Category Archives: Living

6 Tips for Preparing for a Big Move

Moving is stressful. In fact, it’s safe to say that a big move is one of the most stressful things we go through in life. There are a lot of things to consider when preparing for a major move. The next time you’re ready to pack up and move out, consider these six tips to help make the transition easier.

Plan Ahead

Think about everything you need to do in order to orchestrate a successful move. Write down all of those tasks to create a checklist. You’ll want to consider everything from going to the store to collect boxes and packing tape to finding the contacting the moving professionals of movinglocal.org to help you with the details. Once you create the checklist, you’ll have a better understanding of everything that needs to be done. Chances are you’ll want to start sooner than later. When it pertains to packing an entire home, it’s a good idea to start at least six weeks in advance.

Declutter Your Home

Over the years, we tend to accumulate clutter. It happens, and it’s the stress of that clutter that can be so overwhelming when it comes time to move. Even if you’ve skipped over spring cleaning the last few years, decluttering is possible. Give yourself time, starting a few weeks before your moving day. Take on one room of your house at a time, focusing on decluttering and tidying up.

Once you declutter, create piles for different purposes. Create a pile that goes directly to the recycling bin. Another pile can go to friends and family members who might find some of the items useful. You can donate items to charity. However, make sure you get rid of the items you don’t use.

Consider Your Expenses

Take a look at your finances. Factor in where you’d like to spend money and where you’d like to save money. Figure out where you can save money. One of the best ways to save money involves moving boxes. You’ll probably need a lot of boxes when you’re preparing to move. If you go to any supply store, you can easily spend up to $20 on garment boxes and more. Instead, it’s a great idea to reach out to the local grocery stores. Ask when they’ll be receiving their next shipments. Usually, they receive shipments on a weekly basis. Ask them if they can set aside a certain number of boxes for you. Be ready to pick them up when they ask you to retrieve them. That’s one way to keep lots of money in your pocket.

Plan Your Meals

While you’re going to be really busy during a move, it’s not a good idea to solely rely on fast food to feed your family. Instead, it’s a wise idea to set up meal plans. You can prepare the meals for your family at the beginning of the week. You can make a few casseroles, place them in the freezer and pull them out whenever you’re ready for a dish to feed your family. Print out a few coupons so that you can enjoy one night off with pizza or takeout for the family. However, don’t make it a nightly practice. You’ll waste so much money.

Pack Strategically

You already know that your family needs to eat. Knowing this, make sure that the kitchen is one of the last places you pack up. It’s a good idea to pack up the items you don’t use first. Always label all of the boxes. Instead of solely labeling the items based on what’s inside, take it a step further. Create a color-coding system. Put a large red sticker on each box that’s supposed to go to the master bedroom. Put a large blue sticker on each box that’s designated for one of the children’s bedrooms. This will help the movers understand where to put items when it’s time to unpack.

Create Diversions for Children

Especially if you have young children, it’s easier to have them out of your hair when you’re in the middle of packing. Ask family members and friends if they’d be able to help out with babysitting. Make sure they have activities to engage in while you’re working.

How to Start Successfully Flipping Houses

There is a lot of money to be made in flipping houses. However, this is not the right job for everyone. The following tips can help individuals who want to make a success of flipping houses.

One of the very first things that you need to be able to do in order to flip houses successfully is to determine the true cost of everything. This is going to require quite a bit of work on your part. If you already have some experience buying real estate or doing home repairs, this will work to your advantage.

When you look at a house, you need to be able to take the price of the house and combine it with the costs of repairing the home and compare that to what the house is likely to sell for. The problem that many individuals run into is that they underestimate how much repairs will actually cost.

