Category Archives: House and home

Eating You Out of House and Home

Human beings have been battling insects as long as both species have been on this planet. Bugs have been known to cause both mild and severe health problems, destroy crops, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Termites, while not known to directly cause illness, can literally eat your house out from under you, causing structural damage that weakens your home, sometimes beyond repair.

Termites are attracted to the protein content of various woods; different kinds of termites actually favor different woods, but one common issue is the moisture content of the wood. Termite infestations are especially prevalent in rainy weather or during periods of high humidity. Keeping your house moisture-free by grading the land around the house and using drain spouts to direct rain away from the building can eliminate a major source of attraction to termites. Basements in particular can be a big source of moisture in the home, but can be built or remodeled to be moisture-free.

In the past fifty years, it has become standard practice to create a barrier around the home by chemically treating the soil around it. Chlordane was used for decades, and was extremely effective, but had major problems with its use. Exposure to chlordane has resulted in nervous system, liver damage, and in some cases, death. It’s easy to see the dangers inherent in chlordane use if you consider that children and pets, in particular, spend a lot of time playing, rolling around, and otherwise using the land immediately surrounding homes. Additionally, chemicals used as barriers can seep into home and commercial gardens and into the ground water and end up being absorbed by food plants, fish, and farm animals. Chlordane builds up in the systems of animals and humans, and can cause long-term health problems. Chlordane was banned by the EPA for most uses in 1983 and for eradicating termites in 1988.

Other chemicals are now used instead of chlordane, but are less effective. In addition, bait traps are used insides houses to attract and kill termites already in the home.

One problem with barrier methods is that they can easily be circumvented by termites, who actually build mud tubes which the termites use as tunnels to bypass barriers, including chemical barriers. One of the most noticeable signs of termite infestation is a series of long, thin mud tubes, which can appear in any area of the house. Termites can travel as much as fifty feet into the interior of a home.

If you are considering buying a home, it’s wise to require a termite inspection as part of the sales agreement. If you already own a home and you suspect termites, or if you know other residents in your area have had termite infestations, hire a termite expert to inspect and, if necessary, treat your home. Find out just how they plan to both eliminate termites already in your home and how they are going to create a barrier to further infestation. Amazingly, even the kind of sand you use to create a barrier can have better or worse results.

Be sure to ask questions about any chemicals used, and the toxic effects of those chemicals; some chemicals are safer than others. And finally, inspect your home for areas of high moisture, and eliminate any moisture problems you discover. Controlling the moisture in your home may be the best line of defense against termites.

Houses and Homes

Reading through the classifieds to find properties for your investment portfolio, you will find the mention of a fireplace in every property a seller wants to move. That’s because a fireplace makes all the difference in the world and only property owners who are into real estate for value understand this important point. It’s called the difference between a house and a home.

When you are selling your property, you may have attachments to it. You may have years invested into that property. You might have raised your kids there. It could have been the first property you ever bought. And in the back yard is where you buried your old dog.

All of those memories add value to your home. This kind of value goes beyond the actual value of the home. You have to remember that information when you are dealing with an appraiser. They will come through and look at your home as a piece of property. The crack on the bedroom door that you think is cute because of the story that goes behind it will cause the appraiser to lower the value of your home. Of course the door is not much, but the overall principle is at work there.

When a buyer comes into view your home, they might see it as a house. An ingenious seller can bring the life out in the house and make the buyer start to see your property as a home.

“How many kids do you have?”

“2.”

“Oh, they will love this home because there are three bedrooms. They’ll each get their own room. Kids love that when they can have some privacy.”

And the conversation goes on from there. A good real estate agent will use every choice they can to make a house seem more like a home. When a buyer can start to see the value as a home, they are more likely to buy.

But, a property without a fireplace is hard to sell as a home. Family evenings take place around a fireplace. Most of the time, that’s the family dog’s favorite place to lie. A fireplace really sells a home.

A simple investment as little as $300 into a vent less gel fireplace can raise the value of your home a few thousand. It’s not a dollar for dollar investment. The ambiance of a fireplace adds value exponentially.

Real estate agents of Condominium units and apartment units have slowly picked up on the fact that buyers want fireplaces. The vent less gel fireplace is the solution because each fireplace is freestanding and wouldn’t have to be vented through other fireplaces, which actually causes more problems than it is worth. The vents on traditional fireplaces would have to be in sync which would cause either a cold apartment for one dweller or a smoky apartment for another dweller.

