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Simplifying Cleaning with a Roomba

April 3rd, 2011

One of the things I dislike doing and procrastinated most about is cleaning and most specifically vacuuming. I’m not entirely certain what it is about the activity that puts me off so much but it does.

This past Christmas my wife and I were asked what we wanted for the holiday and I instantly said: “I want a Roomba”. Lo and behold Santa was kind and we got one. Ever since then I believe I have picked up the devil machine, I mean vacuum, once to vacuum the stairs.

It’s a great device for our needs though I will admit it’s not perfect but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks 100 to 1 if not more!

The benefits

  • It cleans without my input or effort
  • It cleans well, as good if not better than my regular vacuum
  • It cleans Under furniture

The drawbacks

  • It sometimes gets stuck underneath the couch
  • The brushes don’t seem to last extremely long.

Overall this little device is a godsend; I dislike cleaning and vacuuming and it frees up my time for more important things like spending time with my family. I recommend this little robot to everyone!

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De-cluttering one room at a time

May 1st, 2010

One of the biggest problems I find to keeping our house neat and tidy is clutter. Small items that just seem to pile up. At first they are cute little trinkets but then they get forgotten and become evil clutter. We rarely use the all of the things we own yet we still hang onto the stuff that we bought even if its broken (just in case). I had a perfect example of this in a laptop that I bought years ago when they were still very expensive; I hung onto this computer for dear life even though I no longer used it and it was out-dated. I held onto this because I paid a lot of money for it and admitting defeat and throwing it out felt like a waste. What was really a waste is how much energy I put into this dusty old computer that I didn’t use. It felt good to finally be rid of it and de-cluttering can have that effect.

Photo by yorkshirepuddin

Getting rid of all of the stuff that we keep but don’t use can be both challenging and rewarding. What we don’t realize is how much mental baggage we have when it comes to our clutter. Getting rid of it not only makes your house cleaner and neater it can help improve your mental well being. The real challenge is acknowledging we don’t need something and getting rid of it.

De-clutter one room at a time!
If you are about to start de-cluttering I would suggest doing this one room or even one part of a room at a time. The reason for this is that simply seeing the sheer volume of stuff that we need to go through to de-clutter can be daunting and you don’t want to be stopped dead in your tracks by the scariness of the task. It breaks the task of getting rid of the things you don’t need into more manageable chunks.

The process of really de-cluttering can take a while especially if you’ve never done it before. If you don’t need something or don’t use it then its probably a good candidate to be gotten rid of. Some items will be easy to figure out where to keep them or to get rid of them, but I find that most items fall into that grey area where there is logic to keep the item as well as to get rid of it. For those items one of the best suggestions I’ve heard of (and used) is to put everything into a bag or a box and set it aside; if you haven’t looked for any of the items in that bag or box just throw the whole thing out!

Don’t allow clutter back in
After you’ve gone through the effort of de-cluttering the biggest difficulty will be to keep new clutter out. Question any new item you’re bringing in, if you don’t really need it then don’t keep it. Or if the item is a replacement for an old item then get rid of the old item. Keeping clutter out will make it infinitely easier to keep the house neat and tidy (however neat and tidy you like it).

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House Vs Condo

October 26th, 2009

Depending on where you live to tell someone that you’re a homeowner brings images of a physical building and some property to mind. What this means to you will probably depend on where you live. In some parts of the country this translates to a house with a nice big yard, a driveway and a garage. This is a very nice image and there have been a couple times where I too wished I had a garage. But this isn’t the end of what home ownership can mean, if you live in a large city like New York or Miami then owning a Condominium maybe the first thing that pops to mind when you think about owning your own place.

Now for me, personally there is a physical building with property, what the details of that are will change over time. I am a home owner and the home I own is a small house with a bit of land but because I live in a large city its not the same as what it would be in the suburbs. I like my house but I have also lived in a condo and after living in both for a couple years I have to say that there are some tradeoffs and benefits to both. For example there is a lot less maintenance that needs to be done with a condo, I never once had to clean the gutters, shovel the snow or worry about the garbage when I lived in a condo. But I also had to live with hearing people in the hallway and not having as much space as I would like.

For me personally the stage I’m in, in my life a house is the way to go. I am fairly young and I can take care of the maintenance work without any problems. I’ve got more space and the privacy that I wanted. When I’m older then a condo might end up being the way to go because of the maintenance items (though we’ll see about that). When you’re looking to purchase a house keep in mind what it is exactly that you’re looking for. Condos have a lot of benefits if you really don’t want to bother with having to worry about the house or do anything about it. While houses take more effort they appreciate in value more, the property itself has value and you get more space and privacy.

If you’re really not sure which one is best for you come up with a list of things that you’d like in your home, sit down with your real estate agent and walk them through it between your budget and the list of things you’d like they’ll have an idea what is realistic. Then when you see the places you’ll have a better idea if you’re more of a house person or a condo person (or like me a bit of both).

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Preparing Your House for Winter

November 11th, 2008

Now that fall is upon us there are a bunch of things that you should consider around your house to prepare for the winter months. Unless you happen to live in a warm climate there’s a good chance that you’ll need to ensure your house is ready for winter.

Items to check for:

  • Eaves
  • Cleaning up leaves
  • Check your windows and doors
  • Do you have the supplies you’ll need?(salt, shovels)

Why do it?

