Are You Drowning in a Sea of Housework?

I am!

Oh am I!

But, not for long!

With Halloween just ending and November beginning like a lion, let’s work together to get ready for the holidays!

My house is in total disarray, as is most of my life right now. This isn’t about me, though. It’s about us coming together here on the inter-web to share our failures, our successes and everything in between.

For the month of November, I’ll be writing a series of housekeeping posts to share our journey, inspire my readers and hopefully exchange tips and tricks with all of you out there in cyberspace.

We’ll call this new series Homemaking Madness and to kick things off I’m sharing my speed cleaning strategy with you.

I shared a meme on Facebook yesterday that couldn’t be more true for me as I’m sure many of you (whether you admit it or not)

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…and it’s true.

I’ve written of this before in (how to keep house with a million mess makers)

Why do we strenuously try to attain a clean home only when company’s coming?

Why aren’t WE good enough to just have a nice, tidy, neat, clean home to live in?

 

Well, it is what it is.

Before we can achieve the great pleasure of just having a clean home (maybe from a magical fairy) let’s straighten up like company is coming!

 

Do you dread certain areas? maybe the laundry, or cleaning the bathroom? Have you read home-cleaning books or blogs where they tell you to do certain areas of the home first… blah blah blah!

 

I’m not going to do that. I’m going to tell you the best way to clean the house is to just do it! (my husband tells me this) But it just doesn’t work!

I get sidetracked reorganizing a closet, or deep-cleaning a corner for an hour…this does not get us ready for company.

 

My most productive house cleaning endeavors usually involve some great tunes and a game. A game? a game!

First, assess the situation, either physically or mentally. Knowing what needs to be done and prioritizing is a key to being successful in a speed cleaning session.

In my home, it’s not so much dirt as is it is stuff, mess, clutter, crap etc.

So, usually I have to go to each room and get rid of the crap before I can do anything else.

 

But, in my home, there is so much crap in every room, I never know where to begin and just don’t do any of it. I get defeated before I begin, so I brake it down to simple zones and make a game of it. Want to play?

Sample list of zones:

  1. Kitchen
  2. Laundry
  3. Bathroom
  4. Family Room
  5. Living & Dining Rooms
  6. Hallway
  7. Kid’s Bedrooms
  8. Master Bedroom

Put the rooms/zones in a hat, pick one and spend no more than 30 minutes in that zone just doing what needs to be done. The key here is only spending the 15 or 30 minutes needed in each space. Doing only what needs to be done on the surface.

Set the timer on your stove, phone or alarm clock and when time’s up, pick a new zone and keep going until all the areas have been attended.

Please customize this game to your home size and needs. If each room only needs 10 minutes of attention for presentable display, don’t start ripping down curtains, please.

A speed clean around the house is for looks, not white gloves. Now, I’m not saying to shove the dirty dishes in the oven, here, people, let’s be reasonable. The object is to get the counters de-cluttered and floor clear of the obstacle course.

Keep the momentum going but give yourself some grace. If you need a break or a rest, take it, but not more than ten minutes (set the timer).

Before you know it, you’ve spent an hour or two and can see progress!

Follow me for more posts in this series and I hope you’ve had fun speed-cleaning!

 

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Please don’t be shy, I want to hear from you! Comment on this post and share your tips, tricks, struggles and success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Ways to Use Coconut Oil Outside the Kitchen

Coconut oil is a versatile thing.

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Besides the kitchen, you’ll find a jar of expeller-pressed, raw organic coconut oil in my bathroom closet, shower, nightstand and on our baby-changing table because not only is it nourishing us through food, but in these 5 ways you may not have thought to use it.

  1. Oil pulling- If you’ve never heard of it or know how it’s done, check out this post on my initial experience. It’s not an everyday practice for me, but when I need a pick-me-up or I know I have a big day ahead of me, this ancient Ayurvedic ritual is where I turn.

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2. Toothpaste- A small amount (tsp.) mixed equally with my other go-to in the home, baking soda, and I have a non-toxic fluoride-free home-made toothpaste that leaves my mouth feeling fresh and clean.

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3. Shaving cream- After heating up the skin a bit, a literal drop on each leg and I have a smooth shave that lasts longer than conventional foams, gels or plain soap. My skin also stays smoother for up to three days.

 

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4. Diaper cream- Another natural alternative to some of the questionable products on the shelf, coconut oil soothes and moisturizes the skin while wicking the wet diaper away from baby’s bottom. She also smells really nice.

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5. Cuticle softener- I get very dry cuticles that fray and cause painful and unsightly fingernails. A drop of coconut oil and a finger massage leaves my nails hydrated, and cleaner than picking at the dry skin and let’s face it, when will I get a manicure? Yeah, never.

There are countless ways to use coconut oil in our everyday lives from hair conditioner to salad dressing; please share in the comments how coconut oil finds its way into your home.

SUPPLEMENTal Health Insurance: Apple Cider Vinegar

The wonders of Apple Cider Vinegar are countless. This amazing product can do so much from cleaning our body both internally and externally to cleaning our home and the environment not to mention the host of ailments it can alleviate or cure.

My favorite thing to do with ACV is cook and rinse my hair. It sounds morbid to most people that I keep a bottle in my shower but it works and it works WELL!

So what is ACV???

