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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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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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!

7 Affordable Ways to Update Your Older Mobile Home

Mobile homes are a product of variety. There are tons of styles and types to fit different people. With all these changes and options the possibilities are endless! The same is true for older models. You don’t have to have a new model to have a modern look. Want to update your home?

We’ve hit on some practical ways that you can update your home. Not only do these ideas improve the overall appearance, but they could also add value! Need some ideas on how to maintain your home and keep it looking on trend? Check out the list below!

  1. Change door knobs – Not a fan of those gold knobs? Changing old knobs can give the whole home a modern feel. Most knobs are about $10-20 per door. You can even buy one every month if you don’t have enough to get them all at once.
  2. Paint kitchen cabinets — Darker cabinets are in! Update lighter cabinets with a painting kit that is cost-efficient. Kits usually don’t require priming, and they give you step by step instructions. Most kits run about $70. If you don’t want to go dark – simply pick any color to freshen up old or worn cabinets.
  3. Alter decorative spaces— Older models often have decorative pieces or windows that aren’t always practical. You can easily paint frosted glass with chalk board paint ($20-30) or cover the area with cork to make them functional.
  4. Update vinyl flooring – Floors often show age. However, they definitely cost more than the other ideas. If you’re looking for an investment – this is the one. Costs vary depending on square feet and style. This is another place where you can do one room at a time to regulate costs.
  5. Change light fixtures – Lighting sets the vibe of a home. Modern lighting is EVERYWHERE! A simple hanging light in the kitchen or a spotlight on an accent wall can give your mobile home a fresh look! You can even add wall lights for an even more updated look.
  6. Refinish tubs— If your tub looks discolored by age or mineral water it may be time for a facelift. Bathroom remodels are an option, but they are pricey. If you’re wanting to save some of the cost you may want to consider refinishing your tub. Be sure to research this one and ask people who have had it done.
  7. Landscaping— Adding some potted flowers or lining the home with different plants is a great way to add color and youth to the exterior of a mobile home. You can even put a patio set in the yard! Try these ideas!

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Ready to get started? Pick a project from the list and you’ll be on your way. This may even get you thinking of something you want to update that we didn’t list. We know it’s going to look GREAT!

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Debt Avalanche Versus Debt Snowball

Our society talks about the weight of debt, but there’s not a lot of talk about overcoming it. I’m here to add to the conversation. There are two great methods for paying off debt. Both options give you a bit of control, organization, and most importantly they help you see results. One is not   better than the other – what matters is how they may fit your specific situation and your perspective on financial wins.

So, when reading this think about your situation, and maybe it will prompt you to do some reevaluating. Both the avalanche and snowball method can help you start a journey toward financial wellness, without being overwhelmed.

*Keep in mind when looking at these methods that mortgages loans are not included. Not because they are not a debt, but because mortgage loans are long terms and can take decades to pay off and not everyone plans to stays in their home until the mortgage is paid in full.*

Debt Avalanche: repayment option that focuses extra financial resources to the highest interest rate debt payments first. Then it works down the line in descending order of debt interest rate. If you’re willing to be disciplined – this may be the perfect fit.

  • Pay the minimum required for all loans, use available funds to make extra payments to highest interest item first
  • Main asset: Helps you reduce some long-term high interest (lower overall
  • Main flaw: Doesn’t yield quick reward
  • Good for people with high interest loans

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Debt Snowball: repayment option based on paying minimums and paying extra on the smallest debt, then when the smallest debt is paid off, start paying off the next debt with the smallest balance.  If you need some motivation this can be a good option for you.

  • The idea is that while paying the minimum owed on all debts you also pay off the lowest balance debt quickly and then move on to paying more than the minimum on the  next smallest debt and so on.
  • Main asset: You can start knocking out small pieces of debt + see the results of your effort quicker
  • Main flaw: You end up paying more in interest (higher overall payments)
  • Good for people who need a bit of encouragement or a push to start

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My own method is to use both. When I began tackling my finances,  I only had student debt in the form of multiple loans. I used a mix of snowball and avalanche. I paid more than the minimums, and once I had the loans more manageable I started allocating additional amounts to higher interest loans within my collection of student loans. So, don’t feel limited you can use both as well!

Both options can be a good plan for anyone who needs to pay off debt but always consider your complete financial situation, including making sure you have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses and speaking with a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation. Taking the first steps can feel hard, but the reward is worth it. Which method better fits your situation? What first steps will you take?

