Month: January 2017

Moving Mistakes

 

 

Photo of moving boxes for a post about moving mistakes.

 

  • Having to rush: Not leaving enough time to move is a huge moving mistake, can be dangerous and can also elevate stress levels. If possible, leave enough time to plan your move and give yourself plenty of time to get to your new location.
  • Not reaching out: If you are by yourself, be sure to ask friends or family to help you with this big task. Moving is not a one person job so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for assistance. Friends/family or a moving company is necessary to get the job done.
  • Not researching moving companies: Be sure to do your research when looking to hire a moving company. While most moving companies are legitimate, it’s still very important to shop around, ask for credentials, and get quotes in writing. Good places to start are the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, or Yelp.
  • Packing absolutely everything: A move is a great time to really take stock of your possessions and see what you really need. Packing everything that you own can be costly in the long run so it’s the perfect time to take inventory and sell or donate items that you don’t need anymore including clothing you don’t wear, furniture that won’t be used in your new home, etc.
  • Lack of organization: Not being organized and failing to thoroughly plan can end up costing you more time and money than is needed and can also cost you your sanity as well. Be sure to use a moving checklist, make an effort to clearly label all boxes, and be in frequent communication with your moving company.
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How To Add Warmth To A Room

Beautiful sputnik light fixture for an example of how to add warmth to a room.

  1.  Layer texture: Multiple types of texture in a room really adds both dimension and warmth. Try adding texture via area rugs, pillows, wall coverings, etc. Layering two area rugs under a coffee table can look great and create a warm look.
  2. Add leather: Leather instantly adds warmth to a space. Having a leather couch or even a leather arm chair goes a long way. Use plants and light and bright artwork to counterbalance the leather so that the space doesn’t get too heavy.
  3. Install an interesting overhead light: The sputnik style is unique and is coming back into style.  Intricate overhead lighting casts light in many different directions creating both ambiance and warmth.
  4. Add knits: Knits are automatically cozy. Incorporate knit pillows, throws, poufs, etc. to warm up a space.
  5. Mix glamorous and natural elements: Mixing these two styles lends to a relaxing environment which translates into warmth. Antlers are a popular accessory choice and when mixed with a glamorous touch such as a mirrored lamp base or a beautiful candle the space will be warmer.
  6. Utilize pastels and brass: Mixing these two colors is both attractive and warm. Try painting a room a pastel shade, such as a dusty rose or light blue/gray and hanging brass colored starburst mirrors.

Photo of a cozy bedroom as an example of how to add warmth to a room.

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Double Thumbprint Cookies

Recipe from Midwest Living

Double Thumb Print Cookies 

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup-1/3 cup cherry jam or preserves or raspberry preserves
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until mixture is combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer and then stir in any remaining flour.
  2. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls. For each cookie on an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet place two dough balls side by side with one side touching. Press thumbs into each ball to form an indentation in each. Press in center of each with thumb and taper bottom of cookie with fingers to form a heart shape. Repeat with remaining dough balls, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
  3. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until edges and lightly browned. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack. While warm, fill each indentation with jam or preserves. Cool completely. Makes approx. 30 cookies.
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Super Bowl Party Tips

Photo of an NFL super bowl trophy for an article on super bowl party tips.

Are you hosting a party for the big showdown between the Falcons and the Patriots? Here are some tips to make your party both easier and memorable!

  • Coat chicken wings by placing them along with the sauce in a salad spinner Photo of chicken wings that can be served at a super bowl party.
  • Create a football bingo game for kids and use m&m’s for the markers.
  • Have a nacho, baked potato or taco bar; not only are these a favorite for most people there is very little prep involved
  • Chill warm beer quickly by placing them in a bin of salted ice
  • Make football potato skins by piping sour cream on top to look like a footballPhoto of football potato skins for tips about a super bowl party.
  • Roll slider meat with a rolling pin for easier assembly
  • Create a beverage bar; choose one type of alcohol and have several different mix-ins for guests to choose from
  • Make coasters out of AstroTurf (about $1 per square foot at most hardware stores). These are cheap to make and perfect for the occasion. They can stick around in the man cave after the party.
  • Create a festive table runner by taking chalkboard contact paper and drawing yard lines on it
  • Order super bowl party supplies from Oriental Trading
  • Have a football pinata for the kids

Photo of a football pinata for an article about super bowl party ideas.