Apple cider vinegar is vinegar(duh) made from apples. Raw ACV is unpasteurized and contains mother of vinegar which has a cobweb-like look to it and can make the vinegar look cloudy.

ACV is produced by crushing apples to squeeze out the juice. Bacteria and yeast are added to start a fermentation process in which the sugars are transformed to alcohol. In a further fermentation session, the alcohol converts into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria. This acid gives the vinegar its flavor and makes it ideal for use in a lot of foods such as dressings and marinades among others.

Apple cider vinegar has many health promoting properties aside from its talents in the kitchen, such as helping with arthritis and stopping the itch from annoying poison ivy. I was surprised to learn that although taken orally can help with many problems it is a miracle worker applied topically.

Here is a helpful list of ailments this wonderment can help with:

Arthritis
Athlete’s Foot
Burns
Dandruff
As a deodorant
Insect bites and stings
Itching
Poison Ivy
Sore Throat
Sunburn
Swimmer’s Ear
Toothache

Apple cider vinegar and honey mixed in a glass of water and drank daily up to three times is believed to cure arthritis as well as the common cold. Equal parts of vinegar and honey in a warm glass of water does the trick. (I do not have arthritis, personally, so I have not tried this remedy but people I’ve spoken to swear by it!)

For a case of athlete’s foot, dabbing a vinegar soaked cloth or swab on the affected area at least twice daily should clear things up and keep fungus at bay. Moist areas of the home like showers bathtubs and bathroom floors should be cleaned often with a good antiseptic (vinegar works well).

Burns * Something not to be taken lightly * unless you are certain the burn is minor and manageable at home please consult a physician, pharmacist or professional healthcare specialist for treatment.- soaking bandages in vinegar is said to ease pain, heal the burns and keep infection away and all the while preventing a scar. Patience is key, however, this remedy could take several weeks or even months depending on the extensivity of the burns.

Dandruff is the scalp shedding dead skin flakes. More than half of the adult population suffers from dry, red, itchy scalps with unsightly flakes being released into the hair and on their clothes. Uncomfortable and unattractive, there are many treatment options for dandruff but this one tops them all. After one rinse of ACV the sufferer finds relief. In most cases, they find indefinite relief. After washing the hair simply dilute a cap-ful or two in a small amount of water and apply it to the scalp. Letting sit and then rinsing it or just leaving it in if it’s a more severe case (don’t worry the smell dissipates upon drying) and voila! No more dandruff.

Body Odor is embarrassing! It is something we all have to deal with, though, so finding a good deodorant that works is important. Unless, you prefer o’naturale ACV is a great alternative to the conventional deodorant. Especially if you are looking for something more earth and body friendly or if you have sensitive skin. Most deodorants being sold retail are really antiperspirants containing a lot of chemicals and neurotoxins like aluminum. Antiperspirants  block your body from sweating and cooling itself as it was meant to. Sweating is the body’s way of detoxifying and conditioning and regulating temperature. If we stop perspiration we hold on to toxins and in turn could develop illness. If you, like me, want to avoid all the shenanigans going along with antiperspirants  and even some deodorants give ACV a try. It’s as easy as dabbing it liberally on the underarm and allowing it to dry.(again the smell will dissipate) Nurses, farmers among many others swear by this method of keeping their body odor under control.

Insect bites and stings can be a real pain, literally! Simply stop the itch by dabbing with ACV; swelling, redness and itchies disappear almost instantly. For bigger bites or more severe stings soak a cotton ball or pad and hold in place over the affected area with a bandage for about 30 minutes.

Itching can be caused by almost anything, laundry soap, fabric or material, bug bites, dry skin even bacteria can cause itchiness. Persistent itchiness leads to scratching and scratching leads to more bacteria, infection, scars etc. ACV applied or substituted for soap in many cases can stop the itch. It reminds me of an old infomercial “STOP THE ITCH” to the tune of “She’s got the look.”

Poison Ivy is horrible and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy! (maybe; depending upon the enemy) Oh wait! I don’t have any enemies. Anyway, poison ivy is itchy, oozing with puss and contagious. Let’s kick its butt with apple cider vinegar. Just the same with treating other itchies, dab it on liberally and let it dry. After a few minutes, you can finally get some sleep.

An unpleasant but unfailing cure for a bothersome sore throat is to mix 1/4 c. vinegar with 1 c. warm water, adding a dash each of salt and pepper. Gargle. The next morning you’ve forgotten all about the problem and its unpleasant cure.

Sunburn is like a fire burning gloriously atop our skin. Put the fire (and the sting) out instantly by splashing with good ole ACV. Feeling better will only last about 20 minutes but it’s better than sitting slathered in aloe with a sticky shirt that absorbs all your relief.

As with anything involving ears and eyes always consult a physician if you suspect injury or damage but apple cider vinegar can be used to prevent swimmer’s ear. The key is the pH. Acidity of the vinegar kills organisms that can get waterlogged in the ear canal causing infection, pain and irritation. Use a few drops in each ear to prevent this painful occurrence which happens all too often to our little ones in the summertime when water play and poolside time is imperative to our fun.

I hate the dentist, as do most of us I’m sure. To see him for every little toothache is not my cup of tea. I have found that warming a bit of vinegar and holding it in the mouth on the affected tooth brings relief. An occasional toothache is what we are talking about here. For chronic pain and problems please do go to the dentist and get the proper care for teeth and gums.

