Decorating for Thanksgiving using the Bounty of the season

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Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, a time spent with family and friends.  It is also the time of year when we can spend a lot of money, and in these tough times finding ways to save during the holidays is always welcome.  Using the natural bounty available at this time of year is a great, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly option for decorating for the holidays.  Here are a few creative ideas for your Thanksgiving decorating!

Harvest Vegetables

The vegetables that are available during the harvest season are not only great to eat, but are also a beautiful and inexpensive way to decorate your home and table.  Arrange some pumpkins or large squash on your front steps or by the door.  Also use smaller squash as part of a table centerpiece or as candleholders.  Corn is another great vegetable that can be used as a decoration during Thanksgiving.  A bunch of corn hung on the door or arranged in a vase can create a stunning look at virtually no cost.

Colorful Leaves

The colors of the autumn season are some of the most beautiful of the year, and collecting leaves to use both in crafts and as part of seasonal decorations is a great and inexpensive idea.  Leaves can be a beautiful addition to flower arrangements or can make great arrangements all on their own.  They can also be used for festive wreaths for the front door or to make Thanksgiving themed garlands.

Nuts, Berries, And Branches

As the autumn season turns to winter, natural decorative items such as nuts, berries, and pine branches can be great choices not only for the Thanksgiving season but can easily transition into the Christmas season.  Adding some walnuts to your Thanksgiving table or some berries to a wreath can add a nice touch that will last you through the season.

Getting creative with the natural bounty at this time of year is a great way to give your home a beautiful and traditional holiday look without breaking the bank.

 

Create A Spooky Yard For Halloween

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Halloween can be one of the most child-like and fun holidays of the year.  From the adorable and excited children in their costumes to costume parties for adults, Halloween is really a time to let out the kid in all of us and have a good time.  Whether just entertaining the Trick-or-Treaters or having a party, creating a spooky looking yard and exterior for your home can really add to the atmosphere of the event.  Here are a few great ideas to make your home and yard look “spooktacular”!

Pumpkins And Jack-O’-Lanterns

Autumn is a great time of year to find lots of decorations that come from nature.  Naturally when we think of Halloween we think of Jack-o’-Lanterns, and having plenty of these on your front step and in your yard will give it a great eerie effect.  Also, rather than just cutting out the traditional faces try tracing out other images such as witches and cats.  Painting pumpkins is also a great idea, and be sure to include many of different sizes.  Remember to use battery operated tea lights or flashlights rather than candles in order to prevent accidents.

Scary Signs And Window Decorations

Creating scary signs or gravestones is a really inexpensive and creative way to make your front yard look scary.  Use old pieces of wood to create signs that welcome your guests to your house of horrors or to design old-looking grave markers.  Also don’t forget to decorate your front windows to match the look.  Hang dark colored drapes, suspend fake cobwebs, and add a few fake spiders to complete the look.  Lights can also add a nice spooky effect, but avoid candles for safety reasons.

Don’t Forget Your Trees!

A great place to add scary Halloween décor to your front yard is in your trees.  Hang fake bats or a ghost, string some lights, or set a witch on one of the branches.

These are just a few of the fun, scary, and inexpensive ways in which you can make your property the spookiest on the block. But most importantly, don’t forget to get yourself into the spirit of the day and find a great costume that matches your newly created house of horrors!

A Single Woman’s Guide To Home Ownership

The traditional view of home ownership usually includes a married couple, but times have changed, and more and more single women are entering the housing market.  In fact, almost twice as many single women are purchasing homes than single men, and almost one in five homes purchased today are purchased by single women.  So why are single women making up such a large part of the housing market, and what are the special considerations single women should make when purchasing a home?

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What Women Want!

The demographics of single women buying homes are quite diverse.  From young professional women in their 20s to divorced mothers in their 40s, there are really no typical single women making home purchases, and their needs are just as diverse.  Overall, however, there do appear to be a few trends in the market, and here is a list of what the average single woman is looking for in a new home.

