How to Make Your Own American Flag Cake for 4th of July

When it comes to celebrations – we all love to eat! Yet, cooking can add stress to an already long to do list. So, we want to alleviate those concerns by sharing our process for this simple favorite that’s so easy even the kids can help! You may even want to gift a cake to a Veteran as a thank you for their service. Or perhaps you can bake one for a friend or neighbor that is unable to leave their house or accept visitors due social distancing guidelines. Please remember to use caution around others and follow all CDC guidelines as you celebrate, share, and interact this holiday.

To get started you need these things:

  • White boxed cake mix
  • Mix usually calls for: eggs, oil, or milk
  • Whipped Cream (a good amount of it)
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Rectangle shaped pan

Once you have the items you need – it’s time to get started. If you don’t want to do it all in one sitting, you can bake the cake, take a break and come back to the toppings later. Whatever is easiest for you – go with it!

Step 1: Follow the directions on your boxed cake mix and let it cool.

Step 2: Cover with whipped cream. You can make your own or use frosting if you prefer. You also can skip the icing if you’re wanting a little less sugar.

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Step 3: Wash and place blueberries on the cake.

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Step 4: Wash and slice strawberries in half vertically. Then place on cake!

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Serve or chill or later!

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We hope this is an easy, fun addition to your day. Happy 4th! Thank you to those who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Keep the party going with our firework safety tips below!

Firework Safety Tips

How to Create a Gravel Driveway

One of the assets of a mobile home is getting to choose the location of your home. From rural areas and hollers, to mobile home communities – there are plenty of opportunities to live in the setting you want. Since many homes are placed on land, they may need certain additions and maintenance. One of those possibilities is to cover your driveway.

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There are various options to cover your driveway like concrete or asphalt. One of the more cost-efficient methods is to lay gravel. Depending on the location of your home and your budget, you can decide the best option. We’ll explore the basics of laying a gravel driveway below!

Mark the perimeter of your driveway

Decide what you want the area of your driveway to be and mark it with wooden posts in corners and in between every six feet or so. You can connect the area with a string to get a better visual. During this time, you can decide if you’d like to place a boarder. This will help keep the perimeter marked. You can use something like bricks or wooden beams. Lastly, measure the area.

Manually dig up grass or hire a professional

Digging up topsoil and grass can be intensive, but if you rent the right tools and have help, it can be smooth sailing. If you have the budget, feel free to hire professionals.

Prepare the area for gravel

First, level the surface of your driveway – you can also compact the dirt if necessary. This can be done with a large tool or your truck. Next, add a weed barrier. It may not seem necessary, but as the seasons change this will be important. Adding this barrier will prevent having to do a lot of maintenance later on.

Progressively add gravel- depending on layers

Best practice is to do 3 layers of gravel. This usually consists of a sand and big rocks, then a layer of smaller rocks, and then finally the smallest layer of gravel. In between levels, it’s wise to compact and spread the rock so the layers settle the way you want.

Grade the gravel

Pull a little more gravel to the center and less on the edges. This is to help your gravel drain properly.

Feel free to do more research before beginning the process. If you’re looking for something even more cost-efficient, try a gravel blend. This may be made up of gravel and crushed pieces. It usually costs less and makes for a great filler.

 

 

How to Clean Vinyl Siding

Vinyl is the exterior material used for most mobile homes. However, its popularity isn’t limited to mobile homes – many manufactured homes and site built homes utilize this versatile material. Even though it’s relatively easy to maintain, vinyl gets dirty pretty quickly.

Below are some practical ways to clean your vinyl siding. Most options are cheap and use household items/ cleaners.

First things first – before you begin utilizing these cleaning solutions and methods, be sure you test one small area of the siding before taking on the whole project. There are many different types of siding and you want to be sure your siding reacts well.

vinyl siding on mobile home

The Basics—

In a resource section of their website, The Vinyl Siding Institute – America Sides With VinylSM, recommends using a soft cloth or regular long-handled brush with soft bristles to clean vinyl.  It is suggested that you should clean from the bottom up and cover any brick on the home below the siding to prevent possible staining from runoff.

For mold and mildew, The Vinyl Siding Institute recommends a water/ vinegar mixture that is 70/30. For small areas,  Windex ® or a similar commercial cleaner can be used.

