Back to School Tips for Parents

With going back to school just right around the corner, parents and children are often nervous and excited at the same time! We have a few tips that will help whether starting school for the first time, starting a new school, going from elementary to middle school, or getting back into the routine.

* Tour the School – Many schools will have an open house before school starts, make sure you attend. If your child has attended the school before, it is important they are aware of where their classroom and restrooms are located. You can help your child find their desk, cubby or locker, and explore the cafeteria and playground. Also, if they ride the bus make sure they know the procedure for loading and unloading.

* Meet the Teacher – You may already know who their teacher is, or your child may have a brand-new teacher. It is very important you take time out of your schedule and meet your child’s teacher. Learn the teacher’s expectations and what is their instruction style. Also, don’t hesitate to share your expectations with the teacher. By meeting the teacher early, you are creating an open line of communication. Knowing the teacher early on will calm the fears of everyone!

* School Supplies – Make sure you get a copy of your child’s supply list. This is the perfect opportunity to take a special shopping trip with your child. Take advantage of tax-free weekends, back to school supply drives and sales. Splurge on that special book bag, trapper keeper or pen/pencil set and make back to school fun!  Being prepared for the first day of school is critical to creating a positive learning experience for your child.

* Daily Routine – Everyone knows that switching from summer to a school schedule is challenging foreveryone. If you start a couple of weeks before school starts, you can avoid first-day melt downs. Start with going to bed earlier, wake them up earlier and go through their morning routine. Take the time to drive the route to school or the bus stop. Children work best if they have a structured routine, and by starting their routine before school starts will eliminate first-day chaos!

How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Choosing Paint Color

Has the time come and you’re ready to paint the interior of your home? If so, we would like to share some tips to avoid common mistakes when choosing paint colors. These helpful tips will eliminate any questions, doubt or concerns for tackling this project!

  1. Do Not Pick Your Color First – Determine what you are keeping in the room. Organize existing colors in the room starting with the flooring, furniture, window coverings, art work, and area rugs.  Don’t forget how much natural light comes into the room. Consider how all these various colors play off each other and choose your color to support these various items.  Choose your main wall color from an accent throw pillow, area rug or window coverings. If you pick your color first, you will limit your choices for items that match.
  2. Not Considering the Entire Home – Think about walking from room to room and understanding that this flow is considered your transitioning through the home. You want the entire home to blend aesthetically from room to room. You would not paint the kitchen red and the family room a neon green.
  3. Do Not Pick a Color Too Saturated or Bright –  If you love red, don’t paint the entire room red because it will over power the room. Choose an accent piece like a lamp with a red base or red accent pillows to introduce the color into the room. Wall colors with a lighter more muted color like a gray work much better for the wall color. The last thing you want is for the paint colors to fight and clash with the other colors in the room.
  4. Don’t Overlook Your Emotional Goals – If your favorite color is yellow, don’t paint your bedroom a bright yellow. Your bedroom should be a peaceful and relaxing retreat. When you enter the room, the visual goal is to decompress and relax preparing you for a restful night’s sleep. Choosing a bright saturated color will have the opposite effect. Think of using a muted green, blue, lavender or gray paint colors.

We love to hear from you, so please share the outcome of this current project!

Cleaning the Refrigerator

Refrigerators can become smelly and dirty rather fast. Your liquids can spill and create a sticky mess in your recently cleaned refrigerator. The next thing you know, your fridge needs fully clean again. The task of cleaning a refrigerator seems daunting and we want to avoid it all cost. Well, there is no need to drag your feet any longer with these simple cleaning tips. 

 

Tips for cleaning your fridge: 

 

  • Make a DIY Refrigerator Cleaner: 

Step One. To avoid the use of chemicals, you can to create your own homemade cleaner. Combine one cup of white vinegar with two cups of hot water into a glass spray bottle. Then add a couple of drops of the orange or lemon essential oils to your mixture.

Step Two. Take your homemade cleaner and spray it throughout your refrigerator. Let the mixture sit in your fridge for a couple of minutes.

Step Three. Using a damp wash cloth, wipe down the inside of your refrigerator. The solution you made should help pick up any stuck food or leftover residue. 

  • Eliminate all odors.It is not very fun to think that our food makes the fridge smell bad, but it does and we have to deal with it. 

Step One. To eliminate the overall smell in your refrigerator, place a small bowl of coffee grinds in the back of your fridge. You should notice a difference within 48 hours.

Step Two. To eliminate smells in your vegetable drawer, crumple a brown paper bag into a ball and place it in the drawer. In two days, you can remove the bag and you should notice that smells are gone.

