Tag Archives: house

National Safe At Home Week

National Safe at Home Week

It’s National Safe at Home Week, and there are a lot of reasons to be prepared and protect yourself and your family at home.

A great place to start is a home security and monitoring system. This can give you peace of mind, even if nothing ever happens.

Home Security System

 

Practice emergency or evacuation plans for fires and natural disasters that could happen in your area, like earthquakes and tornadoes.

Emergency Planning

 

Prepare an emergency preparedness kit and a first aid kit, so you’re always ready for the unexpected.

Emergency Plans

 

Know and look out for fire hazards, from the obvious ones to the ones you can’t see.

Knowing Fire Hazards

 

Childproof your homes, from outlets to cleaners. Poisoning is the leading cause of accidental deaths for kids at home.

Childproofing for Protection

 

The number one reason for household deaths in adults is falling. Prepare to prevent falls.

Your Ultimate Guide to Fall Prevention

 

Walk through and check your home regularly. Find and repair dangerous issues and check your child proofing.

Preventing Falling Hazards

Spring Cleaning Your Home

Spring Cleaning for National Cleaning Week

It’s National Cleaning Week and the perfect time for spring cleaning your life. And we can help!

Martha Stewart’s comprehensive spring-cleaning checklist can help you make a plan.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

 

Not a deep-cleaner? This Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide can help you clean things you’ve never considered.

Deep-Cleaning Done Right

 

The kitchen is one place that needs lots of attention. These ideas can help you tackle it.

Hate cleaning? These spring-cleaning shortcuts can help speed up the process.

Speed Spring Cleaning Up

 

If doing a little a day will keep you motivated, this 30 days of spring cleaning guide is right for you.

A Little Cleaning Each Day

 

You might not think of cleaning outside your house, but it’s the perfect time before the weather heats up.

Tidying Outdoors

 

Take the time to clean things you’ve never thought of for a sparkling house.

Spring Clean Everything

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Happily Downsizing

Long View: The Key to Downsizing

I recently downsized from a 2-story colonial to a townhouse. I found the process to be freeing, frustrating, exhausting, joyful, and tearful, all at the same time.

It was a 20-year trip back in time. This was the house where my 2 children were raised, the house where one child kicked his foot through the bathroom door and where another child stabbed a knife into the kitchen cabinet. (If you have boys, you will know this is pretty standard stuff.)

I cried as I painted over the growth chart drawn on the master bedroom closet wall that measured boys as small as 6 months old, and even the 2-year-old black Labrador retriever.

How does a person effectively and efficiently go through the collection of a life well lived, keeping what matters most and letting the rest go?

Moving out of the family home and into a smaller, more hands-free lifestyle is an opportunity many of us will face at least once in our lives. No more mowing the lawn, plowing snow, and taking care of the aging house.

Depending on the timing, this can be an exciting change, but it also starts a grieving process all its own. Whether a positive or not-so-positive move, stress will take its toll on you and those who love and support you. Websites like Caring.com and Caregiver.org have some wonderful tips that rang true for me. These are my top 10:

  1. Avoid tackling the whole house in one go. This is an emotional process, and tackling one room at a time is easier on those emotions.
  2. Use the new space as a guide. Get the measurements of the rooms and storage areas. My 9-foot Christmas tree had nowhere to live in my new space unless I wanted to keep it up year-round.
  3. Banish the maybe pile. Keep, donate, toss.
  4. Pack representative bits of favorite items and not the whole collection. Consider digitizing pictures, and keep only those that would look good up on the wall or on tabletops. You can always print new ones to put into frames when you want a change.
  5. Get high-value items appraised before selling on ebay or Craigslist. Don’t give out your address or phone number until you are sure they’re a strong buyer. If someone needs to come to your home to purchase an item, have someone else there with you. Cash only.
  6. Give the things you promised to someone else to that person now. What a wonderful time to honor your legacy, while you’re still here with us.
  7. Don’t think you have to haul it all away yourself. Services like 1-800-Got-Junk and your local Salvation Army and Goodwill have pick-up services for a fee.
  8. Shred, shred, shred. Invest in your own shredder or watch the newspapers for shredding events. Never throw away anything with personal information on it. This includes shredding the hard drives of old computers.
  9. Now is the time for your grown children to take home their own things. Your home is no longer a museum for their old high school yearbooks, prom dresses, and baseball trophies.
  10. Take breaks! A glass of wine or a cup of coffee will re-energize you or help you relax, depending on what you need at the moment.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Settled Into a Healthier Home

My Healthy Journey: Finally Settled

I finally have something to sit on in my apartment! After 3 months, I’m mostly settled in.

Moving requires a lot of organization, and as I told you before, this was a rushed and unorganized move, which is probably exactly why it’s taken me this long to get settled.

You may not realize how much being organized (or disorganized) affects your life and even your health.

