Monthly Archives: March 2016

Unplug your Home!

Are you starting to notice all you use at home is TV, social media, and the internet. Well getting unplugged might be a good idea. Especially when you are trying to relax… and your still plugged in to whats going on around you. So below is a great article on some ways to exert yourself from being plugged in at home. Read below!

 

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10 tips for an unplugged home (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/smswigart/)

Your home is your haven, a space for relaxation and recharging. But when you’re connected to the rest of the world within seconds by a device in your back pocket, it’s easy for work and other worries to follow you home. Staying plugged in even when you’re at home can interfere with your personal relationships, increase stress levels, zap quality relaxation time, and even interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.

Staying connected at home can have its drawbacks. But on the National Day of Unplugging from sundown March 4th to sundown March 5th, everyone is encouraged to unplug and enjoy life unencumbered by emails, social media, texting, and other connected activities. This is a great opportunity to make your home more comfortable and stress free. On this day — or any day — use these tips to focus on making your home an unplugged zone, if only for a few hours at a time.

  1. Create a drop zone at your front door: Want to unplug as soon as you get home? Create a spot by your front door where you can leave your phone, laptop, and other devices. Take it a step further and add a charging station with a power strip where you can plug in your devices and then leave them there until it’s time to head out again.
  2. Build a home library — and use it: Create a space in your home where you store books, and if space permits, add a chair that’s just for reading and relaxing. Fill the space with your favorite books, magazines, newspapers. Commit to spending time there unplugged and reading, such as an hour or two every evening or on weekend mornings.
  3. Enjoy movie night as a family: Watching movies is technically still screen time, but enjoying a great movie can be an immersive experience that feels unplugged. Too often, families spend their time watching TV on two screens, scrolling through phones while watching a sitcom or drama. Throw together some popcorn and blankets and ban devices from movie night so you can focus on enjoying the show.
  4. Cook an elaborate meal: In many busy houses, cooking is simply a matter of survival. Getting dinner on the table and cleaned up can be a speed race, but every now and then, schedule a time to slow down and cook leisurely — without using recipes on your phone or mobile device. Open up an old fashioned cookbook and take your time enjoying using your kitchen.
  5. Charge devices in a drawer: Store your phone and other smart devices in a drawer where they’ll be out of sight and out of mind. Simply thread cords through the back of a drawer to plug them in.
  6. Ban phones at the kitchen table: Make your mealtimes unplugged. This is the simplest way to get started unplugging at home. Ask every family member to leave phones out of reach during dinner and other meals eaten as a family. Having trouble staying committed? Consider stacking devices on the table face down, and whoever reaches for their phone first has to clean up after dinner.
  7. Schedule your screen time: Whether you’re paying bills, catching up on emails, scheduling playdates, or just checking in with friends and family on social media, sometimes you just need some screen time at home. But it’s easy to let that time get away from you if you’re not careful. Plan ahead to schedule when you’ll use your phone, TV, and other devices at home, then stick to it, shutting down when your time is up. Need some help? Use a router that allows you to schedule Internet curfews.
  8. Play board games: Remember when you played games without a TV or mobile device? Reignite your love for board games with your family and play a few board games at home for unplugged fun. Or, have some friends over for a full game night with snacks and drinks.
  9. Turn screens off in the evening: Unplugging is especially important at night, when theblue hue emitted from screens can interfere with your sleep quality. Turn screens off at least two hours before bedtime for your health and comfort at home. At the very least, avoid keeping your phone next to your bed, where you’ll be tempted to check it at night or first thing in the morning.
  10. Use a real alarm clock: Many people use a phone or other mobile device as an alarm clock. This can be convenient and effective, but unfortunately, also encourages screen time before your feet even hit the floor in the morning. Use a real alarm clock instead of your phone and avoid the temptation to check in early in the morning.

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A Spring Porch!

Since the Spring Season is here.. why not spruce up your porch for the nice weather? Below is an article that we have shared that gives some great ideas on a porch make over! Read below…

 

Give Your Porch a Spring Makeover

The last piles of snow have finally melted away, and chances are, your home’s exterior is looking a little worse for wear. Early spring is the best time to breathe new life into your front porch and spruce up your outdoor décor. In this post, Jennifer will share her ideas for refreshing your home’s entrance on a budget, from a simple DIY Planter to a complete pastel makeover for your front door.

