Smart Home Tech That Makes Holiday Hosting Easy

Save time, energy and frustration by using smart home tech the next time you host family and friends for a holiday meal!

Guest post by June Lawrence

Whether your holiday entertaining features casual cocktail parties, full-fare, sit-down meals, or an open house for friends and neighbors – you can save time, energy and frustration with the latest home tech solutions that make holiday hosting easy. Smart home automation trends have made steady inroads in domestic consumer goods, home automation, and wireless entertainment market sectors, with expectations to surge beyond $3 billion in 2017.

Basic smart home tech starts with voice-controlled devices, wireless sensors, and semi-artificial intelligence platforms changing the way we entertain, work, and interact. These can reduce and help with chores that eat up your time and energy when hosting during the holidays. Whether you are menu planning, grocery shopping, stocking the bar, notifying attendees, or cleaning, there’s an app – or smart gadget to the rescue.

Holiday Shopping Helpers

Holiday menu shopping has never been simpler with The Shopping Button. As you scrutinize the pantry, use the voice recognition and recording features to create your holiday grocery list on-the-go. If this year’s holiday feast and lavish delicacies are a budget-buster, use this gadget to save money by scanning barcodes at your local, premium marketplace. Then connect and download your selections online for price comparisons and fast order placement.

New low-profile robotic vacuum cleaners include many updated features. Precise control directly from your smartphone takes care of last-minute clean-up or tidying between guest functions. Not only can you clean low-pile carpet or hardwood floors with a preprogrammed, recurring schedule, these labor-saving vacuums also dock and clean themselves.

Preparing the Kitchen

Smart home and kitchen automation systems are possibly the greatest application of smart technology for worry-free holiday hosting. Kitchen appliances that mate with a wide array of on-demand applications monitor and provide continuous feedback while preparing holiday dishes and desserts.

Smart kitchen appliances equipped with on-board intelligence, high-powered thermometers, and digital sensors tell you when to stir, flip, or add ingredients – like the pantelligent. Cook fast or slow, but cook smart with pressure cookers and crock pots monitored and controlled via smartphone.

For those with a bigger budget, consider swapping outdated kitchen appliances for new, connected cooking versions. A smart home hub provides seamless connectivity for multiple appliances; such as refrigerators that automatically send restock messages and smart ovens for perfect holiday pies. According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost for a home automation system is about $1,200.

Cooking the Main Dish

Presenting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey or a succulent Christmas ham can be worrisome. Consider a smart thermometer with presets for all types of meats and weights to take the anxiety out of over or undercooking the holiday bird. You’ll always know the temperature of your food and exactly when it’s done. The key is a Bluetooth connection to your phone and easy-to-use, icon-based apps.

Party Planning

Large parties, especially those held at an off-site venue, often require the same planning and coordination as small corporate events. Consider party planning appsthat feature automated email invitations; interactive, step-by-step mixology videos, and helpful reminders at every stage of your event planning timeline.

Serving Spirits

And not to worry, you can always keep the holiday cheer pouring with an Internet-connected wine cooler. Within 30 seconds, internal cameras will scan wine labels to correctly identify and chill each bottle independently and at the perfect temperature.

Even sensor-driven kitchen fixtures lend a helping hand with liquid refreshments. Taps that deliver steaming hot water on command or touchless faucets that turn off and on with hand gestures are quick plumbing installations that cost between $90 – $500.

Lighting Design

For the perfect finishing touch to a great holiday party complete the holiday ambiance with lighting. Consider installing the Phillips Smart Hue line of wireless and smart lightbulbs. Go from warm white exposure for casual conversation to a holiday-inspired scene for singing, dancing, and drinks. Smart lighting is also a great way to establish different moods throughout the home for an array of holiday entertaining or age groups.

Why spend the holidays frantically keeping up with all there is to do when smart home tech can lend an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands for trouble-free holiday hosting!

