Friday, September 12, 2014

Staging a Home to Sell

I hope you got some useful tips from part 1 of Nina's guest blogs.  As promised, here is part 2.  There are really great ideas for anyone considering a move to a 55+ new home community in here.  Don't forget to visit our website to see what's new at McKeeBuilders.com 


In my last post I addressed what I refer to as, the 'Where do I begin' phase in selling your home.  I left off with telling you the next important step in doing that would be 'Staging your home,' and I would deal with that in my next blog. So, here goes.  'Staging' plays a pivotal role in ensuring that your home will sell before you actually put it on the market.  Professional Stagers are good at what they do, their price tag bears that out.  As an  experienced Professional Organizer I can help you achieve the same results more cost efficiently.  Below is an outline on staging your home and property to sell, more often than not, at your full asking price:

•   Curb appeal is the most important aspect in staging your home.  We all know ‘first impressions are lasting’.  That being said, what is the condition of your home's entire exterior?  Is your roof in good shape?  Does anything need to be power washed?  i.e.: your homes framework, whether Stone, Brick, Vinyl or Wood. How about Windows, Gutters, Patios, Driveways and Walkways?  Is your landscaping eye-catching or an 'Eyesore?  All of this is what gives your home great ‘curb appeal.’  And, what prospective buyers will see first when they pull up.  Make sure your entire exterior is a precursor and a good reflection on your interior. 
•   As I indicated in my previous article, a bitter enemy for any home is clutter, especially one on the market!  Remove as much clutter from your home as possible.  This includes closets, cabinets, and any room that has a door.  Keep in mind, when buyers are doing a walk-through, they will open all doors.  Make sure all trash, things to donate or recycle and everything you are not keeping is out-of-the-way or disposed of.
•   If you have decided to add a fresh coat of paint to walls or cabinets, keep it fresh and simple by using a warm neutral color which will open up space.  If you would like to add a ‘spark’ of color, limit it to one accent wall such as behind a bed.
•   When you have donated or removed all unwanted furniture, reposition the furniture you're keeping by ‘floating’ the pieces away from the walls.  This ensures good traffic flow.  
•   Accessories are important, but don’t over do it.  Your goal is to impart an atmosphere of a house that is more of a home; this can be achieved by placing family photos, personal items and knick-knacks throughout.  Keep in mind, ‘less is more.’  
•   Make sure your home is well lit.  If need be, add overhead lighting or lamps where necessary.  
•   Fresh flowers and lit candles work wonders.

Next time we'll deal with the most dreaded task of all...the move itself. 
Remember, if you are feeling overwhelmed, I am just a phone call away.

Written by Nina Bowdler, Professional Organizer, Divine Intervention. 

Nina can be reached via e-mail at nina@thedivineorganizer.com

 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Organizational Tips When Selling a Home

Good Morning Readers,

Today we have Part 1 of a 2 Part post by Nina Bowdler, a professional organizer, who has some great tips to help you sell your house so you can move into a McKee Builders new home community.  Don't forget to see what's new on our website at mckeebuilders.com where you can research and view photos of our new construction 55+ homes in PA, DE & MD.


So, you're going to move. And, with that comes a tremendous amount of anticipation, excitement, a little apprehension mixed with a fair share of anxiety.  Logic dictates the first important question... Where do I begin? First, take a deep breath and focus on all that's positive.  With a new home comes new beginnings, new friends, neighbors and so many more new memories.  But, where does one start with selling their home?  As a Professional Organizer, my goal is to help my clients navigate through the process.  Below are my tips on how to ease the stress and anxiety of selling a home:

              Write everything down.  Choose a notebook, or a device such as a Tablet or computer to keep a list of what comes to mind.  I refer to this as ‘busy brain’ so don’t take a chance on forgetting something important.  This includes any ideas, questions, or concerns.
              Choose a realtor you trust.  After all, this is a momentous and emotional decision.  Educate yourself on the current market value of your home so that there are no surprises.
              Dealing with your belongings can be harrowing...your clothes, all personal items, kitchen and cooking stuff, all furniture, things stored in the basement or garage. Then, what comes with you, what do you give to family, friends, loved ones, and what to donate. Ah, the 'List.'  There's nothing more rewarding than what my great aunt referred to as “giving with your eyes open.”  She said that it brought her much joy to see her treasures enjoyed by those she held dear and the needy.
              Take note of any fixing to be addressed and research vendors to get the repairs done.
              Take a detailed ‘tour’ of your home and carry your list or at least a pencil and paper with you for an accurate accounting of all you  have to deal with.