While your goal is to save as much money as you can on repairing the home, there are times when it is best to spend money on professional help. For example, if you do not have a trained eye, you may end up making a judgment that a roof only needs a couple of repairs when in reality it needs to be completely replaced. The difference in how much these things will cost is usually quite substantial. The same is true when it comes to Chicago garage flooring. Does the garage floor just need to have a few repairs done, or does it need to be completely replaced? Working with professionals at the beginning of the project is going to save you a lot of money and heartache along the way.

One of the ways that many individuals have had success flipping homes is by doing a lot of the repairs themselves. They can save a ton of money on labor if they already have some construction experience or are willing to take the time to learn how to do different projects around the home.

Flipping houses is a great option for individuals who are willing to work hard and take some risks. It takes a lot of research and time, though, to make it a success.

Home Maintenance Tasks: DIY or Seek a Professional?

Completing DIY household maintenance tasks can save you a lot of money. Some projects, however, are best left to the professionals for safety and cost purposes. When should you do it yourself versus calling in a professional for your home maintenance tasks?

Plumbing Maintenance

Many homeowners do not realize the cost of a single plumbing problem. While dumping some drain cleaner into the basement toilet that keeps backing up might fix the problem temporarily, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars later. Of course, you could take a DIY approach to minor plumbing problems like a leaky faucet or a slow draining toilet. But any plumbing problems that could indicate larger plumbing problems require a professional. Otherwise, you risk damage to your floors, walls, and even furniture.

HVAC Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is extremely important to maintaining the quality and efficiency of your HVAC unit. The homeowner should complete some of the necessary maintenance tasks such as changing the air filter regularly. Other tasks, such as inspections, tune-ups, and duct cleaning, should be left to someone who is knowledgeable about your HVAC system. Proper maintenance on a routine schedule can extend the life of your system while also offering you comfortable and efficient heating and cooling.

Landscaping

You have a folder full of dream backyard pictures. Now what? Depending on the complexity of your project and your comfort with landscaping tools, you might be able to handle your project alone. More extensive landscaping projects, including those involving retaining walls or outdoor kitchens, might require the services of a professional. Tree removal should also be completed by a professional with the right tools. Consider your skills, your project budget, and your comfort level when deciding whether to bring in a pro.

Painting Projects

There are many reasons you might choose to paint your home, including chipped paint or simply a design refresh. Although you could hire a professional to paint, this can be expensive, and most people are capable of doing it on their own. Stock up on all the necessary paint supplies, grab a friend, and get to work. You might even find it somewhat enjoyable. Besides, the worst that could happen is that you might need to touch up places or repaint the room.

Roof Maintenance

Your roof is very important to your home, and it requires routine maintenance. While major roof repairs should be left to the professionals, homeowners can handle other tasks related to the roof, such as keeping the gutters cleaned. Some homeowners might be comfortable with replacing single shingles on the roof, but it’s important to have the appropriate safety precautions in place. Roofing contractors are used to scaling high heights and are insured.

It’s important to keep in mind that while many DIY projects can save you money, some can end up costing you more. Additionally, taking on a household project that’s best left to the professionals can put you in a dangerous situation. Always weigh the pros and cons before jumping into a DIY household project.

Creating Your Home Utility Emergency Plan

Most homeowners rely on the comforts of their home utilities. When your HVAC system, electrical wiring, plumbing, and other utilities are running smoothly, it’s easy to take them for granted. When a problem does occur, you’ll want to be able to solve it as quickly as possible. By putting a home utility emergency plan in place that addresses the following issues, you’ll have a shorter downtime when essential systems in your house experience problems.

Keep a List of Contacts

When a problem occurs with one of your utilities, you don’t want to waste precious time looking up phone numbers and comparing companies to find the best service for your needs. Instead, look up reviews and get recommendations for companies and technicians you can trust to take care of repairs before you need them. In addition, note the contact numbers for your utility providers. Your list of emergency utility contacts should include:

  • 24-hour plumber
  • 24-hour HVAC service
  • Water company
  • Gas company
  • Electric company

Post this list in an easily accessible place (such as on the fridge) so you can quickly make a call in an emergency.

