All ‘House and Home’ Posts

19 jun

How to Give Furniture a Vintage or Rustic Effect

RobertCordrayMany homeowners use procedures to distress their furniture. When a furniture piece has a vintage look, it has more character. Although there are stores that sell vintage furniture pieces, most homeowners distress their current furniture pieces because it is a cheaper option.

Selecting An Item

Homeowners who never distressed a piece of furniture must understand a few things. For example, an expensive piece of furniture should not be distressed. Instead, choose a cheaper piece of furniture. If there are no cheap furniture pieces in the home, various options can be purchased at a thrift store. Beginners should practice their skills on cheap furniture because the end results may not be efficient.

Using The Tools

To distress a furniture piece, sand paper will be needed. The sand paper should have a coarse grit. Furniture that is unfinished must be sanded; sanding will smooth the surface. However, if the furniture has a coat of paint, use sand paper to remove most of the paint. Do not remove all of the paint because the old finish gives the furniture a weathered look. After sanding is complete, use a tack cloth to remove the dust that was produced after the sanding process.

Advanced Sanding Procedures

The edges of the furniture should be sanded because sanding gives the surface a vintage effect. The furniture can be sanded with a sanding block or a coarse-grit sandpaper. When sanding the surface, rub the edges and corners vigorously. After sanding is complete, the surface should be rounded and uneven. This procedure also gives the furniture a weathered effect.

How To Use A Hammer And Chisel

A hammer and chisel will give the furniture cracks. To use the tools, put the chisel on the wood surface. The proper location is very important because wood furniture will only crack along the grain. Once a proper spot is located, tap the chisel with the hammer several times until the surface cracks.

The hammer can also place depressions in the furniture. Depressions give furniture an aged effect. To give the furniture depressions, tap the furniture in numerous locations until small depressions appear.

How To Scratch The Furniture

A wire brush should be used to scratch the furniture. Rub the brush on the surface in various locations to scratch the material. This procedure can also be used after furniture is painted or stained.

How To Use A Drill

Furniture that is vintage has small gaps. To give the furniture these gaps, use a standard power drill. Each gap should be placed near one another. This procedure mimics insect damage.

Proper Replacement Procedures

A vintage piece of furniture will not have any shiny metal parts, so these components should be replaced. Replaced these components with aged pulls, screws, feet, and latches. These items are usually sold at vintage furniture stores. There are also stores that sell barndoor hardware.

Apply Wood Stain

Wood stain must be applied to the furniture. However, the surface should be cleaned with a tack cloth before the staining product is used. After the surface is cleaned, brush the staining product on the wood along the wood grain. Once the product is applied, wipe it off the surface using the cloth. This will help the product access the dents and cracks. After the product dries, seal it using a clean varnish.

Other Rustic Procedures

Professional painters can also give furniture a rustic effect. Professional painters will use the proper paint tones and colors to give the surface an aged effect. The process of painting wood can be challenging if the correct procedures are not used. Wood has various grains that must be painted properly. After the painter completes the project, other procedures can be used to increase the rustic effect.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on June 19th, 2014 in House and Home | No comments Read related posts in , ,

27 may

Creating a Beautiful Entryway

RobertCordrayThe entryway is the first view that a guest has of the inside of your home, and it’s important for it to make a statement while being welcoming. Fortunately, there are ways that can be done that won’t force you to take out a second mortgage. It doesn’t matter if the entryway is big and wide enough to be its own room or short and narrow.

A Skylight For a Narrow Entryway

Speaking of an entryway that’s short and narrow, one solution is to install a skylight that stretches the length of the entryway. The natural light flooding in will relieve a lot of the claustrophobia of a narrow space. It’s also a good idea to hang photos on the walls that will benefit by being lit by the skylight. The floor might be partially covered by a brightly colored runner that also runs the length of the entry hall.

A bigger entry hall might be decorated with a bull’s eye mirror with a demilune beneath it. The demilune can hold a vase of flowers or can be the place where the homeowner places bric-a-brac, bowls or other attractive items. A high ceiling can allow a fairly large crystal chandelier or an etched glass and wrought iron lantern. A sliding barn door can separate the entryway from a hall that leads to the rest of the house. If the entryway is wide enough, a simple round pedestal table can be placed right beneath the hanging lantern, and a set of armchairs can be placed against the walls or beneath a window. A portrait of a family member can also be hung on a wall facing the door.