 Next time I will talk about staging your home. Until then, if you are overwhelmed, a Professional Organizer is worth so much more than their weight and expertise, in gold.

Written by Nina Bowdler, Professional Organizer, Divine Intervention.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Physical Activity at Champions' Club

The Champions' Club 55+ Community in Magnolia, Delaware, offers a variety of events and gatherings for residents to have fun and get fit together. If you're looking to get some physical activity and meet with your neighbors in the community there are plenty of options for you to utilize every day of the week!

The community offers walking exercise and weight training every Monday and Friday at 9am, and weight training again on Wednesday at 9am, Pilates on Tuesday and Thursday at 9am, and pool volleyball Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 and 3pm, bocce on Tuesdays at 9am, and golf league Tuesdays at 8am.

So get out there, get active, and join your fellow community members in getting fit! For more information, see the Champions' Club social calendar, or check out The Lifestyle pages on the website.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Brandywine 55+ Lifestyle


If you purchase a new home at The Courtyards at Brandywine, Wilmington's premier 55+ new home community, you will find endless opportunities for activities to participate in with new friends. The Twin Lakes Brewing Company in Greenville, Delaware-- a mere 15 minutes from Wilmington-- offers some fun activities for you!

The brewery offers two tours a week, one Wednesday evening and one Saturday afternoon. Open for just a few hours during the week, the brewery also has a tasting room, where you can sample their brews fresh out of the tap.

For more information, check out their website at http://twinlakesbrewingcompany.com/brew/



Or check out their event page on the Visit Delaware website.
Do you prefer wine? Chadd's Ford Winery and Peddler's Village are only 5 minutes further than Twin Lakes and offer wine tastings and a variety of other activities to wet your pallet. You can find more information regarding both locations and their multitude of events on their website at http://www.chaddsford.com/root/visit.asp 

Please drink responsibly. Do not drink and drive.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Simple Summer Barbeque


Now that you know how to make some refreshing cocktails, and you’ve got some really great backyard games, it’s time to throw a party! All that’s missing is the food. Here are some of our picks for an easy and delicious meal you can make on the grill for your next get-together, or even your house-warming party! So get out there, invite your friends and family, and impress your neighbors with these great recipes.
Caprese Salad
This salad is super easy. You can serve it as an hors d’oeuvre, single-serve style, or as tossed salad along with your main course. It’s a great way to show off your home-grown tomatoes and basil, and it’s beautiful as well!
Ingredients:
·         Basil
·         Tomatoes (Any variety. We like cherry tomatoes for a tossed salad, and larger varieties, such as heirlooms, for hors devours)
·         Mozzarella (Any size. We like small cherry-tomato sized ones for the salad, and the large ball for the hors devours)
·         Your favorite balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or a light dressing
·         Make sure you have enough ingredients for everyone at your party. We suggest at least one serving per person, if not two.

Directions (Hors D’oeuvres):
1.      Slice tomatoes about 1cm thick, keep in large circles.
2.      Slice equal amount of mozzarella, one disc per tomato slice, and arrange on plate
3.      Place one tomato slice on each mozzarella
4.      Top each with one basil leaf (or more if you want)
5.      Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil and serve!

If you would like to make a salad just toss all the ingredients in a bowl and add your dressing. Slice cherry tomatoes and small mozzarella balls in half. Add dressing and let stand for a few minutes, melding the flavors together. Enjoy!

Homemade Balsamic Dressing
This dressing is perfect for the caprese salad or hors d’oeuvre! Don’t hesitate to get creative with this one. Add other spices and flavored oils to add your own personal flare!

Ingredients:
  • 1/8 Cup good balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ Cup bold flavored olive oil (or flavor-infused olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • ½ tsp salt (to taste)

Directions:
  1. Measure all ingredients into a jar
  2. Secure lid and shake vigorously to combine
  3. If refrigerated, remove from fridge at least 30 minutes before serving and shake well to recombine

Pesto Grilled Salmon
Impress your friends with this easy, and healthy, recipe for grilled salmon!
Ingredients:
·         ¼ cup minced shallots
·         1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
·         ¼ tsp salt
·         ½ tsp ground pepper
·         ½ salmon (about 1 1/2 lbs.), with or without skin (remove before eating), or any other fish
·         3 tbsp basil pesto (purchased or homemade)

Direction:
1.      Preheat the grill to medium heat.
2.      Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
3.      Add red bell pepper, salt and pepper, and cook until the bell pepper is just tender, about 3 minutes.
4.      Lay salmon on a double sheet of foil that is lightly coated with cooking spray.
5.      Spread pesto over salmon and arrange shallot and red bell peppers over pesto.
6.      Seal foil by folding it as though you wrapping a present. Slide the foil packet onto grill and close lid. Cook until salmon is just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. Take care not to overcook the salmon.
7.      Unwrap salmon from the foil, cut into pieces and serve hot or at room temperature. It’s as easy as that!

