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Are Your Cleaning Mistakes Making Your Home Dirtier?

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 24, 2018 | Comments Off on Are Your Cleaning Mistakes Making Your Home Dirtier?

If you’re like most people, you already think you’re spending way too much of your valuable time cleaning your home. Now imagine this scenario…all that time is wasted, because what you’re doing is actually making your house dirtier than it was before! As horrible as that sounds, it’s happening every day. We’ve talked to some professional house cleaners to get the scoop on cleaning mistakes that do more harm than good. We’re passing them along to you – we want your time spent with a mop and cloth to work to your advantage!

You walk around with a rag, swiping surfaces as you go.

Using the same cloth in different areas of your home is one of the easiest ways to spread germs from one room to another. Even if you’re spraying it with cleaning solution as you go, you’re transferring grime from your kitchen counters to your coffee table to your dresser tops. The solution – use a fresh wad of paper towels for every area, or designate a different color microfiber cloth for each room. Microfiber cloths can be washed after each cleaning spree to keep them fresh and grunge-free.

You use feather dusters.

No matter what the ad says, feather dusters don’t “trap and lock” dust particles. It’s much more effective to use your trusty microfiber cleaning cloth or paper towels moistened with an appropriate cleaner.

You’re using a dirty vacuum.

If you’re using an old vacuum filter, the decreased suction you’ll get won’t allow your vacuum to pick up as much dirt and dust as it should. You’ll also have dirt blowing back into the air and carpet through the dusty vent. Change or empty vacuum bags or canisters as soon as they’re full. Unplug your vacuum and clean the attachments, the hose and the vent with either a damp microfiber cleaning cloth or a moist paper towel.

You’re throwing all your cooking tools into the dishwasher.

Not all of your kitchen gadgets get a good cleaning this way. Items like garlic presses, zesters or graters that have uneven surfaces, nooks and crannies may not get the full effect of the wash cycle, leaving bits of food clinging to them. This residual food can spoil, possibly making your family sick. These types of gadgets should be carefully hand-washed.

You’re plopping your toilet brush right back into the holder after cleaning.

If you don’t let your toilet brush dry completely after each use, the holder traps the wet, germy brush and allows bacteria to multiply. You’re then spreading the bacteria back into your toilet with the next cleaning. Make sure to let the brush dry completely before storing it.

You’re ignoring the garbage disposal.

Your poor sink! You may be wiping it down after every use, but many people allow bacteria and germs to accumulate in the garbage disposal. Give it a good cleaning by pouring half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Boil a few cups of water and pour the boiling water down the drain. Follow with two cups of ice and one cup of rock salt. Turn on the disposal until the ice is gone. Cut a lemon in half, and send each half down the disposal. Bye-bye germs!

You’re spraying your cleaner directly on the surface.

It’s much more efficient to spray the cleaner on the towel or cloth you’re using. If you spray the cleaner right onto furniture, windows or countertops, the solution can develop build-up that can lead to greasy surfaces or streaks. These greasy, streaky patches attract and hold dust, dirt and grime.

You haven’t cleaned your washing machine.

Skin cells, residue from stains and dust mites can remain in your washing machine drum, lids, doors and detergent dispensers. They get into your wash water and can remain on your clothes, causing stagnant, musty odors.

For a top-loading washer, set to the longest and hottest setting. When the washer is nearly full of water, add 4 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda. Leave the lid open and allow to sit for at least an hour. While the cycle is paused, clean the lid and any other visible nooks and crannies. Close the lid, allowing the wash cycle to run. When the cycle is done, wipe down the inside of the washer and leave the lid open to allow the washer to dry completely.

For a front-loading washer, pour a solution of 1/4 cup each baking soda and water into the detergent compartment and pour 2 cups of vinegar into the drum. Set your machine to the hottest temperature and let the cycle run. Afterward, wipe the drum, door, detergent compartment and outside of the machine. Leave the door ajar between loads for the best air circulation.

You’re abusing your cutting board.

It isn’t unusual for people to wash their cutting boards with soapy water. However, while the boards may look clean, the cut marks in the boards trap microscopic food particles that breed bacteria. Don’t put your cutting boards in the dishwasher – wooden ones can warp and crack, while plastic ones can melt. Soak your cutting board in a solution of two tablespoons of bleach and one gallon of water, then rinse well and dry completely.

