ACHIEVE MORNING PERSON STATUS

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Morning Routine

Ever wish you could become one of those rare morning people? The ones that wake with a start, feeling refreshed and energized. The ones that get in that morning workout or wrap up some work before many of us even hit the snooze button for the first time. Here are five tips to help you achieve that early bird status!

  1. Create a morning schedule. Physically write down the things you’d like to complete in the morning and set a time for each. Then stick with it. Once you force yourself out of bed early one or two weeks consistently, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to do.
  2. Let the light in. Whether natural or artificial, light tells your brain its time to get up and get going. If your room lacks large windows where you can open the blinds up, consider investing in a timed lamp or alarm clock with a light.
  3. Prep and eat breakfast. Although there are many of us who chose the skip breakfast, it is key to perking up your energy in the morning. Try prepping protein-focused meals the night before or grab a yogurt or fruit and try to consume it right after you wake.
  4. Get your body moving. Whether it’s a short walk around your neighborhood or a rigorous 5:30 am spin class, getting your blood pumping will help wake up your body and has a ton of other benefits, like stress and anxiety reduction.
  5. Feed your mind. Stimulate your brain and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. Try reading a favorite book, catching up on the news, doing daily meditation, or setting intentions.
Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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TIPS FOR STORING WINE AT HOME

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Love Wine?

Learn some tips on storing wine!

If you are a big wine connoisseur or just saving a few bottles to crack open on special occasions, it’s important to understand how best to store them safely until you’re ready to partake. Follow the guidelines below!

 

Temperature

To ensure each wine bottle maintains the proper flavor and aroma, storing it at the correct temperature is essential. Regardless if it is red, white, or sparkling, storing your bottles at 53°F to 57°F is most ideal. Keeping your bottles in a room where the temperature is much warmer than that may cause the flavor to become flat. Keep your wine in the dark and away from direct UV rays as much as you can to protect the wine’s flavor.

Moisture

Controlling the humidity in the room is important if you plan to store bottles for more than a couple of years. The ideal humidity for storage is between 50 to 75 percent and anything below that could cause the corks to dry out, letting air seep into the bottle.

Positioning

Generally, it is advised to store wine bottles on their sides. This allows the wine to stay up against the cork which should aid in keeping it from drying out. However, if you don’t plan to store the wine for long or if the bottle has a screw top or plastic cork, this is not required for safe storage.

Timing

Not all wine is designed to have a long shelf life or be aged. Make sure you know what the winemaker’s intention was for that particular bottle. It is always better to open it a little early and enjoy it!

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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5 Painting Mistakes to Avoid

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Painting Tips

5 Painting Mistakes to Avoid

DIY interior painting can be a money-saver if you know what you’re doing. While saving a few dollars is definitely worth trying out painting yourself, it is important to avoid mistakes often made in the process. Here is how to avoid them!

Mistake #1: Not Using The Correct Applicator

If you are willing to pay for premium paint, you should be willing to invest in a good applicator. Invest in good brushes or rollers up front to avoid hair on the wall or lumps of roller lint under the paint.

Mistake #2: Not Preparing Correctly

You always want to do repair work first so that your walls are smooth, clean, dry and free of loose debris before you begin painting. A repair will be much less obvious if it is done before a new coat of paint!

Mistake #3: Overextending Your Brush Dips

One of the most frequently made mistakes by DIYers is that they often continue applying a dip of paint until the brush or roller is dry. When you overextend each dip, the paint can dry in the brush bristles, and the fabric on rollers can mat down. You want to maintain a smooth line of paint. Once you can see the paint starting to break up, it’s time to re-dip.

Mistake #4: Not Taking A Break

It is ok to take a step back and review your work. Get a glass of water, have some lunch and take a break. When you allow yourself to get fatigued, your work can become sloppy.

Mistake #5: Allowing Paint To Dry Out

Touch-ups are not ideal if your paint has dried out. To extend the life of water-based paint, place a piece of clear plastic wrap directly on the surface of the paint, then reseal the container. For oil-based paint, add about a half-inch of water on the surface before resealing.