The simple addition of a fireplace will not only raise the value of your home, but it will move it. When the market is tight, you have to make your property stand out. It’s not too hard when you add a vent less gel fireplace to any room in your home.

House And Home

You may hear people talk about how the shift to foods with low glycemic index is challenging. However, my experience is that folks can do so with relative ease when they have a proven track to run on. Of course, a lot of it will have to do with what you are used to eating.

If your prior diet wasn’t so healthy, there’s nothing wrong with slowly working your way over to foods with low glycemic index. Doing so will keep you from shocking your body. And if the change is so dramatic that you have problems, you are likely to not stick with it. You really need to do all you can to stack the deck in your favor. Foods with low glycemic index will make you feel better in a short period of time if you hang with it.

To help you make the transition successfully, consider how habits factor in. Truth is, you’ve made use of habits to establish the dietary patterns you now have. All we have to do is resist this habit and form a new one. If you’re like me, you may have looked at how your diet has changed over time, with some food items falling by the wayside. New things come along and demand our attention.

However, you can probably also see how there is a core group of food items that make up your primary diet, right? What we want to do is get it to where foods with low glycemic index is part of that core. Once we get that to become routine through habit, we’ll leave it alone and you’re all set.

Of course, the fact that habit will make the foods with low glycemic index stick is the same thing we have to currently overcome. This is why you cannot overdo is and blow yourself out. Some people can quit smoking cold turkey. But that is not the norm. If you are an ambitious person who gets excited about an idea, it can be especially tempting to go all out. But I really encourage you to take it easy. The same personality that makes you excited for rapid change will make you deflated if things go sideways. Slow and steady wins the race.

Having given fair warning, I know there are some out there who will still go “all in.” If you are determined to make a rapid shift, let me share some ideas that will help give you an advantage and prevent failure. One of the main things you will need to do is pretty much eat through what you have in your pantry and refrigerator. Most folks don’t keep a ton of food on hand, so this shouldn’t take too long. The idea here is simple, if not obvious. Once you’ve eliminated the bad food from your surroundings, there’s nothing left to lead you astray. I guess you could say I’m advising you to “eat yourself out of house and home!”

As this point, you can make a list of foods with low glycemic index and prepare for a trip to the store. Now, you’ll be gung ho at a point when you could otherwise be most vulnerable. Your enthusiasm over prospective change can help thwart the tendency to grab items off your old shopping list. If you are faithful to the list, you will be faithful to eating foods with low glycemic index, since that’s all that should be in your house.

Managing House and Home Office

What I do is not inherently appealing to most people – that’s why my clients pay me to do it! If you check the dictionary you’ll find Administration somewhere in there between Yawn and I’d Rather Watch ‘The Shire’.

Which makes writing a blog about it as difficult as trying to fit gravity into a Grand Unified Theory.

Holding down house and home office is a juggling act and I’m often asked how I manage to make my living from being organised and organising other people’s lives and businesses. Let me tell you – it isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come naturally! I had the fortune of inheriting the scatter brain gene so I’ve had to work very hard at creating a system of checks and balances that allow me to function with a certain degree of efficiency.

Here are my Top 5 Tips to managing House and Home Office:

1. Write Everything Down, be the Crazy Cat Lady of Lists!

Some people like to go old school, write reminders down on paper, white board, the backs of their hands etc. Some people live by their electronic calendars, making tasks, setting up meetings, syncing notes on their iPhone and so on. I say: DO THEM ALL! My fridge feels lonely without a shopping list or a list of house chores on it. My Outlook Calendar is ridonkulous – EVERYTHING I need to do is in there and it’s synced to my iPhone, it provides me with a list of things I need to do each day, bills to pay, tasks to complete, meetings, phone calls and even personal things like movie dates and birthdays. Don’t keep all the junk in your head, it will send you mad. Write it down, it’s one action step closer to completing what needs to get done.

