Feeling restless in the heat? Declutter your home for summer!


Now that we’re in the dog days of summer, things are slowing down – which means it’s a great time to tackle some decluttering projects! Here are eight things to go through before autumn:

Seasonal decorations – If you have spring or summer holiday decorations you didn’t use this year, take them out and donate them when you pack the others away for the summer.

Old papers – Receipts, mailed reminders, expired coupons, or old school or work projects that gathered over the months can be shredded or scanned to your email if you want to retain them.

Pantry – The heavy stick-to-your-ribs foods and ingredients you bought over the winter and didn’t use up in the spring may be expired by now. Or use them up to make room for seasonal foods.

Old appliances or furniture – While you can get rid of these any time, it’s easier in the summer when the weather is nicer and people are a little more willing to help out!

Basement storage areas – Declutter in relative coolness by clearing out basement storage areas. Check for anything that may have water damage or mildew.

Corners and baseboards – If you opened the windows to enjoy the spring air, or if you turned your air conditioning or fans on to help beat the heat, you may have pollen or dust built up on baseboards or in corners.

Extra bedding, blankets and sheets – If you didn’t use them in the winter, and they’re too heavy for summer, don’t let them continue to take up closet space.

Books – If you own any books that don’t look like good summertime reading, and you didn’t curl up with them during the cold winter months, consider donating them to a local used bookstore.

How to Clean Your Thermostat


Thermostat giving you problems? Try giving it a clean!

Your thermostat may be a small device in your home, but when it stops working, everyone notices! If you find the settings are correct but the thermostat is still giving you problems, try cleaning it before calling in the professionals.

What you’ll need: A soft paintbrush and a dollar bill. Possibly a Q-tip and alcohol.

  • First, remove the thermostat cover. Some covers have screws, some slide and some simply snap off. Then, gently clean between the contact points with the paintbrush. You can also remove any dust and debris that might be caught in the crevices with a crisp dollar bill. It’s very important that you not touch any of the parts with your fingers.
  • After you’ve cleaned the thermostat, replace the batteries before putting the cover back on. It’s also a good idea to look for any corroded or loose wires, but if you see any, don’t try to fix or replace them on your own, leave that up to an electrician.
  • A note to remember, “Smart” thermostats do not need to be cleaned, aside from the occasional dusting.

Ease Yourself Into A Colorful Space


The colors you surround yourself with affect your mood, according to Erin Lohafer, Visual Display Manager at Nebraska Furniture Mart, and we’re sure you’d probably agree! However, we know adding color to your space can be overwhelming and may bring you out of your comfort zone. To ease yourself into it, Lohafer suggests adding color in small doses to start. Here are some of her ideas:

Add lamps – For a noticeable pop of color, add a pair of lamps flanking a piece of art or furniture. Purchasing a new lamp, revamping a lamp you already have, or just updating a shade adds color and personality into a living room. 

Paint one wall in an accent color – Pick a bold, contrasting color from a fabric in your living room. Or, go for a subtle accent by painting the wall in the same color family, but a tone darker than the rest of your walls.

Toss in a few pillows – Add bursts of color with strategically placed and well-chosen throw pillows. Choose solids for floral furnishings, patterned pillows for solid pieces, or mix and match patterns.

Greenery/plants – Choose greenery that’s meant to thrive in indoor conditions, or you can opt for realistic artificial florals. These days, artificial flowers and plants are very lifelike, so it’s easy to fool the eye.

Rugs – An area rug softens up a room and makes it cozy. But a bold area rug strategically placed in front of a chair or under a coffee table also adds color and texture to a living room. Try layering an area rug on top of carpeting or simply over hardwood flooring in a contrasting color.

Bold wall décor – One large and colorful piece of art placed in a living room introduces hues and shapes into a large area. You can also get the same effect with a grouping of framed photos with colorful matting and bright frames.

If you work with a ReeceNichols agent, you’ll be eligible for exclusive discounts at Nebraska Furniture Mart! ReeceNichols’s partnership provides discounts on furniture, flooring, appliance and electronic installation, and free in-home design services upon closing. Reach out to an agent today to learn more.

Protect your home from severe weather


From tornadoes to high winds and thunderstorms, severe weather can cause brutal damage to your home. Here are seven things you can do to keep your home as safe as possible if a storm hits:

Store your vehicles – Park your vehicles inside your garage. If you don’t have a garage, move them to higher ground to avoid flooding.

Bring items inside – Bring garbage cans, grills, patio furniture and anything else that could be tossed around in the wind, inside your home or garage.

Shut off your outdoor pool – Turn off the circuit breaker and remove the motor to prevent damage.

Remove tree branches – If you spot branches that might break off during a storm and hurt someone or damage your house, prune them.

