Tax-Free Weekend is Coming Up!

tax freeIt’s that time again!  Summer vacations and activities are coming to an end and school schedules are getting underway.  That means school supplies and clothes are needed.  So don’t forget the state of Tennessee has an annual tax free holiday beginning the first Friday in August and ends the following Sunday night.  This year the holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 1 and ends Sunday, August 3 at 11:59 p.m.

Exempt items include individual clothing items and school supplies under $100 as well as computers under $1500.  Click here for more info and get shopping!

 

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To Clean or Not To Clean?

airducts

Do You Really Need to Clean Your Air Ducts?

By: Dave Toht

Published: September 10, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t any health benefits linked to cleaning air ducts, but having a pro remove gunk can boost the efficiency of your HVAC.

Five to seven times a day, the air in your home circulates through the air ducts of your HVAC heating and cooling system, carrying with it the dust and debris of everyday living.

Your furnace filter catches much of the stuff, but neglect, remodeling projects, or shoddy duct installation can lead to a buildup of gunk inside your ductwork that threatens the efficient functioning of your system.

Are Dirty Ducts Hazardous to Your Health?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asserts no studies have proven that duct cleaning prevents health problems. Also, there isn’t proof that dirty ductwork increases dust levels inside homes.

But some people are more sensitive to airborne dust and pet dander than others. If your nose is getting itchy just thinking about what might lurk in your ducts, the $300 to $600 it costs to clean a 2,000-sq.-ft. home is a worthwhile investment. But before you reach for the phone, take a good look to see if your ducts are dirty.

Get the Picture

Wouldn’t it be handy if you could take an incredible journey through your ductwork to see if cleaning is needed? Using a pocket digital camera equipped with a flash, you can come close. Simply remove a floor register, reach as far as you can into the duct (don’t drop your camera!), and take a couple of shots.

If there’s gunk within a few feet of the register, take heart. It’s easy to snake a vacuum cleaner hose into the duct and remove the stuff. However, if you see a long trail of junk and a thick coat of dust beyond what your vacuum can reach, your house may be a candidate for professional cleaning.

Look for These Symptoms

  • Clogs of dust, cobwebs, and debris, or noticeable particles blowing out of supply registers.
  • Visible mold on the inside surfaces of ducts.
  • Rodent droppings and dead insects inside ducts.

In addition, recent construction inevitably creates dust you don’t want in circulation.

“We recommend cleaning after a big remodel job,” says Scott Milas of Mendel Heating and Plumbing, St. Charles, Ill. Milas adds that a new home purchase is also a good occasion — after all, who wants to breathe someone else’s pet dander?

“People get it done after they buy a house,” he says. “It’s like getting the carpets cleaned.”

Good Reasons for Duct Cleaning

  • Cleaning removes accumulated dust so it won’t shed into the household.
  • Removing debris and cobwebs eases airflow and increases the efficiency of the system, in extreme cases as much as 40%.
  • If you have fiberglass ducting, fiberglass gathers more dust than sheet metal.

Reasons to Skip Duct Cleaning

  • Cost.
  • Health benefits are not proven.
  • Dust and debris caught on the interior of ducts isn’t circulating and therefore may not be a problem.
  • Changing furnace filters regularly often does the job, especially when combined with annual furnace cleaning.

How Ducts are Cleaned

Dislodging and removing dust and debris is done with one or more of the following methods:

  • Hand-held vacuuming: Workers use a brush attached to a large portable vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. However, the hand-held method isn’t completely reliable and may leave pockets of dust.
  • Mechanical brush: A rotating brush is fed into the ductwork. A truck-mounted vacuum sucks away debris. The rotary brush may damage older or poorly installed systems.
  • Air sweep: A truck-mounted vacuum system carries away dust and debris dislodged by a compressed-air hose fed into the ducts. Of the three, the air sweep method usually does the most effective job.

Note: Some duct cleaning companies advocate spraying the inside of your ducts with chemical biocides. However, the EPA cautions that the spray may be more hazardous than helpful, aggravating respiratory ailments and introducing moisture that encourages mold growth.