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

 

 

Posted on November 16, 2017 at 3:57 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: cooking, grill, real estate, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Home Tip of the Day: Thanksgiving Meal Planning

 

Planning and cooking everything for Thanksgiving can be very stressful.  But, who says you have to do it all?  Follow this guide to Thanksgiving meal planning to lighten the load this year.  As with most things in life, it’s all in the preparation.

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on November 14, 2017 at 9:13 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: cooking, kitchens, real estate, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Everything You Need to Know About Mowing

There is more to mowing grass than just pushing the mower back and forth. Did you know there are correct ways to mow your grass? Plus, knowing what the proper cutting length is and what to do about lawn clippings are important in keeping a healthy lawn.

Mow at the Right Frequency

There is a correct way to mow a lawn to get the cleanest, well-kept look. By keeping the grass at the right length, it keeps your grass stress-free and healthy. Grass should be a little longer during the hot summer months, especially in places that are in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9b like Houston, Phoenix, New Orleans, and Tampa. When grass is permitted to grow a little longer, the roots grow deeper, and the grass gives the soil cover from the hot sun. It forms an insulation that lets the soil better maintain its moisture.

Mowing at the right frequency is key. During fall, the most common lawn mowing frequency in Houston is bi-weekly, or every two weeks, with 83 percent of Houstoniteschoosing this option. However, if you get lawn treatment and water more frequently, you may want to consider weekly.

Plus, the blade of the mower needs to be sharp. If the blade is dull, then it will shred the tops of the grass. Shredded grass tips can leave grass susceptible to diseases.

The Correct Way to Mow Your Grass

The first thing to do is to adjust the height of the mower so that the mower doesn’t butcher the grass. Also, if the lawn is shady, then it will benefit from setting the mower blades at a higher height. Because photosynthesis helps grass grow, a longer blade of grass has more surface for conducting photosynthesis. This is one secret to developing a healthy lawn when parts or all of it stay in the shade.

Also, don’t scalp the grass by cutting it too short. When a lawn is scalped, it becomes vulnerable to disease and invites weeds. By scalping a lawn, it exposes the soil, and the grass becomes sparse and weak. Plus, this gives the sun an opportunity to feed the weed seeds in the soil so that they start to grow. A lawn that is cut too short will have a system of poorly developed roots and this will cause damage to a lawn from hot days or drought.

The best rule of thumb is to follow the one-third rule: If more than a one-third of the grass blade is cut off, it can damage the grass.

Another tip is to mow when the grass is dry. When grass is mowed when wet, it’s not harmful to the lawn, but the results can look mediocre. This is because grass that’s wet will clog the mower and this makes it more difficult to mow. The grass also clumps and causes an uneven cutting pattern. In addition, if clumps of wet grass are left on the lawn, then it can kill the grass under the clumps.

When you mow in the middle of the day in the sun, it causes the lawn stress. The individual blades of grass will lose water quickly and recover more slowly. You can either mow in the cooler part of the day or mow the area when it’s covered in shade. This will let the grass rebound quicker. Also, when mowing, don’t always follow the same pattern. This can create ruts and compacts the soil. Compacted soil and ruts can cause unhealthy grass, which can provide places for weeds to start growing.

What to Do With Grass Clippings?

One problem that crops up is what do you do with the grass clippings when finished? A solution to that is called “grasscycling.” This is when you let the grass clippings lay on the lawn after it’s cut. When this is done, it can provide up to 25 percent of what the lawn needs as fertilizer. It also saves money on fees and yard waste bags. A specialized mulching mower isn’t necessarily required, but you can put a mulching blade on the mower that you already have. Grasscycling works well if your grass is mowed often. It can be done on grass that is cut when it’s longer — if you don’t have a mulcher, rake the piles of clippings flat after mowing and then run the mower back over them.

As you can see, there is more to mowing grass than just pushing the mower around the yard. If done correctly, it can revitalize your lawn.

