Feng Shui Your Day

Our homes are a place where we go to relax, unwind, and get away from the world for a bit. We want it to be as welcoming and warm as possible to ourselves and family. Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice to balance the energies in your house. Rearranging your home is a perfect way to have a refreshed space and attitude. Maybe your annoying Aunt Linda will have a better attitude during visits after she sees this transformation.


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Kitchen: The kitchen is a place for gatherings. It is the most important room in the house according to Feng Shui. Use a warm accent color to promote socialization during meals and parties. If possible hone as much natural light in the kitchen. If no natural lighting is available then layer various light fixtures to encourage positive energy. Free your kitchen counters of cumbersome gadgets or dirty dishes for a simplistic open flow.


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Living Room: The living room is a communal room for family and friends. Again, you should optimize the natural light and any large windows. Hang sheer airy curtains instead of heavy ones to accomplish this. Live plants, mirrors, and fresh cut flowers encourage liveliness in the room. Neutral colors should be present to allow coziness with pieces of red for color to bring wealth and add interesting pops of color.


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Bedroom: Choose calming colors for the walls like blue, green, and chocolate brown. Keep electronic stimulation out of the bedroom. Leave televisions, computers, and gaming systems in the family room. This promotes relaxation without distractions. Remove any storage you may have cluttered under your bed in order to provide positive energy flow and deeper sleep.


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Bathroom: A bathroom should be clean and clutter free at all times to create positive energy. This is especially true for mirrors to prevent distortion. Soothing artwork is advised for a spa like feel. Display quality soaps, thick towels, and candles to increase luxury and beauty. A bathroom is meant for cleansing as well as indulgence.

These are just a few starting pointers to start the process of how to Feng Shui your day with positive energies.

 

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Fall for These DIYs

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and we’re not talking Christmas. The only thing missing is a few decorations in the home for some true fall inspiration. These DIY’s may seem like you got them at an expensive retail store but we know the truth. The best part is that they are so easy you won’t have to spend but a few minutes to hours creating these cute quick works of Autumn art.


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Got a pine tree close? Pick out the prettiest ones and paint the tips or dip the entire cone in yellows, purples, and reds. Tie the ends to twine and you have a gorgeous hanging bouquet. They can also be place in a bowl on the table for a centerpiece. Cheap and easy, just how we like our projects.


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Pumpkins don’t have to be just for carving. Think outside the jack o’ lantern and give new meaning to pumpkin spice. Take a white pumpkin and place unwrapped crayons around the top. Turn a hairdryer on hot and high to melt the crayons over your pumpkin. Now you have a colorful work of art with a splash of color to your space.


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Reuse old wine bottles to create candy corn colored vases. Spray paint a set with white and let dry. Then repeat with orange and yellow layers. This one may take some practice so the colors don’t run together so make sure it is completely dry before adding another layer. You could use orange and green for pumpkin vases if not a huge candy corn fan. What a sweet display of flowers or wheat stalks.


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Give those boring tiered candles a makeover. Buy cinnamon sticks or pick up twigs and leaves in the yard. Hot glue the sticks, twigs or leaves around the candle. Then place the finishing touch tying a twine bow around it. Candles and twine can be found at the dollar store and cinnamon sticks at a local grocery store. They add spunk and delicious scents to your candle.


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Use decorative gourds or small logs for tea light holders. This one is the simplest yet. Just carve a hole large enough for a tea light and enjoy its ambience. You can decorate the logs or gourds but they are already pretty cute on their own.

All projects above were found on Pinterest. Now you can bask in your own craftiness.

 

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Stage the Scene

One of the most important items to check off the list when selling a home is to stage the home. Not many people realize this or would even know how or where to start. You want the buyer to see the home as you once saw it. Somewhere they can hang their hat and relax on the couch with Netflix after work. A place in which they can host dinner parties and drink wine with old friends. Professional stagers can get expensive and add extra costs to an already large project. These are some DIY tips for doing it without dipping into the funds too much.


