6 Shade Ideas for Your Yard This Summer

We’ve entered the part of summer that is just hot no matter what you do. You may have spent the season hoping for some relief, but it’s not too late to make a dream relaxation spot in your yard! I’ll be looking at some shade ideas that you can do yourself or purchase. Not only can shades be great for you and your family outside, but they can also potentially save energy if they cover part of your home, too!

Let’s check out some cool ways to stay shaded!

Sun sailSun sails are a cute, modern way to protect an area from the sun. They are rather inexpensive but offer decent protection. Check out some options here. The trick to making one is getting your measurements right for the area that needs fabric and researching what fabric would do best. Here’s a sun sail how to you might be interested in.

Sun sails add a touch of relaxation!
Sun sails add a touch of relaxation!

Palapa – If you’re in a coastal area, this is perfect –  Palapa has that island vibe. You can find it at most home improvement stores. Palapas umbrellas are popular. You could make your own, or add palapas to whatever shade project you’re interested in.

Trees – Obviously these take time to grow, but you can choose something that grows fast or purchase something that’s already grown to a certain size. This can provide some good shade that will only grow.

Plants with trellis – A trellis is a great idea for gardeners. The trellis itself will block some of the sunlight, but you can look up vines or plans that climb so that it will cover them well. Here are some great options for climbing plants! Be careful not to put the trellis too close to your home, as it may encourage the vine/ plant to grow onto your home. Though vines look lovely on a home, they are actually bad for the siding on your home and can attract bugs to your home.

Patio curtains – There are many ways to implement curtain shades. You can hang them from anywhere vertically to help the angle of the sun. You can hang them from a deck, a pergola, or install your own base and hang them from there.

Pergola – Thesecan be expensive but make a great atmosphere in your yard. Though they are a little bit more involved, they can make a great project! Try on of these free pergola plans!

Keep Cool With This Post!

I hope these ideas inspire you to choose an option and maybe even make it a project for you and your family! Stay cool!

Back to School Tips for Your Family

School has started for many kids or is soon to start, and I want to help you dream of all the ways to get organized. After a year and a half of different/flexible home and school schedules – most are back to regular pacing at school. I want to help you return easily to the swing of things. I hope these tips help you and your family have a smooth transition and help you all succeed.

Let’s get started!

Set up a drop station

Organization is such a powerful discipline. It takes a little time on the front end but saves you time in the long run. Drop stations can be a variety of things, but mostly they have:

  • Area for shoes, backpack, jacket
  • A whiteboard/paper with a calendar and/or schedule for the family
  • Place for the mail
  • Small place to sit
  • Charging station for school laptops/ tablets

You can set up the area for what fits your situation best. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just make it practical for you. The aim is to have an area that reduces clutter, keeps everyday items in one place, and reminds everyone what’s planned for the day/week/month.

This is a great drop station!

Lunches

It can be tough to stay consistent and creative with meals. For packing lunches, try packing for two or three days at a time. That way it will still be fresh, but you’re not having to do it every night.

Also, you can get your child to help you pack their lunch if they aren’t old enough to do it all themselves. Let your kids get a fun lunch box or two to help them get excited to help you pack! For older kids, encourage them to write out healthy things they’d be interested in for the week so you can ensure you have those items, and they can ready themselves to pack it.

For a quick planning tip, try a combo of the following:

  • Protein (meat, peanut butter, protein bar, etc..)
  • Fruit/ veggie (tangerines, apples, banana, etc.)
  • Drink
  • Healthy side item (nuts, popcorn, yogurt, baked chips, etc..)
  • Possible dessert
  • Don’t forget the ice pack!

Homework

Many people suggest doing homework in increments to help your child stay on task. You can do 15 – 30-minute increments and encourage breaks based on age and what feels best for your child.

It’s quite beneficial if your child uses a planner – that way you both can keep up on what needs to be done. Plus, you can help show them study skills and how to take notes in a way that caters to how they learn.