Katie Kuchta is a marketing guru, gardening and outdoor living expert, and self-proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos. Follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on November 13, 2017 at 8:59 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, curb appeal, Homeowners, lawn, outdoors, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Get Thanksgiving Holiday Prep Started Early

 

It’s time to pack up those spooky Halloween decorations and transition your home for the next fall holiday. Whether you’ll be hosting a family get-together or celebrating with friends, start planning now to ensure a stress- and disaster-free Turkey day. Here’s how to organize your party supplies and details for a beautiful feast this year.

Finalize Your Guest List

First things first, sit down with your friends and family to make a final decision on who you’ll be inviting over this year. Make and mail invitations now so your guests will have enough time to coordinate their own plans and get back with a timely RSVP.

 

Make a Menu or Hire a Caterer

Jot down recipes, shopping lists and cooking schedules today if you’re planning to make a home-cooked favorite or two this year. You’ll want to stock up on ingredients before your local grocery store sells out. If you’re not very kitchen-savvy, begin browsing local caterers’ menus before the best get booked.

While you’re at it, be sure to clear space in your pantry and fridge to hold the bounty of food before cooking day. If you have extra time, your oven and cookware supplies could probably use a nice cleaning.

Do a Walk-Through of Your Home

It’s important that you take your time as you pass through every room. Make note of anything unsightly that your guests might notice and take the next couple of weeks to fix scuffed paint spots, flickering lights or fraying furniture. Clear the coat closet and entryway, spruce up your post-feast lounging areas and prep guests rooms or kids’ areas as needed. Also take a good look at your dining space as you move on to the next tip.

Decide What You’ll Need to Rent or Buy

Can your dining room accommodate one long table for everyone or will you have to split up into two areas? Do you have enough chairs and table settings? Gather your own entertaining supplies and see if you can make-do or if you’ll need to buy or rent extras for this holiday season.

Plan Out Your Table(s)

This step is a bit early, but you can start visualizing the table or sketch it out on paper. Start planning an ideal seating chart, so couples aren’t awkwardly separated and family feuds aren’t reignited. You can make changes as RSVPs arrive.

Consider what your statement centerpiece will be this year as well as how you’ll be coordinating the plate settings and name cards to match. If you’re going with a nature-themed piece, it’s best to wait to order flowers now to prevent early wilting, but make sure to reserve one ahead of time with a local florist.

Start Decorating!

This is the most fun step of all and you can really let your style shine in any way you desire. Choose a general theme for the home and shop for matching decorations. Make sure you add some of this season’s classics, such as warm candles along the mantel or an inviting fall wreath on the front door.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on November 8, 2017 at 9:44 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Celebrate, cleaning, cooking, decorating, interior decorating, real estate, staging, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Creating the Stadium Experience in Your Own Kitchen

 

For some sports fans, there’s more to the game day experience than the game itself. Sure, it’s great to cheer on your favorite team through a white-knuckle competition, but it’s just as fun to explore the smorgasbord of delicious food that every stadium and arena across America has to offer. Food is a big part of the stadium experience, whether you’re sharing a snack with friends or chowing down on a full meal from the comfort of the stands.

Nachos, chili cheese dogs, cotton candy and pretzels are just some of the classic foods you’ll find spectators noshing on—and don’t forget liquid accompaniments ranging from lemonade to beer. But as tasty as they are, these treats can do a number on your waistline. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to replicate your favorite game day snacks at home—and with creative and healthy twists—no matter which team you root for.

Hot Dogs

America’s pastime isn’t complete without a ballpark frank—and that goes double for Chicago Cubs fans, who gobble down Chicago-style hot dogs by the thousands each season. Topped with a garden of veggies—including tomato slices, white onion, pickle relish, sport peppers and a pickle spear—a Chicago dog is a much smarter choice than a chili cheese dog. And with a few simple substitutions—like chicken sausage instead of beef, organic veggies, and whole wheat buns—you won’t feel guilty going back for seconds. Or thirds.

Chicken Wings

Buffalo, New York is most famous for three things: the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabres, and the tangy, spicy, bright orange sauce that works so perfectly on chicken wings. Traditionally, buffalo wings should be fried, but grilling is a healthy and delicious alternative (and baking works just as well). Make sure you have a big stack of napkins for this snack, and don’t forget the celery and bleu cheese.

