The History of St. Patrick’s Day

Green Club FlowerSt. Patrick’s Day celebrates the anniversary of the saint’s death, which is believed to have been on March 17, 461. For over 1,000 years, the Irish have celebrated this day as a religious holiday. So, how did it all begin?

Saint Patrick

Recognized as the saint and apostle of Ireland was born in Roman Britain but was kidnapped at the age of 16 to Ireland to be a slave. While he escaped, he returned to Ireland and has been credited for bringing Christianity to the people.

There may be a lot of myth surrounding his life, the most common story associated with him is how he explained the Holy Trinity using the three leaves of the three-leaf clover – the shamrock.

Growth of St. Patrick’s Day

Since about the 9th or 10th century, Ireland has observed the Roman Catholic fest day of St. Patrick on March 17. However, the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day happened in the United States when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762 on March 17th. It helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots.

Over the following 35 years, Irish patriotism grew among Americans immigrants. “Irish Aid” societies would hold annual parades. In 1848, many Irish Aid societies united their parades to form the official New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, it is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the US.

St. Patrick’s Day Around the World

People around the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially through the US, Canada, and Australia. It is also celebrated in other locations like Japan, Singapore, and Russia. Until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. In 1995, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick’s Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture.

To learn more about St. Patrick’s Day, check out the History channel.

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Pros and Cons of a Homeowners Associations

Orange and Red Painted BuildingHomeowners Associations consist of residents on a board to help ensure your community looks its best. There are pros to having an HOA, just as there are cons.

Pros of HOA

Cons of HOA

1. Maintain Common Areas

A Homeowners Association will handle all the maintenance of common areas and repairs for any amenities outside the home. Depending on where you live, this could include: mowing the lawn, plowing snow, maintaining fountains/floral decorations. Their involvement depends on the type and size of the community.

2. HOAs Keep Uniformity

HOAs have a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions to regulate what a homeowner can and can’t do. This means you don’t have to worry about random colored homes, bad additions, no cars in the lawn, etc.

3. Mediate Problems for You

HOAs will mediate problems that you might have with a neighbor. If you have a complaint about noise or an overgrown lawn, you can report it to your HOA and they’ll send them a notice.

1. Recurring HOA Fees

A downside about an HOA is that membership with your home is mandatory, which means you’re obligated to pay the monthly or annual fees. Fees can be changed based on decisions out of your control, and they could be detriment to your resale if buyers don’t want to pay a HOA.Fees can range anywhere from $50-$1000.

2. There’s Red Tape

Having this uniformity could put a wrench in your own plans to add to your home. Any exterior modification needs to be approved by the HOA. This could include an second floor addition or even a play area for kids. You have to submit your plans in detail, and you have to wait before they approve it (which could mean adjustments).

3. This Could Be Overbearing

Since there are many restrictions, this leads to a lot of the choices for your home being made by your HOA. They will ultimately decide if you get to have a pool, what fence you can put up, the type of pet you can have, and if you can rent your home.

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The Reality Check to Selling Your Home

ashtray, book, condoYou may have spent years making your house the perfect for home for your family, but what you’ve spent time on may not be what other people enjoy. When it comes to selling, you have to have regard for your home as a buyer. Without this thought in your head, you can risk overpricing or failing to make repairs which leads to longer time on the market.

Interview Multiple Agents

Before you settle with a real estate agent, sit down with a couple to gather everyone’s advice to see who has the best “game plan”. Every agent has suggestions on how to prepare your home: repaint any wild colors, clear the linen closets of clutter, etc. The best insight comes from the ones who are always selling homes.

Hire an Inspector

Conducting a pre-inspection will help you find problems you didn’t know existed. You’ll eventually conduct an inspection at some point and learning about problems early could save you money. If a buyer finds a repair, they’ll ask for a lot more money than the cost of the repair.

Consult a Home Stager

A stager will provide you professional feedback on how your home currently presents itself and how to make it marketable. They will let you know if anything is dated stylistically and if it would put off buyers. In the end, you don’t have to follow their advice, but it could help you sell.

Visit Other Houses in Your Area

One thing sellers don’t realize is the buyer pool in their area. Looking at comparable properties and look at their equivalent price. This could even help you get an idea ahead of time on how many homes are on the market and how much money you’ll want to price yours.

Have Your Target Market Walk-Through

Think back on who you were when you bought your home. The area most likely still fits that demographic, so find friends and family members who fit it to tour your home. Then, they’ll be able to give an honest assessment on who you’re trying to appeal to.

