Homemade Air Freshener Methods

You’re spending more time indoors. You might be turning the heat on and enjoying cozy evenings. Chances are you’re probably also enduring some unwanted smells. From the trash, to getting behind on cleaning, to the effect of closed doors – this season is strong on the senses. Why not make it smell great? Make your home rich with inviting, company worthy scents!

Below are some homemade remedies to get you started! Your nose is going to thank you! Make your house smell amazing with some of these methods!

Stove top – Quick and easy! All you have to do is grab a pot, fill it with water and add something fragrant. Fruits and spices make a great combination! Cinnamon, cranberry, and lemon make for a great holiday blend! Create your own combination – perfect for your home!

Spray – Homemade air fresheners are a great gift for Christmas or to take to your family at Thanksgiving. Most sites suggest a bottle with a spray nozzle, water, some type of rubbing alcohol agent, and drops of your favorite scented oil.

Spray bottle with essential oils and fruit slices in view.

Deodorizer – If you’re more interested in getting rid of a smell instead of adding a scent – try a deodorizing technique. Setting out baking soda or a dish of vinegar will do the trick.

Gel – This is the same method as making the spray air freshener, but you use gel. Gel candles are also great fresheners as they last a while.

Natural remedies – Coffee beans, fresh rosemary, and plants in general seem to clean the air around you and purify the senses. Try them out! Rosemary works great if you put it in the shower and let it release its perfume!

BAKE COOKIES!

Freshen Up Your Walls With New Paint!

We hope these ideas have been easy and cost efficient! Take these ideas to your family for Thanksgiving and give the kids or adults something fun to do while some people are cooking!

Giving Back this Thanksgiving without Spending a Dime

It’s easy to get lost in the bustle of life. Holidays are great, but for many they are a time of financial stress, reflecting on loss, or feeling alone. Maybe you fall into one of these categories yourself. If so, it’s all the more reason to give back. In a time of year where we look to our families, travel, and gifts, let us not forget our neighbors.

Giving to those around us doesn’t mean giving a lot of money, or any money really. It’s more about resources, time, and thoughtfulness. We encourage you to give this Thanksgiving. Below we’ve got some ideas to help you get started.

  • Check your pantry Do you have some canned goods, dry foods, or supplies you don’t need or use that are in date? Consider donating some to a local food bank. You could also organize a neighborhood or street-wide food drive and ask people to donate along with you!
  • Make baked goods for community workers Are you thankful for firefighters, police, librarians, teachers, etc.? Make them some cookies with a card and thank them for what they do to better your community.
  • Volunteer Help with a marathon, visit a nursing home, or a hospital. Your time and effort are the best gift you can give.
  • Become a tutor or mentor Do you know a child who needs some help with reading? Ask area non-profits in your city if they have a program you can help in tutoring kids or volunteer your time at a local school. Do you know someone who needs support or guidance or do you just feel you have skills you could offer? Consider becoming a mentor.
Man cleaning sink in a mobile home.
  • Clean someone’s house/car Do you know someone who just had a baby? Do you have a friend that needs a break? Offer to clean their house or help them do so.
  • Invite someone over for dinner You’re already making dinner. Why not everyone eat a little less or skip the leftovers so a friend in need can feel loved and supported?
  • Offer to babysit or dog sit for someone Everyone needs a break or a night out! Have a friend going a way for a while? Offer to watch their dog so they don’t have to pay money to board them.

Does all this giving back have you feeling thankful?

Try a Gratitude Journal!

Fall Home Maintenance: Clearing Leaves

When the leaves change color, it is one of the most loved moments of fall. Their bright colors add so much beauty to the world. With the leaves changing, it is means it is time for them to fall. While leaves can look pretty both on the ground or on the trees, leaves can cause some issues around the home.

 We suggest focusing on problem areas such as gutters, flower beds, wood surfaces, and walkways for clearing leaves.