Staircases

An entryway that opens up on a view of a sweeping staircase also makes a dramatic statement. The curve of the staircase can be echoed by an arched entrance to the rest of the house. A pattern of tiles can also be constructed in the middle of the floor that either blends in with or contrasts with the dominant colors in the entryway. The family crest can even be in the middle of the tile decoration.

The entryway might also be big enough for a substantial rug whose colors are echoed on runners that cascade down the middle of the stairs steps. The entrance to the living room might be to the right of the entryway while the entrance to the dining room can be to the right.

Indoors and Outdoors

A stunning entryway doesn’t necessarily have to be at the front of the house. Entryways that open to the backyard or the patio can also be dramatic. For example, a blue color scheme in the entryway that leads from the pool area can echo the blue of the water. This can be done with blue upholstery on chair seats, pottery like blue willow ware on a central table or blue striped wallpaper.

Storage

Entryways are also excellent places for storage. There are ways that storage units can be placed in an entryway that’s very esthetically pleasing. Wall high cabinets with hardware that echo the hardware on the front door can be placed in the entryway. Beside them, made out of the same material and in the same color, can be roll out drawers for sports equipment and other items. Shelves above them can display items that are more pleasant to look at. On the other side of the entryway, the homeowner can install a bench that’s also a storage unit. The seat flips up to reveal the storage space. Above that is a rack with hooks for coats, sweaters and hats.

These few tips should help to give a homeowner ideas that can make his or her entryway an inviting place of peace and beauty.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on May 27th, 2014 in House and Home | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

15 may

Adult Kids at Home: A Failure in Society’s Eye

JennaSmithFrom dozens of online columns to Dr. Phil, the debate over adult children living at home remains a topical issue, especially given the economic recovery that never seems to be forever moving at a snail’s pace.

From Dr. Phil, a recent estimate says 14 million adult children are living with their parents. From reporter Katie Couric, there are 22 million “boomerang kids,” which refers to kids returning to their parents domicile after an attempt to make it on their own.

After all, this is by evolutionary design: When humans reach adulthood, we are evidently programed to reach the boiling point on general cleanliness and sleeping habits, so that children are forced to find their own living arrangements. Eighteen years is roughly the tolerance level for Moms to play indentured servant or for Dad’s to play chief, cook and bottle washer. At about this children have had it up to their briskets with being woken up on Saturday morning by Dad running that infernal lawn mower.

For some time, however, the economy been forcing us to reconsider the expectation of a young adult finding living quarters separate from his or her family of origin. In 1980, 32 percent of adults under 25 were living with their parents. That had reached 43 percent by 2007-2009, when the Great Recession turned the economic tide.

There is one refreshing article in British newspaper “The Guardian,” that addresses the rise in adult children living with their parents, noting that one mother was happy her 21-year old daughter had returned home. The parade of guests coming and going and the extra cleaning kept the house “vibrant,” she said. You, go, Mom!

While some grouse about the financial strain of having adult children hanging around indefinitely, there are advantages to having an extra breadwinner in the house, even if there is only part time work available.

The wages an adult child working at a part time job while living in the parents’ home can be considered extra income. That same wage, when the child is on his or her own, is entirely drained by necessary expenses such as rent, utilities and food. That’s no way to get ahead.

Living at home with that in mind opens the door for part time work that was not a favorable option when the offspring was trying to make it on his or her own.

The first step is to accept the inevitable. Get over your disappointment of having to share the television remote with your adult child and look at the bright side. Some adult kids can work off room and board by cutting the lawn – then you can be the one trying to sleep in on Saturday mornings. Adult children can also do the laundry or the shopping. This beats allowing some inner rage to develop while you imagine the child’s life is a perpetual vacation while yours is stuck in endless servitude.

Poor families suffer the most strain from having an adult child remain at home. In traditional agrarian societies, people have large families, so that offspring can take over the farm or the family business and take care of their aging parents. When there is no work in a modern scenario, this safety net backfires. Extra mouths to feed become a liability rather than a retirement investment.

Immigrant families present even more difficulties. Often family members arriving from abroad join with established family members who have settled in to their new country. An adult child living at home might be an adult brother or sister moving to the United States and looking for help from a sibling who has already moved here. There could be language barriers. An adult brother or sister might require help applying for a green card, which is required for an immigrant to work in the United States.

Instead of looking at an adult child living at home as a burden or a source of friction, families can return to an old mindset, considering the child part of a safety net, albeit one that has yet to realize their earning potential. For some, children living on their own is mot a given; it’s a luxury that a slow economy cannot support.

