November Homeowner’s Checklist

Here are this months tips for keeping your home in shape, and remember, these are just some broader, forgotten items on your list as a homeowner. For smaller and more regular items, see Keeping Up Your Home. And as always, if there’s something I’ve missed that is a November regularity at your house, I’d love to know in the comments below or on social media. Enjoy!

  • Clean and check dryer vents and hoses. This is a huge fire hazard and with static from dry winter air, this is a huge safety precaution. 34% of all house fires are caused by dryers according to the US Fire Administration.
  • Clear debris from air ducts. With your heater kicking up in the cold, debris and gunk can also be a fire hazard, and if anything it just makes your house smell musty and gross. Get out the vacuum hose and get to work on cleaning out your vents. And for goodness sake check your air filters! I check mine every month just to see how they are since we have dogs.
  • Inspect hoses on your washer, dishwasher, and ice maker. This can apply to other hoses as well such as water softener, etc. This is to double check before things start to stay cold that nothing is dry rotted or busted. The last thing you need anytime of the year is a water leak, and it’s a sure fire way to ruin the holidays.
  • Check your sink and toilet plumbing. Most people’s homes are more heavily used in the colder months and during the holidays. You don’t want visiting family members to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so make sure you’re plumbing is running smoothly. And in case you haven’t noticed, there’s definitely a theme here for the winter with the water and fire, two of the most common causes of home destruction that increase in the winter.
  • Clean out those holiday decorations and donate what you don’t use. This doesn’t protect your home, but it may help your organization. Halloween is coming down, thanksgiving and Christmas are coming out. During this time, I like to go by the rule of thumb that if I haven’t used it in 2 years (aka this year and the year before) then it gets donated. Plus it’s fun to keep your decorations refreshed from year to year!

GO VOTE!

If I asked you if you voted in every election, would you be able to say yes? Did you also know that it’s public record, and that I can quickly look up whether or not your answer is truthful?

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” – Abraham Lincoln

Most people vote in general elections, and many even get fired up for primaries, but in non-presidential years, the numbers drop significantly. In 2014 only 44% of NC voters made it to the polls, whereas 69% of voters voted in the 2016 presidential election (stats on NSBE website).

Why is this so important? Because the president is not the only one that holds authority in our country. The individuals we vote for that hold judicial, commissioner, clerk, sheriff, education, senate, and representative positions impact our daily lives much more than that of the president. These people are responsible for our local rights, rules, holding trials and upholding laws in court, funding for education and public services, police and fire departments, local parks and recreation, public transportation, civil services like water and sewer, taking care of our roads and infrastructure, and so much more. Yes, the laws of our federal government do impact what we can do locally so that’s important too, but if you ignore one and pay attention to the other, you might as well be the person who mops the floor before you vacuum/sweep up all the grit and grime ( yes, I’m aware that many of you probably do that and it’s gross, sorry ’bout it. Makes about as much sense as putting your socks on over your shoes ).

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.” – FDR

Now that we’ve established how big of an impact local elections actually have on your life, it’s time to register and research. It’s easy to say “I’m a democrat or republican so I’m voting all DEM or REP, or I’m a woman so I’ll vote for any woman on the ballot”…but it wasn’t easy for the founding fathers to create America, so for goodness sake if they fought the Revolutionary War so that we could be free and live a life of equality where we can exercise our fundamental rights, then you can do some research. Not to say we haven’t had some major issues along the way, but we live in a broken world with broken people, so it’s up to us to work hard, keep learning, and do good; in politics but more importantly as an individual member of society. So look up your candidates, talk to other people in your district, reach out to candidates and volunteers to find out more about their vision for our State. And among that, evaluate your beliefs, hopes, and desires for your State, and get to know the beliefs, hopes, and desires of others. In a world where polarization is becoming the popular route, take the route of integrity where you don’t devalue someone else’s belief because you feel that your own is superior. It is possible to disagree, vote differently, and still sit down for lunch together. Who knows, you might learn something that changes your life just by talking to people who are different from you.

“A vote is like a rifle, the usefulness depends on the character of it’s user.” – Theodore Roosevelt

There are a million different conversations that could be had about political ideology, controversy, and the good bad and ugly of it all. But this is not the place for that, I’m just here to remind you that to have a voice in our government as a voter is a huge gift that many people around the world have, and still would die for. People actually died so that you could vote, isn’t that wild and humbling? And you can thank their living colleagues every day; they’re called veterans and service members. So go register, do your research, talk to some people different from you, and then make your choices on November 6th and forevermore. I feel like I should say go in peace now…but in case all of this confuses you and you’re thinking “WHAT DO I EVEN DO NOW”, go to the State Board of Elections site below and you’ll find lot’s of helpful information. Check them out, and if you have any thoughts, comments, gripes, praises, facts, or wisdom to offer, please leave them below. You can even reach out personally if you want, I don’t bite. But I do hug, so if I see you in person be prepared. Now you can go in peace.