  • Make the temperature right. Try to keep your refrigerator at 37 degrees. 
  • Do not forget to clean under the fridge. Think about all the dust and dirt that remains trapped under your refrigerator. It is essential to remember to clean underneath your fridge.
  • Remove fingerprints. If you have a stainless steel refrigerator, you understand how often fingers leave their mark on your fridge. 

Step One. In a small bowl, mix together mild dish soap and warm water. 

Step Two. Dip a wash cloth into the bowl and gently rub out all greasy fingerprints. 

Step Three. Take a different wash cloth and dip it into warm water. Use this cloth to rinse off the soapy water you just put on and begin to wipe it off from the fridge. 

Step Four. Dry off the refrigerator with a paper towel to avoid streaking. 

Step Five. You can take some baby oil on a clean wash cloth and polish the refrigerator after it has been cleaned. 

Note: Move in the direction of the grain when you are cleaning off the fridge. 

 

We hope you enjoyed these tips and that they help you the next time you need to clean your refrigerator!

 

How to Care for your Heating and Cooling System

What keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer? You guessed it, your heating and cooling system. We want to help inform our customers on how to care for their heating and cooling system. These seven quick tips can help save energy and money to the consumer. 

 

How to care for your heating & cooling system: 

  1. Filters. Changing your filters can help reduce the energy used by your heating and cooling system. The more clogged that your air filter gets; the harder it has to work. Also, it can damage the system by causing premature wear and tear. You should change your disposable filters regularly (approximately once a month).
  2. Compressors. Your compressor is located outside because it trades hot air for cold air. In order for it to work properly, your compressor needs to be free of surroundings. You should check your compressor around fall and spring time to see if anything has begun to obstruct it. Take away any leaves, debris or tress that may be in the way of the compressor. 
  3. Air Filtration Systems. Newer homes tend to have air filtration systems and other households use portable air-filter systems. We encourage you to check how to change your air-filter systems because pollen and debris can be caught up in your filter.
  4. Service Calls. Experts advise homeowners to call for maintenance before the first cold or hot night. Do not wait until the last minute. 
  5. Thermostats. Try to keep the heat down during bedtime and when you are not home. You can turn up the thermostat during the morning and dinner hours. If you keep your thermostat on a steady routine, it can help lower costs and save energy. 
  6. Reduce Heat Costs. Use curtains and blinds to help conserve home’s heat. Blackout curtains are amazing for reducing heat loss in homes. 

 

It is extremely important that homeowners probably maintain their heating and cooling system to reduce costs and energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that 41% of a home’s energy is space heating and 6% air conditioning. That means that 47% of a household’s energy use is from our heating and cooling system; therefore, it is critical that homeowners reduce energy used by this system.


Hosting Overnight Visitors Without a Guest Room

When space is limited and guests need overnight accommodations, it’s easy to get a little stressed out. With some creativity and thoughtfulness, you’ll be able to open up your home to them with confidence. Use some of these tips to make the available space you have into a makeshift guest room.

 

First and foremost, make sure that any room you choose is clean. The room may not be spacious, but the fact that it is clean will be appreciated. No matter what you do to make the space accommodating if the area isn’t tidy, your guests will be sure to notice. Next, try to create more surface area for your visitors to work with. If there are miscellaneous items sitting on the floor that you were going to “get to later”, now is the time to clear them away. Any small furniture that can temporarily be moved to another area is also a good way to free up some space as well.  This will give guests room to place their overnight bags and essentials.

 

When it comes to having a place to sleep, there are a couple of options. You may already own a futon that is currently doubling as a couch in the room. If so, great! If not, you might want to invest in a quality air mattress—preferably one that is about two feet from the ground with a non-slip surface so sheets will not slip all over the place while your guests are using it. Make sure to check the label for a mention of easy inflation and deflation so you don’t have to spend too much time on setup and cleanup. Make sure the bedding you use has been cleaned and be sure to provide extra pillows and blankets to accommodate your guest’s sleeping preferences.  Do not use couch pillows, as they can be uncomfortable to sleep on. If you do not have a spare set, it is highly recommended that you invest in them. Your visitors will thank you. 

  

Once the sleeping area has been set up, add things to the space that would make it look and feel similar to staying in a guest bedroom. If this space lacks proper lighting, move a small side table and lamp from somewhere else in your home and temporarily place it bedside. Guests will appreciate somewhere to put their glasses, phone, and book where they can reach it. 

 

Finally, be sure to have spare toiletries available in case anything may have been forgotten.  Place a small basket in the guest bathroom with shampoo, soap, toothpaste and a spare toothbrush. Make sure towels are clean and readily available. A spare hair dryer is also appreciated.

 

Not having a spare bedroom doesn’t mean that you can’t make your overnight guests experience an enjoyable one. Use these tips the next time you need to accommodate friends and family for an extended stay. Your hospitality won’t go unnoticed.

