How to set aside over $2000 this year and hardly notice!


5 Steps Every Homeowner Should Take After A Blizzard

In addition to beauty, quiet, and days off from school, a heavy snowstorm brings a range of hazards to homes and property, some of which can cause expensive damage or endanger your family. These five steps will help you keep your home and your family safe.
1. Lighten the load on the roof
Check Gutters for Snow

Head outside and walk the perimeter of your house, looking at the roofline. Are your gutters and eaves decked in icicles? Your roof may be forming an ice dam, where ice freezes into hard ridges that prevent snowmelt from draining off your roof. Without anywhere to go, water will find its way into your home. Extreme snowstorms can also stress the roof through the weight of the snow. This is especially true as old snow compacts under fresh snow in subsequent storms.

If you live in a single-story home, you can help prevent ice dams and reduce stress on your roof by removing snow with a roof rake. If your house is more than one floor, or if you suspect an ice dam has already formed, contact a professional rather than trying to handle it yourself.

2. Clear your walkways
Clear Walkways

In many cases, property owners may be liable for healthcare costs or other damages if anyone – including neighbors, postal carriers, and solicitors – slips or falls on their property’s wintry walkways. In order to prevent injuries to your family and others, make sure to buy a snow shovel and stock up on ice melt before the start of winter, and clear your walkways promptly after a storm.

If you know a snowstorm is coming, applying ice melt ahead of time can make the removal process easier since it lowers the freezing point of water. When it’s time to clear the walkways, shovel away the bulk of the snow first. Then, spread a layer of ice melt and wait for chemistry to kick in. As residual ice and packed snow start to melt, remove it with a shovel or broom, and apply a final layer of ice melt to prevent it from re-freezing. Adding a layer of sand can provide traction, too.

Pro Tip: Commercial ice melt tends to be gentler on plants and landscaping than salt, and there are pet-safe formulations as well. But if you’re caught by surprise – or if the winter is so brutal that there’s no ice melt to be found – rock salt also works well in a pinch.
3. Clear snow and ice from furnace vents
Clear Furnace Vents

Because most ways of heating a home can produce deadly carbon monoxide gas, cases of carbon monoxide poisoning tend to spike in winter. This is especially true following heavy snow and ice events because the vents that carry carbon monoxide out of the home can become blocked by snow or freeze over. Gently remove snow from furnace vents, keeping the openings clear so that gasses can vent properly. Remove snow from around your gas, electric, and water meters as well.

4. Check your trees
Check Your Trees

Heavy snow and ice can bend and break tree branches, causing damage to homes and to the trees themselves. It’s best to have an arborist inspect your trees before winter and remove any potentially dangerous branches. But even if you’ve taken this step, a very heavy snow or ice storm can cause branches to threaten your home or property.

You can carefully remove snow from sagging tree limbs with a broom or a long pole. Work gently – the cold may have made the branches brittle – and be sure to stand out of the way of the falling snow.

If your trees are coated in heavy ice, your best bet is to wait for the ice to melt. Trying to chip the ice away will damage the trees. If branches are heavily iced and leaning dangerously over your home, consult an arborist for advice.

5. Give your neighbors a call
Call Your Neighbors

Once you’ve checked your own home for problems, consider contacting your neighbors to make sure they’re OK. A power outage or a failed heating system can be particularly dangerous for seniors or people with disabilities. Find out if your neighbors need help clearing their walkways, and if they have enough supplies to last until the snow melts.

With these steps, you can be sure to keep your family and your neighbors safe until the snow is finally gone.

-Liberty Mutual

15 Things to Do Today to Sell Your Home Faster!



You’ve got a new job, additional family coming, or you’re ready to down-size. Whatever your reasons, you need to sell your current home. Very few people ever say, “It’s okay if my house sits on the market for several months.” Most sellers want their home sold, and they want it sold fast. If you’re in that category, here are a few simple things that you can do to help your home sell a little bit faster.