A Reading Space

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 17, 2018 | Comments Off on A Reading Space

For centuries people have used reading not only as a way to educate and improve themselves, but also as a foolproof trick for relaxing and unwinding after long, exhausting days. Many people will make some time to read before bed, claiming that it prepares them for a restful sleep. Whether it’s a few pages or a few chapters, many devoted readers indulge in their favorite obsession before they call it a day.

But reading in bed isn’t your only option. Once you’ve purchased your own home, you can choose where and how you’ll indulge in your love for books. Whether it’s a dedicated room or a simple, cozy nook, a separate space for reading is a must for many homebuyers.

When you’re creating a “library” space within your new home, the first thing you need to do is evaluate your reading habits, especially how you source your reading material. If you use e-readers or get most of your books from the library, you may want to scale down the size of your reading area a bit. If you prefer to buy physical books printed on paper, you’ll need more space for your hobby, especially if you tend to keep your books after you read them.

Make sure that you take into account the reading habits of every member of your family when you’re designing the space. If your spouse, children or other family members are also big readers, it may be your goal to devote an entire room to this quiet pursuit. If only one or two people in your home enjoy burying their nose in a book, minimal may be the key to the ideal reading space. How long you tend to keep your books may also direct your thinking. If you plan on keeping your children’s books in order to pass them on to your grandchildren or beyond, a tidy, well-designed space will not only store them efficiently, but keep them in beautiful condition for years.

It’s also critical to make sure that the space you’ve designed will have adequate lighting at all times of the day. Sweet, natural light is ideal for scanning the newspaper in the morning or browsing through a book during lunch on a Sunday. If you have a night owl in residence who devours books through the wee hours, essential reading lights prevent eyestrain and headaches.

Let’s look at a few ideas that may spark your imagination!

Book Nook Delight

If you have a small room available, or a large empty corner in a great room, add large, glass-front bookcases and a big squishy chair to attract the readers in your family. The bookcases will not only allow you to see your available books at a glance, the glass will protect them from dust, mold and insects. If you’re lucky enough to have natural light from a large window, you’ll only need to add a floor lamp you can place wherever it’s needed to allow for night reading. Use a multi-stage bulb to allow different levels of light for optimum convenience.

Reading for a Crowd

If you need plenty of room for a lot of readers, consider converting a spare bedroom into a library anchored by a comfy couch large enough for several people to enjoy. A sofa with chaise or recliner areas is an added bonus! You can also add individual chairs and a table or desk for leafing through large books or for homework.

The Multi-Use Space

If you love the idea of a home library, but need a guest room for frequent visitors, consider a room with dual personalities. The sofa bed and ottoman storage unit shown here give you the best of both worlds.

A Library as Art

A dedicated reading space doesn’t need to take up a whole room to be effective. It can also function as a unique design element within a room. Keeping it ultra-modern? Consider the reading “space pod”.

Or perhaps the bookcase/chair combination shown here:

If you only need space for a few books, and prefer to read outside, in bed or in the bathtub, storing your reading material can be a style statement as well as a way to keep things tidy. Bookcases can lend an air of personality and flair to your home in a relatively small space. Check out some of these showstoppers!

 

Indulge your love of books in any way you’d like! Your family’s sense of style is sure to come through in the way you decorate your home library.

Essential Home Repair Products

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 10, 2018 | Comments Off on Essential Home Repair Products

Even if you aren’t the handyman type, every home should have a few essential “fix-it” products on hand for those little emergencies. It’s surprising how many everyday problems will pop up, requiring your attention at the most inconvenient times. If you’re prepared, you can address them quickly, saving time and money by not having to call in an expert.

WD-40

A staple in just about every home for decades, the product in this iconic blue and yellow can will act as a lubricant, prevent corrosion and repel dirt. Your dad and grandfather have been using it to un-squeak hinges, remove excess dried glue or stickers, clean garden tools and remove tough stains such as scuff marks, toilet bowl water lines and tea since before you were born. And believe it or not, you can even use it as a bug killer in a pinch! Aim and shoot, and the offending cockroach, spider or other insect is down for the count.

CLR

Another great product you can use to remove those annoying water line marks in your toilet bowl, CLR also removes lime from your bath fixtures, calcium from your humidifier coils and rust stains from just about anything.

Bondo

This all-purpose putty can be used to fill cracks and holes in drywall (an essential when you’re rearranging artwork or photos on your walls), metal, wood, masonry and concrete. The quick-dry formula sets and can be sanded and painted in about 15 minutes.

