Monthly Archives: October 2015

  • Organizational Tips to Clean out Garage

    There’s a good chance you know people who have so much stuff piled up and stored in their garage that they can’t even fit their vehicles inside. Or maybe, you are that person? Garages tend to be a drop zone for items people don’t have space for inside of their homes – suitcases, sports equipment, old books, etc. If you missed National Clean Out Your Garage Day (the Saturday after Labor Day), you can still clean out your garage before winter hits. Set aside one weekend and enlist the help of family members - your garage will be clutter-free in no time.

    The first step is to take everything out of your garage. While this may seem like a tedious task, seeing your garage as an empty canvas will give you the motivation to keep things organized and functional in the future.

    Man cleaning his garageAs you are clearing items out of the garage, set up three zones: one for items you want to keep, one for items to be donated, and one for items that can be thrown away. You’ll realize as you go through the process that items you really want to keep for sentimental reasons will slowly start shifting to the donate or garbage pile. This is natural so don’t feel stressed that items you put in a particular pile have to stay there.

    Within your “keep” pile, group like items together so they can be organized in the same space for easy access. For example, a section for shoes/clothes makes it easier for anyone in the family to find a coat, hat, or pair of boots they are looking for if all these items are organized together. And remember, if you are cleaning the clutter in your garage on a cold weekend, use an electric heater to stay warm – especially if the kids are helping.

    Once it’s time to organize items in the garage, try to keep the floors clear if possible. Doing so will free up space for your vehicle. Purchase shelving units, cabinets, stackable bins, hooks, and racks to organize your items. Also save smaller food jars as they can hold small, miscellaneous items like screws, ribbon, and thread.

    A few tips:

    • Open shelves are better than closed cabinets because you can visually identify what you need without causing more clutter
    • Organize items vertically on a pegboard in order to maximize storage space
  • Decor Ideas for Outdoor Autumn Parties

    Every party requires a degree of planning around the space, setup, menu, and entertainment. But outdoor autumn parties may require more attention. Not only do you want guests to feel warm and cozy, you can also show that using the great outdoors to host a social gathering in cooler temperatures is actually a great idea!

    The main red flag for an outdoor autumn party is weather. Solve this issue by buying or renting a patio heater – you can even find one that matches with your outdoor furniture. Draw in the fall colors by arranging blankets and throw cushions in various seating areas. Not only will they add to your décor, but attendees can also use the items should they need additional warmth.Fall Place Setting

    Use fall leaves to create a path from the kitchen to your backyard. The kids can assist with this project by gathering the leaves. Use any extra leaves to create a welcome wreath for your front door.

    Combine food with design to seamlessly work with your outdoor theme. A fun and quirky idea is to use a pumpkin as a serving bowl. For example, use large hallowed-out pumpkins to hold chips or other party food. Or remove the inside of an apple to create a mini-cup that can be used to serve cider or hot chocolate. This is one instance when playing with your food is a good idea!

    For more formal parties that require the setting of a table, use a thin log slice under the dinner plates for a rustic autumn feel. Use small glass jars (or Mason jars) as candleholders by filling the vessel with water, placing a tea candle, and wrapping some twine around the mouth for some additional flair.

    As the evening proceeds and dessert is ready to be served, light a fire pit (if you already have one), or set up a portable one. Provide each guest with his or her very own s’more kit. This will get everyone gathered around the fire, and create an intimate setting on a chilly autumn night.

  • Build a Versatile Lemonade Stand for Multiple Uses

    Running a lemonade stand is a great way for kids to learn a many important life lessons. Not only do they develop financial and communications skills, but also build their self-confidence and harness the power of their imagination when it comes to their display. The advantages of operating a lemonade stand can even start during the building stage for Weekend Warriors who allow their kids to help with the building process.

    Contrary to popular belief, lemonade stands are not just useful during the summer months. While they may be shorter than average to accommodate a child’s height, you can always add-on some height with additional wooden crates for adult use, or as the kids grow up. Lemonade stands are versatile and strong enough to be utilized in a variety of ways, including:

    • A child-friendly dessert bar at your next party
    • A place to store and display holiday gifts
    • A “hot chocolate” stand during the winter months instead of lemonade
    • A stand for the kids to display their own items for sale at the next yard sale
    • A prop to use during a family photo shoot
    • A fresh flower displayChildren selling lemonade from their lemonade stand

    Using crates to build the base for the stand offers the option to increase the height of the stand in the future. Materials needed include: 2 unfinished wood crates, 2 long boards (may vary in size based on the height you are trying to achieve), 4 support boards, a rectangular wooden board that will act as the top display sign on the stand, nails, a hammer, paint, chalkboard spray paint, (green) spray paint, white frame (which will display a printable lemonade sign), paint brush, painter’s tape, outdoor tape, and a DeWalt propane heater to stay warm if you are building the stand outdoors in cold temperatures.

