Storm clouds are hanging heavy over our part of the world this week. What’s up with this weather pattern? Houston, we have a problem took on a whole new meaning and a whole lot of water Monday morning. Everything is bigger in Texas, including this most recent flooding event. My mother, channeling her inner Jim Cantore, kept me informed of the worsening weather conditions and rescue situations in the Greater Houston area throughout the day.
Funky weather conditions can dampen even the sunniest of dispositions. We’ve had just about all the sadness we can take around here lately, making the distract and deflect act I have become abnormally good at a necessary part of a cloudy day. Lighting plays such a significant role in our moods and energy levels. The right amount of the right kind of lighting can promote a calming, serene and pleasing atmosphere. Sunny days and the pristine natural lighting are favored, but not a 365 day reality.
What to do, what to do with the cloudy one at hand?
I know. Let’s take a gander at what’s going on with our feathered friends on a cloudy afternoon.
Dave the Builder put out bread and filled the chandelier bird feeder pots with seed late Sunday afternoon. We kept watch to see how well the birds would respond to this first feeding of the spring season.
Robins, blue jays, doves, cardinals, mockingbirds, sparrows –
You would think a rainy, cloudy day would keep them away, but it seems the weather was just right to entice these creatures to turn out to feed and frolic.
See the tilted and empty clay pots?
Meet the culprit.
Never underestimate the will of an alpha squirrel and the king of the yard swagger that goes along with it. This greedy gut and his partner in squirrel crime worked in tandem to tip each of the full clay pot feed holders over. This was one seedy ground game. A determined blue jay with expert aim dive-bombed the spotter squirrel and it was game on from there. Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal and the sparrows circled the wagons, and the doves noshed in couldn’t care less fashion. Victory was declared by the feathered finishers, and a pair of crestfallen squirrels cried “fowl” and retreated to the neighbors yard.
Food, cooking, and the gathering together of family and friends is an essential source of sustenance and life beyond the kitchen and dining table. Consider the role food plays in our all things house that make a home life. Over the prepping, preparing, plating and partaking of a meal we connect with family and friends, build and strengthen personal and business relationships, indulge in the art of expression and discovery, and create delicious and lasting memories. Food for thought.
J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, debunks five common Southern cooking myths over on the Garden & Gun blog Daily Shot. I was surprised to learn… Click on the link below for details.
Today’s blog post is brought to you by the letter R for rental refresh upgrades. The conversation of late between mama and papa Places In The Home and our soon to be college graduate son heading up to the Great White North to begin his career has revolved around rental property viewings, interiors, exteriors, accents (eh?) and scads of all things house that make a home (rented or owned) furnishings. This is the time of year when thoughts of apartments, condos, townhomes and single-family houses for rent and rental refresh upgrades begin to take center stage in the minds of college bound students, career starting college grads and newlywed couples. According to recent real estate and business reports, millennials trend more toward renting than buying.
The genius of internet listings, video viewings, real estate apps and Skype proves an essential tool in locating a property. With a few clicks, well placed phone calls and virtual tours, our son has successfully rented a two story Victorian-era style home. Now comes the fun part- the rental refresh upgrades. He and his girlfriend are currently in putting a stylish spin on his new abode mode. This is not our son’s first time at the rental rodeo. He knows all too well renting comes with caveats, and property management firms have rules and code restrictions that must be adhered to. Addressing the aforementioned right off the bat clearly defines the can and cannots. Fortunately, the home owner is on board with the updates and rental refresh upgrades our son wants to do to the property.
Fresh paint rules the rental refresh upgrade playbook. I ran across this quote yesterday and it really hit home.
“Color is the least expensive thing to put in a house.” —Ruthie Sommers
Color often gives the biggest return on your interior decorating investment. Paint is an instant update and covers a multitude of previous tenant color choice sins and the scuffs, streaks and uh-ohs made when moving out. As a housewarming gift, Mr. Girlfriend’s Dad is painting the entire interior and key exterior areas of the house. Going with a neutral color palette allows more breathing room in regards to accents and furnishings. Landlords and property managers love neutral palettes, and come closer to approving the request for painting with this color choice.