Banana S’Mores
This is an easy recipe that’s fun to do with kids, on the grill or even over a camp fire! Parental supervision advised.
Ingredients per banana:
·         1 Banana
·         2 Tbsp mini marshmallows
·         2 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
·         2 Tbsp Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, slightly crushed
·         Aluminum foil squares

Directions:
·         Preheat grill to medium high heat (or oven to 400°F)
·         Peel bananas and slice lengthwise to open, do not slice completely in half, and place in aluminum foil
·         Fill banana with chocolate chips and marshmallow
·         Wrap banana and grill (or bake) for 5-6 minutes, or until chocolate and marshmallows are melted
·         If cooking on open flame you will need to allow flames to die down and place the packet directly on the fire and cook for 3-5 minutes.
·         Unwrap banana, top with cereal, and enjoy!!

Grilled Peaches
This is a great dessert if you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated.
Ingredients for 6 peaches (serves 12):
·         6 ripe peaches, sliced in half, pitted
·         ¾ Cup amaretti cookies, crumbled
·         ¼ Cup amaretto liqueur (optional- use water as substitute)
·         1 Tbsp cocoa powder

Directions:
1.      Heat grilled to medium high heat
2.      Place peaches on grill, cut side down, for 3 minutes, until golden brown and slightly charred
3.      Turn over and cook another 3 minutes to soften them
4.      Remove from grill and cools
5.      Add cookie crumble to medium bowl, stir in cocoa powder, amaretto (or water), and combine
6.      Mold cookie crumbles into small balls and place in center of peaches, where pit would be
7.      Enjoy these warm! They would be delicious with vanilla ice cream.





Wednesday, August 6, 2014

DIY Outdoor Games


Are you looking for a way to enjoy your new back yard with your friends, family, and neighbors? Try out some of these Do-It-Yourself outdoor game ideas! They’re easy to make at home with your loved ones, and available in stores and online. So go ahead! Mix up your favorite cocktail from our previous post, and get outside and play! And kids, make sure you have a parent to help you be safe with all the appropriate safety tools while making these great games.

Cornhole/Bag-O
corn-hole-boards
Materials:

  • ½” chick plywood sheet, 4’x4’
  • Four 2’x4’s, 8’ long
  • Four 4”x3/8” carriage bolts
  • Four 3/8” flat washers
  • Four 3/8” wing nuts
  • 1 box 2 ½ inch wood screws
  • Chop saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Compass
  • Drill and bits
  • Clamps (or another person to help)
  • Palm sander
  • Safety Goggles
  • Paint (optional)


Preparation/Directions:
  1. Cut plywood sheet in half to make two 2’x4’ boards.
  2. Take the four 8’ long 2’x4’s
    1. Cut 4 pieces 21” long
    2. Cut 4 pieces 4’ long (two boards in half)
    3. Cut 4 pieces 11 ½” long (for legs)
  3. For assembly instruction please follow the links here.










Bananagrams
IMG_2655
Materials (for basic tiles):
  • Big sheet masonite OR
  • 100 x 15mm x 1.5m fence palings AND
  • Dulux Weathershield Low Sheen in Black and Vivid White
For tile holders:
  • 6 timber pegs
  • 7mmx5m nylong rope or cord
Breakdown of letters:
  • Paling (100 Tiles):
1: J, W, K, V, X, Z, W
2: Y, F, B, G
3: H, M, P
4: U, D
5: C, L, S
7: N, T, O, I, R
8: A
10: E

  • Masonite (144 Tiles):
    2: J, K, Q, X, Z
    3: B, C, F, H, M, P, V, W, Y
    4: G
    5: L
    6: D, S, U
    8: N
    9: T, R
    11: O
    12: I
    13: A
    18: E

Preparation/Directions:
  1. Cut palings or masonite into large squares
  2. Paint letters large enough to fill up the entire tile
  3. Allow to dry and have fun!
  4. For detailed instructions for tiles and stands click links here for masonite or here for fence paling and stands


Don’t hesitate to mix and match these two methods of creating this fun word game! The Masonite tiles are a bit easier and make more; the palings seem a bit more durable or heavy-duty.








