We are about a month into Winter and I'm over it already. I am not a fan of bone chilling temperatures, snow, ice and high winds. This week has put me over the edge. I am counting down until my mini get-away in the later part of February. (Honestly, looking forward to it keeps me going until Spring arrives.) I need a taste of Summer.
Are you planning a trip somewhere warm this Winter to get you through?
Before heading off on your vacation, here are a few things you can do so you don't come home to any unwelcome surprises:
1. Water Heater - Set it to the lowest temperature to save energy. New models may offer a vacation mode or wireless control.
2. Thermostat - Adjust it close to the outside temperature but no lower than 50 degrees. (You don't want your pipes to freeze.) In the Summer, you don't want to let it get too hot in the house. If you have wood floors, they can warp. If you have a wireless system, adjust it to it's normal temperature a few hours before you arrive home so it is comfortable when you return.
3. Electronics - Unplug appliances from the wall outlets (or use surge protectors) in case of any electrical issues. This will prevent the potential for an electrical fire.
4. Water - Turn off valves to your dishwasher, washing machine and sinks to avoid any leaks. After you return, you might find air in the pipes when turning the water back on, so do it slowly.
5. Mail - Arrange to have your mail held at the post office until you return home or have someone come to your home every day to bring it in the house. You want to avoid having your home look like no one is home for a long period of time.
6. Newspapers - If you still get a daily newspaper, contact the carrier to put a hold on your delivery until you come home from vacation or have someone bring your newspapers into the home.
7. Neighbors - Make a trusted neighbor aware that you are going out of town so they can keep an eye on your home and look for any suspicious activity. Give them a key and a code to the alarm system, is necessary. Show them how to reset the alarm upon leaving, if need be.
8. Deliveries - Make sure you do not arrange to have Amazon or any other online store make deliveries to your home while you are out of town. With package theft at an all-time high, you don't want packages being left on your porch or at your front door for an extended period of time. (Not to mention damage caused by inclement weather!)
9. Social Media - Resist sharing on Facebook that you're going away if your home is going to be empty and tell your kids to do the same.
10. Timer - Keep one or more lights on a timer in your home that are visible from the outside. Set them to go on at dusk and then turn off shortly before your normal bedtime. This is another way for it to look as if someone is home when you're not.
Last night I was watching the Academy Awards Ceremony a/k/a The Oscars and it got me thinking of the stage. The stage can be set for homeowners who are looking to sell their homes, as well.
I am well aware that we are in the midst of the winter season, but, before you know it, Spring will be here and that tends to be the time of year when people are looking to put their home up for sale. It is a little more complicated than just putting a sign on your lawn. You need to prepare - and what better time to begin the process than during these cold winter months.
Over the years, I have helped realtors and home owners alike, "set the stage" to get their home ready to sell. Although there are many aspects to staging your home for sale, I would like to provide you with a quick overview of some areas to focus on.
1. Closets - If packed tightly, closets will make a home appear to lack closet space. It is vital that you eliminate the unnecessary clutter in a closet and organize it to maximize the amount of open space you want to show to the potential buyer. Using matching hangers for clothing will create a nice visual impact, as well.
2. Bedrooms - The bed should face towards the doorway and be the focal point of the bedroom. Eliminating the excess furniture will provide plenty of space in the room for navigation and clear surfaces on end tables and dressers will be pleasing to the eye.
3. Bathrooms - Be sure the surfaces are clean and clear. Remove soap scum and redo any grout that has discolored over time. A clean bathroom is a great way to stage your bathroom. Create a functional but relaxing environment, especially in a master bathroom. The display of white or cream colored towels will open up the space in the bathroom and provide a spa-like feel.
4. Kitchen - A simple and inexpensive way to update your kitchen is to use a new coat of wood stain or a good sanding and a coat of paint. Replace the hardware for a fresh new look and, as always, clear your surfaces of clutter. Lastly, remove area rugs from in front of the sink to open up the visual appearance of the kitchen.
*On average, most sellers will spend an average of $1950 on their bathroom and kitchen renovations with an ultimate return of approximately $3250, which is about a 65% on their return. Bathrooms and kitchens are essential spaces in the home and where most buyers are either won over or lost.