Declutter Your Home

Many people participate in fall cleaning, just as they do with spring cleaning.  If you do as well, or if you would like advice on a quick deep clean of your home, keep reading! It is a big undertaking, but it always leaves you feeling refreshed. This is a time for you to get your home back to the way it should look. 

1. Clean out your kitchen. 

Let us be honest, our kitchen can get unorganized very easily. Cabinets can fill up with expired food and dishes seem to always be misplaced. Your kitchen is a great place to start when you begin to declutter your life. We always put off deep cleaning the kitchen because it can be a giant task. Here is how you can clean out your kitchen:

  • Throw out any empty bottles and expired food. It feels great seeing all the new space open up in your fridge and cabinets.
  • Reorganize the dishes in your cabinets. Check for any broken dishes and throw them away. Look to see if things are not in their designated spots and move them. 
  • Keep counter space only for items you will use daily. Also, consider the items you never use: think if you really need them or if they will be better suited in the giveaway box. 
  • Time to literally deep clean your kitchen. It will feel amazing to have a refreshingly clean kitchen. You can tackle the scum in your oven, countertops, stove, you name it. 

2. Go through your closet. 

Closets are easy to avoid cleaning out because they are hidden from our guests. We get dressed in the morning and start to throw clothes in different spots or maybe you are someone who just uses that extra closet as storage for who-knows-what. What you need to do:

  • Take EVERYTHING out of your closet. We are going to start with a completely blank slate.
  • Separate everything into different piles: shoes, shirts, pants, etc. Make sure you have a pile to give away. We are sure that you will find some things that you do not wear or did not know you owned. 
  • Look at the quality of the item, if it is worn or torn, throw it out. 
  • Lastly, you can put everything you decided to keep back into the closet. You should have far fewer items than what you started with. 

 

You will feel extremely refreshed after “the declutter” and possibly tired, make sure to treat yourself! Decluttering your home will ultimately declutter your life because an organized home is an organized life. Things may get messy again, but that is when you pull this article out and start all over.

 

How to Choose the Right Color LED Bulb for the Home

As your incandescent bulbs burn out, it’s a good time to consider switching to LED bulbs. You have always counted on incandescent bulbs to provide a warm yellowish hue for the home. LED bulbs come in a wide range of colors, last for years and are cooler to operate. We have put together a few tips to help you determine how to choose the right color LED bulb and more.

  • LED bulbs can display a wide color range from red to purple, whites and yellows. For the home, generally, we are still looking for the warm yellow that incandescent bulbs produce.     
  • The most popular colors for LED bulbs are “warm” white or “soft white and “bright” white.   
  • “Warm” white and “soft” white produce a yellow hue like incandescent bulbs.  “Bright” white bulbs produce a white blue light like daylight and retail store lighting.
  • Light color or color temperature is measured in kelvins. The lower the number, the warmer more yellow the light. Typical incandescent bulbs are between 2,700K and3,500K. To ensure you are purchasing a warm yellow bulb look for this range when shopping for LED bulbs.
  • LED bulbs are more expensive than the old incandescent bulbs, but are cheaper to operate. LED bulbs will pay off in the long run, they produce less heat, last much longer and can be operated by smart phone technology. As more competition is entering the market, we are already seeing the price of LED bulbs falling and becoming competitive in the market place. Be aware that unless you are replacing many incandescent bulbs in your house, you will not see significant savings in your power bill.              
  • Please note that due to their circuitry, LED bulbs are not always compatible with traditional dimming switches. You may need to replace with a LED compatible dimmer switch, or pay slightly more for a compatible LED bulb. If you experience a LED bulb humming, buzzing, or flickering you need to replace with a compatible dimmer or replace with a compatible bulb.
  • Not all light fixtures or lamps can be used with LED bulbs. If your LED bulb last less than a year, it is probably due to an old fixture or lamp.

As always, we love to hear from you. Please let us know your thoughts and ideas per this helpful topic!                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Organizing Your Garage

You may store your cars, boxes, tools, or miscellaneous items in your garage and that is okay. But we want to help you take your unorganized garage and transform it into a fully functional space. Here are six ideas to organize your garage this summer: 

 