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The goal is to give the buyer an idea of what the home would look like if it were theirs and not yours. Pack away all personal items and store them. The upside to this is that it gives you a chance to begin packing and stage the house. Two birds, one stone. Family photos and pet products can make it distracting to the potential buyer so they won’t be able to imagine living there. Clear any clutter from the counters as well as children’s toys. Decluttering the home increases the buyer’s interest because they aren’t focused on your interests. Orderly stack your boxes in a corner of the garage to minimalize clutter and unsightliness. This is an extremely cheap way to stage your home without extra effort or costs.


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If the home hasn’t had a good clean paint job in years then its time to break out the can and brush. This will give a new feel to your walls and also create a new home smell. Go with a neutral color like white, off white, or beige. It sounds outdated but it is actually sound advice. Not everybody will enjoy your guacamole colored bathroom as much as you did.


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Clean the house. I know, I know. You lead a busy life so it is hard to keep it pristine. The fact is buyers don’t want to smell little Billy’s stinky baseball cleats or your precious Taffy cat’s litter box. Get rid of any potentially off putting odors. Temporarily hide or put outside the litter box and spray some Febreeze. Even better bake cookies or place some cloves and cinnamon sticks in a crock-pot with water. Either have the house professionally cleaned or take a day off to really get down and dirty. That includes carpets, baseboards, and ceiling fans. Then when you think you’re done, do it again.

Now that you are a semi-professional home stager, you can charge your friends to stage theirs while selling your own. Best of buyers to you.

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Kick Summer to the Curb

The end of summer marks the beginning of a new season, which means a whole new look for our homes. It is time to break out the pumpkins and haystacks. The outside of our houses is an important presentation to our visitors and passersby. It is a welcoming entry way into our personal lives. Today we will find ways to shout out our seasonal pride by sprucing up our street curb credit.

 


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New Heights. The key to a successful porch makeover is to create different heights with your décor. Create a layering effect with chairs, planters, stacked pumpkins and wheat stalks. Place planters on chairs to reach greater heights or strategically place candle holders along your porch. This will visually make leading lines toward your door as the focus point of your home


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No Bore Door. Doors should make a statement. They are the first objects people will see and notice when approaching the home. Change up your look by choosing a bold color to paint or stain it. A beautiful blue, red or yellow can renew the vibe of your porch experience while staying in budget if decorating on the cheap side.


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Thick and Theme. Just because it’s Fall doesn’t mean you have to stick to boring oranges and reds. Choose a fun color theme that combines fall and fun such as pale blues or greens. There are various colors of gourds and squashes that aren’t orange at all. Cool tones can be used instead of warm tones with just as much charm.


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Pumpkin Patch. These are a given staple in an Autumn curb display. Paint plastic pumpkins cool colors like gold or white for a modern touch. Show your home pride by stenciling the outline of your state on your real or faux pumpkin or the number of your address for visitors to spot from the road. You can even wrap your gourds in ribbon for a fancy addition to plain pieces.


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Mums the word. There is no Autumn without mums. This beautiful flower is the cornerstone of the season. My mother is a traditionalist when it comes to decorating with mums. She buys orange and red only. The other colors are greatly underrated. There are deep fuchsias, goldenrod yellows, lavender purples and bright whites. Don’t limit your color scheme by tradition. Go wild and crazy with purple and white mums.

The curb appeal of your home will now be the talk of the neighborhood. Your modern spin on old Autumn sights will inspire others to think outside the corn stalks.

 

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Spice Up Your Autumn Fare

Who’s excited for Autumn and just about everything that comes with it? I know we’re getting ahead of ourselves because its still 85 degrees out, but we just can’t contain our happiness. In preparation for our favorite time of year (sorry Summer fans) we have compiled a little something of our fall faves. Here are all the must tastes and sniffs to warm the home and your bellies this amazing season.