By maintaining your house you increase the longevity of the outside items – over time it’ll save you money on repairs and help maintain the value of your house.

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DIY vs Contractors

September 19th, 2008

Some projects can be done by anyone with some effort and practice and some should be done by pros. I would even go so far as to say that most projects can be done by yourself as long as you’re somewhat handy. With that said some just can’t be; Not Made of Money posted a great article where they point out 5 repairs that should be done by a professional.

This got me thinking – really when do you call a contractor to come in and do a project? Well there are a few times that come to mind:

  • If the work involved requires specialized skills and knowledge
  • When you’re not sure how to start or finish the project
  • If there are a lot of unknowns
  • Its a large job

Not Made of Money’s list is a great starting point for trying to figure if you should bring in a contractor or not. Choosing a contractor can be a daunting task at times but starting a project to find out you can’t complete it can be worse. You can save yourself a lot of money if you’re capable of doing the project yourself but if you don’t know what you’re doing you might end up costing yourself even more. When unsure ask questions, research and get advice before starting.

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How to Hire a Contractor

September 15th, 2008

Hard Hat Photo by rob7812

Knowing that you need a contractor to do a job is one thing now comes the hard part: you need to find this contractor. Contractors come in all shapes and sizes from the really good ones to the ones that shouldn’t be handling tools. Personally I’ve been fairly lucky in my dealings with contractors, I’ve never had to fire one for incompetence nor have I had to fight with one over money or work done. Needless to say if you’re not careful hiring the wrong contractor can really make your life miserable.

Getting a professional to come in and do work in your house can really increase the value of your home and your enjoyment of it. Simplifying and updating a kitchen are things that most people would have difficulty completing themselves. Here are some ideas on how to find and hire a contractor:

Family and Friends – Ask your family and friends if they’ve ever used a contractor that they liked. They’ll be able to tell you their experiences right away. This can save you a lot of looking around not to mention the contractor is likely to want to do a good job so they can get more referrals

Real Estate Agents – I’ve had more quality contractors referred to me by my real estate agent than anyone else. First off it’s in their best interest to help you out and they’ll have heard if the contractor is good or not.

Sites and Shows – There are a ton of reality shows about house construction or upgrades. These shows often use contractors to help them out and they will say who helped them. You’re not guaranteed a good contractor but chances are pretty decent.

Phone Book – I’d go to this resource last mostly because you’re shooting in the dark. But when all else fails there will be people to help you out here.

Now that you’ve contacted a contractor and they’re quoting the job there are two things that you really need to remember to make sure you’re protected.

Check References – If you don’t know the contractor ask for their references and check them. If they give you a short list or ask why warning flags should be going up. If the person does good work they would want their previous customers to vouch for their work.

Get the quote in writing – Construction or upgrade projects are filled with unknowns and some contractors see this as an opportunity to take advantage of people. Make sure you get the quote in writing before any work begins. Again this is to cover yourself especially if you’re not familiar with the type of work the person is doing.

Good Luck with your project!

Posted in Home Improvement, Tips and Hacks | 1 Comment

Destroying Magazines to Declutter

September 10th, 2008

photo by iamhannah

Magazines and newspapers can take up a great deal of space if you let them. There was a great post over at Productivity 501 where they suggested destroying your magazines. Personally I think this is a great idea – keep only the stories that you need and just get rid of everything else. I know this doesn’t work for everyone since people sometimes share magazines or want to keep them, but in general the practice can really help keep down the clutter of magazines.

When you get a new magazine go through it and tear out the stories that you want to read then get rid of the rest. Once you’ve read the stories you can decide if you want to keep them or get rid of them. Most of the time the information can be found online so you’re safe getting rid of the magazine. Keeping a few magazines isn’t a bad thing but when you have dozens of them littering your house you end up with clutter.

Posted in Decluttering, Organizing, Tips and Hacks | 1 Comment

6 Steps to Painting a Room

August 21st, 2008

When it comes down to it most people don’t like to paint it can be hard work when you make a mistake its there until you repaint. I’ve done a whole bunch of painting lately and I’ve gotten a system in place that makes it as painless as possible

  1. Plan out your project – Start off by figuring out everything that you need to do. This holds true with every project and its no less true here. When you plan out a painting job you’ll know everything you need and the steps you need to take.
  2. Prep the room – First off you need to make sure you can get at the walls easily and that they’re clean. If you’ve got any holes to patch do that first.
  3. Tape what needs to be taped – Use painters tape (it comes off easier). Tape the ceilings, baseboards, around windows and outlets and anything that needs to be taped.
  4. Paint the first coat – Start with the edging then paint with the roller
  5. Check to see if additional coats are needed – after the first coat you’ll know if you need to paint a second or third coat (repeat the painting as necessary)
  6. Remove the tape and put the room back in order

Overall painting a room shouldn’t be a big ordeal though many people make out to be one. If you plan ahead and prepare painting a room with 2 coats should take no more than a few hours including the wait time between coats. Wait a couple hours to remove the tape and guess what, you’re done. A simple way to improve your house!

A couple things to keep in mind – if you’re not sure about primers or what type of paint to use talk to your paint specialist. These people are around paint all the time and they know what you could expect. Their recommendations can save you lots of time (and energy).

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