    First, attach the two crates together with nails, placing the support boards inside on the four front corners. Then nail the long boards to the sides of the lemonade stand, and nail the rectangular wooden board in front of the long boards. Use painter’s tape and trash bags to cover the top board in order to spray with the chalkboard spray paint. Once dry, remove the wrapping and paint the remaining stand white, or any color your youngster prefers. Then use the (green) spray paint to add color to the white frame and insert the printable lemonade sign. Attach to the stand using the outdoor tape. You can also use the top chalkboard to write a message for customers. At this point, your child can decorate the rest of the stand to his or her liking!

  • Identifying and Addressing Unpleasant Household Smells

    Foul smells at home can be a big nuisance. Your home is the one space where you can truly relax after a long day, and being bothered by off-putting odors is the last thing anyone wants to deal with. So how can you identify and address unpleasant household smells quickly for the safety and sanitation of the house? Here are some tips for figuring out what that mysterious smell is, and how to get rid of it:

    Mold – Some people are able to identify the dank smell of mold right away. But if you are unsure, look for visible leaks, wet patches, or flooding on floors, walls, or the ceiling. If you have difficulty finding the source of the moldy odor, call a mold remediation specialist who can assist with getting rid of the problem.

    Gas – If you smell or suspect a problem with your gas line, call your local gas company immediately. While faults in gas appliances are a very common cause of gas leaks, cigarette smoke and improper ventilation can also be a factor. Address gaseous odors by installing a CO detector and/or smoking outdoors.

    Methane-Sulfur – Homeowners who have an extra, unused bathroom in the house sometimes get a methane-sulfur odor from the sink or shower drain. Address this smell by running the water at least once a week.

    Isolated Sink odor – If an off-putting odor is isolated to one drain, the pipe under the sink could be blocked. The P-trap (bend in the pipe) can collect gel, toothpaste, food remnants, and other buildup. To fix the problem, remove the P-trap, clean it out, and replace. Alternatively, pour an enzyme-based cleaner down the drain everyday until the trapped waste dissolves.Cleaning the Fridge

    Fridge Fumes – Catch a whiff of something bad when you open the refrigerator? Open a box of baking soda and place it inside the fridge. If the odor persists, chances are you just need to remove everything and toss out old items. Spray the shelves with hydrogen peroxide, wipe off, and restock.

    Closet odors – Use a Telesteps ladder to check the upper shelves of your closet to ensure there are no visible signs of molding. Hang activated charcoal or potpourri in a mesh bag.

  • DIY: How to Stencil Your Walls

    One of the easiest ways for any DIYer to display their personality is through wall stenciling. This idea may be especially appealing to renters because stenciling involves paint alone, while applying wallpaper involves glue and may not be easy to remove once you are ready to move. Stenciling on the walls can also be repainted and redone to update the design if you get bored with it!

    If you are a first-timer, materials needed include: stencil, stencil brush, painter’s tape, pencil, main wall color paint, accent color paint, paper towels, level, and a Telesteps ladder for reaching higher sections of the wall.

    To begin, decide which wall you will be working on. This will be helpful to know when choosing the stencil design, wall color, and accent color because different parts of the house/apartment may require a different colors to set the correct mood.Alphabet Stencils

    Once you have painted your wall, figure out your design layout and use painter’s tape to attach the stencil at the starting point. Paint the design on the wall by dipping the tip of the stencil brush in paint and removing the excess by dabbing it on paper towel.

    Apply your paint by dabbing the brush against the stencil openings, a method known as stippling. Be careful not to completely cover the opening of the stencil design with the paint brush – this could lead to the paint running under the stencil, which will mess up the final look. To ensure your stencil design has sharp lines, apply pressure to the stencil around the openings while stippling.

    Mark registration points before moving the stencil so that you don’t miscalculate the placement of the next stencil point. Tape the stencil in place and repeat the process. Once you have completed the project, you will have a unique focal wall that you can be proud of!

    If you mess up at any point, remember that you can always start over by repainting the wall to the original color. Just wait until it is completely dry before you proceed.

  • How to Make Outdoor Space Usable for Your Business During Winter

    Outdoor business operations in frigid temperatures and precipitation may seem off-putting to your customers at first glance, but as a business owner you can seize the opportunity to embrace winter weather. Restaurants, cafes, retail shops, and companies in various industries need only to make the temperature and environment of the outdoors customer-friendly. Creating an outdoor space for business in the winter means not only staying ahead of the competition, but also provides the opportunity to serve more customers – which may be beneficial to your bottom line.Outdoor Restaurant Patio

    Arrange your outdoor space in a way that is attractive to customers – this will vary based on the business you are in, and what kind of clients you want to attract. Some businesses will be able to get away with a simple table/chair setup. In this instance a patio heater (or several throughout the space) will suffice to provide all the warmth your customer needs. If your company requires intricate displays in addition to seating, consider purchasing a propane tent heater, which has the capability of heating several thousand square feet. You’ll be surprised that the temperature is the last thing your customers have on their mind!

