Tips for a Stress-free Summer Getaway

Summer means time to relax and get away. Vacations or weekend trips are always fun but sometimes it can be a little stressful to prepare for a trip, especially if you have kids. Here are some tips on how you can make it a little easier on you!

Packing:

  • Create a list for each person you need to pack for to make sure no items are forgotten.
    • Remember, most items can be bought where you are going in case you do forget something!
  • If flying, remember to have one checked bag for items that cannot be carried on.
    • Be sure to pack your child’s comfort item, a change of clothes, and necessity items in your carry-on just in case luggage arrives late or lost.
  • Doing laundry prior to your vacation will minimize the amount that will be needed done when you come back.
Suitcase with someone packing clothes into it.

House Care:

  • Depending on how long you will be gone, you may want to ask your neighbor to collect your mail and keep an eye on your home.
    • You can also stop your mail temporarily and have it delivered when you return.
  • If you have pets or plants that need to be taken care of, ask someone to stay at your house while you are away.
  • Putting a light on a timer in your home will help to deter break-ins while you are away. 

Travel:

  • If you have young kids, or even if you want the convenience, plan on where you will eat and make reservations in advance, so you won’t have to fight a crowd or have a wait time to go eat.
  • Plan out an itinerary for each day so you don’t have to plan out your day while on vacation.
  • Budget for each day – If you have a certain amount saved for each day it allows you to spend some extra without worrying that you will bust your budget!

All in all, the more you can plan ahead, the less stress you may endure once the day comes for the vacation. Remember to relax and enjoy your time with the people you love while on your trip!

Need more summer inspiration? Check out these summer challenges to get you motivated!


Small office space within mobile home

Creating an Office Space in Your Mobile Home

Whether or not you work from home, a home office is a space that can come in handy. It can be used for handling important items like your finances or a designated space for your kids to do their homework.

What do you do if you don’t have a specific office space in your mobile home though? Here are some ways that you can convert a nook in your home to your very own home office!

What should you look for when designating a space? First, decide how much space you will be needing. Overall, you won’t need much to make a makeshift office.

Here are some suggestions to help you consider your needs:

  • Do you need a place to write?
  • Do you have just a computer with one monitor, or two?
  • Will you need space for a printer or a place for a phone?
  • Will you need all the above?

Pinpointing your needs will help you create the ideal nook and utilize the space in the best way for you!

Young boy working on schoolwork at a desk nook in a mobile home.

Once you have decided on what all you will need for your office, look around your home for spaces that you can utilize.

Some examples are:

  • A closet – You can take the doors off or leave them on, then close them to hide your office! You can slide a desk in or even make a built-in space and add a chair. To get power here, run an extension cord.
  • A spare nook in your kitchen – Do you have a coffee bar that you can move and utilize that space?
  • An unused corner – You can create a corner desk or standard one to create your space.
  • Are you a family that rarely uses the kitchen table to eat? Take advantage of the large space and set up your home office there!
  • Do you have any other unused space areas that could be better utilized? You can use that space to set up shop there.

If you don’t have a desk already, you can get crafty to create the space you need! You could:

  • Use a spare table you or a friend may have
  • Dive in at a thrift store to find the perfect desk or table
  • Search yard sales
  • Build one
  • Convert an old bookshelf

Once you have the basics set up, find yourself a comfortable chair. This could be one you have around your home or can search for one the same way you found your desk space.

Finally, personalize! Take your small space and decorate. Add plants, pictures, mirrors, and a lamp to name a few suggestions to make the space cozy and your own little office away from work.

Get Small Space Inspiration!


Maintaining Your Water Heater

Your water heater is a modern-day convenience. We don’t always think about it like that or having to live without them until something goes wrong. Many of us have experienced when a water heater has died – and it’s not fun. Cold showers or water leaks are not welcomed surprises.

Water heaters last an average of 10 years and like any appliance, they require a little maintenance to keep working efficiently. To get the most out of your water heater it’s a good idea to do some check-ins.  Once a year, schedule time to either hire someone to complete maintenance or make plans to do it yourself. Also, be sure to consult the owner’s manual that came with the water heater so that you can follow the manufacturer’s recommended steps and to safely perform the maintenance.  In addition, hire a licensed plumber or pipe fitter to aide in any maintenance if you are unsure how to safely accomplish these tasks.