Whether you have skin problems, arthritis or the common cold I hope you’ll try these apple cider vinegar remedies and find yourself a new best friend in this miracle worker. If you have success stories using ACV or any questions about its magical properties, please share them in the comments; I always love hearing from my readers.

 

How to keep house while living with a million mess-makers

I’m no expert. My house is not clean. I do have some tips and tricks to help you, though.

Raising any number of children and/or pets as well as having a mate, a day job and any kind of a social life while maintaining and keeping a house is a difficult task. Take it from me, it’s tough!

This post is bit lengthy so if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to read and nod in agreement I’ve highlighted the main points at the end 🙂

Let’s get to it:

First thing in the morning, MAKE THE BED! as soon as your feet hit the floor, pull up the sheets and blankets, fluff the pillows. If this is the ONLY thing you carry out on the housekeeping front for the day, at least you did something, right?!

The thing about making the bed is it can make the messiest of rooms seem neater and cleaner some how. I guess because the bed typically takes up most of the visual space in any room that if it is neater the room looks neater, fresher, cleaner.

When you go to get into the bed, you feel better about yourself, your house and what you accomplished(or didn’t accomplish) for the day.

Second thing and throughout the day, if you see it clean it. It takes meer seconds to wipe the bathroom counter with your hand towel after washing your face hands and brushing your teeth.

Third, don’t step over around or on it, pick it up and take the seconds to put it where it belongs.

A helpful tip: keep a basket, a box or a bag in a central location of the house. When you come across an item out-of-place put it in the receptacle. Later, take five minutes and empty the receptacle to the items’ proper homes.

Fourth, ask for help. Whether from the kids, husband, friend or neighbor, ask someone to play a game with the kids or take them for a walk. I find I have the most productive housekeeping adventures when I’m alone in the palace. I can turn on the music (helpful tip: upbeat music always motivates me, even in the background) and get stuff done, like the pile of dishes or that basket of laundry.

Frankly, I’ve received housekeeping advice that I should get my stuff done when the kids go to bed but I’m tired and want to go to bed myself so the stuff never gets done. In fact most of my cleaning and housework doesn’t get done until someone is coming over for a visit. Shameful, but true.

We’re all guilty of the mad dash. You get a call, “hey can I stop by, I’ll be there in twenty minutes” and you surprise yourself with how much you can achieve in those urgent twenty minutes.

Why can’t we get this done this on a daily basis? because we don’t care about US seeing our dirt and mess, but we care about other’s seeing it. We can justify to ourselves that we can do it later; the dirt will still be there tomorrow; and we don’t have the time to do it “right” right now so we don’t do it at all.

At least this is the way I think of it all.

I’m the worst offender of letting my laziness dominate whether my house gets cleaned. Sometimes I just have to kick myself in the butt and DO IT, but it’s a mountain in my mind and I don’t have any climbing gear. So the most crucial things get done but the dust piles up in the corner and the laundry sits in the dryer for a day (or three) but my kids are fed and the time I spend with them at this crucial age is priceless and I know we can not get these or any years back so I definitely don’t beat myself up over the dirt but someone’s got to do it and my one month old isn’t picking up a broom so it’s up to me.

Fifth, we have 3 bathrooms so to make it a little easier to be less lazy I keep toilet cleaner and rags in each one so I’m not chasing done, or lugging cleaning supplies all around the house. If I remember or notice it needs it I can just clean it on the spot, not go to get the cleaner and then get sidetracked getting someone a snack or tying a shoe.

Helpful tip: try not to take on a task that takes more than a few minutes. I don’t and can’t sit and scrub down the entire bathroom with all these little ones so, I’ll wipe the counter in the morning when I wash brush. Then later when I take my five minutes at the throne, I’ll scrub it down. Later after I give the kids a shower or bath, I’ll wipe down the shower and tub with their dirty wash clothes and towels. Presto, I cleaned the bathroom today.

Typically I’ll lug out the vacuum and steam mop and do one level of the house all at once. It’s just easier for my laziness to have to take it out, do the job and wind up the chords one time then to clean one whole room at a time.

helpful tip: Cleaning in zones means to dust the whole level, clean the glass, the whole level, vacuum the whole level. Obviously not back to back. We’re not cleaning the whole house at once, just trying to keep dirt at bay and do what we can when we can. It takes a few minutes to dust all the bedrooms and then do snack time or read a story etc. later or the next day clean the glass on all the windows, and the next day vacuum and mop the floors, you get the picture.

Having the right or wrong attitude about cleaning can make a huge difference and although I struggle most with my perfectionism and letting it get the better of me I try to think “progress not perfection” or NOT a thing would get done around here.

The battle of the dirt is an ongoing task so doing a little here and there when we can is the only way to get anything done, when you have kids, that is.

This method of little by little also lets you take back your weekends, so even if you don’t have any kids or pets cleaning the house or apartment doesn’t have to be an all day affair sucking the life out of your weekends. A little in the morning a little in the evening and you are ready for company at any given time.

To recap:

MAKE THE BED

CLEAN AS YOU GO

PICK UP AND PUT AWAY RIGHT AWAY

ASK FOR HELP

KEEP SUPPLIES HANDY

CLEAN IN ZONES

PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION

LITTLE BY LITTLE

 

What are your best and worst cleaning mantras? How do you battle the dirt?

