It’s Time to Get to that Spring Cleaning!

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It may be too early to get out and do a lot of garden prep for spring, but it’s definitely not too early to get going on some spring cleaning jobs inside your home. Here are a few things to tackle inside to get your home springtime fresh, while you wait a little longer to start on garden prep.

Clean walls and ceilings. When was the last time you did this? Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove dust; test a degreaser in a hidden area of the kitchen to tackle that room’s walls with a degreaser and sponge.

Dust books and bookshelves. It’s time to take books off the bookshelves and actually dust them. And before you put them back, clean the shelves, too. And while you’re at it… now may be the perfect time to donate some of those books that you’re really not going to read again (or for the first time) to a local nonprofit.

And then dust the rest of your house. Dust from top to bottom, in the hard-to-get-to places and in the obvious places. Clean the top of the fridge, the top of curtain rods, the baseboards, and behind furniture. Always work from the top of the home to the floor and don’t use sprays, which really attract and hold more dust.

And then vacuum. A quick vacuum after the dusting will let you get any of the dust that lands on the floors.

Change out the batteries. Now’s a good time to change the tired batteries in smoke detectors and CO2 monitors. You should do this a couple of times a year, so if you do it now, mark your calendar for Halloween and change them out then, too.

Clean window treatments. Some draperies and curtains may be machine washable so read your labels. Some may be dry cleanable. And blinds are always ready for a thorough dusting. These items are dirt magnets. Do it now and you won’t cringe when it’s time to open your windows.

These are a few odd jobs that will get you started on spring cleaning. Don’t try to do the whole house at once. Start with these tasks and tackle others later. When your home is springtime fresh, you’ll be glad you put this effort in!

Super Bowl Party Rules for Everyone

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In 2018 Americans spent more than $15 billions on Super Bowl-related items such as food, drink and apparel, according to the National Retail Foundation. Super Bowl parties are a tradition, and whether you are a football fan or not, there’s a good chance you’ll be invited to and will attend one. We want hosts and guests to be prepared with their best manners on this festive day.

10 Tips for Being a Great Guest

  1. Dress the part. Wear a team jersey, t-shirt or at least one of the team’s colors.
  2. Never come to a Super Bowl party empty-handed. Super Bowl Sunday is our second favorite day of the year to eat so having a lot of food is important. If you’re not sure what to bring, ask the host. This will help make sure there’s a good variety of food and drinks for everyone, and there’s a lower risk of too many chips, salsas and dips!
  3. Don’t show up too early to the party. If there’s no pre-game festivities planned by the host, don’t show up too far before the game and expect to be entertained. And don’t be the last to leave either!
  4. Don’t pick off the buffet. Most Super Bowl parties are set up buffet style. And the food all looks so good. And you’re excited and less formal because you’re watching a football game. You may not be at a wedding but do bring your wedding manners when it comes to the buffet and wait to begin eating until you’re back to your seat.
  5. Go easy on the alcohol. It’s easy to over-indulge in drinks when you’re toasting your team but be careful on the drinks. Be especially mindful if you’re with business associates as well as friends.
  6. Be careful not to swear, especially if it’s a kid-friendly party. Few things bring out the swear words like a bad play or a bad call during the Super Bowl, especially when it’s your team. But if you’re not in the comfort of your own home, swear words should be avoided.
  7. Watch the game and talk about the game. If you’re at the party because your spouse wanted you to come, be mindful of the others who are there to watch the game. If there’s another guest who isn’t really into the game, take your conversation to a corner or to another room.
  8. And watch the commercials, too. Super Bowl Sunday’s ads are a huge reason people watch the game. This is the one day where talking during the commercials is bad form.
  9. Leave the remote control to the host. Never change the channel or adjust the volume. The remote control belongs to the host!
  10. Respect guests who are cheering for the opposing team. There’s almost always someone rooting for the other side. Good manners say you should be polite to them and not cause trouble.

    Following a few simple Super Bowl rules will ensure you’re a special guest for parties now and in the future!

Entertain Kids During the Super Bowl

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When you’re a football fan, and your team (or any team for that matter!) is in the Big Game, it’s hard to believe that there may be people at your party who are not as into the game as you are. Those people are most likely kids! Here are some tips for keep kids happy during the game.

Bring in a Babysitter for the Day
Hire a babysitter to watch and play with your kids and any guests’ kids. Make sure you are clear on your expectations – can kids hang out with adults? What games do you have for the kids? What snacks can they have?

Set Up a Craft Table – Football Themed, Valentine’s Day Themed, Just for Fun!
Kids of all ages have fun working with their hands. Bring out the construction paper, glue, child scissors, glitter, crepe paper and more. Whatever you can think of, kids can craft with. Invite them to make pom-poms, football helmets to wear and more. Or let them get a head start on their homemade Valentine’s for grandparents or siblings or friends. And if none of that inspires them, let them make anything they’d like.

