The month of November brings the end to daylight savings time, for most of us anyway, and the start to the holiday season. Don’t be left in the cold, jumpstart your preparations with this quick checklist.
Check Your Fire Safety System
Test your smoke alarms and CO detectors to make sure they’re in working order. Locate your fire extinguisher and be sure the gauge shows that it has enough pressure. If it isn’t already stored in or near the kitchen, re-locate it closer to the oven for quick action should Thanksgiving dinner go up in flames.
Clean Your Garbage Disposal
Don’t let a stinky garbage disposal ruin your appetite, keep it smelling fresh with a few pieces of lemon rind and some ice cubes. The lemon cleans and deodorizes the odor causing bacteria and the ice scrapes away any debris, as well as sharpen the blades.
Check and Repair Other Plumbing Issues
Run the water in each sink to determine if it’s draining properly.
If your bathroom sink is not draining quickly, a great natural way to clear debris, with ingredients that you likely already have in the house, is to put ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar, then plug the drain and let it sit for an hour. When you unplug the drain, pour boiling water down until it drains quickly.
Send a snake down your tub drain, then add a hair trap to each drain to prevent future blockage, especially when you have guests over for the holidays.
For a slow kitchen drain, the likely cause is a build up of fat, oil, or grease (FOG drain clog). The best way to clear this kind of clog is with 2 liters of water and a few tablespoons of dish washing detergent. Pour slowing and keep pouring until the drain is cleared.
Pull Out Your Winter Essentials
For those of you in cold climates, get out the shovels and replenish the ice-melt bucket before the snow and ice hit this season. Don’t get caught in the storm, make sure they’re easy to access or easy to pull out when the weather forecast calls for below freezing temperatures.
It’s also a good idea to get out your snow gear and toys. Don’t miss an opportunity to play in the snow because you can’t get to your shed to pull out your snow boots, gloves, or sled!
Check and Replace Floor Protectors
Prevent damage to your floors by checking any pads on your chair legs as well as the rug mat.
Make sure the pads on your chairs, sofas, and tables are intact so when you move them, they won’t rub and scuff or dent flooring. Lift the rug to double check that the rug mat isn’t causing damage to the floor as well. Sometimes, the adhesive can stick to the floors, leaving a residue that’s almost impossible to clean, this is especially important on cement floors.
Prepare the Guest Bedroom
Has it been a while since anyone, besides the dog or cat, has slept in the guest bed? This is a great time of year to wash the sheets and clean the room in preparation for holiday guests. And don’t forget the cobwebs in the corners! Organize and re-stock the closets so your guests can easily access more blankets and towels during their stay.
Once you’ve completed your November checklist, you can sit back with your hot apple cider and know that you’re ready for the holiday season.
It is the official start to the gardening season! For those who have large outdoor spaces, it is the perfect time of year to make a trip to the home and garden store, work in your gardens, and plant new growth. For those who live in smaller city quarters and whose outdoor space comfortably holds little more than a potted plant, we are forced to be more creative with our green space.
Decorative plants and nurturing vegetation is something that makes my house a home, even if small city living quarters has forced us to learn to take the outdoors- in and work with what space we have. Indoor plants, flowers, and gardens are a pleasing alternative when you do not have the space or the desire to be outdoors. Adding some green to your home can be decorative, fragrant, and even edible. Planting and nurturing your growth is a fun do-it-yourself project that can be a whole household activity.
Where to start
Traditional Potted Plants are a great starting point for the non-gardening types. Potting plants is relatively simple, cost efficient, and spatially low maintenance. Check out these ideas for potting and planting in small spaces.
Vertical Gardens break away from the customary terracotta pot. They are both modern and space saving. In a vertical garden you are able to grow a variety of plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. They can be practical and decorative inside or out. Learn more about creating your own vertical garden here.
Hydroponic Systems are a soil-free gardening solution that can involve little to no pesticide use. Green Tree’s Hydroponicsreports that the growth rate of a hydroponic plant is 30-50 percent faster than that of a soil plant. Here’s what it takes to build your own, however you can also purchase hydroponic systems online.