Lastly, if a particular subject is hard for your kid or kids – try rewarding them for it. You can also try starting with that homework, so the hard work is done first. Get more ideas on how to help your kids with homework here.

Reading with your child can help keep them engaged.
Reading with your child can help keep them engaged.

Supplies

Supply lists usually are specific to your child’s school, but you can also pick up items that apply to their interests. Try to nurture their favorite subject or hobby with some extra supplies that allow them to practice whatever it is.

When picking up items, try bargain stores as they often put out good deals for the season. You might also go in with some friends a get bulk items online to save some of bigger cost items. Check out more money saving tips here.

Routine

A lot of people have some type of routine with their kids, but adding to it, or giving it an adjustment can help during the school year.

Only you can decide what works best in your home as far as routines. It really depends on your life, resources, and children. When it comes to routines think about what your goals are, what your children are motivated by, and what adds fun and lessens stress to your morning/evening.  Then think of practical ways you can implement those things.

Ex: Maybe your kids have the opportunity to get up on their own to an alarm clock 20 minutes before you check on them, and if they are up and onto eating breakfast, dressing, going to the bathroom etc. they get a reward after doing so for 5 days in a row.

More Back to School Tips!

I hope that this gets your wheels turning and aids you in preparing your child or children for the year. Remember, it doesn’t have to be strict or perfect implementation and it won’t be, but having that aim makes everyone more productive regardless.

Gravel Driveway Repair and Preventative Care

Gravel driveways are a great, budget friendly option. Like everything else, they’ll need some maintenance and upkeep. There are plenty of things you can do to both avoid and fix problems as they arise. I’ll be looking at some of the options.

Drainage is the most important component of a gravel driveway. If your driveway has major drainage issues – you may need to do some back tracking. It could be that your driveway wasn’t put together correctly. More than likely though, the repair and upkeep addressed in this post will help you fix most issues.

Preventative –

  • Making a crownmost expert sites recommend this strategy to keep drainage moving downward. All you have to do is rake gravel to a peak in the center of your driveway. It doesn’t need to be super high, just enough to encourage the water to flow down the middle instead of down the sides.
  • Trenches and edging – These are great ideas that will give water a safe place to go. You can try digging shallow trenches on both sides of your driveway. You may also try doing a little rain garden or any type of edging that will keep your gravel in place and move the water to the end of your driveway.
  • Drains – Some people also put drains on either side of their driveway, these are more involved, but may be a perfect solution for you. Some people will install them on the sides as edging with metal or plastic grids overtop the thin drains. The most common drains are culvert pipes or French drains which are both dug underground (usually) to redistribute water.

Problem areas – 

  • Potholes – These can be tricky. Essentially, they are an issue of trapped water. A great do it yourself site, suggests a helpful process.
    • First, they recommend digging the hole out wide and deep enough, so the edges are solid. This way the gravel hole will hold for the filler.
    • Once it’s clear, you can fill with thinner/ crushed gravel.
    • Next, tamp/push down the gravel with a steel or wooden tool.
    • To finish, fill the remaining area with regular gravel to the top off the hole, plus some extra to blend it out.
    • Lastly, smooth out the gravel so everything blends well.
  • Clogged culverts– Sometimes debris and rocks can clog your pipes which prevent its whole process. There are plenty of tools you can purchase for this, or you can rig your own system. This home site recommends using something to push the debris while also spraying water down the pipe. 

Start Your Gravel Driveway Today!

I hope this helps get you started in planning how to maintain and take care of your gravel driveway. Ask a professional for help if you find a big issue or just want help making sure you do things well. May your driveway stay in good shape with this information!

Man spraying outside of mobile home for bugs with a natural spray.

Natural Remedies for Keeping Bugs Out of Your Space

Being outside is probably one of my favorite things. However, summer can make the outside and even the inside of my home breeding ground for an array of insects.