In turn, this suggests that an adult child living away from the home is an option based on culture, but it is not an emotional necessity. When Dr. Phil and others point to the statistics of adult children living at home, under the assumption that something has gone wrong, they are talking about a modern luxury that is backsliding.

“When we talk about loving our children, loving them means preparing them [for the real world],” Dr. Phil said in an article titled, “Steps to Independence: How to Get Your Adult Children Living on Their Own.”

That only applies if you want the kids to leave. That is the norm. But it isn’t mandatory.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on May 15th, 2014 in Family, Global/Social Change, House and Home | No comments

07 mar

Big City Home Remodeling Tips

JennaSmithHome remodeling is pretty easy if you live in a place with a lot of space. You can store furniture and boxes in the garage, or use your back porch to keep track of sawhorses, paint cans, or any other supplies that don’t fit in the house.

But what if you don’t have a back porch, a garage, or even an extra room to spare? If you’re living in a big city or urban center, you’re often stuck with the space you have — which isn’t very much. Of course, this very lack of usable space may be what’s prompting you to remodel in the first place! Still, you’re going to have to find a place for your furniture, your belongings, your kids, and your pets to go while you tear out walls or redesign kitchen counters.

Here are a few suggestions to help make big-city remodeling a bit easier, helpfully categorized by city:

Storage in Chicago

Dealing with excess stuff in the Windy City is a breeze if you have access to a good storage unit. Storage units provide inexpensive ways to store your valuables, and storage in Chicago is plentiful and low-cost. This is good, because many historic Chicago homes are urban brownstones that barely have extra rooms, let alone backyards. If you’re remodeling, your stuff has to go, and storage is the best place for it.

Simply pack up everything you can live without, and move it into one of Chicago’s many storage units. These units are often climate-controlled, have 24-hour security, and include drive up access. Choose a unit with the features you need, and live a minimal life at home until your remodeling project is finished.

Sublets in New York

Sure, you could look for a storage unit in New York as well, but you’re going to have a harder time; the New York Times reported in 2013 that, like everything else in the overpopulated city, storage units were at a premium. To store your stuff during your home remodeling project, you’re going to need to compete against everyone else trying to store items in the Big Apple.

So if you’re in NYC, consider trying a different tactic. If there’s one thing the city does well, it’s offer up sublet apartments. Other cities often have many rules about who can or can’t sublet, but in New York, according to the Metropolitan Council on Housing, “tenants in privately-owned buildings of four or more units have the right to sublet by law.”

Sublets also have to be for at least 30 days in duration, which is perfect for a small remodeling project. When it’s time to tear down your interior walls and fill your home with drywall dust, simply put painter’s tarps over your furniture and move yourself and your family into a sublet. If you need a longer sublet, say, six months or more, don’t worry — you’ll find plenty of opportunities as the city’s many residents shift from apartment to apartment and open up sublets so as not to break their lease.

Tiny Houses in Portland

Portland is slightly less population dense than other cities, which means you’re probably going to have a bit of an actual backyard with which to work. And what’s better than moving directly into the backyard while you remodel your home? Tiny house living has taken hold in this eco-friendly city as a way to share space and reduce environmental footprints; in fact, America’s first official Tiny House Hotel opened in Portland in 2013.

These tiny houses, which generally measure under 500 square feet and include a living space, kitchen, bathroom, and lofted bedroom, are easy to build or to buy pre-made. They live on trailers and can be placed wherever you need them. By putting a tiny house in your backyard, you have a place to live while you remodel your home. Then, you can keep the tiny house and use it as an accessory dwelling (often called a mother-in-law suite or a “granny flat”) or as a rental space and a source of additional income.

Although many other cities have a lot of strict rules about renting granny flats, Portland’s rules are relatively few, and is one of the most accessory-dwelling landlord friendly cities in the US. When you’re tired of being a landlord and want to enjoy your newly-remodeled home by yourself, simply sell your tiny house and move it onto someone else’s property.

Whether you choose a storage unit, a sublet, or a tiny house, you know you have options when remodeling in an urban area. There are as many ways to get this job done as there are types of homes — so use your imagination, along with these tips, to make your urban renovation as smooth as possible.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on March 7th, 2014 in House and Home | No comments

07 mar

Fun Hobbies That Can End Up Making You Some Good Money!