Bottomline, do some research or ask some questions at your local store before you get started.

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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Design Trends for 2021

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2021 Design Trends

What are the design trends for 2021?

It is hard to believe that 2020 is almost over. Many of us are thinking “Thank Goodness!” With a new year approaching quickly, now is the time to start thinking about how you want to update your space in 2021. If you’re wondering how the design trends are looking for the new year, here is a great place to start!

Less Is More

Take the time to check each space in your home and ensure your decor is intentional. Make sure all of your belongings have a place and that they all serve a purpose.

Scandinavian and Japanese style

Both cultures celebrate minimalism while also encouraging functionality. With white shades dominating spaces in this style, you will also find natural woods and materials in large spaces that are open and bright.

Personalization

One of the most marked trends in interior design is focused on the personalization of your space. Take into account what you already love when creating spaces in your home without worrying about what others consider stylish or up-to-date. Let your creativity shine through your space.

A Touch of Color

Neutrals are great in most settings, but a pop of color allows you to add personality to your space. Yellow shades add warmth while blue shades give a sharpness and can be used to enhance certain elements of a room. If you want to introduce a little color, use colors inspired by nature.

It is also a great opportunity to clean out areas as you go. Donate, give away, sell or possibly refurbish. Have fun and enjoy your space!

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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Why Did My Credit Score Drop?

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Credit Score - Good to Know

Why Did My Credit Score Drop?

If you’ve seen a change in your credit score recently, you may be wondering why. There are a number of factors that contribute to a dropping credit score and it is important to know what may be causing that! When buying a home, it is important to maintain your credit and not make any major purchases that could impact your score. Here are the top 5 reasons for a drop in credit:

YOU MADE A LATE PAYMENT

Accounting for about 30% of your total rating, your payment history has a big impact on your credit score. If you make a loan or credit card payment more than a month after the due date, it could cause your credit score to drop. A payment 60-90+ days late will have an even greater impact on your score.

YOU MADE A LARGE PURCHASE

Your credit utilization ratio can largely impact your credit score. Your ratio is how much of your credit you use in relation to your total available credit. The goal is to have a lower ratio so if you’ve been using more of your available credit lately, you may see a drop in your score. If for any reason your credit limit is lowered, it can impact your credit utilization ratio and impact your score.

AN ACCOUNT GOES TO COLLECTION

Timely payments on all accounts is an important part of your credit journey. Late payments on credit cards, loans, to medical facilities, student loans and utilities can be sent to a collection agency, which could in turn show up in your credit report.

YOU OPENED A NEW LINE OF CREDIT

When you apply for new credit, you are giving lenders the permission to access a copy of your credit report, which is known as a hard inquiry on your credit. If your credit report indicates that you’ve applied for multiple new credit lines in a short period of time, your credit score may be impacted.

YOU CLOSED A CREDIT LINE

Closing a card means losing available credit, which could increase your credit utilization ratio. As a result, your credit score may drop. If closing a card helps you stop spending, it may be a good idea. Otherwise, it is usually wise to keep lines of credit open. The length of time you’ve had accounts open shows that you have a solid payment history, so that could be another reason to keep that card you’ve had awhile open if you are using it wisely!

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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Who Doesn’t Love An Organized Pantry?

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With more people staying at home and avoiding crowds, a lot of homeowners are turning to home prepping to cut back on trips to the store and avoid shortages. Unfortunately, many people find themselves overwhelmed. Sometimes it is hard to know exactly what to stock up on. And once the pantry is fully stocked and prepped, maintaining it, and finding what you need among all the other things, can be difficult. Organization is a key part of successful prepping, so if you want to have an effective pantry, here are a few organizational tips to keep in mind.

What Should You Store?

First things first: What should you store in your pantry? Obviously, you want things that are shelf-stable and will last a while. Pick up or prepare staples like canned vegetables, canned fruits, crushed tomatoes and dry goods like pasta, rice, and beans. Add cooking supplies like cooking oil, flour, and cornmeal, plus sweeteners such as sugar and honey. Beyond that, round things out according to your family’s tastes. This is where you add your taco shells, your pasta sauces, cereals, popcorn, condiments and dressings, canned meats, and anything else that you know your family uses regularly. If you have pets, you can also set aside a section of your pantry for pet food as well.

