Friday, December 8, 2017

Winter Driving Safety

The South rarely experiences significant snowfall and when it does most schools, government offices and employers close to keep more people off the road.  Melting snow mixed with overnight freezing temperatures can lead to icy roads which are extremely dangerous.  If you can't stay off the road here are a few ways to drive safer in inclement weather.

1.  During the winter months keep at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times.  You don't want to get stranded in snowy or icy conditions.

2.  Once temperatures dip you may see your "Low Tire Pressure" light come on. Don't ignore this! It's important to keep your tires properly inflated for safe driving.

3. If you warm up your vehicle before you begin driving - never do this in an enclosed space such as a garage. This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

4.  When driving give yourself plenty of time to accelerate and then come to a stop. Slowly accelerating and decelerating will make it less likely that your car will skid.

5.  If you do find yourself skidding - don't panic. Take your foot off the gas and don't slam on the brake. Steer your car in the direction that you want to go.

6.  Do not use cruise control when driving in winter weather and avoid using the parking break when possible.

7.  If you do get stranded, stay with your car which will provide some shelter. Signal for help by tying a brightly colored material to your antenna or hang outside your window.

8. When packing for a winter road trip be sure to include blankets, bottled water, flash light, first aid kit, ice scraper and snacks.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Why Buy a Home in December

December may be known for a lot of things but buying a home is not one of them.  Peak homebuying season typically occurs in the spring and summer when the days are warmer, there's more sun, and buyers are out ready to make a change before the school year starts again.

But don't neglect December home buying. There are several reasons why this could be just the right time to get off the fence and buy your
dream home.

Less Competition
If you're tired of dealing with competition when looking at your favorite homes, December is the time to shop. Less competition means more of a chance of getting the home you want!

Tax Benefits
If you close before the end of the year you'll also experience the tax benefits of buying a new home such as deducting mortgage insurance, loan points or property taxes.

Loan Incentives
You may get a deal on your loan with lenders looking for business during the lean winter months.  You'll also get quicker loan processing with fewer mortgage loans going through in December.

Mortgage Rates
Mortgage rates remain historically low but are rising. Take advantage of the low rates while they are still around!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tree Tips this Chrismas

A Christmas tree is often the centerpiece of our home holiday decor.  So how do you pick the right one? The one with the best smell? The most fresh? The best color?

Here are a few ways to find the best tree this year and have long lasting beauty all through the Christmas season.

1.  Check the freshness of the tree by bending a needle in your fingers.  Fir species should snap and pine species should bend.

2. Gently hold the tree in the middle and tap the cut bottom on the ground.  A few needles will fall off. If an avalanche of needles fall off you may have a tree that's not so freshly cut.

3.  Measure before you buy! Know your ceiling heights and the width of the space you want to put your tree before you pick the perfect one.

Before you leave the lot, have the attendant make a fresh cut in the bottom of the tree.  When you get the tree home fill up the tree stand with water. Keep it full - checking several times a day for the first few days.

Avoid placing the tree near a heat source like a fireplace or vent.  This will dry out the tree prematurely. Protect your floors with towels or a waterproof tarp.

Decorate and enjoy!! 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thanksgiving Punch!

There's so much to think about for Thanksgiving - the appetizers, breads, turkey, sides, and desserts.  Obviously those are important pieces of the meal but what about to drink?  A sparkly punch or cider can really take a meal from wow to WHOA!

Here are a few easy, non-alcoholic ways to create magical Thanksgiving drinks.

Cranberry Pineapple Punch

- 3 Cups Canned Pineapple Juice, Chilled
- 3 Cups Cranberry Juice Cocktail, Chilled
- 4 Cups Ginger Ale

Stir together then add
- Ice
- 1/2 Cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 lime - sliced thin

Apple Pie Punch

4 cups Apple Cider
1 Cup White Grape Juice
3 Cups Ginger Ale

Stir together and add chunks of fresh apple!

Cran-Raspberry Punch

- 3 Cups Cranberry Juice
- 3 Cups Ginger Ale

Stir together and add 3 scoops (or more) Raspberry sherbet. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Brightening Up a Winter Yard

Thanksgiving is just a little over a week away! While there are plenty of tried and true ways to decorate the inside of your home to make it warm and inviting - what about the outside? Especially on those cold, gray days!

Start with what you can control.  Your entryway is the first impression of your home. While the plants may be bare you can liven up the space with some greenery on the door, white lights and even some outdoor furniture pieces and pillows.

Incorporate pops of color from red berries or bright orange leaves.

If you feel like planting some winter shrubs or flowers, consider the following:

- Ornamental cabbage or kale
- Winter Jasmine
- Holly

Also check local nurserys and hardware stores for potted arrangements suitable for cold weather.

If you're really feeling the remodeling spirit - consider updating your front door paint to something with more color- a deep red or blue!

Don't forget to keep your yard maintained - rake the leaves, pick up fallen branches and put away the summer items till next season.

What ideas do you have to make your winter yard for appealing?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Planning for Holiday Guests

It seems to happen earlier every year. Halloween ends and Christmas begins!  Even if you aren't quite in the Christmas spirit yet, Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Both holidays have the potential for overnight guests so the best time to start preparing is now.

Here are a few things you can plan for to make your home extra welcoming this holiday season.

1. Purchase back up items for your guests - toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, headache medicine, bottled water. Your house guests will appreciate not having to ask!

2.  Everyone sleeps at different temperatures so have some options available. A box fan for the hot natured and some extra throw blankets for cold feet!

3.  Have your wi-fi password readily available for guests to see. Also provide any instructions for accessing electronics or setting alarm clocks.

4.  If you have to work or won't be around for your guests, leave them a spare key so they can go in and out themselves.  Provide maps or brochures on fun things available around your town.  If you already have activities planned as a family, create an agenda so everyone knows what is happening and when.

5.  If you don't have time to clean the whole house focus on these key areas: kitchen, hall and guest bathrooms, guest room, main living room floors - windows are an extra bonus!

What do you do to prepare for holiday guests?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Warming Up This Winter

Colder weather doesn't mean spending more on energy costs to stay comfortable. There are lots of ways you can keep warm without pushing up the thermostat and seeing those costs rise with it.

Here are a few ideas:

1.  Open your curtains and blinds during the day to let the sun's warmth in but close them up at night to keep the heat trapped inside.

2.  Make use of blankets, warm rugs, flannel sheets and layers!

3.  Reverse your ceiling fans to get them blowing the warm air back down from the ceiling and on to you!

4.  If there are rooms in your home that you rarely use - close off the vents to keep the warm air going to the most trafficked areas of the home.

5.  A humidifier adds moisture to dry winter air, making it feel more comfortable.  Use in the rooms you spend the most time in and cut back on the heat.

A rule of thumb for winter heating is to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees while you're home and try to make it cooler at night depending on your sleep preferences.

What do you do to stay warm without breaking your winter budget?