Category: Home Improvement

Smart Holiday Travel Tips

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Holiday travel is here with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner! During this time of year traveling can be challenging thanks to the nearly two million travelers per day jet setting during these holiday months. To help keep your sanity and to make sure you arrive at your destination and not stuck in a security line or worse. Here are some tips that will come in handy when you book your next holiday vacation.

Buy Now

The price of a plane ticket is already high and increasing by the day. So, if you’re looking for the best deal on a flight for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might want to buy now. Passenger numbers are up as more Americans look to get away after staying home the past two years because of the pandemic. With demand up, that pushes prices up.

To pay less and avoid crowds, traveling on Thanksgiving or Christmas is definitely an option. If that doesn’t work for you, consider traveling several days before and after the holiday. Also, booking the earliest flight of the day helps in the event of traffic and weather delays and also allows for a less crowded airport.

Pack Light and Right

If you’re flying this holiday season you may want to avoid the stress and hassle of checking your bags. Try and fit everything into a carry-on to get you through the airport quicker and to ensure your belongings get to your destination. You can always forgo packing extra toiletries that you can purchase when you arrive at your destination to free up room.

Knowing the TSA rules is a good way to avoid security delays: All liquids need to be less than 3.4 ounces and fit into one 1-quart bag (the 3-1-1 rule). Another way you can save yourself a lot of time and security-line headaches is by applying for TSA PreCheck. You’ll skip the longest lines at security and get to keep your shoes, jackets, and belts on. The fee covers you for five years, and if you’re a parent, your kids 12 and under can go into the FastPass line with you, too.

No Gifts, Just Snacks

If you packed any wrapped gifts, there is a good chance security will probably have to unwrap them. Plus, if you are not checking your bags, that’s valuable space that you could fit an extra set of clothes in. The best ways to give gifts are to give gift cards, send your wrapped gifts beforehand by post, or if you purchased something online, have it delivered directly to them. Many online stores have a gift wrapping option.

Definitely pack a few protein bars or bags of trail mix in the event of long lines and delays. No one handles stress well or functions at their best when they are hungry. That especially goes for young kids. Take a few disposable water bottles too. You’ll just have to ditch them before going through security.

Family Fall Fun Done on a Budget

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Fall is such a fun time of year. The weather starts to cool down, families can get outside and make memories together. This year especially, it’s important to save more than you spend. Here are some wonderful fall traditions to do with your family that cost little to nothing.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

One of the best things about going to a pumpkin patch is searching for that perfect pumpkin. When you buy them from a store, you have to settle for what’s left on display and most of the time they’re bruised or funky looking. Being outside and having the freedom to find a pumpkin that is the right size, color and shape is extremely rewarding for everyone young and old.

Walk a Corn Maze

A corn maze is the ultimate fun fall activity and most of the time they’ll be hosted by pumpkin patches or local farms. Many times they have more than one maze, one for kids that are easy and a lot shorter and one for adults. Spending 20-30 minutes “lost” in the corn is fun and the kids always love the adventure.

Carve a Pumpkin

So many people just color or paint their pumpkins. This year get your hands dirty and get those kids involved in this fun activity. You don’t have to carve a face, you can print out a silhouette or Cricut to cut out a fun design, make it religious or make it extra spooky! Then be sure to roast up those seeds for a tasty and healthy snack.

Boo your Neighbors

Package up some of your favorite fall treats, put them in a cute container and then share with your neighbors. It’s a secret though so just leave it on their porch with instructions to “Boo” another family in the neighborhood.

Use up the Halloween Candy

Once Halloween has passed and you’re stuck with a bucket full of candy, use it up in a deliciously creative way by making cookies or gooey popcorn balls chock full of pieces of candy bars and M&M’s. This works very well with the “Boo” your neighbors tradition listed above.

Take a Hike

This time of year is the perfect time to get out with the family and enjoy nature. Find a trail and take in the beautiful scenery of the leaves changing. Pack a picnic and spend some time unplugged with your family.