Terrariums are “making a comeback” according to the New York Times. Terrariums can be uniquely ornamental and perfect for tight spaces that need a hint of green. Check out some samples and get design ideas here.
What growing methods have worked well for you?
What to grow?
That are good to eat …
Herbs: growing edible items can be very rewarding. Herbs are my go-to item to grow inside because they are low maintenance and take up little space. I prefer to pot basil, parsley, chives, thyme, cilantro, and oregano.
Grasses, like wheat grass, are becoming popular to grow indoors and decorate your home with.
Fruits and vegetables tend to take up more space and are more demanding. However tomatoes, peppers, radishes, leaf lettuce, potatoes, and carrots are a few fruits/vegetables that will grow well indoors.
That are good to look at …
Several flowers and house plants will flourish and bloom indoors. I enjoy the fragrance of Gardenia and the appeal of a Boston Fern in a hanging basket. However, using a plant encyclopedia will help you find which plant is right for you and your home.
What do you prefer to grow?
Making it look good?
The great part about bringing your garden inside is that it lets you use vegetation as a decoration. Whether you prefer to arrange flowers, string kokedama, or paint a fun plant pot, your vegetation and the way you display it can have an impact to your overall décor. How do you decorate with your vegetation?
For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.
A favorite family picture- blown up to 5*7 or larger
Fabric flowers; you can find these at a local craft store. For a fun touch, pick up some fabric butterflies too
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
A shadow box or a picture frame with the glass popped out
Let inspiration be your guide; mock up your design before breaking out the glue gun
Glue flowers around the frame
Let the glue dry and then display your work of art!
Difficulty level: 1
A heart shaped picture collage:
Do you have so many favorite photos that you can’t pick just one? Are you an Instagram addict? Then this fun project is for you. You can use as many pictures as your frame will fit.
A picture frame
A piece of cardstock or paper cut to fit your frame
Cardstock cut into a stencil heart shape
A pile of your favorite photos
Craft glue or scrapbooking adhesive
Fancy accent paper (optional)
Decide the quantity of photographs you want to display
Arrange your photos on your blank sheet to determine the best placement
Cut each photo into the same size heart (use a stencil heart or heart shaped paper punch for this)
Arrange your pictures on the card stock
If you want to add some dimension, cut out hearts from the fancy accent paper to display behind your photos
Once everything is exactly how you like it, glue it all down
Let everything dry and finish by adding your frame!
Difficulty level: 2
The writing’s on the wall
Do you have a favorite quote about love? Make a modern wall hanging with some simple tools and your favorite words!
A wood frame for stretching canvas (can be found online or your local craft store)
Dark denim (enough to fit over canvas with a couple of extra inches all around)
A white fabric pencil
White fabric paint
Small acrylic paint brushes (with stiff bristles)
A staple gun and staples
A printed template of your favorite quote, as you would like to see it displayed
A window with natural light
Tape your printed quote to a window with natural light shining through
Tape your fabric swatch over your template, and position the image/text in the middle of your fabric swatch (dark side facing you)
Using the white pencil, trace the quote and/or image clearly on your dark fabric
Once done, remove your fabric from the window and tape to a flat surface like a desk or table
Use the paint brush and white fabric paint to trace over your white sketches to make your text and/or image visible
Let your masterpiece dry for a few hours (amount of time varies based on the thickness of the applied paint)
Position your fabric over your wooded canvas frame. Make sure the placement is straight and where you want it
Hold your fabric in place over the frame and staple the sides to the back of the wooden frame, checking to make sure your image on the front is straight and the fabric is taught on the frame
If the fabric on the back of your frame is too long, you may want to consider trimming so it doesn’t peek out when the frame is hung on the wall
Find the perfect spot to hang your masterpiece or the perfect person to gift it to!
Difficultly level: 3
Happy Valentine’s Day! From all of us at Windermere Evergreen.