RobertCordrayHow many times has someone told you that you are so good at your favorite hobby that you should turn it into your career? You may have laughed off the idea when it was brought up, but you should give it some serious thought. There are several hobbies that, if done with passion and dedication, could wind up making you money.

Wood Pen Making

Woodworking experts always find unique ways to express themselves through their art. Wood pen making is a hobby that could bring you orders from business professionals, companies, and people looking for the perfect gift for the executive in their lives. Bullet pens make handy little gifts that people can give on holidays, birthdays, or to commemorate a special occasion.

Photography

Thanks to the many advances in technology, more people are starting to be able to take pictures like professionals. If you love taking pictures, and you get compliments for your work all of the time, then offer your services for weddings and special occasions.

You can also take the kinds of pictures that you like and sell them online to customers all over the world. If you really want to get into the world of photography, then look into setting up a booth at your local arts and crafts show to sell your work to the people who pass by.

Car Restoration

You spend your weekends restoring old cars and you have become very good at it. You can use that hobby to make a lot of money in two different ways. One way is to sell the cars that you restore. Just be sure that you do some research on their value and get a fair price each time.

Your other source of income can come from restoring cars for other people. You would be surprised at how many people in your area have classic cars that they would pay handsomely to have restored.

Music

If you are a musician and you love to play your instrument and sing for friends and family members, then you have all that you need to make some good money on the side. You can go out as a one-man show and play for dinner crowds all over the area, or you can get involved with a group and play clubs on the weekends.

You can also join the local musician’s union and get work in the live theater productions that come through your area. If you can read music, then you can make a lot of money playing those part-time gigs.

Putting Together Computers

A technically inclined person who spends his spare time building computers for his own use can use that skill to make good money. Let your friends and family members know that you build computers and quote a fair price based on the needs of the customer. After a while, you will start to get referrals to make computers for people all over the area.

When you enjoy a hobby, you never really think about its financial possibilities. But if you are good at a service that people will pay for, then you should think about using your hobby to make good money.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.


Posted by Robert Cordray on March 7th, 2014 in Career, General, House and Home | No comments

04 feb

A One Bedroom Apartment Isn’t So Bad After All

JennaSmithMy time in college was coming to a close. I was beginning my senior year and it was also the time when things started to get serious with my freelancing career that I had been developing during the off-hours in my dorm.

There was a problem though …

It was beginning to get difficult trying to balance study and work all from a tiny little dorm room. Papers were starting to stack up. I constantly had to mail things so boxes were plentiful. The printer, computer, and video equipment I used to make promo videos was simply taking up too much space.

I started looking around and found a nice apartment complex just down the road from my school, which was perfect since it didn’t take long to get to class and it meant I had enough space for my stuff.

It also helped me relax a bit because my school wasn’t too keen about running businesses out of the dorm room.

But … being on a college budget didn’t give me a whole lot of options, so I decided the best option would be to get a one bedroom, one bath.

At first, the place felt huge compared to the tiny, little dorm room but it makes sense when people say “the more you earn the more you spend”. Getting into the new apartment had me buzzing with energy because things felt like they were truly legit. My freelance income started to climb because I didn’t have nearly as many distractions from my roommates; I now had the funds for bigger and better furniture and household items. These items quickly began to add up, which meant I was quickly running out of space again.

Since I’m not the type that wants to throw out good items, I had to find a compromise to make my living situation work.

I’m out in San Diego, which means the weather is almost always nice. I also happen to have a nice balcony, which until that point was mostly used to store my bike and some of the weird odds-and-ends that I seem to acquire whenever I swing by my parents’.

One of the things I decided to do was to treat this balcony like an extended part of the apartment, so that it would always be open and used frequently. I picked up a few nice chairs that would go out there along with some neat lights I found on www.partylights.com, which gave it a real relaxed atmosphere during the night time.

That’s like one extra room – in my book.

I also started to get real about how I kept everything organized. Luckily, there’s an Ikea in San Diego. I had been there before when I picked up some of the furniture at the time I first moved in, but I hadn’t looked much at the storage and shelving units. It’s amazing what you can do with what they have without breaking the bank.

With a budget of about $300 I picked a few shelving units that would go in the room and ones that could double up as night stands.

It took a while to declutter since everything was all over the place, but eventually I got it under control. The shelves I hung onto the wall above the headboard let me keep all my business books in an easy-to-reach spot for when I was winding down for the night.