  1. Change your current door or re-paint the one you’ve got. Nothing says “We don’t care” like a door that looks dirty and dingy. The door is one of the first things a buyer will see of your home.
  2. Make sure the trim and shutters look good with fresh paint. Keep the same color or give your home a new look with a different color.
  3. Replace your old mailbox for a new one and new house numbers.
  4. Swap out old exterior lights for new ones. Tip: Look for fixtures with the same mounting system to keep replacement simple.
  5. Add flower boxes or pots. If you already have plant beds, make sure they’re filled with colorful flowers. Annuals that are often inexpensive and usually blooming when you buy them if you need a quick fix.
  6. Take care of your front yard. Mow the lawn, mulch. Trim trees and bushes.
  7. Wash all of your windows, inside and out, to make them sparkle and shine.
  8. Clean everything. If the dirt and grime on the outside of your home aren’t too bad, you can do it yourself with a garden hose and nozzle on the strongest setting. This can blast away dirt from your house, driveway, and sidewalks. If you’ve got oil spots on your driveway, you’ll need to scrub them out. Hiring a professional or renting a heavy duty power washer may be needed if the simpler methods just don’t do the job.
  9. Add a finishing touch to living spaces with crown molding and chair railing.
  10. Make sure ceiling fans work and are the right size for the room.
  11. Keep your home as energy efficient as possible. Options include programmable thermostat, CFL and LED light bulbs, a tankless water heater, and energy efficient appliances.
  12. Update kitchen cabinets with simple touches like new hardware and plenty of lighting.
  13. Get rid of clutter in your home. Buyers can’t envision themselves living in the home if all they see are your belongings.
  14. Consider staging your home. Professional home stagers can often use your existing furniture in different ways to make your home even more appealing to buyers.
  15. Price your home right. Starting out too high could leave you out of the buying and selling game as buyers bypass your home for similar properties at lower prices. There is no one-price-fits-all and a real estate professional can help you determine the best price for your home.

As you can see, much of what you need to do is make a good impression with potential buyers. They need to see your home in the best possible light so they’ll be eager to make an offer.

Some of the best things you can do for your home are relatively inexpensive and simply take time and elbow grease to accomplish. Tackle these things before you list your home so that potential buyers see your home at its best from the very beginning. If you’re unsure of what you need to do, give me a call. I can look over your home with an objective eye and give you the best feedback on what you can do to get your home ready to list and sell faster.

22 Surprisingly Genius Uses of WD-40 That You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner!


We all know that WD-40 is useful for mechanic work, and even to fix some squeaky hinges around the house. However, there is a whole range of WD-40 hacks that can be used to improve and fix issues around your home. By the time you finish this, you may consider WD-40 your new best friend. Remember to have plenty of open air ventilation when working with WD-40 for health safety.

1. Give those squirrels the slip by spray painting the tops of your bird feeders.

If the bird feeders are high, put a cushion or trampoline underneath for hours of entertainment.

2. Have a glass stuck inside another that you need to separate without shattering?

Let a little WD-40 work its way down between them and gently separate them. Be sure to wash very well before using again.

3. You can use WD-40 on cockroaches for an instant kill. Just a quick spritz will do.

If you want to keep those and other creepy crawlies out of your home, spray some WD-40 on the windowsills, frames, screens, and door frames. Be sure to avoid breathing any in, and do not do this if you have babies or small children in the house.

4. WD-40 is awesome for removing difficult scuff marks from your floor. If there are a lot of marks, keep those windows open.

5. Tannin stains (tea and coffee) are easy to remove from a counter with some WD-40 and a sponge or damp cloth.

6. You can use WD-40 to dissolve tough stains in the toilet bowl.

Remember your ventilation! Might want to be sure not to get any on the seat, or using the bathroom will be a whole new kind of exciting.

7. You can spray WD-40 on the outsides of your windows to prevent frost and snow buildup.

8. You can prevent wasps and yellow jackets by spraying WD-40 under the eaves of your home, and anywhere they like to build them.

Do it in the spring before they come around and you wont have to dodge uninvited residents every time you walk around the house.

9. Is the shine from your polyurethane shine causing you to reach for your sunglasses?

Spray some WD-40 on a cloth and wipe the floor a bit to tone it down. Be sure not to get it too thick or you might be surfing around your house rather than walking.

10. WD-40 can help remove strong glue from many surfaces around the your home.

11. Are your children getting into arts and crafts? Don’t fret! Even dried glue can be removed from a hard surface easily with WD-40.

12. Did you put a sticker on your window only to later realize you just aren’t feeling it anymore?

Spray a little WD-40 on the glass and sticker, wait a few minutes, and then use a non-scratch spatula or acrylic scraper to remove said sticker with ease.

13. Does that random, hard to clean carpet stain have you frustrated?

Spray some WD-40 on it, wait a couple of minutes, and then clean with regular carpet cleaner or some soapy water and a sponge. You’ll be amazed how easily it will come up.