Minwax Furniture Stain Markers

Scratches and nicks in your wooden furniture happen all the time…so be ready with these handy fill-in tools. Available in shades to match different wood finishes, these lifesavers work like a felt-tip pen to keep your surfaces looking good. They can even be used on floors, moldings and cabinets!

VLP Leather & Vinyl Repair

If you tear a leather cushion, don’t despair…repair! Both leather and vinyl can be repaired with VLP. Its amazing formula actually dissolves the edges of a tear, creates a new bond that holds them together, and dries clear. You don’t even have to worry about matching the color! Save your upholstery, awnings, pool or grill covers, inflatables, and more.

Gorilla Tape and Glue

This power duo takes adhesive to the next level! Stronger and stickier than standard duct tape, Gorilla Tape works wonders on porous surfaces such as brick and wood. Its super-thick layer of goo will remove paint when removed, so make sure you’re ready for quick touch-ups if you have to use it on walls or similar surfaces. Gorilla Glue actually comes in a number of forms, from the popular original formula in white and clear to super glues, wood glues, and craft glues such as glue sticks and spray adhesives.

Rustoleum Appliance Touch-Up Paint

Take care of those annoying and unsightly chips and nicks in your washers, dryers, stoves, refrigerators and other household essentials with this handy epoxy product, matched to standard colors of many popular brands of appliances.

Flex Seal

This amazing can contains liquid rubber that coats, seals and protects instantly! When dry, the paintable, flexible rubber coating won’t sag, drip, crack or peel. Use on roof leaks, gutters, skylights, hoses, foundations…anywhere you need to keep water out. It’s also available in liquid form.

Cobra Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool

For only a few dollars, you can grab one of these barbed plastic strips. Instead of messing around with toxic liquids, just slip the Zip-It tool into your drain, twist, and viola…the clog comes right out. Faster and more effective than chemicals, it’s much safer for both the environment and your health. Plus, it’s reusable. One small investment will last for years.

ScreenMend Screen Patch or Roll

Keep bugs out of your house by repairing rips and holes in your screens in minutes. Simply cut the patch to the size you need, and apply using the heat from your hand-held hairdryer. Nothing could be easier! If you have longer slices through your screens, use the handy roll form to repair them instead.

Homax Wall Patch

Available in several sizes, this galvanized steel and reinforced fiberglass mesh patch can repair holes in drywall and plaster in a flash. The self-adhesive patch works on both walls and ceilings, and creates a permanent repair.

Tips for Decorating with Area Rugs

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 28, 2018 | Comments Off on Tips for Decorating with Area Rugs

If you’re not sold on the idea of wall-to-wall carpeting, but love a soft weave under your feet when you get out of bed in the morning, there’s a perfect compromise…area rugs! These accent pieces come in a mind-boggling variety of sizes, shapes, colors and textures. No matter what your taste, the perfect rug for you is definitely out there!

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the choices? Wondering where to start and how to choose? Let our Design Studio experts help you decide on your next step! We’ve gathered up some of their best tips and hints for decorating with area rugs. Once you get into the groove of it, you’ll be hooked…and perhaps your rug will be as well! (Forgive us for the pun – we couldn’t help ourselves…)

The first tip is the most important – don’t skip the rug pad!

A lot of homeowners decide against this critical step, thinking that it’s merely an extra expense they don’t need. However, rug pads are essential when you’re using area rugs in your home. First of all, they provide stability and a non-slip surface for the carpet, helping it to stay in place and keep your footing secure. Using a rug pad will also extend the life of your carpet, as area rugs wear out from the bottom up. This is caused by the friction of the carpet against the floor when you’re walking on the rug. The less the rug rubs and moves, the less wear and tear on the fibers. Rug tape isn’t recommended, especially on hardwood floors. The sticky residue can ruin the finish.

It’s sad but true…size matters.

Measure first. Make sure that you’re buying the right size rug for your space. Nothing is worse than finding the perfect rug, bringing it home, and finding out that it’s too large for the space or that it is too small and looks a little silly. If you plan on covering the better part of a room with an area rug, a good rule of thumb is to allow at least eight to twelve inches of flooring to show past the edges of each side of the rug.

If you are using rugs to draw the eye to a particular piece of furniture, it’s common to see the front legs of a sofa or a large, sturdy chair on the area rug and the back legs on the existing flooring. If you’re highlighting coffee or end tables, however, all four legs should be placed on the area rug to keep the surface level. If you’re using an area rug under a bed, it’s best to make sure that you have at least two feet of rug visible on each side of the bed. Not only is this more attractive visually, it also ensures that your feet get optimum comfort when you’re getting in or out!