Decorating On A Budget

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We’ve all been spending more time at home lately. After a while, looking at the same thing every day starts to get old. Many of us are ready for a change. Yet, with inflation hitting furniture prices of late, many people are finding it harder to decorate at a reasonable cost. Household furnishings and supplies were up 10.6% this summer compared with last, according to the consumer price index. These days, there are plenty of practical, inexpensive ways you can revamp and improve the look of your home without breaking the bank.

Change It Up

One of the best ways to spruce up a room is to change up the furniture. But you don’t have to drop thousands of dollars on new furniture to improve the look of a room. Simply rearranging your furniture can give your house a fresh, new look without costing money. When you’re rearranging a room, consider the focal point of the room first. This might be your TV, fireplace, or a window seat. Next, place your biggest pieces of furniture—rugs, coffee tables, and sofas—around this focal point.

You want to draw attention to the focal points, keep the seating practical, and set up a natural flow to the room. Don’t forget to check the walkways. Finally, arrange lamps, smaller tables, and any accent pieces. The key to a great furniture arrangement is finding the balance between practicality and creativity. While you want your room to look new and unique, you can’t sacrifice usability.

It’s All In The Details

Sometimes the smallest changes in a room can make the biggest impact. And, if you’re decorating on a budget, then that matters. Look around your home for the tiny details you can change. Add lighting with new lamps; you can find fun pieces at thrift stores or consignment shops. Or change up your lamp shades to change the way light flows through the room.

Upgrading faucets to fancier options, replacing small appliances, or changing out door knobs can elevate the look of your home. You can also add unique decorative pieces that will attract attention and start conversations, like vases, plants, candle holders, or figurines.

The Power Of Paint

When decorating on a budget, sometimes the answer to a fresh look is as simple as a new coat of paint. Bringing a new color or texture is an affordable way to give a room new life. Add an accent wall, or consider using different paint techniques to give a room a distinctive look. Different painting styles can even transform the look of a room. Lighter colors make walls appear higher, and dark ceilings make rooms seem wider. Also, paint isn’t just reserved for walls. Turn an old, drab piece of furniture into something new and chic with a coat of chalkboard paint or a pop of fun color. The best part of painting is that you can always redo it, so don’t be intimidated to try something new or bold.

Your Fall Home Checklist

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The cool months are just around the corner, so make sure your house is ready for them. At a time of year when homeowners prepare for winter, autumn can also be a great time to take advantage of the moderate weather and repair any damaged areas before the first frost. The following tips will keep your home running like a champ all winter long.

Clean Your Gutters

It is vital to keep your roof’s drainage system flowing smoothly since it diverts thousands of gallons of water away from your house’s exterior and foundation walls each year. If your gutters are clogged, you risk damaging your exterior surfaces and receiving unwanted water in your basement. When clogged, they are also more susceptible to rust and corrosion. Clean your gutters before the leaves fly this fall, and protect them with mesh gutter guards.

Clean Your Carpets

When it comes to carpet cleaning, fall is the ideal time. The summer days are over, but the winter days are yet to come. You’ll have the best chances of drying your carpets by cracking a window or leaving doors open because of the excellent weather.You can also let a professional handle the bulky cleaning equipment if you aren’t up for the task yourself.

Touch-up Exterior Paint

A touch-up can prolong the life of your siding and trim in the fall, when it is warm enough to work with exterior paint. If you plan to have any surfaces covered with snow, such as porch stairs or wood decks, it’s a good idea to paint or seal them now. Something to think about with painting outdoors, paints are not recommended for application when temperatures dip below 45 to 50 degrees. So it is best to contact a local painter sooner rather than later.

Repair Walkways

Whenever the weather turns icy, damaged walkways, drives, and steps are even more of a hazard. To prevent little cracks from becoming expensive headaches, it is crucial to fix issues in the fall. Look for cracks that are more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections, and loose railings on steps. The majority of small jobs can be completed yourself, but large jobs should be left to professionals. Look for disintegration of asphalt or washed-out materials on loose-fill paths.

Inspect Your Roof

It is difficult to find the cause of a leaky roof once it begins to drip. Stop problems this fall before ice and winter winds turn them from annoyances to catastrophes. Using binoculars, inspect your roof from top to bottom. Look for cracks and wind damage on your ridge shingles. Check for metal flashing around vents and chimneys in valleys and around vents and chimneys for damage. Check your entire roof for missing, curled, and damaged shingles. Make sure that your gutters are flowing freely, and look for large accumulations of granules, which are a sign that your roof is losing its coating.

