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.

Get Even MORE Ideas!

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.

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.

Get More Ideas!

Home Update Series: Bathroom

Bathrooms can be a tricky area to update, especially since they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, if you have a small bathroom, you’ll want to choose the appropriate size vanity that won’t make it too crowded.

Let’s start simple by talking about updating your vanity. Much like the kitchen, you can change out the hardware and paint the cabinets. You can also paint your sink. Check out this article that takes you step by step on how to refinish your sink.

Depending on the condition and age of your bathtub, you have several options. If the tub looks aged or is an old color straight out of the 60s and 70s, you can always paint your bathtub. Another option is also repairing chips in the finish if you have them. This would be for minor repairs and will help prevent further chipping. Replacing the tub altogether can be expensive depending on what you are looking for, but it has the potential to be a do it yourself job. Make sure to educate yourself on any plumbing questions so you don’t end up without a usable bathroom.

On the simpler side, adding a frame around your mirror is a quick fix that can provide a more finished and updated look.

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Finally, another quick update to your bathroom is frosting any windows. If your bathroom window isn’t already, you can add a vinyl frost sticker to the window. This will allow your bathroom to have more light, and you could hang sheer curtains to finish the look.

Updating your bathroom can be as simple or as complicated as you would like. The best thing to do is to assess what is a functionality update and what is a cosmetic update, then choosing what will work best with your space. Research, budgeting, and a little elbow grease can make your do it yourself dreams come true!

Add a Few Final Touches to Your Bathroom!

Home Update Series: Kitchen

Having an updated kitchen can make your space feel better, and if you ever decide to sell it can add to your investment. So what can you do without having to hire a handyman? It turns out, quite a bit!

The components of a kitchen are simple: sink, counters, cabinets, appliances. Each one of these elements can have your space feeling like it is straight out of a different decade, and not necessarily in a retro way. Here are some do it yourself ideas for updating your kitchen!

Sinks:

Updating your sink can be as simple as a trip to the hardware store. Try to find one that will fit your means and is within your budget. You can have a double bucket sink or a farmhouse style. Sinks can be expensive, as are faucets, so if you can find a combo, typically those are the same price if not a little bit more expensive than just the sink or the faucet. Check out this video to see how to install the sink yourself!

Cabinets:

Updating your cabinets doesn’t have to take a long time. You can update your hardware such as the handles and the hinges. This alone will give new life to old cabinets. You can also update your cabinets by painting or staining them a different color. If your cabinets still have good bones, there is no need to go out and replace all your cabinets just to give your kitchen a new look!

Counters:

Counter tops can be tricky, but you can buy ready-made counters that you can install yourself. You can change the whole feel of your kitchen by changing the color of your counters. You can have dark counters to give a warmer feel, or light to keep it bright and open. Another option is to make your own counters out of concrete.

Back splash:

Adding a back splash to your kitchen walls can upgrade your look. If you aren’t sure about tiling yourself, you can take a class to learn. You can also buy tiles that you can stick directly on the wall. This will give the space a finished look.

Lighting:

Updating your lighting to your kitchen can modernize your look. Plus, having a better lit space will literally brighten the room.

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Paint:

Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It may seem simple, but it will freshen up your space. If you have a small, dark area, using bright colors helps to open the room. Adding a dark accent color is a great way to include a little drama in a well-lit kitchen.

Doing one, or a combination of these suggestions, will make a difference in your space to bring it up to date. If there is a project that you want to tackle, but aren’t quite sure how, you can always reach out to employees of local hardware stores when you buy or supplies or take to the internet to learn more about the specifics on upgrading. Remember to create a plan for how to tackle the area so you don’t feel overwhelmed!

More Kitchen Inspiration!

Home Updates Series: Preparation

Updating your home can be expensive. The worst part is that if you don’t, your home can look  outdated. The trends for rooms like the kitchen or bathroom are always changing and while they may still be functional, sometimes as an owner, you’ll want to freshen the  look of your home and bring the space up to date. So what can you do to stay inside your budget and get a great space?

The good news is you can do more repairs yourself than you think. With a little do it yourself education and some elbow grease, you can bring any room up to date.

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Simple and efficient spaces are in!