The following can be used for Stubborn Stains—

1/3 cup powered laundry detergent

2/3 cup powdered household cleaner

1 quart liquid laundry bleach*

1 Gallon of water

**Please exercise CAUTION when making any cleaning solution and be sure to NEVER mix bleach and ammonia.**

If you’ve got a garden or great landscaping around your home, you want to be sure to preserve the area while cleaning.

For a mixture that is Landscaping friendly—

Some websites suggest using a gallon of water mixed with a much smaller amount of an eco-friendly cleaner like oxygen bleach.

If these solutions aren’t for you – there is always pressure washing. It’s a little pricier to rent the equipment, but paired with one of the cleaning solutions above it will make for a powerful clean!

Pressure washing—

Most expert sites agree, that when pressure washing, it is best practice to pair with a cleaning solution. Be sure to tend to landscaping accordingly. Also, when washing keep the sprayer eye level for best results. This keeps water from getting behind the siding.

We hope this has been helpful!

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Easy Wallboard Repair Technique

Whether you’ve got a fixer upper or you’re just trying for an updated look – repairing wallboard within your mobile home may be an easy fix. Check out the video to help you with this project!

Please use caution when handling the tools and materials described here – your safest option is to bring in a professional to do the work! Please also note that these repairs may not be covered by your home warranty.

Things to do before you begin:

  1. Call home manufacturer to purchase replacement panels
  2. Have serial # from data plate ready

Things needed for project:

  • Replacement panel
  • Molding to cover edges
  • Panel adhesive
  • 1”/1/4” finishing nails
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Keyhole saw
  • Power saw or handsaw

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Kid Friendly Activities From Your Backyard

With springtime here, the weather is getting warmer and people are spending more time outside, especially kids. Here are a few activities that you can have your kids’ help with that will engage them in hands-on activities and encourage their curiosity.

Plant a Garden:

Teaching kids how to tend for a garden is a wonderful skill. It encourages responsibility, while also creates reward as a result from their hard work. You could choose a vegetable garden or flower garden. Either way, your kids will be proud to see what they grew from a small seed. These gardens can be low maintenance and you have a variety of options to choose from depending on your space. You could make a raised flowerbed or have a garden in buckets. You can even get creative with your containers with a little inspiration.

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Learning about gardening is super fun for kids – they are invited to get dirty!

Make a Bird feeder:

A fun outdoor activity is to make an up-cycled birdfeeder. There are the traditional bird feeders that you can build or buy, but you can also make one out of every day objects you would typically throw out. Create one by decorating an old milk carton, bottles, or cans. Once you have it made, learn what kind of birds are in your area and find out what kind of seed they like. When filled and hung, you can sit and listen to their songs and help your kids identify the different species right in your own backyard.

Make Wind Chimes:

Adding a little music to your yard is another simple craft for you and your kids. With this activity you can up-cycle a variety of objects from old toys, to cans, to silverware. Check out this article for some ideas ! Test out the sounds together to here how they clink together to find the right sounds. This fun activity will allow your kids to be creative and be proud every time they hear the wind blow.

Decorate your Pathway:

If you have a front pathway or maybe just want to add a little flair to your garden, you can collect rocks with your kids and then paint them. You can pick a theme you want to stick to for the ideas or just go crazy with it! Let creativity be your guide. Once completed, you can line your walkway or make a rock garden with your newly decorated rocks. You can also decorate clay pots and arrange them on your front stoop or porch.

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Whichever craft you choose, remember it will encourage creativity while letting their personalities shine through and create life long memories that you’ll kids will take with them as they grow.

Simple Steps for Landscaping and Flower Bed Clean Up Around Your Mobile Home

Now that’s it warming up, it’s time to plant those flower beds! We’ll look at how to upkeep previously planted areas and restore them for the season, as well as creating a flower bed area around your mobile home. Grab the kiddos, family, or a friend and get to work! I got some of these great ideas from a home improvement site, check out more from them.

If you already have landscaping follow these upkeep tips:

Pick up. Before you dig in pick up the area and your yard. Clear any trash, sticks, and leaves that are sitting around. Basically, move anything that will keep grass from growing.