Most spend less than $200,000
Prefer two bedrooms or more
Less likely to choose new construction
Will compromise size and cost to get other amenities, but not location
Smaller spaces are acceptable, and many prefer condos
Desire security and safe neighborhoods with a strong community feel
Look for close proximity to stores, shopping, and fitness centers

Things To Consider

If you are a single woman looking to enter the housing market, or know someone who is, then what should be considered before making the leap into home ownership?

Essentially the considerations are much the same as those of any homeowner.  Taking a realistic look at your financial situation is always important.  Seeking out the advice of a qualified financial advisor and a REALTOR® can make the process less difficult.  It is also important to be sure you are not entering into any unwise loan agreements that may not be wise down the road, such as no-money-down deals.  It is also important to have a clear picture of what your needs as a homeowner are, and that you don’t settle for something that will not work with your particular lifestyle.

Getting To Know The Neighborhood Before Buying A Home

There is a reason the term “location, location, location” is used so commonly within the real estate industry.  The location of a property is one of the most important considerations when selecting a home, as it will affect the value of your home, your day-to-day life, and even your own and your family’s safety.  So what can you do to find out a little about the area in which you are considering a home purchase, and what in particular should you be looking for?

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Know Your Needs

The biggest obstacle to finding a home in an area that can meet all of your needs is not knowing clearly what those needs are.  While it may be nice to live near the lake, or by your favorite restaurant, what is it that you and your family will need and want in order to have an enjoyable and functional lifestyle?  Facilities such as grocery stores, good schools, and community centers may be necessary for families, whereas access to theaters, good restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife may be important to young professionals.

Get The Info

When searching for your dream home, knowing where to look before starting out can help make the task easier and faster. So before getting started with the house hunting, do a little neighborhood hunting first.  There are a number of resources online, from municipal Web sites to forums, that you can use to find out about prospective areas that may be right for you.  Contacting a real estate agent is also another great resource in finding an area that can meet your needs.

Check It Out For Yourself

All the research in the world can never replace experience, and if you are planning to purchase a home you will want to be sure the location is right before making what will likely be the biggest investment of your life.  Taking a walk in the area, trying out the local facilities, and getting to know some of the locals can really help you to determine whether the area will be a fit for you and your family.  You may also want to check out the area at different times of the day, or even the year, if these are considerations that may affect your happiness in your new home.

A little extra work can really mean not only choosing a home that is right for you, but making sure it is in an area that can meet all of your needs.

Maintenance Tips For Your Home

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Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, it’s important to take the necessary steps to keep your home standing tall every day.

Gutter Clutter

It’s always important to make sure that the gutters on your roof are cleared, but it’s especially necessary during the autumn months.  During this time, trees begin to change and leaves begin to fall, which means your gutters can easily become clogged.  If this happens, it could prevent rainwater from properly draining and may even result in damage.  It’s also important to check your gutters throughout the year for a buildup of ice, dirt and other elements that may create a blockage.

Shingle Care

If your roof has shingles, you probably already know that spring is the best time to check for damage.  After the winter is over, it’s important to check your roof for any damage that may have resulted from heavy snow and/or a buildup of ice.  In addition, it’s essential that you check for damaged shingles after a storm.  If you notice one or more that needs repaired or replacing, choose a day with no rain in the forecast.  Otherwise, you will be dealing with a roof repair on a slippery surface.

Heating & Cooling How-To

It’s important to maintain both your heating and cooling units to ensure their longevity.  One way of doing this is to replace filters annually or earlier if needed.  This not only helps to keep your home’s air cleaner, but it also protects your heating or cooling unit from malfunctioning due to improper filter maintenance.

How to Spot Roof Leaks

If you suspect a leak but aren’t quite sure what to look for, you’re not alone.  Although some signs, such as water spots on the wall, ceiling or floor, are obvious, not every indication is that clear.  Possible signs that you may have a leak include a weak floor or damp carpet.  If you detect either of these warning signs, consult a professional roofing expert to help find the problem and correct it as quickly as possible.  If left untreated, a roof leak could damage the structure of the home by weakening the frame or, in some cases, even creating a problem with mold and moisture buildup.