From my home to yours,

Mary Allison

 

The best source for NC elections? NORTH CAROLINA STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS WEBSITE  Here you can look up how to register, if you’re registered, your polling place, get a sample ballot for your district, and many other helpful resources.

 

Organized bedside from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/20969954501000290/

Nightstand Stand Off

So I’ve been trying to make #bedsidesunday a thing, because I absolutely love a cozy inviting corner of a space. BUT…do you ever look at a picture like that of the cleanest, loveliest, most put together bedroom and think about how your own looks like a hot mess? And no matter how often you clean, it always ends up in the same disarray? Hopefully this post busts some of your doubt of thinking you will never enjoy a clutter free and sanctuary like bedroom, because even for the messiest or busiest people out there, it is achievable. Try abiding by the following rules, not to keep your bedroom picture perfect, but to keep some sanity and peace in the place where you’re supposed to get the best rest:

1. Keep it under 3.

This is a design “rule” that I frequently apply other places (which you’ll find is true about most of these suggestions) because it keeps your spaces from becoming overloaded. Try to keep no more than 3 items on your nightstand. If you’ve got a lamp, that DOES count as 1. Minimizing the number of things in the area makes a huge difference in how put together it feels. Now if you have a super long nightstand, there’s more room for possibility, but don’t view it as having to fill up all the space. Split the length in half and do the “under 3” rule on both sides, fill with larger items, or you can just go 4 items if your really feeling crazy. Y’all may be thinking “but how the hay do I do that, I basically live from the items on my nightstand?” This next point which helps you abide by the “under 3” rule while not losing your important things.

2. Love your basket or bin.

Everything needs a place to go, and let’s be real: you’re gonna have stuff you need and use everyday on your nightstand. Go get some kind of cute container, and THAT is now your designated “stuff” spot. Doesn’t matter what the stuff is, mine contains some books, ear buds, vaseline, medicines, pens, and probably some random junk that got shuffled to the bottom. Point is, your free-for-all space is now contained. Feel better already?

3. Get a stand with some drawers and use them.

Enough said. If your night stand doesn’t have drawers, get creative. You can do another bigger basket underneath. And for all the people who value aesthetics over functionality, I hear you, I feel you, and honestly if you’re that brave you’re probably making it work already. However, the rest of us need some drawers or lower storage space to hide the rest of our junk. Even if you use the item frequently, if it’s not an every. single. night kind of item, put it in the drawers.

4. Make the darn bed.

I know, it’s the most overused statement in housekeeping history. “Didn’t your mother teach you”, “All the most successful people do it”, “That should be the first thing you do when you get up”… all of these are annoying, but all are true. It feels SO good to get into a made bed, and even when it seems like the most begrudging task, try to do it. It will make you feel more put together all day long right up until you settle in for the night. There’s no trick or key to getting this done, just a habit you have to create.

4. Option: Wall sconce over lamps

I put optional here because not everyone likes these or is able to do it. If you own your home, a wall sconce or hanging lamp is a great alternative to a bedside lamp, AND it does double duty by freeing up more space on your nightstand. I’m a huge fan of a pretty wall sconce or hanging light, it’s a fun way to add some character and beauty and still be functional. Anywhere that your objects can do double duty on aesthetic and function, take advantage of it!

 

That’s it! Are there a million other ways that you can improve your space? Yes,  but that’s not the point of this. A comfortable space is achievable for everyone, and you don’t have to be a designer to achieve it. Sometimes all we need is a little organization help and a fresh perspective. If you think this post helps you move a little closer towards having a bedroom sanctuary, let me know in the comments below or anywhere else you can find me (phone, IG, facebook, Home Goods, etc.) Thanks for reading.