As I’ve started a veggie garden and have pets running inside and out – I’ve wanted to find natural, safe ways to get rid of bugs so as not to harm the animals, plants, or people. I’ve found that even though these remedies may not act as fast, they are still perfectly efficient. Plus, many of these homemade options are cheaper than a heavy-duty alternative. Obviously, huge infestations or structural issues with your home will need a professional, but for your small to moderate bug issues – try the ideas below!

Make your own natural remedies to protect your home from pests!

Bugs in general –

  • Lavender – you can spray a lavender mixture around your home or keep dried bits of it around to repel annoying bugs like flies and mosquitoes. Another great herb to ward off flies is basil!
  • Catnip – put a few plants around your porch, deck, and outdoor spaces to deter mosquitoes. Check out more bug repellent ideas from this home improvement website
  • Coffee grounds – Placing these around common entry points of your home will discourage pests that don’t like strong smells. Be mindful of leaving these out in areas where you have your pets.
  • Purchasing/ keeping helpful bugs – you might want to introduce some bugs that take care of other pests naturally (if they aren’t already present in your yard). Praying mantis are an example of these types of bugs. They eat fruit flies, aphids, and spiders.
  • Citrus – tons of solutions can be made from citrus to keep bugs away. For example, you can mix citrus of your choice with witch hazel or vinegar and water.
  • Earth based / or natural store made solutions – there are plenty of human and pet safe sprays you can buy that do the same thing as the toxic sprays, such as Neem oil. It may take them a little longer to do the job, but you keep everyone safe.

Ants –

  • Cleaning with vinegar is a good option to ward off or keep your kitchen or food preparation areas free of ants.

Stink bugs / fruit flies –

  • Dish soap can repel both of these critters. Mix  dish soap with apple cider vinegar in a small dish to attract and catch fruit flies.

Carpenter bees – According to a bee and removal company, these bees love untreated or wet wood, so, a great way to prevent them is to seal or stain the wood around your home.

  • You can also try a plethora of natural sprays. One easy one it to try using peppermint essential oil mixed with water and white vinegar. This will lure them out so you can seal the area.
  • Carpenters also aren’t a fan of noise. You can play music right by their nests and this can push them out for good.

I hope that these options take care of your pest issues and give you and your family an amazing, safe time outside and in! Do you have any great natural remedy ideas? Let us know at mediacontent@vmf.com.  Happy summer!

Kids enjoying summer

7 Refreshing Ways to Cool Off in Summer

Summer is here and it’s time to get out and enjoy those long days! I am not the best with heat and humidity – so I fully understand how important it is to stay cool. Not only is it nice to get some relief from the sun – it’s important to stay hydrated and keep your body from overheating. Below are some fun and refreshing ways to cool off this summer. Let’s jump in!

  1. Stay hydrated – This one is obvious, but often the key to staying hydrated is already having drank a good amount of water before going out in the sun. It will also help to drink steadily out in the sun and slowly after as well. It’s also quicker and easier for your body to convert room temperature water than ice cold water. This means room temperature water hydrates you quicker.
  2. Stay in/covered for the hottest part of the day – This is a great way to protect yourself from overheating and getting burnt. Usually somewhere between 11AM– and 2PM-3PM are the harshest sun exposure times. This is prime time in the summer. I don’t suggest missing out, just think of a shady place you could spend this part of the day or taking breaks if you’re out in the open for a while during this time bracket. You might go inside for a bit or build a shade structure over your yard.
  3. Recipes for great drinks – a tasty drink can make everything better! Search recipes for your favorite refreshers! I suggest a watermelon drink with lime and mint. Yum! Tasty summer drinks
  4. Cool snack ideas – Get some inspiration from these recipes on Pinterest! Eating cold snacks is a perfect idea for summer! If you know you’ll be outside for a while, try eating less, or light foods or even water-based foods. This could be deli meats, fruits, granola, salads, etc. All of these options can help your stomach settle well while also still fueling up.
  5. Keep your feet cool – putting your feel in water, kicking off your shoes, or finding a place for your feet to be shaded helps cool the rest of your body. I love sandals and wear them all summer long!
  6. Bandana or neck towel – Similarly, keeping your neck cool is important. This can also help you if you are overheated. It can bring you quickly back to relief and can help if you have nausea from the heat. Soak your neck accessory with water or sneak a few ice cubes in and put on the back of your neck for instant relief.
  7. Wear loose fitting and light fabrics – When I get hot the worst thing is a fabric sticking to me! It feels like you can’t escape the sweating. However, if you wear loose and cool fabrics you’ve got space for air to get in! Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat!

