Upgrading Your Home the Affordable Way

Throughout the annals of time, the most beneficial rooms to upgrade have been kitchens and bathrooms. Naturally, the next most popular rooms to upgrade are laundry rooms and bedrooms, especially bedroom closets. Upgrading a room must be done with the most recent neutral accents and colors in mind so that the improvement is most likely to be appreciated by many. If forced to choose only a few rooms to upgrade, then select your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room or bedroom to get the greatest benefit from the resale or tax deduction on your home.

It wasn't easy. It was definitely worth it. 

Tax Deductions from Home Improvements

Unless your home is a rental property, most of your upgrades are not tax-deductible. However, the greatest benefit from home improvements lies in the resale value of your home. Capital improvements such as remodeling a kitchen, installing a septic tank, fitting a new water heater, pouring a new driveway, or making your home more accessible for the disabled or infirm are all considered permanent improvement which increases the value of your home. If these types of improvements are completed before a sale, they are tax-deductible.

Upgrading a Bedroom

Consider paint, crown molding, and sliding interior doors to improve the look of your bedroom. Today's sliding doors can take on a wide variety of styles: barn doors, French glass doors, split whiteboards, chalet barn doors, and many more looks. The walls can be changed to look very different also. They can be painted in stripes or other patterns. You could add mirrors to give the illusion of space, add a painted mural, or add wainscoting to create texture or interest to the whole room or portions of it.

The Most Value Added to a Home from an Improvement

Kitchen remodels generally generate the greatest return for your investment. Add as much as 15% to the value of your home with an upgraded kitchen. Kitchen appliances that are more than five years old should be updated to the most current models that you can afford. Today, the popular look of appliances is stainless steel, but you should consider what fits with your décor and the function of your kitchen as well. 

Just painting my cabinets made a HUMONGOUS difference.

Another focal point in the kitchen is the cabinetry. Still, another is the kitchen countertops. Updating the cabinets increases your home's value significantly. Consider updating the finish, the hardware, and adding special features like wine racks and corner cabinets to make better use of space. Instead of laminate countertops, opt for something more permanent and durable like concrete or granite. By making these improvements, the value of your home will multiply in value by a significant number. If money is a problem, use creativity. Consider ideas from affordable sources.

Bathrooms Can also Add Tremendous Value to a Home

No guest bath in your home? Adding one could greatly increase your home's value. A guest bath is traditionally a half bath with a sink and toilet only. If you have the room, you may decide to install a full bath with a sink, toilet, and bath/shower. A full bath contributes even greater value. Just like the upgraded kitchen, a new bathroom can increase a home's value by 10.5 percent with a half bath and a full 20 percent with a full bathroom. Repair tile on the floor and walls, replace traditional toilets with the new low flow water-conserving toilets. Add shower heads and controls that add a variety of functions like rainfall, high pressure, and handheld.

The Last Room that Adds Value to a Home

Oddly enough, walk-in closets can add tremendous value to your home. These are especially valuable in master bedrooms. If you can build one for both spouses, that's even better. A home with a double sink and double walk-in closets wins every time.

Saving Money on Upgrades

To save money, begin by starting with the most important aspect of the upgrade. If you are working with a kitchen that has old appliances, bad floors, and horrible countertops, you'll need to price your replacement features at an outlet store because all those elements should be replaced. If you are attempting to upgrade another room, choose the least costly manner of refinishing walls or floors, but always use the best materials. Never compromise on quality, but always seek out discounted versions of the best elements. Take advantage of store specials for labor and materials, whether seasonal or sold in bulk.

Tips To Save Big and Stress Less This Winter

I'm an obsessive organizer and planner. I can't help it, I need the order to stay sane. Even if it makes my husband and child insane in the process. Whatever. In the end, they both see the method to my madness and the benefit!

Below are my 5 MUSTS to prepare for the upcoming cold weather and holiday season.

1. Create a holiday/winter budget. It certainly doesn't help that the holidays begin when the kids need new seasonal clothes, the electric bill starts to skyrocket, and the grocery bill nearly doubles. I've learned the hard way to prepare the holiday/winter budget now, so I don't break the bank later.

TIP: Factor in how much you will need for seasonal clothes, holiday gifts and groceries (People always forget about holiday groceries!) higher utility bills and every other inevitable incidental that breaks the bank year after year.

2.  Start stocking up. Over the next few months, depending on where you live and the holidays you celebrate, a few things are about to become hot commodities, things you can grab in the stores and online now, that may not be easy to find or marked up later. Things like holiday wrapping, ice melt/salt, snow shovels, ice scrapers, gloves, hats, mittens, batteries, blankets... You see where I'm going.

Rather than wait until the first snowstorm to race out and get ice melt, I get it now. I also check our car windshield wipers, scrapers and snow shovels now to make sure they will withstand another season. Basically, I make a list of things I need and keep it in my wallet so when I'm out I will keep an eye out for sales and specials for each item.

