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How To Create the Perfect Start To Each Day – Part 2 July 1, 2015

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Part 2 – Getting up and running

Now that you know how to set yourself up for success let’s take a look at how to get yourself moving!

Skip the excessive snooze button marathon. Yes that extra bit of sleep feels more luxurious because it seems like you’re stealing it. However, the human body operates on what’s known as the circadian rhythm. Within it the body goes through several levels of sleep. Right before it’s time for us to wake up we enter the lightest sleep state so that we can transition into waking.

Over-using the snooze button confuses the body a great deal. Rather than stay in a waking state it thinks you’re starting the cycle all over again and begins to drop back into heavier sleep states. This is why when you over-sleep you often feel for the balance of the day like you “just can’t seem to wake up today!” To give your body the best chance for a feeling well rested throughout the day, wake up when it’s time to wake up.

Start with physical fitness but take the liberty of letting that be something you’ll actually look forward to. In other words, if going for a run at 6:00 a.m. sounds like your idea of a punishment, then avoid it. The purpose of the early morning movement is simply to get your blood flowing so that lots of oxygen makes it way to all the regions of your body, especially your brain. Some basic stretching or body flow will do the job just fine. The benefit of something like this is that you can do it in your pajamas at home while you’re still having your first cup of coffee.

You might be surprised to discover that you will actually look forward to it every day because it won’t seem too demanding. As part of your night-before routine set out the things you’ll need to get right to it before you’ve even had time to think of an excuse not to.

Next read Part 3 – Get Your Mind Right

How To Create the Perfect Start To Each Day June 25, 2015

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Part 1 – Ahead of time

We all have different ways of tackling the day and you may have already discovered a formula that ensures you can give your best. Many of you, though, are probably relying on a less than systematic way to start your day. The alarm goes off, maybe you’ve snoozed your way through too much of it and you have to leap out of bed at mock speed and maintain that frantic pace all morning in order to meet your obligations. Or perhaps you get up on time but you don’t have a method for centering yourself and setting your intentions for the day.

If this is the case, even the most well intended day can get easily derailed. To increase your joy, productivity and peace we recommend trying to establish a morning routine that grounds you and positively influences all of the hours to follow! It takes some effort to learn it and maintain it, but it’s well worth it. When you start your day in a sane and grounded way you are more efficient and effective, and you’ll likely even have more fun.

Start getting up one 30-60 minutes earlier than usual. Yes, this will likely require you to also go to sleep that much earlier as well because getting less rest is not the goal. But by getting up a little earlier you can ensure that you will always have enough time do your morning ritual without feeling rushed. In general, people who start a little earlier just so they ground themselves are happier throughout the day.

Set yourself up for the best possible morning by accomplishing things the night before. Preset the coffee pot so the coffee is ready and entices you to get out of bed. Set out your clothes and things like keys, sunglasses, and so forth so everything is super easy.

Decide ahead of time to entirely avoid electronic communication such as email and social networking until after your whole morning ritual is complete. The point is to create a space for you to prepare for the day, not start it!

Next read Part 2 – Getting Up and Running

Recommended Paint Sheens and Brushes For Each Room In the House Part 2 June 20, 2015

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Part 2 – Primer and Brushes

In Part 1, we discussed all of the possibilities you can consider when painting a particular part of the house. Now that you have a good idea of how to choose a paint sheen, let’s move on to the use of primers and brushes.  

How to determine if you need to use a primer.

  • Water test –  spray water on an inconspicuous area on the wall, if it absorbs quickly you will need a primer; if it beads and rolls down, primer not likely needed
  • Not sure if latex or alkyd paint is on the wall? Try the nail polish remover (acetone) test – apply to a cloth use circular motion to wipe the wall a small, inconspicuous part of the wall, if the paint comes off it’s latex; if it doesn’t transfer to the cloth it is alkyd; if you want to apply a latex paint over an alkyd coating, you will need a primer
  • Also consider using primer if you are combating difficult stains (water marks, smoke, oil residue)
  • You very likely also need a primer if  you  are painting an light color over a very dark color

Which brush to use

  • 2 ½” angle brush to cut-in the walls, this means painting the edges and corners before painting the rest of the wall
  • Use a roller once cutting-in is complete
  • When using a latex based paint, don’t use natural bristle hair brush, this makes it difficult to paint, use synthetic or nylon
  • Use a foam brush or roller for very smooth surfaces
  • The type of roller will vary by the smoothness or roughness of the wall (substrate)
  • For smoother walls use a shorter nap 3/16” or 3/8” roller
  • For semi-rough and plaster walls use 1/2”+ nap

Which rooms are you currently painting?  What is your favorite kind of brush?