Post Pictures on Social Media

Only 10% of buyers can see beyond presentation, according to Get multiple opinions from the public based on your Facebook and Instagram likes and comments. It could help you choose which pictures display your home the best.

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Homemade Cleaners for Spring Cleaning

Water DropThere are many reasons you might want to switch to homemade, whether you have pets, are cautious of the environment, or have people who are sensitive to chemicals. Here are a couple recipes for homemade cleaners, and a couple tips to keep in mind when making them:

  • Always mix solutions before applying
  • Best to mix window/shopper cleaner in spray bottle
  • To enhance your natural efforts, use greener equipment like vacuums recognized by American Lung Association and microfiber cloths.

Carpet Cleaner

First, simply sprinkle baking soda over the entire carpet surface. Let it sit for a few minutes before vacuuming the entire area.

Need to get out carpet stains? Use equal parts coconut oil and baking soda, then mix the solution. Scrub the stain with the paste and a toothbrush, blot with a wet towel, then let it dry.

Floor Cleaner

For wood floors, create a mix of:

  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

Apply to wood floors with a mop.

For an all-purpose floor cleaner, you can mix equal parts water and white vinegar and use a mop to apply. Finish by using plain water on your mop to clean it up.

Wood Furniture Cleaner

Mix well together:

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp distilled water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Apply to wooden furniture surfaces and then wipe solution off with a clean cloth. Buff it to bring out the furniture’s natural shine.

Window Cleaner

Simply combine equal parts water and white vinegar, then apply the solution with newspaper or streak-proof paper towels.

Oven Cleaner

Mix ½ cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water until it’s a paste. Coat the oven with the paste and let it sit for at least 12 hours, probably overnight. Wipe it away with a damp cloth.

For ovens with tough problems, you can spray a little white vinegar with it and wipe the area clean.

Shower Cleaner

Mix together 1 cup of white vinegar with 4 teaspoons of Castile soap (it’s made with 100% plant oils and no animal fats/chemicals). Apply to your shower and wipe clean. If you need more abrasive cleaning, try two parts baking soda and one part water. Apply it to tough stains and let it sit over night before rinsing it with clean water.

Drain Cleaner

Use ½ cup of baking soda with ¼ cup of salt and pour the mix down the drain. Then, pour 1 cup of white vinegar heated to near boil down the drain. It will foam and bubble but allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Run hot water down the drain for one to two minutes after.

Grout Cleaner

Mix together equal parts white vinegar and water, then apply the solution to your grout with a spray bottle. Let the solution stand for a few minutes before you wipe the entire area. If you have stubborn stains, mix a paste composed of two parts baking soda and one part water. Apply this mix to stains and let it sit overnight. Scrub with a toothbrush and rinse. You can repeat as needed.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Mix 1 gallon of hot water and ½ cup of the liquid Castile soap. Add 10 drops of any essential oil and you can use this all-purpose cleaner for any needs. When you add the essential oils, start with a few drops and add additional as desired.

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7 Moving Mistakes to Avoid

Woman In Grey Shirt Holding Brown Cardboard Box1. Waiting too long to get started

In reality, you should be prepping to move at least 6 weeks in advance, so you have time to order packing supplies, donate/sell things you don’t want, and start using up items you won’t want to take with you like food, toilet paper, and paper towels.

2. Only meeting one moving company

Get quotes from at least three professional movers before settling with one. If you get these quotes in person, you will not only get an accurate quote but then you’ll be able to see how comfortable you’ll be working with them. If costs are your main concern, check if the moving companies charge you a flat rate rather than by the hour because things like traffic or flights of stairs can jack up the timed price.

3. Not measuring your new home

You don’t want to pay to move furniture just to find out it won’t fit in your home. If you don’t have a copy of the floor plan, take the measurements yourself.

4. Haphazard packing job

Packing the items yourself can reduce moving costs but organization is important. Not only will labeling the boxes help but labeling the rooms to help movers can help like whose room is whose.

5. Not getting insurance

Even the professionals can break things. The good news is that most companies are required by the law to provide a basic coverage, about 30 cents per pound per item for in-state and 60 cents for interstate move. For this type of coverage, you won’t receive a check for the full cost you paid, but a replacement cost based on the coverage limits. Many companies offer additional insurance for “full-value protection”.

6. Incorrect timing for your move

Between May to September is moving season since kids are out of school. You might want to be more flexible if you have that opportunity to move between October and April because it could help costs. Moving on a weekday is also less expensive.

7. Not claiming discounts

Many companies will offer moving discount rates for different groups of people like AAA members, military personnel, or seniors. Make sure you do your research for the best possible deal.

