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Super Bowl Party–Get Ready for the Big Game!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 17, 2018 | No Comments »

One of the best things about owning your own home is having enough space to throw a party! It’s always great to get friends and family together – you don’t need a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion to invite people over. One of the nation’s favorite excuses to plan your own awesome bash is the Super Bowl – and now is the perfect time to get the invitations out.

Does it seem like it would be too much work? Well…it could be, but we’ve got some great hints for streamlining the process and making it fun for everyone. You’ll be the hero of the day – trust us! Follow these step-by-step instructions and you’re sure to have a blast!

Get the Word Out

Using electronic delivery is the best in this day and age. Send out a group email or text, or jump on to an Internet-based service like Evite. These options are quick, easy and can reach dozens of people in a few clicks.

Clean the House

But don’t over-clean it. Over-clean? What’s that all about? Keep in mind that this is a casual, come-as-you are kind of party. Sure, the floors should be mopped, bathrooms cleaned and clutter stashed. But this isn’t a white glove event. Unless you’re inviting your nitpicky in-laws, who fuss about every speck of dust, people aren’t going to expect a pristine house. As long as you’re tidy enough, you’re set. Don’t strive for perfection.

Set It Up

Grab some team color décor and get a little festive! Put up some banners, balloons and streamers. If you’re going to have people rooting for each team, put a strip of tape down the middle of the room for fun. Decorate each side of the room with separate team colors and create a natural divide for each set of fans. Lay in some plastic tablecloths, tableware and cups in team colors too!

Make sure you have more than one TV. Place them in the living room, in a bedroom or in the dining room, in the garage, or perhaps one outside on your patio or deck if the weather is fine. You may also want to set aside a room somewhere for the guests who aren’t interested in watching the game. This area is great for non-sports conversation, running a DVD movie or taking care of young children who aren’t interested in the game.

While you may plan to have your more “significant” food in the kitchen (think easy to prepare, serve yourself foods such as chili, pre-cut sandwiches, sloppy joe meat and buns or pasta and meatballs), establish snack stations wherever people will gather. Chips and dips, finger foods and bite-sized sweets like cookies and brownies are ideal for quick bites when the on-screen action is hot. When placing your food and beverage areas, make sure that they’re not going to block the sight lines of the TV’s. People tend to gather around the snack spots, so make sure they’re not cutting off anyone’s view. And remember, you don’t need a chair or seat for every RSVP. Some fans prefer to stand rather than sit, and younger folks tend to be just as happy sitting on the floor. That said, be ready with some fold out chairs if you need a few extra perches.

And More About Food…

If you’d like, it’s perfectly acceptable to invite guests to bring their favorite snacks. It reduces the load on you in both time and money, and this way everyone there is guaranteed to have something they like. This works really well for guests that have special dietary requirements or are careful about what they eat. Arrange plates, cups, cutlery and napkins near each food or snack station. Make sure you have a generous supply of beverages, both non-alcoholic and “adult”. Sodas and juices can be stand-alone beverages or can serve as mixers. Don’t go crazy stocking a full bar – choose a white wine and a red, two or three brands of beer, and three or four types of mixable liquors. Lay in enough of each to make sure you’ll make it through the final quarter.

You can also arrange for hot food delivery at some point during the game as a change-up. Pizza is ideal, but you can also go with Chinese (eggrolls, fried dumplings, crab Rangoon and other finger foods are easy and fun) or an assortment of different flavors of chicken wings.

Make sure that all guests know where the beverage coolers or tubs are, and let them know that they are free to grab what they need or refresh their drinks as they like. This way you’re only checking the levels on your drink stations and not fetching drinks for each guest.

Clean as You Go

Stash trash bags in handy areas near each trash can so that you can empty them and start fresh quickly. As trays or serving plates empty, refill them, stash them in the dishwasher or dispose of them. Appoint one of the kids as a “roaming maid” every once in a while – give him or her a trash bag to take on the task of party patrol; asking guests if they would like to toss their cups or plates.

At the End…

Ask guests if they want to pack up some of the leftovers to take with them. This should cut down on the amount of food you’ll have to process on your final cleanup. Make sure you’ve asked in advance for a couple of volunteers to stay with you to share the workload – a few extra sets of hands will make it a quick and easy process.

Pets and Furniture – Tips for Owners

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 14, 2018 | Comments Off on Pets and Furniture – Tips for Owners

In a recent post we talked about great ways to deodorize and clean up pet messes in your home, so now we’re moving along to one of the other pet issues that pops up frequently when you own a home. Pets add so much joy to our lives, but sometimes their behavior around our furniture can be more than a little annoying. Instead of raising your voice or chasing them with a rolled up newspaper, try training them to behave properly with some of our handy hints.

If one of the biggest problems you have is keeping your pets off certain pieces of furniture, the key to success with this issue is consistency. If you don’t want your dog or cat on the couch, make sure you never invite him or her up on it, regardless of how much you may want a little company. If you normally chase Rex off the couch, but invite him up to cuddle next to you on a cold winter day to watch the big game, you’re sure to confuse him. If your reaction to his being on the couch changes from day to day, he won’t be able to tell if he’s being a good dog or a bad dog.

If you’ve decided you want to keep your animals off the furniture, here’s a few ways to discourage them from making themselves at home in your seats.

Pepper – Cats and dogs have a very keen sense of smell, and most of them are not fond of the scent of black pepper. Sprinkle a few shakes of black pepper on dark-colored or patterned furniture to discourage them jumping on up. Pepper won’t stain or damage furniture, and it’s 100% natural.

Aluminum Foil – When you’re training a new pet, one of the most effective ways to teach them that a certain piece of furniture is off limits is with some foil. Most pets hate the texture and sound of foil, and will avoid touching it. Place a few sheets of foil on the off-limits surface. After a few attempts, most pets will give up on making a perch there. Plastic trash bags may also work for training purposes; many pets dislike the feel of plastic as well.

Outdoor Fresh Bounce – Cats in particular aren’t fond of the scent of this famous fabric softener. If you rub a sheet over the upholstery, cats will give furniture a wide berth. Your feline friends will also go out of their way to avoid lemon scents. You can make a solution of half a teaspoon of Country Time Lemonade and two cups of rubbing alcohol in your favorite spray bottle. Spritz your furniture with the solution to keep the cats away. You can also saturate a cotton ball with pure lemon extract or RealLemon juice and rub a bit on your upholstery to repel your cat.  The cotton ball trick will also work with Old Spice Aftershave; cats aren’t fond of that scent either. Be sure to test your upholstery for color fastness in an inconspicuous area first before using these methods, just in case.

Hot Sauce – If your cats and dogs tend to want to scratch or chew your furniture legs, a little hot sauce can be a lifesaver! You can protect dark woodwork by rubbing the area lightly with Tabasco Pepper Sauce or Heinz Chili Sauce and buffing the surface carefully. Animals don’t care for the smell left behind, and will avoid your table and chair legs.

Water Bottles – An old favorite; tried and true. Whenever your cat or dog jumps up on your furniture, aim a brief stream of discipline at your pet. After a few good squirts, even the most oblivious or stubborn pet will get the message.

If you do decide to allow your pets on the furniture, you may end up fighting a never-ending battle with their hair. To remove pet hair from your furniture, vacuum the area with a stiff bristle brush attachment. The brush helps to dislodge the hair, making the suction more effective. You can also use snagged panty hose to remove pet hair, giving them a useful new life. Simply ball up the clean hose and stroke your furniture firmly with the nylon. The resulting static cling lifts the hair from your furniture. A used sheet of Bounce or a fresh Huggies Baby Wipe will have the same effect. You can also spray a fine mist of aerosol hairspray on a clean, damp rag or towel, and lightly wipe your upholstery. The offending hair lifts right off! Or wrap your hand with some clear packing tape and press it to the “hairy area” to catch the offending residue.

Whether they’re allowed on the furniture or must stay off, your pets (and their fur!) can live in complete harmony with your family when you put forth a little effort and a lot of love!

Winter Tips for Taking Care of Water Pipes

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 7, 2018 | Comments Off on Winter Tips for Taking Care of Water Pipes

Ah, yes…it’s that time of year again! When the temperature drops below freezing, one of the scariest things that can happen to homeowners is a burst water pipe. When water freezes, it expands. Your home’s water pipes always contain a certain amount of water within them…water that will freeze when the mercury falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The expanded water can exert up to 2000 pounds of pressure per square inch against the sides of your pipes, causing them to burst. When a pipe bursts, up to several hundred gallons of cold, cold water can drain into your house EACH HOUR. Imagine the thousands of dollars of damage a burst pipe can do!

The easiest way to avoid the hassle and expense of burst water pipes is to prevent them from freezing in the first place. When the forecast calls for low temperatures, allow a thin trickle of water to flow from your faucets at all times. The small uptick in your water bill will be far less expensive than the repairs resulting from burst pipes. Open the cabinet doors that hide the pipes in your kitchen and bathroom, exposing the pipes to the warmer air in these (usually) well-heated rooms.

If your pipes do happen to freeze, and have not yet burst, the immediate course of action is to defrost them…STAT.

You first need to determine where the problem starts. Turn on every faucet in the house to see which ones are producing water, and which are not. If none of your faucets are producing water, more than likely the issue is with one of the main thruways. If some are producing water and others aren’t, you’ll only need to treat individual pipes. Make sure you leave each of the affected the faucets open, because the water will need somewhere to go once the pipes begin to defrost.

The most likely areas for frozen pipes are ones with reduced insulation, such as pipes in basements, crawlspaces, attics, or areas close to concrete or cold air vents. You’ll also want to check any outdoor pipes you have, although many of these have systems in place to reduce the amount of standing water remaining in the pipes.