Set Up a Jigsaw Puzzle and Coloring Table or a Board Game Table
Maybe you have kids who aren’t crafty at your party. A coloring book and crayon table and a jigsaw puzzle table may be just what they need to stay entertained. Or let them play board games. Sorry, Life, Chutes and Ladders – these are all great games for kids.

Remember, the more you put out for them to do, the more easily entertained they will be.

When Making the Food, Remember the Kids
Super Bowl parties are not usually the example of healthy food choices. Junk food often rules the menu. However, you want to make sure you have healthy snack options for your adult and child guests.

Popcorn is a healthy choice. Have a popcorn bar where they can add fun candy, raisins, granola or other snacks to their popcorn. Pop up a big bowl of plain popcorn and offer a variety of flavor shakers, such as cheddar cheese, barbecue, etc. You can find these at most grocery stores with the popcorn. Put out some plastic cups to put their popcorn and let them snack. Provide red plastic “keg” cups, a stack of small paper bags or small baskets lined with paper towels for guests to serve themselves.

Make sure to have enough cups for your adult guests who are sure to snack at the popcorn bar, too.

Host Your Own Super Bowl
If Super Bowl Sunday is a nice day, set up a miniature football field outside. Have two different colored flags and let the kids play touch football in the backyard. An opportunity to run around provides a great energy burn before the game and during half time.

Play Hot Football
This twist on the classic Hot Potato can be an energy burning alternative if you can’t get outside. Have the kids stand in a circle, turn on music, and have the kids start passing a miniature football. The kid who is holding the football when the music stops has to do a funny dance and have the others in the group copy it. Keep the game going until the game starts or half time is over.

Do Touchdown Dances
If the kids are watching the game, have them do a Touchdown Dance every time either of the teams scores a touchdown. You can also make it a Field Goal Dance, too. Even the adults who are most into the game will dance when their team scores a touchdown! It’s another way to keep moving.

You know Super Bowl Sunday is a blast for fans. Make sure it’s fun for the little ones, too,
by making having Super Bowl fun Super easy!

Hosting New Year’s Eve in Your Own Home!

 

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Are you hosting your first New Year’s Eve party? Hosting your fifth? Whether it’s your first New Year’s Eve at home or you’re a seasoned couch potato during the holidays, trying something new may be the resolution you made for this New Year’s Eve. Here are some ideas for kids and adults to make ringing in 2019 at home a blast!

MAKE THE FOOD FABULOUS
People love to nosh on fun food for New Year’s. After all, the next day they start their new diet! You’ll want to have snacks and dinner for the early birds and for the late nighters. Here are some easy ways to make sure you have enough food for everyone, no matter when they come or when they plan to leave.

Make the Party BYOA: Bring Your Own Appetizer
Ask your guest to bring an appetizer. You’ll supply the beverages! Almost every party-goer has a favorite appetizer they like to make. And if someone isn’t sure what to bring, invite them to bring raw vegetables and humus or a fruit and nut platter. These will make an excellent complement to the other foods, which most likely will not be as healthful.

Host a Midnight Dinner (Or Keep the Spread Out All Night Long)
A midnight dinner is a great way to keep the party going after you ring in the New Year. It’s only once a year, so no one will complain that they “ate too late.” Try something like a salad and baked potato bar. It’s just enough and doesn’t take a lot of effort to set up. And, people can eat as much or as little as they like. This meal is fast and easy.

Prepare a big salad ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure you have different choices for dressing. The salad is your vegetable option. The main attraction is the potato bar.

Before the guests arrive, prepare different potato toppings: a bowl of sour cream, bacon pieces, chopped scallions, salsa, shredded cheese, butter, steamed brocolli, chili….anything you can think of that you may want to put on a potato will work. Remember that baked potatoes take a long time to cook so get them in the oven early.

If you use paper plates and bowls, clean up is easy, and you’ll be in bed before you know it.

DECORATE WITH STYLE
Of course you know you need party hats and noise makers, but you also have lots of choices for decorations. However, you may be ready to wrap up the holiday décor not get crazy by putting out more. Here are some easy decorations that don’t cost a lot of money that add a little New Year’s spice to your party.

Hang Paper Snowflakes from the Ceiling
Let your kids and their friends get in on the decorating fun. Before the party, have them cut paper snowflakes of all different sizes out of white paper. If you’re not worried about a little mess, let them sprinkle glitter on the snowflakes to add some sparkle. Then put a little ribbon of different lengths on the snowflakes and tape them to the ceiling. Test your tape first to make sure it won’t pull off your ceiling paint.