Front Door Refresh

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Paint is an easy, affordable way to dress up a front door. For spring, you can’t go wrong with a cheerful color such as this on-trend mint green. A quick Pinterest search of mint green front doors yields a bounty of shades that complement many exteriors. If you choose pale colors, paint the doorknob and knockers a metallic hue for contrast.

Simple Floral Accents

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Beautiful floral accents don’t need to be expensive or complicated; they can be simple and inviting like these gardenias from Cottage in the Oaks. The vintage olive bucket ties in well with the rustic, cottage-themed items on her front porch. These galvanized wash tub planters by Ann of On Sutton Place are also a wonderful alternative and can easily be repurposed for different seasons. Find out how to create them here.

Spring Door Wreath

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Source: Jennifer Lutz

One way to add a pop of color to your front door is to create a spring wreath. Creating your own seasonal wreath is fairly simple—a trip to your local craft store for foliage, a grapevine wreath, green wire, pliers, a glue gun and your favorite ribbon are all it takes. For this particular spring wreath, I used a 24-inch grapevine wreath, lined it with faux green foliage and white flowers, and finished it off with a buffalo plaid ribbon—simple and elegant. The beauty of a fresh spring door wreath is you can make it look however you want, so mix and match to your heart’s desire.

Fence Makeover

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Don’t leave your porch fence bare; try hanging baskets with an assortment of flowers to add color to your main entryway. These hanging baskets from 3 Little Green Woods are made with a metal trough planter, coco liners and potting mix. Ashley chose Creeping Jenny, Geraniums and Coleus for her hanging plants, but be mindful of the weather in your area when choosing your combination. In Michigan, we don’t start planting flowers until near Memorial Day because weather in the Midwest can be unpredictable through May!

Color Matched Furniture

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Complete your spring porch makeover by repainting furniture and adding color matched accessories. Cindy of The Creativity Exchangesimply spray painted her outdoor bench, rocking chairs and planters in the same “fossil” hue for uniformity. Easy, simple and effective! My advice is to repaint your outdoor bench or chairs with hues that match your front door and fence. Then, add in patterned throw pillows and a colorful rug to tie it all together.

These simple ideas will give your front porch a proper spring makeover without breaking the bank. What’s your favorite? Let me know in the comments section below!

Jennifer Lutz writes about all things home and garden-related for the Christmas Tree Market blog. 

Give Your Porch a Spring Makeover

 

 

Renting costs

Below is an article that shares out renting outside of the city for 2016. Read and learn about the cost and see whats really cheaper..

 

The Benefits of Renting Outside the City in 2016

You’ve likely heard it a few times over the course of the past few years: The Rent is Still Too Damn High. With leasing prices outpacing home values and mortgage interest rates in many major metros, some would-be renters are looking to buy and capitalize on prime investment opportunities. But increasing rent rates makes saving for down payments while residing in pricey cities increasingly difficult.

Moreover, alternative expenses, including car or parking fees, and debts like student loans take up such large portions of what would otherwise go toward personal reserves that the path toward homeownership becomes long and arduous.

And what about individuals who simply prefer renting over owning? No property taxes to worry about, less responsibility in terms of maintenance and mortgage payments and the freedom to pick up every 12-months or so is enticing to those drawn to the wanderlust lifestyle.

Renting can actually make sense, but selecting the proper location where median rent is affordable is key. If you can handle the mountainside or suburbia lifestyle, you could escape the high-priced costs of leasing in the city.

Low-cost yet accessible locales

If you work in the city, you’ll want to be close enough where commuting actually makes sense. Some believe that the price of living in the city – no matter how high – is worth avoiding bumper-to-bumper traffic, especially for renters in Los Angeles who suffer notoriously horrible commutes every morning and evening. But if you’re already stuck in said traffic, why not cut your housing expenses a little further in the meantime?