Clear the way for perennials. If you planted perennials, aka flowers that come back year after year, then you’ll want to make sure they have room to thrive. Depending on your yard, this could mean a lot of things. It may be clearing out weeds, pushing back ivy, or spraying something safe for the environment to ward off pests. Your flower beds may also need to be re-covered with fabric or more mulch.

Consider composting. Composts are a great option to reduce waste, save money, and have rich soil every year for your yard.

Now, for those of you who want to get started with flower beds, I’ll help you get started with some basics.

Landscaping for your mobile home:

Plan your flower beds. Observe the area you want your beds to be.

  • Will it be partial or full sunlight?
  • Will it receive little or a lot of rain?

This will help you choose plants that will best fit your area. You can research before you go to the store, or just take some time at the store looking through options – you also may be well versed in this already. It’s also important to outline the area before you begin work – either with string, or cutting it out with a shovel, or you could even use spray paint.

Break ground/ Kill grass. Depending on the area, you’ll need to try one of these various techniques:

  • Removing it by hand, using tools like a tiller
  • Solarization – covering the area you’ll plant your beds with plastic and tucking it in at the edges for the sun to scorch the grass away
  • Raised beds – make a wood or like material box to place on the area and steak the corners in the ground
  • Spray with something safe
  • Smothering – cover with anything, newspaper, materials, ect.

Lay landscaping fabric. Once you’ve cleared the area, you can lay soil, but the best practice is to lay landscaping fabric first. There are options. Some people use mulch or plastic – it’s up to you and what’s best for the layout of your land.

Plant! Now that the ground is flat and covered, you’re ready to plant! This is where you’ll need to measure how much soil you’ll need and how deep the plants need to be beneath the soil. After planting you can cover in wood chips, or something of the like to protect the beds from weeds. Remember to water your new items, especially if they are seedlings.

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Make sure you don’t just rely on rain, regular watering us a must!

Lay edging. Lastly, it’s a good idea to lay edging if there’s not a pathway or something that outlines your flower bed. You could use rocks, brick, wood, stone you name it! Get creative and finish your flower bed off in style.

I hope this helps you get started in making your exterior even more beautiful! Feel free to break up this project into days so it’s not overwhelming! Looking to do more projects outside? I’ve got something you’ll want to read.

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How to Maximize Your Free Time

Cleaning is a tasking chore. There is no doubt about that. For me, it felt like I was stuck in the same routine every Saturday. I worked hard all week and yet when the weekend came, I was still working. It was exhausting and I just wanted to take a break! So what is the solution? Hire a maid? Nice idea, but it wasn’t for me.

Here are some tips to make life a little easier when it comes to cleaning.

Make a schedule:

Who knew mom would have had genius ideas? As a child it seemed like the chore list was put in place to create torture. A rotating schedule that meant you had to do one of each thing as a child, yuck! And now as adults, it is all left up to us to complete.

Implementing a family chore list, or one even if you live alone can be a huge help. It’ll help you complete all the tasks throughout the week so when Saturday morning comes, you are free to relax without housework looming over your head.  Plus, if you have a family, you’ll have help around the house and won’t have to remind anyone what chore they have and on what day.

Feel free to take this with you to make your own chore list that works for you!

Chore List Template Sheet1

One Extra Thing…

If you have too many horror flashbacks from implementing a chore schedule or it just doesn’t work for your lifestyle, try to do just one extra thing a day. This could be doing a load of laundry after you get off work, or going grocery shopping during the week. Doing just one thing extra a day will help for your house to be fresh all through out the week and maximize your weekend time.

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Keeping up with clutter keeps it from happening!

Put it away, right away:

Yet again, mom was right. How many times did you hear, “pick up your toys if you’re done with them?” A thousand times at least, right? This holds true with clutter. For me, the clutter is always the worst, especially junk mail. It just seems to creep up on me. But, if I take care of it right away it won’t be there later; simple enough concept.  The same holds true with putting away laundry, folding blankets, etc. If you do it right when you are done with whatever it is, it won’t be waiting for you to do later. The extra 3 seconds it takes to toss the junk mail out or fold the blanket you are done with will save you more in the future. It’ll be a moment here or there rather than all the moment compiled at once. Plus, you’ll continue to have your house tidy even if you haven’t had the time to sweep or vacuum.