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Pumpkin Everything. The best part of the season is PUMPKIN. Sorry, not sorry to the pumpkin haters. To fully appreciate this Fall feature is to become as basic as possible and get a Pumpkin Spice Latte (#PSL). That is your first mission. Once accomplished you must make or eat pumpkin bread. Then to complete your experience you will partake in the consumption of pumpkin pie, while simultaneously, one of your middle-aged relatives burns a pumpkin scented candle or Scentsy. Side note: check out pumpkin flavored cream cheese. Bagels will cry with gratitude. You have not lived until these are done. That is all.



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Apple Cider. There is nothing more satisfying than having a hot cup of Apple Cider when it’s chilly out and you are sitting on your favorite porch chair. The great thing about it is that it is so easy to make and most of the time the ingredients are in your kitchen already. Take a crock pot, plug it in and put it on low, then put in apple juice, cloves, cinnamon sticks (or ground cinnamon if you have no sticks), nutmeg, and allspice. Add sliced oranges and apples for a fancy flair. This will make the home smell like a heavenly haven. If you’re feeling feisty you can slip a little bourbon in, but you didn’t hear it from me. Slow wink.



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Maple Pecan. Maybe pumpkin isn’t your jam, but who can resist Maple Pecan? That scent in the morning means one thing and one thing only. Pancakes. Not only does maple pair perfectly with pancakes but it’s also this season’s go-to for donuts, oatmeal, bacon, candy and dressings. It’s like a little black dress, it is appropriate for every occasion. Here is a little dish that I’ve been dreaming about since starting this post:

MAPLE PECAN BAKED BRIE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 round (8 ounce) brie
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place brie in a small baking dish or pie plate and bake for about 15-20 minutes until warm.
  3. Meanwhile add sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves and mixture just begins to boil.
  4. Immediately remove from heat and stir in pecans.
  5. Pour mixture over brie and serve warm.

 



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Savory Soups and Stews. Not going to lie: soups, stews and chili are my absolute weakness. Don’t tell anyone. I could be lured away easily with a promise of this savory concoction. They are not only scrumptious; they are the easiest dinner to make. Take any vegetables and ground or squared meat in the pantry, add spices then bang, you have an amazing dinner for the entire family. Then it becomes lunch and breakfast too after making such a large batch. A healthier version of traditional chili, but just as good:

Turkey Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow (or orange) bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb. raw 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 (28-oz.) can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15-oz. each) kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • Crushed red peppers (to taste; optional)
  • 12 Italian parsley sprigs, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.
3. Add turkey; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until turkey is browned
4. Add tomatoes, beans, chili powder, salt, and red peppers; cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Divide chili into 6 serving bowls and garnish with parsley if desired.

 

Have we whetted your appetite for Autumn yet? Go indulge those senses.

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Memorial vs. Labor vs. Veteran’s Day

We have all done it. We confuse the many American holidays celebrating our country’s great people. It’s easy to do. This week we are going to set the record straight so we will never embarrass ourselves again.


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Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is a day to remember those who have fallen for our country. It’s a day to pay tribute to those who have died serving in the military. This day was chosen after the Civil War and first known as Decoration Day to decorate the graves of servicemen because it was thought that all the flowers would be in full bloom for the season. On this day the flag is quickly raised to the top of the staff where it is lowered slowly to half-staff to honor the one million who have died in service. There the flag stays until noon when it is raised to honor the living. Years later, in 1971, it was officially declared a national holiday called Memorial Day.


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Labor Day is over 100 years old and is the first Monday in September. This day was created after cries from the American Labor Movement called for recognition. The first parade was held in New York City to promote Labor Unions. It is now a time to celebrate the contribution of the American worker to the prosperity and well being of the country. It is dedicated to the economic achievements of the people.