My inbox is experiencing a high volume of before, during and after pictures. It’s exciting to be in the loop, share in the progress and to be asked to be a part of the process .
Does it makes sense and cent$ to make updates and improvements to a rental property? Absolutely! Focus less on the fact your new residence is a rental and more on the fact that your new residence is where you call home. All things house that make a home come together to make the out of your own pocket rental refresh upgrades worth it for the sake of your comfort, convenience and personal style touch.
So worth it rental refresh upgrades good to go as in take it with you when you go ideas range from a programmable thermostat, stylish mirrors in bathrooms, accent rugs, light switch and wall plates, cabinet knobs and pulls, new shower head(s) and focal point light fixtures to exterior walkway lighting, planter boxes and a decorative mailbox. Renting or buying, it really is amazing how a sense of personal style, displaying objects of individual interest and decorating with accents that capture and convey your personality makes a house a home.
The welcome mat at Places In The Home is working overtime. Several of our family members are taking to the spring holiday road, and our house is do drop in central. Good visits begin with good hosting and good hosting begins with a stress free host or hostess. Entertaining is supposed to be a fun for guests and hosts alike, isn’t it? I know I have a much better entertaining experience if I access and assign a theme, go with the entertaining with ease flow and keep the focus on comfortable surroundings, inviting touches and relaxing times.
Texas times and family memories will be a hot topic of conversation. Our company’s travels begin in Texas Bluebonnet country, and with Texas being the common denominator of our family tree, I played it up in theme and setting. Farmhouse chic makes an effortless foundation to build your theme upon.
A simple arrangement of carnations mixed with greenery and placed beside an even simpler arrangement of apples and bananas in a milk glass center bowl provides a nice centerpiece in a farmhouse chic kind of way.
Fresh flowers from the floral department of the local grocery store are my weakness, and when the word clearance enters into the picture my shopping cart runneth over. You really get your money’s worth with carnations. Carnations can last for weeks with an every other day water change and a quick stem trim. I use tepid water, scale back leaves from the stems to prevent contact with the water, and place a couple of drops of food coloring in the water.
From recipes to table setting decor, I like to source from within meaning I like to use what I have on hand. A great home decor clearance sale and dollar store items purchased in bulk can provide all the entertaining with ease elements needed for a well designed themed tablescape.
art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way.
Into each case of design and decorating a little if kitchen kitsch is wrong, I don’t want to be right will fall. The method to my madness lies deeply rooted in the from which I came from principle. I picked up several sets of rooster dish towels at the local dollar store back during the holidays knowing full well they would come in handy. Paired with copper napkin rings I found on clearance at Dillard’s a couple of years ago, the dish towels made great dinner napkins.
The Places In The Home gang comes from a long line of hen on nest dish collectors. The women of our family felt no respectable kitchen and/or breakfast room decor complete without the addition of at least one hen on nest dish.
On the menu front I aim to please. Round our dinner table, quality rules over quantity which lines up perfectly with easy menu planning. As long as the iced tea is sweet and I keep the serving sizes in just a bite territory it is all good and tasty. The culinary rule of KISS (keep it salad simple) always applies.
I set up a salad buffet for first course serve yourself ease. Individual Mason jar salads layered with shredded iceberg lettuce, fresh tomato, chopped ham, green onion, Feta cheese crumbles, homemade buttermilk dressing and a dash of kosher salt and fine black pepper were a hit with the just a bite crowd.
Thank you, Vanilla Ice, for your catchy lyric and befitting words. This blast from the past catchy little lyric keeps on giving, and it could not be more appropriate than at this I’m freezing my tuchus off time of year. Ice Ice Baby it’s too cold! Let’s look at preparing your home for cold weather.