2. Look after the Pennies and the Pounds will look after themselves.

This doesn’t just apply to money, but also with life. Attention to detail, following up and taking care of the small things adds up to the bigger picture. Letting the small things pass can become a habit, and when an unforseen stressful situation occurs it can quickly overwhelm you because you weren’t ready for it. This is where good administration in a business is vital. Good administration is essential for the success and growth of any business. It is the framework around which a company is built, but often neglected by business owners, who are more focussed on sales and marketing, where their talents lie.

3. DON’T wear too many hats at the same time – not a hot look for Spring 2012

We don’t know it before we have kids, but you can’t work from home with a toddler. You can try, I certainly did, but you end up split between two worlds and not present in both. If you can, get daycare when you’re bub is ready and organise your work time around their schedule. Clients are people, many with children of their own, they will understand. And I know how hard it is when the office is at home, you can be tempted to log on and check your emails with the baby at home, or do a load of washing (and watch Ellen) when you should be working. But try to keep them separate, take your work time seriously, soon enough the kids will be home and all hell breaks loose!

4. Read. Read. Read.

Whether it be fictional, biographical, spiritual – or 50 Shades of Grey, you gotta carve out time for yourself somewhere in your day. A book is perfect because it’s portable and something you can put down and go back to without much fuss. A book also helps transport you to another world away from your own reality. Sometimes just knowing I’ve got my fantasy sagas to open at the end of a stressful day stops me from pulling a Forest Gump and spending the next 3 years running across the country and growing a serious ZZ top beard.

5. Plan to Plan Nothing

Literally. Make sure that at least 1 day a month tell your friends no, don’t work, don’t check your emails, put your phone on silent, don’t even plan a picnic with the family. Just go to bed the night before with nothing planned the next day, see where it takes you!

Eating You Out of House and Home

What shows up uninvited and eats you out of house and home?

It’s not your relatives; it’s termites. These tiny insects can slip through the smallest cracks in your house and start eating all the wood in your home, until they turn your beloved refuge into a pile of sawdust. Capable of causing more damage than most natural disasters, these bugs are designed to eat-and eat-and eat. They eat twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Termites are actually beneficial in their native habitat, which is the forest. Fallen logs and dead brush are chewed up by these insects, who serve to keep the forest clean. Think of them as tiny little foresters, clearing the forest floor for new growth and getting rid of dried, dead underbrush that could pose a fire hazard.

Unfortunately, they can’t tell the difference between that pine log lying by itself in the woods and, say, your nice hardwood deck. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the risk.

First, make sure that no wooden part of your house touches the earth. Optimally there should be a solid concrete foundation that holds your home above the ground. Also try to avoid moisture on the property; damp areas are a breeding ground for termites and other insects. Creating a barrier between your home and the termites, either with textured sands or nontoxic (to humans) chemicals, is another option.

Housing and Home Owner Rescue Plan

Upon taking office President Barack Obama was fully aware of the problems that many homeowners across the country were facing. Many of these borrowers have adjustable rate mortgages that are pushing many people into default and causing other great financial difficulties. Add on the fact that home values have plummeted across America and the need for a rescue plan is high.

With the above mentioned problems at the fore front of their planning the Obama administration introduced the Housing and home owner stimulus plan. Although the Plan was first introduced in February 2009 it started to actually help struggling home owners in March. This mortgage stimulus plan will make it much easier for the millions of struggling home owners to refinance their loan and stay in their homes.

Under this new stimulus mortgage plan home owners will be helped in two different ways. First if you are currently in an Sub prime adjustable mortgage and have late payments and are in danger of losing your home there is hope. The plan will give cash incentives to your current mortgage holder to modify you ARM loan to a fixed rate loan and reduce the rate.

The other form of help in the Obama stimulus will be extended to people who are current on their mortgages but are now in a situation were they owe more then the home they live in is now worth. For these people the program will let them refinance up to 105% of their home value. The only catch is the loan has to be a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac conforming mortgage and yo must be current on your payments.

The new Obama mortgage stimulus will definitely help many struggling home owners and should also help to shore up home values and aid in the recovery of the US economy as well.

Puppy Proofing Your House and Home

Congratulations on your decision to get a puppy. You’ve done your research for the perfect breed that will fit your home and your lifestyle and now you’ve picked out the best of the litter from a breeder, you now need to start puppy proofing your home. This is when the hard work starts but if you take a few simple steps now before your puppy arrives it will save you time and your first day with your puppy will be less stressful, not only will you be happy and relax so will your puppy. Puppy proofing your home is very, very important for your well being, your puppy and family. If you take the time to puppy proof your house ahead of time will be able to rest easy when your new puppy arrives in your home.

