Keep Your Kids (2 legged and 4) safe this holiday season with these 10 tips from Northstar Moving Company!
NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm
There is no ignoring it now. The twinkling trees, tinsel and….attractive trouble are all around. Whether you are singing “Feliz Navidad” or “Dradle Dradle Dradle,” we can all agree this is one of the greatest times of the year, BUT it’s also filled with hidden dangers for your children and pets. In fact, it is one of the most dangerous times of the year for your dog Dasher, your cat Blitzen and your two legged crawlers. So, don’t let all the sparkle distract you, be sure to keep an eye out for festive trouble.
That’s why I called upon two experts to guide us through all of the dangers our holiday décor and holiday foods can create for our little loved ones. First, the child safety experts at Boo Boo Busters talk Santa safety with five key tips to keep your children safe:
- The Christmas Tree: We are all conscious of hanging the fragile or sharp ornaments up top to keep them out of reach of those curious hands, but have you thought about where you place your tree? Positioning is always important, think: fire safety. Keep your tree more than 48 inches away from any open flame (that includes candles and the menorah.). When decorating your perfectly chosen greenery, it’s best to use plastic hooks instead of metal. Lastly, KEEP IT WATERED! A dry tree is a dangerous tree. Follow the instructions for watering the tree so it can last as long as your holiday season lasts. Also, consider buying a real live growing tree in a pot, it’s a greener earth-friendly solution and the tree can become part of your family traditions.
- Frosty’s Scarves : A strangulation hazard is anything that can be made into a loop and placed around a child’s neck, this includes scarves. Since your little elves need to stay warm, let’s take scarves off the strangulation list by making them safe by simply tucking the ends inside your child’s jacket. Oh so fashion forward and the scarf can’t get caught on anything. Whew, problem solved.
- Miniature Décor: Choking hazards are everywhere this time of year; they disguise themselves as decorations and holiday cheer. A good rule of thumb: a choking hazard is anything that can pass through a toilet paper roll holder unobstructed. Now is the time to scan the environment to see what’s around each and every corner. Remember, it’s not always just your house that needs your safety check. Visiting the grandparents, other family and friends who might be inadvertently unaware of what is or isn’t safe for your kids. Say Ho Ho NO! to decorations within your child’s reach. Snow villages, nativity scenes, and light up and display decorations with lots of small pieces, electrical cords and even batteries can easily be pulled out and end up in your cherub’s mouth. Lighted garland adorning the staircase or the mantle where the stockings will be hung with care, can also create dangerous scenarios. Bowls of candies, nuts and little yummy things are often put out for grazing. Even though they are edible, it doesn’t make it safe for a baby or small child. Place these delicious favorites higher than a child can reach. Lastly, although it may not be a choking hazard, put mistletoe on your priority watch list. This pretty little smooch maker may have fun motives but everything else about it says keep away. It’s about as toxic as a plant can get, berries, leaves and all. No one knows what your kids can get into better than you do. So, put your Grinch hat on before the kids see the decorations, then you can put the Santa hat on once the wide-eyed wonder-filled kiddos with busy little fingers enter the scene!
- All That Glows: We all have that part of us that wants to light the house up like Clark Griswald, but let’s try to keep those little admirers in mind when powering up. Secure lights in place with clips, not left dangling where a child can reach. Using staples to attach lights can also be dangerous: they can cut through the cord without you even knowing it and cause a short or spark leading to a potential fire. Take extra care when using extension cords to power up those giant blow-up dradles or reindeer dancing in the front yard. Secure them with stakes so they can’t create a potential tripping hazard. Put the lights on a timer so they turn on when you want them to and turn off around bedtime. Mother earth and your neighbors will both thank you. Nothing like a silent glow-free night.
- Ringing in the New Year: Last but not least, New Year’s Eve! Party favors, noisemakers and poppers are fun (and equally annoying) but can also be very dangerous. Check when purchasing noisemakers and party favors to see if they could be potential choking hazards. Poppers and silly string should be used with adult supervision. Poppers should never be popped in the vicinity of someone’s face and silly string should never be used near an open flame.