A visual inspection is something you can do yourself. This helps to identify any issues on the exterior such as loose screws, nuts, bolts, and gaskets. The goal with the visual inspection is to see what is worn and may need replacing and check for signs of rust or corrosion.

General Maintenance Tips to Consider:

  • Have the tank drained once or twice a year. During this process, flush the tank a couple of times to make sure all the sediment and debris is cleared out of the tank.
  • Besides just cleaning the water, the anode rod should be checked once a year. The purpose of this rod is to attract all the debris and sediment. This rod typically needs replacing every three to five years.

Photo of Water heater in utility closet

  • If your water heater has a temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve), add checking the T&P valve to your list to make sure it is in proper working order. This is important to check as pressure can build up in the tank.  As mentioned above, be sure to consult the owner’s manual in order to safely perform this task. Not all water heaters have a T&P valve.

If your water heater is gas, it will have this valve. Some electric water heaters also have this.

  • If you have a tankless water heater, make sure to descale your water heater to rid the sediment and debris. Make sure the tankless heater is set appropriately and not too high. Doing this will decrease the buildup.

Signs your water heater may need maintenance:

  • leaks
  • low water pressure
  • hear clicking or if your water is rusty

Keeping a mindful eye on your water heater at least once a year will clue you into when it is nearing the end of its life span and help to keep it working efficiently. Doing this should help prevent any of those unwanted surprises.


Keep Maintaining Your Home!


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.


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!

Landscaping outside of a home with a wheelbarrow and shovel.

How to Start Composting: Outdoors

We know why composting is important and what we can compost, but how do you start your own outdoor compost station?

To start, decide how much you are composting and if you need a bin. Benefits of composting with a bin is that it will keep it neat in your back yard and help to keep critters away. If you do choose a bin, consider the size of the container for how big of a space you’ll need.

Next is location, location, location. Find an area that is well-drained. If you live in the south, you may want to consider a shady spot so the moisture in the pile doesn’t evaporate too quickly.  In the north, you may want to consider a sunny area since it typically is cooler weather in the spring and fall.

Remember to consider the proximity to your house and garden. Since you will more than likely be making at least one trip (if not more) to it daily you will want it to be close enough to the house, but also close enough so you don’t have to make long trips to your garden.

Once you have decided what and where – it is time to start composting! Start off by having the pile touching the ground.

  • On the first layer, place brown items such as leaves, twigs, cardboard (torn up).
  • Then add green materials, such as food wastes or grass. Each layer should be around 5 inches, give or take.
  • Keep repeating layers until you run out.
  • Once you’ve added the layers, keep the materials wet, but not soaking wet.
  • Turn your pile to dry and mix the materials together for breaking down.

Soil and pots for compost gardening.

As time goes and the materials start to break down, you’ll notice the components of it starting to change. Once the materials look and smell like dark dirt as opposed to the items you originally started with, that is when it is ready to be used for your garden.

Why Compost?

Happy Composting!

Woman in front of a garden, tending to it.

What Are the Benefits of Composting?

Composting is a simple way you can better the environment (and potentially your wallet). If you aren’t quite sure how to start composting or if it really makes that big of a difference, then this is the post for you! Over the following weeks of this series we will be talking about the importance of composting and what you can compost, followed by making your own composter! So, let’s dig in!

Why Compost?

Composting has direct benefits for your backyard but also impacts the environment on a larger scale, too!

When you compost, your soil becomes healthier, which naturally promotes better plant health. Because compost adds organic materials back into the soil, it reduces your need for store bought fertilizer. An additional benefit is that soil will contain more nutrients and become more impervious to diseases. The EPA states that increasing organic matter in your dirt by just 1% can triple the soil’s water capacity!1 It’s pretty amazing what impact you can make for your own back yard.

What about on the larger scale though? Overall, composting will result in cleaner oceans and reduce methane emissions, just to name a couple of benefits2It also prevents 30% of all waste from ending up in a landfill3. Not only will you prevent compostable waste from ending up in the landfill you will also become more mindful of what is being thrown out, thus saving on your budget!

Now that we know why we should compost the question becomes:

What can you compost?

The answer… just about anything! But you will want to be mindful since some items may cause unwanted critters. That problem can be solved though by keeping your bin locked.