So here are my top tips on how to puppy proof your house and home.

First you need to look around your home through your puppies eyes. This may sound strange but the only way you will see the dangers that lurk in every room for your puppy is to get down on all fours. The lower you can get the better. I would also recommend that you take with you a pad and a pen and jot down any potential hazards that you see.

If you write all the problems that you see down, as you go from room to room you will save yourself time in the long run. One of the easiest ways to puppy proof your home is to limit the area your puppy will be allowed to enter.

When looking round each room from your puppies perspective you need to take into consideration.

1 Low hanging wires ( puppy will have a lovely time chewing these A thick, cable protector can also be placed over the cables, to make them chew-proof.)

2 Potted plants (some plants can be very poisons to dogs so please take care)

3 Breakable ornaments should be put away in a cabinet.

4 Doors to the oven, fridge, microwave, dishwasher, tumble-dryer and washing machine should always be kept closed. Put notes on the doors to remind people to check inside before using them.

5 Shoes should be put away, if your puppy chews the laces this can be very harmful and it may cost you a fortune to keep replacing shoes.

6 Check the lower sections of bookshelves and replace any valuable books with telephone directories, or something you don’t mind being a bit chewed.

7 Always put away your plastic shopping bags these are a real hazard.

8 Fit child locks on floor level kitchen cupboards, especially if there are cleaning materials and dried dog food inside.

9 Always close the toilet seat (many puppies have drowned)

10 Remove or shorten hanging tablecloths – puppies are experts in clearing a fully-laid table!

11 Shorten dangling blind and curtain cords, and keep them secure (your puppy could get tangled up and strangle itself).

12 Food scraps must always be cleared away promptly make sure you kitchen bin or trash can is substantial enough that your puppy can’t knock it over. (Remember Chicken bones can be very dangerous, as they splinter when chewed and the string that can be found on joints is also irresistible and potentially deadly.)

13 Remember to remove cleaning materials in the bathroom put them in a cupboard.

14 Keep your kitchen counter tops clean and clear, so your puppy won’t get in the habit of jumping up to inspect them.

15 One tip that I was given and it really helped, if you can take a blanket to the dog breeders before you pick your Lab puppy up and ask them to put it in the basket with the mum. This will be a familiar smell for the puppy and it will make it feel at home.

Why not include the whole family in the puppy proofing process give them a list and ask them to help prepare the home for your new arrival.

Puppy proofing is a serious issue and it pays to take the time to do it well. In short, to puppy proof your home means to make sure nothing dangerous is in reach, creating a safe environment for your puppy. It’s your job as a responsible pet owner; to puppy proof your house to make it safe from them and to protect your belongings. If you take these few simple steps you will find your first day will be a real joy. Good luck with your puppy training journey.

Declutter House and Home

Clutter has a way of sneaking up on us. The decluttering process is based on five classic organizing principles. Understand these principles and you can declutter your house, your apartment, your office, or even your garage.

  1. Removal: Probably the most difficult part of decluttering. Remove what you don’t need. This can mean throw it in the trash, give it away or sell it. You need to be brutal with this, or otherwise you will only be rearranging the clutter. The old rule of thumb is that if you haven’t used an item for two years you can safely let it go. The very brave can cut that down to one year.
  2. Grouping: Take the survivors of the removal process and group similar items together. This is the very basis of organization itself. It helps you locate everything you need for a particular task in one place. Mail items should be together, working out equipment in the same area, etc. Imagine if your cookware was all over the house, how much do you think that would slow down your cooking?
  3. Deployment: You need to have easy access to the things you use in your house. This means thinking about the workflow of the space and where you want things to be placed. If you use something often, then it will need to be in the space that you use it and be as close to at hand as possible. If something is hardly used, then it can be placed further away; on a high shelf, in the back of a cabinet or even in the garage.
  4. Containers: This is the basic unit of organization; they contain the chaos by keeping your stuff grouped together. You cannot organize without appropriate containers; bookshelves for books, closets for clothes, drawers for underwear.