Next, Dr. Anthony George, doctor of veterinary medicine and certified veterinary acupuncturist, says to keep these five jolly activities away from your pooches or felines and they will be as merry as you are all holiday season:
- Holiday Foods: Many people like to include their furry friend in the festivities by giving them a ‘sample platter’ of the holiday’s bounty. This act, unfortunately, can introduce a variety of potential risks to pets. Eating fatty and rich foods can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea. In some dogs, the elderly in particular, calorie dense foods can potentially lead to inflammation of the pancreas. Chocolate contains methylxanthine, which can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach upset to tremors, hyperthermia and seizures. The darker the chocolate the more dangerous it can be. Grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are also extremely toxic to dogs. And, if you’re taking acetaminophen for pre and post celebratory aches and pains, bear in mind this medication can pose a tremendous risk to your pets. Commonly found in name brands such as Tylenol and Excedrin, along with many generic cold and allergy remedies, acetaminophen can change the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. If your pet ingests any of these substances, it’s always a good idea to contact your local veterinarian. So keep your pets safe by having them celebrate with their regular diets.
- Festive Plants: Plants and flowers transform any room into a holiday showcase, but also an unforeseen room of danger for curious pets. The usual suspects, poinsettiasand American mistletoe, have been considered potentially toxic to pets in the past. However, today it’s generally considered unlikely that either one would cause significant ill effects unless ingested in great quantity. Lilies, on the other hand, pose a significant risk to cats. These lovely flowers can dress up any holiday flower arrangement, but all parts of the plant are toxic to cats and can lead to kidney failure. Ingesting even a small amount of the leaves, petals, or even pollen can result in severe illness and possibly death. Warning signs include an increase in salivation, depression, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Stay clear of these beauties if you have a feline friend.
- Ribbon: If your dog or cat loves to help you wrap the presents or loves to un-wrap their own present, make sure they don’t run off with the ribbon. These colorful strands can wreak havoc if ingested. Once ingested, the intestines can bunch up on the ribbon in an attempt to pass it. If you should happen to see part of the ribbon ‘exiting’ from the hind end, never pull it out, as this can cause it to cut through the intestines. Absolutely, consult with your veterinarian to aid in its removal, whether it’s through endoscopy, surgically or manually.
- The Many Dangerous Layers of the Tree: The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of many holiday homes. However, if you have a cat you may want to lay off the tinsel as it poses the same threat as ribbon does. Electrical cords from the Christmas lights, as well as other holiday decorations, can be an enticing chew toy for a pup or cat. This playful act can lead to severe mouth burns. The electrical conduction of their heart can even be altered, resulting in the accumulation of fluid in the lungsand difficulty breathing. Take measures to prevent your pet from coming into contact with these electrical temptations. Many trees are also fitted with water containers to keep them fresh. This water could contain fertilizer or become stagnant over time. Prevent your pet from drinking from the tree to avoid potential complications.
- The Impulse Buy: Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles make sure the entire family actually wants a pet before you present one as a holiday present. Please make sure everyone understands that a pet is a gift for life not just for the holidays. Everyone must be ready for the full-time job of getting the pet acclimated to it’s new home. If you’re planning on adding a four legged family member: puppies and kittens aren’t the only way to go. Remember to rescue and adopt any age and/or any breed. Many lovable pets looking for a good home can be found on www.petfinder.com. Avoid adopting exotic pets, primates and reindeer. Make a pet’s life happy this holiday season too by finding it a forever home.
Keep your head above the twinkle and remember this simple checklist. Santa’s basic yule tide rule of thumb: if it looks like it could be trouble then put it on the naughty list and hide it away. Wishing you and your family a wonderful memorable holiday season and an amazing New Year full of safe and happy smiles!
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
So you’ve prepped your home cosmetically for sale in every imaginable way – fresh paint, a deep cleaning, new landscaping, decluttered closets and even organized the garage! Your house looks better then it ever has and you are ready to hit the market! Before you proceed with the “For Sale” sign in the ground, there are several key pieces of information that you should consider gathering that today’s savvy buyers are going to want to know.
Do you have a copy of a current survey on your home? Have this document available and provide to your listing agent so they can include in the information about your home. Buyers want to know about property lines, easements, conservation buffers, if there is room for a pool, if the property line extends to the water behind your home, etc. Having a survey to provide upfront will help to eliminate these types of concerns vs. waiting until a property is under contract.