From my home to yours,

Mary Allison

Hurricane Florence Help

My heart breaks for those who have been impacted by hurricane Florence in NC and SC, and our friends and family in the South East need our help. It’s incredible how many supply drives and donations have been pouring in, and for each specific donation site you’ll find what they’re more specifically in need of and how you can best help. Please please please feel free to send me more organizations/shops/drives/events that I can add to the list that are ongoing fundraisers to help with hurricane relief efforts. Here’s a round up of a few I’ve found where you can donate your time, money, or supplies:

  • WRAL has an awesome comprehensive list of sites and ways you can donate. Although some of the supply drives have ended, there are many avenues to donate listed. Click here
  • Operation Air Drop NC Florence Relief has a list of donation items needed, and if you’re out of state or can’t make it to a donation center they have a target registry pick up as well, to find out more click here
  • Core Sound has set up a fund to directly allocate resources to help children and families: “100% of contributions made to this effort will be directed to families in need of economic assistance as reviewed by school personnel”. Donate Here
  • Shop For a Cause
    • Edge of Urge has some pretty cool tees where 100% of the proceeds go to Nourish NC. Check them out here
    • ZIA Boutique is donating 20% of all sales and collecting donations for relief funds, shop here
    • Andi Workman of Workman Creative Co. is donating 15% of all proceeds to hurricane relief through Monday, shop her site here
    • Feather Nest Boutique on Etsy is donating all proceeds from this baseball tee to support those affected by Florence, get one here
  • ASPCA is always on the ground helping animals in need during disasters, donate here
  • Meredith College is accepting donations and goods at the Mae Grimmer Alumnae House. If you’re not local, they also are accepting donated goods through amazon prime, more information here
  • My firm HPW will be accepting donations for a convoy through next Wednesday, Sept. 26th, so you can bring donations our corporate office (1001 Wade Avenue, Raleigh) or our Strickland Road office, address on website here as well as on the blog home page

If you’re considering donating goods, here are some of the items desperately needed:

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Baby formula & baby food
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Healthcare products
  • Diapers & wipes
  • Adult diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Pet food
  • Tarps
  • Roofing tacks
  • Rakes
  • Batteries
  • Utility knives and flashlights
  • Gas cans
  • Chainsaws and chainsaw supplies

Thank you for donating, and any time and physical presence you can give to relief efforts is appreciated as well! Remember, long after the storm so many people will still be recovering, it doesn’t just go away when the news stops talking about it. Let’s show southeastern NC some love, now and in the hard days ahead.

July homeowner maintenance

July Homeowner’s Checklist

For many people, July is a month of vacationing, plus it’s just so dang hot outside, so this month’s list is pretty short.

  • Check the locks and deadbolts on doors and windows. Burglars love it when you go on vacation, so you want to make sure your locks work. A tip that my inspector taught me: for your door jambs, replace the itty bitty screws that come with the strike plate (the part that actually goes onto the frame) with 3 inch screws. It’s scarily easy to kick through a door that has the standard screws, but switch those babies out and that strike plate ain’t going nowhere.
  • De-clutter your garage or shop and donate items. I added this one for July because it’s a good break in the summer while you’ve been using all your outdoor equipment to get a little more organized. You now know what you have and what you need, so take the opportunity to get things straight. It’s also a great time of the year for early morning yard sales.
  • Exterminate and stay on top of pest prevention. In North Carolina, it’s hot, it’s buggy, and fall will be here before you know it. Stay on top of pest prevention during this season when the ticks, mosquitoes, spiders are multiplying. You’ll thank yourself in the fall when you realize how much less buggy your yard and home are.

If you have any more July suggestions, please let me know! And of course in the blazing heat there’s plenty of things you can do to keep your home’s interior clean and maintained. Personally though, I’d rather be by the water or gardening in my spare time. What are your favorite things to do or get done during July?

From my home to yours,

Mary Allison

June Homeowner’s Checklist

Oh June, my favorite month. And no, it’s not only because it’s my birthday month. Fireflies, barefoot weather, beach trips, pool days, long evenings, and bright mornings. I love everything about this month. Here are a few tips for making your home cookout ready and as magical as fireflies in a jar.

  • Repair and paint any fences. Spending lots of time outdoors means your pets probably are too. To keep your kids and fur children in, and to keep the critters out, check your fences and make any needed repairs. This is also a good time to paint or re-stain anywhere that is needed. Need someone to help you out? Contact me for service recommendations.
  • Clean fridge pan, vents, fans, and coils, and check your door seal. Just like your AC, in the summer months your fridge is working extra hard to keep things cool. Another forgotten task, fridge cleaning is just as important as changing your air filters. Dust and grime can build up in the back of your fridge (you’d be shocked at how disgusting they can be) which makes it run even harder, causing your fridge to burnout. Your door seal is also a major factor in keeping the cold in, and every once in a while you should give it a few good swipes with a Clorox-water rag to get rid of any stickiness or mildew. If you think your fridge temps seem a little off, it’s always good to call a technician. When that happened to us, it turned out to be a manufacturer issue, so they fixed it for free (always call the warranty company because they’ll send out their technician who won’t charge if the issue is under warranty or a manufacturer problem!).
  • Wash your area rugs. Outdoor time also means tracking more of the outside inside, so washing your area rugs is a good idea. They’ll dry quickly in the warm sunshine, and it’s a good way to keep allergens out of your house. Plus it’s not cold outside so you won’t miss those little heat traps while they’re outside as much as you would in the cooler weather.
  • Remove old paints and flammables from your garage. Heat plus heat plus flammables equals danger. Anything that is expired or old or pressurized, dispose of it at the proper hazardous waste center.
  • Clean the faucet aerators. What’s an aerator you say? When you look at your sink where the water comes out, you’ll notice there’s maybe 3/4 of an inch or so and then a seam. That end piece unscrews and is made up of a bunch of little parts that make up the aerator. It’s functions include but are not limited to: conserving water, regulate pressure, prevent splashing, even the water flow, and reduce noise. Just like any other fixture that experiences water flow, there can be buildup of moldy gunk or hard water deposits, so it needs cleaning every once in a while. I like to clean ours this time of year after we’ve gotten a lot of rain (well water life). It can be easily disassembled and cleaned, but if you have questions here is a great article on how to do it. You may also want to do the same to your shower head.