Locate Your Utility Controls

If an emergency does occur, you might need to shut off your utilities as quickly as possible to avoid damage to your home or for the safety of your family. That’s why it’s critical to know the locations of each of the following utility controls:

  • Breaker box/electrical fuse box
  • Heating fuel shut-off
  • Main water shut-off
  • Individual shut-off valves for toilets, sinks, and washing machine

Know how to use each of these controls. If any tools are required to operate them, such as a wrench, keep one nearby.

Create a Maintenance Schedule

One of the best ways to avoid sudden problems with your utilities is to have the main systems in your household maintained routinely. By checking for problems regularly and taking steps to improve efficiency, you’ll reduce the risk of more serious breakdowns later on.

Schedule biannual maintenance for your HVAC system to make sure it’s ready for the winter and summer seasons. This is one of the utilities you’ll want to have checked more frequently since it directly affects your comfort at home. Periodically, you might also want to hire a plumber and electrician to inspect the utilities for potential issues. There are also several home maintenance tasks you can handle yourself, such as keeping drains and gutters clear of debris, trimming trees away from the house, and replacing or cleaning air filters.

Set Aside Funds for Repairs

Home repairs can happen at unexpected times, and many are inevitable. Part of being a homeowner is dealing with repairs and replacements as the systems and materials as your home ages. Make sure you’re ready when the time comes by saving money in a fund specifically set aside for home repairs. You’ll be happy when you have money available to pay for a utility emergency rather than having to use credit or dip into other savings.

Don’t let a home utility emergency catch you off guard. Prepare for the unexpected with this list of planning tips.

Giving Back by Beautifying Your Community

There are many variables that go into making a community great, and one of the biggest is its outdoor spaces. Much like the curb appeal of your home sets the first impression for those who pass by your home, the outdoor spaces in your community set the tone for the community as a whole.

The visual appeal of a community can improve home and business values, boost tourism and improve your community’s image in your state. Thankfully, there are ways that you can give back to your community and work to improve its general aspect. Even small steps are important. Check out these five great ideas that you can do by yourself or as a family.

Home Improvement

First, start in your own yard. Make sure that your landscaping is as good as you can get it and that the outer portion of your home is well-kept. Be sure to mow your lawn frequently and fertilize it seasonally. Add color by planting perennials that are easy to maintain and that bloom throughout the year. Paint your home regularly if it needs it, and consider minor home improvements that do not cost much, such as changing or painting your front door, adding shutters or replacing your mailbox.

Start a Community Beautification Project

Second, see if you can inspire your neighbors to join you in your beautification project with a competition. Consider setting up a competition on your street for the best flower bed or the best window boxes. Ask one individual from outside your street to be the judge. Once you have worked together like this, your neighbors may be more interested in other projects, such as attracting birds or honeybees to the community.

Increase Community Green Space

Third, determine if your community offers free or low-cost trees or other outdoor elements to its citizens. Some communities sell very small saplings in groupings of 50 or 100. If this is the case, your neighborhood could work together to plant these trees up and down the street. You could also see if your community would allow you to use these trees to beautify a local park. Some communities will drop off or even plant trees along the curb for homeowners who want one or two to amp up green space along local streets. Giving back to your community by increasing green space will benefit both current residents and future generations.

Next, you could volunteer as a family to clean up your local park or a particular street or public space in town. You may even want to consider adopting an area as a family and cleaning it up regularly. Pick up trash, clear weeds away, plant flowers seasonally and rake leaves when needed in parks. Roadways generally need regular trash pickup.

Add Public Art

Finally, if you are an artist, see if your community has a plan for public art. Some communities appreciate public art being displayed on certain buildings and in parks or painted on fences or walls. These scenes typically display historical or cultural aspects of the town. Some entrepreneurs, such as Neill Sullivan, support this type of work as well. Some cities have also had success in bringing their community together with street pianos. Music can help individuals connect regardless of their differences, and These perfectly-placed pianos double as a cheap form of entertainment.