If you’ve made any changes that would affect your property such as adding a pool or fence since you took ownership and are not shown on your current survey, it’s important to advise the buyer. A new survey will usually need to be ordered prior to closing in this scenario. If you don’t have one from when you purchased the home, try contacting the title company or attorney’s office that handled the closing of the property. Depending on how long ago that was, they may be able to retrieve from their archives.
2. Floorplan or Appraisal Sketch
Buyers often need to know room dimensions as it helps with determining furniture placement and to ensure how what they have will fit (or have to be reconfigured) in the new space. As any real estate agent can attest, many hours have been spent measuring spaces while looking at a home and comparing that against the existing buyer’s furniture dimensions. I’ve encountered entire home searches that revolved around a great room accommodating an entertainment center and the garage size so a motorcycle could fit in addition to the cars!
An appraisal is helpful as it can confirm the exact square footage of a home vs. relying on tax records which may not be accurate. We’ve all heard stories where the appraisal showed the actual square footage that was smaller than what was initially represented in a listing sheet. Having an appraisal will help to ensure that does not happen. You should have received a copy of the appraisal if you obtained a mortgage loan from your lender or if you refinanced. If you don’t have either, consider having a floorplan drawn up or home measured by an appraiser when prepping your home for sale. Your agent can assist with resources to this effect.
3. Utility Bills
Buyers want to get an idea of what they can expect the heating and cooling bills to be in a home. Review your bills over the last one to two years to get an average in the various seasons, or call your local utility provider as they can often provide you with information on the high, average and low costs. This information can be very beneficial when a buyer sits down to number crunch their total costs of owning a home. If you had an unusually high or low bill, provide some explanation to accompany the numbers.
4. Termite Bond
In many markets where termites are alive and well, it is common place for homes to have some sort of protection plan in place which is also known as a bond. In Florida, where I live and work, this is a primary concern and often one of the first questions buyers and their agents want to know. Prior to listing your home, obtain a copy of your termite bond policy from the provider, know exactly what type of bond you have – repair or treatment bond and up to what dollar amount of coverage is it good for. Also know how long the bond is in effect, when it is up for renewal and what the renewal fee is, if there is a transfer fee and what does it provide protection for – not all bonds provide protection against all different types of termites.
5. Pest Control
If you maintain any type of pest control on your property, compile information as to who the provider is, what you have done, how much you pay and how often does the company come out to treat the property. A copy of your service agreement is helpful in this instance.
Buyers especially want to know who a seller uses for their homeowners insurance and how much they pay. This is particularly the case in higher risk areas (where there are hurricanes, floods, fires, etc.) With homeowners insurance potentially more difficult to obtain in some areas, going through the existing seller’s insurance company can help streamline the process, particularly on an older home.
7. Product Manuals and Warranty Documents
Now is the time to gather the various product manuals for all items that will be staying in the home such as appliances, water heater, heating and cooling system, ceiling fans, pool equipment, etc. If your home came with any warranties, be sure to include these for the new owner as well. Putting all of these in one large envelope makes it easy for everything to be readily accessible in one place for the new buyer.
8. Service Providers
Compile a list of all service providers/vendors and their contact information who you have used on your home – lawn service, pool service, A/C company, etc. While a new buyer may or may not choose to use these services, they will certainly appreciate having resources available to them and may elect to initially use them as they make the transition to living in your home.
9. Covenants and Restrictions, Neighborhood Rules and Information
This is key critical information for a new owner to have on hand. A contract may likely hinge on the buyer’s review of this information, so easiest to have it available ahead of time. If you don’t have these, contact your neighborhood’s association president or management company for assistance in obtaining a copy. Many of these documents are matters of public record and are available by going online to the appropriate municipality’s website.
Work with your agent to create an informational package or binder that you can provide to prospective purchasers that come through the home with the information mentioned above. Gathering this information before you put your home on the market will save time and make the process that more efficient once you find a buyer. It may even help your home to sell faster as all of this information is available upfront, eliminating the need for guesswork and waiting on answers while another property could possibly come on the market to grab the buyer’s attention. You want to help keep the buyer focused on your home, so make it easy for them to buy by giving them what they want. Happy selling! You can read more home seller tips here.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog
We spend Thanksgiving being grateful. A roof over our heads, loving family members, new and old friends, good health, and delicious Thanksgiving dinner are some of the things we are thankful for. Then we spend Black Friday and Cyber Monday scoping out great deals on goodies, perhaps for the people we are thankful for. Finally, we spend the Tuesday after Thanksgiving giving back to the community. Giving Tuesday is a day dedicated to giving back to the community. Here are 3 ways you can get involved with Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday is the perfect day to make your year-end donations or donate goods to your favorite charities. What are you most passionate about? Are you passionate about ending poverty, finding cure for a disease, achieving equality for all, or combatting climate change? Whatever your passion may be, you can find nonprofit organizations that can help you make a difference in the world.