  • Clearing leaves from your gutters will ensure they can drain properly in the upcoming season.
  • Removing leaves from flower beds will prevent animals from setting up residence close to your home. It will also allow plenty of sunlight to reach the soil so in the springtime your plants will thrive.
  • Leaves can potentially stain wooden areas such as a deck or porch. It can also cause the wood to rot. Sweep them off as often as you can!
  • Removing leaves from walkways is important as they can cause the area to be slick when it rains.
Someone removing leaves from a gutter with bright orange gloves.

Clearing leaves in your yard is not a must, but it is good for the environment. However, it does help to keep the areas around your home clean and safe if you choose to pick them up.

Removing leaves is a simple process, you can either use a rake, mulch them up with a lawnmower, or gather them in a pile with a leaf blower. Once they are collected into a pile, there are several solutions for ridding the leaves.

  • Use the leaves for your compost pile
  • Burn leaves (check your local area to make sure there is not an ordinance about burning leaves or if there is a burn ban)
  • Bag them for trash
  • See if your community has leaf pickup days

Leaf maintenance can be a year-round job, so do not stress every time a leaf blows into your yard from somewhere else. Creating a good routine will help to keep the project manageable.

For more items you need to prepare your home for, check out our fall maintenance list.


7 Ways to Use Pumpkins this Harvest Season

Late every September, we welcome a season of cooler weather, changing colors, and a time of plenty. For centuries across the world – cultures have celebrated the fall season as a time of harvest. During this time, we reflect on the year we have enjoyed thus far and all the reasons we have to be thankful. So it makes sense that we use vibrant colors, various plants, and wonderful foods to celebrate the harvest.

One of the most popular signs of harvest time is the pumpkin! Bright, versatile, and delicious – the pumpkin is often the center of attention. From classic carving, to the unusual – these ideas are sure to help you celebrate!

 1. Cooking

Pumpkin seeds make for a great snack and all you have to do is bake them! Plus, you can make pie. But it doesn’t stop there. Try making a soup! Check out these great ideas!

2. Carving

Carve a scary face, the letter your last name starts with, or a super hero for the kids! Get some inspiration here.

 3. Painting

Don’t want all the mess of carving? Simply paint a design, stripes, or anything you want for a finished look!

Painting a pumpkin
Make a party or event around decorating your pumpkin!

 4. Bowl/ Container

Need a festive punch bowl or container for candy? Cut out a pumpkin and line it with a plastic bag or find a clear bowl to fit in it. Here’s a great “how to”.

 5. Luminary

You can either use pumpkins to light your walkway or cut out the center and put a candle holder with candle in it!

6. Embellishing/ Decorating

Many sites use lace, push pins, and stickers to make a unique pumpkin with modern flair.

 7. Door stopper

Keep the doors open this year by placing a small pumpkin in front of the door.

Give Me Decorating Ideas!

Happy Harvest! We hope you and your family can have some fun with these ideas!

Halloween Trick or Treat Bags for Your Kids

How many orange pumpkins have you bought over the years for Halloween? Come on, there’s no shame, we’ve all been there. Oh, and I haven’t forgotten you, pillow sheets! You are creative and so is your child – let’s make a fun treat bag that celebrates that! It will give you an easy project you can enjoy with your kids, and their friends may just call you the “cool” parents, even though we know you already are!

Kids sitting on stoop in Halloween costumes with trick or treat bags.
  1. Sew one! A simple pattern can make for a super cute bag for Halloween. For most projects, all you need is different colored felt and a pattern! You could also reuse the fabric for other seasons depending on what you choose!
  2. Repurpose a shirt/ sew a patch on. Have an old spooky shirt? Cut it with a simple tutorial and you’ve got a great bag! You also can sew or iron patches of a canvas bag for a well-traveled look!
  3. Stencil on a canvas bag! Use paint, spray paint or whatever you like to make your own unique saying on your kiddo’s bag, or go classic and put their name on it!
  4. Line your bag in ribbon. You can line the top by gluing the ribbon along the edges of the bag. You can also cut two little holes in the top of the bag and wrap the ribbon around the bag and to the top and through the holes.
  5. Use bandanas! Get a few different colored bandanas and tie them together or sew them up to make your own unique bag!