5. Living Room - Providing plenty of light in this room is a major source of approval by a potential buyer. Be sure that the shades are open and use lighter colors where possible to give the room a more spaceous look. Create clear paths to navigate and avoid having the back of a sofa face the main pathway. You want to open up the room to visitors and not block them off with misplaced furniture.
A few simple steps can increase your home's potential for a higher selling price. Removing clutter is one of the most important ways to do this.
If you are overwhelmed with the prospect of staging your home for sale or considering downsizing, don't hesitate to contact me. I can help you to "set the stage" for sale.
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the winter has been somewhat mild this year and we might not have had the opportunity to wear those very heavy wool sweaters, our fur lined boots and heavy winter coats.
If you are anything like me, that's quite all right. However, it does not mean that it's not time for that mid-winter check to see what we have used or what we wanted to use but because of the warm temps this year did not get to use.
This is a good time for you to go through those winter-related items and donate the excess to charity. You will free up space in your home and provide others in need with items they can use to make it through the rest of the winter comfortably, by donating them to a local charity.
Take some time to check out the following:
Blankets - Are there blankets in closets or in a cedar chest that you have not used in the past several years?
Sweaters - If you haven't worn certain sweaters by now, will you wear them by the end of the season?
Hats, gloves and scarves - If you have children, do their hats and gloves still fit them? Do you just have too many that have accumulated?
Coats - Just like your sweaters, if you haven't worn that coat this year, are you going to wear them by the end of the season?
Boots - If they are still in good condition, someone in need could use the ones you no longer wear. Are they not comfortable, out of style, not your favorites?
Outdoor recreation items: Have you checked your collection of snow shovels lately? Did you purchase a new one and not get rid of the older one? How about your sleds, toboggans or ski equipment? Don't have them take up additional space in your garage or attic if you are not using them anymore.
Decorations: Is there any holiday or winter decoration you didn't put out this year? You can sell them on Ebay, Craigs List or give them away thru Freecycle. See if any local day care centers can use some of them.
Eliminate the excess by either selling the items, donating them to a charity or giving them away thru Freecycle or to a local entity. Someone else will be glad to have them.
Let's make space for Spring! It will be here before we know it.
This past weekend, the eastern portion of the country experienced a noreastern storm that broke many records. In Philadelphia, they received over 28 inches of snow.
It got me thinking about organizing, of course.
Being organized is more than just keep your household under control and having good time management tools. It's a way of life.
When this large snow fall began, I quickly decided that I would be breaking the project of snow removal down into smaller, more manageable pieces, just like any other larger project, in order to get it done and make it easier for me to handle.
Therefore, I decided that the best way to handle it was to shovel the snow in intervals. When my son and I woke up, we took care of most of it, but with the storm still not over, we knew that we would finish the job when it was. So, instead of waiting until the entire storm ended, we began chipping away, as it were, at the project. This made it easier later in the day when the temperature started to drop and the surfaces became more icy. I am quite aware that many people just stayed in all day and procrastinated and now, Sunday morning, their cars are still buried in the snow and ice. That decision will now make it harder for them to dig out because now they will have to deal with the more difficult conditions.
There is a lesson to be learned here. When taking on any type of project, including snow removal, create a plan of action as to how you will take that project and break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces and you will find that you get the whole project completed much more easily.
We are expecting another large storm by mid-week and you can be assured, it will be managed the same way. One portion at a time.
If you love the snow, enjoy. For me, I can't wait til Spring!
Have a great week and remember, if you are overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized, contact A BETTER SPACE. I will be glad to help.
‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through our house,
There was clutter and chaos…but, thankfully, no mouse!
The mantle was bare, the wreath still in my car,
Not a cookie was baked, not even a bar.
I’d addressed not a card, not a gift had been wrapped,
The jet lag had got me, I just wanted to nap!
One tree was half decorated, the other not bought,
The stockings still packed and the Village was naught.
Ornaments and tissue paper were strewn all about,
I was tempted to say, ‘We’ll just do without!’
But our children and grandchildren will be here next week,
And I know it’s a peaceful, joyful holiday they seek.
So rally I must, this is really a test,
Can I do it? Can I make this Christmas one of the best?
I’ll put on some music, brew some tea, make a list,
I’ll do what I can, the rest won’t be missed.
That we have our health and our loved ones are near,
Is all that we need for our holiday cheer!
SO, LET'S GET ORGANIZED NEXT YEAR!!!!