Most importantly, do some research on the charity organization. Charity Navigator is a great online tool that evaluates charities. It offers charity assessments for thousands of organizations. Check out the organization’s rating, mission statement, and fund allocations.
Here are some of the charities that we are thankful for this year.
Adopt-a-Pet.com is North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website. Since 2015, the Coldwell Banker community and Adopt-a-Pet.com helped over 20,000 pets find their new homes through the Homes for Dogs Project.
- Move For Hunger
Move For Hunger works to reduce food waste and fight hunger. Their network of moving companies, real estate agents, and relocation professionals rescues non-perishable food from people who are moving and delivers it to local food banks.
Remember, if you decide to make monetary donations:
- Find out if your employer offers a matching gift program. Many companies often encourage their employees to give to the community by making a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution to the employee’s charity of choice.
- Keep records of your donations. Donations to qualified organizations may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction against your income tax.
The gift of time is invaluable. Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet and connect with others in your community. Share your knowledge and expertise with an organization that supports the cause you care deeply about. You may even be able to build on your existing skills or learn new skills. Volunteer this Giving Tuesday or on an ongoing basis.
Support a cause by giving your voice. You can be an influencer of political, economic, or social policies and practices. First, educate yourself on the important issue. Learn the facts on both sides of the issue to gain credibility. Then, start conversations and engage others to share the knowledge. It’s also a good idea to visit your elected officials and let them know why and how they can help with your cause. Find out who your Federal, State and Local Elected Officials are and how to contact them. Make your voices heard!
The love we give away is the only love we keep. You may decide to donate, volunteer, or advocate (or all the above) to participate in Giving Tuesday this year, but whatever you decide to do, become part of something bigger and meaningful. There is no better way to warm your grateful heart than to give back to the community.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Was a 22-pound turkey over zealous? Try one of these creative Thanksgiving leftover ideas.
At a loss for what to do with the massive amounts of leftover turkey you have from Thanksgiving? Here are a few tasty ideas you might want to try out.
Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals weigh in on what you need to know when navigating the real estate process.
Get your game on with a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner! Thanksgiving dinner in Northern California can be more traditional than typical, as many locals will have wild game on their tables on November 23.
Target Your Turkey
Turkey hunting is not just a sport for people who live in the great Nor-Cal area. Once turkey season is open, the forests and ranges are alive with hunters looking for their Thanksgiving turkey. Turkey season is open November 11 to December 10.
Open Range to the Oven Range
Wild turkey is very different from a bird purchased at the grocery store. The breast is much smaller and the legs are longer. The taste is much the same, but if the turkey is old, it can be tough and gamy. Picking the right bird for your traditional Thanksgiving dinner is determined by your experience. Recognizing the difference between a young turkey and an old one is learned from trying to chew the wrong choice a few seasons. Hunters who are true sportsmen always eat the game they take; this is a standing rule here in the North State.
The Call of the Wild
Turkey hunters all have their favorite “call.” Some hunters can imitate a turkey with a certain whistle they do with their tongue. Most hunters prefer a store-bought turkey call. Once tested and found to be irresistible to turkeys, the call goes into the hunters gear and used for years after.
A Healthy Experience
Hunting for a turkey for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner table is for many people preferable to choosing one in the grocery store meat department. Wild turkeys have free range, they have had no hormones to plump them up, and unlike store bought turkeys, there are no additives. Yes, the ones at the store are guaranteed and there are hundreds to choose from. There’s no need to go out in the cold, sitting and calling for hours unless you truly do want a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
This year, it is estimated that over 20,000 hunters will try to bag their bird, but only 10,000 will be successful. There will still be lots of sales at the super market.
If you think you’d like the experience of going out in the woods, trying your talents on a turkey call, and choosing the right bird, make sure to get your hunting license first. You will also need an upland game bird stamp. Both can be purchased from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog