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5 Ways to Stay Organized at Home

Keeping organized at home can help your life stay focused and balance your production levels at both work and home. Finding yourself a good routine will help to lower stress and anxiety levels. There are many ways you can keep the key areas in your life organized. Here are a few helpful tips.

Keep a daily planner

Maintaining a daily planner, either in notebook or note board form can assist your day to day time management. If you are keeping a notebook or paper diary, noting down appointments, reminders and tasks that need to be completed on certain days will help you to stay on track. A note board on the wall is great for organizing the family. Keeping it in an area, such as the kitchen where everyone frequently goes in and out is a good way to remind each other of things, such as birthday events or other celebrations.

Have a to do list

Creating a to do list is an easy yet fun way of managing your daily tasks. Whether its for grocery shopping, cleaning, washing or travel, it helps keep your tasks prioritized and makes sure you dont forget things you need to do. Its handy to keep a memo pad and pen around the house, so you always have something to create your to do lists on.

Keep records of finances

Keeping your financial records apart from other documents and in a safe place makes it easier to retrieve those documents when needed. Its a good idea to makes regular notes on your incomings, outgoings and savings. If you are keeping paper records or printing records out, its handy to have a folder to put them in so your files are kept together.

Create a schedule

Having a schedule, such as a cleaning rota is a great way to keep on top of household chores. It can often be frustrating when it comes to keeping a home clean and tidy but having a document where you can assign tasks to family members helps to keep a household organized. You can easily create documents, such as this in Microsoft Excel and print them out for family members to keep or display them around the house.

Have regular spring cleaning days

Setting aside a day every month or so to sort through your belongings is another way to keep your house clean and tidy. Sort through clothes, books, toys and other items. Throw away very old and useless things and create a pile for charity, recycling or selling. You can make it fun for young family members by turning tasks into games. Perhaps create a sorting game, where you organise things into piles and reward children with stickers or candy.

As you can see, doing a few daily actions and making time for planning will really help to keep your life and home organized. Adding these methods to your daily or weekly routine will help maintain a happy household. Whichever solution works for you may come with trial and error but finding a good routine will make life much easier for you and your family.

Caring for your Camera

Image Source: Wikipedia

Even though digital cameras have made photography more accessible to everyone, photography is still quite an expensive hobby or profession. Yes, producing images hardly cost a thing, but the equipment needed to capture those images are more intelligent than older cameras thus – they cost more than older versions. Some high level point and shoot cameras can already cost an arm and a leg – expect to spend more on good quality digital camera bodies and lenses.

Since you will be spending a lot on a digital camera (and its accessories), you would most likely want to take good care of it. If you think you need to have a lot of expensive gadgets to keep your camera clean, you’re quite mistaken. Your camera would be very very happy if you provided the following:

Cleaning Kits

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cleaning kits comprise of a brush (or several brushes), cleaning cloths, a blower and perhaps a cotton bud (or two). These cleaning kits are sold at most photography shops and are very affordable. Its fairly easy to use these cleaning implements however, do be careful when using the blower because even though it gets dirt out, it can also blow dirt in.

Zip-Lock Bags

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Zip lock bags? WHY?! Well, zip-lock bags are quite secure and these really come in handy when you will be taking your camera to places such as the beach, where there is moisture and very fine foreign elements such as sand and other debris.

Protective Lens Filters

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

How would lens filters help protect my camera? Well, not your camera but your lenses. Lens filters will act as your main lenses primary defence against foreign objects that fly in the wind, condensation, drops and cracks. There are several kinds of lens filters (polarising, sepia, neutral density, etc) available in the market. If you are looking for a generic lens filter – get the UV filter.

That’s all you need to keep your camera in good condition. If you want to do more and say, perhaps, clean your lenses, here’s a video clip to show you how it’s done.

Jazzing Up Your Entryways the Easy Way

Doors, as we all know, serve as entry ways to our homes, but its functionality does not stop there. Doors also exist to keep people out, from pesky neighbors to stray animals, all you need is to close your doors to keep them out. Of course, with burglars, sturdy security screen doors and heavy duty locks are also needed if you wish to deter them.

painted entryway france

Just because doors are functional enough as plain as they are though, letting welcome people in and the unwanted out, it does not mean that you have to make do with a plain door. Since time immemorial, doors have been carved and painted and chosen as much for decoration as they have been for their usefulness.