Tell me about it in the comments, please.

In our medicine cabinet

What’s in our medicine cabinet?

Okay, not our real medicine cabinet. It’s a metaphor for what we do to support our health and prevent getting sick.

My personal take on healthcare is not treating symptoms but preventing illness. We’ve all seen the images floating around social media about “Farmacy not Pharmacy” and showing pictures of food with the caption “healthcare” then pictures of prescriptions and the caption “sickcare”. It’s true. If we maintain healthy lifestyle and take care of our bodies we can be better suited to ward off diseases and common ailments like colds and flu.

At our house, instill a number of regular practices to keep up an ideal health situation for our family and we are living breathing proof of our methods.

Of course for all you “live by the doctor, die by the doctor” people, you will question our validity because we are not doctors and for that you should not read this post. Just click the “x” and move on with your day.

Everybody else: get ready to learn about some alternative methods for staying healthy and getting over sickness fast without taking “drugs” to feel better. I will warn you that some of these methods you have probably heard of and even tried and for some you may think I’m a quack and belong in the loony bin but I assure you these are all things I , my husband and our children have done and continue to do on a regular basis to maintain the benefits from our efforts.

Water

It’s a big part of our day. I know. I know. EVERYbody drinks water and knows all about how it keeps us healthy. I mention it here because water is the essential component to keeping our body operating at its optimal ability. Water flushes out toxins as well as keeps us hydrated keeping the toxins flowing right out of our pours, literally. Something you may not know is the type of water we drink does make a difference. I don’t mean the tap/filtered/bottled debate of drinking water. Kangen Water, a water that can work miracles. Watch this video to learn more:

After drinking Kangen water we feel better overall!

Honey and cinnamon goes a long way for our immune system. For the skeptics on this one, here is a link for Snopes that includes the benefits.

Honey and cinnamon

 

Anyway, even without the proven benefits the kids LOVE it like candy!

Fruit Snacks and Juice pouches

HAHAHA I know. I know. This one sounds ridiculous to me too but it works! Vitamin C intake is a known boost to our immune system and there is no shortage in a package of fruit snacks and a 100% juice pouch. A word of caution: the ingredients are key! Some versions have toxic ingredients like carrageenan, aspartame, and GMO high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring and flavoring. Please if you try this crazy method be sure to find organic fruit snacks and organic juice pouches that do not contain these harmful substances.

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Why we don’t just take our chewable vitamin C?

Because of aspartame, artificial coloring and other harmful ingredients used to make most vitamins and supplements. We tend to stray from the traditional kids vitamins and use whole foods to harness nutrition.

Vitamins

If you’re a parent, go to the cabinet and pull out your kid’s multivitamin, whether prescription or over the counter, check out the ingredients and educate yourself what you are actually giving to your kids. It’s shocking!

 

Regular Hand Washing

Do I even need to go into this one?

 

Neti Pot

neti pot

A Neti Pot is a device designed to facilitate nasal irrigation.

What is nasal irrigation?

Using saline solution to flush out the nasal passages as well as sinuses.

Why is this practice beneficial?

Flushing the sinuses and nasal passages clears bacteria and illness causing germs from the body. Typically a cold or flu pathogen will be inhaled through the nose with the other environmental toxins. It will incubate there for a period of time before your body reacts (gets sick) to its presence. By regularly flushing this super highway for germs we reduce our risk of getting sick.

This link to Wikipedia shows this practice was used as a daily hygiene ritual in ancient India.

Chiropractic care

Visiting a chiropractor is not just for the injured. In fact, you can prevent injury by partaking in regular chiropractic care.

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Here is a fantastic article about why spinal health is so important to our overall well-being and ability to function optimally.

Avoiding common household chemicals

Any bottle of cleaner that has a warning or caution notice is not something we should bring into our homes. These toxins contain disruptors that will damage our bodies in a number of ways. Neurological, endocrine, digestive, immune systems are all in danger when these chemicals go airborne. Our body can only neutralize so much before it has a dangerous effect on our health and ability to fight off common germs.

Crack the windows

Even in the dead of winter or sweltering summer it is important to have airflow in our homes. Bringing fresh air in and sweeping harmful toxins out. I’m sure most of us know this one.

Take off our shoes

Shoes

Leaving the doctor’s office floor at the door is a big step to keeping our home germ free. A recent study shows we can keep our homes 60% cleaner by one easy step: removing our shoes. I agree with this one big time! Keep the outside, outside. (the lazy in me sees this as an excuse to have to wash the floor less often) Having a Dog puts a damper on this for our family, unless we invest in a pair of shoes for him too.

Keep our distance

Another tool for keeping healthy is just staying away in general. It’s almost impossible if you don’t want to be a hermit but when you do enjoy a friends company try not to get too close. Avoid being in the line of fire. You know, close talkers and spitters and cannon sneezes? I try to keep back at least 2 feet if I can. This sounds harsh but my health is more important than ingesting your bodily fluids.

…and the most important instrument in our “medicine cabinet” is none other than…drum roll, please…

SLEEP

Another motivator for homeschooling, getting adequate sleep on our bodies own individual unique sleep cycle is imperative to our bodies reparative abilities. If we cannot charge our batteries properly or for long enough we will NOT stand a chance to be healthy. Without enough sleep our body will be worn out and not able to keep up battling germs and toxins. So turn off your alarm clock and go to bed early!