  1. MetalChain Organizer: Attach a hook to your garage wall then hang one end of a metal chain on it. Tightly wrap up your garden hose and secure it onto the metal chain. Attach the other side of the metal chain to your hook and voila, no more tangled garden hoses. It is just that easy.
  2. Window Planter Storage: If you find yourself with a lot of little, miscellaneous items, try using a window planter for storage. You can store things like car wash supplies, spray cans, and gardening tools.
  3. Old Lockers Transformed: Lockers are not just meant for books and backpacks, but they are perfect for storing all garage-worthy items. Touch them up with a nice coat of spray paint and they will look brand new. 
  4. Rethink Old Golf Bags: Before you toss out your old golf bag, use it for storing larger items like racks and shovels. You can even utilize the smaller pockets for things like gardening tools and gloves.
  5. Tipped-over Filing Cabinet: Transform your old filing cabinet into a storage bin by turning it over on its side. Have the drawers facing up then remove the physical drawers from the cabinet. You will be left with four open basins to fill with all your garage supplies like racks, shovels, and mops. If you are looking for a more aesthetically appealing organizer, try to spray paint it a fun summer color to bring beauty into your garage.
  6. Mason Jars: Store all your tiny screws and nails in one place with mason jars. You can even purchase them in a variety of sizes for different projects. You will never lose track of your nails again with this quick fix. 

 

We hope you enjoyed these garage organizing tips and tricks. How do you keep your garage organized? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below: 


The Child’s Bedroom

A child’s bedroom should be a room where imagination, creativity, and fun are all welcomed. Often, we find it hard to balance the idea of “fun” and organization in their rooms. We want to help you maximize the amount of fun they have in their rooms while maintaining an organized system with these four tips. 

 

Organizing a Child’s Bedroom

  1. Think Like a Kid. Before you begin the organization and decorating process, you will need to keep in mind that a child’s bedroom differs a lot from an adult’s bedroom. Things that may seem like stylish options can be harmful or hard for kids to use. Try to make the room as child-friendly as possible by rethinking height, safety, and durability. You may have to lower the clothing rods in your closet to an appropriate height for your kiddo and swap out your trendy dresser for an easy-to-open, pinch-free dresser. Also, you will want to consider how long the piece will last in this room based off of its durability. 
  2. Little Hands. Instead of organizing from top to bottom, focus on organizing from bottom to top. Try to place items like toys in spots that are “easy for them to put away but hard for them to get out.” This will help you, the parent, determine when it is and is not playtime. Also, it will help keep them on track while they are getting ready. You should try and place necessary items near the ground to help the kids refrain from standing up on furniture and potentially hurting themselves. Items that are not used very often or are just for you can be placed on high shelves in the closet. 
  3. Belongings. Kids will be kids and sometimes they will forget their favorite backpack at the park or school. Labeling can help assure their items return home safely and distinguish which pair of socks belongs to which sibling. Try tucking labels inside of their each item to help prevent losing them.
  4. Clean-up Routine. A child’s bedroom can turn into a messy nightmare in seconds. Parents can prepare in advance by making cleaning “fun” and setting a schedule. Encourage them to make their bed every morning to their favorite song and put away their clean and dirty clothes for a treat at lunchtime. Rewards are always fun, no matter what age you are. 

 

We hope you enjoyed these four tips for organizing a child’s bedroom. How do you encourage your kid to stay motivated when cleaning? We would love to hear from you in the comment section.

Southwest Salad

Keeping things fresh when you are cooking is a one way to improve your health and making salads for your lunches and dinners is a great way to work towards this goal. So what do you do when you have those cravings for tacos or a burrito but can’t have it due to dietary restrictions? 

 

Transforming your favorite traditional flavors and dishes into a salad is one way you can have your cake and eat it too. Here we use mainly fresh produce throughout, with a few optional add-ons for those of us who aren’t trying to be as strict as others. The salad dressing is a yogurt based avocado and cilantro masterpiece that compliments this vibrant salad. The next time you feel yourself reaching for those tortilla chips and salsa, reach instead for your cutting board and vegetables and whip up this great alternative.

 

Ingredients:

1 bag of spinach

1-2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 red onion

1 red bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

2 avocados

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1/4 cup of greek yogurt

1 clove of garlic

Lime juice

Shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese

Tortilla strips

Salt

 

  1. Wash all of your produce thoroughly. You will want to have a large bowl to throw everything into as you go.
  2. Begin prepping by removing the spinach stems and adding as much as you prefer. 
  3. Slice the red onions to your desired preference, personally, we think they work well diced or in long strips.
  4. Do the same with the bell peppers and toss all in your salad bowl.
  5. Remove the stems from the cilantro and dice up as much as you’d like to add to the salad. Try not to overdo it so that the cilantro doesn’t overpower the other flavors.
  6. Slice open the avocado and cut into chunks and add to salad. Save half of an avocado for the dressing.
  7. In a food processor combined the half of an avocado, yogurt, 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, garlic, a pinch of salt, and lime juice. Pulse until ingredients are properly blended and the consistency is smooth.
  8. Toss the salad with the dressing and to with desired amounts of cheese and tortilla strips. 

 

This is just one translation of a favorite dish turned into a delicious salad. Use your imagination when creating other salads and think about what ingredients you can put together to recreate a healthier version of your favorite recipes!