Be Proactive For A Stressless Holiday Season

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The holidays are full of high-stress moments, no matter how much you love them or how much you don’t. Starting some of your holiday planning early can set you up for a season of joy, rather than spending too much, worrying too much, or doing too much. Here are 5 ways to relieve yourself from stress this winter.

Make Room For All That Is New

All of the upcoming holidays means more stuff will be brought into the home soon. Clearing out space now ensures that all the items you have will have a place to go, whether they are holiday gifts, hostess gifts, decoration or an abundance of food and drinks for your festivities. If you don’t use or wear something anymore, donate it. Throw away expired or outdated items in the pantry and fridge.

Check Your Winter Clothes

There are always certain clothes that are required during the holidays. Ugly sweaters anyone? Ensure that your mitten has a twin, your ski pants still fit, and your sweaters and coats are in good condition by checking them now. You can avoid spending money replacing clothes you cannot locate at the last minute by knowing where they are located and by inspecting your winter clothes now.

Let The Planning Begin

Holiday planning ahead has its perks. From shopping lists, to gift ideas, to budgets, preparing ahead saves time and prevents you from panic shopping or booking at the last minute and overspending on items you don’t need.

Creating menus and gift lists for your holiday parties and dinners now will prevent you from scrambling later. Making a list of travel needs or the stops you’ll make on the family road trip will ease the tension of holiday travel. You can make changes to these lists, of course, but preparing them well in advance ensures you’re making decisions thoughtfully instead of based on holiday stress.

Create DIY Gifts

It is gratifying to know when someone appreciates a handmade gift, especially when they know the time it took to create it. Now is a great time to start your homemade gifts of soaps or candles to save yourself from the stress of rushing before a gift exchange.

Take Your Holiday Photos Now

If you like to send out thoughtful letters and family photos every year to your loved ones, start prepping now. Take your photos and have them printed well in advance, and get ahead on writing your letters full of memories, updates, and events from the past year. Order your cards and stamps now, and you’ll be far ahead of others who swarm the post office last minute.

Warm Fall Fragrances For Your Home

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As it begins to cool down, incorporate these seasonal fragrances into your home for a boost of warmth and festive spirit. Pumpkin spice, baked apples, and warm cinnamon will all enhance the cozy, comforting feeling of fall. You can make your home smell like fall with essential oils, real fruits, and whole spices instead of scented candles and store-bought air fresheners, although they can closely replicate those classic autumn scents. It doesn’t take much time to make one of these DIY fall home scents for your home to fill it with a cozy aroma.


If you pick up a cinnamon broom when you go shopping, you can easily infuse your home with the scent of cinnamon. Cinnamon might be the underpinning of any scent that makes us think of autumn. Try cinnamon-scented pinecones, which also serve as scent-dispensers and decor if you’d rather something less meaningful to infuse your home with the scent of cinnamon.


You can make stovetop potpourri if you want a simple fragrance that lasts for hours. Apples, oranges, and cinnamon sticks are classic ingredients for a fall simmer pot, but you can also add cloves, vanilla extract, or star anise. Strips of orange peel work just as well as whole slices if you prefer to eat the fruits. The scent will be released over several hours of simmering or setting to low in a pot or slow cooker. It might be necessary to add additional water periodically as it evaporates. Be sure not to burn it. Combine the ingredients with water in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated until ready to use or give it away as gifts.

Essential Oils

The use of essential oils is a safe alternative to burning candles in your home. You can use an oil diffuser for this.For a more pronounced scent, use single oils in seasonal scents like rosemary, clove, orange, lemon, eucalyptus, oregano, cassia, frankincense, cinnamon, or ginger. Mixing oils in your diffuser will give you a more layered scent if you are feeling a little more festive.


A few fall-scented candle melts will make this plug-in candle warmer a great conversation starter, as well as a cozy light. Prepare spiced fall wax melts in your warmer using a plastic liner to protect the appliance. You may also use a slow cooker to melt soy wax pellets, then add essential oils to scent. Fill your wax warmer with your homemade fall fragrance by placing a few in an ice cube tray, then letting them cool.