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Veteran’s Day is on November 11th and is a day to honor all military personnel who has served. This day was originally called Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I on November 11th, 1918. In 1954, after several wars the name was changed to Veteran’s Day to honor all veterans who have served in any war.

Happy Holidays everyone. Enjoy your three-day weekends knowing what they stand for.

 

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Benefits of Buying

Renting is overrated. The money is being thrown into the wind while your landlord is rolling in your hard earned cash and paying off their mortgage while telling you they’ll get to that leak under the sink “soon.” I remember renting one year when I didn’t even see the landlord. I couldn’t tell you what they looked like. My dishwasher was broken and the maintenance man told us to not use our health hazard heater because it was outdated. Needless to say it was a cold winter and we moved out of there quickly as possible. Does this sound like a familiar situation? Then you may be ready to sail into the sea of ownership where you are the Captain and that ship is under your control.

Buying a home comes with certain freedoms. One of those freedoms is not having a landlord. You are able to paint, hang wall art, and landscape as you please without the risk of not getting a deposit back. There are no noise restrictions, pet deposits, or remodeling. Butters, the hound, can run and be free in his house without his human worrying about what the landlord will say about his accident on the carpet. Renting stifles this ability to truly make a space your own. A home is yours to customize into a beautiful space that mirrors your personality with no guilt.


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Taxes are a big stressor. Who doesn’t want a little relief when April comes around? Homeowners are offered several tax breaks. Some of those include Mortgage Interest, Tax and Penalty Free IRA, Home Improvements, Energy Credits, Home Equity Loans, and Real Estate Taxes. There is even a Home Office credit if you work from home. So many deductions, so little stress.

A homeowner’s net worth is 45 times that of an average renter. While rent is never recovered, mortgage payments build equity. It is an investment in the future by increasing an individual’s net worth. Not to mention it is cheaper to buy than rent. The average mortgage is lower than a rental payment and over time the interest portion of the mortgage payment decreases therefore the interest that you pay will be lower than a rental cost.


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Having a home in a neighborhood provides a sense of community. You know your neighbors. You know where your children will grow up and go to school. You know that you can walk your dog every night with a peace of mind. One doesn’t always get that when renting because you never know when the rent may be raised depending on your lease. You may not even be able to renew your lease when the time comes. Community is a sense of stability and security.

Free yourself of the waves of rent, buy your dream boat.

 


Come to our First Time Home Buyers Workshop if you would like to learn more on August 26th:

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Small Home Updates that Make Big Changes

Many people want to add a little pizzazz to their homes but don’t know where to start. Whether it be to prepare to sell or for the owners personal appeal, these small updates can turn around an entire vibe to make a house a home.


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Never underestimate the power of a can of paint. One can completely revitalize a room. If you still have that pea green wall color that your friends complimented you on in the 1970’s then it may be time to change up your style. Fashions change and our tastes change with them. If you are selling then choose a neutral color even if they all look the same to you and are only slight variations of “baguette” or “camel.” If you just want to spice up your life then choose a hue that shows your personality.


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Replace old hardware on cabinets and drawers. I remember when my mother inherited our grandparents’ house. I had never really thought much of the handles to cabinets. My mother changed them because I am pretty sure they were the originals from 1955 when my grandparents bought the house. I immediately noticed the change even though I had never given them thought before. All her family members commented on them as well. It was such a little thing that made a large impression. Along with hardware, light fixtures and faucets are the next items that can really date a room. Replacing these with a more sleek look will instantly modernize the space.


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Give the outside love. The inside of a home is important, but the outside can be just as inviting or uninviting. Simple ways to add curb appeal is to add a small flowerbed around that tree in your front yard. You can paint your rusty mailbox to a nice warm tone. Of course, don’t forget to mow and edge the lawn. It is an easy and cheap fix to spruce up the yard. Placing flower pots around the porch and a few decorations can really increase the visual appeal and make you want to come home after a long day to sit on your relaxing porch.

