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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall Cleaning To-Do List

Fall is in the air.  With a new season comes another to-do list.  Even the newest of homes demand occasional upkeep so take the time to walk around your home and make a mental list of those items in need of attention.  With fall fully upon us and winter just around the corner, here's a brief list of items to tackle, one at a time, so you can settle in for a worry-free winter.


  • Inspect your shingles once a year.  Check for cracked, cupped, curling or broken shingles.  Pay attentions to the f lashings as well and call a recommended roofer for further concerns.  (I have names)
  • Trim away any tree limbs that hang over the roof, especially branches that touch the shingles, which make them wear out faster.
  • Clear gutters of debris with a trowel.
  • Flush gutters and downspouts with a garden hose to clear away remaining sludge, and to get a look at how well the water drains.  A leaky or overflowing gutter can cause fascia boards to rod.
  • Wash away mold and mildew with a solution of one part household bleach and three parts water.
  • Brick and stone veneers can accumulate a powdery surface deposit called efflorescence.  It's harmless and can be scrubbed away, but it's also a sign of water infiltration.  Seal any cracks you find with masonry caulk and brush a masonry sealer over the entire surface.
  • Replace broken pains and check all seals, replacing as necessary.
  • Scrape off and replace any glazing putty/caulk that is cracked or has pulled away from the glass.
  • Bare spots should be reseeded and top-dressed with a thin layer of soil.
  • Fix small drainage problems by filling low spots with fresh soil.
  • Allowing fallen leaves accumulate on grass can kill it; rake them away or use a mulching mower to chop them for compost
  • When the lawn stops growing and goes dormant, give it a final cut that's a little shorter than usual.  Then spread a fertilizer that's the right mixture for fall and winter.
  • Identify which shrubs should be protected and shelter them with burlap.
  • Rake beds clean of leaves and other debris.  Then add a layer of compost and peat moss to improve nitrogen levels.

Alike anytime of year, should you need the help of a qualified expert, please just ask me.  I have a list of reputable local contractors from roofers to masons, designers to landscapers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Moving with Pets

More often than not, my clients have a pet or two.  Moving is hard but add a child or pet to the mix and it becomes even more cumbersome.  So to ensure the move is seemless for your furry four-legged family member, here's 10 tips for moving with pets.

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My yellow lab, Zoe

  1. Update your pet's tag.  Make sure your pet is wearing a sturdy collar with an identification tag that is labeled with your current contact information.
  2. Ask for veterinary records.  If you're moving long distance and you'll need a new vet, ask for a current copy of your pet's vaccinations.
  3. Keep medications and food on hand.  Keep at least one week's worth of food and medication with you in case of emergency.
  4. Seclude your pet from chaos.  Pets can feel vulnerable on moving day.  Keep them in a safe, quiet, well-ventilated place, such as the bathroom, on moving day with a "Do Not Disturb!  Pet's Inside!" sign posted on the door.
  5. Prepare a first aid kid.  First aid is not a substitute for emergency veterinary care, but being prepared and knowing basic first aid could save your pet's life.  A few recommended supplies: Your veterinarian's phone number, gauze to wrap wounds or to muzzle your pet, adhesive tape for bandages, non-stick bandages, towels, and hydrogen peroxide.
  6. Play it safe in the car.  It's best to travel with your dog in a crate; second-best is to use a restraining harness.  When it comes to cats, it's always best for their safety and yours to use a well-ventilated carrier in the car.  Secure the crate or carrier with a seat belt and provide your pet with familiar toys.  Never keep your pet in the open bed of a truck or the storage area of a moving van.
  7. Get ready for takeoff.  When travelling by air, check with the airline about any pet requirements or restrictions to be sure you've prepared your pet for a safe trip.
  8. Find a new veterinary clinic and emergency hospital.  Before you move, ask your vet to recommend a doctor in your new locale.  Talk to other pet owners when visiting the new community, and call the state veterinary medical association (VMA) for veterinarians in your location.
  9. Prep your new home for pets.  Pets may be frightened and confused in new surroundings.  Upon your arrival at your new home, immediately set out all the familiar and necessary things your pet will need: food, water, medications, bed, litter box, toys, etc.  Pack these items in a handy spot so they can be unpacked right away.
  10. Learn more about your new area.  Once you find a new veterinarian, ask if there are any local health concerns such as heart-worm or Lyme disease, or any vaccinations or medications your pet may require.  Also, be aware of any unique laws.  For example, there are restrictive breed laws in some cities.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How To Watch Your Water Consumption

Less than 2% of the Earth's water supply is fresh water, and only 1% is available for drinking. Yet the average American uses 140–170 gallons of water per day! Here's how to cut your water consumption–easily:

1. Shower instead of bathe. Bathing and showering account for 27% of daily water use. A typical bath takes 37 gallons of water. A 5-minute shower? 15–25 gallons. So...enjoy your shower!

2. Cut toilet flushes. You can flush just as often, but use less water by putting a closed container full of water in the tank. Or replace your toilet with one that uses less water. Toilet flushing accounts for the largest amount of water used daily. 

3. Don't leave the water running when brushing your teeth. You'll save 5 gallons!

4. Get an energy-saving washing machine. New designs can save about 20 gallons per load. If you pay for your water, this machine can quickly pay for itself. 

5. Use a car wash. The EPA says washing a car yourself can use up to 500 gallons of water. An efficient car wash uses only 32 gallons–and recycles the water! 

6. Let your grass grow a little longer. It'll hold water better and need less watering.

7. Fix leaks. Check for leaking faucets and running toilets,  as well as outside spigots and hoses. Stopping these leaks can have a huge impact. 

Each month shows more evidence the housing market is turning around. Yet prices are still very affordable and mortgage rates remain near record lows. But it's a good idea to get the process started early. So if you're thinking about buying, please call or email us now to talk about your situation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back To School Scenario's To Discuss

With kids back in school, it is a good idea to run through some scenarios with your kids, not to be alarmist, but because kids handle breaks in routine better if they have been given the tools to deal with them:

- If you come home and mom or dad is not home...
- If you miss the bus in the morning...
- If the bus driver forgets to let you off the bus
- If you feel like someone is following you
- If you are alone and someone you don't know, says they know mom/dad

Other points to cover:
- Do not discuss your after school arrangements with anyone. e.g. "I use the hide a key and stay alone until dad gets off work”
- Establish safe house in your neighborhood for your child to go to
- Is your child old enough for cell phone for emergency purposes?
- Do not write child’s name on the outside of his/her backpack or display it other places that allow someone to pretend to know them

Courtesy of our trusted family pediatrician Dr. Lindgren, Healthy Future Pediatrics, 360-528-4220