I recommend following the principle of P-plan, prep and protect.
Wind-resistant and waterproof gear for people, places and things who will come in contact with extreme outdoor temps and exposure a must! Preparing our son for his move to Canada taught us that lesson. Base layering applies to people, plants and pipes. Protect exposed skin from frostbite by basically NOT going outdoors in freezing temperatures. If being outdoors is absolutely unavoidable, dress in layers beginning with a base layer and protect the ears, nose, toes, fingers, chin and cheeks.
Wrap exposed pipes with cloth or insulated tubing. Further protect pipes by keeping the wind and frigid air off and away from them as much as possible. Elevated or raised houses such as those with a pier and beam foundation have exposed pipes that need to be protected from harsh, frigid winter temperatures and blowing winds. Wrapping the exposed space between the bottom floor and ground with plastic sheeting or tar paper will protect the pipes from the elements. Allow water to drip from interior faucets to maintain water flow activity and to keep pressure from building up in the pipes. It’s also a good idea to disconnect water hoses from the exterior spigots. In case of leak or pipe burst, turn off your home’s water supply at the water shut-off valve to avoid further damage.
Dave the Builder, the resident HVAC expert, suggests leaving the thermostat on a consistent setting keep the pipes warm. If circumstances call for you to be away from your home during periods of extreme winter temps, Dave suggests leaving the thermostat temperature set at 60ºF. A consistent interior setting will reduce temperature fluctuation and help to keep pipes warm. Open cabinet doors in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room to allow the heat in your home to circulate around the pipes.
Home for the Holidays comes with its joyful share of pulling out all the decorating, baking, entertaining, and celebrating the season stops. Here’s a few holiday household hints and tips that may prove to come in holiday handy, and here is a few more holiday hints and tips from holiday posts past. I’m all about kicking off the holiday season in a no problem November zone.
Remove wax drips from candlesticks by placing them in the freezer for thirty minutes. The “drips” will come right off.
Garlic belongs in the gumbo, not on your hands. Handling garlic and onion goes with the culinary territory and with that comes the smell that is left on your hands. Rub your hands on a stainless steel surface such as the kitchen faucet to cut the smell.
Remove coffee stains from a glass coffee carafe with a simple recipe of 1 tablespoon salt, a handful of ice cubes and 1 tablespoon of water. Add salt, ice and water to the cool carafe and swirl until clean. Rinse well with water and dry.
Cloudy vase? Fill vase with luke warm water and drop in a denture cleaner tablet. Let the tablet do its thing overnight. Pour out solution, wash vase with luke warm water and dry. Do not use hot water- it can cause the vase to crack.
Gunk, funk and baked on junk left behind on roasters and baking pans is not my idea of a welcomed holiday leftover. Baked on will be gone in two simple steps. Grab a couple of dryer sheets from the laundry room. Fill the pan half full of warm water and place the dryer sheets in the warm water. Soak the pan overnight.
Pack guests a parting piece of pie in these deluxe Wedge-Shaped Pie Box Kits from A la Modo on Etsy. The kits include:
This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of apartments.com. All opinions are 100% mine.
Plans, jobs, and college majors change. Getting one’s apartment living arrangement ducks in the proverbial row to accommodate and master those changes can be done with ease and confidence with apartments.com. Moving not in your immediate future, but interested in making a change? Considering a local move and curious about apartments on the local front? You’ve got questions and apartments.com has got apartment answers.