Once you’ve identified the problem pipes, search for cracks or leaks. If you find them, shut off the main water supply immediately and call a professional plumber. This is a bigger job than most homeowners can handle alone.

If there are no cracks or leaks, you can use one of the following methods to heat the pipe:

Hair Dryer – Keep it moving and do not place the nozzle directly on the pipe.

Heat Tape – Electrical heat tape is available at most hardware stores. Wrap the tape in a single layer around the length of the frozen pipe, then plug it into a power source. The tape contains heating elements that help defrost the pipes when turned on.

Heating Units – Warm up the air near the pipes using space heaters, bare incandescent light bulbs, infrared lights or heat lamps. Never use blow torches, as they are much too hot, and will easily damage pipes. Make sure none of the heating elements or units actually touch the pipes. You can drape blankets or tarps on the pipes to help warm them as well, but make sure these stay far away from the heating units. You can also wrap pipes in hot, moist towels or blankets without other heating units nearby, but make sure to remove them once they begin to cool down. Cold, wet towels or blankets will promote refreezing.

Salt and Water – If you have some bottled water left over from your summer hurricane kit, now is the time to heat it up a bit. Spoon some salt into the frozen drains and add the heated water a bit at a time. Be careful not to make the water too hot, as the rapid change in temperature can also burst a pipe.

If you find that the affected pipes are not within easy reach, you’ll have a tougher time thawing them, but it can be done. If the pipe is behind a wall, the easiest answer is to turn up the heat within the house up to 76 to 80 degrees and hope that the warmer air unplugs the pipe. Open closet and room doors to allow the warmer air to reach all areas of the house. This method defrosts pipes rather slowly, as it often takes two to three hours to raise the temperature enough to dislodge the ice.

If you feel you need to act more quickly, you may need to cut a hole in the wall to access the frozen pipe. Once you’re sure you have the right pipe, cut a hole with a keyhole saw and use one of the heating methods described above to defrost the pipe.

Luckily, for those of us in the southern states, we don’t see cold-weather conditions strong enough to freeze our pipes as often as other areas of the country. However, this happy circumstance can work against us; we often don’t realize that cold nights can lead to blocked faucets, burst pipes and potential property damage. The team at Ernest Signature Custom Homes wants everyone to be safe and warm this winter; we’re always looking for helpful information to share that will protect our homeowners – both present and future!

Help Your Home Beat the Winter Blahs

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 31, 2017 | Comments Off on Help Your Home Beat the Winter Blahs

The short, dark days of winter are upon us…and for a lot of us, that means feeling a little down in the dumps. Yes, it’s the holidays, but this festive, exciting season will soon be coming to an end. The distractions of gifts, cookies and welcome rounds of visits with family and friends will only last a few more days. Once you’ve had a week or so to recover, what are you going to do to give your spirits a little boost?

We have some great ideas for sprucing up your home and lifting your mood at the same time. Check out the list below for your favorites!

Add Some Cozy Touches

After Christmas sales are hot, hot, hot when it comes to blankets, throws and bedding. January white sales can help you stock up on snuggly, warm items in bright colors or fun patterns. Pick out some new throws for your living room, den and bedrooms that are not only great for keeping you toasty while binge-watching TV, they’re also décor touches that update the look of your room. Ditch Grandma’s “over the back of the couch” style and display them in wicker baskets next to the sofa or under a coffee or end tables.

Flannel sheets offer an instant “aaahhh” when you crawl into bed at night. Fluffy, cozy and fully breathable, they pair up wonderfully with a new bedspread or duvet cover. And don’t forget how wonderful a thick, absorbent full-size bath sheet will feel when you step out of your hot shower! Choose a striking pattern or vibrant shade and you can use these amazing finds not only to dry off, but to add splashes of color to your bathroom décor.

Lighten Up

Shorter, darker days can dim your mood, so make sure you add some extra light to your home for the winter. Feeling a bit lazy when it comes to taking down your white twinkle lights after the holidays? So…don’t! Leave them up for the rest of the winter. The delicate sparkle will give the exterior of your house and your lawn a delightful ski resort look. (Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for your multi-colored lights…they say Christmas loud and clear!)

Soft, shimmering candlelight is not only romantic, it can also add tantalizing fragrances to the air. Make sure you monitor your candles carefully, and you’ll be able to enjoy their warmth and beauty for hours and hours. And don’t forget your fireplace…a crackling log behind a grate provides not only light, but heat and mesmerizing movement. Pour a glass of wine, put on some soft music and watch the fire dance! You can also up the wattage in a few light bulbs here and there…it will help dispel the cold shadows that creep into your house in the winter.