The great thing about doors is that you can get just about any look for your door these days. Whether you’re into standard wooden doors, glass doors, or even iron entry doors, you’ll surely find a supplier ready to serve your needs. As long as you’ve got the budget you can have a door delivered and installed in no time at all. In fact, you can even design your own entry way or have it designed for you and have them custom-made according to design specifications.

If you already have a nice plain door at home though and don’t really want to spend a lot of money to get a new one when your door is still perfectly serviceable, here are some ways you can jazz up your entry way.

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Home Improvement Tip: Giving Your Garage Some Loving

Garages are one of the last things that come to mind when people think of areas in the home to improve or renovate. This oft-neglected space, however, also needs some loving.

broken garage doorPhoto Credit: Tony Buser

If you’re wondering what you can do with such a boring space, here are some simple garage improvement projects that you might want to tackle:

1. De-cluttering – Garages are clutter magnets. Since they often double as storage areas, simply de-cluttering your garage can take as much effort as a major home improvement project. Do a little spring cleaning even if it’s not spring with your garage as the main focus. The good thing with de-cluttering your garage though is that you don’t need any budget to do this, unless you have tons of stuff and end up hiring a moving van or even renting out storage units just to clean up more space in your home. De-cluttering your garage might also yield valuable finds, such as great furniture that can be repurposed or long lost memorabilia you can use to decorate some other part of the house. Of course, a garage sale as part of the de-cluttering process is also a great way to make extra money that you can use for other home improvement projects.

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5 Tips for Picking the Right Agent to Sell Your Home

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Selling your home takes a substantial amount of time and energy. It also requires an intimate knowledge of the real estate market, an ability to negotiate deals, and the skills to market your home to qualified buyers.

Unless you are a real estate agent, this type of inside knowledge is not likely something you possess. Finding the right real estate agent to sell your home can make or break your venture into real estate. Here are five tips on how to find one.

1. Starting your search

Finding the right fit means asking for referrals, checking references, and doing your homework. The first Realtor you meet may not be the best. If you don’t know where to start looking, you might end up discouraged. Ask friends who’ve recently sold homes, coworkers, and family. The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand is a resource you can utilize when searching for agents that specialize in a certain field.

2. Questioning prospective agents

Personality and point of view matter in a Realtor. When you meet with a prospective candidate, be sure to ask tough questions that require honest answers. Ideally, the person will answer your questions with passion, knowledge, and integrity. The perfect Realtor has an opinion on everything, from the list price of your home to the decor in your entryway and its ability to attract buyers.

3. Your realtor works for you

The person you choose to sell your home should work for you. If your Realtor’s conditions state that he or she is your seller’s agent as well as a buyer’s agent, the candidate might not be the best fit.

You want someone who works for your team, not someone who is interested in pocketing your entire commission. You do not want a conflict of interest when selling your home. You want a Realtor whose only interest is in you.

4. Help wanted

While you do not want to spend your time going through assistants and secretaries, you do want to hire a Realtor who has a little support. The real estate business requires agents to spend a significant amount of time outside the office, which leaves little time for paperwork, searches, and other grunt work. Someone with an assistant who is qualified to take messages, perform searches, and answer questions while your agent is doing what he or she can to sell your home is a plus.

5. The fine print

Once you find a Realtor you feel is perfect for your home, you will sign a contact. Do not allow your Realtor to talk you into signing anything with a time frame that you are not completely comfortable with. The standard time frame for a seller’s contract is anywhere from three to six months. However, if your home is worth more than $1 million, many agents will not sign a contract for less than a year to protect their investment in the marketing of your home.

Characteristics of a reputable real estate agency

Now that you are well-versed in the act of choosing the perfect realtor you need to know the characteristics to look for in your agent’s business. From the secretary to the agents, everyone in the office should display an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and friendly demeanor.

Wide-range knowledge of the city and its diverse neighborhoods, schools, and entertainment is also a must. A real estate agency should project a perfect blend of professionalism and likability.

The perfect real estate agent to sell your home is one who makes you feel as if she or he knows all there is to know about selling a home, without coming across as condescending. Your agent should work hard and know what will sell. The perfect agent will bring results, not excuses.

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6 Gross Things That Are in Your Carpet Right Now

dirty-carpet

Lying on the floor of your toddler’s bedroom and reading nursery rhymes to her before bed is a sweet way to end the day.

At least it would be until you realize that you are lying in a pool of pet dander, germs, bug feces, and so many other nasty things that you cannot even believe you own a carpet. Your carpet, no matter how clean you think it is, is downright nasty. Consider the following seven things that, shocking as it is to say, are beneath your feet right this very second.

