Category: FHA Loans
Attract Springtime Birds
In the spring, birds are busy building nests, so attract them to your yard with some of these nesting materials for them to collect.
Almost everyone has some old terra-cotta pots tucked away in the garage or the basement. Why not reuse them to make a cute backyard birdbath to attract birds? You’ll need three largish pots of increasing sizes, a large terra-cotta saucer, silicone caulk, and spray paint (optional). First, make sure the pots are clean and free of all dirt and debris. If desired, spray paint them whatever color(s) you’d like. Then stack the pots upside down from large to small, creating a tower. Caulk each in place as you go along. Center the saucer on top of the tower, and then caulk it as well. Fill with water, and you’ve got a great new place for birds to hang out!
How to Keep Your Birdbath Clean
Your birdbath used to be a hot spot for the feathered folk, but ever since it became slimy with algae, they’ve stayed away! Make your birdbath as fresh as new by emptying the water, then covering it with vinegar-soaked paper towels or newspaper. (Lavender oil also works.) After letting the paper sit for 5–10 minutes, remove it and rinse the bath thoroughly. Then fill it with fresh water and watch the birds enjoy.
Attract Even More Birds to Your Birdbath
Want to make your birdbath a hotspot for your feathered friends? Simply add some colorful marbles or pebbles to attract neighborhood birds. The brighter the color, the better!
Easy DIY Bird Feeder
The bottom side of a paper egg carton makes a handy little bird feeder. Paint it if you’d like, then punch holes in the corners and use string to attach it to a tree branch. Each section can hold a little birdseed.
Orange Bird Feeders
Like we said, birds love color! Attract more birds to your backyard with these orange-half feeders. Cut an orange in half, and scoop out all of the pulp. With an awl, make four evenly spaced holes along the edge of each empty half. Then hang it from a tree by running yarn through the holes and tying to a tree branch. Fill with birdseed, and enjoy watching your new avian friends. This is also a great activity to do with kids!
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With cold weather approaching, it’s time to take a couple days and get your home ready for the winter weather. To help you get started, here is a checklist with some of the most important tasks to get your house ready for the snow and cold.
Check for Leaks
In the winter, you want to make sure your home is a fortress. You don’t want any of your precious heat escaping, and you don’t want any of the winter weather getting in. To help you figure out your home’s leaky spots, you can hire a professional to do an energy audit on your home. This is a great option if you don’t have the time, or the desire to climb on your roof.
Windows: Swap out your screen windows for storm windows. During that process, check around your windows to make sure they are well sealed. To help identify small gaps, carefully hold a lit match or lighter a couple inches from the frame of the window. Move the flame around, always making sure it’s a safe distance from surfaces and fabrics, and watch for the flame to “dance.” If the flame moves, there is air movement in that spot. Use caulk to seal around the frame, or use a plastic window insulation kit to cover an entire window.
Heavy curtains will help keep more heat from escaping through your windows.
Doors: Replace your screen doors with storm doors. Again, check the seals during that process. If you can see any light around your doors, you have a significant gap for warm air to escape. Even if you can’t see any light, you still want to check the rubbery weather stripping around the door. If it’s brittle or cracking, it’s not doing its job. Installing a new weather stripping kit from a hardware store is a quick fix to make sure your doors are sealed.
Ducts: As time goes by, seals on duct work can come loose. Check your duct work to make sure your ducts aren’t letting any heat out into your attic, which can cause snow to melt and refreeze as ice dams on your roof.
Roof: Before winter arrives is a great time to check your roof for the season. Climb up (or at least get on a high ladder) and examine the shingles. Replace any that are missing or broken.
SEE ALSO: Who Knew's How to Prepare Your House for Winter
Make Sure Your Heating Systems Work
Furnace: Before it gets too cold, have your heating system checked out by a professional. The first really chilly day of winter is not the time to figure out your heater isn’t working. Have a heating and air company come out, check the systems, and change the filters, and you’ll be ready for Old Man Winter when he arrives.
Water Heater: The end of fall is a great time to drain your water heater. This should get done once a year, so if you haven’t done it recently, make sure you do before you find you only have really cold water in your house.
Chimney: If you have a chimney, make sure you sweep it (or have it professionally swept) before lighting any fires for the season. Removing the excess soot, as well as the birds and animals that made their homes in chimneys throughout the year, will help prevent fires and smoke damage. Also, examine the damper to make sure it’s still looking good. If it’s bent or warped, warm air will be able to escape through the chimney.
Reverse Ceiling Fans: If you have ceiling fans, now is the time to reverse them. Putting them in reverse will help blow down warm air that would otherwise be stuck near the ceiling, which will likely mean you can turn your heat down a degree or two.
If your fan runs on a remote, there is likely a button on the remote to switch the direction. If your fan runs on a switch, look for a small toggle or switch on the fan motor to make the change.
Be Ready Outdoors
Gutters: Make sure your gutters are ready to handle the winter precipitation. Empty the fallen leaves and anything else that has gathered in the gutters. Make sure they are secure to the roof, and repair them as needed. Also, make sure the drain pipe from your gutters is long enough and directing winter rains and melting snow away from your home’s foundation.