The toughest thing was finding the best spot for my desk when moving all this stuff. I’m constant working at my computer (between study, freelancing, and doing the blogging thing) and so I decided to go with a DIY option — I mounted a desk top to the wall with hinges so that I can fold it down when it’s not in use (I use a laptop so this worked well).

Doing so also made me further declutter because I didn’t want to constantly move things back and forth when I wanted to put the desk up. Switching to some online services certainly helped (like invoicing) which I’d recommend to anyone trying to get rid of all that hard copy in work and study.

Overall, I’d like a bigger place but when you start to organize and make use of the space you’ve got, you really start to see it’s not really necessary. You’ll end up getting more stuff. If you’re crafty (or if you’ve got someone that can help out) then a one-bedroom is often all you really need when you’re younger, so don’t fret if you’re feeling cluttered … get creative, instead.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on February 4th, 2014 in Finances, House and Home, Personal Stories | No comments

19 nov

Working from Home and Saving Money

JennaSmithWhen you make the big switch to freelancing or working from home, you gain a lot. You are able to work at your own comfort and speed, without the worry of a supervisor coming to check on you. You are able to wear pajamas if you want, and work from your bed or your couch.

On the other hand, you often have to adjust to living on a reduced income. A freelancing career takes a while to ramp up, and even if you are earning as much as you made at your old job, you’re often paying more in taxes. Since self-employed people are required to pay both the individual and the employer’s portion of Social Security and other taxes, even if you’re making the same amount of money each month, less of that money goes into your pocket. Still more of your income has to go towards funding the business itself — the web hosting, for example, that helps clients find your work.

All of this means that you have to learn how to live on less. Don’t worry — we’re not suggesting you give up your new freelance career and go back to your old job! Instead, here are the steps you need to take in the next 30 days to get your finances on track.

Start eating at home

If your old job meant grabbing a Chipotle burrito or Corner Bakery sandwich every day for lunch, it’s time to swap out that habit for a more economical one. Eating out every day costs far more than eating at home, even for “meal deals” like McDonald’s Dollar Menu. As Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar proves, it is cheaper to buy ground beef and make your own hamburgers than it is to buy the same amount of hamburgers even at $1 each!

That means you have to start planning and shopping. Buying pre-packaged sandwiches from the grocery store isn’t saving money. Slicing your own cheese for sandwiches is. Look for meals you can make while you work, such as slow cooker stews or hearty casseroles. The more money you save on food, the more money you’ll have to support your new business.

Cut back on your overhead

If it’s a monthly payment and you don’t need it, it’s time to let it go. That means no more magazine subscriptions, and no more gym memberships. (Yes, staying healthy is important, so find activities you can do for free, such as running, or joining a Meetup.com sports league.)

There’s one place where you probably shouldn’t cut back: your entertainment/internet/cable package. You definitely need internet for work, and you don’t want to skimp on your download and upload speed. Instead of cutting back on cable and internet, look for deals on a combination package. As the bloggers at MoneyNing note, a good Verizon FiOS double play promotion code can get you significant cost savings as well as a bonus $300 Visa gift card. That’s money in the bank!

Figure out how much money you need to earn every day

When you’re a freelancer, it’s easy to get into a procrastination habit. With no fears of a boss coming after you, sometimes that little break stretches into a lost afternoon. Solve this problem by figuring out how much money you need to earn to make your monthly financial goals. Then, every day, make sure you do at least as much work as would earn a day’s amount of money. If you have a project that is supposed to earn you a week’s worth of income, for example, make sure you complete at least 20% of that project every day, Monday through Friday.

If you implement these three steps over the next 30 days, you’ll be well on your way to a successful “work at home” career. Then you can devote your time to growing your new business.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on November 19th, 2013 in Career, Finances, House and Home, Personal Stories | No comments

19 nov

5 Ways to Protect Your Home from Bad Santas This Holiday Season

RobertCordrayThe Holidays are a time during which people around the world welcome the idea of having an overweight stranger crawl out of their fireplace and poke around their livingrooms. However, Santa Claus isn’t the only person who wants to get into your home this December. As families get ready to celebrate peace on earth and goodwill towards men, Grinches start coming up with their own Christmas wish lists. The holiday months are a time in which burglaries across the nation skyrocket. It’s not too hard to understand why: After all, people are making expensive purchases, leaving them in a predetermined spot, and then going on vacation to visit family and leaving the house empty behind them. But don’t worry; there are a number of precautions you can take to help keep the bad-santas of the world out of your home, and you won’t even have to booby-trap the chimney. Here’s how:

1. Keep Santa’s helpers outside

These days, it’s not uncommon during the holidays to have a steady stream of delivery trucks pulling up to the house to drop off packages. However, not all delivery people are as trustworthy—or even as legitimate—as they’d have you believe. If you invite one of them into your home, you’re giving them an opportunity to easily case your property for later invasion, or perhaps simply rob it right there. Never let a stranger into your home, no matter how friendly they look or how cold the weather may be. If you need to sign for something, do it outside, and don’t be afraid to contact the delivery company to make sure that a delivery is scheduled for your house.

