Ask Away...: August 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017

4 Overlooked Tips for Cleaning Out Your Garage Once and For All

Let’s be honest: your garage is currently overflowing with junk, isn’t it?

Don’t sweat it. In fact, conventional wisdom tells us that most people are in the exact same boat. Whether you’ve just moved into your home or you’ve lived there seemingly forever, the garage often becomes a dumping ground for our odds and ends. From lawn equipment to items that are simply too big or unsightly to keep inside the house, it’s easy for the clutter in our garages to quickly spiral out of control.

That being said, “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t exactly work when you don’t even have enough room to park your car, does it?

If you’ve decided that “enough is enough” and you’re ready to finally tackle this behemoth of a DIY project, congratulations!

So, what do you need to know before you get your hands dirty?

Decide Between a Carport and a Garage

First thing’s first: you need to decide what your long-term goal is in terms of your garage. This may sound a bit silly; however, garages don’t necessarily need to be used for car storage. After all, you can always look into vehicle storage solutions from outlets like Carports and More. These retailers offer a multitude of ways to keep your vehicles safe outdoors so you can free up your garage for other projects.

Looking to create a workshop? How about a spare guest room? Such projects aren’t beyond your reach depending on how much space you need to clear up in your garage. Deciding this before you get to work will save you some major headaches.

Remove Everything (Yes, All of It)

We would advise that you commit the time to remove everything from your garage at once rather than try to chip away at cleaning over the course of weeks and months. Starting with your largest items, you need to clearly assess the condition of your garage and figure out what’s going to go where one it’s clean.

In many cases, you’re going find a lot of junk to pitch. Taking out everything at once forces you to decide right then and there what you’re going to keep and what’s going to the dumpster.

Mind Your Hazardous Materials

Obviously safety should be a top priority when it comes to cleaning out your garage, so be mindful of any chemicals or potentially dangerous substances you’ve been storing. For example, tread lightly when handling containers that may have been exposed to heat containing gasoline, antifreeze and the like. Take proper precaution when disposing of chemicals and do not pitch them with the rest of your garbage.

Make the Most of Your Wall Space

Finally, your ultimate goal while cleaning your garage should be to remove as much as you possibly can from the floor. Hanging items within your garage is a must-do, especially since you don’t have to worry so much about putting nails in the wall or installing heavy-duty hangers. From installing your own shelving units to hooks and beyond, just about anything is fair game to keeping your floor space clear for whatever it is you might be storing.

Cleaning out your garage can be a massive undertaking, but it’s totally worth it in the end once you’re done. With these overlooked tips in mind, you can make the clean-up process much easier on yourself.

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Three Ingredient Brownies Recipe

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 I am a sucker for brownies.  Baking has always been fun for me and the best part is the end product, of course.  Today, I have a super fun recipe for you. It's fun because it's SO simple!!!

One of the three ingredients is Rigoni di Asiago's Nocciolata Dairy Free Organic Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread. It's made with organic ingredients and contains absolutely no GMO's, preservatives, or added colors or artificial sweeteners.  This stuff is so yummy! it combines hazelnuts, fair trade cocoa and cocoa butter, natural vanilla extract, and raw cane sugar.  The flavor is amazing and it's nice to know it is made with environmentally-responsible cold-pressed sunflower oil.  And surprisingly it contains much less sugar than other brands. 

3 Large Eggs
1 Heaping Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Cups of Nocciolata

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.   Combine the flour, Nocciolata, and eggs in a bowl. 

Step 2: When the mixture is combined, pour into the pan.

Step 3: Bake for about 25 minutes, until the surface looks set and slightly crispy.

YUM!!!! It was so good, much better than any brownie I've ever made before.

THIS is the second paragraph of text post.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

4 Unique Projects That Will Make Use of Those Leftover Shingles

Replacing your roof is a big project. It’s important to hire a professional team to make sure your roof is installed correctly. Fortunately, roof financing is available that will make your next roof replacement more affordable.

If you spend a lot of money on your roofing project, you want to make sure that you use all the materials. It’s a good idea to keep a bundle or two of shingles for repairs, but what do you do with the rest?

