5 Steps for Game Day Party Success

Whether you have been planning for months or you’re inviting guests the day of, hosting a huge crowd on game day requires a bit more than RSVPs and a welcoming setting. Whether a “huge crowd” to you means five guests or 50, starting out with a plan can help make the day more enjoyable for everyone.

To help make your game day soiree a success, knowing which snacks are top picks for the event might make shopping a little easier. The experts at Frito-Lay North America conducted the inaugural U.S. Snack Index – a poll that surveyed Americans for insights on which snacks rose to the top for consumers this year – to share what guests want on game day.

Get Organized From Guests to Groceries. From sending invites to selecting the snacks you’ll serve, start by organizing your thoughts and writing down the details. For starters, create a guest list so you’ll know exactly how much food and drink you’ll need to buy and map out your grocery list for a stress-free trip to the store.

Game Day Setup. A picture is worth a thousand words, and you can rest assured many game day viewers will plan to share images of their spreads on social media. To make sure your game day setup is ready for primetime, start by decluttering your space, arranging furniture for ample seating and laying out the picture-perfect snack table so guests can reach for snacks, plates, napkins and utensils with easy access.

Snacks for All. While it may be first instinct to feel like you need to cook crafty dishes and artsy snacks, that may not necessarily be important to game day guests. In fact, according to the index, nearly all game day party-goers will enjoy snacks during the competition, and 80 percent of viewers said they’ll eat either potato or tortilla chips. Chips aren’t the only thing to consider. Score big with your guests by picking the perfect pairings, like salsa for tortilla chips, which ranks as the most popular dip overall, or French onion dip, which is the most popular choice for dipping potato chips.

Encourage Fun for Everyone. Of course, the game is the reason for the party and the center of attention, but the fact is it’s possible not every person in attendance is a sports fan. By bringing out board games or cards and setting up tables in adjacent rooms, you can encourage a fun environment for everyone at the party. Plus, by creating a secondary station away from the TV, you’ll allow for non-sports conversation without upsetting the diehards.

Keep it Simple. Generally, game-day watch parties are of the more laid-back variety. This no-fuss attitude carries over into party snack prep, as more than half of viewers surveyed in the U.S. Snack Index prefer to prepare simple recipes whether they’re hosting or attending. On top of laid-back snacks, more than one-third of consumers polled plan to simply put snacks in the closest bowl rather than planning out a social media-worthy snack table.

Source: Frito-Lay

Published with permission from RISMedia.

3 Tips for Packing More Efficiently for Your Move

Moving can be a stressful experience. While some things can be prepared in the weeks leading up to the move, packing and moving out in a single day can still be a challenge.

These packing tips can help you avoid common issues and save you time and effort:

Plan Ahead
Before your move, it’s important to buy all the boxes, tools and packing material you’ll need. Make sure to purchase more than you think you’ll use to avoid running out on moving day.

Create a toolbox of things that you’ll be using to help you move. This should include sticky tape, plastic bags and anything else you think you might use. This box should be the last one you close and seal once you’re ready to leave your old house.

Also, create a clearly labeled box for priority items—small appliances, tableware and medicine—which may be used on move-out day and which will need to be accessed quickly when you reach your new home.

Garbage can be difficult to deal with when leaving. It’s best to prepare methods ahead of time to deal with trash, such as organizing enough garbage bags and space allocated to keep it.

Reducing the amount of unnecessary items you have before your move can help to minimize this problem. Perishable items like food should be eaten or disposed of before moving out, and borrowed or rented items returned.

Have a Plan for Move-Out Day
Start by packing the belongings you use least, such as those in storage. Pack room by room while labeling the boxes according to their contents and the room they came from. Keep the boxes in separate groups so they’re unpacked together.

You can save space by packing smaller items into containers you already own, such as baskets and suitcases. However, don’t fill cupboards and other pieces of furniture as they likely aren’t secure and can be damaged.