Your Nose Knows

Boil some sticks of cinnamon in a pot on your stove, along with some cloves, orange peel or apples. The fruity, spicy scent is a great way to give your house a jolt of energy and a delightful aroma. Soup is another way to perfume the air and gives you a delicious treat as well. No matter what the season, an arrangement of fresh flowers brightens up a room and tickles your senses. Check with your local florist to discover which blooms are readily available during the colder months, and have him or her rank them for you based on scent, appearance and longevity. You can also add potted green plants for a zing of color wherever your décor is looking a little tired. Surprisingly, some houseplants, including indoor palm trees, cut down on the amount of toxins in your home and add extra moisture to dry winter air.

Paint the Town Red

And your walls green and yellow! Studies show that these colors lift your mood and remind you of the sunny, warm days yet to come. Shake up the style of your room by painting an accent wall, creating a border design or giving a room a complete color overhaul.

And don’t forget your furniture! If you’re tired of neutrals or a dark color, find slipcovers in prints or solids that “paint” your furniture in just minutes…with no mess!

Housekeeping Cure

And as much as I hate to say it…taking some time out to do a little cleaning is a tried and true way to lift a case of the winter blahs! There’s something about accomplishing this task that gives you a natural boost. Put a little spring into your winter by taking a few hours to tidy up.

You’ll be surprised how fast the rest of the winter goes by when you use a trick or two to get the most out of every day…no matter how dark and cold!

2018 Homebuyer’s Forecast

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 26, 2017 | Comments Off on 2018 Homebuyer’s Forecast

The coming year in real estate is going to be quite the wild ride if you’re a homebuyer! The forecast for 2018 could be a little challenging, but with some planning and determination, you could be settled in a brand new home sooner than you think.

There are a lot of factors that are pushing more and more potential buyers into the new home market. The stock market is cresting at a record high right now, and since 2010 over 16 million new jobs have been created. The resulting rising consumer confidence is giving more families the opportunity to buy new construction.

This surge of potential buyers is making the market for new construction more competitive. Many builders are working as fast as they can to meet increased demand. In fact, the number of new homes on the market is expected to rise an additional 8% in 2018, to 670,000 in sales. Most of the growth is expected in the mid to upper price ranges across most markets nationwide, as overall, home prices will be on the rise as well. Buyers can expect an average increase of 3.5% in 2018. The Southern region of the US, in particular, is expected to grow at a greater rate than the national average.

How is this affecting buying habits when it comes to new construction?

Potential buyers are planning to spend a little more of their disposable income on housing, even if it means eating at home more frequently, putting off shopping for new clothes or taking expensive vacations. Other buyers are looking at homes farther from city centers, where the cost of homes and the cost of living is lower. Some buyers are looking for homes that can be customized for specific needs such as extended family groups, which allows for more economic day to day living for a larger number of people. Elderly parents and adult children may have trouble supporting households on their own, which makes combined residence options more popular.

Builders who offer attractive floor plans for smaller homes may benefit as well. Some buyers will choose more compact homes in order to reduce their monthly mortgage commitment. Many builders are actively marketing homes with four or less bedrooms to attract this growing demographic.

And the recently passed tax cuts could have a huge effect on the new construction market. We aren’t sure yet how buyers will respond. The promised gains in the weekly paycheck under the new tax laws would definitely be a positive for housing, but some anticipated reductions in tax benefits for homeowners could lead to fewer sales and impact prices negatively over time. Experts are taking a “wait and see” stance when it comes to the fallout from the upcoming tax changes.

If you’re looking at the possibility of buying new construction in the upcoming year, having experts evaluate your individual situation is worth its weight in gold. At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, our staff is committed to building long term relationships with not only buyers, but with the community at large. Our goal is to get to really know each person that walks through our doors. Our team specializes in matching each family with the perfect home – regardless of which one it is. Experience the Ernest difference…we can be reached by email or by calling 912-660-9673. When it comes to finding your ideal home, we’re with you all the way!

Preparing for Holiday Houseguests

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 20, 2017 | Comments Off on Preparing for Holiday Houseguests

Here they come! It’s only a few days before the holidays, and you’re wondering now how you’re ever going to be ready in time. Inviting family and friends to visit back in October sounded like such a good idea…but now the stress is starting to get to you.

Don’t worry – take a deep breath and follow our quick list for making sure you’ll be the host with the most or the hostess with the mostest!

  1. Free Up Some Room in Your Rooms

Since you’ll be pressed for space, make sure you declutter your common rooms by stashing furniture you won’t use in the garage or pushing it against the walls. Ditching coffee tables, end tables or decorative (delicate, white or uncomfortable pieces come to mind) furniture can stretch your space more than you’d think. You may want to set up airbeds or sleeping bags on the floors, so it’s best to be ready if the need arises.

  1. Recycle or Pitch Some Clutter

Recycle newspapers, catalogs and junk mail you’ve been stashing wherever…even if you’ve been meaning to get to it someday. Get some storage bins for items that you can’t bear to part with, but don’t have the time to sort through right now. Tuck the bins away, but make sure to highlight a date within the month of January on your calendar to pull them out and deal with them once and for all. If you tend to collect items at the base of your stairs to “go up with me next time”, now is the next time. Take them upstairs and put the items away.