One study showed that you’re more likely to suffer from stress and depression if your house is cluttered and full of unfinished projects. (This was definitely my house for the last 3 months.) Long-term stress is tied to heart disease, digestive problems, poor sleep, obesity, and cancer.

This long to-do list at home can actually prevent the cortisol (a stress hormone) in your system from naturally lowering throughout the day. This affects your mood, sleep, health, and more.

Planning can also be key to a lot of healthy life decisions, and that takes organization. This slideshow from Good Housekeeping highlights what organization is doing for you:

  • It reduces financial stress by avoiding late fees and unnecessary costs.
  • It helps keep good relationships with loved ones by helping you to keep your mood up and avoid arguments over lost stuff, forgotten appointments, and errands.
  • It increase your time for your favorite activities. Imagine every minute you’ve spent looking for your keys going toward your favorite TV show, music, or activity.
  • It protects your health. If you forget to take your meds or schedule doctor appointments, you really could be putting your physical health at risk, so make sure you put things in places you’ll see them, organize your schedule, or even download an app to help remind you.
  • It let’s you exercise more! One of the first things you lose from your schedule when things get crazy is workouts. Plus, when you’re constantly forgetting your gym bag, it’s an easy excuse to skip the gym.
  • It let’s you eat healthier. Healthy cooking takes planning, like finding recipes and buying the right groceries. Snacks you grab on the go and dining out can be huge calorie bombs, so plan ahead!
  • It helps keep your home healthy. One study found that dust can have arsenic, dead bugs, pollen, and dead skin in it. Plus, removing clutter can eliminate up to 40% of your housework.

Many people believe that we are a product of our environment and that a messy environment can affect all areas of your life, physical, mental, and emotional

Rally, our wellness tool, knows that organization can be an important part of your healthy journey, too, so it has a mission that challenges you to de-clutter for 10 minutes every day.

I finished unpacking and organizing all my bookshelves a few weeks ago but was waiting for my new couch to arrive before I shared pictures.

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Tootsie LOVES the new couch.

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Those beautiful watercolor paintings on the wall are prints by Kelly Eddington, my high school art teacher and the wife of one of our Health Alliance employees.

Ignore that lamp on the floor. I just need one more side table in here!

In case you don’t remember, this is what the shelves looked like, before the gold shelf got here:

Book Collection

This is them now:

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Everything is unpacked and on display, and finally getting to a place where I can use my living room feels so satisfying!

And now that I’m to this point, if I stick to the challenge of de-cluttering for a little bit every day, it should be easy to keep things looking nice.

Looking for some clever ways to clean up the messes in your house? Check out this list of 58 organization ideas and DIY projects.

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Me Time Crafting

My Healthy Journey: Me Time

I feel like I have spent the last month drastically overhauling my physical life. And I have. But now, I’m ready to focus on making me time and self-care.

While I’m giving you advice on how to succeed at Rally challenges, I’m kind of doing them all at the same time. For the first time since high school, I’m exercising every day. And for the first time ever, I have radically overhauled my diet. Like I’ve said the past few weeks, I’ve been cooking at home every day and am eating more whole grains, fruits, and veggies, and I’ve cut out caffeine, processed foods and sugars.

So although there are still plenty of food mission posts to come, so you can use my new experiences to help you succeed, in my head, these are a little bit like old news. Been there, conquered that.

But as you can probably guess, now that I’ve settled into a rhythm, this isn’t actually what I spend all day thinking about. As a matter of fact, not focusing on this stuff is exactly how I got so unhealthy.

Now that healthy eating is more of a habit for me, though, I’d like to talk about something that feels more like real life to me. You know, the stuff that occupies my mind all day.

If you’ve been following along with me (from my writing to going all out for Halloween), you probably know that I like being creative. This job definitely requires a degree of creativity. I spend most days writing, picking out photos, and cruising Pinterest, which means that when I go home and crash into bed to watch Netflix with my dog, I don’t really feel guilty.

But I have spent my life going through creative phases. I like to learn new things, and I like to make things, which has made my life a long line of creative experiments. Over the years, I’ve mastered soap making, candle making, jewelry making, origami, juggling, the yo-yo, theater makeup, knitting, and crocheting, to name a few. And not only do these random projects (sometimes) leave me with nice, new stuff, creativity has many benefits.

I find that creative activities relax me. They let me disengage from the stress of my work and social life and just do something I enjoy. They also make me feel accomplished. When you write a blog post, take a picture, even make a nice meal, you don’t always feel like you’ve actually added anything to the world. But even these simple creative activities can make you feel like you’ve achieved something. That plain piece of paper is a heck of a lot cooler as a swan.

And I’m not the only one. As this CNN article talks about, we stress creativity in our kids because it matters. Even as funding for the arts falls in high schools, most parents with preschoolers still know finger painting and coloring matter.

Creativity helps you believe in yourself, learn to deal with failure, continue to learn throughout your life, and even know yourself better. And the more you exercise that learning portion of your brain through fun stuff, the easier learning things for say, work, can get.

