Thursday, November 21, 2013

One More Week! Thanksgiving Tradition

In my house, and my office and every other aspect of my life for that matter- Thanksgiving tradition will not fall by the wayside! I do not want sales, lists and coupons! I want family, turkey and pies on the last Thursday of November!  The tradition has evolved slightly since its start in the 1600’s- sweets are now a staple, and weren’t available then, and our attire has been updated, and the day is spent surrounded with friends and family. 

Somewhere along the way the tradition of hitting the malls and big box stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving for crazy deals on everything from televisions to blenders- has changed.  It started as a slow change, with the hours creeping earlier and earlier- and before we knew it in the last 10 years we saw the stores start to open at the wee hours of the morning.  Now, this monster we call Black Friday is beginning to get a little out of control.  Don’t get me wrong- I love great sales as much as the next person, but not at the expense of family time on a Holiday!

The very purpose behind current Thanksgiving tradition is to spend time with the ones we love, and to be THANKFUL for all that we have.  Yes, this is already slightly misdirected, because yes we should be thankful every day- but the point is that on this one day we should not be rushing out the door to shop or in many cases, to work! Instead of enjoying the time we have, we are either to worried about getting to the store as it opens- or needing to get there because of a work shift.  In my opinion, Black Friday is plenty long enough and should be kept as BLACK FRIDAY!

Whether you will be cooking or shopping this Thursday, or a combination of the two- just remember where the holiday came from and try to keep sight of it.  At this point, boycotting isn’t going to change the fact that the stores are opening Thursday for Pre- Black Friday.  However, we cannot lose the spirit of yet another holiday and allow it to be completely revolving around gifts and goods!  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Have a SAFE Winter!

Buying or Selling a home can often cause for us all to allow for certain things to slip through the cracks, even important ones.  Whether you are new in your home, or have lived there for decades- it is important to maintain some priorities! One of those key things, that is overlooked much to often, is safety with fire and carbon monoxide.  New homes mean that you need to inventory, check and plan for safety equipment, including detectors, ladders and even a plan of action for exit and meeting.  This is especially important if you have you children, but honestly none of us should be ignoring it!

Most of us are pretty good about having smoke alarms, however how often we check them – could be a different story!  There are two types of smoke alarms, and it is typically recommended that both be in a home (or the combination version) – as they function differently and serve their own unique purpose.  Smoke detectors should be placed on all floors of your home – including in your basement and garage!  Always make sure that if they are battery operated, you are testing and changing the batteries as necessary – some new construction will have the alarms hard-wired into the house electrical system, but battery operated versions are more common.  In addition to your smoke detectors, it is also important that you have an emergency plan in place, and have discussed and reviewed it with your family.  Plan safe exits, meeting points, etc. to ensure that your family understands and can react if necessary in your new home.

Carbon Monoxide detectors are less common, and more expensive- than a regular smoke alarm.  However, since carbon monoxide is credited with being the leading agent in accidental deaths from poisoning, it is something that we should not take lightly.  As most know, carbon monoxide is a result of our appliances that burn fuel in order to function.  Furnaces, stoves, grills, fireplaces and dryers all produce carbon monoxide, with ranges being the most common producer due to the open flame.  However- it should be noted that most deaths and poisonings are a result of carbon monoxide from cars- if a car is running in an enclosed space, especially an attached garage, this can be particularly dangerous.  If your new home has an attached garage, be sure to practice smart behavior, and alert all of your driving-age family members- of the dangers that could result.  It can be easy and tempting, especially here in cold Northeast OHIO to want to start you car and warm it up indoors- but you simply just can’t.

The detectors for Carbon Monoxide can be purchased at any hardware store or big box DIY store- such as Lowes or Home Depot- and they function by measuring the amount of carbon monoxide that has accumulated over time.  Carbon monoxide can be dangerous if you are exposed to low levels over a long time, and also if you have high levels occurring quickly.  Read alarm information and packaging to pick the alarm that is best for you!  It is also important to remember that these detectors run using an electrical outlet- so if the power is out, the detector no longer serves its purpose.  This may also be another great reason to consider getting a back up power source, like a generator, if your new home is in an area that tends to have more frequent power outages.