Delicate items such as art pieces should be wrapped in plastic sheeting, covered with bubble wrap and placed in a closely fitting cardboard box. Wrapping plastic sheets around furniture and other belongings can also protect them from dirt, dust and moisture during the move.

Fragile boxes should be marked and filled with protective packing so that the items can’t move within the box. Very delicate or important personal belongings should be taken with you in a personal bag or stored safely in your vehicle.

Pack an individual bag for each family member. Be sure to include essentials such as toiletries, personal items and a change of clothes, which can help keep you organized and comfortable when you spend the first night at your new house.

Stay Safe
Take apart any furniture that can be dismantled to save space and make packing easier. Screws or other equipment from the furniture can be kept in a clear plastic bag and taped to the furniture or kept securely.

Boxes with books in them can get quite heavy. Remember not to over-pack them, and consider filling up remaining space with lighter items like linens.

Packing lighter items in large boxes and heavier items in smaller boxes can help to keep weight consistent. Heavier items should be packed into boxes first. These heavier boxes should also be packed first into your moving truck, closest to the ground.

Gas cylinders should be emptied and have their valves left open. Any flammable liquids such as paint thinners and other chemicals should be used or disposed of before your move, as they can be dangerous to transport.

With the right preparation and some helpful tips, your move-out day will be a stress-free experience. Which tips will you use? Let us know in the comments below!

This appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

Daniel Defendi is a writer and researcher within the moving industry, and recommends Adlam Transport for more help and advice. You can catch Defendi on LinkedIn to discuss this piece.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

5 DIY Winter Home Repair Hacks

Even if you’re not terribly handy, there are many simple household repairs that you can easily do yourself to avoid unnecessary time and expense. This is especially true in the winter, when little improvements can make a big difference in your comfort and energy consumption.

If you’re like most people, your home is your single largest investment, so it’s common to be apprehensive about tackling home repairs if you have little experience. However, learning to do some basic home maintenance is a smart way to protect and maintain your home’s value without having to locate, schedule and supervise a contractor.

These common household fixes to winter-proof your home are easy enough for a novice, but might just give you a boost of confidence to tackle bigger projects in the future.

Painting. There’s no time like the dull, dark days of winter to realize how dim a room may be. When you’re spending more time indoors anyway, it might as well be for a productive purpose, like adding some life to a dreary room. Whether you update the entire space or simply add an accent wall, painting is a low-cost, entry-level way to enhance your home’s aesthetic appeal.

Seal air leaks. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home has a half-mile of gaps and cracks where air and moisture can enter, and these air leaks account for 25-40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a typical home. Filling gaps and cracks brings immediate savings while making the home more comfortable and environmentally friendly. It actually takes little time or skill to fix air leaks, which are especially common around doors and windows.

Add insulation. Another energy-saving idea you can tackle by yourself is improving your home’s insulation. A great deal of the home’s heat escapes through the attic, but adding more insulation can help trap warmth, making your home more energy efficient. Insulation also helps resist moisture infiltration and condensation, which is particularly concerning during the winter months.

Tile accents. If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of laying your own tile floor, starting with some accent tile is a simple way to practice. A bathroom or kitchen backsplash is a small space that requires a relatively small amount of material and a well-defined workspace. When selecting your tile, be conscious of how much trimming you’ll need to do to accommodate features like electrical outlets; choosing a smaller tile or using sheets of tile may make that step easier.

Add storage. Spending extra time indoors is likely to remind you just how cluttered some areas have become. Take advantage of the time to organize and add storage elements to help keep your space neat and clean. Organizer shelves and closet systems are typically easy to assemble and can serve as functional additions to your home.

Source: Great Stuff

Published with permission from RISMedia.

How to Keep Pipes From Freezing

Brrr, it’s cold outside! This means your home is taking the brunt of the weather to keep you snug indoors, and your pipes often take a beating when exposed to cold temps.  To help keep your pipes from freezing – which can lead to costly repairs – Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® professionals offers a few simple tips:

Allow the faucet to drip. Keeping water moving will prevent pressure from building up and keep the pipe from bursting. This is typically good for short-term fixes like overnight when the temperature lowers to freezing, and you are still home. That way, you can still turn the water off during the day and limit your water usage. A few pennies spent on water overnight is better than salvaging water damage after a burst pipe.