Rent or purchase a generator – A powerful storm could knock out power to your home for several days. Renting or purchasing a generator can help you keep your lights on and refrigerator running.

Seal windows and doors – This will prevent wind and water from entering through windows, cracks and doors.

Prepare your roof – Apply sealing around your chimney or vent pipes to help prevent water from seeping into your home. Also, clean out gutters and downspouts.

10 uses for the unsung hero of your medicine cabinet!


You likely have a trusty bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide in your medicine cabinet, for treatment of minor cuts. But there are far more uses for this unassuming product than you could possibly imagine! Here is a list of 10 reasons to stock up:

  • Clean tile and grout – Mix a half cup of baking soda with a quarter cup of Hydrogen Peroxide in a sealable container. Add a teaspoon of liquid dish soap, close the lid and then shake until combined. Apply the mixture to tile and grout, let sit for five minutes and then rinse clean with water.
  • Wash your fresh produce – Remove dirt and pesticides by adding a quarter cup of Hydrogen Peroxide to a sink of cold water, then washing your produce in it. Afterward, rinse your produce thoroughly with cool, clean water.
  • Remove grime in your bathtub – For a safer solution than your typical tub and tile cleaners, make a paste of 2/3 baking soda to 1/3 Hydrogen Peroxide. Apply to your tub and shower area and wait for 30 minutes, then rinse.
  • Banish rust – Add equal parts cream of tartar and baking soda to a bowl. Add a few drops of Hydrogen Peroxide to the mixture to form a paste and rub the paste onto your rusty objects. Wait an hour, then wash off with water.
  • Get rid of skunk smell – If your dog or someone you know has a run in with a skunk, combine one quart of Hydrogen Peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda, one teaspoon of dish soap and two quarts of warm water. Apply to the person or animal and work into a lather before rinsing.
  • Perk up your plants – The extra oxygen atom in Hydrogen Peroxide can benefit the plant growth process and treat conditions like pests, root rot and fungus. For houseplants, mix one tablespoon of Hydrogen Peroxide and one cup of water in a spray bottle and soak the soil with the solution once or twice a week.
  • Erase water marks on granite – Get rid of pesky water marks by mixing a half cup of baking soda in a bowl with a few drops of Hydrogen Peroxide to form a paste. Spread over the water marks, let sit for five to 10 minutes, then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  • Clean your toothbrush – Soak your toothbrush in Hydrogen Peroxide between uses to keep it clean. This can be particularly beneficial if someone in your house is sick.
  • Sanitize your kitchen sponge – Combine equal parts Hydrogen Peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish, then soak your sponge in the solution for about 10 minutes. Rinse the sponge thoroughly afterward and let air dry.
  • Keep salad greens fresh – Before covering and refrigerating your greens, spray them with a solution of a half cup of water and one tablespoon of Hydrogen Peroxide to keep them fresher, longer.

Give your home a spring refresh!


After a long winter, March is a good time to assess both the inside and outside of your home. It’s the perfect time to plan a garden, remove debris and clean up all the mud and remains of snow and slush your family has likely tracked into the house the last few months. Here are a few projects to do in March:

  • Check your lawn – Rescue a patchy lawn by removing dead soil, tilling the soil and adding compost. However, wait for warmer weather to reseed.
  • Tidy the gutters – Winter storms can blow twigs, leaves and debris into your gutters, so even if you cleaned them in the fall, it’s best to clean them again.
  • Check your home exterior – Check your roof for loose shingles, gutters and siding and keep an eye out for wood rot.
  • Clean up your patio furniture – Give everything a good scrubbing before putting it out for use.
  • Prepare your garden – Plant summer-flowering bulbs after the last frost and ready your garden beds for other early plantings.
  • Refresh your entryway – Swap mittens and hats to make room for spring boots and rain jackets. Put out an umbrella holder for rainy days.
  • HVAC Maintenance – Clean your AC condenser using a garden hose and spray nozzle, which will help ensure your AC runs smoothly in the summer.
  • Carpet cleaning – Give your carpets and rugs a deep spring clean to clear out ice melt or anything else your family may have brought into the house over the winter.
  • Reorganize your closets – Donate or sell any winter clothing you didn’t wear this season, then pack your off-season clothes into boxes or bins.