  1. Become a Clean Machine

If you have a day or two of time to devote to off-season “spring cleaning” before the guests arrive, hop to it. If not, don’t be afraid to bring in the “Big Guns”…hire a cleaning service for the big jobs such as cleaning windows, bathrooms, kitchens and going over dusty spare bedrooms. If necessary, have your carpets cleaned professionally. Check local publications and the Internet for coupons – many carpet cleaners offer great deals to convince new customers to give them a try. Have older children pitch in when it comes to chores such as vacuuming, getting all the laundry done and tidying up their rooms. This is especially important if your guests have children that will be bunking in with your own.

  1. Take Care of Little Repairs

Squeaky doors, leaky faucets and toilets that run for what seems like hours can be annoying for guests. Task the handiest person in your family with handling these little frustrations prior to the visit. If time is at a premium, consider bringing someone in to take care of these issues.

  1. Roll Out the Welcome Wagon

A few nice touches can go a long way. Make sure a few drawers are emptied in guest rooms for visitor’s clothing and add some empty hangers to the rod in the closet. Make sure there’s a place for the guests to put their luggage, whether it’s a luggage rack or a clean area under the bed or in the closet. Be sure the guest towels and sheets are freshly laundered and of decent quality. While you don’t need to go overboard, soft, absorbent towels and sleek sheets can make a simple stay a mini vacation for your guests. Stock their bathroom with basic toiletries, in case they don’t check a bag at the airport or run out of something they need. Make sure there’s plenty of replacement TP, too!

  1. Childproof – Just in Case

If babies or young children will be staying in your home, be sure to secure cleaning supplies, medications, sharp tools and other hazards safely in cupboards, closets or drawers that little hands can’t open. Remove breakables from tables, shelves, bookcases or other flat surfaces. Put them away for a few days – better safe than sorry. Make sure all of your holiday decorations are safe for kids. Use outlet covers to prevent shocks and have a couple of baby gates available. If you have a pool, make sure the area surrounding it can be secured in some way to prevent children from falling in.

  1. Plan Your Menus

Lay in bulk supplies for quick, easy dinners such as spaghetti, chili, beef stew or a huge casserole. Keep lunches simple by having a variety of cold cuts, cheeses and breads available for sandwiches, along with a healthy supply of PB & J and some popular soups. Snacks such as jerky, nuts, cheese and crackers, fruit and Christmas cookies will keep peckish appetites satisfied between meals. Keep breakfasts easy with breakfast casseroles such as strata, or offer cereals, hard boiled eggs, yogurt and pastries, so that everyone can eat at whatever time they choose to get up. Avoid the stress of pancakes or individually prepared eggs. Make sure early risers know where the coffee supplies are and how to use the appliance of their choice. Ask your guests if anyone has a food allergy or sensitivity before finalizing your menus. When your guests arrive, give them a quick tour of the kitchen and pantry, so they know where things are and can help themselves to anything they need without having to ask.

  1. Play by the Rules

If you have certain guidelines you’d like your guests to follow, make sure you give them a heads-up before they arrive…in a light-hearted way. Let them know if smoking is forbidden in your home, what the shower schedules are, or if someone will be working odd hours and will need to catch up on their sleep while others will be active. If you would prefer that they remove their shoes while indoors, provide a variety of slipper socks in mixed sizes for cozy tiptoeing around your house…they’ll keep your guest’s feet toasty while your carpets stay clean. An added bonus…they’re another handy gift your guests can take home!

  1. Keep your Holiday Décor Simple

As part of your childproofing, you’ve removed fragile items or those that aren’t in secure areas. Stick with the theme by keeping your decorations minimal and safety-centric. Avoid items with small parts that can be choking hazards or décor with an open flame, such as candles or fireplaces without safety screens.

  1. Check Your Itineraries

Make sure you know exactly when your guests are to arrive, especially if you’ll be picking them up when they get into town.

  1. Keep Your Guests in the Loop

If you’ll be dressing up for New Year’s Eve or donning ugly Christmas sweaters one night for fun, make sure you tell your guests in advance so they can pack the right things. Likewise, if you’re planning activities that require being outside, make sure they bring appropriate outerwear and the proper shoes. Let your guests know in advance if their pets will be welcome, and if so, find out what accommodations will be required to keep them comfortable as well.

  1. Set the Parameters of the Visit

Make sure you have a start and end date for each guest’s stay. Not only will you need to make sure you have adequate accommodations for everyone, you’ll want to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the length of the visit. You’ll want to make sure you maintain the quality of your relationships by making sure no-one overstays their welcome!

And last but not least…don’t try to be perfect! Do whatever you can and let the rest go. Enjoy having friends and family with you for the holidays – don’t sweat the small stuff. Your sister probably won’t care if the plates don’t match – she just wants to connect with you!