Recommended Sheens and Brushes For Each Room In the House June 13, 2015

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Part 1 – Paint Sheens

Taking on the project of painting is rather daunting! It requires a LOT of planning, preparation, and work. However, it can save you quite a bit of money so it’s an idea worth exploring. 

As a rule, the overall durability of paint is usually correlated to the sheen. More sheen typically equates to higher durability. In large part because walls get dirty and need to be cleaned, and high sheen paints are much easier to take care of in high traffic areas in the house. Basically, if you think you’ll be needed to scrub and remove stains on a regular basis, you should always be considering a satin or semi-gloss sheen.

That said, the type of paint to use can also be easily broken down by room or project. There are some premium quality paints out there with durability so advanced that they resist wear and tear in all sheens. But if you’re not ready to pay top dollar for the king of paints, follow this basic guide and you should do just fine!

  • High Traffic Areas – Satin, Semi-Gloss
  • Ceilings – Flat, except bathrooms, kitchen, and kids rooms where gloss would be better
  • Bathrooms and Kitchens – Semi Gloss and Mildew Resistant, either a specific paint and sheen within a brand, or some brands have mildew resistance available in all sheens
  • Interior Trim and Accents – Satin and Semi Gloss
  • Cabinetry – Satin, Gloss, Semi Gloss
  • Furniture – Satin, Gloss, Semi Gloss, High Gloss, if there is an existing coat of paint or varnish, you will likely need to sand and prime, and ensure it fully cures before resuming normal use
  • Exterior Trim – Semi Gloss, Gloss
  • Exterior – Flat, Satin
  • Flawed walls – flat hides problem areas best, higher sheen will emphasize them

Tell us what areas you’ve found gloss paint to be most useful!

Essential Steps To Make The Perfect Bed June 2, 2015

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Oh how beautiful the beds in catalogs are! You know, the catalogs that feature page after page of the perfect looking bed. The one that is so inviting you wish you could jump right into the pages and land on the glorious pillows and covers. But once you’re done perusing the photos, and you walk into your bedroom you think, “Well, at least the sheets are clean and the bedspread isn’t wadded up on the floor!” It’s time for a change. Take that ideal bed out of the pages of a catalog and make it your own. We’ve got the few tips you need to pull it off like a pro. Here’s how:

  1. A perfect bed starts with a perfect mattress.  Remember that one-third of your life is spent here!
  2. Buy good sheets! Yes, we know, they aren’t flashy and fun like a new comforter, but you simply cannot have the perfect bed without good sheets. You likely already know about thread count, but it’s not the only important factor. Buy high quality, natural fibers. No synthetics. Find a cotton blend that is excellent quality, such as Egyptian, and combine that with a decent thread count. Your bed will feel just like a fancy hotel, and the bonus is that good cotton sheets will also wear in and get softer over time.
  3. Own at least two sets of sheets for your bed, when you’re budget allows for it. They’re like clothes for your bed and you don’t own just one outfit right?
  4. Purchase three more layers: quilt/coverlet, bedspread/comforter, duvet. It’s so fun to do this part of the shopping!
  5. Once your sheets are on the bed, lay the quilt or coverlet on top.
  6. Then, fold the top sheet and quilt back, 1/4 at the top.
  7. Next, fold the duvet in thirds and lay it across the bottom of the bed. Pretty!
  8. Buy pillows. Don’t hold back. Buy good ones, and buy pretty ones. It’s a bedroom for goodness sake! You need: Pillows in pillow cases, euro shams, and decorator pillows. Stack from back to front – pillow case, sham, decorator. Two rows for a queen bed and three rows for a king bed.
  9. Mix up textures and patterns. Give your bed a 3-D look by using obvious texture. Such as, a faux fur pillow and a ruched bedspread. If you mix patterns, use different scales. So, for instance, mini gingham and a medium scale paisley. One is a smaller pattern than the other and this makes it look interesting!

Memorial Day Remembrance May 25, 2015

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We would like to thank each and every man and woman who has given everything for our country.  Thank you.

Plan An Amazing Barbecue! May 22, 2015

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The summer is the perfect time to use your outdoor entertainment skills.  But do you have a plan for how to entertain the guests you’ve invited?  The perfect way to celebrate the warm weather is a barbecue. Barbeque gatherings are perfect for entertaining because they can provide a quick and easy way to cook large amounts of food for your guests.  These parties are low key –set out a cooler with a few drinks inside, and ask your guests to contribute a side dish, buns for burgers and hot dogs, or a case of their favorite drink, and your barbecue will come together flawlessly.

 

Decorating is a breeze if you have a good outdoor space. Grab a few red and white checked table clothes for any tables that you plan on setting up to set the mood. String up some decorative lights across fence lines and low hanging trees to offer your guests ambient lighting once the sun begins to set. Depending on your guest count, consider setting up a tent over a food service table. If you have a fire pit be sure to grab the materials necessary to enjoy a crackling fire.

