Updating your home? Consider Re-purposing items for a One of a Kind Find

Some of the items I love to use are old bricks, pieces of leather and steel, tools and such from days gone by that can be re-purposed into lighting, artwork, hangers, welcome signs, even furniture! If you think this sounds fun, consider a small start. My first piece was an old dresser that I refinished and made look like new. It might be grabbing an old shovel to add to your garden. Open your eyes to other uses of items that some have long since forgotten about and now they can become your favorite item that everyone likes to ask about when they visit.

I would love to hear some of your favorite items for the home or garden.

Do we Need a New Light Bulb?

lightbulbI have been an environmentalist for a long time. I do my best to be green.  I recycle religiously.  I cringe when I see wasteful persons and yes, I might be that person you have seen taking a recyclable item back out of the trash.

I make sure never to allow fertilizers to leave the lawn and when needed am careful about its application and run off potential.  We mow into the lawn, not onto the street.  Well, you get the picture.

I have slowly filled the house with flourescent bulbs only to find that in general we don’t like them.  They are slow to brighten, sometimes are too white, or have a fake yellow hue.   The biggest bummer is that sometimes they do not last nearly as long as the packaging had claimed.  Did you know these are hazardous and cannot be tossed into the trash when done?  They need to be recycled in a safe way.

All this said, I just am unclear how I feel about these new LED lightbulb‘s that have come out.  They are supposed to last 25 years!  That’s a long time.  They also have a rather large price tag at about $25.00 a piece.  I just bought a 4 pack of regular old 40 watt bulbs for a buck at Christmas time so its going to be a bit of a tough sell to give these a try when the budget has so many other options to be spent.  On the upside these new bulbs promise to ony cost $1.63 a day when used 3 hours per day over the 25 year stand.

Where do you sit on the great light bulb debate.  Will you be giving the LED a try, sticking with flourescents or crying over the soon to be lost low cost incandescent?

Curb Appeal – Got that driveway covered!

Kim Woehl - Keller Williams Premier Realty 651-214-1459 kwoehl.kwrealty.com

So you’ve had that morning cup of coffee or tea and what to do with the remaining boiling water?  Take it out to your driveway or sidewalk and pour it over those pesky weeds that have taken root in the cracks!  Make sure to stand back to avoid splashing burns, but the hot water burns the weeds dead but cools quickly enough to save those wanted plants near the edges of your drive and walkways.  Once they are dry and dead, simply take a flat shovel and scrape them away!

This technique works great, is green, and makes your home look beautiful from the curb!  Share a tip that you have for  quick clean up around the home!

Saving Money in the Laundry Room

I am getting greener as I get older and as a result I have found some great ways to save money in the laundry room while also having a smaller footprint.

First off make sure you are only running full loads.  This is true even if you have one of the washing machines that is smart and knows to reduce the water level.  While you are saving on water (this is great), it still is costing you to run that load at the same rate as that full load.  Also, while the washer is smart, the dryer is not and will cost you full price to dry that smaller load.

Hang your clothes out if you can they smell terrific and won’t cost a dime to dry.  If you are one of those persons who doesn’t like the stiff fabric that outdoor drying creates, bring them indoors and pop them into the dryer for about 5 minutes just to get tossed around and I find they are nice and soft.

The next secret is to use cold water.  I could not believe what a difference this made in my bill but the clothes come out just as clean.  Oh and don’t waste your time on the cold water detergent.  Regular detergent works just as well.

Let’s take a moment to chat about that dryer.  Make sure to clean the lint filter every time.  This reduces the dry time, cuts down on fire risk and allows the motor to run as it was supposed too.  If you use dryer sheets, make sure you soap up the lint filter at least annually to make sure the screen is still breathing.  They can become clogged and you won’t even see it but once you clean it with a bit of soap and water you will notice your loads drying a bit quicker.  If your machine has choices, set the dryer to a bit less dry and remove them promptly once they are done.

Another great dryer tip is to make sure you washer is doing a great job of spinning your load dry.  The extra spin time will allow for shorter dry times and the difference in appliance cost is worth it!

The last tip I have is to dry similar weights of clothes together.  Example – dry towels together instead of a mixed load so that when you are drying a load of t shirts they will dry quicker, resulting in a faster dryer cycle.

Do you have any laundry room tips to share?  I know some of you make your own detergent I haven’t tried that yet.  I also hear you can make your own dryer sheets, has anyone tried that?  I would love to hear from you!

Kim Woehl is a realtor with Keller Williams Premier Realty and wants to be your housing expert.  If you are looking to buy or sell please give her a call at 651-214-1459 or visit her website where you can search homes in the area for free. http://kwoehl.kwrealty.com/

Spring Cleaning Tip – Removing Carpet Dents!