Antelope Valley, Lancaster, CA
Antelope Valley, Lancaster, CA

Current renters in LA sick of the $2,655 median rent price who don’t mind a little over an hour commute to the city might considerrenting in Lancaster, CA, where the median rent is valued at just $1,491 per month – a $1,164 savings. Keep in mind, too, Lancaster offers plenty of units below the median price point which encompasses all-sized units, so individuals searching for studios in Lancaster are likely to find less expensive options for an even higher savings. Individuals living in Lancaster and working in LA can also commute by Metrolink and avoid the unfavorable Southern California AM/PM gridlock.

Plus, the suburbs offer unique benefits the city simply can’t match. Along with Palmdale, CA, Lancaster is home to Antelope Valley, which has hundreds of beautiful wildflowers, most notably the California poppy, growing freely along its vast landscape.

Affordable parking

Cities are notoriously congested with cars, so finding parking is inherently complicated. Local residents can apply and pay for city passes for a fee, but even then, placing your car on the street overnight can sometimes be a cause for concern depending on the neighborhood and the length of time you plan to park. Often times, too, there are limits for the amount of time you can leave your car without moving it, even when you have a city-issued pass placed on your dashboard.

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Apartments and landlords in the city might offer private or garage parking, but at upwards of $300 per month in busy metros, it’s difficult to justify the price. Almost $4,000 annually would be better allocated toward your down payment for future a home purchase, or another investment opportunity, not a parking space that would otherwise be free in the suburbs where street parking is abundant.

An added bonus is the number of single-family rentals available in the suburbs versus the city. You can often find homes with attached garages, which is highly beneficial if you live in a cold-weather climate. Rather than scraping the snow off your windshield every morning in the winter or having to walk outside to heat up your car before work in your pajamas, you can hop in comfortably without planning ahead.

While living in the center of the city has its allure, financials may preside, especially in today’s rental market. Perhaps after saving from a lower rent rate and less expensive parking or utilities outside of the city, renters in the suburbs can afford to return to their downtown dwellings and buy.

The Benefits of Renting Outside the City in 2016

Forclosures to Rentals!

Below is an article shared about how to find a Rental property after you have foreclosed on your home. Usually after your home has been foreclosed it affects the mortgage holders credit and you cant apply for a new loan for another year. So you will need to rent a property. But how do you find one that will approve poor credit? Read below….

 

 

How to Find a Rental after Foreclosure

Foreclosures affect mortgage holders and their future housing situations because they negatively impact credit scores. In fact, for individuals with high credit scores, a home foreclosure can deduct up to 100 points from their grade. Typically, those foreclosed upon will look for a rental before they apply for another home loan because they are unable to qualify for financing for at least another year. But since foreclosures impact credit scores, finding a good apartment with less than exemplary credit is tricky.

To navigate today’s competitive rental market with a foreclosure on your credit history, use the following tips.

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Start your search fast

Foreclosures don’t appear on credit reports right away – the process takes time. If possible, search for an apartment and lock down your lease before the foreclosure is finalized. While your previous missed payments leading up to the actual foreclosure will likely be processed and reported to the credit bureaus, these won’t have as large of an impact as the foreclosure itself, and will only be reported when you have been in default for more than 30 days. Even so, prepare some explanation for when a landlord asks about missed payments upon reviewing your financial history.

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Provide a hefty deposit

Your landlord might be willing to overlook your less than satisfactory financial history if he or she is given a heftier deposit. The up-front lump sum proves you have the ability to pay monthly rent and gives them a safety net in case you do fall into financial trouble again in the future. Overall, larger down payments give landlords peace of mind.

Search for a private landlord

Privately-owned apartments and in-law units owned by single-family homeowners sometimes don’t require credit checks. While this is not something you want to ask up front, as it is a red flag to the landlord, searching for these property types maximizes your selection of rental homes and betters your odds of being selected. Try searching for condos for rent, as well. Finding an agent who has access to private listings is typically the easiest way to searching for and scheduling showings with single-family homeowners renting out their spaces.

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Minimize your additional debts  

Keeping your other finances in check after the foreclosure helps your credit bounce back sooner. Plus, having a balanced and manageable financial portfolio will help you better cope with your recent asset loss and start fresh – totally debt free.