When we put it all together we have a pretty hefty arsenal of tools in our medicine cabinet, many of which are utilized directly after contact with a known sick person.

How does this even happen?

Well, some people don’t have the consideration to share their ailments with those they come in contact with until after the event or function. The ones that know they are sick but still come to a function infecting the other attendees because they care more for their own enjoyment and less about the overall health of the community.

Or some people don’t know they are sick until after the event and then some at least do have and take the courtesy to let people know. I appreciate this more than anything because those little germs are incubating in my sinuses and if I don’t have symptoms I still have time to evict them from my nasal passage and avoid getting sick all together.

In general, some people have bacteria that they are immune to the symptoms. The stomach flu carrier that experienced the wretched fury once a few weeks ago but grew an immunity to it not knowing they are carrying a spec and transferring this terrific illness to someone else. This is why regular practice, especially when in high risk scenarios like going to a doctor, hospital or visiting an elderly person, is crucial to maintaining our health.

We visit our chiropractor at least once a week. During the months where colds and flu are prevalent we take honey and cinnamon daily; eat fruit snacks and juice pouches often, after visiting friends and family we use the neti pot and be sure to wash hands often.

Happy health keeping! Hope you have found some new weapons to combat colds and flu for you and your family.

Disclaimer: I am not a physician!The information here should not take the place of medical advice. I urge you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of alternative medicine and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this blog of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

 

 

 

Decluttering Reading List

A partner post for “Selling Your House Series: Part Two, Staging for Success”

Here’s a little irony: In prepping for staging my home, I’ve cluttered my kindle with books about decluttering!

Curious about my reading list? Here it is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do not receive monetary compensation for sharing these books! Also, when I “purchased” them I paid $0.00 for every one! That’s right! Want to know how you can get all your kindle ebooks for free? Follow the blog for an upcoming post about saving money on ebooks and where to find FREE deals!

 

Selling your house series: Part Two, Staging for success

The big question on everyone’s mind when it comes to staging is: “Is it really necessary? They’re buying my house, not my stuff!”

The answer: YES!!!

And, yes, they are buying the house not the stuff but like with ANY thing, you are selling an idea. The idea of buying these shoes is that you will look and feel fabulous while wearing them! The idea of buying this car is that you will have a safe and stylish way for your family to travel. A whole team of advertisers and marketers put those shoes on your feet and put your feet in that car. It’s all in the perspective of the marketing.

Essentially, you are marketing your home. If you walk into a clothing store and find tables with messy piles of clothes for sale, are you in the mood to buy them? Probably not. Next door is another clothing store with beautiful displays of mannequins and accessories with racks of neatly hanging garments organized and lovely, are you going to buy these? Probably yes.

So while your home is your home and you’re comfortable there, the neighbor’s house is pretty and also for sale. When buyers come down your block, which one will they choose? Yes, price can be a factor, but people are willing to pay a little more for nicer things. As a seller, wouldn’t you want to maximize the amount of money you can get for your house? With a bit of effort, this is possible! It will also increase the foot traffic which will increase the exposure and bring in offers. More than one offer often leads to even more money! Interested?

So where do you start?

With the walk through of course! The one I talked about in the first part of this series. On the walk through, you should be looking at everything, including your stuff. Think about the purpose or function of each room and decide if the minimal amount of stuff is being used to convey this vision.

First impressions are everything! The walk-through begins at the curb, where your potential buyer will get there first glimpse at their new life in their new home. Will they pull up to the house and want to keep on driving? That’s up to you! Is your lawn mowed? Weeds pulled? Home front clean and clear from distracting toys or lawn ornaments? You might enjoy seeing your collection of 30 garden gnomes, but some buyers may be turned off. A simple landscape goes further than a sea of personal touches like bird feeders and windmills.  Let’s highlight the home and what is has to offer. A big front porch? Show it off with a potted plant or two and a rocker,  not the entire stock of plastic chairs and tables from the home improvement store. Be sure to check the doorbell. Does it work? What about the porch light? These are easy fixes that can help keep a buyer wanting to come inside.

house

The front of your home is like an appetizer, we want to give them a nice taste of something but make them want more! Getting them in is good, keeping them in for a long time is better! How the entry way welcomes them is a key element. If your home doesn’t have a defined entry way, you can create one with a console table dressed with a decorative bowl (for keys). A small chair or stool (nice to have somewhere to take off your shoes) and a small carpet or rug to warm things up.

Getting into staging the rooms is easy. Take, for instance, the dining room. What’s in yours? A big table with a lot of chairs? Maybe a buffet, a hutch and a corner curio cabinet displaying Grandma’s trinkets? It looks lovely, I’m sure, but a buyer will see a small cramped space with no room to entertain.  Take out the buffet and the curio…that’s right, you want to sell and move anyway, why not get a jumpstart on packing? Then pare down the chairs from 6 to 4. This leaves, wall and floor space to walk around the table effortlessly. It opens a buyers eyes to the potential of the space and that they can bring their big dining room table with their chairs and it will all fit.

Now, staging isn’t just about clearing out a whole bunch of furniture. Remember my clothing store analogy? Well the mannequins with accessories was an important part, (not the mannequins) as accessories are in staging a home for sale.