2. Keep it quiet

If you’ve made any large purchases for the holidays, try to keep quiet about them. Unload expensive items in your garage instead of out front, and don’t leave packaging materials outside where any passer-by could happen upon them. The world doesn’t need to know about your upcoming vacation, so keep any mention of it off of your social media sites, and don’t talk about it in public where prying ears can eavesdrop. Some criminals actually pay people like hairdressers, bank tellers, and cab drivers to inform them when they hear that someone is planning on leaving town.

3. Keep up appearances

If you are planning on leaving home for the holidays, do what you can to make it look as though the house is still occupied. Don’t simply leave lights on inside—a lamp shining for 24 hours straight is actually a great way to inform criminals that you aren’t home. Instead, buy a timer and set it to turn on lights or the television at believable times throughout the day. Also, speak with a trusted neighbor, and have them collect your mail/newspapers for you while you’re gone. Alternately, you could contact your post office and news carrier and have them suspend service until you get back.

4. Close the curtains

It’s natural during the Christmas season to want to throw upon the blinds and let your home’s light shine out like a beacon. Well, get it under control, because if you can see outside, then prowlers can see inside. Open curtains allow criminals to get a good idea of what valuables may be inside the home and whether they should risk breaking in. So, keep those curtains closed.

5. Invest in an automated home security system

Digital home security systems might be the number-one way to protect your home from invasion during the holidays (or at any time of the year). With security cameras, motion detectors, glass-break sensors, etc., any criminal who gets to the house is going to have more to worry about than finding out where you stash your egg-nog. Of course, that’s assuming that they attempt a break-in anyway; just having a home security warning sign in your yard is usually enough to convince them to do their holiday “shopping” elsewhere.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on November 19th, 2013 in House and Home, Technology | No comments

26 sep

A Home Buyer’s Guide to the Lingo of Real Estate

RobertCordrayShopping for a house is like moving to a foreign country. You find yourself in strange and unfamiliar places expected to understand new and confusing customs and formalities. Worst of all, as soon as you find a realtor, you discover that there’s an entirely new home-buyers language being spoken, and if you want to be able to locate the right house for you, you’re going to need to learn how to speak it too. So, in the hopes of saving you a little time and a lot of embarrassment, here are 22 terms that you should study up on if you want to know how to buy a home.


  1. #B/#B: This indicates the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home (where # would be replaced with an actual number). “Bedroom” generally refers to a room with a window and a closet, but there’s no set definition, so be mindful.

  2. Amortization: The process of decreasing a loan over time by dividing the loan payments between reducing the the principal balance and paying off the interest.

  3. APR: Annual Percentage Rate. The interest rate charged on a loan.

  4. Appraisal: An estimate on the market value of a property.

  5. ARM: Adjustable-Rate Mortgage. A mortgage with an unfixed interest rate—usually adjusted annually—used to bring it inline with current market rates.

  6. As-is: When used to describe a home, this usually means that the seller is unwilling to pay for any additional repairs or upgrades. Basically, what you see is what you get.

  7. Assumable mortgage: An alternative to traditional mortgage in which the buyer is able to take over the existing mortgage of the seller—assuming that the mortgage lender approves.

  8. Blended payment: A mortgage payment that includes both principal and interest.

  9. CC&Rs: Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. A document that details restrictions placed on homes in a certain area.

  10. Closing costs: Any fees that you will be asked to pay “upfront” when the mortgage loan transaction is complete and the property sale finalized.

  11. Closing day: The date on which the sale of a property becomes final.

  12. CMA :Comparative market analysis or competitive market analysis. An evaluation of similar, nearby, recently sold homes used to establish a price estimate.

  13. Contingency: A provision in an agreement that postpones the agreement from taking effect until after a specific condition is met.