What are some of your favorite tricks to staying refreshed in the summer?

More Summer Fun!

exterior of mobile home

Prep Your Mobile Home for Summer

As summer approaches, it’s time to give your mobile home a little love! In this post, I’ll be looking at some easy ways to prepare your home to have the best season yet. Take a little time to focus on these items. Be thinking of ways to protect your home from heat, seal in the cool air, and just prep your home for all the activities in summer. Check out the ideas below to get started!

  • Try filling or patching up your driveway. Whether you have a gravel, concrete, or even an asphalt driveway – you can fix those edges and fill in dips or holes. You don’t have to do a complete overhaul, just work on the problem spots that weather and time may have disrupted. Check out options for your type of driveway!
  • Take care of the weeds in your yard. You may have already done this if you planted some new items late winter or early spring, but either way it’s a great time to spray and/ or pull weeds. Be sure you deal with the roots or recover an area with wood chips or rocks.
  • Clean and repair windows. You lose a lot of cool air if your windows aren’t sealed well. Caulk where needed and fix screens as necessary. You can also clean windows well as a housekeeping piece. Check our post to help you with your windows! Woman cleaning windows in house
  • Make sure your AC and fans are in working order. You can clean your unit. Dust those ceiling fans or if you’re in a warm climate you may already feel the need for some fans. Try installing some fans to help circulate and push the air through and keep you cool.
  • Clean your deck. Does your deck need a good pressure washing or leave in cleaner? Mine does! The rain and tree leaves can do some damage to your deck, so be sure to clean them up yearly if you’re able. It looks great and protects your deck by giving it a longer life. Could your deck use an extra layer of protection? Staining your deck is a great early summer project!
  • Set up outdoor tools if you haven’t already. Garden hoses, grills, sprinklers, lawn chairs, etc. Dust them off, spray them down, and get them clean for all those summer celebrations and projects. Needing to add some tools to your collection? – these are great ones to have for your mobile home!
  • Repair skirting. The underside of your home is an important focus when it comes to keep the air you want in and keeping unwanted critters out from under the bottom of your home. Take this time to repair your skirting, maybe add some all new, or even check out the condition of your vapor barrier.

Clean Your Vinyl Siding!

I hope this gets you thinking of other ideas and that you can make a day of projects and simple updates before summer comes! Happy prepping!

American flag

How to Support Military and Their Families this Memorial Day

After the past year/ year and a half we all need an extra hand and a little extra love. This is especially true for our veterans, active members, and military families. In this post I’ll be looking non-profits and support networks that look to help those people, and how to join them. It’s so important to give back where you can.

There are many ways to help non-profits like these.

The three most helpful ways to do so are:

  1. Donate. You can donate money directly, drop off a physical item by looking at needs lists or asking the organization what they’d benefit from at the time, plus you could also sponsor someone or donate to an event. You can also become a monthly or consistent donor.
  • Volunteer Time. Offering your time, especially continuously over time is very helpful to most organizations. This helps you learn the true heart of the organization and be able to know the fine details of their work.
  • Awareness/ Advocate. This is important for all non-profits, but definitely local organizations. More eyes, hands on deck, and donations are what keep these groups going. Anytime you find a cause you love that you know does good work – be vocal about it. It’s an easy way to make the world better. Just sharing their work, vision, and maybe why it matters to you or why you’d want others to join.

