“Calm” for the holidays
Feeling anxious about the holidays? Try these tips to bring on the calm:
- Don’t feel like you have to say “yes” to every invitation, menu demand or gift request.
- Ask others to pitch in on tasks such as shopping, baking and wrapping. And if someone offers help, accept it!
- Set a budget for gift purchases and stick to it. A mountain of new debt is no way to start the new year.
- If you’re hosting a meal, ask guests to bring side dishes or desserts. If they ask to do dishes, hand them a sponge!
- A 15 minute walk each day will leave you refreshed and help clear your head.
LIVING RIGHT AT HOME
Brighten Up Your Living Space in Winter
The shorter days will still be here for months to come, and spring can seem a long way away. But winter doesn’t mean your home needs to feel drab for months on end. Here are some easy ways to bring some springtime into your home and life right now.
Rooms of blooms
Choose a bouquet of colorful fresh flowers or a flowering plant to display in the kitchen, family room, or wherever you spend a lot of time. Or divide a large bunch of blooms into several smaller vases that you can place in a bathroom, by the kitchen sink, and on your nightstand.
If you live in a mild climate, a pot or two of bright flowering plants outside your front door provides instant cheer. Your neighbors (and the mail carrier) will appreciate it, too!
Punch up the color
Give your powder room or laundry area a lift with a fresh coat of paint in a fun new color, or create a bigger impact with an accent wall in any room.
Give it a spin
Whirl chunks of pineapple, mango, and banana with plain yogurt in the blender to bring a taste of the tropics to a dark morning. This healthy treat will give your day a delicious jump start and bring a smile to your face.
Be a quick change artist
Try new throw pillows or pillow covers in bright, fun fabrics to liven up your sofa and chairs. There are so are many great-looking, inexpensive options available you won’t have to splurge to give your room a fresh look.
Before and after the storm
No matter where you live, winter storms can wreak havoc on property. Preventive steps can reduce the chance of serious damage to homes and lives.
Before the storm
- Outdoor furniture, grills, toys, birdbaths and the like should be stored away. Secure and anchor large objects such as prefab sheds and play structures to prevent them from falling or blowing over.
- Trees can look like they’re in good shape but may be diseased or have other problems that can cause them to fail unexpectedly. Trees stressed by drought or that are rooted in saturated soil can be more susceptible to problems when storms hit.
- Local ordinances may require that trees be trimmed a minimum distance from driveways, structures and power lines. For safety’s sake, a qualified professional should perform this work.
- Using binoculars, check your roof for missing or damaged shingles. Flying shingles can damage structures, while missing shingles can allow water to leak into the home. Any roofing repairs should be done professionally to ensure the work is done safely and correctly.
After the storm
- Look for downed or sagging power lines and report them immediately to your utility company. Always assume a downed power line is live, and never approach or touch it.
- Check around for fallen branches or other damage to trees and structures. This is also a good time to reinspect the roof for storm damage; any repairs should be made as soon as possible to prevent further problems and leaks.
- Note any areas where water may have infiltrated siding, the foundation, or windows and have repairs done before the next storm hits.
Why get a pre-listing home inspection?
A pre-listing inspection can uncover previously unknown problems – major and minor – allowing the opportunity to make repairs, updates, or replacements as needed or as the seller wishes. Addressing these issues before the home goes on the market can result in cleaner offers and a smoother transaction for both parties. Having well-informed sellers and buyers will work to everyone’s advantage.
Be sure that the home inspection is comprehensive and that you’ll get the report immediately upon completion of the inspection. This will allow sellers to get the information they need right away, so they can decide on their next steps prior to listing. Photos should also always be part of a professional report so that the full documentation of conditions is available to both the sellers and potential buyers. This is especially important when it comes to issues that might not be addressed or repaired prior to sale.
Home sweet home security
We all love coming home at the end of the day to a place we feel safe. Here are some tips for keeping your home and valuables secure.
Secure Entrances – Thoroughly evaluate all entry points to your home. Make sure all doors have a secure lock and reinforce the door frames. Windows should be closed and locked at all times when you are away.
Secure Lighting – Lighting is a basic but important burglar deterrent. Indoor and outdoor lights can thwart intruders by making it look like the house is occupied when you are not home, and minimize the places burglars can hide at night.
Secure Garage – Garages are a favorite target for thieves because they contain easy to sell valuables like bicycles, tools and sports equipment. Garages can also provide easy access into the home. Keep all garage windows and access doors securely locked. Look into installing tempered glass in windows, or cover the inside of the windows with a sheet of durable Plexiglas.
Security System – There are lots of options available for homeowners who want to take this extra precaution. The latest systems can be operated using a mobile device or speaker-based “assistant,” allowing you to arm the system and remotely monitor indoor and outdoor security cameras. More conventional alarm systems include third-party monitoring, and unmonitored alarms that simply make a loud noise when triggered.
PLACES AND SPACES
The right tree in the right spot
One of the most common problems with home gardens is plants, particularly trees, that grow too large for their location.
Here are keys to avoiding this:
- Research how tall and wide a particular kind of plant or tree will be at maturity. That cute sapling at the nursery could grow up to be a giant you don’t have space for.
- Avoid planting a tree too close to the house. At full size it may damage the roof and gutters and need to be cut back.
- If the tree is deciduous (loses its leaves each fall), will the winter sun cause the rooms nearby to be too bright?
- Trees with aggressive and/or shallow root systems shouldn’t be planted near the house, pavement or other surfaces as they can potentially cause serious damage to the foundation.