Consumer Real Estate News

    • Cool Kitchen Gadgets Too Cute to Pass Up

      20 February 2019

      There are gadgets that simply make life easier, and then there are those that not only do the job, but that are just too cute to pass up. Kitchen divas—or wannabe kitchen divas—need to check out these seven worthwhile gizmos:

      The ultimate hot dogger. Love a good hot dog? Pop both the hot dogs and buns into this bright red retro toaster-for-two, then add the mustard and kraut. You can do it for about $20.

      Clip-on colander. Tired of hauling out that big colander to drain the water out of the pasta? Strain it with ease, using a lightweight gadget that clips on to the pasta pot. Available for about $12.

      Quick and easy breakfast champ. Having a small space shouldn't stop you from enjoying a complete breakfast. This three-in-one breakfast center lets you fry your egg on the oven-top nonstick griddle, toast a biscuit in the toaster oven and brew a hot pot of coffee all at the same time. It’s a steal at about $35.

      Chef n’cob corn stripper. Don’t be that person who tries to strip an ear of corn and winds up with kernels all over the kitchen. This clever corn stripper will make you an expert for only about $7.

      Dinosaur soup ladle. Show off your homemade soup by serving it at the table with an adorable dinosaur shaped ladle that takes no space to stow away because it stands up on the counter and smiles at you. A must-have at under $20.

      The Sushi Bazooka. Want to look like an accomplished sushi chef? The Sushi Bazooka makes it easy to create perfectly round sushi rolls at home. The tube opens up so that you can pack it with a layer of rice on both sides and veggies or fish in the middle. All you have to do is close the tube, push the roll out and wrap it in nori. And thanks to this gadget, you can do it for under $15.

      Spaghetti measurer. Never know how much spaghetti to cook? This nifty measurer tells you just how much to cook for a kid, the average grown-up and the big eater. This nifty tool will set you back about $11.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Organize Your Way to a Brand-New Bathroom

      20 February 2019

      Is your bathroom experience less than spa-like? If so, it may not mean you need a major reno or a costly investment in new fixtures and flooring. It may be a simple matter of reorganization. Consider these ideas from the life-at-home experts at Martha Stewart Living:

      - If you have a pedestal sink or another variety without a lot of counter space—or if you just want to keep your sink area looking spacious and orderly—get some inexpensive wire crates and attach them to the wall with suction cups to house the items that often clutter up the sink area.

      - Get your medicine cabinet in order with flat-backed suction cups that adhere to the inside of your medicine cabinet door. They can hold combs, toothbrushes, tweezers, cotton swabs and other small items. Be sure to strategically place the cups between the shelves so the door can still close.

      - A bathroom drawer can quickly become a black hole of miscellaneous medicines, cosmetics and hair accessories. Get the chaos under control with wooden or metal drawer organizers that allow you to categorize items in their own personal cubbies. It will give you a chance to discard all those lotions and cosmetics you’re not using, too.

      - Create space and give your bathroom a spa-like touch by stacking towel bars on the back of your bathroom door. This will allow you to house more towels in the bathroom in a neat, unobtrusive way.

      - Another great way to add an organized, spa-like feel to your bathroom is to decant various shampoos and lotions into attractive containers. This creates a uniform, stylish look as opposed to a mishmash of shapes, sizes and colors.

      - If you’re short on storage space, add a shelf on top of your medicine cabinet to neatly and attractively tuck away supplies, such as extra rolls of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, bars of soaps or washcloths.

      Remember, having an enviable bathroom isn’t necessarily about having more space, it’s about using the space you have in the right way—and that starts with getting organized.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Give Your Home a Modern Makeover

      20 February 2019

      (Family Features)--Even if your home has seen a generation or two of living, creating a contemporary new look may not require a full-scale renovation. The key to creating a more modern feel is all in the details.

      Many of these elements can be tackled one by one so you can transform your home into the modern marvel you desire on a timeframe and budget that fits your lifestyle. If a contemporary home is your ultimate goal, start with these key features to create a more modern look.

      Lighting. Dingy lighting and dim rooms are the antithesis of modern design. A contemporary space is airy and bright, and the lighting fixtures often help set that tone. Replace outdated fixtures with modern alternatives that boast sleek lines and finishes. Add more fixtures, including table-side task lighting and floor lamps, to brighten a room with limited natural light. Have some fun with the lighting by incorporating colored or textured globes that allow the fixtures to become focal points of contemporary design rather than functional afterthoughts.
      Windows. When it comes to curb appeal, windows play an essential role in the overall aesthetic. Old, outdated windows are a tell-tale sign of an aging home, so when you're planning for a modern exterior upgrade, be sure to include the windows as part of your plan. An option like Milgard Trinsic Series vinyl windows offers an expansive viewable glass area and a narrow frame to help you embrace modern home design. Not only do they provide even sightlines for clean, unobstructed views, they're manufactured for maximum durability and energy efficiency and require little to no maintenance.

      Walls. No matter the color, a freshly painted space simply feels new. For a true contemporary style, honor simplicity in design and keep colors on the lighter side. However, don't be afraid to introduce a pop of color in the form of a bold accent wall or even wallpaper that makes a statement. A good rule of thumb: maintain a simple palette of no more than three shades to incorporate a truly minimalist, modern atmosphere.