Keep inside doors and cabinet doors open. A lesser known trick, but an easy one. A closed cabinet door essentially seals your pipes in a refrigerator. The open doors help air flow move and let the heat from the rest of the house help avoid frozen pipes.

Add extra insulation. Keep your pipes warm by using formal pipe insulation or newspaper. Pipes in basements or attics are not the only ones that may not be properly insulated from the cold; if you have had a problem with frozen pipes anywhere in your home, extra insulation could be the answer.

Seal up cracks and holes. You should caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes. This should be done on both interior and exterior walls. Doing so can help keep the cold air out and the warm air in. A simple project that can make a big difference!

Know the signs of frozen pipes and call a plumber immediately if you expect your pipes have frozen. If you notice frost on your exposed pipes, such as the ones in unheated garages, crawl spaces and attics – or if it’s below freezing outside and you experience slow or uneven water supply – there’s a good chance your pipes are frozen or in the process of freezing. Go to the home’s main water valve and shut it off immediately, and call a plumber.

Source: http://bit.ly/1xE4dXL.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

4 Reasons to Buy During the Off-Season

Instead of decorating your home for the holidays, why not buy a new one? While winter is part of the off-season in real estate, many buyers find that it’s the perfect time of year to buy the home of their dreams. After all, you’ll have a lot more fun decorating a new home than your current one. Here are some reasons to consider buying real estate in the off-season:

Fewer Buyers
More people choose to move during the spring and summer months than at other times of the year; therefore, when you choose to buy in the winter, you have fewer people looking at properties. This ultimately means you’ll be up against less competition as you search for your new home.

Low Figures Accepted
When you buy during the off-season, you may be surprised that people accept your low bid amount. People don’t want to wait long to sell their house, and they’ll often settle for less during the winter. Most sellers who list their home in the winter are motivated to sell. Since there are fewer purchases being made, you can also usually get home inspections done at a faster rate, and mortgage companies may speed through your paperwork.

Personalized Attention
Your real estate agent only has 24 hours in their day. During busy times, those hours must be divided among more clients. During slower periods, however, the agent can focus more on your needs and desires. This allows them to find you the perfect property without having to see properties that aren’t suitable for your needs. Most experienced real estate agents can tell amazing stories of houses that they saw sell during winter at a low price because the seller didn’t want to wait until the warmer months.

Winter Heating
Approximately 30 percent of home energy is spent on heating and cooling a home. When you buy in the winter, you can find where the cold drafts are in a prospective home, allowing you to insist that they are fixed before you buy the home. Alternatively, finding these drafts quickly and fixing them yourself allows you to save money quickly. Fixing a draft may be as simple as applying weatherstripping to a gap.

There are many reasons not to wait until spring to buy your home. Buying in the off-season when not as many people are looking often allows you to get a home that you want at a lower cost. Then, you can be singing “I’ll be Home for Christmas” this year!

This appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

By Lizzie Weakley

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Refresh Your Space: 5 Steps to Simplify Your Next Paint Project

A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your home. Whether you’re revamping a main living area or freshening up your home’s curb appeal, some planning and preparation, plus the right painting tools, go a long way toward helping you achieve a professional-looking finished project.

Execute your paint project flawlessly with these tips and tricks from Jennie Kitchen, product manager, Valspar Applicators at The Sherwin-Williams Company, Consumer Brands Group:

Step 1: Choose Your Color
Selecting a color can often be the most difficult part of a paint project. While browsing through all the colors can be overwhelming, a resource like AskVal.com offers a variety of tools to help you select the perfect shade. You can also have paint chips delivered to your home for free, allowing you to see how they look in your space.