Water Lines: Prevent burst pipes by turning off all exterior water lines or insulating the pipes. If you have a sprinkler or irrigation system, drain the lines to make sure no water is left to damage the underground lines.
RELATED: Domestic CEO's Fall and Winter Home Maintenance Checklist
Tools: Be ready to get yourself out of the house by making sure all your winter tools are in good working condition. Turn on the snow blower, visually check the shovels, and stock up on salt or deicers. Having everything in its place and ready to go will give you a good start on digging out from a big blizzard.
Prepare Your Safety Kits
Pantry: During the winter, it’s always a good idea to keep extra food supplies in your pantry in case a big storm prevents you from getting to the store. Boxed and canned foods are the best because they take no electricity to store (in case that goes out), and have a long shelf life. Stock your pantry with a week’s worth of pastas, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, rice, beans, and bottled water, and you’ll be ready if the big one hits your town.
Boxed and canned foods are the best food to keep in stock because they take no electricity to store (in case that goes out), and have a long shelf life.
Lights: If a winter storm takes out your electricity, make sure you are ready with flashlights and candles to light your home. Keep flashlights in every room, and teach your kids where they are in case they need to find them in the dark.
Heat: If you have a wood burning fireplace, keep a solid stash of wood ready in case your power goes out. If you are in an area prone to losing power, you may also want to invest in a generator to run your furnace a couple hours a day during power outages. A good stash of blankets and comforters will help you get through chilly days and cold nights.
Detectors: Winter means an increase of home fires and carbon monoxide leaks. Make sure you and your family are protected by replacing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and testing them before winter hits.
All the tasks on this list are important to get done before the snow starts falling. If you don’t have the time to do them all, hire a trusted professional to help you knock a few off tasks off your list. You’ll be thankful that you have everything done and ready as soon as the first big storm hits.
I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Obviously, coffee is the best part of every morning. But if your coffee needs a pick-me-up, we've got you covered.
Make coffee more drinkable
If you’re sensitive to acidity in coffee but love the pick-me-up in the morning, here’s a way to reduce the acid level: Just add a pinch of baking soda to the drink! You can also use this tip to decrease the acidity in other high-acid drinks and foods.
Save your cream
If your cream or half-and-half has begun to develop an “off” odor, but you desperately need it for your coffee, try mixing in 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, which will neutralize the lactic acid that is causing the cream to sour.
Before you use the cream, however, taste it to make sure the flavor is still acceptable.
SEE ALSO: Grammar Girl's Why Do We Call Coffee a 'Cup of Joe'?
Perk up your coffee
Make stale coffee taste like it’s just been brewed by adding a pinch of salt and a dollop of fresh water to your cup. Heat it up in the microwave, and you’re ready to power through the rest of your workday. Works for me every time!
Remove coffee stains
These stubborn stains aren't going to get themselves out!
Chase coffee stains
Coffee stains can be frustrating, but you can get them out of your carpet by pouring beer on them. That’s right—one great beverage deserves another! Just dribble a couple of sips onto the stain, and it should vanish. Dab up the extra beer with a paper towel, and if the coffee stain doesn’t go away completely, repeat the task a few more times. This trick works on tea stains, too.
Get creative with stains
If you can’t get a coffee or tea stain out of a white tablecloth, try one last solution. Soak the tablecloth in a bucket of strong coffee or tea (depending on the type of stain) for 2 hours. You won’t get the stain out, but you will dye your linen a lovely earth tone!
RELATED: Who Knew's How to Remove Almost Every Stain
Other ways to use coffee
Who knew that you could use coffee for reasons other than getting out of bed in the morning?
Share some coffee
Here’s an ingenious idea for an elegant-looking decoration that also smells wonderful! Place coffee beans in votive holders or small bowls, then add tea light candles. They’ll cast a pretty glow and make your home smell like coffee.
Try vanilla-scented tea lights if you love the smell of French vanilla coffee.
Surprising use for a coffee bean
To freshen your breath, try sucking on a coffee bean. It’s much cheaper than a breath mint, and tastes great to us coffee addicts!
Reach for a coffee filter
We always prefer to clean our windows with something reusable, like an old rag. But if you like to go the disposable route, try coffee filters instead of paper towels. They won’t leave behind any lint or paper pieces. Coffee filters work great for electronic screens as well—they grab dust without scratching or leaving streaks.
SEE ALSO: Domestic CEO's No Mess Camping Coffee
Perfect wood patch
If you need to repair a hole in a piece of wood, add a small amount of instant coffee to the spackle, or to a thick paste made from laundry starch and warm water. The coffee tints the paste to camouflage the patched-up spot.
Freeze out funk
Add a shallow bowl of freshly ground coffee, uncovered, to your freezer. Leave for a few days and any funky freezer odors will disappear.
Cover up with coffee.
Would you ever imagine coffee stains could be a good thing? For your damaged wood furniture or floors, they are. Just brew a very strong pot, and then use a cotton ball or rag to apply the coffee over the scratch. It works as a stain, and will blend in the scratch in no time!