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Home Maintenance Tasks You’re Missing

apartment, architecture, cabinetsThese may seem like daunting tasks, but they could save you money and extend the life span of expensive appliances. Do you complete these tasks?

1. Clean the fridge drip pan

You may not know it, but your fridge has a drip pan. It should be cleaned every once in a while because it can cause mold growth. Remove the panel from the bottom of the fridge and follow the defrost drain line to the pan it empties out into. Gently pull the pan out, dump any excess liquid in the sink, and clean with an all-purpose cleaner.

2. Flush the water heater

You should be flushing your water heater because you can have sediment build up, which leads to corrosion, reduces efficiency, and shortens the heaters life span.

You’ll want to turn off the electricity or gas to the heater first. Then, open the bathroom hot water tab and let it run to lower the temperature in the heater. Shut off the cold-water valve, then put a bucket under the water heater. Open the valve and drain until the water is running clear without any sandy stuff. Once it’s clear, you can return everything back to normal.

3. Reseal grout

Whether its your floor tile, the bathroom tile, or countertops, you should be resealing every year. Most grout is made with sand and cement which absorbs water, bacteria, and stains.

Apply grout sealant and wipe off any excess. Wait 15 minutes before you apply a second layer. Clean off any more excess from the tiles. Let it cure for 24-48 hours, then test it with water (which should bead).

4. Test for water leaks

Testing for leaks can save you money on your water bill and eliminate the possibility of damage behind the walls or in hard-to-see places. Take the water meter reading, then avoid using water for a few hours. After 2 hours, if the reading changes, you might have a leak.

5. Reseal stone countertops

If you have granite or marble countertops, you should be sealing them every year unless you have pre-sealed counters. To test whether they are pre-sealed, or to test if the sealant is wearing off, put water on the countertop. The quicker is absorbs, the more porous it is, which means the more frequently you need to seal it.

To seal, wash the counter tops with a mild soap and water, wipe it dry, then apply the stone sealer. Let it sit for 15 minutes and wipe away any extra.

6. Wash the dryer lint screen

You may not know, but your dryer lint screen can get clogged with residue from dryer sheets and fabric softener. This can block the air flow and lead to less functioning dryers or fires. Soak it in water and dish soap meant to remove grease and oil. Gently scrub it with a soft brush, rinse, and let it air dry.

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President’s Premier Award 2017

This award is given to the top 1% of all sales associate internationally! I’m not only proud of all the hard work that went into last year, but also all the support I received from my family, friends, and Coldwell Banker.

Coldwell Banker is the oldest and most established residential real estate franchise system in North America. It was found in 1906 by Colbert Coldwell and Benjamin Banker. Now, one of the most recognized brokerage companies, they have over 3,000 offices in 49 countries and territories.

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10 Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

Lemonade Juice Filled White Ceramic Cup With Saucer1. Toss a Salad and Other Food

Not only is apple cider vinegar great for a vinaigrette but ingesting it in other ways is beneficial to your health. Also known as ACV, one common unpasteurized ACV is the “mother”, which has beneficial bacteria, proteins, and enzymes – all good for you.

2. Treat a Sting

The ACV helps neutralize the formic acid in bee venom that causes the stinging and burning. You can either soak the stung body part in ACV or soak a cloth and place it on the sting. Repeat this every 15 minutes as needed.

You can also use it to treat other bug bites and a poison ivy rash. It reduces the swelling and relieves the itching with the potassium in it.

3. Make a Cocktail

ACV can be used as a fruit mas syrup or shrub in a cocktail. You can combine it with apple cider, sugar, lemon juice, and bourbon for an alcoholic beverage. If you prefer a non-alcoholic cocktail, mix the ACV with honey, ginger, and lime.

4. Cleaning Supplies

One thing ACV is definitely well known for is its ability to clean tough spots. Mix ACV with equal parts water and you suddenly have the holy grail of cleaning supplies. It can cut through and clean:

  • Grease and grime
  • Bacteria
  • Stove tops
  • Counters
  • Sinks
  • Laundry room surfaces
  • Metal tea kettles
  • Plastic touch pads on microwave and stove panels

You can also use it to clean the inside of the microwave by spraying it, heating it for 25 seconds, and then wiping it down.

5. Ward Off Fleas

Use a 50/50 mix of ACV and water, mixing it with a few drops of lavender or cedar essential oils. Then, spray your dog making sure to avoid the eyes, nose, and ears.

6. Use for Skin

ACV has natural healing ingredients for skin cells. Some people say its great at preventing breakouts and reducing acne scarring. You can also use it as an active ingredient in a toner mix.