Ladder Golf
DIY-Patriotic-Ladder-Golf-Game1-694x1024
Materials:
  • ¾” PVC Piping:
    • Nine 2’ pieces
    • Six 1’ pieces
    • Six standard T fittings
    • Six elbows (or standard 90 joints)
  • 15 feet of nylon rope/cord
  • 12 tennis balls
  • Drill (with a 5/16″ bit) or box cutter/knife
  • Paper clip
  • Lighter
  • Paint (optional)
Preparation/Directions:

  1. Build stand by creating a rectangle using 6 of the 2’ pieces, 2 standard T fittings (for the long side) and 4 elbow
  2. Build three ladders
    1. Use 3 2’ pieces, attach elbows to both ends of one piece
    2. Attach two 1’ pieces to each elbow
    3. Repeat steps to make two more ladders, using T fittings instead of elbows
    4. Attach all three ladders by the T fittings and insert into base
  3. Create tennis-ball bolas
    1. Drill holes all the way through tennis balls using a drill or box cutter
    2. It may be helpful to indent ball with smaller drill bit or the knife before beginning to drill.
    3. Cut six 25” pieces of cord and seal ends using a lighter
    4. Use large paper clip as a needle to thread cord through tennis ball.
    5. Tie a knot in the end of the rope, and on the long end on the other side of the ball
    6. Repeat step, placing one ball on each end of the cord for 6 bolas.
  4. That’s it! If you want to paint your ladders or bola you can do so with any colors you like! Pain ladders before assembly for clean lines. You can also glue pieces together for a sturdier game.
  5. For complete instructions and step-by-step photos, click here






Urban Horseshoes
IMG_3647
Materials:
  • Four 16” 2x4s
  • Four 13” 2x4s
  • Two 16” squares of plywood, any thickness you want (3/8” suggested)
  • Two 3” PVC couplings
  • Eight ½” Washers (or whatever size you want)
  • Wood Screws (6x3/4 for base, 2x8 for frame)
  • Glue/wood putty (optional)
  • Paint (optional)
Preparation/Directions:
    1. It may be hard to believe but this game is a bit more difficult to make than the others due to its relatively small size
    2. For instructions, please click here.
    3. You are basically making two small boxes using four pieces of 2”x4”s and plywood with PVC in the middle to catch the washers
    4. You can paint the washers and boxes to make them more fun and personal! 

Check out this link for all these games and more! Get creative and have fun with friends and family not only playing these games, but also building them with your own two hands and giving them your own personal touches using paint and other customizations. Let us know how they work out for you! We would love to see your pictures!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Preserving Vacation Memories


Creative Ways to Preserve Your Summer Vacation Memories:
Pictures and keepsakes from vacations are always fun for reminiscing.    If you are like me, you always have the best intention to organize, create and save those treasured memories.  Scrap books and photo albums are always a great way to keep memories alive, but I thought:  there has to be something I can create that could also act as an accent to my home or as artwork.   So, I perused a few websites and found some ideas I would like to share.  These are simple but creative and make a great conversation piece too!  

Shadow Boxes
Step1
Create your background using the 
Alphabet Frames templates. These are so perfect for shadow box displays since they allow you to use several photos while maintaining a simple and clean looking display. I also recommend thinking outside the box on the words you use.
Step2
Remove the label inside the shadow box and attach your 12×12 print using the double sided tape.
Step 3:
Begin creating simple displays for some of your items. I wanted to include airline ticket stubs from each of the members of my family. I used a small clothespin to hold them and hot glued that clothespin directly to my 12×12 print. We had just a bit of sand from two of our favorite beaches to include as well. I used old lab beakers (turned upside down) to hold my sand. I also included little flag labels made from paper and toothpicks to designate the origin of the sand. If you can’t find old beakers you could use spice containers for a similar look.
Step 4:
Tilt the shadowbox and begin placing your keepsakes inside. After putting in my sand beakers, I added shells and rocks. Once all your items are inside you can close the shadow box.
 Letter Templates for Photographers
Display Multiple Photos in an Empty Frame:
Choose an empty frame, gather photos, and display using wire and baby clothespins!   The clothespins allow you to change the photos.