Scatter Curly Ribbon
Curl some ribbon with scissors and then scatter the ribbons in different places. Get the wider kind of ribbons – about 1/2 inch thick. Curl with scissors and put them on tables, light fixtures, mantles and even mirrors. You can hang some ribbons from the ceiling with the snowflakes and sprinkle on your tables and bar.

Add a Touch of Class with Shiny Christmas Ornaments
Add some sparkle and some class. Glittery Christmas ornaments look wonderful in a bowl as a centerpiece. You can also hang plain ornament balls from a light fixture over a table using varying lengths of ribbon in festive colors.

MAKE MINGLING EASY
Once your ready for your party, you need to have something to do! Here are a few ice breakers to get adults and kids mixing and mingling. You probably won’t want to play these games all night, but they can be good to get your party started.

Write Predictions for the New Year
Have your guests sign their predictions and place them into a bowl or a box. Then take turns reading the predictions while everyone guesses who wrote them. It can be surprising how difficult it is to guess your friends’ predictions – and it’s a great way to kick off the night or to wrap up the night!

Play “Guess the Resolution”
Before the party starts, write general New Year’s resolution ideas, such as “lose weight” or “eat better” on notecards. Place them in a bowl, and then to start the game have guests pick one. They are not allowed to look at their card. They can either hold it to their forehead or have someone tape it to their back. Then, only asking yes or no questions, and only asking one question per person, they must figure out what their resolution is. Say they ask one person, “Does my resolution involve physical exercise?” That person would say yes, and then they’d move on to the next person. The first three people to guess their own resolution correctly, win a prize.

Play “Fact or Fiction”
Give guests a tally sheet with all the players names and a fill-in-the-blank line. Gather the players for a round of introductions. When it’s their turn to talk, each guest will share three “facts” about the best New Year’s Eve Party they ever attended. Two of these things should be true and one should be fiction. Players keep score by writing down which story they think is fake. The player who identifies the most fake facts wins.

Or Play “Two Resolutions and One Lie”
Have everyone tell the group two of their real resolutions and one fake resolution. Everyone has to guess which is the fake resolution.

Remember, these games just get the party started! Don’t make people play all night long.

ARE KIDS INVITED?
Do you have kids coming to the party? If it’s not enough that they get to stay up past their bedtime, here are some ways to make the party more fun for them, too. They also can play the adult party games above or be paired with a grown up partner, if the games are a little to “old” for them.

Encourage kids to dress up
Gussy up your kids. Your night will feel special and fun if they dress for it — plus it will make for excellent pictures. Let kids be over the top: White gloves, pearls, bow ties and tiaras are easily found in your local party store, in your kids’ dress-up trunk or in grandma’s closet. Paint everyone’s nails. Wear hats. Break out the glitter and get fancy!

Dance
Make a playlist that includes favorite grown-up and kids’ songs. Roll up the rug and dance with wild abandon. When you get tired, sit down and check out your kids’ moves. Have a dance contest and be sure to take pictures.

Make it Glow
Kids like their lights! Light up your house with kids and glow sticks and glow necklaces. You can even stick glow sticks in balloons for awesome lighted balloons!

No matter what you choose to do this New Year’s Eve, we hope your 2019 is all you dream of! And if your dream for 2019 includes a new home, let us help with your mortgage questions.

Countdown to Christmas!

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Are your kids anxious for Christmas to get here? Are you looking for some fun ways to count down to the big day? Here are some fun activities for kids and grownup kids alike to make the time until Santa arrives go a little faster.

Red and green meal – Make a healthy pre-holiday Christmas dinner out of green and red foods. Some ideas: A tossed salad with cherry tomatoes and snow peas; another helping of cranberries; pizza with peppers, tomatoes and broccoli, spinach lasagna in marinara sauce; spinach enchiladas. Let the adults pick a healthy red and green entree and then let the kids be creative with the side dishes.

Christmas lights drive – You can do this more than one time, for sure! Load everyone in the car and check out the holiday lights. You can go to new neighborhoods or see what’s new in your own. Make a game out of it by seeing how many Rudolphs you can find on house roofs, count blowup Santa Clauses or listen for houses that are piping music outside. This driving game makes for limitless fun!

Gingerbread houses – Make your own gingerbread house. You can actually build your own out of gingerbread or buy a starter kit. Decorate with gum drops, cinnamon candies, frosting, marshmallows, or really, anything you can dream of and imagine. Gingerbread houses aren’t just fun for one night; they are great decorations for the entire holiday season.

Christmas movie night – This activity is an oldie but a goodie. Pick out your favorite holiday movie and plug it in. Are you a fan of White Christmas? Or is Christmas Vacation more your style? No matter what your taste, a movie night with popcorn and family is sure to put you into the holiday spirit.

Balloon volleyball – Want an activity that is only as holiday-themed as you make it? Blow off some of the Christmas energy by playing balloon volleyball. Put out some ribbon on the floor for a makeshift volleyball net and blow up a few balloons. Indoor balloon volleyball is a great way to burn some holiday calories and get out a burst of family energy.