This month’s list is shorter, but keep up with your regular home and yard maintenance in addition to these bigger, frequently forgotten items. Did I forget something that is a June staple for you? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me directly! I love y’all’s feedback. Enjoy your summer, and I hope you make the most of every long summer day!

From my home to yours,

Mary Allison

May Homeowner’s Checklist

Welcome May, when the peonies are blooming, the weather is heating up, and backyard barbecues begin! That also means a new set of tasks to maintain your home. Here are this months tips for getting your house summer ready:

  • Power wash your home’s exterior. Now that you cleaned the gunk out of your gutters in the previous month and pollen season has ended, it’s time to give your house a good bath. This is a crucial but often forgotten part of a homeowner’s upkeep. Prevent your siding from looking dingy and worn by either renting a power washer or hiring someone. I’m glad to give you some affordable suggestions.
  • Wash and clean your windows inside and out. This goes hand in hand with the power washing! The weather is beautiful, and it helps to enjoy it when you can see through your windows clearly. I like to give ours a brief swipe around the edges with Clorox to prevent mold spores from moisture, and then a spritz with a peppermint oil and lemongrass mixture to deter spiders and other creepy crawlies.
  • Clean, repair, and apply sealant to your deck or patio. Now that the weather is nice enough to stay outdoors, you want to make sure that the outdoor extensions of your home are prepared for the heat and activity. Last week actually, my doggo actually discovered a few railings that needed replacing when he was laying at the edge and rolled through the railing and off the deck because they were loose… it was hilarious and could have been way worse, but just an obvious example of why it’s important to keep your deck or patio in good shape.
  • Inspect and clean your outdoor lighting. The spiders tend to like ours, so I also do the peppermint mixture spritzing here. There’s nothing like an electrical fire to put a damper on your memorial day party, so give your lights a thorough check.
  • Oil your garage door tracks. Post power wash, this is also a great item to add to your maintenance list. Grit, grime, and heavy use are not friends to mechanical devices, so give your tracks some slide to keep things in good working order.
  • Maintain the new growth in the yard. They say weed eaters are a man’s best friend, right? Keeping things tamed, keeping your yard mowed, and keeping growing plants pruned can alleviate a whole world of problems. Snakes, hornets, fire ants, moles, groundhogs, mice, spiders…need I say more? Plus, who doesn’t love a freshly mowed lawn and beautiful flowers?
  • Check and clean range hood fans. Grease and dust buildup can burnout your system, so don’t neglect your interior tasks.
  • Seal your tile grout. Moisture expansion and contraction can do a number on your home, and so does living life in general. This is a good thing to do once a year, although most people don’t. Resealing your grout can keep your tile cosmetically and functionally in good shape before the wear gets too bad to fix.
  • Have your air conditioning system serviced  if you didn’t do it in April. In NC we all know that an HVAC technicians busiest seasons are in the late spring and late fall. Don’t wait until your system goes out to get it repaired. Regular service and care for your system can mean the difference in thousands of dollars in the long run. And for goodness sake, change your dadgum air filter AT LEAST every 3 months!

Remember, these are all just suggestions. I try to break up tasks by month so that my husband and I aren’t slammed with them all during one month out of the year. Many of these we do ourselves, but I know how difficult it can be to keep up with home maintenance when life is busy and pulling you in 1,000 different directions. I’d be glad to share some great, affordable resources with you for these tasks if you need some direction. Feel free to reach out to me anytime with questions, comments, or suggestions on what you’d like to know more about! I’d love to meet you, coffee on me.

From my home to yours,

Mary Allison