1. Pet dander

Before you point out that you haven’t any pets, accept that it doesn’t matter. Other people have pets. Other people have feet. Their feet bring their pet dander into your office, your home, the floors of the supermarket where you shop and walk, and onto the bottom of your feet. Your feet track them into your home. Your carpet has pet dander.

2. Dust mites

They’re small, they’re nasty, and you can’t see them. Dust mites are filthy little creatures that love to live in your carpet. Dust mites can cause allergies. They love to burrow in the deep areas of your carpet where they can snack on dust, germs, and that nasty pet dander that sifts deep down.

3. Bed bugs

Oh yes, bed bugs can live in carpet too. In fact, bed bugs can live anywhere they can bury themselves and get nice and comfortable. That’s why it is so important that you never place your luggage on your carpet, bed, or soft furniture when you return from a trip. Instead, place it in the garage or outside and clean it thoroughly.

4. Mold

Mold can live anywhere, even in your carpet. It can show up there anytime you have a spill that isn’t cleaned up properly, or just because the darker recesses of your carpet are old and dirty. It can put your family’s health at risk if you do not get the mold treated.

5. Fleas

Fleas love to burrow deep down into your carpet. Whether or not you have animals doesn’t matter. They like to lay their eggs in your carpet, creating a new colony of fleas that will attack your children, your pets, and you.

6. Odors

The odor of old cigarette smoke, a leaking diaper, or your sweaty teenage son and all his friends can live in your carpet for years after the smell hits the fabric. If ever you have wondered where that slightly disgusting smell is originating, it might just be that lovely area rug in your family room.

How to fix it?

Vacuuming alone does not clean all the nasty stuff out of your carpet. In fact, vacuuming can miss most of it. Renting a steam cleaner can help if you do it often enough, but it’s not powerful enough to get rid of all the stuff hiding in your carpet.

The best way to clean your floors is to hire a professional cleaning service. Their equipment and chemicals are designed to help clear your carpets of all things nasty, living, and bad smelling. Regular cleanings can help you keep unwanted germs and living creatures from making too permanent a home in there.

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5 Practical Skills Everyone Should Know

Many people invest a lot of time and energy into learning “marketable” skills – meaning skills that will make them more desirable in the work force thus giving them an edge among other job-hunters, and perhaps increase their chances of getting better compensation whether it’s in basic wages or a combination of wages and non-monetary perks. However, even though being knowledgeable in installing or creating computer programs, and being adept at sales and marketing help you earn more, there are a whole lot of skills that are essential in everyday life, that you most likely, are not that familiar with. There are a host of situations where your “marketable” skills will mean absolutely squat. Below are 5 practical “life-skills” that everyone, regardless of age, race and gender, should know.

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Super Clean! 5 organic cleaning agents you have in your cupboard

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When it comes to cleaning, nothing beats good old soap, water and a little bit (or a lot) of elbow grease. However, because of the fairly hectic lives we all live in now, most of us don’t have the time to buckle down and start scrubbing and would opt to use cleaning agents that would dissolve grease and mold within minutes of its application. Although these products save you a lot of time and energy, they (unfortunately) contain toxic chemicals and substances that recent researches affect both our bodies causing migraines and depression; and our environment, depleting the ozone layer and polluting our rivers and streams. If you would like to clean your house and stay healthy and be kind to the environment at the same time, have a look inside your cupboard – you probably have these five cleaning agents lurking in the shadows, just waiting for you to use.

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5 Signs of Foundation Trouble

Sometimes the changes we see in our home aren’t problems in their own right, but symptoms of other, hidden issues. It’s inevitable that any home will experience changes due to wear and tear and just simple aging, and maintenance comes with the territory of home ownership. But some problems can pose much more serious concerns than others, especially when they involve your home’s foundation.

Some degree of foundational change is expected over time, as soil surrounding your home shifts. But the integrity of your entire home is riding on the foundation, in the most literal sense. In order to protect the structural strength of your home – and avoid costly repairs – all homeowners need to understand the warning signs that could indicate problems with the foundation.

Following are five of the most common warning signs that your home’s foundation may be deteriorating:

1. Cracking in outermost walls

Cracks in a home’s outermost walls can be caused by a number of problems – most notably, soil erosion or contraction. In new homes, vertical cracking may simply be due to the house settling after construction, and generally, cracks narrower than three millimeters aren’t cause for concern. Wider cracks – or those that move along a wall in both a vertical and horizontal plane – could indicate a home’s foundation is shifting in a way that’s causing structural damage. [Read more…]