Choosing a Duct Cleaning Service

It is all too easy to set up as a duct cleaner; some fly-by-nighters do more harm than good. Ask a reputable heating contractor for recommendations, or go to National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) to locate a certified contractor.

Be wary of unsubstantiated health claims. Resist pressure to clean annually; even cleaning every other year is overkill. Most homes needn’t be cleaned more than once every five years. Also, make sure your furnace will be cleaned as part of the HVAC maintenance service that includes checking the plenum, evaporator coil, and heat exchanger.

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Sitting Instead of Selling??

pleasebuyWhy is your home just sitting on the market while others around you are selling?  Is your home in good condition and a good location but still not moving?  Take a look at the following to see if you really have your home “ready” to sell.

1.  How Much?!  You guessed it, number one is price.  Often times sellers have an emotional attachment…it’s their home… so they think it is worth more that it is. Others simply can’t afford to take less because they are underwater on their loan.  When a house is just sitting it can often be blamed on an unreasonable price.  Discuss a good price point with your realtor, they can pull comparable homes to help you price properly.  You know you have hit the right price point when you have several interested parties and/or offers,

2.  Redecorated Lately?  Is the decor dated?  Wallpaper, wood paneling, blue carpet, mirrored walls, outdated fixtures, all of these play a part.  The majority of buyers aren’t interested, especially for top dollar.  If you haven’t updated expect to take a hit on the price.  Remember at the time of sale, less is more, everybody has different taste so stay neutral.

3.  What’s the Condition?  As I said before, most buyers aren’t looking to buy a home just to turn around and spend a fortune to make repairs.  Buyers are going to choose the house up the street if there are hefty repairs to be make,  same goes for homes with pet or other strong odors.  So fix ‘er up unless you are taking a chunk off of the price.

4.  Location, Location, Location  Unfortunately you can’t do much about this one.  Often times even a great house just can’t overcome a poor location.  Being near busy streets, businesses, power stations or waste stations is a factor.  I list this because even if you have a great house, location will still affect the bottom line, you won’t get top dollar, consider this when pricing.

5.  Design Dilemma  Some homes have a inefficient or odd design.  Just because you were ok to live with it doesn’t mean it will be easy to find someone else that will.  The design may be outdated, several older homes have bedrooms only accessible through another bedroom.  Consider this when pricing and see if it would benefit you to alter the design before listing the home.

6.  Too Swanky?  While you may love your large stylish home better than the homes around you, others may not want to pay for it.  It never pays to be the most expensive house on the block.  Buyers are not only purchasing the home, but the area around it.  It may be a tough sale if the homes around are much smaller or not well kept, even if yours is outstanding.

7.  Advertising  The majority of buyers will first see your home on the internet.  Be sure your agent is utilizing the countless sites to showcase your home…with GOOD pictures!  Clean up and have your home in top condition when the photos are taken.  It is good to be able to show indoor and outdoor photos of the home.  Be sure the photos are of the home though, not your stuff laying around.  A messy picture makes the buyer doubt the hygiene and condition of what they can’t see.  There is a small window to attract a buyer, show them just enough to want to see more, if there are poor pictures it is too easy just to click next.

So, you want to sell??  Price it right! Don’t get caught up in what the neighbors say or what you think you should get.  Pay attention to comparable sales in similar condition.  Keep it neutral.  I’m sure you have great taste but it isn’t everybody’s, you want your home to be appealing to a large group of people.  If the decor isn’t bold or overstated a buyer can more easily picture their own things in the space. Be selective about the photos that are uploaded.  Photos should display rooms or special features that are true selling points.  Finally clean it up!  Your home should be clean and decluttered from day one.  By following these steps hopefully your home won’t be sitting around and you’ll be on the move soon.  Good Luck!

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Time to Celebrate!

fireworksBarbeques, fireworks, parades, picnics, carnivals and fun come to mind when I think of the 4th of July.  It is a time to celebrate and honor those that have fought and continue to fight for the freedoms we have in this great country.  The weather is looking great this year so I want to share the information on some firework shows you don’t want to miss!