Bake cookies (and then deliver them to others) – You may be baking cookies already, so fire up the oven for a few more and deliver them to fire houses, police stations, hospitals, assisted living facilities. If you can think of people who serve others or may be lonely during the holidays, then bring them a batch of cookies to show you care and to say thank you.

Make holiday decorations – Break out the scissors because there are few things more fun than making holiday decorations. What do you have in your house already? Construction paper? Ribbon? Glitter? Sequins and Beads? Glue? Styrofoam balls? If you have these things, you have the makings for a fun craft table. If you are a really festive elf, you can leave the craft table up all season and you can make ornaments whenever the spirit moves you.

Start planning now so you can make the lead up to the holidays part of the holidays!

Look No Further for the Perfect Gift for the New Home Owner

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Are you looking for the perfect gift for friends or family who have just purchased a first home or are moving to a new home? Welcome them to their new neighborhood with one of these gift suggestions for new home owners.

Welcome Mat: Help them welcome guests and give them a place to wipe their feet before coming inside with a new welcome mat. You can find these at any home goods store or have a special mat customized with their name or initials. In either case, you’ll be welcome to their home any time.

Tool Gift Basket or Toolbox: Who isn’t looking for the right sized screw or nail when the move into a new home? And who really remembers where they put the picture hooks? Help the new homeowner get started on some household chores with a hammer, screw driver set, nails, screws, picture hanging kits, painters tape and other odds and ends. And if you know it’s a person’s first home, a new toolbox with the basic tools is even better.

Video Doorbell: If your budget is a bit bigger, new homeowners may like an extra layer of home protection with a video doorbell. These gadgets often have several options with different add-ons and price points.

Home Repair Book: Of course YouTube is filled with how-to videos for home repairs. But how are you supposed to remember exactly what to do when you’re under the kitchen sink? A book of basic how-to fixes is perfect for the new home owner to make quick references.

A Day of Childcare: How much can parents get done in a home when their kids are being entertained by a friend? How about taking the kids out for a day of play at the zoo, museum or park, so Mom and Dad can use the day to the fullest.

Houseplants: A houseplant brightens any room and breathes a little life into a new space. Even if your gift recipient doesn’t have a green thumb, there are some plants that are easy-to-grow with little maintenance. If your homeowner has pets, make sure you pick out a plant that is safe if ingested.

Room Humidifier: A lot of homes don’t come with built-in humidifiers and in dryer climates and in the winter when the heat is running, it’s nice to have the option to pump in a little humidity.

Gift Certificates: A gift certificate to a home improvement store is always welcome by any home owner whether this is their first home or their fifth home. Gift certificates for a restaurant or grocery store make great gifts, too, as they look for a night of relaxation or start stocking the refrigerator.

No matter your budget, big or small, there’s always a little room for a housewarming gift. 

 

 

Keep Your Kids and their Friends Entertained All Winter!

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Winter can be a snowy blast for kids, but when it’s too cold to play outside, kids need something that entertains them inside. Here are some winter games and activities for kids and the kid inside every adult. 

Indoor Snowball Fight

Whether there is snow on the ground or not, you can still have a snowball fight inside! Ball up some white paper or some white socks, give each kid a basket with their snowballs and let loose. Clear away furniture or anything that could be fallen over, tripped on or broken, but this is a great way to burn off some energy during the coldest days.

Pass the Antlers

Get a pair of inexpensive antlers and have them ready for a fun game of Pass the Antlers. It’s like Hot Potato, with a winter twist. Sit in a circle and start the music. Pass the antlers around the room as the music plays. Each player must put the antlers on their head when they receive them. When the music stops, the person with the antlers on their head or whose holding them is out.

Pin the Nose on the Snowman

This is a winter spin on Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Cut out a large snowman from some white paper and add some eyes and mouth, and even a hat if you’re creative. Cut several “carrots” from orange construction paper, add some tape, cover the kids’ eyes with a scarf, and let them try to get the nose where it goes on the snowman.

Reindeer Word Search

Write the word reindeer on a pieces of paper. Pass these out to the kids. They have three minutes to find and write down as many words that they find in “reindeer.”

Mitten Pictionary

Get out your classic Pictionary game and add a little winter fun. Put mittens and snow goggles on the child whose turn it is to draw the picture. This puts a fun, childlike spin on this classic game. Kids love it and cannot stop laughing while they play.

Hello to the Relatives

Grab your craft supplies and spread them out. Let the kids decorate cards with glitter, glue, paint, sequins, beads, whatever you have available. Then have them write thank you notes and messages inside the cards for all their relatives – grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins and even friends. They’ll have fun creating these and the recipients will have fun opening them.

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the fun has to stop inside!