First peony of 2015

The name of the peonies we planted escapes me, but over the years they have been changed thanks to the many friendly bees that visit our garden. The first to bloom this year was super bright pink, while her friends have been light pink, even white, since her appearance.

Peony

This entry was posted in garden.

How to buy your dream home without it becoming a nightmare

The home buying process can be exciting, fun, and a bit overwhelming, especially the first time. However, there are some simple things you can do to help it go more smoothly.

The Capital One Home Loans Online Neighborhood is a free online resource where you can learn all about home buying. They’ve gathered easy-to-understand articles and helpful videos, as well as information about Capital One’s Home Loans offerings.

1. List your must haves.
When you think of your home, it’s important to know the top items on your list. For us, we knew we needed 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. We also wanted to make sure we had a 2 car garage, central air conditioning, and a fenced yard. It sounds like a lot, but it helped narrow the choices down so we didn’t waste time visiting houses that didn’t fit our needs.

builthouse

2. Get pre-qualified.
If you really want to save a lot of stress and make things easier, get pre-qualified. Knowing how much you can afford will help you look at realistic choices. It also makes you very appealing to sellers because they can close faster if they don’t need to wait for you to get a loan. Buying a home is an important process, and can be a bit complicated. Luckily, Capital One’s new online resource lays the groundwork with a glossary of terms you should know, an overview of the loans available and more.

3. Research your favorite areas.
Not all locations are created equal, and that will reflect in the price you might pay when you buy. Knowing what to expect before hand will not only save time, but it will help you budget your down payment and your loan. The traditional estimate for a down payment is 20 percent of the purchase price of the house, which can lower your monthly payments and avoid mortgage insurance.

4. Use a realtor.
As a buyer, a realtor can be a huge help! Plus, their services are free when buying. They will help you walk through all the paperwork (and there is a lot of paperwork). They can clue you into homes coming on the market in your favorite areas, and they can help you get your offer excepted. We used a realtor when we bought our home, and it was the only way we ended up coming out on top of the 3 other bids that were in on our house.

building

5. Will you build or buy an existing home?
This is important since loan options are different when building from scratch or buying an existing home. Each option has it’s own set of perks, but it’s best to research before you decide. To learn more about the loan process, be sure to visit Capital One’s resource page.

6. Be willing to see past the paint choices.
Having an open mind will help you a lot in this process. When we bought our home the kitchen was firmly stuck in the 1980s. We knew with a little paint and new counter tops we could easily make it a kitchen we would love. Ignore things like terrible paint choices, or bad furniture. Remember, paint is the cheapest and easiest thing to change.

house4

The more you can prepare, the easier the home buying process will be. Buying a home can be so exciting, and hopefully, a lot of fun!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

This entry was posted in home.

TSN100k challenge update 3

Money

OK, so there have finally been updates about the 100K in a year blog challenge over on Neil’s website. The first one is about setbacks, and the second addresses a concern we all had. Both are worth reading if you have an interest in the project, and here are my thoughts.

First, the setback post. It was so disappointing to me. Why? Because of the amount of money he was spending to make this blog a reality was high. We’ve all heard the old adage about spending money to make money, but clearly he has a lot more money to spend than the average blogger starting fresh.

The second post also addresses the money he spent, which in total he says so far is $2,540.74. I would have liked to see this done without paying for traffic or posts, and it would have been nice if he had stayed with his $100 domain budget.

The second update is pretty interesting. He talks about how the new blog won’t use his name. As so many of us thought before, he’s already well known so using his name gives him a huge advantage. Of course, even though the new blog won’t mention him anymore, we already know about it because of the project he is doing. To truly have done it without his name recognition he would have had to do the entire project, name free, no mention of it on his blog, until the year was up. Then he could have posted about the experience in retrospect and it would have been completely without any benefit of being recognizable.

He also talks about buying the domain name, and there is a bit of advice in there that I found to be dishonest (he says he poses as a college student to buy domains). In fact, it turned me off to reading much more of the post, but I did finish reading.

Overall both of these posts have made me rethink trying to follow along. I was so excited at the outset and really interested to see how this could work for any blogger, but I see now that it’s not as much about making it work for just anyone.

I’ll likely still follow to see if there are any tips that can be gleaned for the regular blogger though, because he obviously is knowledgeable about growing traffic and marketing his sites. I would love to hear your thoughts about the updates if you have been following along.

This entry was posted in TSN100k.

The Essential Gardening Tools and How to Store Them

Newtown, Connecticut

Having a garden does not mean just planting a couple of seeds and expecting them to turn into fully-grown trees producing fruits and vegetables – seeds have to be taken care of and your garden needs as much attention as possible.

While many people do not pay that much attention to their gardens, there are some that do the opposite: they dedicate their time and efforts to this beneficial hobby and want to have a garden space they can be proud of. What allows those people to perform their gardening duties are the right tools for the job and the storage space they need for them.

The Essential Gardening Tools

Among numerous gardening tools, there are a couple you cannot picture gardening without – these are used regularly and are greatly helpful to the gardeners.

Starting from the beginning of the process, a shovel is quite important when digging deep holes for your plants and only the right tool will ensure good execution – whether you are digging in hard or wet soil, a sharp shovel assisted by a mattock will make your job much easier. Secondly, a rake is a useful multifunctional tool that will come in handy with raking off leaves, tidying up the lawn or smoothing out the soil before planting seeds.

tools

As for the smaller planting tools, you have to have a soil knife if you want to transplant a part of a plant, cut through roots or slice through turf. Its compact size fits in your hand and its edges are sharp enough to do the trick.

Also, good gardeners always make sure they have a pair of good scissors – even regular ones you find around the house are good enough to open a bag of soil – near them, as well as a weeder that will take care of their weed problem before it becomes too serious. Finally, things like trowels, dibbers, saws, garden hoes, pruning shears and loppers should not be forgotten.

The Storage Space

With so many tools, the issue of storing them can be tricky even if you have a garage or a shed. However, the easiest thing to do organization-wise is to install a couple of closets and shelves for boxes containing small tools – you can even put all your power tools such as saws and drills there as well – and mount the bigger ones on the wall.

Hanging supplies on a pegboard or a corkboard will make them easily accessible and always visible, so you do not have to waste time looking for them. Another good idea is to install peg rails and hang rakes, brooms, shovels and mattocks on them – if you manage to find an adjustable rail, you will be able to place two pegs close enough to leave enough room for those tools to hang. You can easily turn all of these ideas – and many more, such as building a tool rack out of the spigot-handles and some wood – into reality by yourself and therefore not spend too much money on them.

Kruiwagen & gereedschap

When talking about small tools, it is more than important to have them all at one place, such as in boxes or small containers which you can label and store conveniently. If you cannot afford closets, you can just place boxes with tools atop of one another – they will not take too much space or clutter your garage, but will always be near.

Everything You Need in Place

If you manage to organize your gardening tools carefully, you will save a considerable amount of energy looking for them each time you want to do some gardening, and this will make your hobby a more enjoyable experience. Finally, a neatly organized tool shed is certainly more inspirational than a chaotic one.

Author bio: Neil Adams is a homeowner and DIY enthusiast, especially interested in sustainability and environment friendly projects. He loves trying new tools and old materials in his woodworking endeavors. When not tinkering around the house with his kids, he enjoys writing for a number of diy and technology blogs. You can find him on: Facebook, Twitter or Google+ . He also writes for Smooth Decorator.

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