7 Winter Tips for cozy indoor activity…

Cover Up: Just looking at a big pile of blankets, pillows and throws can make us feel warmer, and guests will feel like part of the family when they can grab their favorite woolly blanket and settle in for movie night. A stack of pretty folded blankets in a basket can go just about anywhere. Choose high-quality blankets and throws you’ll keep for a lifetime—wool and organic cotton are good bets.


 Home Cooking: Baking bread, simmering mulling spices, roasting a turkey or slow-cooking soup all warm up your cozy home and fill it with delightful aromas.

 Hot Beverages: Warm up from the inside out with a mug of steamy tea, cocoa or coffee.

 Freshen Up: Indoor air can be stifling, but conventional air fresheners and candles rely on chemical scents. Instead, use an essential oil diffuser to disperse a fresh scent such as citrus. When buying essential oils, choose 100 percent pure organic essential oils.

 Warm Wishes: Stuck indoors? So are your friends and family. Write a friend or family member an unexpected letter or card to fill your time and brighten theirs.

 Bath Tub Therapy: A hot bath with fragrant herbs and skin-softening minerals could be just what the doctor ordered to warm away winter blues. To make an herbal bath blend, combine 1 cup Epsom salts with 1 cup baking soda and 40 to 50 drops of whatever essential oils you like best. Add about 1 tablespoon to a hot bath.

 Don’t forget man’s best friends: Pets get cooped up in winter, too. Replace hours of outdoor exercise with mental stimulation by doing basic training exercises with your dog, or try an obedience class at a local training facility. A stuffed ball can be a great indoor toy that will encourage gentle indoor play.

I’m Freezing…

In the winter, we rely on our homes to provide us with warmth, comfort and entertainment. We want to come home to the coziness of a warm home, a hot cup of tea and a cuddly throw.

Here are 8 winter comfort tips for 2018 to create a cozy home that welcomes friends and family and make a long winter pass quickly.

  1. Nestle Close: Save on heating bills by rearranging your furniture so you sit near interior walls rather than exterior walls. Create a more intimate seating area for winter by pulling all the furniture in toward the center of the room.  


  1. Lighting Options: We are more dependent on artificial lights during the long nights of winter. You can create a warm atmosphere and keep the electric bill down by choosing highly efficient, dimmable LED bulbs. Give yourself many lighting options—for example, a bright lamp near a favorite reading spot might eliminate the need to use overhead lights. 


  1. Window Warmth: Heavy drapes made of thick material help provide an extra layer of nighttime insulation. In the day, open all shades so sunshine can pour into your home and help warm it. 


  1. Winterize Your Entry: Organize your entry to make bundling up easier and to avoid tracking slush and mud through the house. Put an absorbent welcome mat and proper storage in your entryway, mud room or just inside the door, including a coat rack or hooks, shelves or cubbies for shoes, and baskets for hats, gloves and scarves. If you want to take off your coat and boots and immediately put on your fuzzy sweater and house slippers, keep those near the door, too. 


  1. Sweaters: It's winter, so dress like it, even indoors. Every degree you drop your thermostat can lower your heating bill by up to 2 percent—meaning it’s cheaper to wear a wool sweater than a T-shirt around the house! (If you’ll be away for a weekend or more, turn down the temperature to 55 degrees—the lowest you can go without the risk of freezing your water pipes.) 


  1. Snuggle Down: Make your bedroom your winter haven — a calming, soothing place where you can rest and recharge. Start by clearing all clutter, then decorate with only the art you love most. Pile the bed with your favorite blankets and linens, and install a romantic chandelier on a dimmable switch. And there is nothing like a fluffy down comforter to keep you warm and cozy. 
  1. Inside Hobby: Try taking up a new craft. Knitting, cross-stitching, learning an instrument or language, crocheting, painting, drawing, sewing, trying a new form of exercise, scrapbooking or a DIY home project. 


  1. Fireplace Heating: Curling up by the fire is the ultimate way to warm up and save on heating bills. Pull the family, a bunch of pillows and a pile of blankets together in front of the fire, or throw together an impromptu dining room and eat dinner by the hearth.

10 New Year’s Resolutions for your Home…

The New Year has arrived and we all have resolutions that we want to achieve to make 2018 the best year possible. Here are some resolutions for 2018 that will make your home a better place to live in 2018!

  1. Cut energy use: start with your HVAC ductwork. Ducts are notorious energy-wasters, leaking your heating and cooling air through holes and connections.
  2. Purify indoor air: upgrade and replace your air filters.
  3. Budget for improvements: set aside money for home improvements you want to accomplish this new year.
  4. De-clutter: clean out closets and cabinets and make trips to Good Will and St. Vincent’s.
  5. Support your community: shop local retailers for all your household goods and home furnishings.
  6. Curb home water use.
  7. Share home improvement projects with family and friends. Uncle Butch helps to trims tree limbs at your place; you help Uncle Butch paint his family room.
  8. Exercise your DYI skills: try painting that quest room you are remodeling yourself.
  9. Use maintenance free material: make your future less stressful by using maintenance free products when you do home improvements.
  10. Get all the clutter off the dining room table and have some dinner parties this year. Entertaining is good for the soul.

It’s a New Year…

Every January people try to start a new. They join a gym or start a diet. Some folks open a savings account. Others vow to give up cursing and go to church every Sunday. We do all or some of these things to start the New Year off on the right foot in hopes it will make the next year and the rest of our life better somehow. And that is all good, but there is something else you can resolve to do that will improve the lives of your entire family for the coming year. Think about making your house a better place for your family to come home to everyday.  Here are 5 easy tips to begin.

  1. One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of the stuff you don’t use. Each year we accumulate tons of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don't use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in. 
  1. There are a few things that everyone should do to ensure that they're not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk. Check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels. Test kits cost as little as $20 at your local hardware store, there's no reason not to get right on that. And while you’re at it be sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and kill you. Like a radon test, this is a small investment — $40 or more — for such an important safeguard.
  1. Watch out for dryer lint. We know you clean the little trap inside the door, but most people neglect to clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer. Lint may seem innocent, but it's highly combustible, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, accounting for more than 15,000 building fires a year.
  1. Keep your house clean. Dishes go in the dishwasher every night - no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.
  1. Spend more time with loved ones. Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update? You don't have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates. One easy update is paint. Another is the addition of plants or fresh flowers. Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space. Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up the chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

Have a Happy New Year…

The biggest night of the year is New Year’s Eve. It is a great night to have a party and say good bye to a year good or bad and celebrate the coming year with all the promise it brings. In order to make this night great, think about decorating your home for the festivities. Build the mood with sparkle and glitter, a must have on New Year’s Eve. Silver, gold and white are the colors.  Garland, streamers and balloons will lift the spirits. Champagne in fluted glassware will add elegance.  All this comes together to create a festive atmosphere for family and friends to let down their hair and say good bye to the old and hello to the prospects of a wonderful future ahead.

Some of your gold and silver Christmas ornaments and garland can be recycled for new year’s eve decorations. Gold and silvery stars and balls can dress up your chandeliers, mantles and tables. Party stores offer packages of hats and noise makers for whatever size party. Home-made hats are always fun. And how about decorating some dollar store sunglasses for each guest to wear…because their future is so bright…they have to wear shades!