Staycation…Prepare Your Home for Some Downtime

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 15, 2017 | Comments Off on Staycation…Prepare Your Home for Some Downtime

You’ve got some time off coming to you, but a road trip isn’t in the cards right now. Maybe you’re a little short on cash or family demands are taking center stage. Perhaps you’re traveling a lot for work and the idea of more time away from home just isn’t appealing. No matter what’s going on right now, you’ve got an amazing option open to you – a staycation!

Spending your vacation at home is becoming quite fashionable these days. With travel costs rising and the everyday frustrations of missed flights, tight connections and reservations that vanish into thin air, more and more homeowners are deciding to relax and kick back in the ultimate comfort…the comfort of their own homes.

If you’re looking for ways to ensure that your staycation is an opportunity to chill out and recharge, use some of our handy hints and tips to “interruption-proof” your home.

Take Time to Stop Time

One of the best ways to slow down the pace of your life is to make sure that you’re not marking the passage of time. One of the biggest mistakes staycationers make is to schedule a stream of appointments and errands that require that they be in a certain place at a certain time. By filling their “off hours” with requirements, they’re defeating the very idea of “time off”. Once you’ve cleared your schedule, hide your clocks in drawers or closets, drop watches in drawers and don’t look at them for a couple of days, at least.

Put Messages on Hold

Record new messages for your phones stating that you’ll be out of pocket for a few days and encourage callers to leave their information for a return call on a certain date. Let callers know that you can be reached in an emergency through a friend or a relative who can drop by or get through to you by another means. Then resist the urge to check your messages.

End of the Road for Email

Use the “out of office” function to let people know you aren’t responding to emails until a set time. You can use the computer for games or shopping, if that’s your favorite way to relax, but make Outlook or Yahoo off limits.

No News is Good News

One of the best ways to “check out” is to avoid picking up information from news outlets. Radio, TV and newspapers bring you back into the daily whirlwind of what’s going on in the outside world. A few days in a cocoon away from it all can do wonders for your outlook. If you’re feeling brave, you can even leave unopened mail on the hall table until you “return”. Create your vacation soundtrack to play instead of turning on the TV. Your favorite music will lift your mood – why not get everyone dancing?

Order In…Everything!

Why cook for yourself when you can order pizza, Chinese, or dinners from local delivery services? If you enjoy cooking and find it relaxing, order gourmet food packages from companies such as Blue Apron or Omaha Steaks and prepare your favorite cuisines at your leisure, without the hassle of a grocery run. And while you’re at it, hire a maid service to come in for the days you’re vacationing. They can turn your home into a hotel by making up the beds, tidying up after you and running a load or two of laundry. You can even hire a masseuse to stop by if you need a little extra relaxation!

No Kidding…

And for a real treat, arrange for an overnight babysitter at least once during your staycation. Whether the kids head out to Grandma’s or over to a friend’s house, a “date night” for mom and dad is a great way to reconnect and rekindle a little romance. This is a bonus that you probably wouldn’t get if you packed up the family and headed out for your vacation. And your kids will love a sleep over – it gives them a change of scenery and new experiences as well!

Camp in Your Own Backyard

Nothing beats camping out under the stars, whether it’s in a tent or simply in a sleeping bag. Your lawn awaits…just add some snacks, scary ghost stories and bug spray. TIki torches, lawn lanterns, chimineas or fire pits help set the mood and provide extra light for safety.

Indulge in Your Favorite Hobbies

Read that latest bestseller you just bought, or re-read an old favorite. Allow yourself a few hours of uninterrupted game play, whether it’s a Monopoly marathon or a video game tournament. Binge watch an entire season of a TV show you’ve let slide, or finish knitting that scarf you started for your Dad. Whatever it is that you love to do – but never have time to do – now is the time!

Out for the Day

Don’t rule out the local element…often people haven’t visited nearby sites of interest. Tour historical sites nearby, spend the day at a local amusement park or water park, go skating or take a hike through a national park. A day trip adds a little interest to your downtime, if it’s something you can do on your own schedule. Make sure you don’t have to arrive or depart at a certain time, and leave plenty of wiggle room for distractions, diversions and detours along the way.

With a little planning and a lot of flexibility, you can create your own satisfying and relaxing vacation, no matter where you are!

Home Scents – Reflecting Your Unique Personality

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: November 30, 2017 | Comments Off on Home Scents – Reflecting Your Unique Personality

Many people are surprised when they hear that only one of our senses is fully developed and functional when we’re born…and even more surprised to hear that it is our sense of smell. Possibly our most underrated sense, our sense of smell reigns supreme when we’re children. Until about age 10, children perceive their world primarily through what they smell, rather than what they see or hear. The main reason for this is that the sense of smell is the only one that has a direct pathway to the amygdala and hippocampus, the parts of your brain that process emotion and memory.