Keep Crafting with Your Kids!

Ask your kiddo what theme they’d like to do, or make something to go with their costume. Ask some of their friends to join and make a party out of it! Come up with your own idea if you like!

Family outside in the mountains

10 Spend Free Fall Weekend Ideas

It’s my opinion, but I wear it proudly – Autumn is worth the whole year. In other words, I seriously love fall and wait for it each year with expectation. I enjoy the other seasons as they come, but there’s nothing like the season of fall to me. If I had to peg the one underlying reason I love this time of year it’d have to be that the outdoors turn into the perfect playground, from gorgeous colors, to perfect temperatures, football games, etc. it’s all so inviting!

So since the outdoors are gearing up to create the ideal backdrop for all your family fun, why not enjoy it all without the cost? That’s right, here’s how to have the best fall weekend without breaking the bank!

  • Go hiking: If you need an all-day event, or your looking to spend some energy with your older kids or your pets this option is made for you! You can stay active and enjoy the scenery – talk about the best of both worlds!
  • Host a scary viewing party! Get your favorite spooky show or movie and invite your friends over! Borrow a projector and take it outside or watch on your deck or screened in porch.
  • Use fall foliage for décor: Acorns, pinecones, and leaves make for beautiful décor pieces! No need to go out and buy what you can find in your backyard. If you are nervous they are filled with bugs, dry them out or try one of the many cleaning options on Pinterest!
  • Take lunch to the park: Instead of staying inside, take lunch outside! Heck, it can be your own backyard!
  • Have a candlelit story time: Put the phones and electronics away. Light some candles and turn the lights off. Read the kids a book by candle light. You’ll feel like your back in the day and get to focus on one thing at a time for change! 

Cup of coffee with whip cream and caramel on a table next to fall leaves.
Enjoy a cup with a friend!
  • Make tea or coffee and invite a friend over: Enjoy a low-key chat without having to go out and spend money. A warm cup of hospitality is just as sweet as friendship.
  • Volunteer: Easy, free, and it helps someone else! This is the best one on the list. It’s never too early to teach your kids to put others’ and their needs first. It is the season of gratefulness after all!
  • Clean/Organize: Open the windows and freshen up the house for the season! Organize the kids’ toys, the kitchen, or make a box to donate. Does a room in your home need a good scrub, too? Get some kitchen cleaning inspiration!
  • Break out the board games: Work together or enjoy a little friendly competition playing some games. This is great for those kiddos that need a little break from technology.
  • Go outside and draw what you see: Take another look at your backyard or your front yard. Draw your best rendition! Be sure to include all the color you see!

Get More Frugal Ideas!

Enjoy the best season of all! Remember, fun can be free!

Oakbur Quill Co.

Pre-qualification, Pre-approval, and What You Need to Know

Both pre-qualifications and pre-approvals are indications of what a bank or creditor may be willing to lend but are not loan guarantees. The most important aspect is that they show the seller you are serious about buying while giving you an idea of what you may be able to borrow. Both processes will vary depending on the lender that you select. Before you request a pre-qualification or pre-approval, be sure to ask your lender about how the process will flow, potential associated costs, whether your credit report will be pulled and if documentation will be required. Ask for a list up front so you can know exactly what you’ll need to provide.

Pre-qualification

What: A letter from a lender that says you will likely be able to get a mortgage loan up to a specified amount

Who: A bank, credit union, or financial entity writes a pre-qualification for you. Which means they are looking at your debts and income to decide your credit worthiness.

When: Usually this is the first thing a homebuyer does when looking for a home

Cost: Free (usually)

Where: Online or over the phone (depending on entity)

Why: Potential homebuyers use this to see how much of a home they may be able to afford, or in some cases if they can afford a home. This appeals to sellers because it shows them as a buyer you are serious and can get the loan you need to purchase the home.