For now, five strategies for surviving the next seven days:
Lower expectations. There’s not time to do everything but there’s time to do the important things. Even Martha Stewart would have to make choices with this limited amount of time. The trees will be decorated but the lights and the beads do not have to be perfect; perhaps there will not be so many ornaments as in years past. I’ll bake some cookies, but just enough for us to enjoy.
Plan menus to do double duty. The ham and the turkey will do their work for main meals and then appear again as sandwiches, Turkey Curry, and a couple of luscious soups that’ll grow like Topsy when I add some noodles or beans with vegetables. I’ll also make one trip to the store just to stock up on paper goods, dish soap and laundry soap. This is not the time to run out of those staples.
Do things in chunks of time. Instead of racing from one project to the next, I’ll spend one afternoon decorating the dining room, one decorating the living room. I’ll spend one evening baking cookies, another addressing envelopes and yet another doing the layout for the Christmas letter. In those chunks of time, the biggest projects…those that I deem most important…will be done.
Buy some time. There’s just not time to clean the entire house so I’ll hire someone to do the main areas and leave the rest. Clean beds and clean bathrooms top my list. The rest is just fine.
Take care of myself. The best gift I can give my family is to be relaxed and just enjoy this holiday with them. My mood will set the tone for the entire celebration. I’ll get some rest, a bit of exercise, and give myself permission not to be perfect.
No matter how much or how little I do, December 25th will be here next week. I can choose to be stressed or I can relax and enjoy the season. I choose the latter.
It’s truly the best time of the year. May you all have a blessed holiday with your family and friends!
Contact me if you want to make your holiday season a bit easier next year! I can help.
The weather has changed quickly where I live in the northeastern part of the country. I thought this would be a good time to help you get ready for the cold months ahead by giving you Quick Tips For A Better Space - your home.
There are many things to consider this time of year. You not only need to dress yourself in warmer clothes, but you need to dress your home as well. If not, you are not taking care of your biggest investment and throwing your hard-earned money down the drain.
Here are some suggestions to winterize your home:
Clean and check the heating filters and system for efficiency. Change your filter and check for leaks in the system to ensure your system is working at it's best. Call in a contractor if necessary.
Check all water faucets to ensure there are no leaks or rusting.
Have your fireplace/chimney inspected, serviced and cleaned. It can be a fire hazard. This small investment in your safety is so important.
If you did not already do so when we changed the clocks in October, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. Most fires are started in the winter by candles and faulty wiring. If something should happen, you need to make sure you can get yourself and your family out of the house as quickly as possible. Remember to practice your escape plan!
Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home - they are not expensive but can prevent carbon monixide poisoning from car exhaust from the car stored in the garage, the heater, the oven, etc. With the home closed up for the winter months, this is especially important for the health and safety of your family.
Check the weather stripping and check for drafts around windows and doors to ensure functionality. You can lose a lot of heat through your windows and doors if this is not done which can cost you greatly when you receive that utility bill.
Replace and check your fire extinguishers. Make sure the meter is where it's supposed to be. If not, get it recharged. Remember to keep one on each floor, especially in the kitchen. A small one under the sink in the cabinet is a great place to store it.
Prepare An Emergency Kit:
In the cold winter months, have a plan and an emergency kit. Your electricity can go out. A large snow fall or other condition could cause your family to be confined to the home. Here are things a good emergency kit should contain:
Indoor candles and flashlights for light - just don't leave those candles unattended!
A supply of drinking water and non-perishable food.
A manual can opener to open those cans in case the electricity goes out for an extended period of time.
An emergency weather radio to keep you informed on the latest conditions in your area. (battery operated, of course.)
A supply of extra batteries and perhaps a generator for back-up supply.
Lots of warm blankets to keep you warm in case you lose your heat.
To occupy your time, have books and board games accessible since the television and other electronics might not be working.
Lastly, when it comes to energy efficiency during these long winter months, you might want to consider wrapping the hot water heater with a blanket. This helps improve efficiency and can cut down on your utility bill. That heater can really drive up your bill so any extra savings can really help your budget! Insullation for the water heater can be purchased at your local home improvement store or online and has do-it-yourself instructions.
Enjoy the coming winter months and take good care of yourself and your home.
In the meantime, if you have any organizing questions or problems you would like me to address, please feel free to contact me at A BETTER SPACE. I'll be glad to help.