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The Flu-10 Things You Didn’t Know

GoodHousekeeping

Photo of a girl hugging a stuffed animal for an article about the flu.

 

  1. The term influenza is the Italian word for “influence”:  This refers to the cause of the disease; people used to think that the planets, stars, and moon influenced the sickness.
  2. Every year, an average of 5%-20% of the US population contracts the virus
  3. Hippocrates first reported a flu-like disease in 412 B.C.: The first documented flu pandemic was in 1580 and it affected more than 90% of the population.
  4. It’s smart to get vaccinated before October: Although January is a big month for the virus, some outbreaks happen as early as October. Since the antibodies in the vaccine take up to two weeks to develop, doctors recommend getting vaccinated early.
  5. There have been 4 major flu epidemics in the last century: The Spanish flu, Asian flu, Hong-Kong flu, and the most recent Swine-flu, which caused over 12,000 deaths worldwide. The Spanish Flu caused the most virus-related deaths ever-about 20 million world-wide in 1918.
  6. The virus can live on surfaces from 2-8 hours: They live the longest on hard surfaces. Hand sanitizer anyone?!
  7. There are 3 different flu viruses-Influenza A, B and C: Influenza A is the most severe, affecting both humans and birds-it was the cause of H1N1 and more. Influenza B is only found in humans and mutates at a slower rate. Influenza C affects humans, pigs, and dogs and is less common than the other two types.
  8. There are an unknown number of strains: The virus is always mutating; every year there are 3 or 4 strains identified before vaccine development starts.
  9. During the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, doctors prescribed either shots of whiskey or no alcohol at all: Some doctors recommended drinking half a bottle of wine a day or a glass of port wine after taking a very hot bath. Many people during that time relied on folk remedies, including eating and bathing in onions. In order to prevent the virus, the Colgate company recommended not wearing tight clothes and shoes as well as chewing food carefully.
  10. You can get your diagnosis in as little as 15 minutes: A lot of hospitals and doctor’s offices are using Alere i, which is a device capable of diagnosing the virus in just 15 minutes with a nasal swab. Getting a quick  diagnosis means that treatment can begin in the first 24-48 hours after infection which is when you need it most.
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Decluttering The Kitchen


Photo of a clean kitchen for an article discussing decluttering the kitchen.

When selling your home, it’s important to get the kitchen clean, organized and ready to sell since many consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home.

  • Clear the counters as best as you can. Put away appliances and only take them out to use them.
  • Put rarely used pots, pans, and dishes in storage
  • Clean out any “junk drawers”
  • Create as much empty space as possible in drawers, cabinets, and the pantry
  • If your pantry is crammed full, begin to use as much of it as you can. You don’t want to be moving a lot of food when you leave and it will also help to create a clean space that will appeal to buyers. It’s also a good idea to organize the pantry but utilizing baskets to store items or to group similar items together
  • Clear out as much as possible from underneath the sink. Move any extra cleaning supplies out and make sure that the sink is free from any leaks
  • Give the kitchen a scrub down including the counters, sink, cabinets, floors, etc.
  • If the refrigerator doors are full of magnets, photos, calendars, etc., consider removing all or some of those items
  • If there is open shelving, consider putting items in baskets to create a clean and organized look
  • If some cabinets have glass doors, be sure that those cabinets are clean; consider displaying pretty dishes in those spaces
  • Store potholders and towels in drawers instead of hanging on the oven handle
  • Do you collect teacups, plates, etc? If so, keep a few out but put the rest into storage
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Understanding Your Credit Score


Credit score graphic to discuss what doesn't affect credit scores.
  • Location: The place that you live doesn’t have any bearing on your credit score. Even if your hometown statistically has bad credit, all that matters if how you handle your finances.
  • Employment: On some occasions, information about your employment may be on your report depending on what is reported to each bureau. Although employment information may be present on your report, it is not used in calculating your score. Even if you are unemployed, that will not reflect on your credit score unless you start to miss payments.
  • Income: This isn’t used in determining your credit score, although lenders may ask you for your income when applying for a loan. Lenders may also be able to estimate your income using clues found on your report such as the size of your mortgage.
  • Age: Although age itself doesn’t officially factor into your score, the length of your credit history does. The longer a credit history is, the better.
  • Marital status: You and your spouse have separate credit scores, unless you apply for a joint line of credit. Also, if you add your spouse as an authorized user on a credit card or if you co-sign on a loan for them, that will affect your credit.
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Tips For Homebuyers That Work From Home