The annual Clarksville Independence Celebration will take place Thursday July 3, 2014.  Festivities will begin at Liberty Park at 6:30 and the fireworks show will begin at 9:30.  There will be live music, food and fun for the whole family.  Click Here for more information and helpful tips for this great FREE event.

If you can’t make it Thursday night, you have another opportunity to make the Let Freedom Sing Independence Day Celebration in Nashville.  This event features a free outdoor concert, food and fireworks.  Billy Currington, Ashley Monroe and Striking Matches, and the Nashville Symphony are set to headline outdoor performances at Music City’s Independence Day celebration. The free concert in downtown Nashville on the Lawn at Riverfront Park will also include the South’s largest fireworks show.  Click here for more information.

No matter how you choose to celebrate this holiday weekend stay safe and take a moment to reflect on how blessed we are.  We live in a great country thanks to our service men and women.  Take time to thank a soldier this weekend and enjoy the celebration!

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Summertime = Fresh Veggies

veggiesOne of my favorite things about this time of year is farmer’s markets and fresh veggies!  I could eat a vegetable plate every night for dinner!  I also have tried my hand a time or two at growing my own vegetables and those taste the VERY best.  After you plant, water, weed and finally get to pick that perfect vegetable….man, nothing tastes better!  So I thought I’d share a few vegetable gardening tips for those of you who might want to give it a try…..

1.  To Water..or Not to Water   Watering too much or watering too little are both common mistakes.   Before adding water, poke a finger a couple of inches into the soil. If it’s moist, save the water; if it’s dry, train a gentle spray at the base of plants.  Drip systems can be very useful as well since they deliver water directly to the base of the plant without waste.

2.  Test the Soil  Even seasoned gardeners often fail to test the pH of the soil year after year.  For about $10, you can send a sample to your state extension service and receive a complete analysis. Or, buy a DIY test kit at your local garden center. When you know what your soil is made of, either select plants that thrive in that type of earth, or amend soil to match your garden’s needs.

3.  What to Plant  Of course you love summer tomatoes, but they can be tricky to grow during summers that are too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. So newbies should try growing a couple of tomato plants just for fun, then load gardens with foolproof veggies and herbs, such as beans, peppers, oregano, and parsley. If you must grow a tomato, plant cherry tomatoes that can survive anything summer can throw at them and even yield fruit into fall.

4.  Know Your Limits!  Pay attention to what each plant will yield and consider what your family will use.  One cherry tomato plant will yield about 80 fruit.  One zucchini plant can feed you and your neighbors.  The National Gardening Association says an edible garden of about 200 sq. ft. should keep a family of four in veggies all summer.  If you end up with too much, donate the extras or learn to can and/or  preserve to enjoy after the growing season.

5.  Sow Seeds or Plant Plants?  Some crops, such as salad greens, radishes, carrots, peas, beans, and squash, are easy to grow from seeds that germinate in a couple of weeks. Experience will tell you that eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes are better grown from seedlings, which someone else has nurtured for months. Pick plants that are short and compact; avoid leggy plants with blooms that are liable to die on the vine as the plant acclimates itself to your garden.

6.  Study Up!  Unfortunately everything you need to know is not on the back of a seed packet or plant stake.  Take time to learn about your zone, your soil and the crops you are interested in growing.  Invest in a good gardening book, read gardening articles (blogs), and do internet searches on specific topics.  There is a wealth of gardening information available, some may work for you and some may not but study up to find how to make YOUR garden grow!

Remember though if the gardening thing isn’t for you that the Clarksville Downtown Market is open in the square every Saturday from 8-1.

Mandy Williams from Lylewood Inn also delivers fresh farm boxes to various locations in Clarksville every Tuesday.  Click here for info   http://lylewoodinn.com/farm-boxes

 

 

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Yep…There’s an App For That!

sitegist Want to know a neighborhood’s average rents? Find a nearby restaurant? See how local residents commute? Find out the median home values for an area?  Or the median age for an area?  Well you are in luck  Sitegeist is the app for you.  Sitegeist is a mobile application that helps you to learn more about your surroundings in seconds. Drawing on publicly available information, the app presents solid data in a simple at-a-glance format to help you tap into the pulse of your location. From demographics about people and housing to the latest popular spots or weather, Sitegeist presents localized information visually so you can get back to enjoying the neighborhood. The application draws on free APIs such as the U.S. Census, Yelp! and others to showcase what’s possible with access to data.