Peanuts

Peanuts are the perfect handheld snack that can feed tons of sports fans with very little effort. Rich in protein, they can be sweet, spicy, salty or sometimes all three. Southern sports fans have a penchant for boiled peanuts, which can be whipped up in a crock pot, while roasted peanuts have universal appeal.

French Fries

If you’re making fries at home, you might as well kick it up a notch. Northern California is famous for its garlic and, as a result, its garlic fries. So it comes as no surprise that the dish is one of the most popular menu items at San Francisco’s AT&T Stadium, home of the Giants. If you follow this recipe, you won’t even need a deep fryer.

Pretzels

If there’s one thing New York Yankees and New York Mets fans can agree on, it’s that a baseball game isn’t complete without a soft pretzel and a side of spicy mustard. But if you’re gluten intolerant, you often miss out on this handheld treat. Luckily, pretzels are surprisingly easy to make at home—even without the wheat.

Nachos

Stadium nachos are notorious for their neon yellow cheese sauce and a few other suspicious toppings. At home, you can load up your tortilla chips with whatever you want. Miami fans swear by Cuban-style nachos, which add a Caribbean twist to the traditional recipe by topping gluten-free tortilla chips with slow-cooked pork, ham and a light Swiss cheese sauce.

Cracker Jacks

By the time the seventh-inning stretch rolls around, you’re going to be craving something sweet—that’s the real reason Cracker Jacks are prominently featured in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” By substituting sugar with maple syrup, you can make caramel corn that’s as good as the Cracker Jacks you remember from childhood baseball games—but without all the calories (or, sadly, the toy surprise).

Lemonade

After all the hot dogs, peanuts and other snacks, you’re going to need something to quench your thirst. With just three ingredients—lemons, water, and honey—you can make ballpark-park quality lemonade at a fraction of the price.

Once you’ve gathered your snacks and turned on the game, it’s easy to recreate the stadium experience at home. Just gather your favorite sports fans, sit back and dig in.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on November 7, 2017 at 9:00 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: BBQ, cooking, grill, kitchens, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Avoid the Top 5 Home Seller Mistakes

When you are selling your home, it can be easy to be in a vacuum. You have a certain idea of what the market should pay for your home and what may or may not be an issue. After all, you are king of your castle, right? Your home has x, y and z . The location can’t be beat. It’s just around the corner from (insert fabulous restaurant, park, coffee shop, school, etc. here).

However, when buyers and agents are coming through your home, it can be where distorted perception meets reality. Here are the top mistakes sellers make and how to avoid them.

1. Overpricing Your Home

If your home is overpriced, two things won’t happen: showings or offers. The price is what sets the tone for showings. It is the nonverbal message that either invites or discourages activity. If it is too high, buyers that can afford it may be interested in something else, as they can go higher in price range, and the audience for whom it was intended price-wise are usually shut out. To avoid frustration over offers much lower than your set price, have an open discussion with your real estate agent to set the right price for your home.

2. Making Showings Difficult

Restricted showing times, no lockbox or having to be present for all showings can impact the ability of showing traffic through your home. If there are umpteen instructions or restrictions, agents and their buyers will simply move on to those properties with less rules. Work with your real estate agent to find a way to make showings convenient for both you as the seller as well as potential buyers.

3. Not Countering an Offer

While everyone would love to get the most for their home, a seller also needs to keep a realistic balance. It is too easy to get hung up on the starting number in an offer when the focus should be on what the end result is. The opening offer is simply that –a starting point. It gets a conversation going and results in hopefully a happy medium that is amenable to the buyer and seller. Not countering an offer is like having a one way conversation. It won’t work. How can you move to sold if you can’t have a dialogue of back and forth? It doesn’t mean that the buyers aren’t serious, they are simply being conservative in their first offer to get a feel for how the negotiation is going to go. It doesn’t mean that is the most they are willing to pay unless the offer was positioned that way. Failure to counter sends a discouraging signal to the buyer that can create an uncomfortable situation, perceived or real. Buyers want to do business with sellers who are eager to do business with them. You don’t have to give away the store to do so, but certainly responding with a number in good faith is a step in the right direction.