 

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Making Back-to-School Rule

Going back to school is always a trip on the struggle bus. This year it’s time to reclaim your “Parent of the Year” status with some organizational techniques that may keep those wheels going round and round more smoothly. Even in the midst of morning madness these helpful hacks will be sure to keep your family on the right track back to school.


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We all know that feeling wrestling a child into clothing or having them dress themselves. Whether it’s your child, little brother, babysitting Sally Screamer down the street, it is a long drawn out fiasco. Then you have to tempt them with corn dogs and pudding snacks to comply. The least we can do is make sure an outfit is completely put together before the battle goes down. Get a small five shelved stand or bookcase and simply place and entire outfit from hair ties to a set of shoes on each shelf in accordance with each school day. This will save you so much time searching for tiny socks that match when you could be making your mid-morning margarita. Then you don’t have to worry about if the laundry is done because you know at least the kid has clean clothes for the entire week.


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Lunches can be a pain to make in the morning. Especially with attempting to make breakfast and make sure everyone is getting ready in time. In order to save a little time, create a lunch organizer in your pantry or fridge. This can be separate sections of fruit cups, cheese sticks, pudding snacks, chips, prepped popcorn or snack bags, and bite-sized veggies that you can grab and throw into a lunch box to complete a well-balanced meal. Less mess, less stress.


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Print or write your own backpack checklist. Kids will have fun checking off their new school supplies. In the evenings, have each child go through a backpack checklist to make sure they have all their necessities for success. Select a specific place for all backpacks to set so they are all together and ready to grab and go as they leave for the day. This may be a given but little habits can save big time.


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Set aside a file for specific paperwork that the kids bring home from school. They can place the report cards or field trip releases in the file so that you can go through them all at once and always have it together. It also ensures that the kids don’t forget their papers and that you don’t forget to sign them. It’s a win-win for both busy parties. Now you can rule over the dreaded back to school.

 

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Keep your Cool

You love blasting your AC. I know it. We all do. But then you get your paperless billing statement and want to hide it from your spouse because they might cry. You don’t want to see them cry. When they do you are not sure if you should comfort them or put on armor because war is coming. That’s why we have a few helpful pointers on how you and your significant other to keep your cool mentally and physically.


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A more inexpensive investment would be to purchase some blackout curtains. Most heat throughout the day comes in through windows creating a greenhouse effect in the home. Simple changes like having heavy curtains, shutters, and keeping blinds closed can lower your average home temperature by up to 20 degrees. If you are home during the day and need some natural light then just keep the westward and eastward windows covered which is where the sun hits hardest.


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The AC unit is the most abused, blamed and neglected appliance in our possession. To save from wanting go out and kick it, try cleaning it instead. Once upon a time, my family was miserable. We blamed the AC for not being big enough for the square footage in our house. My savvy uncle goes out to look at the unit. It was COVERED in thick pollen. I mean one would think we painted it yellow. No air was able to enter the unit thus unable to enter our home. We shop vacuumed the entire thing and, like magic, we had AC again. Dirty air filters just like two inches of pollen also prevent efficient air flow throughout the house. Changing the AC filters regularly and maintaining a debris free unit can be cost effective ways to ensure your family doesn’t have a meltdown.


MB_0051_17JulyB6-3-insulation

Maybe you’re doing all these things already and need a stronger tactic. Maybe your home is older and you haven’t made repairs on it since you bought it. A good start is to check the insulation. Insulation is the best defense to protecting a home’s temperature. Experts say if there are visible floor joints in the attic then it is time to replace the insulation. To begin you can get an energy audit. A professional will come out to inspect your home for air leaks, check your furnace and water heater to make sure it is working properly, and look for any insulation issues. From there you will have a better understanding of what you should address.

These are just a few of the numerous things you can start to prevent a heat stroke or mild heart attack at the sight of your energy costs. We are just looking out for your health and hospital bills.

 

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