You might not think that baking for the sole purpose of making your house smell good makes sense, but if you time your baking correctly, you can have a homemade treat and an absolutely amazing house as soon as your guests arrive.

Quick And Easy Ways To Remove Carpet Stains

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If you’ve lived in your home a while, you’ve probably stained your carpet once or twice. Sometimes you have to call in the professionals or maybe even replace the whole thing. That’s not very practical to do for every small, new stain and that’s where these easy cleaning solutions will save the day.


Get coffee or tea stains out of carpet by making a mixture of 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon of dish soap. Cover the stain with the mixture and let it sit a few seconds before carefully working the solution with your fingers. Rinse the stain with cold water, blot, and repeat until it is gone.


Club soda works well for removing red wine stains, just spritz it over the blemish, wipe with a microfiber cloth, and repeat the process until the stain disappears.


You should let mud or dirt stains dry completely before treating them. Scrape off the residue as much as you can, vacuum, then apply a detergent solution. Blot the stain with a clean white cloth or paper towel after letting the solution sit for 10 minutes.


Remove as much gum as you can. Harden the remaining gum by placing a resealable sandwich bag filled with ice on it for a few minutes. Use a dull knife or spoon to chip away any remaining gum. Vacuum and clean the stain with a dry-solvent carpet cleaner, following the label instructions.


When cleaning blood stains on carpet, avoid using warm water, as this will encourage the stain to adhere. Instead, use a mixture of cold water or club soda and some liquid dish soap, soak the area then blot with a clean cloth.


If the chocolate is soft or melted, place ice cubes in a resealable plastic bag on top to harden the stain. Chocolate that is solid needs to be scraped away using a butter knife or fork. Vacuum up any loose pieces and flakes. Then, working from the outside of the stain toward the center, use the dish soap mixture we recommend for cleaning tea/coffee stains. Apply it to the area and soak for five minutes, then blot until the stain disappears.

Stains With Fat

Coat fatty stains with a layer of baking soda and let it sit for six hours. Blot with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol, then vacuum the blotted area. If you wish, you may also use a dry-solvent spot carpet cleaner.

Candle Wax

You can remove candle wax from carpets by rubbing an ice pack onto the wax until it hardens. After breaking up the wax, vacuum up the pieces. You can also apply a white cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol to the spot or treat it with a carpet cleaner based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Blot the area until it is dry.

Should I Hire A Professional Cleaner?

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Maintaining the value of your home is crucial, no matter if you recently bought it or are looking to sell it. The regular cleaning services scheduled by a cleaning company can help ensure that your home increases in value and stays a wonderful place to live.

You have many expensive features in your home, from stylish hardwood floors to built-in microwaves. When these items are maintained and cleaned properly, they can add significant value to your home. However, if they are neglected or cared for incorrectly, you could end up spending a lot of money on replacements. A professional cleaner knows how to clean every surface of your home in the most effective and safest way.

Let Your Home’s Beauty Shine

A neat and tidy house makes all the possibilities of your house more appealing to potential buyers. Potential buyers are more likely to visualize themselves living in it and envisioning the space as their own. By using regular, professional cleaning services, you can have a house that is always clean and ready to be seen by potential buyers. Buyers won’t have to look past any mess to get a clear picture of your house.

With professional house cleaning services, you can maintain clean windows and boost the value of your home. If you dread cleaning your windows or skip them altogether, you are damaging your home’s value. The longer grime and dust build up on windows, the harder they become to clean.

Details Can Change Everything

Some high-touch surfaces are overlooked during routine cleaning, or they are not properly cleaned. Over time, these surfaces become damaged, corroded, or tarnished. Professional cleaners pay special attention to these surfaces when maintaining regular cleaning sessions. As a result, potential buyers will have the best first impression of your home with clean, gleaming surfaces.