So you want to rearrange your room, but when you move those pieces of furniture you are left with those ugly dents and divots left from the heavy furniture and time.  Did you know that there is an easy way to remove these?  Simply place ice cubes in the dip or around its valley if it is a long dent.  Wait until the ice cube melts then pick up the excess water and use a spoon to gently lift the carpet fibers back to their original beauty.
Kim is a Realtor with Keller Williams Premier Realty.  Give her a call if you are looking to buy or sell.  She is your neighborhood expert!
Want to search on your own first?  Try her website for free searching of today’s homes for sale or to research what your home is worth.



Lake Shore – Usage Versus Conservation Efforts

A new study is out.  It discusses why the lake level on White Bear Lake continues to be at an all time low.  It turns out that its not just the lack of rain and snow but that there may be a small leak at the bottom of the lake.  Even bigger is the blame that this report might be putting on other communities.  The report said that other cities north of the lake might be partially to blame as they are pumping water from the same aquifer.

As I read this I was like duh – we only have so much water and when the water is gone, its gone.  We have areas in the US that already have no water.  We ship water to them so that they can survive.  What happens now when we use all of our local water?  Well, I think we will borrow from somewhere else.  At what point will we look at the bigger picture and begin to conserve on this precious resource.

Minnesota and its 10,000 lakes seems like we have an abundance, but do we really?  If we don’t protect what we have will it remain or will it become polluted, used or otherwise wasted?

We can do lots by simply shutting off that faucet as we brush our teeth.  We can save by washing only full loads of laundry or dishes.  We can cut down on use of plastics which require water to make.  We can water only on our lawns and not send water onto the hard surfaces like driveways and roadways.  What can you do today to make a difference?

Kim Woehl is a realtor with Keller Williams Premier Realty and is also an instructor for MN Project Wet a curriculum for learning about water.  To learn more, contact Kim she would love to help you find a home on the water or to discuss other ways in which you might conserve water.  She is also available to come speak to your area group.  651-214-1459 or on the web at kwoehl.kwrealty.com

Window Washing 101 – Hire a Professional?

So you look out your windows and what do you see?  Do you notice what is on the outside or are you stuck looking at finger prints, pet nose marks, and the general dirt and dust that builds up on the glass over time?

Do you look at all of the windows in the same light?  ha ha.  What I mean is do you handle low windows the same as high ones?  Are you an inside only washer or do you tackle the outside as well?  Are you left with streaks that no matter what you try you just can’t seem to remove?

If you are looking for great advice you are not going to find it as while I have tried many things, I am still not good at window washing.  I find it tedious and frustrating when the next time the sun shines in that I still have those streaks!

I have been told that you have to be prepared.  Gather cleaner, clean towels that have not been in softner agents.  I have been told old newsprint works good.  Paper towels are great too, but I have wasting another tree.  I have bought a squeegee, a step ladder, I try to have everything near, I have tried washing them when the sun is not shining on them warming the glass drying the streaks on.  Nothing seems to work for me.  Oh and always have a razor blade to scrape off any paint, bugs, bird ____.  Well you get the point.

I guess this has turned into a blog post of what not to do.  I am counting on each of you to share with me what really works.

I have the type of windows that tip in for easy cleaning.  That is supposed to make it easier.  Not so sure its easy but I would love to hear any tips that you successful window washers might have to share with me.  Why?  Because I love looking out and seeing the brilliant outdoor colors.

Help me please!

Kim Woehl is a real estate agent with Keller Williams Premier Realty and she knows the importance of having clean windows when selling a home.  If you are ready to buy or sell, give her a call for very individualized attention!  651-214-1459

Recycle Your Old Holiday Light Strings – Ace is The Place – Forest Lake and Wyoming

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Image via Wikipedia

Now is the time year that we all open up our boxes and bins in search of our holiday cheer.  I cannot help but to think about that mass clump of lights that Clark Griswald of Christmas Vacation pulls from a box.  He hands this huge knotted clump of lights over to his son Russ and says something like, “a little knot there”, when it could not have been a more impossible task to untangle.

I too have seen these knots no matter how carefully we put them away, and no matter what method we use or have tried.  We still seem to not be able to find the end or untangle the set.  The other major issue is that you can have a perfectly working string when you put them away, but by the next season when you gingerly pull them out, they have decided to work only partially or not at all.  Now what to do with that non working string?  Most of us have tossed these into our trash cans and they go to the landfill and fill up our land with what can now be recycled.