 

Next you will want to be sure that you have a few yard games ready for guests to enjoy. Provide several so that if one game is overly popular, the competition can spread to other areas. Bocce ball is a great game and will make great use of your backyard. Another great game that most enjoy is Cornhole, and it’s very easy to set up. Yet crowd pleaser is badminton. Set up a little bit of a competition where the winner is awarded with a small party favor. Provide a sign in sheet and put together an informal tournament.

 

However you decide to set up your summer barbecue, as long as you are with good company and good food, you are sure to have a successful party. With a few personal touches and a little bit of planning you can set up the perfect party for your guests and yourself.

Happy Mother’s Day! May 10, 2015

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Moms, thank you for everything you do!  We hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Garage Organization Time! May 6, 2015

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Spring is here and it is time to begin thinking about cleaning out the clutter and mess around your house that has accumulated over the winter months. But the last place you want to think about cleaning up is your catch-all garage—the Bermuda Triangle of “stuff”! With a few quick tips and tricks to make de-cluttering and organizing your garage painless, you will be armed with the knowledge necessary to make this task less of an undertaking.

 

First, you will want to make sure you set aside an entire weekend so that you don’t feel rushed and you have the time necessary to pace yourself. Check the weather ahead of time since some items will have to sit outside while you go through your belongings. You will also want to make sure to enlist some help. Going it alone will make the task at hand a more time consuming endeavor and it will be easier to tackle everything with others to pitch in with ideas.  Cleaning out the garage is a great way to get children involved in chores!

 

Once you’ve begun, start with categorizing items as they come out of the garage and arranging them outside in piles of “like things”. It will be easier to go through later when you have everything grouped according to category. Items that you want to give away can go in their own separate pile and items you want to keep will now be together for when you put everything back inside.

 

Next, consider how your garage and the items it will contain are best organized. This will vary depending on garage size and how much you have left to put back inside of it. You may need to think about groups of items that will be best put in labeled containers versus what items can be hung, stacked, or otherwise organized. Once you have your layout in mind it is just a matter of setting things back in your garage in an organized fashion. Be sure to think about what items you use the most and ensure that these are easily accessible.

 

Now that your garage is organized and clean, be sure to keep up with it. When you remove an item, return it to its proper place. And set a schedule, perhaps biannually, where you de-clutter any portions of your garage that have fallen into slight disarray. This will keep your garage organized and clean in the future.

How To Arrange the Family Room Without a TV Focal Point April 30, 2015

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It seems we’ve become so accustomed to television that it is almost instinctual to arrange a family room based on the location of the TV. There’s nothing wrong with it of course. Who doesn’t love family movie night with pajamas and popcorn? But, have you considered the possibility of a room not focused on an electronic device? With so many of them dominating our lives these days (laptops, tablets, phones,) it might be nice to have a community room in the house that focuses on other things. Like fun and conversation!

So, how does one organize a room with no TV? By shifting focus. When a TV is in a room it is a focal point. It’s easy to discern that all seating should be facing toward the TV, and then situate tables and other items according to that set up. Without a TV we suggest you turn your focus to human connection.

To set the tone, start with a large area rug. Place it at the center of the area you are designing. It will visually anchor the room – especially the conversation space once you place furniture on and around it. Which is what you’re going to do next. Arrange all furniture that is designed for seating in a radial pattern.  In other words, all chairs, sofas, loveseats, etc, should be positioned around an imaginary center point. For this to look good you must be sure to visually distribute the weight of the furniture. For example the largest piece of furniture, likely the couch, should have its own area. It’s too heavy to have anything else right next to it. If you have a couple of chairs these would look good across from the couch because they’ll balance the visual weight of the couch.

There’s no need, however, for things to be symmetrical. In fact, if the layout is perfectly symmetrical it will increase the formality of the room. Family rooms shouldn’t feel formal, so work according to the idea of a casual circle, not necessarily a square or rectangle. It’s also important that the furniture be close enough together that people can walk around the outside. This is because you don’t want people traversing the conversation circle if possible. This will make it feel busy and un-relaxing. It will also be disruptive to interactions. It’s good idea to consider a large coffee table in the center of things as well. It will prevent that pesky traffic and anchor the space even more. It allows for food and beverage, and even board games. Last but not least, be sure to balance the overall weight of the room by mixing furniture that is heavy and solid with furniture that is light and airy. This will make the room feel complete and well thought out.

What are some of the ways you’ve found to arrange your furniture to create the most interaction possible? Leave us a comment and tell us how you beat the battle of the TV!