    In addition to heating, remember to always keep an outdoor business area safe and easily accessible. Doing so will ensure the maximum comfort for customers. Remove any ice or snow buildup from your property as soon as possible.

    Create an environment that is appealing for customers. This comes down to the design of your outdoor space. Use the feeling of winter coziness and charm to attract passersby. For example, display fun snow globes, sprinkle the tables with faux snow, use holiday-appropriate dishwasre, hang holiday lights throughout the space to make it feel like a winter wonderland, etc. Take advantage of winter holidays by displaying signage that appeals to one’s emotions.

    Lastly, consider offering an “outdoor” discount for those who choose to utilize your exterior operations – perhaps a free beverage, or a 10% discount. This is a great way to create buzz. Pedestrians walking by may be curious about your business upon seeing so many happy customers in your space. Encourage them to check it out with a well-advertised discount.

  • Tips for Adding a Mudroom to Your House

    A mudroom is helpful space for any home, especially for families with children. A mudroom often acts as a buffer zone where sand, snow, leaves, and elements from nature can be left behind when entering the house. A mudroom also means extra storage space, coat hooks, shoe racks, and a place where a degree of disorganization is expected. Instead of dirt throughout the entire house, owners can confine the mess to one small space.

    When planning a mudroom, decide on the most useful location. In many homes, the kitchen acts as the default mudroom, so homeowners may consider converting an area near the entry door into a mud-proof zone. If the home has an attached garage, convert a corner to act as the transition point between outside and inside. Another popular space for mudrooms is the utility room – especially if they have an outside entrance.Woman Hanging Clock in Mudroom

    A mudroom is one of the hardest working rooms in a house. It will endure use and abuse nearly every day so using durable and easy-to-clean materials is a must. Bead-board or wainscoting is a great choice as they prevent scratches and dents on the walls from sports equipment and other bulky items.

    Waterproof paint on the walls and trim is also recommended, especially in geographic locations that experience high levels of rain and snow. Flooring such as tile, concrete, or resin will be able to withstand muddy boots and scratches. These flooring options are also less resistant to slipping when wet.

    Tools needed for adding a mudroom to your house will include a circular saw, reciprocating saw, miter saw, stud finder, level, drill, and hammer/nail set. If construction of the mudroom involves extending your home or adding walls, a Featherlite ladder is a safe and sturdy option for indoor/outdoor work.

    Adding a mudroom addition to the house can usually be done over the course of 5-7 days. Standard sizes are 6’x6’ or 8’x8’. Mudrooms with a washer and dryer may require an increase in space. Be sure to double-check that you have the necessary permits required in your local area before starting on your mudroom.

  • Prepare the Exterior of your Home for Winter

    Don’t wait until the first day of freezing temperatures to secure the exterior of your home for winter. If you haven’t already prepared the yard and house exterior for freezing temperatures, make it a priority now. The safety of your family and your home may depend on it. Below are several guidelines in terms of what you should be doing to keep your property safe and secure during winter. If you plan to carry out these checks on a cold day, consider using a natural gas heater to stay warm. Natural gas heaters are also a good investment for outdoor projects you may need to complete during the winter.

    • Lawn, Deck, and Garden
      • Remove attached hoses, wrap them up, and store them away to prevent cracks and extend their life. Outside faucets should be covered in order to prevent water damage
      • Trees or bushes that are near windows or electrical wires should be trimmed to prevent freezing, power outages, and property damage
      • Uproot flower bulbs and store in a bag or box with peat moss. Keep in a cool, dry place for spring replanting
      • Make sure any precipitation will drain away from the house in order to avoid foundation problems
      • Cover outdoor and patio furniture with heavy tarp or move them inside the garage
      • Move clay/terra cotta pots and other fragile items indoors
      • Exterior faucets should be turned off. Drain water from outdoor pipes to protect against cracking
      • Examine exterior lighting around the property and fix any exposed wires. Replace dim bulbs as bright lights can help prevent slip and fall accidents during winter
    • Pack up Outdoor Equipment
      • Place all tools and machinery indoors and prevent rust by spraying them down with a coat of lightweight oil
      • Clear off the mud, debris, and leaves from the lawn mower
      • Check the functions of your snow blower so that it is ready for use immediately when required
      • Stock up on ice melt, sand, shovels, and other winter-related items
    • Roof, Drain, and Gutter Preparation

      • Examine shingles and repair as required
      • Remove leaves and debris from drains to prevent buildup and blockage
      • Take a look at all vents and openings. Cover them to prevent animals from nesting
      • Loose or sagging gutters and downspouts should be fastened properly as the weight of snow and ice buildup can cause them to fall off
    • Check Windows and Doors
      • Install storm doors where you currently have screen doors
      • Repair or replace rotted window and door frames to keep heat from escaping
      • Repair or replace cracks, gaps, and broken glass
      • Examine windows and doors for drafts. Caulk inside and out, as necessary. House in the Winter

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