Sitegeist can be very helpful because it provides a variety of neighborhood and demographic information to buyers, including some topics that REALTORS® cannot discuss due to the Fair Housing Act.

Some of the data you’ll learn about a location includes:

  • Age Distribution
  • Political Contributions
  • Average Rent
  • Popular Local Spots
  • Recommended Restaurants
  • How People Commute
  • Record Temperatures
  • Housing Units Over Time

Sitegeist is available for FREE in the App store on iTunes as well as in the Android Play Store.

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Allergies, Allergies GO AWAY!

allergy

 

Spring is in full swing and so are allergies!  If you or someone in your family suffer from seasonal allergies the Mayo Clinic shares tips to allergy-proof your home…room by room.

 

 

Bedroom: Choose bedding that is made of synthetic mate-
rials, and wash sheets, pillowcases and blankets in warm
water at least once a week. Comforters should be cleaned,
too. While your laundry is in the wash, vacuum with a
high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
Keep the windows closed during pollen season, and turn
on the air conditioning. Clean mold and condensation from
the frames and sills. Washable curtains made of cotton or synthetic
fabric are best.

Bathroom: Watch out for moisture and mold. Avoid carpet
and wallpaper, and dry the tub after use.

Kitchen: Make sure there’s a vented exhaust fan above the
stove top hood to take out cooking fumes and reduce moisture.
Keep up on dishes and clear  the fridge of spoiled food
regularly. Cleaning cabinets and counters will also go a
long way toward keeping your allergies in check.

 

 

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100 Years of Celebrating Mothers

momHistory is fascinating to me so with Mother’s Day being around the corner I thought I would do a little research to find out how/when this precious holiday began.  Now as you know when you search the internet you can end up with all kinds of results.  First I discovered that this year marks 100 years of nationally celebrating mothers!  Mother’s Day is attributed to a few different people but one in particular shows up a lot, Ann Jarvis.  Her campaign to celebrate mothers began in 1905, the year her mother passed.  Ann believed mothers, “do more for us than any other person in the world” and wanted to show appreciation by remembering her mother and continuing her mother’s work as a peace activist and caring for wounded soldiers.  The first Mother’s Day as we know it was celebrated in 1908 when Ann held a memorial for her mother in her home state of West Virginia.  Later in 1910 West Virginia was the first state to officially recognize Mother’s Day. Due to Ann’s continued efforts, in 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

I’m sure we all celebrate Mother’s Day in different ways and probably all have our own family traditions.  Some big, some small.  One thing I found interesting though is as I researched further Ann Jarvis, the lady that worked hard to have a special day to honor mothers, tried equally as hard to rescind the holiday.  She became resentful of the commercialization and angry that companies would profit from the holiday.  Jarvis organized boycotts and threatened lawsuits to try to stop the commercialization. She crashed a candymakers convention in Philadelphia in 1923. Two years later she protested at a confab of the American War Mothers, which raised money by selling carnations, the flower associated with Mother’s Day, and was arrested for disturbing the peace!  She’s quoted as saying, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” Jarvis reportedly said. “And candy! You take a box to Mother – and then eat most of it yourself. A petty sentiment.”  Wow!  How many of us are guilty of going at the last minute and grabbing some “printed” card and hardly taking the time to sit and truly write to say, “Thank-you” or take the time to let our moms know all the reasons we appreciate them.  I realize some no longer have the opportunity to tell their mom all that she has meant, if that’s the case I encourage you to find a mom, maybe a young mother and let her know you recognize and appreciate her.  For those of us that are still blessed to have our mothers I want to challenge you to sit and write to your mom (sorry Hallmark!).  A fancy card or big gift isn’t necessary.   As  a mother myself I KNOW that heartfelt words from my kids is what will mean the most!