In your dining room, measure the top of the dining table and add 24 inches to 30 inches on each side. This allows space for a person to get in and out of the chair and to move closer to the table or move back from the table while keeping the back legs of the chair on the rug.

Here’s a good trick for visualizing how much of the rug will cover your floor space. As you measure a space on the floor to match the size of the rug, lay an 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper on the floor to indicate each corner. Fix the sheets of paper in place with masking tape. Visualize the rug there and see how it fits the space. You may even want to do this for different sizes of rugs to find out if one size works better than another.

Another money saving trap to avoid is purchasing a rug in a smaller size because it is less expensive. If you put a rug that is too small for the space down on your floor, it creates a negative optical illusion of a smaller space that will actually make your room look more cramped and tight.

Safety first!

Avoid placing the corner of an area rug in the middle of an opening into another room or at the edge of a pathway. Corners in these areas create tripping hazards. If you’re planning to use rugs in high traffic areas, make sure people will be walking on the larger part of the rug, not just the corner.

Set the mood…

You can create the tone of the room by selecting a certain type of rug. Small patterns and light colors make a room seem airy, spacious and bright, while deeper, darker colors create a warm, cozy feeling. Geometric patterns give a room a modern edge, while traditional oriental or heavy floral patterns strike a retro, vintage note.

Be creative!

Don’t limit your rug choices to square or rectangular pieces. Think about circular rugs (especially if you have a round dining table you’re dying to focus on) or more exotic shapes such as hexagons, octagons or die-cut styles.

Be willing to use a “busy” patterned rug in a room with neutral or single color walls to give the room personality and excitement, or to purchase coordinating area rugs to use in the same room. You can even buy rugs in different sizes and layer them for an extra pop of interest.

Choosing the right material is crucial.

Natural fibers last longer and release no harmful gasses into the environment over time. If you’re looking for durability, wool is long-lasting and for the most part, easy care. Jute rugs are also easy to clean, and their natural-looking fiber fits into a more casual décor. You can also consider cotton or silk rugs, although they don’t wear as well if you have kids and pets.

Synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester and olefin are also popular, but may be more difficult to clean or may fade easily, depending on the individual material.

New Construction Myths Debunked!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 23, 2018 | Comments Off on New Construction Myths Debunked!

If you’re looking to purchase a home, you’re certain to have heard a lot about buying new construction. Some of it is completely true, and some of it…well, not so much. There’s a lot of information out there about new construction and the home buying process that comes with it, and it’s often hard to tell where the truth ends and the myths begin. At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we pride ourselves on our transparency and our dedication to a positive customer experience in every way. We’re sure you’ve heard quite a bit about these new construction myths, and today we’re setting the record straight by letting you know how we do business.

Myth # 1 – It takes much too long to build a new home from the ground up.

One of the most common negatives thrown around when new construction comes up in the home buying conversation is the wait time you’ll experience while your builder creates your ideal home. You’ll often hear that it can take six months or longer for your home to be ready. Our timeline is very different. We have a 12 week build time from the date the start package hits the field. Of course, there are factors such as weather, labor issues and supply chain concerns that can influence that time, but in the vast majority of cases, we stay right on track. And in the rare instance that we can’t meet a proposed deadline, we’ll let you know about potential delays as soon as possible.

And don’t forget…many builders will have a small inventory of their homes ready for immediate move-in. You can check out our quick move-in homes here!

Myth #2 – Every newly constructed house in a community looks exactly the same.

Almost all builders today offer some level of customization for their customers. We specialize in making modifications that set your home apart. We offer a wide variety of floor plans that can be adjusted to meet your needs. Our plans offer a choice of exterior features, optional patios, porches or extra rooms, upgraded bathrooms and kitchens and the ability to make reasonable structural changes. We’re happy to work with you to customize just about any aspect of our floor plans. We know that in today’s housing market, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit anyone.

Myth # 3 – It’s much more expensive to buy new construction.

In many housing markets, including the Savannah, GA area, there isn’t an immense gap between the prices of brand new homes and previously owned homes of a similar size in neighborhoods of a similar type. There will always be exceptions, but overall, you won’t be seeing a huge difference. You also need to consider that new construction is much more energy-efficient than homes built 60, 20 or even 10 years ago. Through improved technologies, builders offer a lot more energy-efficient features in new homes, ranging from dual-glazed windows and high-efficiency furnaces to low-flow plumbing fixtures and high-tech insulation.