Step 2: Pick Your Tools
Every paint project is unique and may require different tools depending on the size of your space and type of paint you choose. However, there are a few must-haves for nearly every project such as brushes, rollers, roller frames, an extension pole, a paint tray with liner and rags.

“The quality of your paint rollers and brushes is just as important as the paint you use,” Kitchen says. “For a smooth finish and easy application, I recommend Valspar’s line of applicators and accessories, which are now available at Lowe’s and work well with all paints and stains. Our quality painting tools make it easy for DIYers to bring their projects to life.”

Step 3: Prep Your Space
Start by removing all of the furniture or pushing everything to the center of the room and covering it with a drop cloth or plastic sheet. Remove outlet and switch covers, and clean dirt, dust or grime from the walls using a microfiber duster or vacuum attachment. Don’t forget to lay drop cloths, tape off trim and fill in any small cracks or holes.

Step 4: Apply Your Paint
Start at the top, beginning with the ceiling, and work your way down to the walls and trim. A tool like Valspar’s Wall and Trim brush is ideal for most interior painting projects. Its thin, tapered design provides ultra-clean lines when cutting-in around windows, door frames and molding.

When you’re ready to roll, start at a corner of the room in a 2-by-4-foot section at the top of the wall. Then roll downward into a narrow V shape, filling in any unpainted areas as you go. Once you are done with the top section, move down and repeat until you’ve reached the baseboard.

If you’re painting standard height ceilings or taller, it’s helpful to use an extension pole. For a seamless finish, it’s important to always keep a wet edge and let the weight of the loaded roller do the work. Some pressure can be applied as the roller cover starts to run out of paint, but if you hear a “sizzling” sound, that means it’s time to reload with more paint. To finish, use the roller and roll straight down all the way across your walls.

Step 5: Clean Up Your Mess
Remove tape while the paint is drying to avoid paint peeling, remove drop cloths and then rearrange furniture. Between paint projects, always clean brushes with soap and water, but don’t leave brushes soaking in water. Always save the package, known as the keeper, to help the brush retain its shape.

Source: Valspar

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

6 Costs Homeowners Overlook and How to Pay for Them

For many people, a house is the biggest investment they’ll ever make. And whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’re buying your third property, you’re bound to end up covering some unexpected expenses. Here are six costs homeowners tend to overlook and how to pay for them:

1. Property taxes
Be prepared to pay property taxes and keep in mind that they rarely decrease. Homeowners often pay them every month along with their mortgage payments. If your loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration, you’re required to have an escrow or impound account.

If you don’t have to make property tax payments through an escrow account, they may be due at the end of the year. In some counties, you might pay them in installments.

2. Homeowners association fees

Whenever you move into a new home or condominium, you become part of a community. In many cases, there are fees associated with the maintenance and general upkeep of shared common areas. The money collected might cover snow removal, landscaping or repairs to a meeting room.

Monthly homeowners association (HOA) fees for standard single-family homes tend to cost between $200-$300, but rates can vary depending on several factors, including how recently a housing community was built and the kinds of amenities that are available. That’s why it’s best to know how much fees cost upfront. In West Hollywood, Calif., for example, residents in Sierra Towers condos get access to a 24-hour concierge service and valet parking, but spend around $4,000 per month on HOA fees.

3. Insurance premiums
If you own a home, another cost you should include in your budget is insurance. The average annual homeowners insurance premium costs $1,120, according to recent data provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but the amount you pay may be higher or lower based on where you live and the kind of policy you choose. Homeowners insurance typically covers personal possessions, liability for injuries that take place on your property, the structure of your house and additional costs associated with living elsewhere if your home is severely damaged. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, you might need a supplemental policy like flood insurance.

4. Repair and maintenance costs
Repairing or replacing a roof, furnace or air conditioner can be expensive, and at some point, you might have to address plumbing issues or trade in some old appliances.
The cost of home maintenance is another thing you’ll have to factor into the cost of homeownership. You’ll need money to keep your yard, gutters, carpet and everything in between in tip-top shape.

