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5 Ways To Prep your Home Before Traveling for the Holidays

Before you start packing your bags for your next trip, you should also think about getting your house ready. Too often, we’re concerned about what to pack for our trip that we forget about prepping our homes. These tips will allow you to enjoy your time away and hopefully give you a stress-free return. Here are 5 easy tips to prep your home for your winter travels.

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1. Plan ahead. Make sure you have someone you trust, either a friend or a neighbor, to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. They can shovel snow from the driveway, grab your mail, and take in the newspaper. Not only will you not have to come home to piles of mail and a snowed in driveway, but it will keep your home safe. There’s a higher risk for burglary if your home looks like no one has been there for some time. 

2. Prepare your kitchen. Make sure to dispose of any perishable goods that will go bad while you’re away. You don’t want to return home to the smell of rotting food. On that same note, make sure to have a stock of non-perishable goods for when you return home. The last thing you want to come home to is an empty kitchen and a rumbling stomach. 

3. Leave your heat on. This may sound a bit strange to some of us who are in the habit of turning our air off when we’re not at home, but it’s crucial to keeping your home safe while you’re away. Make sure when you leave for your trip to set your thermostat at 55 degrees. This will make sure that your pipes won’t freeze while you’re away. In addition, you won’t come home to such a chilly place. 

4. Keep your water running. Leaving a faucet dripping while you’re away can prevent your pipes from freezing in extreme cold weather. Opening your faucet will provide relief from the excess pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. A dripping faucet does waste some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing should be left with water flowing. 

5. Conserve electricity. Even if items are plugged into an outlet but not used, they do use electricity. Make sure to unplug any unnecessary electronics or appliances while you’re away. This is a reasonable way to save on electricity while you’re away enjoying your vacation. 

Picture Source: Rustic Cabin taken by Lee Rentz

5 ways to put best foot forward at holiday parties

With the holidays upon us we will be decorating our homes for the season, entertaining friends, and attending holiday parties. As you prepare you home for all of the guests that will pass through, there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget…etiquette as a party guest. Here are a few “rules” to go by when you start receiving those party invitations:

Don’t be a (snow)flake. No one likes someone who doesn’t follow through. If you say you’re going to attend the party, then make sure you show up. We all understand if emergencies happen, but communicate this to the host. Courtesy is everything when it comes to manners. 

Bring something. It’s always a nice gesture to show up with something for the party. You can never go wrong with a bottle of champagne or wine. There’s always something to be celebrated this holiday season. If you have any dietary restrictions, make sure to bring your own dish so you know you’ll have something to eat. You don’t want to be munching on veggies or a sald all night. 

Put down your phone. We’re all guilty of instagram-ing and facebook-ing the moment, but you don’t want to forget where you are. Make sure you are mingling and having a good time with the other party goers. Don’t alienate yourself from the other guests by checking what’s going on in the social media world. 

Be entertaining. Come prepared to chat up your fellow party goers. If you’re all friends, you’ll have plenty to talk about. However, chances are there will be some new people to meet. Be open to talking with new people because you never know who you will meet!

Don’t bring the drama. This isn’t the time or the place to dredge up any annoyances or settle a score with a guest. Keep the drama to a minimum and make sure you give out compliments. A few kind words to the host will make them feel appreciated!

Follow up. Make sure to take the time to write a handwritten note thanking the host for inviting you. This will be your ultimate re-invitation guarantee. 

Now go enjoy all those party invitations!

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How To Make Your Own Holiday Wreath

A beautiful wreath is a great way to decorate your front door and greet your guests with holiday cheer.

Here is one of our favorite wreaths from Henry Happened:

Here is a quick how-to on making one of your own. It’s great to use fresh evergreens to have the smell of Christmas, but it works just as well with faux branches or even boxwood trimmings. 

Supplies needed: 

  • -Wire wreath frame
  • -floral wire (22 gauge)
  • -wire cutters
  • -Fresh (or faux) tree trimmings
  • - pine cones, bow, extra tree trimmings

1. First you want to cut your wire into 2.5-3” sections. This will be used to twist around each tree branch, so you’ll want to cut quite a few. 

2. Twist the section of wire around each branch and then onto the wreath frame. Your wire will loop around the branch and then both ends of the wire will hook around the wreath frame. This will lock the branch into place. 

3. Keep building your wreath in this manner, overlapping some of the branches. Make sure to start at the outer edges and work your way towards the center. Be mindful of the direction your branches are facing, they should all be the same direction. 

4. Finally add on your finishing touches. You can add in pine cones or different greenery as you go. A bow is a nice touch at the top of the wreath as well. Add in what you’d like to make the wreath your own!

Fun for the Holidays: DIY wrapping paper ideas

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Christmas is just around the corner, which means piles of presents under the tree! We are starting to wrap our gifts and want to make them extra special this year! We found some really fun non-traditional ways to wrap your gifts and make sure they stand out even before they get unwrapped! Using magazines, waxpaper, twist ties, and other household items your gifts will look beautiful this year!

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The Easiest and Most Affordable Ways to Keep Warm…Without Turning on the Heat

Brrr!  With this unusual nationwide cold snap, it’s no wonder everyone is scrambling to get just a bit cozier.  We have rounded seven easy ways to keep warm immediately, without breaking the bank.