Gearing Up for a Financial Spring Cleaning?

If you’re like me, you are gearing up for spring cleaning. Dust has piled up and the system you had going for organization may need a little extra attention. Have you thought of tidying up your personal finances? They deserve a good scrub, too! I get it – cleaning your home is a lot less intimidating and has immediate results. Yet, the rewards of creating a habit in which you check in financially can lend itself to long term progress.

Let’s look at ways you can spruce up your finances this spring.

  1. Pay towards your debt with your tax refund.
    It’s tempting to use your tax refund money on fun things or vacations. I’m not saying don’t do anything nice for yourself, but keep any debts you may have in mind. Could you pay something off with your tax refund? Want to cut back on some loan interest? It may be worth putting that money towards reducing or paying off a debt.
  2. Consider cutting back.
    With so many subscription services these days it’s easy to let them add up without realizing how much they are really costing you. Take inventory. Are there some you could get rid of? Could you share or split with a friend? Find a cheaper service or option? Making these changes makes you aware of expenses you may not have realized and helps you prioritize.
  3. Meal plan/ buy in bulk.
    There’s a lot of waste that happens in my house when I don’t plan meals ahead. Not just because I’m not buying in bulk, but because when I’m less precise I spend more. The old ‘take a list’ thing is real. Give your finances some love by getting the best deal you can when grocery shopping and stretching those meals/ingredients.
  4. Leave the credit card at home.
    I know, you’ve got that project, that thing you want, but making financial stability your priority is worth so much more than a moments satisfaction. Save up for those items so you can pay for them without adding to your debt.
  5. Have a spend free day/ weekend every now and then.
    Take a day to let the money sit still without being touched. You can still have a fun day! This helps us evaluate what we are spending money on and can be a wake-up call to bored or emotional spending. Get some spend free ideas here!
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    Spend some time outside!
  6. Outline a debt repayment plan.
    Just hoping that bills will go away isn’t reality. Like everything else, it takes work. So, take this time to get serious and make a plan to start chipping away at your debt. If you have a plan already – great job – tighten it up and adjust it, if needed.
  7. Check on your emergency fund.
    Is it depleted, nonexistent? Work on making it priority again and give it a little TLC.

Have any other ideas? How do you spring clean your finances? I hope this has encouraged you to spend a little time digging in, and I hope that you see a return on your efforts.

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Energy Saving Tips for Your Mobile Home

Do you wince every time the utility bill comes in the mail? Do you feel like you could be saving energy and cash? Saving energy can get expensive with new appliances and products. Often those are great investments but for those on a tight budget they aren’t realistic solutions.

Below are ways you can have a more energy efficient home without spending a lot. Feel free to research more – there are tons of resources on this topic! Make it a goal to try 5 of these tips consistently and compare your bills for the next few months.

Air Conditioner: Turn your COOL/HEAT up or down when you are at work or gone from the house for a while, depending on the season. Then put it on a comfortable setting when you are at home. Consider improving or adding insulation.

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  • Air Conditioner Filters: Replace them when suggested.
  • Doors: Purchase door draft stoppers “snakes” that will ensure a snug seal and keep air from escaping or entering.
  • Leave bedroom doors open for maximum circulation.
  • Windows: Caulk windows to seal them. Use a caulk gun to apply, a scraper to remove old caulk, and a flat tool to spread it out on the window seam.
  • Open windows to utilize outside air – great in spring or fall!
  • Fireplaces: Board up the flue or install doors to the front of the fireplace to keep air from getting in from the outside.
  • Outlets: Use a power strip and switch it off when you’re gone out of the house for a while. Plus, it’ll give you more outlet space!
  • Dishes: Hand wash and air dry dishes in between meals, then when you have a lot to wash use the dishwasher. Open your dishwasher and let dishes air dry instead of using the drying function.
  • Washer: Machine wash clothes on cold – it costs less and colors are less likely to bleed.
  • Lighting: Invest in energy efficient bulbs like CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamp).
  • Fans: Use box or rotating fans to circulate air and keep the temperature regulated.
  • Roof: Install a roof cap or apply a roof coating to reflect sunlight and reduce heat

Want to invest into making a more energy efficient home? Compare bills after trying these ideas and use the money you saved to start a home savings account. Then try to save that amount every other month. Next time you want to make a bigger purchase you’ll have some cash set aside!