The apartment finding process has come along way since my college days. This fact resonates with us lately as we are helping our son relocate to a new university to complete his degree. The process has changed, but as the saying goes “The more things change, they more they stay the same.” Where to live coupled with the right aesthetic, floor plan, amenities offered, and the overall appeal and convenience of the area will always top location, location, location considerations. With conflicting schedules and an entire country between us, we are unable to conduct an in person apartment hunt at this time. Fortunately for us, the first step in the apartment selection process is in motion via apartments.com online virtual search and mobile app. It’s a #perfectfit for this scenario.
apartments.com makes locating a new apartment and gleaning ideas as easy as navigating the site. Enter the city, state, or zip of interest, desired number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and max amount of rent in the fields. The best matches for the entered information comes with complete property details, floor plans, photos, 360 degree views, phone numbers to the property, and availability of units. Community reviews and renter tips provide valuable tools for apartment searching to help renters find their perfect fit.
Searching for a new apartment through apartments.com is an informative starting point in the apartment selection process. In all the excitement and anticipation of a new beginning, it helps to have answers to the questions and concerns renters have in the important process of finding the perfect fit to call their new home.
Be sure to follow apartments.com on Twitter (@aptscom) for helpful tips and suggestions.
Floridians, Georgians, North and South Carolinians and the Mid-Atlantic Coasters are paying close attention to directions, weather conditions, and social media reports in regards to Hurricane Matthew #HurricaneMatthew. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have already experienced devastation and loss related to Hurricane Matthew. This storm is packing the power and potential impact problems worth paying attention to. Your Louisiana neighbors are no strangers to a hurricane. No, not this kind.
East, West and Gulf Coast residents know all too well placing proactive hurricane preparedness safety tips in play is the only way to go. Don’t be a hurricane hero, folks. Being prepared for the power outages that usually accompany a hurricane, tropical storm or flooding event is crucial. Prepare, Evacuate, Survive.
Fill up cars with gas ASAP. Stock up on the basic essentials for riding out the storm- water, batteries, lanterns, flashlights, weather and regular radios, and non-perishable foods.
Maintain at least 3-7 days of food for each member of the family. Ready-to-eat canned foods that do not require cooking or refrigeration work best. We stock up with bread, peanut butter, jelly, crackers, trail mix, individual jello and pudding, granola bars, canned coffee, tea, soft drinks. Don’t forget the pet foods!
Charge all cell phones and devices now! The safety of you and your family is key, and as long as we are safe I can handle the inconvenience of no power and no A/C. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hate being without air conditioning, but we adapt.
Thank you to the emergency workers and utilities workers. God bless and keep you safe as you work in less than favorable conditions to restore the power to the many homes and businesses that will surely be affected by #HurricaneMatthew.
Hurricane damage to our next door neighbors house. The image is blurred, but you get the idea. Total loss.
Tornadoes spawned in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac produced a fierce lightening event. The oak tree in our front yard served as a target for a strike, and the day of tree removal reckoning came sooner than later after the storms left the area.
Social media is a wonderful tool for getting the word out, educating and providing useful and pertinent tips and suggestions for emergency preparation.
These safety tips from Ready.gov offer sound and safe advice to follow before, during, and after the storm.
Before a Hurricane
To prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm, you should take the following measures:
To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
Know your surroundings.
Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
Make plans to secure your property:
Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
Determine how and where to secure your boat.
Install a generator for emergencies.
If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
During a Hurricane
Turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.Turn off propane tanks
1 gallon of water per person, per day
Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water for sanitary cleaning and toilet flushing.
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Remember any special dietary needs.
Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.
Following a disaster, there may be power outages that could last for several days. Stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Remember a manual can opener and eating utensils.
Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors. Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
Do not use a generator, propane or gas grill, or charcoal barbecue pit indoors. Operate your generator outdoors away from doors, windows and vent openings to avoid the dangerous build up of toxic fumes. Keep it at least 10 feet from any combustible surface.
After a Hurricane
Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact FEMA or the American Red Cross.
FEMA has established the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS), which has been developed to help reunite families who are separated during a disaster. The NEFRLS system will enable displaced individuals the ability to enter personal information into a website database so that they can be located by others during a disaster.
The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345). Before you go to a shelter, always check with your local emergency management agency for availability & services.
For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources
Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed¬ out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
REMEMBER TO NEVERuse a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.