A beautiful community with many gorgeous outdoor spaces will help to attract tourists as well as new residents. Plus, it is just as good for those who already live in your community because they can enjoy the new natural spaces and enjoy the lush and vibrant outdoor elements of their hometown. A great hometown is not just one that has plenty of businesses, adequate jobs, and affordable housing. Instead, it is one that improves the residents’ quality of living in numerous ways. You can be a part of creating a vibrant and beautiful community when you give back by improving and beautifying outdoor spaces around you.

Your Guide to Some of Germany’s Absolute Best Restaurants

Most people don’t go to Germany to try the food, but once in the country, one’s got to eat. It’s typically within that first bite that visitors realize that “eat all the food” should be on their Germany bucket-list, right between pay respects at the Berlin wall and ogle Cologne Cathedral. German chefs know what they’re doing, and no matter if you go to a hole in the wall outside of town or a Michelin three-star establishment at the base of the Eifel Mountains, you’re bound to try some foods that will make your taste buds shiver with delight. If you’re not sure where to start your food tour, use this guide to get started.

Zum Zwiebel, Thuringia

Like anywhere else in the world, Germanys absolutely best restaurants come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Zum Zwiebel happens to be one of the smaller, more affordable establishments. However, despite its hole-in-the-wall appearance, this restaurant offers large portions of traditional Thuringian fare. According to recent visitors, the food is absolutely delicious and rivals that of Michelin-rated restaurants.

Ratskeller, München

Ratskeller is one of those restaurants that looks like it SHOULD be pricey because of its vaulted ceilings, stunning murals, and elaborate stained glass windows, but in actuality, it’s on the lower end of the price scale. While not as affordable as Zum Swiebel and other local restaurants, the unique atmosphere more than makes up for the price bump. The dinner menu features typical hearty Bavarian fare, and the full bar boasts a collection of fine wines, beers, and spirits.

Gugelhof, Berlin

If you’re in country on your honeymoon, for an anniversary, or another sort of romantic getaway, you might want to treat your significant other to a dining experience a little more sophisticated than that offered by Zum Swiebel or Ratskeller. Gugelhof offers food at middle-of-the-road prices but of high-class taste. Though the menu is simple and features traditional German fare, each item is full of flavor and each bite more savory than the last. Once the meal is through, you’ll be served a Tarte Flambee, which you won’t think you have it in you to eat but which you’ll devour as easily as you did the main course. As if great food at an affordable price isn’t enough, the atmosphere is cozy, yet upscale and the staff is friendly and attentive.

Vendôme, Bergish Gladbach

Vedôme has made the top 50 restaurants in the WORLD for several years running now, a fact that many attribute to the chef’s creative take on traditional German fare. Dining at Vendôme is truly an experience, one that lasts anywhere between four and six hours, depending on when you go and how many courses are served that night. The food itself is perfection, but the setting is pretty cool too, being that it’s in a castle and all. You read that right—a castle. That said, the deposit for one person alone is more than a family of four typically spends on a meal, so be prepared to shell out some serious dough if you plan on eating at this three-star establishment.

Whether you’re looking for a quick but delicious bite to hold you over until you get to your next destination, a nice, hearty meal for the whole family, or a meal that is also a one of a kind of experience, you can find it all in Germany.

Surface Protection in Home Projects: Cover Things Up the Right Way, Right From the Start

Whether an area is being washed, painted, stained, sanded, or any other such messy task is being performed, most often these will be in areas in the vicinity of the work area that will need to be covered up and protected. Before the job even gets underway, task performers should be equipped with an ample supply of Surface protection products to make sure all areas that can be affected by the job being done have proper coverage.