On the dining room table, a simple runner with a bowl of fruit (to make it homey and inviting) maybe a tall houseplant by the window (bringing nature inside makes people feel connected to the space). Oh, and everything needs to be clean! Get those cobwebs out of the corners, polish the light fixture and make sure there are no streaks on the windows. Simple enough!

The living room and bedrooms are a little more difficult. I chose the dining room first because this, unless your ONLY eating area in the house, is the room that has the least amount of personal effects.

The living room has your spouse’s favorite chair, you know the one. It has rips, stains and a big spot that is shaped like your significant other’s rear. Will a potential buyer  see them self sitting in THIS chair? Probably not. Then, there are the family photos and huge collection of DVDs on the bookshelf. What about the HUMONGOUS big screen TV that takes up an entire wall? It might be nice for you to live here but will a prospective buyer want to live here WITH YOU? Because that is what they will feel like…buying ‘this house I’ll have to live THIS way.’ I know it’s silly, but it’s the psychological aspect of searching for a home. As a seller, you need to leave your emotions at the gate, remember? We want to detach your emotions and reach out to the buyers’.

Living room

How do we know who the buyer is? Well…the buyer is you. Your best friend. The buyer is me! I know, crazy, right?! The buyer could be anybody, so we have to appeal to everybody. As shocking as it may be, a huge TV the size of your car does not appeal to everyone. Consider swapping it out for a smaller one you may have in the basement or bedroom. The photos are nice and lovely but a buyer will see your family, not theirs. They have to go too. Replace those with neutral decor, paintings or shelves with a vase of flowers, a book or A trinket, as in one… maybe two, not the whole circus train from precious moments collection.

We are creating open space with a feeling of home. A home ANY one can live in.

In the bedroom, it is important to showcase here, the bed must be made! Even if you’re not selling your house you should make your bed every day anyway. The bed is a place for relaxing and restoring. The bedroom should reflect the essence of renewing our spirits. It should be bright and airy yet cozy and comforting. The place to make this statement is with a can of paint. Okay, you like purple. Your sheets and blankets are purple. Your bathroom from top to bottom is purple, carpet, curtains; all purple. A buyer walks in and sees ONLY purple. Not the great natural light or the hard wood floors. They don’t see a walk-in closet or ceiling fan. They. see. purple. Then, they will leave; remembering your house because it was purple, not because they wanted to live there.

In bedrooms, go with neutral earth tones. If you choose a color, choose a pale version of the color that is not overpowering the features in the space. Go easy on patterns and bright colors, these will be distracting. Stick to neutrals. Mom’s handmade curtains are pretty and all but a simple blind, or panel will suffice. All the frills ruffles, lace and valances will detract from the view. Again, make sure everything is CLEAN! No one wants to spend any length of time in a dirty, dusty space. This is our goal here , to make a buyer want to stay, we want them to feel relaxed and welcome here, just like they would want to feel in THEIR own home.

Bathrooms need to be sparkling, as do kitchens. All the yucky stuff happens here. Make sure every nook and cranny are spotless! These two spaces go hand in hand when it comes to staging. Keeping counters clean and clutter free is very important.

bathroom kitchen

 

People, looking to buy your house, will be opening cupboards, drawers, and closets. If they find a mess of bottles and products, they will see a crowded small space with no storage. If you can eliminate the non-essentials for your everyday life you will succeed in showing the space and expanse of the storage in your home.

When I began my staging process I started with closets. It’s easier to pack up the small stuff I don’t need or see everyday first. I started with the linen closet and packed up all the spare sheets, blankets and towels, leaving just enough for our family and one extra set.

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My linen closet looks HUGE! A major asset in any home is storage. A major asset in selling any home is highlighting the storage. Leaving the closets and drawers jam-packed with stuff will show the buyer that you don’t have enough storage and make them question whether the home will have enough for them and all their stuff.

The good news about all this hard work to stage your home: it will pay off! Here is a link to some staging statistics ( in case you don’t believe me)

Another good thing about staging is that it can be done with little to no investment. Simple decluttering and shifting of your design resources, like taking a chair from the crowded dining table and using to help make the entryway more welcoming is free! Some fresh flowers or throw pillows are low cost for a huge impact dressing up a space.

As a partner to this post I compiled a list of helpful ebooks on cleaning and decluttering here!

I hope my tips and experience will help you! and Stay tuned for the next installment in this Selling Your House Series!

 

What would I do??

So, if you don’t already know, I am a stay-at-home-mom to 4 + kids, I also home school. My husband works from home when he can but also has an office and occasionally drives trucks to support our family. We do most everything together!

A few months ago he was out on the road in a bad snow storm in the middle of the night. My stomach was in knots and my heart sore from the worry. My initial thought if “something” were to happen was, ‘how do I tell the kids they will never see their dad again?’ Then I thought ‘what will we do without him?’ He loves us, keeps us safe…he supports us!

A flood of worrisome thoughts raced through my head, the biggest one: ‘How would we survive?’

That is a loaded question because we depend on him for so much more than money, but money was what I was thinking.

I will have to get a job! I don’t have a degree or any recent experience in the work field, I’ve been a baby factory for 6 years.

My kids will have to go into daycare and public school! We want them to be individuals who are free thinkers, public school and daycare does not facilitate our goals for our kids.

Our home is too expensive; we would have to move! We want to do that anyway but to move, to go through the process of selling, packing, buying and moving without my husband would be a huge struggle.