Organizing for Easy Access

When you start organizing your pantry, do not just stick things wherever you can find a space for it. Take everything out, clean the area so that you are starting fresh, then put things back in a reasonable and organized way. Group similar items, like different types of canned vegetables, together so that everything is easy to find. Avoid just shoving a bunch of things together to make more room, since that will cause confusion and make some of your items a lot harder to find when you are looking for them.

Label Everything

Place labels on your shelves once you have everything organized so you will know what goes where in the pantry. That does not mean that you must micromanage and label each individual type of item, of course; create categories like “Jelly” and “Vegetables” to simply mark the general area where those items go. If you want to be really efficient with your labeling, take the time (or recruit family members to help) and place an easy-to-read sticker or label on the top or front of each item, and write the expiration date on it for reference.

Remember FIFO

Where a lot of people run into problems is rotating stocked items as new items are bought or made. Keep the FIFO principle in mind as you restock your pantry: First In, First Out. New items should always go to the back, allowing the older items in the front to be used first. As you take items out of the pantry, move up the items behind them so that they are closer to the front and you have room to place things behind them later.

Shelving and Storage Additions

If you need to add shelving or other storage types to your pantry area, try to do so in a way that makes stocking and access easier. Standalone shelves that you can walk behind or rollout shelves that you can pull toward you make it a lot easier to place new items at the back, while sliding shelves or rotating units make it easy to reach stored items that otherwise might be hard to get to.

Emergency Storage

In general, your pantry should be filled with items that you are going to use and that will be rotated out over time. You should check expiration dates at least once or twice a year and move items about to expire to your main pantry, or use them for activities such as camping trips, hiking excursions or other adventures.

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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Moving? Tips On Keeping Your Pets Safe

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pets2Moving day, just imagine it: The sun is shining, the weather is just perfect, and you’re about to close one chapter and open a brand new one. There’s so much possibility ahead! Although it may be exciting and full of promise for you, moving can be a terrifying event for your pets, even if you’re just moving down the street. Fortunately, you can take a lot of steps to protect your furry pals in these high stress times.

Your Moving Day Checklist: Pet Edition

Whether you’ve got a dog that you love, a cat that’s a handful or a flock of chickens, moving with animals takes patience and attention to detail in order to help them get through the process with the least amount of stress possible. Remember that your pet doesn’t understand what’s happening and that the noise, strangers and general chaos can be terrifying for them.

Before you so much as begin to pack, it’s important to consider what’s going to happen with your pets during your move. Here are some things you can do to keep them safer and happier during the whirlwind that’s to come:

  • Start practicing now. It’s likely your pet will need to be confined to a crate, bathroom or other safe space so that the door can be left open to move things out. Before the move starts, you can begin to get them used to the idea of being confined. Start by staying in or near the space with them and rewarding them when they relax (this could take some time at first, so be patient). As they get better at being confined with you, go farther and farther away, and for longer periods, rewarding them as they adjust to the situation.

Getting your pets used to being confined like this can help prevent injuries to them should they frantically scramble to escape, and can help you better see what kinds of things in those spaces may be potentially dangerous when they’re left unattended on moving day.

  • Ask your vet – Your vet has all kinds of things in their dispensary for these one-time highly stressful events. They can make a specific recommendation based on your pet’s history and particular panic buttons, and also give you more behavioral tools to your own toolbox to help your pet cope. Absolutely ask your vet for help before you even book a mover or a moving truck.
  • Take frequent breaks – If you can, stretch your move out over a few days so that your pets can have a breather from their safety spot. Depending on just how much there is to move, it’ll be easier on you, too. For example, you might move a lot of boxes on Monday, take the small appliances over on a Wednesday and then move the furniture on Friday. Giving your pet some time to shake off the stress will make the move a lot easier for them.
  • Have their personal items – Their bed, toys, treats, food and water bowls with plenty of food and water available.
  • Consider a pet sitter. Longer moves may require you to be away for a while, which turns an already stressful situation into a potential for real trouble. A pet sitter will help fill your shoes while you’re moving, or while you’re taking care of getting the new place cleaned up and ready to go if your pet is very prone to stress in new situations. Just make sure to introduce the pet to the sitter ahead of time so they can get to know one another.
Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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Security Cameras – Are they safe?