A few tricks used by professional home stagers can make your home holiday-guest-ready, even if you’re preparing for a visit from your in-laws, not potential buyers.
While friends and family might be more forgiving than a home-shopper would be, you’ll still want to create a clean and uncluttered atmosphere for making holiday memories. A major difference is, for friends and family, you don’t need to depersonalize. Tastefully placed photographs and kids’ hand-made masterpieces can help make a house a home, after all.
But you do want to make your place look and smell clean, and you might even want to evoke a sense of holiday magic and warmth. Michele Graham, a Long & Foster regional administrator and accredited home stager who works with agents in the greater Philadelphia area, offered these tips:
Cleanliness first. Make bathrooms sparkle and shine, since these are rooms every guest will probably see. Add fresh cut greens on top of the window treatments, and set out festive holiday hand towels or napkins. Keep small caddies of cleaning supplies in the bathroom and kitchen, or at least on each level of the home, to make clean-ups faster. In the kitchen, run a piece of fresh lemon through the garbage disposal and wipe off the splash guard, which can collect grime.
Clip an automobile air freshener to your shower curtain in a hidden spot to keep the bathrooms smelling good. You can use dryer sheets to do a quick dust job or polish up chrome faucets. Baby oil will make stainless steel appliances shine.
Add sparkle. Put something shiny in every room, whether it’s mirrors, mercury glass, silver or gold candlesticks, picture frames, or a string of white lights. The light will bounce off eye-catching shiny and metallic surfaces.
Bring in some green. Liven up your mantle or table with evergreen branches, holly boughs with berries, dogwood, and other décor provided by nature. You might find the perfect accents right in your own backyard.
Layer and add depth. A few silver and gold accessories add formality, while plaids and burlap are more casual. Embrace the palette of the season, with its gray sky, snow and evergreens. Even after the holidays, you can use white and silver accents around the house. You can add a pop of color using throw blankets and pillows.
Festive curb appeal. Greet your guests upon their arrival with window boxes filled with fresh-cut greens or even fake ones. Holly branches, pine cones and shiny round Christmas ornaments catch the eye.
Graham said you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your home ready for the holidays. Most of the items she recommends can be found at dollar stores and thrift shops.
And one of the best ways to brighten your space is free. “Keep your window treatments open to let in as much natural light as possible,” Graham said. “It will add a wonderful glow to accent your décor.”
For more information on Windermere Evergreen please contact us here.
During the winter, it is tempting to curl up and hibernate in bed for the next few months. However, you shouldn’t put off these important home maintenance duties.
Clean and check the gutters: While you are on the roof hanging holiday lights, make sure your gutters are clear of leaves, secured to the house, and in good condition. If you do find problem spots, seal, secure, and make note to fix these in the spring. You want to divert water away from your home.
Insulate external water sources: In cold climates pipes can freeze, which can then lead to cracked pipes and flooding. Bring hoses and sprinklers inside for the winter and use insulation to wrap external faucets. Insulating interior pipes can help prevent disaster. If you don’t have insulation, you can keep a faucet dripping during particularly cold days, so water is flowing through the pipes.
Check your water heater: One way to save money during the winter months is to wrap your water heater, so it doesn’t have to use as much energy to keep the water hot in a tank. You should check on your heater to make sure it isn’t leaking and in good repair regularly.
Interior insulation: Keep the heat in and the cold out with increased insulation in your attic and basement. This is an investment, and best done before the winter hits, but can make a big difference in how warm your house feels and how high your heating bill goes.
Check for cracks and leaks: Do you feel a draft? Check the sealing on your windows and doors. You can add weather stripping and silicon to seal these leaks. Foundations can leak as your home settles, so you should also check your basement for water coming through the walls, pipes, and older windows. You will want to seal these appropriately to minimize damage from flooding or mold.
Weatherize your windows: Your windows can be a great source of heat leakage depending on their age and condition. If you have older windows, you can use a clear film to help insulate them during the winter. If you don’t want to film the windows you can install extra thick drapes or curtains to help keep the interior of your home warm.