People remember what they smell more clearly and for twice as long as things that they see or hear. In fact, after three months, people can remember a scent with 65% accuracy, while they can only remember 50% of what they see.

How can this information influence the way you use scent in your home? First of all, it’s important to know how our bodies – and our moods – react to certain scents. By infusing our homes with scents that promote overall well-being and contentment, we can improve the quality of our lives and make our home more attractive to guests. And because so few people understand the importance of scent to our lives, it is a subtle way to encourage certain positive behaviors and dispel negative feelings.

Let’s take a closer look at some popular home scents and their influence on our moods.

If you’re looking to banish gloom and doom in your home, bright scents such as citrus will give you a lift, while grassy green scents usually bring on happy memories of a childhood spent outdoors. Red fruit scents – berries, cherries, plums and apples – are fragrances that give most people a sense of optimism.

Do you need to focus and get things done? Rev up your body with scents that have hints of peppermint, rosemary, jasmine, eucalyptus, cinnamon, more citrus…or coffee. You don’t even need to drink the coffee to get that little added zip…just the scent will perk you up!

Ready to relax and wind down? Lavender is well known as a scent that promotes healthy sleep. You’ll also feel calmer when you’re surrounded by earthy scents such as pine, balsam, wood or leather.

And then there’s the romantic scents…sandalwood, almond, pumpkin, patchouli, musk, and surprisingly…vanilla. When surveyed, most men answered that vanilla is the scent that usually puts them in a flirty mood.

When considering how home fragrance can enhance your home, you also need to consider how the fragrance is delivered. The most popular methods are the most traditional – candles, room and linen sprays, potpourri, incense and fragrance diffusers. Each has pros and cons. Lit candles can be romantic, but hazardous around pets. Heat can also decrease the potency of a scent, which is why you usually get a stronger response to a candle when you’re sniffing it unlit that when it is burning in a room. Potpourri can spill, or be ingested accidentally by small children or pets, but it is usually strongly scented and has the bonus of being a decorative element as well, especially during the holidays. Diffusers have the advantage of a “cool” delivery rather than heat, and often make a pretty arrangement on a table or shelf. Sprays can be short-lived, but the scents can be directed exactly where you want them.

One of the more creative delivery systems is “cold air diffusion,” where cool air pushes scented oil through a nebulizer (very like the way medications are given in mist form), creating a vapor that is suspended in the air. This method is considered to be one of the most consistent, effective ways to scent your home. Aromatech is a leading provider of home scent machines…you can check them out here.

Most experts in home scent use a variety of delivery methods to create a multi-layered scent experience. You can strengthen a single scent impression by using candles, diffusers and sprays in the same aroma, or create your own delightful signature scent by mixing different aromas and different delivery systems within a single area.

So…what scent is calling to you today?

Make Room for the Melbourne!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: November 26, 2017 | Comments Off on Make Room for the Melbourne!

One of the hottest new floor plans offered by Ernest Signature Custom Homes, the gracious, spacious Melbourne is sure to be a hit with buyers looking for new construction in Savannah, GA! This roomy 4,250 sq. ft. beauty features five bedrooms, four and half baths, a two car garage and even an optional covered porch. With more than enough personal space to welcome growing families, multi-generational and extended families, the Melbourne is your perfect option if everyone wants to spread out a bit.

One of the unique features of this ultra-modern home is the dual master bedroom/master bath layout. With a master suite on both the first and second floor, caring for aging parents is a breeze. You can also give an adult child living at home a little more privacy while he or she transitions into complete independence, or accommodate a snoring spouse in style, depending on your individual needs. Each bath comes with standard or optional layouts, so you can customize your space based on your preferences. Want dual vanity sinks? A garden tub? High-end tile floors? Granite trench countertops? Don’t hesitate to ask…we can give you the perfect oasis for a relaxing bath, hot shower or a toothbrush experience with plenty of elbow room.

Our other three bedrooms are on the second floor, along with a handy second family room. Set up the video games, media players and comfy seating to create the ideal playroom for children and adults alike. Or, if you prefer, convert the room into a home gym, library or craft center. A storage area near the decorative, exposed staircase is ready to hold off-season clothing, games, toys or seasonal decorations. If you prefer your laundry area upstairs, with easier access to the majority of the bedrooms, ask about the second floor laundry option.

The first floor kitchen is the heart of your home in more ways than one. Plenty of counter space, dual sinks, two ovens, a breakfast bar, updated, energy-efficient appliances and two large pantry areas make mealtime one of your favorite times of the day. Our upgraded kitchen cabinets, countertops and stylish backsplashes offer seamless function with high fashion. Choose your favorite table, chairs and china cabinet for the dining room – create the showpiece table setting you’ve always wanted! The half bath flanks the kitchen as well.

Our Melbourne is perfect for telecommuters – a home office off the foyer overlooks the covered porch we mentioned before. No need to sacrifice a bedroom to create a personal workspace…one has already been provided for you! The office can also be a quiet place for kids to do homework – away from the distractions of the activity in the family rooms or kitchen.