You can declutter house and home armed with these principles, though it may take a while to get your clutter completely under control without some guidance. Professional organizers have developed decluttering systems that allow you to declutter quickly. Using these professional decluttering methods can cut the time you spend organizing in half or more.

Declutter House and Home With a New Highly Effective Declutter

Declutter house and home with the following highly effective declutter technique.

Gather up the clutter, let’s say it’s in your bedroom, and place it on your bed. When it’s time for bed you will have to remove the clutter from the bed. If you are tired, which you are as it’s bedtime, you probably aren’t going to want to put all the clutter in it’s proper place so what you do is place it on the chair that you will be using tomorrow, maybe it’s the chair you use when you are at your computer or the chair you sit in when you watch TV.

Next morning guess what there’s the clutter on your chair. Now you have two choices you can deal with the clutter or put it back on your bed. Are you getting the idea? Sure you can work all day on your computer but at night when you want to go to sleep you will have to once again move all the clutter to your favorite chair and on arising you will be forced to put it back onto your bed.

Very quickly you will get very tired of this ritual of moving clutter back and forth, back and forth and you will confront your clutter and deal with it.

Don’t make it easy on yourself by putting all your clutter in a bag or a box so that you can pick it all up and move it in one easy swoop. Make it tough leave all the the items out so it is difficult to transport it to the chair and back to the bed, back and forth. Obviously if you make it easy with a box it will be easier to put it off. The more difficult it is the harder it is to put off. You want the difficulty of transporting it back and forth more difficult then it is to deal with the clutter.

It’s like a teeter tooter or a balance. When the difficulty of NOT dealing with the clutter exceeds the difficulty of dealing with the clutter (the teeter tooter or balance tips the other direction) then and only then will you declutter house, home and bedroom. Makes total sense doesn’t it? HAHAHA You’ve got to admit, yes it does. And the bottom line is this technique works, you will deal with it and declutter your home.

You can also declutter office and car with this method.

In your car put any clutter on the drivers seat. Man talk about a nuisance.

To declutter your office put the clutter in the way so it will be such a nuisance for you that you will eventually have to deal with it. You could put it right smack on your desk where you do all your work so you have to move your chair or your body to a more awkward position in order to get your work done. If you don’t work at a desk you’ll figure something out.

Time to Update Your House and Home Furniture

As the spring season is here, it is time to update your house and home furniture to modern and fun! In the past years I’ve learned some great easy and quick ways to update my home as the seasons change to liven up my space. Here are some of those amazing ways to make your home fun and chic:

    1. Change the pillow covers or add pillows if you are lacking in your living room. There are so many home decorating stores that offer super affordable decorating pillows for your living room and bedroom. You can also create your own pillows and all you need to do is purchase that beautiful pillow cover that offers color and texture to any room in your home and stuff it with cotton. I can’t have enough pillows, I am currently at nine pillows in my living room and seven pillows in my bedroom (many are different textures, sizes, and colors in harmony). I would love to add to my pillow collection so I am always on the lookout for more. Your bedroom is your sanctuary so I would not skip on buying high quality pillows and pillow covers since you spend a quarter of your day sleeping on it.

    1. Move around your night, side, or end tables and mix them up or stop by your nearest home decorating store to purchase an affordable little table. If you want to change or retouch a table, you can purchase a cheap plastic wardrobe and use it as a spray painting tent to avoid the hassle of covering everything up when you spray paint something. Moving your tables around will feel as though you purchased new home furniture and if you change the colors it will definitely liven up your personal space.

    1. Lately I’ve been into small plants! I just love how affordable they are and these add such a unique touch to your home. You can place them pretty much anywhere and there are a variety of textures, sizes, and colors. Most indoor plants are also super low maintenance. You can use colored pencil buckets, old wine and beer wooden boxes, or even galvanized steel tubs to use as pots for your plants. If it does not have any drainage, make sure to add gravel at the bottom to help absorb leftover water.

  1. Rearrange your frames! I have seen some amazing decorating ideas in house and home magazines such as monochromatic frames of all size placed on one wall (approximately 15 to 20 frames). You can place them in one clutter or arrange them throughout an accent wall or plain wall and even add a large and beautiful mirror in the center to create the illusion of a bigger space. You can purchase used frames of all types in Craigslist, yard sales, swap meets, or flea markets and spray paint them all with one color using the tent described above. You can pretty much paint them with any one color.