Here are four fun projects that make use of those leftover shingles.
Create a Garden Path

There are so many fun ways to make a garden path. Plain old mulch is an easy solution, while using the boards of a pallet can help you recycle wood that would otherwise end up in the landfill. But, did you know you can create a garden path out of shingles too?

Lay down some mulch and overlap the shingles to create a path. After a year or two, the grass will secure the path in place, making it a fixture in your yard.
Roof a Birdhouse or Dog House

It’s not a good idea to roof your own house, but there’s nothing wrong with roofing a birdhouse or a dog house!

Roofing a bird house is the easiest project because the roofing material isn’t really protecting the house. It’s just used as a decorative feature. A bit more goes into installing a roof on a dog house, but it’s fairly easy as well, and it’ll make that dog house less of an eyesore in your yard.

If you get a little creative, you can find other objects to roof as well. Use the shingles to roof a tool shed or create a cute fairy cottage for your garden with a roof that matches the roof on your home.
Create a Welcome Mat

Shingles have to be able to stand up to the weather, which makes them rough and sturdy. These features also make shingles a great material to use as a welcome mat.

Layer the shingles in a visually pleasing way, glue them together, and cut them to size. You can even use outdoor paint to create a one-of-a-kind welcome message.
Create a Rustic Accent Wall

Not all shingles are created equal, but some can make just as much of a statement inside as they do outside.

Rustic accent walls are a unique way to add a little visual interest to rooms throughout your home. It gives your house a feeling of being both indoors and outdoors at the same time.

Traditional asphalt shingles aren’t the best choice. Instead, create an accent wall if you have leftover shingles like:

· Tile shingles

· Metal panels

· Wood shingles

· Copper panels

Even used shingles are great for these projects! The best part is, you can get rid of some of those extra shingles or keep used shingles out of the landfill while enhancing your home at the same time.

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Outfit of the Day: Busy Dress

The weather has been so muggy lately which makes me want to wear as little fabric as possible. I feel in love with this dress from Ross Dress for Less. It was less than $20 and it fits perfectly. I think the pattern is so pretty and because it's busy and has a lot going on it helps hide my stomach pooch and any other flaws. It was so comfy and really kept me cool!

Oh and because I'm completely incapable of doing anything with my hair (even a french braid) I just took two strands of hair and kept twisting them and picked up hair along the way. I guess that's a french twist? Anyway, I tied it back and tucked it behind my ear and it helps keep the frizzies out of my face.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Five Ways to Teach Your Children About Clothing and Fashion

Now that school is back in session, clothing shopping has also become a consistent process. As a mother of three, I enjoy helping my kids find cute clothes. But, I also want them to dress appropriately for their age, the event, the weather and more.

I personally love fashion and trends. At the same time, there is a point where some trends just need to be left alone.

Continue reading to learn how I help my children choose age-appropriate and weather-appropriate clothing.
Enjoy the Last Days of Summer

While it's still hot outside, I like my kids to wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing to help keep them cool. I prefer lighter and brighter colors such as whites, pinks, blues, oranges, yellows, greens and more.

Plus, one thing they can't go without is sunscreen and sunglasses for children. Protecting their eyes from UVA rays is just as important as protecting their skin from the same.

Squinting in bright sunlight is no fun, nor is it healthy for them to stare directly into the sun. These are just some of the summer styles that make me feel good about what they're wearing.
Shop for Quality

Some mothers say they prefer to buy their children cheap clothing since their kids will either outgrow them or ruin them. My issue with cheap clothing is they often don't last more than a few washes.

So, instead of saving money, I have to keep buying new clothes. This is why I opt for quality clothing that fits my budget. This strategy really helps my school-year budget go farther.

I look for pre-washed tees that resist shrinking. In addition, I search for adjustable waists on jeans and skirts to grow with my children.

Moreover, I invest in a few classic styles that they can wear over and over again, yet still look cute.

I like to determine the colors that work best for their skin tone. In the fall, we stick to darker colors and lighter colors in the spring and summer.

Yet, there are certain colors that work best for each of my children. To illustrate, my daughter looks stunning in royal blue. My son looks fantastic in cranberry.