Also, the true cost of owning a home is more than just the purchase price. When you take into consideration the warranties, the operating costs and the fact that everything is brand new, the value of new construction can far outweigh that of an existing home. Also, many buyers underestimate the cost of replacing features in existing homes like cabinets, flooring, and fixtures. Add the cost of the materials to the disruption to your lifestyle, the inconvenience, the contractor selection, permits, delays, and the other intangibles you’ll face when modifying an existing home…and you begin to wonder if it isn’t better to get exactly what you want right from the beginning.

Myth # 4 – You’ll always pay the listed price for new construction.

Remember, home building is a business, like any other. You can always approach a builder to negotiate the asking price of a new home the same way you would for a previously loved home. If it is in everyone’s best interest to negotiate, we can definitely have that conversation.

Myth #5 – Realtors and homebuilders don’t work together to help you find a house.

The real estate business is one founded on connections and relationships. As part of the active and vital Savannah area real estate community, we have contacts and business partners that we work with on a regular basis to find each client their perfect home. We’re dedicated to finding that perfect match between a family and their dream house.

Myth #6 – When you’re going with new construction, a well-known national builder is your best option.

Keep in mind that bigger isn’t always better. Local builders with a smaller customer base can often provide more specialized customer service. They may be able to offer more custom options, because they aren’t held to policies and procedures that work well in one location, but not in another. National builders will have the same name wherever you go, but the staff and product quality may be better in some parts of the country than others, so the reputation of the “Big Name Brand” will differ from one area to another.

If you have any questions that we didn’t answer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. Call our experts at 912-756-4135 – or send us an email if you prefer. When it comes to buying a home, new construction may be the right answer for you!

Making Design Decisions – Customizing Your Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 19, 2018 | Comments Off on Making Design Decisions – Customizing Your Home

The first decision has been made…you’ve opted to buy new construction! It’s such an exciting process – you’ll get to experience the creation of your dream home from the ground up. But for some families, there’s more than a little bit of stress involved when it comes to making some of the design decisions they need to face.

At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, our expert team of design consultants takes pride in walking our homebuyers through every step of the process, ensuring that everyone is completely comfortable at every stage of construction.

Buyers usually fall into one of two categories; the ones who know exactly what they want, and those who have a general idea of what they might like, but aren’t completely sure. To be honest, more buyers of new construction fall into the latter category, not the first, so don’t feel at all overwhelmed if you find yourself in group two. An important part of our job is to make sure that we make the right suggestions and help you build a house that you’ll love for a lifetime.

Once you’ve selected your floor plan, it’s time to get personal. Choosing the individual elements that set your home apart from the others you’ll see can be fun…so let’s get started! It’s time to visit our design studio – The Gallery at Ernest Signature Custom Homes. Within days of your new home purchase, your design consultant will call to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. We’ll let you know what to expect, what to bring with you, who should come to the meeting and other important details.

One of the logical places to begin is with the part of your home that everyone sees – the exterior. Exterior materials include doors, windows, siding and roofing. If you’re not sure what elements impress you the most while visiting our center, we recommend driving through our communities to see exactly how the roofing and siding, doors, windows and available colors look on completed homes.

Our clients make most of their interior decisions, such as flooring, lighting, plumbing fixtures, cabinets and countertops during their visits to The Gallery. Our design center is unique in the fact that we have three fully furnished, functional kitchens that give you a fresh perspective into the appliances, styles and layouts that will work best for you. We also have a full line of bath options, including tubs, shower fixtures, sinks, decorative windows and mirrors. Don’t forget to browse our lighting gallery, flooring choices and our “Gadgets and Gizmos” section; a hive of technology choices including smart-thermostat systems, the latest remote controls and dimmer switches, closet systems, handicap bathroom capabilities and more.

Regardless of whether you’re highly influenced by current design trends or tend toward a more traditional viewpoint, our design consultants can give you expert advice and make exceptional recommendations. If you’ve done some online research on decorating and home design before your visit, bring your ideas along! We can help match them to your available options and give you results you’ll love.

Are you excited to begin your journey? We’re ready to go as soon as you are! Call us today at (912) 756-4135 or drop us an email. We can’t wait to help you simplify the decision making process when it comes to customizing your ultimate home!