Covering and protecting furniture, counters, equipment, flooring, and other areas should not be a more-or-less afterthought in this job. Improper planning and preparation in this regard could result in quite a mess later on in the project. The extra time in cleaning up unprotected areas, not to mention additional expenses that may be incurred in any unnecessary extra cleanup, can be avoided if the proper steps are taken to cover things up the right way, right from the start.

Consumers that are unsure about what their coverage needs may be, and what materials would be best for their job, should look to a company, like Trimaco, that specializes in an extensive array of job site protection products sales. Companies that focus only on selling such products carry the most superior products for all the needs the customer may have, all across the spectrum of personal and job site protection coverage.

Highly respected, leading companies in this industry feature their supreme products prominently on their easy to use website, with live chat help right there in the event any questions arise while customers look products over.

In order to make product selection very clear and easy, online catalogs should be featured on the company’s homepage. With a simple click, consumers should be able to view wide varieties of products to look at within moments. Such online catalogs should feature such needed items as:

  • Heavy-duty protection for surfaces
  • Heavy duty tapes
  • Masking tapes
  • Masking products
  • Protective films
  • Rags and Wipers
  • Dropcloths
  • Protective wear
  • Flooring paper
  • Masking paper
  • Gloves
  • Paint strainers
  • Dust containment
  • Envirosolutions Envirowash System
  • Various miscellaneous other items

Comprehensive websites, in addition to providing specific product descriptions and specs, will enable the user to download their catalog to conveniently always have right on hand. Users should be able to simply flip through the catalog online. Brochures and additional details about specific individual protection products should be provided through sales sheets. And to really aid the customer, videos that showcase provided products in the catalog should be able to be viewed right then and there.

4 Steps for Switching Your Car Insurance Provider

If your car insurance premiums are on the rise while the customer service you receive from your provider is not what it used to be, it may be time to switch your insurance coverage. One recent report indicates that some new car models are affordable to insure, but if you are working with a company that does not strive to find you the best coverage possible, you may lose money elsewhere in your premium. Changing insurance companies can be daunting; however, there are a few steps you can take to find the right services for your budget and needs.

Understand Your Insurance Needs

When you first signed on with your current insurance company, you may have taken their advice about what was required or, if you did not own your car at the time, what your bank or lender required. If you have paid your car off since then, you might want to look into what you change about your policy before you switch carriers.

For example, if the bank required you carry collision insurance as well as basic liability, you may be able to get lower monthly premiums if your car is now paid off. You may also now qualify for certain discounts you could not take advantage of before. Make a list of what you want in a policy before you look for a new provider.

Talk With Your Current Agent

Speaking with your local car insurance agent can be an important step in switching providers because he or she may offer you a variety of policy discounts you were not aware of. In many cases, car insurance companies may have discounts available but drivers usually have to be proactive when it comes to seeking them out. While your current carrier might not be able to offer you bundling or other discounts, having this information can be helpful as you shop around for other services.

Beware of Cancellation Fees

Before you decide to make the switch, it is wise to review your current car insurance policy to ensure you will not be penalized for canceling it. While not all companies charge for this service, others may fine you as much as $50 depending on when you cancel. You may want to reach out to local insurance agents as you shop for a new policy to compare how each company handles cancellations in case you must change services again somewhere in the future.

Cover the Gap

Once you find a new insurance provider, it is important that you cover any gaps in your car insurance as you switch your policy over. Most companies now have phone apps that can provide you with digital proof of insurance until they can mail you physical copies, and you can usually begin a new policy right away. You might want to ask your new provider representative about this detail so you can be sure you are covered completely as you make the switch.

Switching car insurance companies might help you find a more affordable policy and improved customer service. Knowing which steps to take during this process can help you make a confident decision about which carrier will best suit your insurance needs and budget.