Before starting any project, it’s a good idea to plan out what it is you want to accomplish and how you will accomplish it. Create a budget! Have a number in mind for what you would be willing to spend on updates and then stick to it. Keep in mind, you can run into surprises along the way, so it’s a good idea to have a cushion.

Deciding what to spend can be arbitrary unless you know what the realistic price points are for the updates. Go window shopping to see what the reasonable prices would be. This remodeling calculator is also a useful tool! It gives you an estimate of major projects that you can quite possibly do yourself. It is good to factor in the type of style you like, but don’t limit yourself! Sinks, faucets, hardware, etc. can get pretty pricey if you aren’t careful.

Once you’ve decided what your budget is, make a realistic plan to save for it to make your goal. Maybe you’ll use your tax return or maybe you’ll put away an extra $50 a paycheck. Whatever the case is, it’s good to have a plan. It is exciting to update your home, but no one wants to go into debt over what should be a fun endeavor.

Another good tip is don’t tackle every room at once. Do it room by room. That way, instead of the whole house being a construction zone, it’s just one area at a time, which becomes more manageable. Remember, making updates, major or minor, can take more time than anticipated. It’s good to split the updates up over a few weekend projects depending on what you want to accomplish.

Remember, whatever room you decide to update next, have fun and make it your own!

Start Budgeting For Those Updates!

 

Four Easy Ways to Freshen Your Home’s Look: A Simple Guide to Creating Curb Appeal

Whether the home is new to you or you have been there for some time, it is always fun to get your hands dirty and spruce up the outside of your home to give it a fresh look.

Power washing your home rids your siding of all the yucky crud that has found itself attached to your home over the years. It is good to try to do this once a year, if you can, so it doesn’t build up and become a time-consuming chore. Remember, when using a power washer, or any tool, become familiar with the user manual and make sure you follow all safety procedures.

Tip: Don’t have a power washer? Try to borrow one from someone you know or see if you can rent one from a local establishment.

Once your home is sparkly clean, if you don’t have much life in your front yard, consider a flower bed! If you choose perennial flowers to plant, they will come back every year – minimum effort there! Annual flowers are great too though! (My favorite ones are Snap Dragons). They will sometimes reseed and come back for you. This helps so you don’t have to worry about replanting every year.

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Make your home inviting with some curb appeal!

Tip: Don’t know what to plants work in your area? Check out your zone and see what plants thrive in your area!

Consider using mulch or stone to help keep the weeds down. This will make your job weeding through out the summer time easy and quick. Since the weeds won’t be well rooted, it’ll be an easy pluck for the unwanted plants.

Tip: If you decide to mulch, remember to mulch yearly. It will help to keep your flower beds looking fresh and keep any weeds that try to find their new home there away.

Maybe weeding isn’t your thing and you know you won’t have the time or energy to maintain a flower bed. You can always have potted plants. You won’t have to worry about a larger surface area to weed or worry about buying mulch or stone for it!

Tip: You can bring these plants inside to help save them from the cold or frost which will give your plants (annual or perennial) longer lives!

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Sweeten up the view with some plant life!

A little bit of effort to the exterior of your home can make a big difference and brighten up the outside of your home all season long!

Work on the Interior of Your Home!

 

4 Reasons You Should Buy a Manufactured Home

Manufactured Homes, the Next Big Thing in a Housing Crisis?

These days the cost of living is expensive. So expensive in fact, we are experiencing a record low number of millennials buying homes! According to Urban.org, only 37% as of 2015.1 The Reason? Buying a house is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

The average cost for a new traditional stick-built home with land according to the U.S. Census Bureau, costs $376,000 as of March 2019.2 The average cost as of December 2018 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, for a new double wide without land was $106,000 and $52,100 for a new single wide without land.That is a huge difference! The other option? Renting. Don’t get me wrong, renting has it perks, but when it’s time to plant your roots, it just isn’t ideal.

The biggest drawback to renting is that you do not have the potential to build equity. A manufactured home, however, can potentially be a good investment particularly if the home is permanently affixed to land. When renting, the monthly rental payment becomes a permanent monthly expense as long as you rent. A mortgage, however, has an end date. If it is within your budget, you can also make extra payments toward paying off your mortgage loan ahead of schedule to eliminate having a monthly mortgage payment even sooner. I don’t know about you, but my mortgage is my biggest expense each month.

If you are an animal person like I am, remember that your home is your pet’s home too! Owning a home means you have more freedom with how many pets you can have.  It is not uncommon for rental agreements to either not permit or limit the number of pets you may have in your rental home. Rental agreements may also limit the breed, size, or weight of dogs. When looking to move to Tennessee, it was hard to find a rental to live in that would permit my cuddly 84-pound Rottweiler Lab mix. This also meant we didn’t have a yard for her to go run and play in. While it meant fun trips to the dog park, it also meant standing in the cold rain for bathroom breaks. We were also always perpetually worried the owners would decide one day they didn’t want to rent to pet owners. Now, Sadie has a nice fenced in yard since buying our own home.

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Find the place where everyone feels at home.

Rentals also limit your ability to make your home feel like your own. Rentals deter you from putting holes in the walls for hanging pictures, updating or remodeling, even painting. Home ownership offers all those freedoms. The sky is the limit for what weekend project you’ll find yourself getting into, whether it is a bathroom remodel or planting a garden. Plus, what’s the point of watching all those home improvement shows if you can’t utilize your inspiration from them?

With this all being said, buying a home can be expensive, unless you know what to look for. So, what is stopping you from purchasing a manufactured home? They are more popular now than ever, and for a great reason. They provide the same features you are looking for in a traditional stick-built but cost less! Just imagine, sitting on your front porch sipping your sweet tea or coffee as you rock in your rocking chair, owning your own home for less than you expected.

References
1. Urban Wire. 11 July 2018. The state of millennial homeownership. https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/state-millennial-homeownership
2. United States Census. 23 April 2019. Monthly New Residential Sales, March 2019. https://www.census.gov/construction/nrs/pdf/newressales.pdf
3. United States Census. 8 June 2018. Average Sales Price of New Manufactured Homes By Region and Size of Home By Month of Shipment. https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/econ/mhs/average-sales-price.html  

8 Ways to Settle Into Your Mobile Home: A Simple Guide in What to Do After You Purchase

Buying a new home is both exciting and overwhelming. After going through the process of closing and unpacking, there are a couple of things that you’ll want to consider adding to your final list:

1. Change your locks – Changing your exterior locks is an important step to secure your new home if you have purchased a used home. You never know who may have a key. While old homeowners are supposed to turn in all old keys, it is still wise to make sure you change your locks.

2. Create a “Honey-do” list – Every home needs some maintenance even if it is new to you. It is a good idea to look at your inspection if you had one and see what areas need fixing that you may not have been a deal breaker for you to purchase the home. This could be installing GFI outlets or securing a loose railing. This will help you continue with the general upkeep of the property ensuring a long life for your new abode.

3. Get Organized – Since you have moved there may be objects that don’t necessarily belong in a certain room. Think about any objects that you may have out of place and decide where they would function best in your house. Another major room to organize is your kitchen. Having a good flow in your kitchen will help you to keep it clean and make cooking in your new space a lot easier.

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Setting up your kitchen is important, plan out how you want it.

4. Declutter – If you didn’t before you move, get rid of old things that you don’t truly intend to keep or have space for any more. This will help you declutter. Living in an organized space helps the mind relax. We all have stress in our lives; coming home to cluttered home can make you feel overwhelmed and feel as though you can’t kick back because there is still work to be done.

5. Make it your own – Since it is now your space, make it YOUR space! Pick a fun theme for a bathroom or guest room to have some fun sprucing up your new home to make it feel like your own. Putting a fresh coat of paint on the wall will make you feel good about your space and help you connect with your home.

6. Hang Pictures – This kind of goes with number 5, but hanging pictures and artwork that you love in your home will make you love it even more. Having pictures of loved ones and art you love will make you feel good which in turn will make you love spending time in your new space.

Best Practices For Hanging Decor

7. Splurge! – A new house means new things! You can buy new towels, bedding, or curtains. Make your new home a place of retreat. You just made a huge purchase, make it a place that you’ll be excited to go home to.

8. Throw a Party – It isn’t everyday people buy a new home. Have a party with your friends to show off your new space, especially after working hard to make it your own!