7. Use for Hair

If you struggle with dandruff, ACV works great at scalp health to reduce dandruff and add shine. It should be used only 1-2 times per week.

8. Break a Fever

If you or a family member has a fever, you can reduce body temperature by wiping down all limbs and the torso with a blend of ACV and water. It can also be used to soothe sunburn by patting it down the burn or soaking in a tub of ACV and coconut oil.

9. Catch Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are attracted to the fermented ACV, which can be used to lure them in. Put some ACV in a cup or tub, cover it with saran wrap with a few holes, and the flies get trapped and drown.

10. Kill Weeds

Mixing ACV with salt and dish soap, you’ve got a weed killer. It doesn’t kill the roots, but any leaves it touches. Its best used when applied to seedlings. Make sure you don’t spray any plants you want to keep because it can also kill them, too.

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Things to Do Before Renovating

Gray Standard Color Book Near Green EraserBefore you jump into a renovation, make sure you are actually prepared. You don’t want to just start, and hope things turn out for the best. You can ruin your house that way, which could lead to more expensive problems. Here are 8 things you should do.

Know what you like

What does a new kitchen or bathroom mean to you? Figure out if what you want is cosmetic or structural: do you want new cupboards and flooring, or do you want to knock down a wall and rearrange your entire layout?

The best advice is to look at Pinterest, magazines, and TV shows for ideas on what you want, then create a wish list.

Figure out the numbers

It’s called a “dream house” for a reason – sometimes we realize it might not exist in our budget. Shop around your local stores and price the materials and labor you’ll need to complete your project.

Check the reality of it

What might seem like a simple project could break your budget if you come across major configuring. Consult with an architect or contractor for insight on your design ideas, and whether it is realistic for the design of your home.

DIY or pro?

For everything that isn’t a simple project, you should be contacting a pro (unless you’re extremely handy). Don’t inflate yourself, but be realistic about your own skills, as well as your free time. Will you have the spare time to dedicate to a renovation of the bathroom and kitchen?

Test your colors and materials

It may sound good in your head but look awful in real life. Order samples of everything: carpet, tile, fabrics, cabinets, paints. Colors can also change with lighting, so you want to make sure it looks right at all times. Don’t be afraid to put a lot of paint swatches on the walls either!

Know your contractor

On top of looking up reviews, you should do a thorough background check:

  • Contracting license
  • Certification of insurance
  • Lien history
  • Bond number and certification

Also conduct an in-person interview that they match with you. They’ll be spending a lot of time in your home, so you want to make sure that you get along with them.

Create a contract

Be clear on what you want out of this project. Your contract with your professional needs to be specific:

  • Payment schedule (do not complete until you are 100% satisfied)
  • Timeline
  • Potential penalties for miss milestones

Creating a contract will not only protect you but will make you more professional.

Time it

Our timelines can be interrupted and run over schedule for things beyond our control:

  • Weather
  • Materials on back order
  • Contractor sick
  • Tricky renovation

Just make sure when you create your timeline, you are also planning for any potential problems. Better to be done early than set back a month.

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Gallery Wall Layout Ideas

apartment, chair, cleanA new trend for home décor that’s been gaining popularity is the gallery wall. It can be used to tell stories of your family, travels, and/or life. You can create it using pictures, mismatched paintings, photos, or even empty frames.

Most of the time, people put it above their couch, but the goal is to target one area on a wall and fill it with items. You can use a wall in your home office, above the baby crib, above the bar cart, or above a fireplace mantel.

In order to avoid making it a mess, there are some tricks and ways to organize it. You can:

  • Group same type of frames
  • Similar art
  • Color theme
  • Subject

To get started, pick a rather large item (about 60 inches long) and make it the focal point and center of the entire gallery, and then move outward.

Lay out frames

One way to organize is to arrange the frames on the floor to plan out your possible gallery. Measure it to make sure it will fit in the designated area.

Use paper

To be a little more precise, use a large piece of sheet paper to plan out the images on. Place the images on top of the sheet, then outline the pieces with a pen or pencil. Remove the art and hang up to sheet to see where adjustments might need to be made.

Trace & cut

For those truly dedicated and maybe a little craftier, trace the outline of your pieces, but cut them out, too. Then, you can hang the pieces of paper on the wall with tape and organize them on the wall until you find what you like.

Utilize technology

Maybe that all sounds just a little too much work. Don’t worry because there’s an app for that! You can upload your art into the program and use the virtual layout to plan your wall decorations.

Or, you can buy a fancy hanging tool that helps you line up all the pieces horizontally and vertically.

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