3. Prepare the yard. Beginning in fall, plants, especially the delicate ones, need to be prepared for bitter winters and droughts. If you don't know what your Azaleas, rhododendrons, shrubs and trees need this time of year to safely make it through winter, look it up now! While some plants will need mulch, others will be fine. Some plants need to be cut back now, others after winter.  Some will need fertilizer now, others not until after winter. Knowing what your plants and trees need, can make a HUGE difference in the spring, especially with the bloomers, so take the time now to make them happy and thriving later! Check out this great post on ways to prepare the garden for Fall's first frost. 

4. Weatherproof the house.  As much as I pride myself on being organized and a great planner, it took me a few years to grasp the fact that most home weatherproofing needs to be done well before the first frost! I can't tell you how many times I have started to put plastic on the windows only to realize it's WAY too cold outside for the adhesive to stick. Most weatherproofing materials need it to be at least 55-65 degrees outside to work, so don't wait for the first frost to weatherproof under your roof. Here's a great post for easy, money-saving weatherproofing tips. 

5. Prepare the car for emergencies. There's no doubt about it, the winter weather is notorious for creating stranded motorist and long delays. The last thing I want to do is be caught on the side of the road in a snowstorm without a few essentials.

In my trunk, in addition to a small bag of ice melt/salt, I keep a duffel bag with a blanket, flashlight, a few bottles of water and packs of peanut butter crackers. I also have a mom-kit in the car loaded with winter essentials and daily must-haves; tissues, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, lotion, lip gloss, a few snacks and a bottle of water.

These small steps now save big headaches and budget-busting winter dread. At least, it does for me!

Is there anything you do now prepare for the holidays and colder dryer months that saves you time and money later?

These Home Weatherproofing Tips Will Save You A Bundle.

Between the drafty doors and windows and old pipes in my 100-year-old home, it's essential I  winter-weatherproof before the first arctic blast. Here are twelve easy, tried, tested and totally worth it tips to weatherproof your home and save big bucks on your bills this winter.

Life-Saving Tips To Keep Your Family, Pets + Home Safe In Cold Weather

To reach as many people with this article as possible, I'm going to avoid using all of the colorful four-letter words I prefer to use when describing cold temperatures, brutal wind chills, and deadly winter forecasts, but just know, I'm screaming, FU*K THIS SH!T, on the inside.

For many, including myself, the Polar Vortex Express is already barreling in. Deadly, brutally cold temperatures are about to ravish the USA. Unprecedented temps are hitting damn near all of us. Please, take every necessary precaution to keep your family, pets and home safe.

Below are a few essential Life-Saving Tips To Keep Your Family, Pets + Home Safe In Brutal Cold Temperatures:

1. Load up on layers. Wear layers of lightweight clothing while inside to stay warm. When you go outside, go all out! Cover all exposed skin and wear warm waterproof shoes. Parents, if you're not covered in sweat and feel like you've had one hell of a workout after bundling up the kids, then you're doing something wrong. Do not mess with this cold. Frostbite hits fast and hard. NEVER go out without gloves and a hat, they prevent the loss of essential body heat.

2. Protect your pets: I don't care if Cujo is chained in your backyard, bring his ass in! Ok, fine, if Cujo must stay outside, provide shelter, blankets, fresh UNFROZEN water and extra love.
The ASPCA recommended during cold spells:
  • Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt, and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. Also, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

3. Don't space out on space heaters. Space heaters are dangerous AF, take all necessary precautions when using one; Place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable AT LEAST three feet away. ALWAYS turn off space heaters and unplug them before leaving the room or going to bed-- Children may turn them on without you knowing, unplug them for extra protection.
5. FIRE IN THE HOLE! If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs. Make sure embers are completely out before going to sleep or leaving the house. Smokers, that nasty-ass can of butts by your backdoor? That can is a fire hazard, it causes many, many house and apartment complex fires when a lit ciggy is tossed in resulting in a ciggy-butt bonfire disaster. Move those butts at least three feet from your house.
6. Protect your pipes. I know running water, even at a trickle, looks like money slipping down the drain, but it's nothing compared to the plumber's bill. Remember, you are riding out a storm, not making life changes. Bite the bullet and open the taps. Another great way to protect the pipes is by opening the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach the plumbing hiding behind them. NOTE: Move harmful cleaners and chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.