Financial experts generally recommend setting aside 1 percent of your home’s value to cover the cost of unexpected repairs and maintenance. If you’re trying to save money, you’re better off doing some of the work yourself. Just make sure you have enough funds for the materials you need to get the job done.

5. Costs associated with selling a home
Having a home that’s well-maintained not only lets you enjoy your house while you’re living there, but also prevents you from being saddled with additional costs when you’re ready to sell it.

Replacing your roof or furnace might be something you want to put off, but failing to make necessary repairs or meet demands made by potential homebuyers could hurt your market value or cost you a sale.

6. Pest control costs
Pests are a real concern for many homeowners. Over time, all sorts of critters—like termites, ants, spiders and rodents—might invade your home. Depending on how serious the problem is, you might need to fumigate your house.

If you’re interested in buying a home, make sure you hire an inspector to check for bugs and termites that could cause structural damage. While lenders don’t always require homebuyers to pay for pest inspections, it’s important to have one done. You don’t want to close on a house only to find out later that there’s an issue. Termite inspections generally cost between $75-$150, according to Angie’s List.

Build a rainy-day fund!
It’s always better to be prepared for a storm than to be caught in a downpour without an umbrella. Despite the high costs, owning your own home can be a rewarding experience.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst by keeping enough money in your savings account to cover unforeseen costs. Make sure you account for all of the hidden expenses and fees associated with buying a home and budget accordingly.

This appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

Hippo is an InsureTech company that’s reimagining home insurance through the lens of homeowners. Hippo Insurance is available to homeowners in 10 states throughout the U.S. and will be available to more than 60 percent of the nation’s homeowners by the end of 2018.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

What to Check Before Your Home Inspection

If you’re listing your home, you may be getting ready to schedule a home inspection. However, there are a few things you should do before the inspector arrives.

“A bad home inspection can be devastating to your home’s value,” says Jerry Hall, owner of Assured Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing, “so it’s imperative to take the necessary steps to prepare.”

Assured Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing offers the following tips to prepare for a home inspection:

Check for and repair any leaks. According to the EPA, the average household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water a year due to leaks. An easy way to test for a leak is to plan a two-hour period when no water will be used and then examine the water meter at the beginning and end of the period. If it changed, the presence of a leak is likely. All faucets, indoor and outdoor, should be tested for proper water pressure, and crawlspaces and basements should be inspected for signs of water. Leaks can lead to property damage such as sagging floors and encourage the growth of mold, leading to poor and unhealthy indoor air quality.

Assess the condition of the water heater. A water heater should deliver hot water efficiently. One major issue to look for that can reduce efficiency is the presence of corrosion or scale on the heating element. Their presence can severely impact the effectiveness of the heating element, and severe corrosion may necessitate replacement. Opting to fully replace an aging unit, especially one 8-12 years of age, with a newer, more efficient model can add value to the home.

Schedule tune-ups for both the air conditioner and furnace. Both the heating and cooling systems in the home need to be serviced prior to a home inspection, and if they haven’t been serviced on an annual basis, there is even a good chance that any existing manufacturer’s warranties have been rendered void. Professional tune-ups typically involve cleaning the systems, changing filters, lubricating mechanical parts and checking safety points such as flues.

Source: Assured Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing

Published with permission from RISMedia.

DIY deck re-do: Resurface in a weekend

(BPT) – Outdoor living season means backyard BBQs, yard games and relaxing with a good book or good friends. If you own a wood deck, however, it also means considerable time and money spent on seasonal maintenance and deck repairs.

While wood decks are aesthetically pleasing, properly maintaining them requires regular stripping, sanding and staining. The process is labor-intensive, time-consuming, messy and costly – averaging between $540 and $1,050 each time, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

Consider this: For the same time and energy you would spend maintaining and repairing those old wood boards, you could replace them with a deck made of structurally superior composite material – and never again have to worry about upkeep. As long as the structural framework of your existing deck is intact and in good condition, you are a candidate for deck resurfacing.

