How to Start Building Your Fire Pit

There are few things more rewarding and enjoyable than a fire pit on a fresh, spring night. Fire pits quickly transform your backyard into a vacation spot with little effort and cost if you research your options. Plus, if you do it well a fire-pit you make yourself can last much longer than one you purchase. Let’s explore some options for you to have the ultimate backyard fire pit!

Find the perfect spot in your yard. You’ll need a moderately flat area for a fire pit. If you have such a place, you’ll want to level it out as best you can. Be sure to dial 811 or visit call811.com for information about underground utilities in your area. This is recommended before digging to ensure no buried lines are hit. Also, be sure and ask your local city officials about the local fire code.

Outline and Level You’ll want to outline the fire pit area. Do you want a circle, square, etc.? Do you need to cut it out with a small shovel, make a mold, etc.? Be sure to measure well and completely level the area you have measured by digging out grass or covering with special gravel, fire rock, or sand. Be sure the area you have selected is far away from any structures, bushes or trees.

Plan and plot Draw out what you want the area to look like and think of measurements. Layout sticks to the shape and size where you’ll place your materials. If you have a brick or one piece of the final material you want to use to enclose your fire pit, try sizing with that.

Choose you material There are tons of options when it comes to what material you want to use. Consider using brick, gravel, stone, concrete, etc. Be sure you ask a professional if the materials you plan on using are made to tolerate high heat. Check out options to find the look and efforts you want for your fire pit!

Maintain As you use your fire pit you may realize you want to secure stones or turn the material inside the fire pit. Be sure to maintain your space well and update it as needed. Be sure to pay attention to safety options you could add if you have kids or animals that will be near the fire pit.

Get to Gardening!

5 Attitudes to Help Keep Your Financial Info Safe in the Digital Age

Today’s society is a digital one. It’s hard to escape – even when you want to. We trust the internet with a large amount of information about us, especially our finances. It makes sense – who doesn’t love online shopping? Performing financial transactions online is quicker, environmentally-friendly, and less to keep up with versus handling in person or via paper, which is not always convenient. You can’t pay with a check if you buy something online, after all. However, with the internet being the storehouse for all our bank transactions and financial processes, we have to be careful with how we interact online and what we share.

So, how can we use the internet and keep our finances safe? Let’s look at 5 attitudes that will help you deal safely on the internet:

Be a skeptic – If you sign up for a card, account, or loan ask how your info will be used and who will have to ability to see it. Read paperwork or online terms that you sign or agree to and ask questions about what confuses you. If someone on the phone, through email, or text asks for personal info – do not provide it without reason. If you did not contact them first, ask to see them in person or to see paperwork before sharing personal information. No one dealing legally with finances will demand personal information or ask for it immediately.

Be knowledgeable– Don’t be the one who doesn’t catch fraud because you never check your accounts. Log in at least weekly and be sure you can account for charges and that proper deposits have been made. Alert your financial institution immediately if you lose a payment card or fear illegal activity.

Be selective – When shopping online, don’t just buy something from a site you’ve never heard of or researched. Read reviews and research brands or companies online. If you don’t find any information, or you find bad information – don’t purchase from them. Never have your payment card information stored in a store’s website – even if you trust it.

Be thorough – Change your passwords regularly, and make them complex. Update security questions regularly as well.  Try to use multi-factor authentication to log into your accounts and applications where it is available – this means that you will have to take an additional step to gain access after entering your login credentials. Set up alerts on  your accounts and devices to notify you of sign-in activity that happens in uncommon locations versus your usual location. These steps may feel annoying, but they can discourage hackers.

Be unpredictable– Be aware of the patterns in your log in or spending activity and try to change it up from time to time where you can. Log out of email, social media sites, and other sites and applications after browsing sessions. Don’t post or list where you bank or live.

Adopt just one of these attitudes and you’re on your way to being safer online. Read more below!

Keep Your Info Safe!

Painting Vinyl on Gypsum Walls in Your Mobile Home

Some mobile homes will have vinyl walls. Typically, they will be vinyl on/over gypsum (VOG) or paper on/over vinyl (POG). It’s important to understand what you’re working with – especially if you’ve never painted this type of wall before. Adding a new paint job is a great, affordable facelift. I’ll show you some of the steps to help you do a great, lasting paint job!

Sources, like this one, stress the importance of proper technique when painting vinyl on gypsum walls. These walls are (as you are probably aware) –  a waxy, smooth texture because they are made to resist water. Read more on the home maintenance site about VOG walls and why they are such a practical choice for mobile homes.

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Find your perfect color scheme!

It’s important to note that before starting any new home project, you should always consult with a professional.

  1. Clean. You’ll need a safe, gentle cleaner and a rag or sponge to wipe down the entire wall area where you are wanting to paint. You may need to give it a few passes with the cleaner. You can let it air dry or go back through with a dry cloth. Either way, you want to make sure you give ample drying time.
  2. Quality. When it comes to selecting primer, paint, and application gear you’re going to want to pick the best you can. Many sites that give a tutorial for this project, recommend selecting the highest quality you can. This is because VOG walls may not hold your paint as well as other walls – so getting something that’s high quality ensures a better outcome. You MUST get primer for these types of walls. Keep that in mind when pricing things out before you shop. There is a 2 in 1 option, but ask the paint professionals what best fits you. Don’t forget to get good quality brushes and rollers as well.
  3. Prep.
  • Fill in holes in the walls
  • Tape off the area so you don’t get paint on the ceiling or trim.
  • Lay down old sheets or tarps to protect your flooring.