I was up all night waiting for him to come home safely. He did.

But the whole thing kept me thinking: ‘WHAT WOULD I DO?’

I started brainstorming ideas. Ideas that would disrupt our children and their everyday life the least. Ways to bring an income that would require me to do little or nothing(I’m busy enough what with the kids, schooling and household). HA! Like that exists. I’m in la-la land over here but I came up with a few ideas you might be interested in as well.

“Work from Home” is a very popular search term on the internet. There are the regular answers like medical transcription and multi-level marketing. Then there are the more creative ideas like freelance writing and blogging(eh.) Or making a product and selling online… Call center associate…. and so many more…just search!

A passive income, this is the term, is what I am looking for. Something that will virtually run itself, and hopefully not into the ground. Something I can invest some money and minimal time allowing me to keep doing what I’m doing with my life and kids but generate an income.

My realtor brain goes right to investment property. Being a landlord is not without its struggles. The first being to have the money to invest. In real estate, as with many business opportunities, you need money(to spend) to make money. Next, is the return on investment. Shelling out upwards of $100k upfront for a monthly check does not sound like a good idea but what draws me in is a steady monthly income – granted you have a tenant(s). Having a set monthly income would be ideal for my situation having a family to support and all. Oh, and the $100k + can be mortgaged for a portion of the rental income, making it all work, financially. As long as the furnace doesn’t blow up! Which brings me to another struggle for landlords: maintenance and repairs. Hiring a handyman and landscapers solves this problem but at a cost. All of these things weigh into expenses and whether this opportunity would be worth it. The answer: with the right property and the right tenants for the right price…it would definitely be worth it!

The next business opportunity for passive income I came up with would be an actual business. One that does not require very much overhead. It’s overhead that puts businesses under! So, no inventory, no products, no employees…just a building where people pay to come in. Not very many options but I thought of a few. A coin Launderette. An Arcade. A pool hall. An automated car wash. A bank of vending machines in a mall. All these options need regular upkeep and maintenance but with the exception of the pool hall, run themselves!

After toying with both ideas I thought, ‘Why not both?!’ What if I invest to buy a commercial/residential multifamily property? One with a Laundromat and arcade with a bank of vending machines on the ground level, an automated car wash out back, and two or three apartments upstairs! There. problem solved!

But is it?

I’d still be without a husband and have the stress of operating all these businesses and properties. It would be risky because in this hypothetical, I’d be investing our life insurance pay out to make do with what we had. I couldn’t live with myself if it didn’t work out. Hello! I couldn’t live with myself without Darryl!!!

What would you do?

Selling Your House Series: Part One, Before Listing

Selling Your House Series

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I’m excited about this series (it’s my first) because big changes are coming up for our family. I’ll be highlighting our journey in a series of blog posts about tips, tricks and overall how we are selling our house.

disclaimer: I am not currently a Realtor. My advice is based on my previous experience as an agent.

Deciding to sell is a big deal! This is our home, where we live and grow and make memories!

The Debate:

We have toiled with the idea of flipping for years before we purchased our first house. My father did his version of flipping in the 80’s when the economy was booming and people were spending CRAZY money! I learned what little carpentry skills I have from him and owe my Real Estate background to him as well.

The idea of basically living for free is what sold my husband. It is not an exact science but if executed correctly you could turn enough profit from flipping a home that would cover your rent for the time you lived there by making the investments and using sweat equity to improve the property. – That’s the idea, anyway.

We bought our first house 5 1/2 years ago with the intent to sell in 5 years. HA! Well, four kids, a lot of renovations and unstable job situation for my husband led us down a different path. We spent way more than we first intended on this place and we have invested countless man hours not to mention the memories made. Aaaah the memories! 3 out of 4 of our daughters first came home to this house. All of them took their first steps, said their first words and all those ooey gooey mama and papa memories that we love to hold so tight.  We have put a pretty penny into this house making it our home and realizing some design dreams. We have worked hard spending not only money but blood, sweat and tears getting it just the way we want it. We have  gracious neighbors. Everyone helps everyone else out, it’s that simple and easy. No fighting over property lines arguing about leaf piles. We’re kind of like family. We are at the top of a mountain with trees and wildlife, which we love! Bear, deer, turkey frequent our yard often. There is always something to see yet the feeling here is peaceful and calming. Hey, it’s the Pocono’s!

So why would we sell?

Four babies (plus one more on the way) 3 cats and a dog, we are busting at the seams and need more space! Having paid down our mortgage considerably and adding value to our home, we have equity we would like to use for vacations and making more memories in a less expensive home. Let’s free up some cash! I have a dream… where we don’t have to buy so many eggs. I would love to raise chickens, for educational purposes and economic reasons as well. Unfortunately, our current home is in a Homeowner’s Association that does not allow farm animals. I have this itch. Not one that is easily scratched as it is the itch to move. I’m a traveler at heart and can’t stay in one place for too long. I know. I know, purchasing anything will not afford this itch to be scratched but going on more vacations with the money from selling our house will certainly do! Our home now is  a distance from our friends and family. It makes it difficult to keep up on relationships. We and everyone else would like us to be closer.