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ring pic

When it first hit the market, the Ring doorbell system seemed like a great way to keep your home safe. Not only do the cameras on the doorbell let you see who’s at the door, they also let you check to see who has come to visit when you aren’t at home. You can even use the video recorded by Ring to see if a missing package got delivered or to try and figure out who put that pink flamingo in your yard.

In the past few years, however, there have been some concerns about the safety of these video doorbells. Some reports suggest that the doorbells can be hacked, and certain groups have raised privacy concerns centered around how the doorbells operate. If you’re wondering how legitimate these issues are and whether Ring is safe for you to use in your house, here are some things to consider.

How Ring Works

Ring doorbells are smart devices that provide you with a video camera unit by your front door. A motion detector on the unit alerts you that there is someone approaching the door, giving you the option to see them as well as hear what they say and even talk back to them. Unlike old-school doorbell intercoms, Ring connects to your home network and to the cloud so that you can access video and audio regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. Video clips are even shareable if you desire. Given its popularity, in recent years Ring has expanded to offer full-home security options and even smart lighting as well.

Ring Hacking Concerns

One of the big safety concerns that people have regarding Ring is that there have been cases reported where a hacker or other unwanted third party has gained access to the Ring units in someone’s home or to their cloud-based video vault. An exploit in the Ring software was also discovered wherein, in certain cases, details about your home network (including the access password) could be broadcast by the Ring unit in unencrypted plain text; if a hacker were able to get access to this broadcast, they would be able to log on to your network, and potentially access the computers and other devices that were also connected.

Ring and Privacy Issues

On top of the hacking concerns, the fact that Ring begins recording video in front of your house when motion is detected raised some concerns that it might violate people’s privacy. The fear was that even people who weren’t approaching your home could be captured on film if they were walking by when the camera was activated or if the motion sensor was able to detect movement beyond the boundaries of your property. For those who worry about surveillance or are afraid that videos of them might be shared without their knowledge or consent, this makes Ring-related privacy issues a very real concern.

Is Ring Safe?

The concerns that people have about Ring units being hacked or invading their privacy when out in public are legitimate, though for the most part they remain a very small problem. The issue with Ring broadcasting information in plain text was caught before it could be exploited and has been patched, and the company has instituted additional login security measures to help prevent unauthorized access to accounts. And while there is the potential for Ring cameras to pick up motion outside of a user’s property, its sensors have a fairly limited range and should only be able to detect motion relatively close to your front door.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any concerns to using Ring, of course. Hacking concerns can be reduced by making sure that both your home network and any devices that connect to it are secured with strong passwords. You should also take care to position cameras and motion detectors so that they don’t face your neighbor’s house, and use caution when setting up devices like these if you have a very small yard. With a little care, however, these devices should be safe to use.

Keeping Your Home Secure

Home security is a serious concern, and it’s important that you can trust the devices you use to secure your home. If you’re in need of a more professional security solution, check out HomeKeepr. Sign up for a free account today and we can help you find the security pros that you need to select and install devices that are both safe to use, and trustworthy and reliable when you need them.

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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Lawn Mowing Best Practices

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mowing

Whether you love mowing the lawn or hate it, it’s a job that needs to be done. As with most things, though, there’s a difference between doing it and doing it well. If you find yourself wondering why your neighbors have an amazing lawn while yours looks all the worse for wear, it could be more than just a matter of perspective; it’s possible that the grass really is greener on the other side.This doesn’t have to be the case, though. Part of the problem might be how you’re caring for your lawn. If you haven’t put much thought into the specifics of yard care, here are a few things to think about. Changing how you think about mowing the lawn can have a big impact on the lawn itself, and your grass will thank you for it.