4. Battens – to keep or not to keep. Many VOG walls have battens that hold the vinyl       panels together where they join. These can be removed for painting and then filled           and smoothed over. It gives a fancy final look but adds a lot of extra time and work           unless you are used to this process. You can also simply paint over the battens. They           are visible still, but it will look nice, too.

5. Start with light coats. When applying both primer and paint use thin, light coats.          More than likely, you’ll need 2 or 3 coats to cover the wall, so over applying is                      something to be sure to avoid. This makes for easy application and quick drying!

For a little different order on the process and some more tips, check out this home site’s recommendations. You may find their approach more fitting for you. I hope this helps you get acquainted with the process and gives you confidence to keep researching and start your own painting project. For a little inspiration, check out the quiz below. This can help you find your perfect color pallet!

Easy Summer Outdoor Games

We’re taking a twist on some classics. We’ve put together this collection of games you can add to your evening to liven things up. Great for all ages, these games have just gotten better! We’re using stuff you have around the house and everyday items. We want to save you that trip to the store! Check out the games below to get started!

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Spend some quality time with the family and try some of these games!
  1. Washer Toss
  • Place a thin wooden board on the grass in a level area, place two recycled coffee containers on the board. You can also use old cups or recycled glass jars. You may have to tape containers down if they move.
  • If you’ve got old washers lying around use those. You can also toss old keys or pennies for the same effect.
  • If you’d like to do something different than the board, you can dig two small holes in the ground to throw the washers into. If you’d like a border around the holes, cut two squares out of cardboard and place them around it. Simply try and toss washers, etc. in the containers.

2. Tic-Tac-Toe

  • Grab some flat rocks and paint x’s and o’s, or two different patterns, on them. Paint the lines on a piece of wood or cut some rope and lay them out in the tic-tac-toe grid.
  • You can also use soda bottle lids instead of rocks, or cut out paper shapes.

3. Quick Water

  • This is the simple water game you’ve played before. It’s great for kids or to combat some serious humidity. All you need is at least two buckets or bowls. Then you can use a large sponge, another bucket, or cup.
  • Put everyone in a line with either a bucket at the end or beginning, or buckets throughout. Have players pass the full bucket or sponge to the end of the line and empty in the bucket. Mark a line on the bucket at the end. The first person to reach it wins! [The object is to pass the bucket as fast as possible without spilling!]

 4. Pool noodle limbo

  • Yes, it’s that easy. We recommend taping two noodles side by side and holding them up. Great for kids, they can do it themselves.

5. Three-legged race

  • Tie a bandana around the two runner’s middle leg. Mark off a finish line and start the race!

6. Don’t Spill the Beans

  • Have two or more teams race each other with a bowl or cup of beans!
  • The catch is the cup or bowl must be placed in another bigger cup or bowl of water. You can spill all the water you want but not the beans! The one with the most beans in a bucket at the end of the race, wins!

Get More Family Activity Ideas!

Mobile Home Skirting Options and Maintenance

Skirting may be the last item on your mind when thinking about your mobile home. However, it protects many important aspects of your home by wrapping around the bottom of the home. It keeps animals out from under the home, protects the piping and plumbing that runs underneath your home, and it keeps the cold out. It’s not just a style choice.

Whether you are considering the cost, durability, or appearance of skirting, there are tons of options for mobile home skirting.

Options

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Vinyl

 

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Concrete

 

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Brick/ Imitation Brick
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Lattice

If the skirting on your home becomes damaged, you should repair it or have it repaired by a contractor. It can be pretty easy to fix holes in skirting or to take preventative measures to avoid damage to it altogether.

Vinyl Skirting Repair

Vinyl skirting usually gets roughed up by weed eater lines. To avoid this try a skirt guard. This clips into the bottom of the skirting and protects the bottom edge from being torn or damaged by yard tools. There are different types with varying lengths – choose what fits your needs.

If your skirting is damaged you may try repairing small damaged areas yourself pretty easily by using either weather resistant tape or tape made for outdoor use.

You can also purchase skirting panels to replace a damaged section instead of having to replace the whole.

For brick, concrete, or lattice skirting, you’ll probably want to consult a professional as these may involve a little more effort. Vinyl skirting is traditional and can be easier to repair.

We hope this helps you decide on a change for your siding or picking a certain kind!

More Repair Tips!

Oakbur Quill Co.

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.

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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!

Watch for Cleaning How To!

Easy Wallboard Repair Technique

Whether you’ve got a fixer upper or you’re just trying for an updated look – repairing wallboard within your mobile home may be an easy fix. Check out the video to help you with this project!

Please use caution when handling the tools and materials described here – your safest option is to bring in a professional to do the work! Please also note that these repairs may not be covered by your home warranty.

Things to do before you begin:

  1. Call home manufacturer to purchase replacement panels
  2. Have serial # from data plate ready

Things needed for project:

  • Replacement panel
  • Molding to cover edges
  • Panel adhesive
  • 1”/1/4” finishing nails
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Keyhole saw
  • Power saw or handsaw

See Mobile Home Update Ideas!