14. You can use WD-40 to clean tomato sauce stains from pretty much anything.

Once again, spray a little on, let set for a couple of minutes, and clean up with some soapy water.

15. Need to get some deep cleaning done with your fridge?

Remove all food, spray a small amount of WD-40 on the difficult to clean spots,let set a couple of minutes and then wipe it off. Remember to avoid breathing in fumes while doing this, and clean the fridge thoroughly with soap and water before putting the food back in.

16. If you have leather furniture that needs conditioning, take it outdoors and spray some WD-40 on it, then buff with a cloth. Give a little time before you bring it back in.

17. If you catch them early enough, WD-40 can help remove blood stains.

Simply pretreat whatever it is you need to wash, let set for a couple of minutes, and then wash as normal. This also works with grease, lipstick, and other similar stains. With clothing, sheets and towels, you can pretreat with WD-40 before putting them in the washing machine.

18. Did you come home to an impressive, yet unwanted work of art on your wall?

No worries. Make sure the windows are open, and then spray some WD-40 on the marker or crayon marks and wipe up with a rag. It won’t harm the paint, or most wallpaper. You can always test on a small area before doing the whole thing.

19. Have some nasty oil spills ruining the look of your concrete? Spray with a good amount of WD-40 and then simply wash it away with the water hose.

20. Need to rejuvenate your plastic furniture? Spray it down with some WD-40 and wipe away with a clean, dry cloth and voila!

21. Shoveling snow off of the driveway is challenging enough without it sticking to your shovel. Spray a thin layer of WD-40 on the blade and the snow will easily slide off.

22. Thistles turning your yard into a virtual mine field? Spray some WD-40 on them and bid them good riddance.

There’s A Storybook Town In Holland With Streets Made Of Water

Brigadoon, Silvertown, Stepford, Middlemarch, Pleasantville…all mythical towns of fantasy from literature and film that make our hearts yearn for perfect locales that just don’t exist in the real world. That is, until now.

Nestled deep in northern Holland is the small town of Giethoorn. When you first see photos of this tiny town it looks like it was cut straight from a child’s dream; or the abandoned location of northern Holland Disneyland. Either way, this neighborhood of magic, with its network of quiet canals intertwined throughout, is no fairy tale.

When you see the canal streets and wooden bridges that beckon you to come visit the beautiful village straight out of Beauty and the Beast, you might think you’ll have to pass beyond the gumdrop forest and through moors of the dwarven kingdom. In reality it’s just a short car ride from Amsterdam with an array of bed and breakfasts for you to stay in while you visit.

Life in the little Venice-esque village of 2600 is quiet. The website even touts that the most commotion you’d hear is the “quacking of a duck, or noise made by other birds.” That or the postman using a punt to deliver the mail. (Punt as in “a flat-bottomed boat” not punt as in he’s kicking packages across the water because he can’t be bothered with getting in and out of a boat.)

Next time you’re in Europe and you want to truly get away from it all, stop by Giethoorn before it possibly disappears into the mists for a thousand years.

18 Tips For Living In Your House While It’s For Sale!

It’s one of the largest and most expensive assets most of us will ever own. It’s where we lay our head down at night, the place we make memories and call home. Selling it can be one of the most overwhelming and stressful experiences you may ever go through. So here are 18 tips for living in your home while it’s for sale to help you through the process:

  1. Yes, make the beds every day!
  2. If you smoke, don’t do it in the house! And if you’ve smoked in the house it would pay to have a restoration company come try to treat it or consider having it completely painted to rid the smell.
  3. Dishes up. 🙂
  4. Keep closets and storage areas organized, the larger they appear the better!
  5. Keep it smelling nice. If you cook something strange, air it out!
  6. Keep the temperature comfortable and season appropriate.
  7. Fresh flowers inside and out are always a nice touch.
  8. Keep your refrigerator clean and organized in case they look.
  9. Keep your trash cans emptied.
  10. Keep the floors vacuumed.
  11. Keep the yard tidy.
  12. Leave whenever possible and take pets with you; it makes the buyers feel more at ease. You want them to take the time to appreciate your home, right?
  13. Don’t talk to the other agent or buyer directly more than you have to. You hired your agent for a reason, so let them do their job.
  14. Be prepared for lights to be left on, doors left unlocked, and heaven knows what else I’ve had happen over the years. It’s not often but it’s also not the exception to the rule unfortunately these things happen sometimes.
  15. Wait patiently for feedback from your agent. Sometimes it takes a few days to hear back from the other agent and the buyer.
  16. Be as patient as you can throughout the process and try not to blame your Realtor if it doesn’t sell right away. If you chose the right agent, they have no reason in the world not to do everything they can to get your home sold as soon as possible and for that matter, for as much money as possible. They don’t get paid unless and until you get paid.
  17. Remove any really valuable items. Consider taking them to a safety deposit box or storage unit just to be safe.
  18. Breathe. When it’s meant to sell, that right buyer will come along. 🙂