Clean Your Home For A Higher Appraisal

If you recently listed your home and are now under contract, the process doesn’t end with accepting the buyer’s offer. Unless your buyer is paying cash, the lender is most likely to want to make sure that the house is worth the price you’ve agreed on. Professional cleaning services are essential if you want to sell your house for top dollar. Although appraisers follow a set checklist and appraise your home using specific metrics, well-maintained homes often make a more favorable impression.Things like clean windows and properly treated floors can make an enormous difference.

Is It Worth Painting Your House Before Selling It?

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Refreshing the main interior walls with a coat of paint can make your home look fresh, new, and more attractive for showings and open houses. The right neutral color on the walls can also give the home a cohesive look and the appearance of more square footage.

It May Be Needed

If your walls haven’t seen a paintbrush in the last six years, it’s likely time to freshen things up. Through the years, walls can absorb moisture, grease stains, and can fade from the sun shining in. Not to mention, the current color palette of your home could be unappealing, distracting and out-dated.

It is also important to note that small signs of peeling, staining, or fading can indicate that your house hasn’t been properly maintained, which can discourage potential buyers. The good news is that these problems can be resolved fairly easily and without a lot of expenditure, depending on the size of your home. Painting the walls in a neutral white, beige, gray, or earth tone, the home will look more spacious and inviting––and provide a blank canvas for buyers.

Increases Home Value

Important areas to paint include trim, kitchen walls, cabinets, behind the toilet, and your main living space. Because painting is a reasonably budget-friendly change, it provides a high return on investment. Repainting interior walls increases home value by an average of 5% and nets a return on investment of 107%. That means a home valued at $400,000 would increase in value by $20,000. That’s a fairly significant increase for a task you can likely complete in a weekend or two.

Hire A Pro or Do It Yourself

Hiring a professional to paint a room in a house can range anywhere from $115 for a small bathroom to $2,800 for a large room. A 300 square foot living room will run around $1,200. But if you decide to repaint the entire house it could cost between $7,500 to $16,000. Labor costs will run between $2.00 and $6.00 per square foot.
Painting the interior yourself will cost considerably less, ranging between $1 and $3 per square foot for paint. If you choose to DIY this project, keep it neat and watch a few instructional videos beforehand.

So, is it worth it to repaint your house before selling it? If you have the time and money for it and your exterior or interior is worse for the wear, go for it. Painting is one of the easiest projects you can take on before you sell.

Average Cost To Repair Your Appliances

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When an appliance breaks down, it can disrupt a household’s daily routine, so having it repaired as soon as possible is usually the top priority. Appliance repair costs fall between $100 and $250, with an average cost of $175.

In the event of a malfunctioning appliance, knowing the cost of repairing it can help an individual appropriately budget and, if necessary, plan for a replacement. When estimating the cost of appliance repair, the following factors are most important.


A large portion of appliance repair costs is attributed to labor. Labor costs vary from technician to technician, but how they charge can differ as well. Many work on a flat fee, while others charge by the hour. In addition, homeowners should be aware that emergency-repair fees can quickly add up to a higher appliance repair estimate.

Type of Appliance

In order to determine the cost of repairing an appliance, it is critical to know what type of appliance needs to be replaced. Depending on the damage, fixing a dishwasher may cost $100 while maintaining a dryer may cost $200. Heating and air conditioning systems are usually the most expensive to repair, ranging over $900.

Source of Energy

The cost of an appliance repair service call can vary depending on the energy source. Generally, electric appliances are the least expensive to repair. There is usually a 20 percent difference in repair costs between gas appliances and electric ones. Due to gas’ higher risk of danger and the higher cost of parts, it is more difficult to repair and maintain.

Location of the Appliance

Repairing a broken appliance is more expensive the longer it takes to access it. To start with, preparations might need to be made before the repair can begin. If you need to move a fridge built into your kitchen cabinets, it will be more challenging than if it were freestanding. Microwaves and ovens follow the same principle.

Emergency Fees

In emergency situations, like when the air conditioner goes out during a heat wave or over the weekend, or when an appliance needs to be repaired immediately, these fees are reserved. A repair can be significantly more expensive if these fees are included. Depending on the time and day, emergency-repair fees typically range from an extra $50 to $200 on top of the cost of repair. It is possible to pay less for an emergency repair at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday compared to an emergency repair at 1 a.m. over the weekend.