Opening into our main family room, the breakfast room is ideal for quick meals or leisurely morning dates with your bacon and eggs. This innovative space features a wealth of windows, an optional fireplace and access to our sunny, spacious patio area. With wood floors throughout, the first floor living areas are not only up-to-the moment chic, they’re a breeze to keep clean.

If you find that limited storage is always a problem for your family, trust the Melbourne floor plan to come through again! We also offer an optional garage storage area, with an 8 ft. by 7 ft. space to stash your stuff. Store bikes, lawn equipment or club pack groceries and paper products, let the kids start a garage band or even create a mini man cave with a color TV and an extra refrigerator…the choice is yours!

If a large space is what you need, the Melbourne is your ultimate dream home. For more information on our newest best-seller, contact us by email or call 912-756-4135 today…our helpful staff can guide you through the perfect plan!

Great Gadgets for Your New Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: November 23, 2017 | Comments Off on Great Gadgets for Your New Home

When you’re moving into your dream house, the urge to upgrade, streamline and “tech up” your new digs can kick in…big time. It makes sense; when you’re starting fresh, you have a better idea of which gadgets and goodies will make a positive impact on your day to day life. Some are inexpensive gems that you’ll never want to live without, while others are a little indulgent, but worth their weight in gold. If you’re looking for some genius ideas you’ll marvel over for weeks – or years – to come, you’ve come to the right place. Check out some of these top-rated gadgets for the home!

Reusable Dryer Balls

They look like plastic porcupines, but these shockingly simple inventions can save you hundreds of dollars by replacing liquid fabric softeners in your laundry. Not only that, they reduce the amount of time it takes to dry a load of clothes by up to 25%, which saves energy. They’re made from recycled plastic and are safe for all types of fabric, so they’ll shrink your carbon footprint and pamper your clothes at the same time.

Wireless Speakers

Their total portability, sleek design and crystal clear high frequency response make these beauties an absolute must for music lovers. Easy to control with a smart phone app, these space savers work with any device that can interact with the app. Take them outdoors for a summer party, perch them on a shelf in the bathroom for a “classical” bath, or lull your child to sleep – it’s entirely up to you.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

We’ve come a long way from the Roomba! The latest version of the robot vacuum, the D77 Deebot from Ecovacs, not only avoids obstacles and adjusts to any type of flooring, it empties its own dust bin! You can set it to run its route at any time, even when you’re away from home.

Start the Day Running

Get a Clocky alarm clock and you’ll never be late for work again! This crazy alarm clock rolls on wheels – you need to actually roll out of bed and chase it around the room to turn it off. It hides, it beeps, it gets you going.

Wireless LED Light Bulbs

Another app runs your lighting – no wall switches required. Program your lights with the Phillips Hue LED Lighting System and turn them on and off automatically, dim them or shut them off…all from your phone or tablet.

Smart Power Strips

Eight outlets of intelligence monitor the area around them, with four shutting off automatically when there is no movement detected within a 20 foot radius after 30 minutes. Three are “always on”, so you can choose which outlets will serve clocks and routers, and which will give monitors, game consoles and other non-essential pieces a rest.

The OneBowl

Boil, serve and store your pasta in one masterful container! The unique hybrid design has a built-in strainer and a handy cover to save the leftovers. Making spaghetti has never been easier!

Thermal Leak and Shower Monitors

If you’re looking to cut your energy bills painlessly, use these innovative gadgets to maximize your savings. Thermal leak monitors identify “hot” and “cool” spots in your home, allowing you to find areas where additional insulation may be needed. Scan vulnerable areas such as windows, doors, fireplaces and air ducts with the monitor, which will turn red (hot) or blue (cool). You can also use the thermal leak monitor to check the efficiency of your refrigerator, freezer or auto cooling system. Shower monitors such as the Amphiro A1 install without tools and use the energy generated by water flow to save 440 kWh of energy and 8,500 liters of water every year with one of these smart devices.

Light Up Your Bathroom

With the Rainbowl motion sensor nightlight. Believe it or not, it lives in your toilet bowl! The device goes dormant during the daylight, and comes to life once darkness falls. When you get up, sensors detect your movement and go on for two minutes, allowing you to “take care of business” and get back to bed without the glare of harsh overhead lights. Set to a single color or a smooth transitioning multi-colored glow for a little “evening entertainment”. Designed to fit any toilet, the Rainbowl’s adjustable arm holds the nightlight firmly in place and keeps it drip-free.

Ring, Ring…Is Anyone Home?

The Ring Video Doorbell protects your home 24/7, even when you’re not there. Install it in minutes and let the monitoring begin! Receive instant mobile alerts as soon as someone rings your doorbell or triggers the built-in motion sensors. When you answer the alert, you can see, hear and speak to people on your property from anywhere. Pure genius! Never worry about a package being stolen from your porch again!

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