Prep Your Mower

Too many people approach the beginning of the mowing season the same way that they do the entire rest of the season: they put some gas in the mower and go. This is a good way to damage your lawn and wear out your mower at the same time. Start each season with an oil change and fresh gas, and check your mower blades for cracks, dullness or other signs that they need to be sharpened or replaced. Keep an eye on your grass as you mow; if it’s becoming ragged, this is a sign that your blades are getting dull again. Even a little bit of mower maintenance will make the cut easier on your lawn and keep your mower running in tip-top condition.

Learn Your Lawn

A lot of people think that grass is grass, but there are actually a lot of differences between grass species. Take a little time to find out what sort of grass you have growing in your lawn. If necessary, you can take a sample to your local agricultural extension office to get the job done. Once you know what kind of grass you have, you can learn the seasons when it actively grows, what sort of water and fertilizer needs it has, and even details about how it should be cut. If you need to reseed part of your lawn, knowing the existing grass type will also ensure that you get the right type of seed so that everything matches.

Cut to the Right Height

If your lawn is going to flourish, the grass needs to have enough blade area to absorb sunlight to meet its growing needs. Cutting it too short can damage it, causing the grass to wilt or brown, in some cases even killing off patches. As a general rule you’ll often hear that you should leave around 3 inches of grass when you cut, but this can vary depending on the type of grass you have. If in doubt, you can set the blade height between the 3-inch to 3 ½-inch mark to be safe, but you’ll have much more control over your lawn if you learn the grass type and find the optimal cutting height based on that.

Mind Those Clippings

It’s usually best to leave your clippings on the ground, as they provide much-needed nutrients to the lawn as they decompose. If you don’t like the look of them, consider a mulching blade and guard for your mower to ensure that they get cut into smaller pieces, or make multiple passes over the same area. The main exceptions to this are the first and last cuts of the year; in those instances, your lawn will do better if you bag the clippings instead.

Adapt Throughout the Year

One important thing to keep in mind is that grass is a living thing and grows differently depending on the time of the year and the local weather conditions. During the heat of the summer, make your lawn more drought resistant by adjust your cut height up a little; this gives the grass more blade area to collect dew on. In early spring and into the fall, cut less often to avoid shocking the grass. Even the direction of your cuts is important, especially if it’s been raining a lot; to prevent damaging the grass or compacting the soil too much, change direction every two or three cuts, switching to a cutting pattern around 90 degrees off from what you’ve been doing.

Keep It Under Control

A well-manicured lawn can be a big job. Fortunately, there are professionals out there who can take that burden off your shoulders. If you need to find a lawn service that comes highly recommended, sign up for a free HomeKeepr account today. You’ll be able to find a service based on real recommendations for mowers and landscapers that best match your specific needs.

 

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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Protect Your Credit

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Planning to buy a home? Protect your credit score

credit score

Whether you’re thinking about buying your first home or your next home, your credit score will play a huge role in determining what kind of mortgage rates are at your disposal. That’s why it’s vital to keep your score as pristine as possible throughout these unprecedented economic times. If you’re having trouble paying your bills, follow these tactics to keep your credit score protected.

 Contact Your Lenders

There’s nothing wrong with asking your lenders for help in your time of need. In fact, some may already have programs in place to help individuals affected by the downturn. See how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends discussing these issues with various types of lenders.

Know ALL of Your Accounts

Between student loans, car loans, mortgages, credit cards, and all the other lines of credit at your disposal, it’s sometimes hard to remember all of your accounts, but nothing could be more important. Knowing your accounts, and their statuses, is the only way to know if someone opens or closes an account without your consent.

Monitor Your Scores

That’s right, “scores.” There are three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax), each with their own scoring system. Different lenders trust different bureaus, so it’s important to know where you stand with each of them.

Read Your Reports

While scores are a great gauge of your credit, reports are where you’ll see all the information each bureau uses for their calculations. By keeping a close eye on your reports, you’ll be able to address any suspicious activity before it gets out of hand.

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
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