All participating Ace Hardware stores are taking holiday light strings beginning on the 15th of November.  The Recycling Association of MN (RAM) is starting its 3rd season of recycling and will continue until the end of the holiday season.

Did you know that they can recycle every part of a light string?  They recycle the lights, the string, the plug ins, everything!  Last year they met their goal and this year are hoping to recycle 200,000 light strands.  Obviously this is making a difference to the landfills, but it is also allowing us to reuse these materials and also to create employment to the workers who are paid to take these strings apart, to those who recycle the product and to those that turn these pieces into new items.

If you don’t have a local Ace Hardware such as Forest Lake and Wyoming Minnesota, you can go to  www.RecycleMinnesota.org. for an interactive map that can guide you to a recycle center near you.  Last year there were 400 locations taking part in this effort and this number will grow as the season goes on.

After you recycle your old strings, consider purchasing the new higher efficiency LED lights.  “According to the Department of Energy, running LED holiday lights on one 6-foot tree for 12 hours per day for 40 days can save 90% or more energy when compared to traditional incandescent holiday lights”.  In ending I wanted to share that they also recycle any type of electrical cord such as telephone, speaker and damaged extension cords.  Make a trip to your local ACE hardware store with your old knot today!  It will feel good!

Kim Woehl is a Realtor with Keller Williams Premier Realty in Forest Lake Minnesota.  651-214-1459  kwoehl.kwrealty.com

Are you excited to decorate for the holidays?  Please share!

Kim Woehl - Keller Williams Premier Realty - 651-214-1459 - kwoehl.kwrealty.com

Drop off your old strings at ACE Hardware!

Lights, Camera Action – Lighting to Showcase the Outside of your Home!

The image shows a lightbulb.

Image via Wikipedia

Lighting the outside of your home can help to  keep you safe, but beyond the basic idea of safety you need to concern yourself with ease of installation, cost to run, and how it will look on your home.  When done right you can do this on a budget and really showcase the outside of your home.

The first thing to consider is the power source.  There are some that can simply plug into an existing outlet box while others run on solar power, while still others run on a very low voltage wire that most do it yourself persons can do pretty well.

The traditional method was to hire a contractor to come out and run the electricity to your new lighting source, but now do it yourselfers can take on this task.  Always read the instructions carefully and be sure to ask questions at your local do it yourself stores.

Careful consideration needs to be given to light type and placement.  Do you want to showcase a plant, a flag, your house number?  Perhaps is a particular shrub or walk way.  Some homeowners even choose to use low level lighting to illuminate the exterior of the home.  This can be wonderful, but too much light and it looks like your having a huge grand opening sale at the local car dealership!

Lastly, consider using a single string of white lights in a potted plant to add drama to your patio or entry way.   Add a few solar type lanterns to your deck or patio area to illuminate the setting instead of the large overhead light to bring ambient lighting to your next party.

Aw Dry up! Tips for drying that basement out for good!

A Daylight Basement.

Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever get a damp basement?  Worse yet do you feel like you have a lake in your basement?   As a homeowner there are a few things you can do to make sure that water doesn’t seep into your basement.  Water in your basement can ruin things and also cause severe health issues.

If you don’t have gutters going around your home, add some.  If you have gutters how often do you clean these out?  Cleaning the gutters out at least 2x per year is a good idea.  If you have treed lot, you may even need to do this more often or consider some of the gutter barriers so that they don’t become clogged.  While you are up there cleaning out your gutters take an extra minute or two to make sure that all seams are still sealed and that water is actually travelling down the down spout.

Make sure to extend your downspouts away from your home so that it flows away and not back toward your home.  If you are on a hill, consider burying part of your downspout so that you can have the exiting water out farther from your home.  Mowing will need to be considered here, and possibly a filtering system so that the soil will not erode at the exit area.

If you have gutters that are working and are still seeing a damp basement, then next thing to take a look at is the slope of your yard.  Are you on a hill or are you in a valley?  Can water potentially flow back toward your house?  If it does, bring in fill until you can slope all water away from the home.  When you do this, you will find that surface water now flows away from your home, leaving your basement dry.

Gutter, proper slope of the land, next comes the dehumidifier.  Gone are the days of the little plug in units.  Today’s dehumifier’s are attached to your heating and cooling system and have draining systems instead of the holding pans which can overflow or automatically turn off your dehumidifier.  Wrap your exposed pipes in the basement to eliminate any other condensation moisture.  It has also been recommended to me to keep all windows closed in your basement.  The cool walls tend to collect condensation when we open windows thereby actually adding to the problems.

If after following these tips you are still having problems with a damp basement, its time to call in a specialist.