5 Kitchen Trends To Watch in 2017

A kitchen remodel is the singular most cost-effective room remodel you can put into your home if you’re planning on putting it on the market. The ROI is usually more than 100% and very often much, much more. With the upswing in the real estate market these days, a full or partial kitchen remodel can help you sell your home faster and for a higher dollar amount.

1. Tuxedo Kitchens

You may have not heard of the term “tuxedo kitchen,” but you have likely seen the color-blocked images. The style is relatively simple, usually with white on the top, and a darker color such as black or dark gray on the bottom of the kitchen.

When designing your tuxedo kitchen, remember that the small accents are absolutely essential to tying this look together and really making it pop. Think brushed gold cabinet hardware with matching faucets and light fixtures, or utilizing the identical style cabinets for both top and bottom, but white on top and navy below, with matte finishes on both.

The little details will make or break this room, so pay attention to the subtleties!

2. Wood Paneling

Now, of course we’re not talking about 1970’s basement wood paneling… no, today’s wood paneling is rich in color and texture and nothing at all like the past. The prevailing trend over the next years will be towards light colored, even white, paneling and will be used on walls, ceilings, backsplashes…you’ll see lots of creative uses for paneling!

While lighter colors prevail, faux weathered greys and brown inspire a rustic look without having to break the bank on reclaimed barnwood. Warm tones give depth to rooms where people gather such as kitchens and living rooms, or where we take sanctuary – bedrooms and libraries or den areas.

Remember that you don’t have to panel an entire room, either. Using paneling in small spaces as an accent is a cost-effective and simple way to create a new look without investing a ton of work, time, or money.

Utilize recent (say, last 10-15 years) paneling in new ways by painting it in a new color. In a kitchen or bath, consider painting the paneling in a shade similar to the existing walls. If you’ve got a cottage look or rustic decor, a bit of faux distressing will look fantastic, and breathe new life into the room!

3. Hidden Appliances

Hidden appliances are those that are made to look as if they are cabinets, with the same design in doors and hardware. The trend will be towards hidden appliances, even small appliances such coffee makers and microwaves, and certainly bigger items like refrigerators and dishwashers.

Nearly every appliance but the stove can be “hidden” and disguised as cabinetry, and this creates a clean, uncluttered looking kitchen overall. This look will be especially attractive to those who spend a great deal of time in the kitchen and are looking for a cozier, more relaxing feel.

4. Patterned Tiles

Out with the subway-inspired tiles, and in with eclectic patterned tiles. Use many different patterns within a color range for a really funky look, or stick with a more traditional, yet still colorful, look of alternating patterned tiles.

The options here are truly endless, and you’ll find patterned tiles to fit every room, use, and budget. Go for a simple project like a new kitchen backsplash, or do an entire bathroom! Mix patterned tiles with solid-colored tiles or go all-out with one style/pattern. A simple online search for “patterned tiles” gives enormous inspiration!

5. Automation

Faucets with sensors – great for kids who can’t yet reach. Lights that go on when we enter a room and automatically go off when they stop detecting motion. Meat thermometers that notify your smartphone when your roast has achieved the correct temperature. These are but a few of the quickly increasing options when it comes to automating your home. In 2017 and future years, we’ll see more of these automation trends, and many of them will allow you to run your home from your smartphone or device. Exciting times, indeed!

And here are some trends that are on their way out!

  • Short kitchen cabinets are no longer en vogue. Go for taller cabinets with more room for storage.
  • Brown and grey speckled granite countertops. While granite is still a popular choice for counters because of its resiliency and ease of clean up, lighter granite is more in line with the kitchens of 2017 and beyond.
  • Dark wood kitchens are a no go. Bright and light are where it’s at.