And that’s why Rally also has a mission to help you remember to do something creative. This is one of my favorite missions on Rally because that creative stuff can get really lost in the shuffle of daily life as you get older, but it really is important to make time for it once in a while.

So here are some of the projects I’ve done or am planning to do that feed my creative side. Maybe they will inspire your own creative juices.

1. Write something

As I’ve said before, you never really know what all you can get out of writing until you start. Maybe you won’t end up with a finished product you can use, but you can definitely get something creative and fulfilling out of talking to yourself through writing.

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2. Decorate something

I recently painted a shelf gold for my new(ish) apartment, which I will show you when I talk about organizing . But if you’re anything like me (or my HGTV-addicted mother), few things are as satisfying as making something beautiful or helpful that you use in your house every day. If you’re looking for some cool and affordable DIY projects (and tips) for your home, explore this list.

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3. Make some art

I have the advantage of knowing how to use some software that lets me create some pretty fun artwork for my walls, which is great because drawing isn’t always my strong point.

But you can always find a quote that you love, make it look pretty, and hang it. And sometimes, with a nice frame, your doodles can look amazing on your walls, too. Or just spend a day scrapbooking and reliving some good memories.

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4. Grow something

I’ve never really thought about myself as a plant person, but it turns out, I kind of am.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with terrariums, and I own an orchid. I also recently bought a lavender topiary on a trip to Nashville. It smells amazing but requires regular trimming.

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But the biggest way I think I just have to expand my plant collection is by growing indoor herbs. There are loads of different kits online and plenty of advice. Fresh herbs are expensive, but they make every meal so much better! I end up throwing a lot of the ones I buy away because they go bad before I can use them all.

Home Herb Pots

Growing your own herbs means you can have a never-ending supply of the ones you use most, and they won’t go bad. I think I will go with mint, cilantro, basil, and rosemary, but you go with what you will use!

And of course, if you’re interested (and don’t live in a tiny apartment), growing a full garden can be amazing. It would be great exercise to work outdoors, and the fresh fruit, veggies, and flowers you get out of it can only add good things to your home.

5. Sew (or knit or crochet or …) something

There are tons of books out there to help you learn these sorts of things, and better yet, lots of free (or cheap) patterns all over the Internet. And nothing else I’ve ever made is as satisfying as the things I can wear. When people ask where they can buy something you made — there’s nothing better!

If you love fashion and want to learn to sew, I have the book for you: Famous Frocks by Sara Alm and Hannah McDevitt.

Famous Frocks Cover

My mom got this for me for Christmas one year, and it has patterns so you can make your own versions of some of the most famous dresses from this century. (They also have a Little Black Dress version!) It is a little pricey at about $20, but you get 20 dress patterns with it. That’s a whole new wardrobe!

Etsy is also the place to go to find cheap, wonderful patterns. For instance, I plan on making a  complete set of these cross-stitch cities from Satsuma Street for adorable nursery art the second my sister-in-law gets pregnant.

3 Pretty Little City Patterns

And there’s no place better for knitting patterns. If you like The Hunger Games movies, this pattern of Katniss’s amazing scarf from Catching Fire was just $5 and took me just 2 days to make:

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Creativity time is my me time. It’s when I get away from the hectic demands of my life and just make something. So the important thing is to take the time to try something new and make something you love!

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Moving Day

Long View: Tough Talks Now Can Save Hurt Feelings Later

Did you ever notice how much stuff you have packed in your house? It seems to have a life of its own! There was a point where I thought, “If I bring one more thing home, something will pop out of an upstairs window.” The thought of moving with all these treasures in tow is daunting. Imagine if you had to do so without notice or against your wishes. That would be a nightmare.

Sadly, some of our older friends and family members find themselves in that situation. They need to transition suddenly from independent living to a group or assisted-living facility, whether the move is short-term or permanent.

It seems talking about this tough situation ahead of time could save a lot of pain later.

There are some early signs that it is time to talk about moving options. Trouble getting dressed or not being able to make food are a couple of warnings that a change is in order. Sudden changes in behavior or severe forgetfulness are more alarming, and require fast action to protect your loved one.

Rosanna McLain is the director of the Senior Resource Center at Family Services of Champaign County. She advises, “Get your family member to his or her doctor so the cause of the changes can be determined, and then develop a plan of action. It’s best to talk about their wishes before the need is there.

“It’s tough to bring up sometimes, but our family members should be the drivers of their lives and make their wishes known ahead of time. Remember, you can find caregiver support programs at local senior centers and Area Agencies on Aging. Experienced specialists can help guide you through difficult times like these, so give them a call.”

There you have it. It wouldn’t hurt for all of us to plan for the future. Simplifying our lives and possessions as we go along is probably the best plan. I intend to clean out the junk room this spring. Of course I’ve had the same plan for the last three springs. Wish me luck tackling those treasures.