For more on Ann Jarvis visit http://www.kansas.com/2014/04/27/3424594/hallmark-celebrates-the-100th.html

Happy Mother’s Day!!

 

 

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Kitchen Lift

 

kitchenReady to upgrade your kitchen but don’t have an “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of budget?  This Old House and HGTV have three options for you to revive your kitchen on a budget.

1.  Color Splash:  Adding a new color or fresh coat of paint can do wonders to the overall look and feel of your kitchen.  Painting over dark or white cabinets with a cool hue, such as pale sage green or create a focal point by just painting your island.  Adding new updated hardware or adding a tile backsplash can also make a big impact on a dated kitchen.

2.  See the Light:  Good lighting is essential in the kitchen!  Recessed lighting can get pricey so look for pendant lighting that will add character over the island.  Mirror the style of hardware on your faucet and cabinets.  Under the counter lighting can also be useful, inexpensive and add a warmth to your kitchen.

3.  Store More:  Does anybody have too much storage? I doubt it!  Try hanging pot racks to store extra cookware and to add another visual element to the kitchen.  Built-ins can get expensive so look at hardware stores for options on storage kits and organizers to fit your current cabinetry.

Using these three easy inexpensive ideas can do wonders to a dull or outdated kitchen.  Who knows maybe you won’t even mind spending time in there!

 

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Brighten Up..Buttercup!

buttercupsOk so hopefully you are well underway with the “spring cleaning” and as promised I have some ideas to “brighten up” too.  Although spring is a rainy time, the sun seems to shine brighter outside so here are some ideas to brighten the inside as well.

1. Open the curtains and blinds!  This is the most inexpensive thing you can do to brighten everything up!  It sounds simple but if you are like me you are not as likely to “open up” during the cold months.  It makes such a difference to open up the blinds and even the windows throughout the house, it will even brighten your mood:-)

2.  Box up winter coats and boots.  Coat closets and mud rooms have been full of coats, boots, hats and gloves.  Put them away!  You (hopefully) don’t need them for a while.  Just seeing empty closets and coat racks lightens up the look of your home.

3.  COLOR  This is a very broad topic and can be big or small but can make a huge impact.  Any decorator will tell you paint is a great inexpensive way to make a huge difference.  Spring is a great time to brighten up the beige with a color.  Even if you don’t want to paint everywhere choose a wall that you see when you first walk into a room and paint it a coordinating color.  If you don’t want a different color you could even try a color a few shades lighter that the other walls for an accent.   Happy with your colors? then a fresh coat of paint in rooms you use the most is a great option.

Throw pillows, area rugs and light throws are also a great way to easily add color.  The good thing about these options are they are quick, easy, fairly inexpensive and best of all can be changed for the different seasons.

color2014

According to HGTV, a vivid purple with pink undertones is the color for 2014.  I’m not sure about purple for me but check out this HGTV article to see if any of their ideas strike your fancy.

 

4.  Fresh Linens A fun way to lighten up a bedroom is to replace the same old sheets with brighter colored sheets.  You could also choose a lighter quilt or coverlet to use during the spring and summer months.

This work in bathrooms too, display brightly colored towels and rugs.  Hang a new shower curtain and add a new spring scented candle to transform the whole space.

5.  Fresh Flowers  With all of the spring blooms hopefully you have a few you could pick in your yard to display around the house.  If not pick up an inexpensive bouquet when you are at the grocery, they don’t have to be anything fancy.  Flowers have a way of bringing a smile to everybody and can do wonders to brighten up your home.

6.  Love the Outdoors too!  Don’t forget the outside.  Sweep off patios and uncover the patio furniture. Inspect furniture cushions and consider bright cushions or pillows.  Clean out beds and plant some new flowers.  Hang a floral wreath on the door and plant the window boxes and planters to brighten your curb appeal.  Finally one of my favorites, fill bird feeders and enjoy watching all of your spring visitors!

Hopefully these ideas will help to brighten up your space.  Coming next I will share some home projects that are great to tackle in the spring.  Get out and enjoy some sunshine!

 

 

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