      Doors. The entry and exit points to your home are more than functional features; think of them as a canvas for making a bold design statement. For the patio, consider a sleek and contemporary door with a frame profile so narrow you'll hardly know it's there. For example, Milgard offers a contemporary Trinsic Series sliding patio door with the maximum available viewable glass area and an optional narrow handle that blends seamlessly into the frame to lend a modern flair. The doors are also ideal for low-maintenance living; the durable vinyl frames don't absorb moisture or require painting.

      Hardware. Even the smallest details matter when it comes to contemporary design. You may not need to replace or update your cabinetry, but you'll most likely want to select hardware that fits a more modern motif. Avoid weathered and overly polished finishes in brass or nickel, and opt instead for selections like matte black, gold and copper, which are all well-suited for contemporary kitchens. Don't be afraid to mix and match for a bit of an eclectic look, such as different pulls for the upper and lower cabinets or a unique style for drawers.

      Source: Milgard

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Steps to Creating a Budget

      19 February 2019

      While a budget may seem restrictive and burdensome, in reality, it gives you control of your life and allows you to make proactive choices about your money. Bringing down your debt and living within your means enables you to feel good about your life again.

      Overwhelmed about where to begin? Here’s a five-step plan from Lending Club to put you on the path to taking control of your finances. Even if you already have a budget in place, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate using these guidelines.

      Think big. As in the big picture. In order to create an accurate budget, you need to look at a full year, not just one month at a time, because financial obligations—and windfalls—can vary from month to month. For example, you might spend more in the summer months or in the pricey winter heating months. And when it comes to your income, perhaps you receive an end-of-the-year bonus or pay property taxes twice a year. All of these debits and credits make each month different, so the most accurate thing to do is create an annual budget, then divide by 12.

      Prepare for what’s ahead. Most of us get into hot water by over or underestimating our yearly income, then going into debt when we don’t have enough to spend on something we need. So getting a clear picture of your exact income is critical to the budget process. Include all sources of income beyond your pay, such as bonuses, commissions, tax refunds, child support, etc. Go back and find out what you brought home in all of these categories last year to come up with a guide for the year ahead.

      List out your musts. This is a tough one and will take some soul searching to determine your true needs vs. wants. But making a list of your non-negotiable expenses is essential. Among them should be:

      - Rent/mortgage
      - Groceries
      - Basic utilities
      - Childcare or school tuition
      - Insurance premiums
      - Minimum debt payments (credit cards, car loans, etc.)

      While some of these costs are fixed, others are variable, so once again, go back and see what you spent last year to come up with a budget for the year ahead. Your online banking and credit card accounts will help you retrace what you spent on groceries, clothing, entertainment and other undocumented expenses.

      Plan for savings and debt repayment. Once you’ve determined what you must spend, many people often make the mistake of spending the rest on wants. But this is where you should pay yourself first in the form of savings and paying down debt. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending everything you earn.

      Here are some savings goals you should build into your budget:

      - Building an emergency fund
      - Contributing to a retirement account
      - Saving for your kids’ education costs
      - Getting out of debt faster
      - Purchasing a home
      - Replacing a car
      - Holiday gifts for the kids or a family vacation

      Allocate money for your wants. Once you’ve allocated money to the above savings goals, go ahead and treat yourself to some fun stuff. But keep this equation in mind: The amount of money available to spend on your wants is no more than what’s left after you subtract the cost of your needs and savings from your net income.
      Once you’ve tackled your budget, you’ll know exactly where your money is going, how much you have left to spend and, most importantly, the peace of mind that you’re saving toward important future goals.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Get the Upper Hand on Annoying Household Challenges

      19 February 2019

      No matter how hard we try to keep our home in order, there are some household challenges the most devoted among us just can’t seem to overcome. But before you toss out those cloudy glasses, or trash that trusty but rusting skillet, check out these tips from Good Housekeeping magazine:

      Re-season a cast iron skillet. To restore the finish, use a soft scrub sponge to remove rust, then clean it with a bit of mild dish soap, rinse and dry well. Coat the inside and outside with vegetable oil and bake it upside down in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. Let cool and remove excess grease with a paper towel.

      Revive cloudy glasses. Remove built-up film from hard-water minerals by soaking glasses or stemware in white vinegar for five minutes. Then rinse by hand and dry with a microfiber cloth.

      Perk up a sluggish showerhead. Unclog a showerhead by filling a sturdy plastic bag with equal parts white vinegar and water. Tie the bag around the showerhead to immerse the holes in the solution and secure it with a twist tie. Let it soak for about an hour, then remove and wipe away the particles.

      Buff out floor scuffs. Protect that expensive hardwood. Remove small scuffs with a white sock or a clean tennis ball. For bigger scuffs, add some baking soda to a damp cloth and gently rub, then rinse with a damp paper towel and dry.

      De-scale the coffee maker. Morning brew not tasting too good? Remove caked-on minerals by filling the reservoir with a mixture that's half vinegar, half water. Let the solution brew halfway, then stop and let it sit for 30 minutes before completing the cycle. Rinse by "brewing" a pot of clean water afterwards. 

      Wipe out wall doodles. When your child's artistic efforts end up all over your new paint job, scrub lightly with a damp sponge sprinkled in baking soda.

      Bust the germs you can’t see. The icky truth: Your cellphone might harbor more germs than the toilet seat. Sanitize it by wiping it down with an alcohol wipe. While you’re at it, give your TV remote and computer mouse the same treatment.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.