Easiest things to compost:

  • Leaves
  • Sticks
  • grass
  • Newspaper (black and white)
  • Saw dust
  • Vegetable food scraps

Items you’ll want to avoid:

  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Dairy
  • Fats
  • Diseased plants

If you are looking to compost something but aren’t sure if you can, check out this composting website! It will tell you whether it can be composted and how to do it safely.

Now that you learned (or maybe already knew) about how composting improves your soil/ plants, reduces waste in your home, and produces less landfill waste – you might be considering how to get started with your own compost! Stay tuned for our next post on the topic where I’ll teach you exactly that!

More Eco Friendly Ideas!

  1. Addison County Solid Waste Management District. 18 August 2021. Five Top Reasons to Compost. https://www.addisoncountyrecycles.org/food-scraps/composting/101/why-compost.
  2. Grow Ensemble. 18 August 2021. 20 April 2021. The 15 Benefits of Composting for the Environment, the Economy, & Our Communities. https://growensemble.com/benefits-of-composting/
  3. Green Philly. 18 August 2021. 21 May 2013. 5 Benefits of Composting for Your Urban Garden. https://www.thegreencities.com/lifestyle/5-benefits-of-composting/

Top down view of bee bath with marbles and water.

How to Create Your Own Bee Bath

Bees are essential for the world’s survival. They are a big contributor to plant pollination and without them, it is said we would not survive. So what can you do to help save the bees? Besides having wildflowers, dandelions, and other flowers in your yard, you can create your own bee bath.

The back of a bee flying onto an orange flower.
A bee flying onto an orange flower.

A bee bath is a little area with shallow water that allows for our little friends to come and cool off and get a drink of water. With the hot summer days, it could be treacherous for bees to find a place to stay hydrated. Most pools of water will be too deep and if they slip in, they will risk drowning.

All the things you need to make a bee bath: pots with trays, paint brushes, paint, marbles, and an area to paint.

What you need to make a bee bath:

  • A shallow plate
  • Rocks or marbles
  • Water
  • Paint (for decoration)

For our bee baths, we chose clay pot trays to use and marbles, but you can use any shallow plate. You can choose to paint or decorate it or just leave it as is.

After you decide on your plate, add some rocks and marbles to allow for a standing place for their tired legs. Place in your garden and fill with water without covering the rocks or marbles. And that’s it!

Painted terracotta pots with trays.
Painted terracotta pot.
Bee Bath made from Terracotta painted pots.
Check out this how to video for more!

Get Rid of Bugs Safely!

This simple and quick little project can go a long way for bee survival, especially during the hazy days of summer.

The Hidden Benefits of Houseplants

Houseplants probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind for most when it comes to home maintenance. Surprisingly, these little plants add more than aesthetics to anyone’s decor. So, what are the benefits of having them and how can they aide in home maintenance?

Houseplants have been found to reduce dust and mold in your environment, which means less dusting for you and better air quality! Speaking of air quality, house plants can purify and add moisture to your air.

Your home’s environment and air aren’t the only receivers of the benefits, you are too! Adding plants to your space can boost your mood, relieve stress, and help provide restful sleep. Adding plants to a variety of rooms in your home will expand the benefits you can receive.

If you are a beginner at caring for plants, you may need to do some research to find the right ones for you. It’s a good idea to factor in the time you have to care for a plant. For example, a plant that doesn’t need a lot of watering, like a cactus, would be ideal if you are busy, travel often, or tend to forget about plants. A snake plant would be a good option if your home doesn’t get much natural light.

Some great plants to consider for beginners and are easy to care for are:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Lucky Bamboo
  • Succulents
  • Snake Plant
  • Spider Plant
  • Cacti

Certain plants can provide added benefits compared to others. For example, you can use the aloe plant to help with skin issues and sunburns. Be sure to research which plants work best for what benefit you are looking for!

All in all, incorporating plants into your space can offer more than just decoration by providing health benefits and improving your home’s environment. Who knew bringing a little outside to the inside of your home could provide such an array of benefits!

Keep Going Green!

Sources:

https://www.swansonsnursery.com/blog/health-benefits-of-houseplants

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/indoor-plants-can-instantly-boost-your-health-happiness-ncna781806

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-houseplants