Consumer Real Estate News

    • Get Away Without Going Away

      5 June 2020

      (Family Features) Family vacations are a great way to bond and take a step back from the hectic schedules that accompany everyday life, but sometimes time or money (or both) make planning an elaborate trip a non-starter.

      However, a staycation – a vacation you take right in your hometown (or nearby) – can be much less expensive and fit into nearly any amount of available time with the added bonus of skipping out on potentially stressful travel.

      Consider these staycation ideas to take advantage of your local area’s attractions and prove you don’t have to go far to spend quality time together.

      Visit local landmarks. Just because it’s not a traditional vacation doesn’t mean you can’t pretend to be tourists. Start by visiting the places you recommend to friends and family from out of town or pick up a city guidebook to uncover hidden spots you may not even know exist. Make a plan to seek out historic sites, visit local landmarks like museums or try an out-of-the-way restaurant (or two) you’ve never eaten at before.

      Camp out in the backyard. Camping doesn’t have to be done far from home. In fact, it can be done right in your own backyard. Pitch a tent to sleep under the stars and plan a night full of traditional camping activities like roasting s’mores, telling spooky stories by flashlight and trying to identify stars and constellations.

      Set up a picnic in the park. Pack a basket with sandwiches, fruit and other treats and head to the park. You can enjoy a casual meal then take advantage of the open space for a family walk or game of tag before retreating to the playground to let the little ones expel any leftover energy.

      Have a home spa day. If you’re looking for some relaxation but don’t want to splurge on the full spa treatment, plan an at-home oasis instead. Light some candles, run a bubble bath and break out the facial masks and fingernail polish.

      Visit an amusement park. No matter where you live, there’s probably an amusement or water park within driving distance. A quick online search before you arrive can help prepare a strategy for hitting the most popular thrill rides and waterslides while skipping those that may not provide quite the same entertainment value.

       Find more tips and tricks for enjoying family time together at

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • The Dos and Don'ts of Designing a Monochromatic Room

      5 June 2020

      Picking out the right color scheme in each room can be daunting, but sometimes a simple monochromatic design is the best solution. When done properly, a single-color palette can make for a sophisticated and relaxing setting, yet achieving this takes careful planning. Before you get started, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep you on the right track to creating a well-balanced monochromatic room.

      Do: Start with a base color
      The first thing you want to do is pick out the primary tone for this space and how it’s going to be applied. Whether it’s the walls, a sofa or bedding, this will be the center of the aesthetic that you build off of and will define the mood in the room.

      Don’t: Feel like you have to stick to neutral tones
      If you’re on the fence about a monochromatic room, neutral tones can be a safe way to test it out. However, the look can certainly be pulled off with more ambitious shades, like crisp and fun pastorals or dark, moody hues.

      Do: Use a variety of shades
      The entire room shouldn’t be the exact tone of your base color. That would be boring. Mix it up with different shades that complement each other so that the space doesn’t feel flat. A bit of variety goes a long way.

      Don’t: Overdecorate
      When the palette revolves around a single color, it can be easy for the room to feel too intense. For this reason, it’s best to keep the decor uncluttered and even somewhat minimalist. This allows the color scheme to speak for itself without being overwhelming.

      Do: Focus on layers
      To avoid monotony, introduce different textures and patterns in the room. Window treatments, rugs and fixtures all play into providing layers that allow one’s eye to flow across the room.

      Don’t: Be afraid to break the color scheme
      Even though it’s a monochromatic room, you can still have a surprising accent piece that creates a bit of contrast and balances everything out.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Keep Your Grass Healthy

      5 June 2020

      A healthy lawn can make your home appear inviting to guests and can help you attract a buyer if you decide to move. Keeping your grass green requires commitment and an understanding of what your lawn needs and when.

      When and How to Water Your Yard
      Water the grass in the early morning so the water will be able to penetrate the soil, rather than evaporate, and so the lawn will have time to dry out before evening. Watering late in the day will leave the grass damp overnight and encourage the growth of mold and fungi.

      Water your lawn deeply, rather than a little at a time. A thorough soaking will allow water to penetrate the roots and will make the grass stronger and healthier. The amount of water required will depend on the species of grass, type of soil, region and season.

      The Right Way to Cut Your Grass
      Before you cut your grass, make sure the lawnmower blade is sharp. A dull blade will tear the grass, and your yard may turn yellow and become diseased. The grass will then require extra water and nutrients to return it to a healthy condition.

      Mow the lawn when the grass is dry and when it isn’t too hot. Cut off only the top third of the grass, and leave the clippings on the lawn so they can decompose. They will provide the lawn with nitrogen, slow the evaporation of water and prevent the growth of weeds. If you cut more than one-third of the length of the grass, the roots will be shocked, the stems will be exposed to the sun, and they will likely burn.

      How to Fertilize Your Lawn and Prevent Weeds
      Fertilize the lawn in early spring and fall to help it grow green and lush. Be sure to follow the directions on the package. Keeping your lawn thick and healthy can prevent weeds from growing by not giving them the space and sunlight they need.