Check out the Interactive Chore List!

Remember, any change of routine can take a little bit to truly set in and the more people in the household, the longer it probably is going to take. Try to be patient with yourself (and your family) with getting there. But once you are, you won’t regret the extra time you have!

Staying Connected: Making Mother’s Day Special During a Pandemic

Your mom has been there for you in certain and uncertain times of your life. She fed you, changed your diapers, taught you how to walk, talk, the list goes on and on for how far a mother’s love extends. So how can you show your appreciation for your mom during a global pandemic? Maybe she lives in a different state than you or in the same town, but it is still discouraged to visit anyone where it isn’t essential. Here are some suggestions for making your mom feel special even if you can’t spend some quality time with her the old-fashioned way:

Call Her:

Zoom, Facebook, Google, Facetime, Skype, the possibilities for a video call are ENDLESS. Take the extra time to see your mom while keeping her safe.

Drive By to See Her:

A lot of people are planning parades. Get your siblings together and find a good time where you can all drive by your mom’s house and honk the horn. You can make signs and decorate your cars for when you make your appearance.

Send a Meal:

Maybe you want to treat your mom to a meal or a dessert of some sort. You can either make it yourself and drop it off at her doorstep or you can call a local restaurant and see if they offer delivery. If they don’t offer delivery, but offer curbside pickup, let your mom know about the surprise and plan a good time for her to go get her special dinner.

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Make mom something sweet!

Give a Gift:

A lot of pampering places are currently not opening and may not be opening for a little while yet until we know how this virus will shake out. Give her a gift card or gift certificate to her favorite nail salon, hair salon, or a massage. If she’d rather go to the movies, give her a gift card to the movie theater in her town that way when they open back up, she can enjoy it then.

Send Flowers:

If there are any local florists open near you, send her flowers if that is her thing to let her know you are thinking of her.

Make this Mother’s Day extra memorable by thinking outside of the box to show her how much you care. After all, she deserves a little extra sunshine and love.

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5 Ways to Get Moving Without the Gym

Now is a great time to focus on fitness. Not only does it relieve stress, but it also helps shift focus and get the body moving. With a lot of us being home and not having our routine to depend on – it’s the best time to start or nurture a healthy habit in a unique way. Whether you’re missing the gym, or wanting a break from the couch – let’s get started with some creative ways to work out.

Dance. There are so many forms of dance exercises. From high-intensity, to just getting you moving – the variety within this type of workout is so fun. I’m partial to this type because I’m not athletic, so you will not find me running. However, dance doesn’t even feel like working out – it’s easy to get lost in the music. Plus, it’s such a great way to get cardio in. This is a perfect workout if you have kids too, they can join in on the fun and expend some energy. Get started with something like ZUMBA!

Yoga. This is a good option for those looking to build up strength and muscles. Yoga is well suited for everyone. You can find tons of video instruction for free. There are all kinds of intensities and focuses you can choose from. You can do something simple to help you think clearly and relax, or you can find something that creates heat in your muscles. I enjoy this option for how it helps me gain flexibility. Check out a personal yoga favorite of mine!

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Find some low-cost equipment online to help your workout. 

Shaping focused workouts. Maybe you like to pinpoint your workouts, or you’re used to lifting or toning individual parts of your body. Find a workout set that breaks things down. Want to work on shoulders – you got it! These quick and easy tailored workouts are a great way to give attention to a place you want to show some love. I haven’t tried these myself, so let me know what you think!

Step aerobics. I know what you’re thinking, it’s not the 80s, but they did get so much right then! You don’t even really need a step to do these workouts. You can do most of it by kicking up into the air to mimic the step. If you feel comfortable you could use the last step outside your home in the front or the back or you could find a safe, stable item to step up on. The main idea is to keep those steps going, and those knees high.

Walking. If you’re wanting to be outside and you’ve got some space to roam, walking could be a great choice. You can manage your intensity by how fast and focused you’re walk is. If you’re wanting to let your mind wonder, let the dog stretch it’s legs or simply get some sun – then this option is just right for you!

Keep Moving Outside With the Kids!

I hope that this encourages you to move – regardless of your ability level or if working out is your thing. This is a great way to create some space to have fun and let loose. Enjoy!