Check your heating system: What is one thing gas fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and central air heating systems all have in common? They all need to be cleaned and maintained. Check and clean your indoor heating system thoroughly. If you use an old-fashioned wood stove, make sure there are no leaks and that all soot buildup or nests are removed. If a furnace is what you have remember to change the filters as recommended or clean out your reusable filters.
Check your chimney with care: Nothing is as cozy as sitting by the fireplace during the winter, but use with care! Have your chimney checked by a professional to ensure that it’s in good condition and clear of critters or nests. You can also use a creosote log at the start of the season to help break down any old residue.
Invest in home security: The holidays are prime times for burglars looking to score some extra gifts so make sure your home is safe and secure at all times. Check your locks to make sure these are secure and consider a home security system with visible cameras to act as a deterrent. Keep evidence of big gifts hidden from view too. And make sure you discreetly get rid of any large boxes that might alert a prowler that you have new big-ticket items in your home.
Deck the halls and be merry: Decorate your home and prepare for guests. If you have a Christmas tree, keep it from drying out (and creating a fire hazard) by watering regularly. Keep decorative candles and menorahs away from children and flammable materials. You may want to consider battery powered candles, these can be a safe alternative to traditional candles.
Wishing you and yours a happy and safe holiday! For more information on Windermere Evergreen please contact us here.
December is a busy month with Christmas around the corner, so I try to do as many tasks in advance as I can — if not my shopping, at least my decorating!
In November, I decide on my decorating theme for the season. I like to introduce a few new decorations every year — this year, I chose an abundance of artificial trees.
Artificial trees come in a variety of sizes and color options. Choose from natural shades of green to frosted white to whimsical pink and silver. I used a trio of 15-inch snowy pines “planted” in galvanized tins, but you can opt for larger trees depending on the size of your table and room. If you have a large dining table and high ceilings, trees as large as two or three feet add a dramatic look that’s perfect for holiday parties. If you choose pre-decorated trees, you’re already halfway done!
I added two more trees to complete the table: a large 18-inch pine and a matching mini version. Having similar items of varying heights makes any display more interesting. I used vintage books with faded red covers to add height to the arrangement, then finished with red and white ornaments, snowflakes and a red table runner to make everything more festive.
I decorated the mini tree simply, with just a gingham ribbon and used a piece of quilt batting as the “snow” surrounding each tree. A Christmas scene wouldn’t be complete without candlelight, so I made candle rings from a decorative red and white garland twisted around petite candle tapers.
If you want to extend your tablescape, try these other centerpiece ideas:
- Light up the room with battery-powered lights strung on each tree.
- Decorate artificial trees in a color scheme that matches your room’s decor. It may be Christmas, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be red and green!
- Have a small decorated tree at each place setting at your dining room table. Host a dinner party and have your guests take the trees home as party favors.
It doesn’t take much to create a “tree-mendous” centerpiece that you and your guests will love.
For more information on Windermere please contact us here.
With all the cheer and celebration at this time of year, it’s hard to believe anything bad could happen. However, statistics show there’s a significant increase in home-related accidents, fires, and burglaries around the holidays. To protect your family, friends and property, heed these six suggestions:
- Keep walkways, driveways and decks free of slippery ice or moss.
- Have your fireplace professionally cleaned, and only use one artificial log at a time.
- Check the batteries in all smoke detectors and make sure a working fire extinguisher is located on every floor, as well as the kitchen and garage.
- Snuff out any candles before leaving the room (even for a short while), and make sure to always keep them in short holders with wide bases so they don’t fall over.
- For holiday lights: Only use outdoor lights / extension cords in the outdoors, and plug them into GFCI protected outlets; make sure all lights are UL-approved; know that the smaller bulbs are safer; never leave them on when you’re not home.
- Plug a few lamps and the TV or stereo into timers to make it appear someone is home while you’re away. Also, ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway, pick up any mail and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.
Making the extra effort to keep your home safe will always be the best gift you could give family, friends and other visitors. For more information on Windermere Evergreen please click here.