4. Property Condition Denial

Would you as a buyer pay top dollar for a home with original systems approaching the end of their life? In today’s real estate climate, buyers, lenders, appraisers and inspectors are more scrutinous than ever. It is not only the buyer, but the lender, appraiser and the buyer’s insurance company that could be making the call on a home’s condition. Before you sell, be realistic about the condition of your home. Unless the home is deeply discounted below market value, which realistically means it would be far too low pricewise that you would agree to accept, the buyer will care about it and if they don’t, their home inspector certainly will!

5. Selective Memory

Sellers often fear that if they disclose too much or provide too many details, that it could affect their ability to sell for top dollar; however, failure to disclose could open you up to liability after the sale. Leaving questions blank, or not being clear on the age of certain things only creates more red flags and concern for a potential buyer. If you answer the questions honestly and fully disclose any known issues or repairs that were made (with receipts to document and provide a history) it will eliminate buyer fear and doubt.

For more seller resources, or to find a real estate professional in your area, visit coldwellbanker.com.

Source: CB Blue Matter blog

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 8:36 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appraisal, buying, curb appeal, Homeowners, Multiple offers, open houses, real estate, Sellers Market, selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Home’s November Honey-Do List

This month, we’re especially thankful for home. Home is where the family comes together, where we’re protected from the elements, and where love abounds. Your home’s November Honey-Do list will make sure your home is ready for the holidays, prepared for colder weather and loved inside and out.

1. Winterize your home – For most of the country, November is the time when we can no longer deny that the colder weather has settled in. Now is the time to winterize summer tools and appliances like air conditioner units, grills and lawn mowers. Bring garden hoses indoors and check your windows and doors for drafts.

2. Make a Turkey Game Plan – No coach would head to a big game without a game plan up his sleeve. Likewise, no chef should hit the kitchen without thinking through the menu and timeline first. Determine what menu items you can make ahead, decide what responsibilities you can delegate, and take an inventory of your pantry and china cabinet. Oh, and now’s the time to clean that oven, too.

3. Polish the Silver and Dust off the China – Thanksgiving is a special meal, which deserves the best of your entertaining arsenal. Because we don’t often use our special dishes year round, it’s smart to give them a good deep clean and polish before setting the table on Turkey Day.

4. Give your living room a refresh – With the holidays ahead, your living room is sure to get plenty of use. Give the space a refresh by changing out the window treatments for a new look.

5. Use some pest control – Rodents and other pests are opportunistic and seek warmer environments when the temperatures drop. Be sure that they don’t call your house their home by implementing these 5 surefire tricks to pest control.

6. Clear out the gutters – Avoid drainage problems and damage to your home’s foundation by clearing out the gutters before snow and ice wreaks havoc. Here is an easy how-to guide to cleaning rain gutters on your home.

7. Be ready for snow – Before the first winter storm, it’s a good idea to make sure your snow shovels and/or snow blower are in proper working order. Ready to invest in a snow blower after the brutal winter last year? Here is a buying guide from Home Depot that will help you make an educated purchase.

8. Start tackling the December to do list – The holiday to do list is notoriously the longest of the year. Get a head start by ordering your holiday cards, updating your address book, and making a gift wish list for each of your family members NOW. You can even start stringing twinkle lights on your shrubbery before the deep chill sets in. After all, the most important part of the holidays is taking the time to enjoy our family and friends.

Next month we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know to make your home holiday ready.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on November 3, 2017 at 8:27 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: cleaning, curb appeal, decorating, Fixer Uppers, maintenance, organization, projects, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kitchen Storage Ideas for Your Apartment

An uncluttered counter is essential in a small apartment. It looks attractive, feels more airy, and encourages you to cook, rather than sending you running for the takeout menu. So get creative with kitchen storage ideas, and you can make clean counters a reality.