There are other colors that look good on them, as well. I believe choosing the right colors is important because they feel good when they look good.

So, we stick to the colors that make them look their best. It also helps with shopping because we already know what items will match with what they already have.
Dress for the Weather

I like to teach my kids the importance of socks, hats and scarves in the winter. It helps to get them used to this type of dressing at an early age.

As a result, they become more self-reliant with straps, hooks and buttons when it comes to layering clothing and wearing coats and jackets.

I also remind them how uncomfortable it can be if they are not dressed appropriately for the weather. No one likes to freeze when they aren't close enough to home where they can get more clothing to wear.
Let Them Find Their Own Style with Guidelines

Your children will develop their own style, but as a parent, you must keep some parameters. You can start by showing them a set of images with styles you approve of to understand which ones they like.

I like to do this with each of my children individually so that they aren't influenced by any discouraging comments from siblings.
Final Thought

Teaching your children how to dress at an early age is important for success in life. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

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Garden Update [August]

August has had fairly cooler weather which is a surprise but it seems to have helped my veggies.  So here is my eggplant.   Already have some fruit forming!

My banana peppers are doing great as well I get about 15 a week between all of my plants!

 Yes! That's a butternut squash! I have a few!

My bell peppers also are doing great, I think because it hasn't been terriby hazy hot and humid at all this month yet. I've read that intense heat like we normally have can make them pause their growth for a bit.

 More Banana Peppers!
 So I'm an idiot and I accidentally cut off the top of my one tomato plant a long time ago.  But I still get some tomatoes from it. The one on the right is Roma Tomatoes.   They've been coming in nicely.
I replanted some Kale and Caesar in the small garden bed so I can have some fall salads!

How are your gardens doing? Any tips for mine? I think I had cucumber beetles on my zucchini plants and they haven't been producing any more fruit the past few days. :(

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Monday, August 14, 2017

The Right and Wrong Time to Take out a Loan

Loans are often seen as evil things to avoid because you’re borrowing money, and companies usually aren’t willing to lend you cash unless there’s something in it for them. Most of the time, their reason for giving you money in the first place is because they charge interest on it. Interest is what makes loans such a pain to deal with, and it can be the source of emotional stress and financial worries. However, that’s not to say that loans and credit should never be considered.

There are right and wrong ways to use a loan, which is why we’ve compiled a small list of how to make proper use of your borrowed money.

The wrong way to use a personal loan

One of the most common ways that people use a loan is to cover the costs of something they currently can’t afford. Let’s say that you currently have $5,000 in the bank, but a home renovation that you really want costs $10,000. If your paycheck is arriving soon, then you may consider taking out a loan of $5,000 or more to cover the difference and then simply pay it back as soon as possible.

While this seems like a good idea, taking out a loan to pay for something you can’t already afford is usually a quick way to spiral out of control. Not only does it make your paycheck seem completely worthless when it arrives, but you also have less control over your finances when you constantly owe someone money. To add to this problem, you also have to pay interest on top of what you borrow, which is ultimately a waste of money.

If possible, try and just wait it out unless you need the money for an emergency that can’t wait. Take a serious look at the reason you’re borrowing money and if it’s not for personal or luxury reasons, then there can be some exceptions where you have to take out a loan for something you currently can’t afford.

The right way to use a personal loan

Now let’s take a look at the right way to use personal loans. If you’re going to get a large lump sum of money for something, then one of the best ways to use it would be to tackle existing debt. This sounds like a crazy idea, but it’s something that is frequently done already and it’s known as debt consolidation.

How it works is you pay off all of your existing debts in a single payment. The amount itself doesn’t matter, it’s more about paying off your outstanding balances before it incurs more interest that you can’t afford. Now that all of your debts are cleared, you still have debt! So what’s the point, you ask?

The point is to consolidate all of your debts into a single low-interest payment. If you let your bank or lender know that you’re borrowing money to pay off your existing credit and debts, then they’ll usually be willing to tailor a repayment plan for you so instead of paying back interest to several different companies, you’re only paying it back to a single lender.

There are many other ways to use personal loans, but paying off your debts is a surprisingly good way of using them assuming you get lower interest rates and end up paying off your debt faster.

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