The One Recipe Every Home Needs…

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 14, 2018 | Comments Off on The One Recipe Every Home Needs…
Recipe for a Happy Home
4 cups of love
2 cups of loyalty
3 cups of forgiveness
1 cup of friendship
5 cups of hope
2 Tbsp. of tenderness
4 quarts of faith
1 barrel of laughter
Take love and loyalty, mix it thoroughly with faith.
Blend it with tenderness and forgiveness.
Add friendship and hope.
Sprinkle abundantly with laughter.
Bake it with sunshine.
Serve generous helpings daily.
Ernest Signature Custom Homes wishes you all the love you can
hold…on Valentine’s Day and every day!

Designing the Perfect Home Office

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 29, 2018 | Comments Off on Designing the Perfect Home Office

Whether you’re looking for a space to pay your bills, a place for the kids to do their homework, or a full-time, dedicated environment that will allow you to work from home, the home office is becoming a necessity for many families today. It isn’t unusual for potential buyers to look for a home that has an extra room that can be converted into the perfect office.

Whether you’re outfitting a room solely as an office or creating a dedicated desk space in another room, the Design Center team at Ernest Signature Custom Homes has some great tips for putting together the ideal space.

Invest in the Right Furniture

Many people make the mistake of pulling together a home office from bits and pieces they’ve collected here and there. A table inherited from Aunt Gracie, a spare kitchen chair that no-one sits in, and a plastic bin stuffed with file folders doesn’t make the grade when it comes to creating a fully functional office. You need adequate desk space with enough room for a computer, printer, monitor and incidental equipment. You also require handy space for files, research materials and your stash of office supplies.

Ergonomics are important! For someone who will be working full time in the office, or for students who will spend hours deep in concentration, it’s essential that the chair is comfortable and adjustable, and that everything necessary is within easy reach. If more than one person will be using the space on a regular basis, make sure that everyone tests the furnishings before buying it. Sure, you can order it online, but only after visiting a physical location first to try it out.

Ideal Lighting

Natural daylight is best…if you can locate your home office in a room with adequate windows, you’re miles ahead of home workers that have to settle for electric lights. However, you’ll need to make sure that you have adequate lighting for all hours of the day, or for cloudy days. General overhead lighting and targeted task lighting are both important. To avoid glare, make sure your overhead lighting isn’t directly above your computer screen. Reduce eyestrain; don’t put a computer screen directly in front of a light source. Make sure your targeted task lighting sources have adjustable levels of light, from either dimmer switches or three way bulbs. Choose yellow-toned lighting, as it is one of the brightest alternatives, and has a middle place on the color spectrum between cool and warm, making it ideal for both your mood and the comfort of your eyes.

The Proper Equipment

Look carefully at your office needs to determine which pieces of equipment you’ll really need. Don’t buy things you won’t use every day. While it may be nice to have a fancy high-speed color copier with heavy volume capability for the three times a year you’ll need it, most of the time it will just be wasting space that can otherwise be put to better use. Do you need a high-speed internet hub and wireless capability? Or a dedicated telephone line with its own number? A phone with conference and speaker functions? And most importantly, make sure you invest in the fastest, best-rated equipment you can afford – and don’t forget to pick up the offered extended warranties!

Separation is the Key

Your home office needs to be away from high traffic areas of the home to be successful. You can’t expect the kids to focus on their homework in the living room, or make business phone calls from your family room. If you don’t have a dedicated room with a closing door, look carefully at the available areas of your home to give it optimum placement. You may want to repurpose a sunroom, set up shop in a seldom-used guest room, tuck a compact desk in the corner of a dining room or even partition off an area of your garage! Avoid sightline views of TV’s at all costs. Better yet, don’t even have one in the room you choose. You can also use creative solutions to separate your “office” area from other parts of the room. Tall bookcases will not only wall off the area, they will provide additional storage options. Remove the doors from a little used closet and tuck a small office setup inside.

Add Some Personal Touches

While your office is a place for work, don’t fall into the trap of business-only blandness. Add a green plant or two, a couple of family photos, some intriguing wall art. One of the main advantages of having an office in your home is the freedom to decorate it as you please. Just make sure the details you add aren’t distracting you from your mission.

With a little ingenuity and some planning, you can create an area for work that not only increases your productivity, but provides comfort and enjoyment to your day. It’s easier to work efficiently when you love the space you’re in!

Super Bowl Party–Get Ready for the Big Game!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 17, 2018 | Comments Off on Super Bowl Party–Get Ready for the Big Game!

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!

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