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Ask a friend to cosign

If you’re having trouble getting approved, ask a friend or family member to put his or her name alongside yours on rental applications. Cosigners assume responsibility for monthly payments should you fail to pay rent, which helps landlords feel safeguarded when leasing to those with past financial defaults on their reports. If you are enlisting a cosigner, be extra cautious with budgeting for your rental. If you were to ever fall short on rent, your friend or family member would be responsible, and you would end up owing that person money in the end.

Finding an apartment or private rental after foreclosure shouldn’t be a hassle, and likely won’t when the proper due diligence is applied.

How to Find a Rental after Foreclosure

Tips for your Refrigerator

Your fridge is one of the hardest working appliances in your kitchen. So it is important to maintain it to keep your food from going bad. Read the tips shared below that tells some ways to maintain you refrigerator…

 

guide to refrigerator maintenance (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/sugarhiccuphiccup/)

Your refrigerator works harder than perhaps any other appliance in your home. It runs around the clock to keep your food at a safe temperature — and most refrigerators will do this for 10 years or more. Give your fridge a break and help it do its job effectively my performing these simple refrigerator maintenance tasks regularly.

  • Cover all food: Avoid food odors by covering any food that is placed in the refrigerator.
  • Clean out old food: Before you head to the grocery store, take a few minutes to clean out any old food you don’t need in your refrigerator. This will help prevent the spread of mold and odors as well as the accumulation of moisture.
  • Clean shelves and walls: While you’re clearing out old food, take a few minutes to quickly wipe down shelves and walls with a cleaning solution. This will also prevent the spread of mold.
  • Avoid refrigerator gazing: If you or anyone else in your family has a habit of leaving the refrigerator door open, do your best to cut down on it. Leaving the door open lets warm air in and causes your refrigerator to have to work harder, putting strain on the compressor and motor.
  • Avoid placing hot food in the refrigerator: Another action that can make your refrigerator work harder than it has to, placing hot food in the refrigerator is not a good idea. Let food cool down a bit before you store it in the fridge.
  • Keep vents clear: Allow air to properly circulate by keeping vents clear. Avoid over stuffing your freezer and refrigerator.
  • Use the correct temperature setting: Refrigerators should be set between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezers at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below. These settings are ideal for food safety and energy consumption.
  • Clear out your ice: With time, ice cubes can sometimes form into a solid block at the bottom of your bin, interfering with air flow. Ice can also absorb freezer odors. Empty your ice bin completely on a regular basis to avoid ice blocks and off flavored ice.
  • Store baking soda: Cut odors in your refrigerator and freezer by placing an open box of baking soda in both compartments, then replace them every few months. It will absorb some of the odors and keep your food fresher.
  • Clean your door gasket: Dirty gaskets can make it difficult for your refrigerator door to close completely. Clean them with soapy water and dry them. If they are cracked or appear brittle, it’s time to replace them.
  • Vacuum condenser coils: Clogged condenser coils can put stress on the compressor and cause your refrigerator to work harder than it should. Vacuum them out every few months and use a refrigerator coil brush to further clean the coils. This is also a good time to clean the condenser fan.
  • Check for leveling: Your refrigerator may not close properly if it isn’t completely level, and that can put stress on the motor and cause condensation. Use a level to check your refrigerator and adjust your refrigerator’s feet if necessary.
  • Clean the drain hole and pan: Check the drain hole and drip pan for food and mineral deposits.
  • Replace your water filter: Make sure you have clean ice and water by replacing your water filter. Most refrigerators have an indicator for replacement, or you can simply replace every six months.

Signs of Refrigerator Trouble

Even if you stay on top of cleaning and maintenance, your refrigerator can run into trouble. These are clear signs that it’s time to call for help and have your refrigerator repaired:

  • Your refrigerator or freezer is not cooling effectively
  • Your freezer has ice buildup
  • Your refrigerator cycles on and off frequently
  • Your refrigerator runs constantly
  • Your refrigerator is sweating (inside or out)
  • Your food is spoiling quickly
  • You have a puddle of water under your refrigerator
  • Your refrigerator has become noisy
  • Your ice maker isn’t working
  • The back of the refrigerator is warmer than usual

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