‘Resurfacing an aging or decaying wood deck with new composite decking is a doable DIY project that can be completed over the course of a weekend or two with just a little know-how and the help of a few friends,’ explains Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex Company. ‘You get a brand-new deck for a lot less money than starting from scratch – and a lot less hassle through the years.’

Designed for maximum durability and minimal maintenance, wood-alternative decking is resistant to fading, staining, scratching and mold and, unlike wood, requires no sanding, staining or sealing. Just an occasional soap-and-water cleaning is all that is needed to retain a ‘like-new’ appearance and durability for decades.

Ready to resurface?

Follow these simple steps to a new deck surface that you can spend less time maintaining and more time enjoying:

Step 1: Examine the substructure

Before removing any boards, check your deck’s foundation. Start from the ground up by examining the footings, posts and joists. Pay close attention to the condition of the wood. Soft wood indicates rot and should be replaced before proceeding. If the existing framing and substructure are sound, you’re good to go.

Tip: To help ensure your substructure lasts as long as your new composite deck boards, use a protective tape, such as TrexProtect, to shield wooden joists and beams from moisture that can lead to rot and the loosening of deck screws and fasteners.

Step 2: Remove old deck boards

Remove any existing railing and begin prying up the nailed decking boards, leaving the substructure and framing in place. Start from the outside and move toward the house so you have a solid, safe platform from which to work.

Step 3: Level it out

To ensure a level surface for the new deck boards, make sure the joists are flat and even with one another. If any joists are bowed, you may need to plane or cut them.

Step 4: Install new deck boards

Begin laying out the new composite boards. Starting near the house, face screw the first board to the frame. Closely follow the instructions for spacing from the manufacturer’s installation guide. As you progress, check the spacing between the house and the deck boards to make sure they stay parallel with the house. Correct variations a little at a time over several rows to avoid large, tapered gaps.

Step 5: Complete with railing

Measure for each post location, and cut placement holes with a jigsaw. Then, drop the posts into the holes and bolt them securely. Slide sleeves over the posts and assemble railing and balusters per the installation guide. Finish off by adding your choice of decorative elements, such as post caps and top rail caps.

For more guidance on deck resurfacing, watch a step-by-step video from Trex at https://youtu.be/ZI8CYwI0MYM.

Categories: BPT

Speed Clean Your Space in 15 Minutes

We’ve all been there: That afternoon you planned to spend cleaning got eaten up with other commitments, and now your dinner guests are on their way, but the house is a mess. Whatever the reason, here are 7 ways to fake that clean home, fast.

All hands on deck. If you’re lucky enough to have family members or roommates around, ask them to pitch in. Divvy up rooms to declutter and tidy. If you don’t have any helping hands, you’ll just have to continue to the next steps, solo.

Focus on trafficked areas. Since time is short, make sure to focus on rooms your guests will frequent, like the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. The entryway is also important, as it’s the first thing your guests will see, so hang the jackets, straighten those shoes and stash that mail stack.

Freshen air. As you begin to clean, throw open the windows to let fresh air in. Too cold for open windows? Light a mildly scented candle or spray odor neutralizer.

Declutter. Step one is to run through your high traffic areas and remove clutter. Piles of mail, shoes on the floor, blankets unfolded, and errant clothes all need to be stashed. If you don’t have time to put things where they belong, do a tornado sweep with a laundry basket, nabbing all out-of-place items to rehome when you have more time. Simply stash your full basket in a hidden area, like a closet or laundry room.

Tidy. Now that the clutter is gone, tidy tables and counters to make your space look open and kempt. Stack those magazines in an orderly pile, arrange the remotes, put away those drying dishes, and take out the trash.

Wipe down. Head to the kitchen and bathroom with a rag and disinfectant and wipe down counters, mirrors and toilets that your guests might encounter.

Vacuum. Now that your surfaces are fully clean, run a vacuum over the floors (and furniture!) to pick up pet hair and dirt. Nothing says “clean home” like vacuum lines on the carpet, so fake it until you make it.

By Zoe Eisenberg

 

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

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