recyclables

Posted by at 12:02 pm

Are you scraping and rinsing and otherwise scrubbing to get the last of the peanut butter out of the jar, just so it’s fit for the recycling bin? Doing the same for your applesauce, yogurt, pet food and chili? Technology still hasn’t developed packaging (with the possible exception of Go-gurt) that allows you to actually EAT all the remaining food product. So, isn’t expecting you to wash out bottles, tubs and cans a little bit like adding insult to injury? How much recycling prep is enough? And how clean is clean? And what about water waste? True environmentalists know a kitchen sink can use up to 5 gallons of usable water a minute. Isn’t that worse than putting a dirty peanut butter jar in the landfill? These are all good questions, but let’s start with the simplest answer: It depends...
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Taxing times for homeowners

Posted by at 11:43 am

  It’s that time of year again. Thick in the heart of the Holidays with the property taxes already paid, most of us are thoroughly spent…both physically and financially. Of course, it also means January, and the New Year, are right around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about paying federal taxes. With big changes for homeowners looming, why not consider hiring a professional to prepare your return? For some, the thought of spending money to do something they COULD do themselves is particularly painful. That’s why so many struggle to keep up on housework instead of hiring a maid, or try to maintain a sprawling yard and garden instead of hiring a landscaper. Many may manage to keep spotless houses and beautiful lawns. But taxes are not sweeping and mowing. Home ownership significantly changes most people’s deductions and other tax situations. Hiring an accountant to help...
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Disaster preparedness part of homeownership

Posted by at 8:22 am

Talking points for a year-end wrap-up have to include the string of natural disasters that descended on the U.S.(and the Caribbean) in 2017. Whether hurricane, fires, tornadoes or even earthquakes, disaster can strike anytime, anyplace – and during any season. Every homeowner needs to be prepared. Mother Nature’s fury is exceedingly random. Not only will most of us weather the disaster’s initial mayhem, we must also be ready for the immediate aftermath. There could be countless folks in need of help, and rescue personnel may not arrive to help for some time. Roads could be damaged or inaccessible, making it difficult to get necessities. Prepare a 72-hour disaster kit. Make sure it contains enough food, water, batteries, clothing, essentials (medications, diapers) and warm blankets to last you and your family for at least three days. Include basic first aid supplies...
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