No Drawers? No Problem!

Some tiny NYC kitchens lack drawers. This may seem like a big problem, but with a few clever kitchen storage ideas, you can work around it. For utensils, you have plenty of options. Mason jars work great. You can do what Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic did, and put them on the counter where they double as an attractive interior design element — but if you’re striving for empty counters, simply put them inside a cabinet. If you don’t want to use mason jars, you can use the kind of utensil caddytypically used for outside dining. It has separate compartments for each type of utensil, making it the perfect storage tool for forks, knives, and spoons.

Nesting Bowls

If you like to cook and bake, you’ll have lots of mixing bowls, ramekins, and dishes. In order to allow them to be organized inside your cabinets and take up as little space as possible, it’s important to look for nesting bowls. Try Williams-Sonoma’s glass or melamine bowls — they’re incredibly useful for cooking while taking up minimal space.

Use Your Oven

Where’s the best place to store big, bulky pots and pans in a tiny kitchen? The oven! This saves invaluable cabinet space in a compact kitchen, and it takes only a few seconds to remove all the pots when you need to use the oven for cooking. If you have the appropriate overhead space, a pot rack can also be a good space saver — but be sure that your pans are attractive enough to be on constant display (copper is always a beautiful, high-quality option).

Maximize Wall Space

Use your wall space whenever possible. You can hang up a magnetic knife rack; you can also hang spices on the wall or the refrigerator, if you get magnetic spice containers. Both options look fun and eclectic, while saving valuable cabinet space.

Create More Counters

When your counter space is sparse, you need to get creative. Here’s an idea: Buy a large wooden or marble cutting board and place it over two of the stove burners. Instant extra counter space! When you’re not using the cutting board for cooking prep, you can put something on it like a French press or a spoon holder. It’s a win-win … but you must be careful of your stove dials! Always be vigilant about not accidentally brushing against them and turning them on while the cutting board is in place.

With these tips, your compact kitchen will be a clean, uncluttered space, perfect for whipping up meals and hosting friends!

Posted on November 1, 2017 at 9:02 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, cabinets, Homeowners, kitchens, living small, real estate, remodeling | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

13 Spook-Free Safety Tips to Keep Your Kids & Pets Safe this Halloween

Halloween is full of tricks, treats, ghoulish games, frightening frocks, cute costumes, glowing Jack O’ Lanterns, pumpkin packed parties, and of course spookiness! Unfortunately, all of the frightening fun has dangers lurking behind them. Whether you are a parent of two-legged loved ones or four-legged furry loved ones, it is critical to be aware of the true spookiness that is hiding behind all the ghostly fun. So I called upon two experts that have simple tips for a safe, scare-free Halloween to keep your children and pets safe.

First up are the experts in keeping your little pumpkins safe. They may have “boo” in their name, but there is nothing scary about Boo Boo Busters. As a leading professional childproofing service they know a thing or two about keeping your kids safe. Following, are Halloween safety tips for your pets from Dr. Anthony George, doctor of veterinary medicine and certified veterinary acupuncturist. He has been taking care of all kinds of pets for over 20 years and his tips are sure to keep you furry friends from howling at the moon.

Kid Halloween Safety Tips

1) Choking Hazards

As a good rule of thumb, a choking hazard could be considered as anything that can pass through a cardboard toilet paper roll holder unobstructed. So, taking that into consideration, look closely at all the items that you are putting out to display. From bats and ghosts to pumpkins you roast. Hazards lurk everywhere!

2) Flashlights

Child safe flashlights should have a child safe battery door on them that is secured by a screw to prevent removal of the battery, thus preventing a choking hazard. Use flashlights or electric candles to light up your pumpkin too, flames and kids don’t mix.

3) Halloween Lights

Look for Halloween light strings that have tamper resistant bulbs that can’t be removed easily and remember cords pose a strangulation hazard. All cords should be kept short and tight. Consider taking the excess that you might leave hanging and bind it up with a zip tie.