7. Hardcore heat the house. Turn up the heat and keep it there day and night. It may cost a few more dollars on your bill, but, a broken pipe bill will make you throw up. NOTE: Creativity is not key. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. DO NOT light a small fire in a safe space. DO Layer on the blankets and phone a friend.
8. Care for the car- Check tires, wipers, antifreeze and never go below a quarter of a tank.  Keep a winter safety kit in the trunk that includes a flashlight, battery-jump box, water and a blanket.
9. GENERATORS ARE NOT FOR GARAGES! Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage. NOTE: Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
10. Love Thy Neighbor. Check on your neighbors and make sure they are at a minimum alive. This brutal cold can be hell on the elderly. Look out for those awesome people. You do realize, not only will you be elderly one day, you too will be a twenty-year-old at heart trapped in an old-ass body, be cool to them, because they are cool AF.

BONUS TIP: New Year's Eve Party-goers, getting wrecked-ass-wasted on New Year's Eve and frolicking outside in a drunken stupor is No Bueno. Booze and cold temps= Bad news. Stay layered up and don't think because you're boozed up you're warm and cozy. Not. Even. Close. Alcohol dilates warm blood vessels near the skin creating the impression of warmth, all the while it's lowering your core body temperature!

Please share this article with friends and family in the path of brutal temps, it could save their family, pet, neighbor, pipes, sanity...



5 Ways To Get Festive For The Holidays

I just can't get my head around the fact the month-long Holiday adventure of December is here!
Wasn't it just, August?
I am so not ready!
If, like me, you are freaking out and need to get your festive-on and fast, below are a few fun ways to get festive for the holidays!
1. Be Unconventional
Think: The hottest Christmas trend of 2017, the pineapple Christmas tree! (I swear I'm not kidding!) Head over to Pinterest on your lunch break (Or bored and want to look busy) and look for inspiration. Make the theme all your own! Screw the stockings and garland, go for Pineapples and sunnies!

2. Buy out the dollar store
Decking the Halls doesn't have to break the bank. Stop at the Dollar Tree after work and go wild on ten bucks.

First Time Dad Tip: When you get home, coat the walls with adhesive spray, throw the decorations in the middle of the floor and fire up the leaf blower. #GoodTimes

First Time Mom Disclaimer: We cannot and will not be held accountable if your dumb enough to try it. #Dumbassery

3. Don't feel like going through the work hanging lights? In less than thirty seconds you can light your house up like Clark Griswald with a Christmas Light Projector
Remember when we were kids and most decorations were made of foil or we had to string a thousand pieces of popcorn to make our own garland? Not. Any. More. Shove this sucker in your yard, plug it in and done!

4. Test out new recipes for holiday treats.

Kick the cookies up a notch. Raise the bar on brownies. Plan now so you blow everyone away at the holiday party or cookie exchange.
This year I'm trying these Christmas Tree Brownies

5. Craft something with the Kiddos!

Spend the frigid weekend inside making a winter wonderland!

Check out my Homemade Holidays Pinterest Board for a ridiculous amount of winter and holiday crafts, cooking, homemade gifts and decoration ideas!


Help STOP Infantile Spasms #ISAW2019

**Today, I'm partnering with ISweek.org to spread awareness about Infantile Spasms. Opinions are my own.

Nearly 1,200 infants every year are diagnosed with a rare seizure disorder called infantile spasms, yet many health care providers have never heard of this disease. There is a great need for awareness to help parents, caregivers, and providers to understand the signs and symptoms. Infantile spasms present as seizures that occur in infants under age 1 and can cause catastrophic, permanent damage to a child’s developing brain. Even more frightening, infantile spasms are often subtle enough to be easily overlooked by both parents and health care providers. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are critical, but are challenging because the condition can be mistaken for normal baby movements or other disorders that don’t demand urgency. I’m helping raise awareness of infantile spasms during Infantile Spasms Awareness Week, December 1-7, to help parents, as well as physicians and other health care providers, know about this disease and treatments.

There’s even an easy-to-remember acronym to help STOP infantile spasms: 

  • See the signs: Clusters of sudden, repeated, uncontrolled movements like head bobs or body crunching. 
  • Take a video: Record the symptoms and talk to your doctor immediately. 
  • Obtain diagnosis: Confirm an irregular brain wave pattern with an EEG test.
  • Prioritize treatment: End spasms to minimize developmental delays.

Together with leading child disease advocacy organizations and parent advocates, we’re sharing information about infantile spasms so parents, physicians, and nurses will know the signs to help STOP I.S. and help find a cure! Awareness is so critical because treatment options are available to improve babies’ quality of life. In fact, clinical trials going on right now are looking into new treatments to stop these seizures. Noah, a baby from Virginia and current infantile spasms clinical trial participant, was diagnosed in utero with a rare disorder that often leads to infantile spasms. His parents understood the severity of infantile spasms and quickly enrolled him in the trial. With early intervention and the incredible advancements in clinical treatment options, Noah is a thriving 8-month-old on track for normal development.  

Help me spread the word about the signs of infantile spasms during Infantile Spasms Awareness Week using the hashtag #ISAW2019 or visit isweek.org.

Together we share hope; together we can STOP IS!

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