Detector Detective

It’s important to check your smoke detectors regularly to ensure that they are working properly and ready to alert your family if needed.  Always make sure that the batteries in each unit are working and replaced on a regular basis.

 

Ways To Reduce Your Heating Bill

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When the temperature outside begins to fall, our heating bills quickly start to rise.  For many homeowners, keeping their house warm in the winter means paying a hefty heating bill.  Luckily, there are some ways to help reduce those costs and keep a little extra cash in your pocket for a rainy (and warmer) day.

Shade and Blinds – Though it may be cold outside, the sun still tries to peak through on occasion.  When it does, make sure to open your curtains and/or blinds in order to welcome the sun’s heat into your home.  This will help to add a touch of warmth to help keep your heating costs down.  After all, the time for seeking shade from the sunlight is in the summer.

Cool It – Did you know that the settings on your water heater could be affecting your heating bill?  It’s true.  Check your owner’s manual or ask a local expert about the ideal settings for your water heater which, if turned down, may still be able to heat your water adequately while reducing your heating bill.

Insulation Information – Insulation is used to maintain your home’s temperature.  Some houses, especially older ones, may require additional insulation to keep the cold air out during the winter and the warm air in.  The latter is especially important if your goal is to lower your heating bills.  Check with a local insulation professional about upgrading or replacing your outdated insulation.

Temperature Control – Turning the thermostat down when the house is empty or at night (when you can snuggle up under the covers) will help to reduce your heating costs.

Window Woes – If you feel a cold draft near your windows, chances are good that it isn’t the only direction that the air is flowing.  Specifically, air leaks or gaps in your window can cause the warm air to leave your home, which can result in a rising heat bill.  If you notice a draft, use caulk to seal the area or hire a professional to repair any cracks or imperfections that may be causing an airflow problem.

Now that you know how to keep your heating costs down, it’s important to note a certain amount of fresh air must be able to enter the home in order to prevent a buildup of moisture, which could lead to mold during the winter.  In other words, don’t prevent a natural airflow by making your home excessively airtight.

 

Decorating For The Fourth Of July: Show Your Patriot Pride!

Decorating for the Fourth of July is really a great and easy way to show your patriotic pride, and with our nation’s colors of red, white, and blue going so well together, it also couldn’t be easier.  Whether it’s decoration ideas for a Fourth of July party, or even if you are just looking to give your home a more patriotic look all year round, here are a few great ideas for infusing the traditional, or the contemporary American look, into your home!

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Denim Blue

Really, what could be more American than blue jeans?  Denim is a great fabric for decorating for the holiday or all year round, as it is an inexpensive and durable fabric.  You can create pillow covers using denim with a vintage American flag sewn on, or can also create placemats with a similar theme.  You could even make napkins using a softer grade of the fabric.

Set The Table

If you are hosting a Fourth of July party, setting a table for the day can be really simple.  Finding red, white, and blue tablecloths, napkins, and tableware is easy at this time of year; just keep in mind that it is not a good idea to use the flag itself as a tablecloth or placemats.  Instead you could use a red tablecloth with blue and white placemats.  For a centerpiece, a combination of red and white carnations with little American flags placed in the arrangement will finish the table off.  White plates would look great on this table, but you may also want to find a set specifically for the day.

Decorate Outdoors!

Independence Day is a great excuse to get outdoors and celebrate with friends and family.  You can decorate your yard for the day by not only thinking red, white, and blue, but also Americana.  Touches like porch swings and hammocks bring us back to a simpler time.  Flowers are a great way to show your pride, and potted arrangements of red, white, and blue flowers will look great on any patio.  You can also hang a flag in both your front and back yards, and find various outdoor decor items that have an American theme.

These are just a few of the countless ways you can bring your American pride into your home for the Fourth of July, and keeping the theme going all year can really lend a cozy feel to your home and yard.