      If you notice weeds growing among the grass, use a weed killer appropriate for the particular species of weeds. If you don’t know the species you’re dealing with, ask someone at a local garden center for guidance.

      How to Aerate the Grass
      Aeration is the process of removing small amounts of soil from a lawn. This allows air, water and fertilizer to penetrate deeper into the soil. Aeration also reduces soil compaction to create more room for roots to grow and removes thatch. You can rent an aerator at a home improvement store.

      Get Expert Advice
      Maintaining a healthy lawn requires a lot of work, but it’ll be far less overwhelming if you know what to do and when. Find out what species of grass you have in your yard if you don’t already know, follow these tips, and ask employees at a local garden center or nursery for advice specific to your region.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Find the Right Mower for You

      4 June 2020

      (Family Features) Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or looking for an upgrade, deciding what lawn mower to purchase deserves careful consideration. Similar to day-to-day life, new technology over the last five years, specifically in the gas mower industry, is making it easier to maintain your lawn.

      If you’re in the market for a new mower, consider these tips to find the perfect tool to match your needs.

      Yard Size
      Looking at the size of your yard is the first step in determining the best mower for your needs. Walk-behind mowers work well for yards that are 1/2 acre or less, but for yards 1-3-acres or larger, a zero-turn rider (ZTR) or riding mower may be appropriate.

      A small, flat yard may only require a walk-behind mower. If your yard is sloped or hilly, you may prefer a self-propelled mower rather than one you have to push. A walk-behind mower with big back wheels is easier to maneuver across rough terrain. Riding mowers and ZTRs can handle varied terrain, although some handle better on slopes than others.

      Engines are one of the most important factors affecting a mower’s performance, so purchasing one with a quality engine is essential. For example, Briggs & Stratton engines can be found on several brands of lawn mowers, including eight of the top 10 walk-behind brands. As a global leader in gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, these engines power mowers ranging from small walk-behinds to large ZTRs and riding mowers.

      Special Features
      While certain features may add to the cost of lawn mowers, many provide functions worth considering. One popular option is a mulching blade, which returns finely cut grass pieces to the lawn as a natural fertilizer. Another common choice is a bagging attachment, which is a grass-catching bag that can be affixed to the side or back of the mower to collect grass clippings.

      Explore more ways to put technology to work in your yard at

      Technology to get the job done. Explore high-tech features that make mowing more manageable with these insights from professional home improvement contractor Jason Cameron, host of DIY Network’s “Desperate Landscapes.”

      Avoid disturbing the neighbors. If finding time to mow means you might be inconveniencing your neighbors, a mower designed to operate quietly may be what you need. To take advantage of weekend mornings without bothering others, look into modern models, some of which even feature technology to make the mower quieter than the average gas mower.

      Skip oil changes. Seasonal maintenance can help keep your mower in top condition, and new innovations allow you to skip the messiest part: oil changes. Some mowers, specifically those with Briggs & Stratton’s No Oil Changes technology, are built with the intent that you never have to change the oil; you can simply check the level at the beginning of the season and add what you need.

      Get an assist starting the engine. You can forget the days when starting a mower was a hassle; many of today’s gas-powered mowers feature the starting reliability of lithium-ion battery technology, so you can unleash the power of gas with the push of a button.

      Save space in the garage. If storage is a challenge in your garage, look for a compact model with Briggs & Stratton’s Mow N’ Stow technology, which makes storage easy. This patented design allows owners to fold the mower and store it upright without fuel or oil leaks, saving you up to 70% of the storage space in your garage or shed.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 3 Stress-Busting Tips to Help You Start Your Day

      4 June 2020

      Between working, taking care of kids and maintaining a social schedule, the hustle and bustle of daily life can cause some people to feel exhausted, stressed or both. If you find yourself dragging your feet in the morning, waking up in a funk or dreading a stress-filled day, try to make a little time for yourself to boost your spirits.

      Here are a few morning tips to help you take on the day with less stress and more smiles:

      Make time to stretch. Stretching reduces anxiety and tension and slows down your heart rate. It can also improve your energy and clear your head. And don’t forget that your body will feel better—there’s no harm in that! A few simple yoga poses first thing in the morning can also reduce stress. Studies have found that people who did a few simple yoga stretches every morning reported less stress and an overall improved quality of life than those who didn’t.

      Come up with a ritual. Creating a little ritual you do each morning “just for you” carves out some quality you-time first thing. Giving yourself attention first will allow you to look forward to waking up and help you take on the day with a positive outlook. This ritual can be something as simple as sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee or reading a book for half an hour, or something more complex like working on a novel or learning a new language. Whatever you choose, it should be as essential to your well-being as your daily shower.

      Create a secret smile stash. Come up with a few go-to smile-inducers to fall back on if you wake up in a down mood. Stash a collection of photos from vacation with family and friends, love letters from your sweetie, or music that always gets you dancing or lifts your spirits. These little happy-makers could help put a little more pep in your step on your way out the door, and make you ready to take on the day.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.