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  1. Pile on the blankets:  One of the first things we learned about dressing for winter is to layer.  The same thing applies to your bedding.  If you feel like you need more warmth, add on an additional comforter to your current bedding.  We particularly like the cotton loft comforter because it’s light and airy while still does a good job insulating you from the cold.
  2. Use a hot water bottle:  There is nothing like snuggling up next to warmth.  One of our favorite tricks to do to stay warm in bed is to fill up a few hot water bottles and drop them near the foot of our bed.  That way, one can stay cozy all night long.
  3. Take a hot bath:  If it gets a bit too chilly, draw yourself a bath.  You deserve one anyways!  If you aren’t used to taking a long bath, immerse your feet in hot water.  Trust us…it’ll help a lot!
  4. Open the curtains during the day:  Let the sunshine into your home during the day.  However, don’t forget to close them at night since the draft will come in.
  5. Cover Your Floors:  Having rugs or carpet on floor not only keeps your toes cozy but also keeps it insulated.   
  6. Wear Socks: Protect your feet from the cold floor with a soft pair of socks or snuggly slippers.  Ideally do #3 first before #6.  
  7. Drink a hot beverage:  Nothing takes better than hot cocoa or tea on a cold winter night.  We like how warms you from inside out.

Gus the Pug Says…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We hope your day is filled with friends, family, and feasting. This year we asked some of our favorite bloggers to share with us what they are most thankful for this year. Here’s what they said:

  • “I’m thankful for my husband and I being able to achieve two of our dreams this year: getting Bailey, our Rottweiler pup, and my husband becoming a firefighter. I also can’t express enough gratitude for all the love and support we’ve received from our families and friends this year.” –Natalie C. from Natalie Dressed
  • “I am thankful that we’re able to spend Thanksgiving with my entire family down in Florida this year (even our pup Ziggy is coming)!” –Sarah L. from Chevron and Stripes
  • “2013 has been a wonderful year for my family and career.  I’m grateful for the wonderful friends and new experiences. “ – Camille S. from Planning Pretty
  • “I am thankful for my dad’s recovery from cancer over the past year and the success of my business. Nothing is better than women succeeding in the world! “ – Neely from A Complete Waste of Makeup

What are you most thankful for this year?

How to turn your guest bedroom into a retreat

We all want to create a mini oasis for our guests when they come to stay. Here are some tips on how to turn your guest bedroom into a retreat!

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Create an ambiance of tranquility and relaxation. The key to turning your guest bedroom into a retreat is to make it feel distinctly different than places you spend most of your day. You’ll want to make sure you create a less stressful environment by keeping the room clean and organized. When guests want to wind down after a day of activities or the stress of their work week, an orderly room without a lot of clutter simplifies the tasks they have running around in their head. 

Create a home away from home. Everyone forgets to pack at least one thing when they travel, so cover their bases by stocking the bathroom or night stand drawer with travel sized essentials. Use a basket to put extra blankets, towels, and a robe for your guests to use while they stay. Make sure these items are visible so your guests have everything they need once they arrive. You may also want to hang a small mirror to help your guests get ready for the day or an evening out. If you have the space, add in a long dressing mirror.

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Treat your guests to comfortable bedding. At the end of a long day of sightseeing or catching up, your guests will want to wind down in a luxurious bed. Having comfortable bedding, like a Crane & Canopy duvet, and fluffy pillows will help round out your oasis. Add inexpensive blinds or ready made drapes to any unfinished windows to allow for a dark room in the morning. Your guests are on vacation and will appreciate a dark room for sleeping in. You can also purchase blackout drapes which are more efficient in blocking out early morning light. 

The design are in the details.  Stock the nightstand with current magazines or books to help your literary minded guests wind down after a day of activities. Add in bedside lighting so your guests can read at night or catch up on emails without having to disturb the rest of the house. If you are feeling ambitious, add the finishing touches to your oasis with fresh cut flowers. Pick them up at a local farmers market or your grocery store. Tulips are a good choice since they are available year round. You can also add in a room diffuser to create a welcoming scent, such as lavender or ocean breeze. 

Part 2 of Your Dream Home Awaits: Types of House Exteriors

Have you found your dream home style yet from reading Part 1 of our Types of House Exteriors? Have you figured out what features made you fall in love with your current home? We continue today with five other home exteriors!  

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Modern. This home style features flat roofs and simple lines. It embraces the notion of industrialism as a way to improve life through efficient and affordable materials and construction. In that sense you’ll see the idea of less is more, in which the architecture only features what is required for the design. There are strong linear elements in modern designs; beams, cutouts, windows, staircases, fireplaces, and other structural elements assist in creating this linear inspired space. 

Colonial. As settlers from different countries came to the US they brought distinctive architectural influences with them. The common theme of this style home was an emphasis on functionality with minimal design. A colonial home today is generally rectangular with living space on the first floor and bedrooms on the second. A particularly popular style of colonial home is the Spanish style. This can be characterized by thick walls, shaded loggias, and prominent sculpted stone features. Spanish style homes utilize muted earth tones of red clay or ochre on the exterior walls that are covered with stucco. 

Victorian. This style doesn’t refer to a single style, but rather the era that these homes were built. This style emerged during the Victoria era (1880-1910) and in the US the name that comes to mind is Queen Ann. This style has characteristics of a steeply sloped roof with patterned shingles, large brick chimneys, and ornate front porches. It has lacey ornate woodwork, tall narrow windows, and combinations of up to eight exterior colors. 

Tudor. This style home is loosely based on English building traditions common during the Tudor era (1485-1603). Tudors became popular in the 1920s then again in the 1970s. They tend to have a lavish design with asymmetry as a prominent feature. The interior is distinguished by low and narrow door ways, low ceilings, and paneling on the walls. This style home is among the more expensive home types, costing more than 2 and a half times more than the average ranch style. 

Ranch. This is a single story structure with a low pitched roof and typically deep eaves. This style became popular in 1945 and continued to spread across the country. These homes are particularly defined by their low to the ground build and lack of extravagant internal and external features. The style merges modernist ideas and notions of the American West to create a very informal and casual living style. 

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