Winter months mean we are running our furnaces more frequently, and also our fireplaces and warming up our cars!  These both increase fire and carbon monoxide risks- so take the right precautions and keep yourself and your family safe!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Northeast Ohio’s Signature Holiday

Happy Sweetest Day!- Although it has grabbed a bad reputation over the years- labeled as a candy-industry creation, or Hallmark Holiday - it’s early start is nothing to forget.

The very first Sweetest Day was in Cleveland in the early 1920’s-  A committee planned the first Sweetest Day and distributed candy and treats to “newsboys, orphans, old folks, and the poor” in an effort to do something kind for those less fortunate.  Several big ticket movie stars assisted in handing out the treats, and the rest is history!

Today we view Sweetest Day as a secondary, love-related holiday in comparison to Valentine’s day.  Predominantly celebrated in Cleveland and Detroit, although the tradition did catch on in a few other places throughout the US.

It is quite possible that if you visit other parts of the country and mention this October holiday, people may have no idea what you are talking about!  However if you have recently moved to Northeast Ohio, you better be prepared to participate!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Halloween Fun in Northeast Ohio

‘Tis the season to bundle up, dress up and venture out for some Halloween and Fall fun!  Our area has an abundance of things to see and do in October! From local pumpkin patches to hayrides and hauntings- Clear your schedules and enjoy this time of year!

Lake Metroparks has haunted hayrides and a spooky trail- great for the kids, but be sure to make reservations! The events will sell out quickly, but now is the perfect time while the weather is still decent.  Cleveland Metroparks also hosts Fall hayrides- running throughout October on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Boo at the Zoo is another fantastic event- October 17-20 & 24-27, 2013 from
6 - 9 p.m. at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo- and Friday, Saturday and Sundays at Akron Zoo- find kiddo-friendly (non-scary) d├ęcor and fun- including Trick or Treat, animal exhibits and entertainment at every turn.

For adult fun, Put-in-Bay is hosting Octoberfest THIS WEEKEND! And there is also an array of haunted houses in and around our area.  If you love to be frightened, then you will definitely find enough to keep you busy this month! Couple that with Halloween parties and horror movie debuts- Plenty to scare and celebrate.

Of course we can’t forget choosing and carving pumpkins, picking apples and hot apple cider- The favorites that tie the entire season together.  Just make sure you leave time to do that fall yard cleanup! Better yet, grab the pumpkin leaf bags and double your cleanup and decorating- it’s a win-win!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Keep that Furnace in Shape!

Furnaces can be a pricey replacement, and regular maintenance can greatly extend the use and efficiency of one of the most important appliances in your home!  One of the factors typically taken into consideration when purchasing a home is the age and status of the furnace- However maintenance is just as important, if not more so!  On top of general use for you and your family, it is a great idea to keep records for services performed on your furnace if you decide to sell your home in the future.

If you have a new furnace, it is still important to ensure that the filters are clean, and that the furnace is operating at its best.  Make sure you register your product with the manufacturer, as many give a pretty wide window to ensure that furnaces are registered for any manufacturer warranty programs.  If it was just installed, chances are you will be good for the season- however if it has sat the summer months, or is even just a year or so old- it is a good idea to being your maintenance program.

Many factors impact the performance of your heating source- What type of furnace do you have? Gas, fuel oil or electric are the most common.  The type of furnace is dependent on your location, the age of your home and the cost of commodities such as natural gas and electricity.   Many homes that were built prior to city gas line installs may still have alternative methods for heat- such as fuel or electric.  Although different, each type has its positives and negatives.  Any local heating and cooling professional will be able to service, inspect and recommend proper maintenance for each type.

Establishing and keeping up with a routine maintenance plan can pay off big in the long run- small issues due to blocked filters can add up into high costs if the furnace abruptly stops working and you need to make an emergency service call in the middle of the night, in the dead of winter!  Furnace inspections are commonplace when purchasing a home, and home ownership should be no different- replacement costs and labor can be delayed for many years if proper care is taken. 

Trying to DIY is a possibility, however if you are like me and take one look at a maintenance checklist- Half of the terms are foreign, and not to mention we are talking about working with electricity, fire, and gas!  In my opinion, this is a job best left for the pros- Give me a call for great local providers!