What you’ll typically need to provide: Usually potential lenders will look into your debts and income. Lenders usually pull a credit report to evaluate before they write the pre-qualification.

Pre-approval

What: A letter that tells you what a lender is willing to lend you based on financial documentation you provide. Looks at financial history, income, and stability.

Who: A bank, credit union, or financial entity works on a pre-approval for you. Which means they are looking at your bank statements, proof of income, credit, employment, and personal documentation.

When: Usually done right after a green light on a pre-qualification, the next step, some lenders may skip pre-qualification and go straight to pre-approval.

Cost: Varies (but usually a cost is involved for application)

Where: Online or over the phone (depending on entity)

Why: It’s more sound than a pre-qualification because approvals are based on proof of financial status and often evaluated by an underwriter. Can usually provide info about mortgage types and possible interest rates.

What you’ll typically need to provide:

  • W-2 from last 2 years (proof of income)
  • Bank statements (assets)
  • Credit score
  • Pay stubs (proof of employment)
  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security # (personal documentation)

Learn More About the Mortgage Process

Advice from Homeowners to Potential Homebuyers

When we asked some homeowners what they wish they’d known before they purchased a home, we found a theme: researching and understanding the responsibility behind owning a home. Get started with the advice below –

With the internet providing unlimited resources – we have the opportunity to be very informed buyers. However, that also means we might get some bad or inaccurate advice. Therefore, it is wise to be thorough in conducting your research. Ask parents and peers and don’t be shy in calling mortgage companies and asking questions.

Also, it’s good to be prepared for the pitfalls of owning a home. Repairs and updates to a home shouldn’t deter you from owning a home, but you need to have an idea of the cost and time you’ll be spending to keep your home in good shape.

Check out mobile home options!

Manufactured home with steps leading to the front door.

Research:

General –

  • Read blogs, check Pinterest and Google
  • Research the builder of the home you want to purchase. Read reviews. Check into negative reviews if there are any. Compare them to other builders.
  • If safety is a priority to you, check crime rates in the area you would like to live in.
  • If you have kids – look into the school districts and what they offer.

Home Specific –

  • Ask if the title is clear.
  • See if an escrow account for payment of taxes and insurance is available or required through your lender.
  • Check into interest rates and compare them, also see if it’s a fixed rate that will not change during the term of the mortgage.
  • Find out what the estimated annual homeowner’s insurance and property tax payments will be.
  • Look into the history of home and lot in the public land records.

Responsibilities:

Think you’re ready to make a home purchase? Dig into these first-time homebuyer resources as a next step! Have your own homeowner advice? Interested in something specific? Email us your input at facebook@vmf.com!

Person sorting through vegetables and fruit on a table.

How to Compost: Indoors

Short on outdoor space but still want to compost? It turns out, you can! There are two ways that you can compost inside. You can purchase a compost bin for your home, or you can do vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is composting with worms.

With Vermicomposting, the worms will breakdown your materials and do the work for you. It is surprisingly low maintenance to keep them and provides rich fertilizer once ready. The container typically needs cleaned every 3-6 months. There are products that you can buy to start up this process if you don’t mind a few hundred tiny roommates that may not pay their rent but will take out the trash for you.

Trash can in a kitchen island that can be used for compost.

If the idea of keeping creepy-crawlies in your house makes you feel uneasy, you can opt for a bin. You can purchase an indoor compost bins or you can make one of your own. To make your own:

  • You can drill holes in the bottom of a plastic container and put a drip tray underneath (to catch any liquid). Inside the composter you would add a layer of dirt and paper.
  • After you add your layer, add your cut up food scraps. With composting inside, you’ll want to avoid anything that will be stinky.
  • You’ll want to add materials like leaves or newspaper and mix your compost regularly. This process will continue until your compost looks and smells like dirt.

Keep in mind where you will be placing your bins. Some people opt for under the sink and others, right on the counter.

Why Compost?

With whatever route you should choose to take, you can take comfort in knowing you are bettering the world!