Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is your house haunted?

Have you ever suspected that your house was haunted? What were the signs? And what can you do to find out more?

Interview the neighbors-

This isn't to say you should scare them by asking if anyone was brutally murdered in your home; that may hurt your chances of making friends!  Instead, try striking up conversation with that 85 year old woman down the road (every neighborhood has one, right?).  Tell her you found some sort of valuable antique hidden away in the attic and want to know more the folks who previously lived in the home.

Call your real estate agent-

Like carefully gathering information from your neighbors about the history of your home, calling up the real estate agent who sold it to you and urging them to spill the beans about whether or not your house is haunted can also be helpful. That said, it varies from state to state as to whether sellers are required to disclose if a house is a “stigmatized property” that falls under the haunted category (but hey, it never hurts to ask).

Do an energy audit-  

A suspected haunting is an excellent reason to finally have that energy audit done. Most professional energy audits include the use of a thermal imaging camera to pinpoint sources of heat loss around the home. This is  helpful if you ultimately decide to better insulate your home and improve its overall energy performance. It could also be effective in locating, you know, any spooky cold spots!  If anything, conducting an energy audit and making the recommended improvements to increase your home’s efficiency can eliminate sources of any unnerving, ghost-like activity: mysterious drafts, slamming doors, banging noises, rattling windows, etc. 

Still think your house is haunted by spirits?  My advice would be to simply ask them to give all that moaning and slamming of doors a rest and to kindly chip in with the mortgage payments. That may do the trick!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Before your little ghosts and goblins trick or treat this year, parents should keep in mind these trick or treating safety tips to make sure the only howls are those of fun. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

  • Make sure children under 12 are supervised by an adult or teen chaperone if you can't take her around yourself. Teens should have a curfew.
  • Round up a group. It's best for kids of any age to travel in groups of three or more—there is safety in numbers., Plan a route with your child, making sure he knows to call you if she deviates from the plan. Keep his route to familiar streets and houses, working up the street then back down without criss-crossing. Set a time limit when he should come home or call you.
  • Tell her to visit well-lit, familiar houses. Make her promise to stick to the stoop — and never go inside unless she knows the grown-ups very well. Remind her to say "thank you" for her treats.
  • Remind him of police and fire safety. Practice the principle of "Stop-Drop-Roll," just in case his clothes catch on fire. Encourage him to talk to a policeman or call you if anything makes her uncomfortable or upset.
  • Review pedestrian rules. It's easy to overestimate your child's ability to remember to cross at corners, wait for walk signals, and stay on the sidewalks. Between the evening's excitement and the novelty of being out at night, reviewing traffic-safety is a good idea. Remind her to walk — not run — between houses.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ways to baby-proof your home

I am no expert in child safety, however I have been in many homes and seen different ways people baby proof. Being a Dad myself, I try and make note of what makes for a "baby-proof" home.  Here are some common safety measures that I see time and time again:

1. Keep furniture upright by fastening it to the wall with brackets or straps, and place soft bumpers around the edges of tabletops and the hearth.

2. Use a screen on the fireplace (even when no fire is lit), and avoid lighting candles, which are easy to knock over.

3. To prevent shocks and burns, tape down electrical cords and cover outlets with safety plates -- not plastic plugs, which can be a choking hazard.

4. Avoid big falls with hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases, and mesh fabric netting on all railing or banister openings wider than 4 inches.

5.  Keep floors and surfaces within baby's reach clear of plants and fragile items, as well as small objects such as loose change and toy parts that can cause choking.
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Things to upgrade around your home in your thirties

If you are among the thirty-somethings, than it is time to step it up and make your home more "grown-up".  Here are some things you can upgrade from what you probably had in your twenties:

Mix and Match  Glassware -  It is time  to ditch the mismatched glasses in your home now that you are a grown up!  Wine glasses are not very expensive, and actually, you should not spend too much money on them because they can break.  However,  it is time to step it up and start drinking alcohol from glasses that were made for it, not for jarred sauces! 


The cheap Vacuum- Get rid of that cheap vacuum you used in college and get something that can actually pick up some dirt.  Many of you are starting families at this age, so take it from me, it gets messy!

The shabby bed- Now that you are all grown up, it is time to get a quality mattress, a solid box spring, and a stylish bed frame.  Your bedroom should be a place you can relax and rejuvenate, not a place where you feel lost and uncomfortable.

The cheesy poster art- Get rid of the shiny ugly posters that you framed. You do not have to become an art connoisseur, but having unique things on the wall makes a difference.  You can even find souvenirs around the house that could be worth framing.

Lumpy, dirty pillows- Let's face it, you probably didn't even buy those pillows, in fact, I bet you stole them in your twenties from your parents' house.  Dump them and get some high quality pillows; ones that you actually can sleep on.

Wire & Plastic Hangers- It is time to purchase a set of uniform hangers, which, can actually save you room in your closet, make it look neater, and grip your clothes so that they won't fall off.
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to deal with bad neighbors

Trying to deal with less than pleasurable neighbors?  This can be frustrating for many of us, but rather than let them drive you out of town, try these few things to make your home life more peaceful:

1. Call ahead and pick a time to talk. 
2. Meet on the sidewalk or on the property line.
3. Don’t accuse; let them know how the problem bothers you and suggest ways to solve it together. 
4. If that doesn’t work, check out local noise and disturbance ordinances and write a personal letter.  Offer a solution.
5. Consult your condo or block association.  Ask them to send a standard letter citing the ordinance or by-law.  A condominium association’s right of first refusal is a little-known clause that can be used to buy your neighbor out.
6. Should that fail, call your local precinct.  Keep a record of your complaint.
7. Call in an expert mediator.  (To find a mediator, check with your local courthouse, police precinct, or bar association).
8. As a last resort, file a complaint in court.
9. For the property line fanatic, walk the property line together to determine what belongs to whom; consider having the property surveyed to nip the problem in the bud.