Maintain your home and environment with salt alternatives


While salt does a great job of melting snow and ice, it can be bad for your driveway and walkways, garden, pets and the environment. Here are some alternatives you can use instead:

  • Sand – Sand will absorb sunlight, which can help melt snow and ice. It will also provide traction, so you won’t slip and fall.  
  • Kitty Litter – While it won’t melt ice, it will provide more traction for a non-slip surface.
  • Urea – Available in areas where fertilizer development is common, urea is a natural de-icer. While safe for pets and concrete, avoid using it near your garden.
  • Vinegar – It may take a few applications to work, but vinegar contains citric acid, which will help melt snow and ice.
  • Sugar beet juice – Completely safe for roads, pets, plants and grass, sugar beet juice lowers the melting point of ice and snow.
  • Alfalfa meal – Commonly used as a fertilizer, alfalfa meal is completely natural. It’s also grainy, which will help provide traction.
  • Coffee grinds – Like sand, coffee grinds absorb sunlight to help snow and ice melt faster. It will also help provide a non-slip surface.
  • Calcium Chloride – Fast-acting calcium chloride’s snow melting-and de-icing properties continue to work for up to 24 hours after application. However, it is not as common and tends to be much more expensive.
  • Stone grits – While stone grits don’t melt snow or ice, they have a similar composition to gravel or gritty sand which can provide traction. Many stores carry stone grits as a sand or salt alternative and tend to be the last option available when everything else has run out.

PROTECTING YOUR FOUNDATION


As we well know, in the Midwest, temperatures in the winter can fluctuate from freezing to the upper 50s and possibly higher. Combined with rain and snow, these factors can take a toll on the foundation of your home! Here are some ways you can protect your foundation and avoid costly repairs.

LOOK TO SEE WHERE WATER IS POOLING

If you find a low spot or water puddles against your house, take note of the location and fix it when it’s dry.

CHECK OUTDOOR WATER FAUCETS AND GARDEN HOSES

Make sure they are off and not leaking. Turning a frozen faucet on in the middle of winter can cause the pipe to leak, which can cause damage to your foundation.

KEEP YOUR BASEMENT DRY

Prepare for flood conditions in your basement and don’t allow water to collect during rains. Installing a sump pump can help keep water out during a storm.

REDUCE HUMIDITY

You may be tempted to turn off your dehumidifier in the winter, but excess humidity can cause damage to your foundation and walls. To avoid that issue, turn your dehumidifier to the lowest setting so that it will activate when the humidity becomes a problem in your home.

REPAIR CRACKS AND CREVICES

If you spot a minor crack in one of your walls or your foundation, it’s often a sign of underlying damage. Fill them as soon as possible to prevent the cracks from getting bigger.

WINTER HOME EMERGENCY KIT CHECKLIST


Winter brings cold, snow and sometimes power outages, so it’s good to prepare for the worst. One way to do that is by prepping a winter emergency kit. Here is a list of items you’ll need!

  • Water – At least five gallons per person and more if you’re in an area prone to long periods of cold temperatures.
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Power source – If you don’t have a backup generator and don’t want to invest in one, consider an alternative power source. You could use a power cord that can connect to your car to charge your phone, a backup battery to power your phone at home or a hand-crank tool to produce your own power.
  • Food – High-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food that doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration is best. Don’t forget extra food for your pets.
  • First aid supplies – Compress dressings, bandages, cloth tape, antibiotic ointment packets, antiseptic wipe packets, aspirin, non-latex gloves, oral thermometer, tweezers, etc.
  • Radio – Purchase a battery-powered NOAA weather radio and portable radio to receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside in a power outage.
  • Toiletries and special needs items like diapers
  • Extra medicine
  • Heat – Keep an alternative way to heat your home during a power failure handy, like a fireplace, woodstove or a kerosene heater.
  • Matches
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Battery powered clock

Now you’re prepared for whatever mother nature throws your way!

MAKE YOUR HOME READY FOR WINTER


Before the snow falls and a chill takes hold, it’s important to winterize your home. If you procrastinate, it could come at a cost! Here are some tips that’ll help make your home more enjoyable when the temperature drops.

CHECK YOUR HEATING SYSTEM

Turn the thermostat up to 80 degrees, just to test it. Listen for the furnace to turn on and make sure warm air comes out. If the furnace is not running properly, you may be able to fix it yourself, or you may need to call a technician.

INSULATE YOUR WINDOWS

By reducing drafts, you can lower your home’s energy costs by up to 20% per year! Use anything from V-seal weather stripping and rope caulk to shrink film or even nail polish.

PREP THE PLUMBING

Drain the water from your outdoor faucets and garden hoses and roll up the hoses and store them inside. Check for any “problem” pipes that tend to freeze in the winter and consider using heat tape to keep them warm.

CHECK THE ROOF

Spot any potential issues before the first snow! Check for cracked caulk or rust spots, shingles that are missing, broken, or curling, cracked vent pipes, or large masses of moss and lichen, which could indicate your roof is decaying.

CLEAR GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS

To prevent ice dams or damage to your foundation, clean your gutters to remove leaves and twigs. Also, make sure the gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water.