Here are some organizations I think are great:

  • Wounded Warrior
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
  • Children of Fallen Patriot’s Foundation
  • Operation Gratitude
  • Freedom Service Dogs of America
  • AAAA Scholarship Foundation, Inc.
  • Blinded American Veterans Foundation
  • National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
  • Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Inc.

Places you can find great non-profits to support:

I hope that this post helps to connect you to some organizations that do amazing work. Pass this on or share with a friend and consider helping your community together! To all our military men and women, thank you for your service.

More Memorial Day Ideas!

Man using tool with dog

Easy Ways to Update Your Mailbox


Updating your mailbox is a quick, easy way to add some charm to your home. It’s an opportunity to introduce your home to your guests before they even open the front door. This is a great, flexible project for all skill levels. Now, I’ll talk about some easy ways to spruce up your mailbox.

Add some color. Have an old mailbox? Give it new life by sanding it and adding some paint. You can paint the base as well or stain it if it’s wood. You may have to prime the mailbox depending on the material. Want an easier route? Grab some spray paint, painters’ tape, a few old sheets to protect your grass or curb, and there you go.

Add some color to your mailbox!
  • Count it out. Is your home hard to find? Make it a little easier to find by adding large statement numbers to the base. You can add them directly to the base or you can add them to a flat base and then lean it up against the mailbox or nail it on.
  • Do some landscaping. Want to add a garden around your mailbox? Start by measuring how big you want your garden or flower bed to be by laying string or spray painting your lines in the grass. Choose the shape you want and try to make everything even and symmetrical. You can then lay rocks or whatever you like for edging. Next, you can till the top layer of land a little bit or you can lay gardeners’ fabric, then lay the soil. Lastly, you can plant your items as directed. Chose the plants based on the sun amount needed and what fits your climate best. Additionally, you can add wood chips if you like, once the flowers are planted. If you want something a little easier you can add a hook to your base and hang a flower basket or purchase a small flowerpot sling to go over your mailbox.
  • Stick to brick. Want to take it up a notch? Fake brick or real brick can make your mailbox sturdy and look super sophisticated. This can be a harder project as it involves more time and skill. Especially if you use real bricks. Here’s some help with this project if you’re wanting to use real brick. If it were me, I’d just keep it simple and apply fake bricks. You can get panels that can easily cover wood or metal bases. Usually, you can just cut them to size and bolt them in. You may also use a strong adhesive.

Freshen Up Your Curb Appeal!

What ideas do you have? I hope that these ideas get you started thinking on how you can personalize your mailbox.

single section mobile home

How to View a Mobile Home Found on VMFHomes.com

If you’re interested in viewing one of our homes, you may be curious about what the process is – so I’ve written this to help you become more aware of how it works.

You’ll need viewing info and the address before you head out to view the home.

For most land and home packages, you can get viewing info by calling in or chatting with a representative on our website or on our Facebook page. Once you arrive at the home, you’ll see a lock box on the door. You’ll put in the code given to you by the representative. Once you’ve got the numbers aligned you can slide the door on the lock box open and the key will be inside. Then you can open the door to view the home with the key (the lock box doesn’t come off the door).

Once you’ve viewed the home, please return the key to the lock box and slide the door back as well as jumble the numbers.

Some homes are not attached to land or are not sold together. For some home only sales, they may be on private property. They could also be in a park. You will usually view these in a similar fashion to the above.

However, some homes may have already been moved from the land and will be at a local home center. In this situation, you’ll need to check the hours of the lot and potentially call to ensure they are open. More than likely, you’ll just need the ID number and can open the lock box at the home and access it that way. Sometimes you’ll need to ask someone at the home center for a key or to access the home instead. I hope that this has helped you understand how to view one of our homes.

Interested in something you’ve seen on vmfhomes.com? Contact us for viewing info!

Learn How To Make an Offer!