 

Home office to discuss buying a home for those that work from home.
  1. Find a home with an office: A space that is private, quiet, and set apart from the rest of the home is perfect. This may be an actual office, spare bedroom, a walk in closet, finished basement room or space above the attic, etc. A space works especially well if it gets some natural light. If your home office is “used soley and exclusively for business purposes” you can claim a federal tax deduction for business use of your home.
  2. Patio or other nice outdoor space: Working from home can be intense with no co-workers to break up your day. Finding a home with a nice outdoor oasis to take breaks in can relieve some stress and allow you to be more productive.
  3. Check into nearby cafes or bookstores: Working from home can get lonely so you may be tempted to reach out to family and friends on the phone, but this can cut into your work time. Look for nice cafes or bookstores that you can bring your laptop to and work from for a little while. This way you can enjoy some great coffee while being around other people, without being too distracted.
  4. Find a home that’s close to a park or walking paths: Finding a home that is nearby a nice outdoor space can allow you to take your lunch breaks outside which will help you to relax and clear your mind.
  5. Find a fenced-in yard: Anyone with pets knows that they definitely crave our attention! If you are inside all day with your furry friends they will want you to focus on them, making it difficult to get your work done. With a fenced-in yard, you can let your pets play outside while you get your work done.
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Checking Your Credit Before Purchasing A Home

 

Checking your credit score


Before purchasing a home you need to meet with a lender to see about qualifying for a loan. Lenders will use your credit score from your credit report to see if you are a responsible borrower and therefore if you qualify for a loan with them. Credit reports are put together by three separate agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  Each of these agencies puts together information from your credit history and, using a formula put together by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), determines your credit score. Each of your scores will be slightly different and lenders usually use your middle score when analyzing your credit history.

Your credit score is used to determine the rates and conditions of your loan. If you have a higher credit score,  lenders see you as a low risk investment meaning that you probably won’t have difficulty paying back the loan and they will offer you a lower rate with good conditions. If your score is on the lower side, lenders may see you as a high risk investment and may offer you a loan with a higher interest rate. The maximum score is 850, although anything over 800 is pretty rare (only about 10% of applicants have a score above 800), any score in the 700’s or higher is considered excellent and will usually get you a lower rate, and anything in the 600’s can get a little more complicated. A score of 680 is still considered good but if your score falls below 660 some lenders may start denying you a loan.

If your credit score is on the low side or lower than you expected-don’t worry too much. Your credit score changes over time and there are several ways to improve it such as making all of your payments on time and paying down existing debt. To know your numbers, you can head over to Credit.com and use their free Credit Report Card every month to see where you stand.

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All About Closing Costs

 

Photo of a home for an article about closing costs.
Closing costs are the fees that are charged by lenders and third parties related to the purchase of a home. What exactly makes up closing costs? Below is a break down of the different components:

 

  • Escrow/Attorney Fees: Some states require third party escrow companies handle real estate closings while others allow attorneys to perform the function. Title companies, title agents, lenders, brokers, and real estate agents are allowed to handle closings and/or escrows depending on the state. These fees are usually split between the buyer and the seller.
  • Title Insurance: There are usually two types that need to be purchased-the lender’s policy and the owner’s policy. The title company or a lawyer will research the title to ensure there are no liens against the property or unidentified owners. These policies protect both the lender and the new owner for the full value of the property. In most cases the seller pays for the owner’s policy and the buyer pays for the lender’s policy.
  • Transfer or documentary taxes: These are paid either to the state, county, city, or a combination depending on the state. The government agency gets their piece of the pie during this transaction.  This is also called a reconveyance tax.
  • Recording Fee: Paid to the county for recording the deed, which shows ownership of the property.
  • Settlement or closing fee: This is usually split between the seller and the buyer and it covers the costs charged by the escrow company, lawyer, or whoever handles the transaction’s financial transfers.
  • Brokerage Commission: The fee you contractually agreed to pay for the selling of your home.
  • Pest Inspection: Most lenders require a pest report to ensure the property is in good condition. This fee is usually paid by the seller and they may be responsible for fixing areas that have been damaged by termites, carpenter ants, dry rot, fungus, etc. In many cases these repairs can be negotiated.
  • Septic Inspection: If you have a septic tank, the sales contract will likely require you to have it inspected.
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