  14. Counteroffer: An offer made, either by a buyer or a seller, in response to an unaccepted offer.

  15. Deposit: A small amount of money that a prospective buyer will sometimes give a seller to convince them that they are serious in their intent to purchase the property. Deposits prevent the home from being sold to other interested parties until the first party has made a decision.

  16. Down Payment: The portion of the price of the property that is not covered by the mortgage loan. The down payment is paid by the buyer before the mortgage can be secured.

  17. Equity: The difference between the price of the property and the amount still owed to the lender.

  18. Fixture:Anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of the property, such as carpeting, built in appliances, landscaping, etc.

  19. Full bathroom: A room with a toilet, sink, and a bathtub.

  20. Half bathroom: Also called a “powder room,” a room with a toilet and a sink.

  21. HOA: Home Owner’s Association. A legally designated group that has the authority to enforce deed restrictions with membership being mandatory for all property owners within the development. HOAs often charge fees.

  22. Listing :an agreement between a homeowner and a real estate broker that allows the broker to market and arrange for the sale of the home.

  23. MLS: Multiple Listing Service. A database service that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale and accessible by real estate agents.

  24. Mortgage Broker: The person who acts as the intermediary between the buyer and the bank in regards to mortgages.

  25. Origination Fee: A fee charged by lenders to help cover the cost of preparing and processing a loan.

  26. Three-quarter bathroom: A room with a toilet, sink, and shower.

  27. Title insurance: An insurance policy that protects the interest of either the lender or the owner in real property from assorted types of fraudulent claims of ownership.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on September 26th, 2013 in House and Home | No comments

30 apr

Create a De-stressing Zone in Your Home

JennaSmithIt’s been a long day. You pull into your garage tired, frazzled and really needing to unwind. But, instead of a peaceful oasis, you walk through the door into yet another stressful environment. Maybe it’s the waiting stack of bills, the bright lights that give you a headache, or overwhelming clutter. Whatever it is for you, home is anything but relaxing after a long day.

If this describes your home, it can be almost impossible to unwind from the stress of the day. Stress—caused by things like a difficult job, challenging relationships, or financial problems—can cause many health problems including high blood pressure, back pain and headaches. And, of course, stress zaps the joy right out of your life by making you moody, unhappy, tired and without energy. That’s no way to live!

Stop the cycle of stress in your life by creating a de-stressing zone in your home where you can relax and rejuvenate. Don’t take on your whole house in the first 30 days—that might just stress you out even more! Instead, focus on one or two key areas like your bedroom, den, or breakfast nook and make some simple, affordable changes that will have a big impact on your quality of life.

Get rid of the clutter—the visual stimulation of stacks of “stuff” everywhere is anything but relaxing. It can make you feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Clutter also complicates your life by making cleaning more of a chore and making it hard to find things like your car keys, the remote, or that book you want to read. Simplify your stuff and de-clutter!

Hide technology—today few people leave work at the office. In order to really relax at home you need to create a technology-free zone—a throwback to simpler times where you can enjoy a good book or cup of tea without obsessively checking your email. Restrict your work phone and laptop to a specific spot and turn them off for at least an hour every evening. Install a hidden TV that you can operate with a lift mechanism and hide other technology in cabinets when they aren’t being used.

Create comfort—stiff formal dining sets and old armchairs have one thing in common—they aren’t comfortable! Identify the areas in your house where you want to unwind and relax and choose comfortable furniture—a great, cozy chair with a warm blanket to curl up with a book, or a charming bistro set by the window to enjoy your morning coffee or dinner.

Soothe yourself—the body and mind are naturally soothed by certain colors and sounds. Use these elements in your home to help you unconsciously unwind. Choose neutral paint colors rather than bright stimulating ones. You can also buy small, very affordable water features that add a gentle bubbling sound, which is naturally relaxing. Fresh flowers and natural lighting can make your space feel energized and happy. Use candles to fill your space with warm vanilla scents.

Decorate for you—decorate with things you really love. Hang a favorite piece of artwork in your entryway. Create a photo wall as a focal point with your favorite pictures of people, places and pets you love. If you don’t like your cousin Mildred, by all means don’t hang a picture of her to bring you down every day!

Our mind and body are constantly stimulated by what we see, hear, feel and smell. These elements in our home have a huge impact on our mood, stress level and even health. By making a calming de-stressing zone in your home you can begin to live a less stressful, more enjoyable life.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on April 30th, 2013 in Health, House and Home | No comments