Preventative Maintenance and Your HVAC System

In order for your home to maintain a welcoming atmosphere, you need to dedicate time to specific tasks. Your HVAC system, for example, plays a pivotal part in providing the right temperature for your space. When you want your family members and guests to feel comfortable while in your residence, the HVAC system is the most important component to pay attention to. Of course, there are going to come times when your units are not performing in the way you’ve come to expect. To keep control over the situation, you need to perform regular HVAC maintenance.

Taking care of your HVAC system and all associated equipment can be a great way to protect your home from disaster. Give yourself a moment to explore these tips on how to best maintain your system. With a little bit of help, you will have no trouble putting in the effort to protect your HVAC system and keep it running in an optimal way.

Clear Away Junk

Some tasks associated with keeping your HVAC system functional will be easier than others. In the summer, you want to keep your home nice and cool. This means you are going to rely on your air conditioning units to help you cultivate an inviting atmosphere inside your residence. As air conditioning units draw in air for reticulation, the units often wind up collecting nearby dirt and debris. When leaves or dust start to collect in a unit, it can lead to all kinds of complicated problems.

To avoid a total malfunction with your unit, you want to dedicate a certain amount of time to keeping your air conditioners clean. Set aside some room in your schedule each week and focus on cleaning each unit of anything that might have gotten sucked in while the air conditioner was running. Should problems persist, take time to contact NATE-certified experts to come and take a look at your system. Learn more about what NATE-certified means by reaching out to local professionals who have experience with keeping HVAC systems in excellent condition

Examine the Unit

Preventative steps can get you far, but there are going to be some issues that are more difficult to solve. When you notice your air conditioner is not running the way it used to, it can be a good idea to take a closer look. Examine the unit for any glaring problems. You might want to look at the refrigerant lines, coils, and filters to begin. Any breaks or fissures in the refrigerant lines, for example, can be a big cause for concern. A leak prevents the coolant from flowing around the unit, stopping cool air from being produced.

Should you not be able to discover the source of the problem, you might want to reach out to those who can help you. Experts in the HVAC industry have seen all kinds of problems before. Contact professional assistance and find a solution to your issue as soon as possible.

Replace Filters

Finally, you definitely want to focus on the filters of your air conditioning unit. These fixtures are responsible for keeping recirculated air clean. When the filter clogs, it can lead to more serious problems for the entire HVAC system. Avoid these problems by taking time to change the filters roughly every ninety days. Some filters need to be changed more frequently than others, so be sure to check the specs on your unit to know the exact duration you should wait.

There are many different ways to go about maintaining your HVAC system. As long as you take your time and focus on a few basic tasks, you are going to be able to get more from your system. Contact professionals for additional assistance and give your home a feeling of comfort at all times.

Getting Rid of Household Insects and Pests this Spring

Spring is the season of home maintenance and spring cleaning. It is also when most people begin to spot insects and pests in their homes. While a common annoyance, it’s important to address before it can get worse. Though they are tiny, invasive pests have had a serious economic, social, and environmental impact on our way of life. In order to combat these pests, it is useful to gain a better understanding of the options you have.

Assess the Situation

First and foremost, you want to spend a little time learning about what kind of pests you are dealing with. Ants and termites may look similar from above, but there are drastically different ways of dealing with them.

If you are not entirely sure what kind of species you are battling, then you might want to look towards professional help. Some pests can be treated without the help of professionals, but you always want to contact the experts when you have trouble finding the exact cause of an infestation. To get rid of pests for good, you are going to want to speak with someone in the industry and have experienced technicians check out your space.

Call in the Professionals

When an infestation is caught early enough, you might think you can take care of eliminating the threat without assistance. While this might seem like a simple task, you never know how intense the issue is until you start digging around for the source. By leaving it up to the experts, you are more likely to find the source and destroy it once and for all.

Getting rid of invasive species in your home is not going to be easy. In order for you to see the threat completely eliminated, you have to act fast. As soon as you notice there might be invasive pests in your home, contact the professionals who can come and take a look. The sooner you respond to the problem at hand, the easier it will be to get your home back to normal.