4) Pumpkin Carving

Remember to only use child safe cutting tools while carving pumpkins, even as an adult. Kids learn by watching you, so if you use real knives you must know that they will want to do the same. As soon as you turn around to grab something you forgot… little hands wander.

5) Costumes

As a kid it’s mandatory to dress up. Our job is to make sure dress up is safe. Costumes should never obstruct movement, never cause visual impairment and never pose a trip hazard. Stick to material that is form fitting. If it’s loose, baggy or long it could create a trip hazard. Avoid masks that can impair vision. Face painting is the safest mask.

6) Glow at Night

Make sure your child’s costume is visible or is is equipped with something that makes them visible. Glow sticks are great and kids love them, but remember, never hang anything around their little necks unless you are using a child safe breakaway lanyard. A couple glow sticks secured to shoes can be seen from a long way away. Flashlights are a good addition as well.

7) Halloween Treats

Remember to make sure you go through and check all the candy that you are keeping. The candy should be in name brand with sealed packages. For candy bars, be sure you cut them into small pieces that are easy to chew. This also helps to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with. Unfortunately, ghouls are sometimes disguised as regular people.

Pet Halloween Safety Tips

1) Pet Costumes

Yes, your pet looks absolutely adorable in that costume! Keep in mind, your fuzzy family member might not be as thrilled with the outfit. Feel free to get that amazing photo, but respect the fact that your pet may want to get out of those duds as soon as possible. Make sure the outfit is comfortable, and pay special attention to straps that may impinge upon the neck and areas where the extremities meet the body. Never leave a pet unaccompanied in a costume to avoid any “wardrobe malfunctions!”

2) NO chocolate

Most people know chocolate is toxic to their pets. Chocolate contains methyl xanthine, which can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach upset to tremors, hyperthermia and seizures. At high doses, chocolate can lead to collapse and even death. Generally speaking, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be. There are helpful charts available (for instance, petMD.com) that can tell you what doses are dangerous for your pooch. If in doubt, always best to contact your veterinarian to see if treatment is indicated.

3) Sugar Free Danger

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found commonly in sugar-free gum as well as other products, can be extremely toxic to dogs. When ingested, it can cause a significant release of insulin, which can lead to extremely low blood sugars. At high doses, it can also lead to liver failure. If your pup has ingested this substance, always best to contact your veterinarian as your pet may likely need treatment and supportive care.

4) Healthy Treat Dangers

If you’re offering healthy alternatives this Halloween, keep in mind that grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. Some pets are more sensitive than others. In some animals, the toxin can lead to stomach upset initially, followed by kidney failure within 24 hours. It is always prudent to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested these substances.

5) Burning Jack O’ Lanterns

Flames and Fur don’t mix. Just as you do for kids safety, consider replacing that Jack-O-Lantern candle with a flickering LED light.

6) Trick-or-Treating

During trick-or-treating it is best to keep your pet inside, safe from all of the scary costumes, noises and lights that might frighten your pooch or feline. You might even want to consider locking your sweet little pal in a room so they don’t get spooked and run out the door when your trick or treaters arrive.

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services. www.northstarmoving.com

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on October 31, 2017 at 3:39 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Celebrate, community, decorating, Festivals, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Ways to Extend Your Patio Season Year-Round

 

Outdoor living can be constrained due to seasonality, but it doesn’t have to be– especially if it means you’ll utilize your patio area longer! As the temperatures get cooler and the days get shorter, it becomes harder to create a space outdoors that is comfortable and inviting. Here are some tips on how to continue to enjoy your outdoor living space indefinitely.

1. Outdoor Heater

Perhaps the more obvious of cool weather accommodations, adding heat to your outdoor space will allow you and your guests to relax in fresh air with warmth. Whatever your budget may be, there’s a heater that will work for your space. Ranging from less than $100 to well over $1,000, they come in many varieties and power sources such as a table-top gas heater or a standing solar-powered heater.