Finding Motives:

Selling

Staying

1. Space 1. Memories
2.Money 2. Money
3. Chickens 3. Our blood sweat and tears
4. The “Itch” 4. Neighbors
5. Location 5. Location

Our final decision to sell is based on the space factor. We would need to spend astronomically more than we have already to make this house work for our growing family, funds we just don’t have; we’re selling.

When is the best time to sell?

Spring is best! Buyers, after a long winter, will come out in the nice weather and hop from open house to open house on the weekends and make a “thing” out of it. Fall is good too, not too hot, not too cold but you’re battling “back to school” nights and PTA meetings. Beside, flowers are blooming and everything looks better in spring!

What we are doing before even calling a Realtor:

The MOST important thing to do before listing your house is taking a walk through with eyes of a buyer. Objectively (with NO emotional attachment) drive up to your house, heck drive around the neighborhood, and see what a buyer would see. The neighbor has junk in their yard or a barking dog. Is there a highway or railroad tracks close by? A buyer will be thinking “Do I REALLY want to live here?” After all, buying a house is a huge investment/commitment. Once the deal goes through and you’re in the house, that’s it. So, people want to be sure they are making the best choice possible.

You pull up your driveway and see a piece of trash in the lawn, the flagpole is crooked and the doorbell is broken. If you live here and do not notice these things or they do not bother you; fine. To a buyer, little things like this in a first impression will irk them and they will have a bad feeling from the get-go.

Make a list as you tour the property with your “buying goggles” on and try to be diligent in seeing the tiniest of details. What might not seem like an issue to you could be huge to a potential buyer.

After making the list, prioritize the things that need to be done and make a timeline of the smallest and easiest tasks being completed first, hopefully that same day.

Having completed at least 1/2 the tasks on your timeline, start interviewing Realtors. Going along with the first Joe who comes-a-calling may not be the BEST Joe for the job. I like to use the rule of threes.  We’re not trying on wedding gowns here, we’re selling a house. Leave your emotions at the front gate! The Realtor with the best exposure, marketing plan and of course, rate will win. If a potential listing agent shows up unprepared to pitch the listing, pitch them straight out the door. A good Realtor will have already researched comps in your area, know the schools and have a good idea of what your house is worth. A good Realtor does his/her homework.

There is always the option of selling the house yourself without a Realtor, but that is a headache and a stack of paperwork worth paying a commission to the right agent (at least it’s worth it to me).

Here is a helpful link for questions to ask a potential Realtor:  12 Questions to ask when choosing your Realtor

A note: I am not affiliated with the website or being compensated in any way for linking them, I just thought this to be useful for our purposes.

Selling Price

Already have a selling price in your mind? I hope it’s not etched in stone, because chances are your emotions are at work again…ugh! This is your home! You have put time and energy into decorating and landscaping and making those fabulous memories, not to mention what YOU paid for the place…isn’t that worth something? To be honest… no! It’s not worth a thing to potential buyers. Buying is about finding the best bang for your buck in the best place possible at the current market rates.

That figure in your mind might be from an appraisal you had 2 years ago when you considered refinancing, that number is no good now! Things have changed. Things can change in just 6 months as markets dip and boom. Realistically your house is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. As a seller, be realistic, especially when it comes to pricing your home. The term “priced to sell” is real. The lower a home is priced whether at or below market value, the more foot traffic you bring in, the more potential offers on the table. TRY to be open to what the Realtor has to offer. Who doesn’t like options?

If you have done the research yourself, as I plan to do, you will know the comparable listings in your area; listings of homes that have RECENTLY SOLD, not what’s on the market. You have to base your price off of SOLD homes that have the most in common with your property, like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms square feet and lot size. These big-ticket items will decide a sales bracket for your house. Most people search homes based on location, bedrooms, bathrooms and then all the other stuff like garages, pools, updated kitchens. It’s important to pull relevant comps for your listing purposes.

Again with the rule of threes… find the three recently sold listings that are most comparable to your property and figure their average selling price, this is what you can expect to get for your home.

How much to list for depends on the comps and your current appraised value. Although not necessary, having your home appraised for listing is a smart tactic to present potential buyers. One less thing they have to worry…eh…pay for.

Now that you have a realistic idea of what your home is worth you can decide how aggressive a seller you want to be. Do you have time to wait for your price? Do you need to bust a move before the bank comes-a knocking? if you have time to wait, up your price by no more than 10% of the comparable average. If not, list at that number and stand firm. Discussing all of this with your Realtor. It’s important to be on the same page so you can work together and get the house sold!

Overview-6 things to do before listing a house on the market:

1. Decide to sell– debate yourself and weigh out the pros and cons. It’s a big decision!

2. The walk-through– walk through the house with an objective eye to see what a potential buyer might see.

3. Make a to-do list– while walking through, make a list of the little things that might need fixing or sprucing up.

4. Set a timeline– Give yourself a deadline to get your to-do list accomplished. Be accountable and get it done!

5. Interview multiple Realtors– Let them prove to you they can do their job right.

6. Be realistic– review comparable homes sold recently in your area and set your price accordingly.

Having these things accomplished before a Realtor comes into the picture is very helpful. If the Realtor and you have done your homework, the relationship as well as sale of your home will be a great success.

At this point we are in the process of preparing our home for the market and getting ready to interview Realtors, the next segment will go into that process as well as our experience in more detail. Subscribe to the blog for email updates to Stay Tuned for the next post in this series: “Staging for Success!”