Standing heaters are great for heating up a patio space, typically running off of propane or natural gas. Using natural gas is the more efficient of the two and you’ll never run out of fuel. You also have the option of an electric heater, that has a lower upfront cost and costs less to run than a gas-powered heater. If you’re looking for a cost effective and eco-friendly option, a solar-powered heater is just right for you–providing all the warmth from the sun’s energy.

2. Fire Pit

Creating a space with warmth is key, but adding that element with an extra emphasis on aesthetic appeal is a bonus. You can easily create your own using bricks or large rocks to create the pit or purchase one installed by professionals, depending on your budget. Similar to outdoors heaters, there are a variety of fuel source options. If open wood burning isn’t allowed, you can install a fire pit that is fueled by gas. One advantage is that you can fire up your pit in an instant.

Not only can fire pits add warmth and depth to your patio’s hardscaping, but it also creates a collaborative social atmosphere– there’s nothing more nostalgic than roasting marshmellows or telling scary stories around the flickering blaze of a real fire.

3. Coverage

There’s nothing that really outlines a space like adding coverage by way of roof or walls, such as a pergola. As LawnStarter says, “pergolas give that “room” feeling to an open space.” Adding in a pergola or retractable awning can definitely help curate a more suitable ambiance in the winter months. If you already have a covered patio, you can hang outdoor curtains to contain heat and to help keep out wind or rain. Hanging up curtains will also add a whimsical, potentially romantic look to your patio space, softening the corners and rigidness of hardscaping. With the selection of colors, patterns and styles, you won’t have to sacrifice your fashion sense to keep the patio warm!

4. Cozy Fabrics

Creating an extra comfortable outdoor space means adding textiles that will repel warmth from their materials. These textiles include getting cozy outdoor couches, warm blankets, and throw pillows—all items that you or guests can curl up on and into. A couch with cushy cushions and throw pillows sure beats your run-of-the-mill patio furniture. Have a stack of low-cost, but decorative, blankets on hand when additional warmth is needed.

5. Hot Tub or Spa

Relaxing in a steamy hot tub or in-ground spa feels great all year long, but in cold weather, the temperature difference can make it feel even better. Although, using it during the cool months may require a little preparation before stepping out into cold weather in a swimsuit. Keep snow and ice off the path to the tub and the top of your tub or the spa cover to make it accessible whenever you want to use it–plus, it will help keep heating costs down.

To experience ultimate luxury post jacuzzi bathing, keep a towel warmer next to the spa. It’s actually more practical than it sounds—a warm towel will keep your body temperature from dropping too quickly when you step from the tub.

6. Hot Beverages

Hot chocolate will always be the quintessential winter warm-up, why not be a bit more exciting? Take the time to create a personalized hot beverage that you, your family or guests can enjoy to help withstand the cool weather.

  • Warm Mulled Cider – Simmer apple cider with mulling spices, orange zest, and ginger. It smells as good as it tastes.
  • Mulled Wine With Cranberries – Simmer cranberry juice cocktail, cinnamon sticks and star anise for 15 minutes. Stir in the wine and cranberries and bring back to a simmer before serving.
  • Warm Hazelnut Toddy – Stir hot water into Frangelico and spoon that dollop of whipped cream onto the top.

7. Winter Grilling

Grilled meats and kabobs don’t only have to be a summer food item, enjoy summertime barbeque inspired flavors in the winter months by utilizing your grill. For that matter, grilling can be done year-round, all you have to do is keep a pathway cleared if you’re in a location that experiences snowfall. You might want to move the grill closer to the house for the winter to save yourself some steps when it’s really bitter out.

If and when the temperatures are below freezing, it can take twice as long to preheat the grill and cook your food. Keep the lid closed as much as possible when cooking, the more often you open it the longer it will take due to the release of heat.

When preparing your home for winter, whether it be indoor or outdoor maintenance – save the storage time and carry summertime outdoor living over into the cooler months using these tips!

Source: CB Blue Matter

Posted on October 30, 2017 at 2:50 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, decorating, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,