Make Sure Your Home is Ready to Spring Into the New Season
Give Your A/C Some Love
Now that the weather is starting to turn we know that warmer days are ahead of us and that means it will soon be time to turn your A/C back on. We want to ensure that your A/C is running great when the time comes to use it. One great way to do that is to make sure you change the filters and clean all the ducts and vents. If your filters or ducts are clogged this can lead to poor air quality in your home and possibly a higher energy bill. Also, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a professional come in and double-check that your system is running efficiently as well as check the coolant levels.
Inspect Windows and Doors
Spring weather means that it’s almost time to start opening windows and doors again to let in the fresh air! Check all the screens on your windows and doors to make sure they are intact so that when it is time to open them, they let the warm air in, but keep the bugs out! This is also a great time to wash all your windows so that all that Spring light can shine through this season.
Check Your Basement and Attic
As Spring showers are near you want to double-check your attic and basements for any sign of moisture from the current Spring thaw. The best way to check for this is to look for any water stains, leaks, or mold. If you find anything that looks or smells off, address it immediately to prevent any worse damage from happening as the season progresses.
Routine Safety Checks
A new season means that you should do your routine checks on all safety devices in your home. This includes swapping out batteries for all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as double-checking that all fire extinguishers in your home are working properly. This is a great time to check and clean your exhaust fan as well.
The best season to deep clean your home is here! Use this time to go through and clean all the nooks and crannies you have been avoiding all winter. Nothing is better than fully deep cleaning your home, then opening all the windows and just enjoying the fresh scent of a good Spring clean! Check out one of our previous blogs on “How to Make Your Own Natural Cleaning Supplies” to ensure you and your family avoid all those nasty chemicals in some cleaning products today.
Consider Some Home Upgrades
Spring is a great time to upgrade some things in your home, such as repairing and replacing any light fixtures, cabinet fixtures, or even something as simple as swapping out some rugs throughout your home. You can also consider swapping out some bigger items to make your home more energy-efficient this season. Some of these upgrades could include adding insulation to your basement or crawlspace to keep your home colder in the summer and warmer in the winter. Another swap you can make is putting in storm doors and windows to decrease air exchange from the outdoors. Finally, a programmable thermostat is a great option if you travel often throughout the year. This can save you money on your energy bill by placing sensors in each room so you only heat or cool occupied rooms.
Get the Exterior of Your Home Ready for Spring
Spring is right around the corner, and that means it’s almost time to start enjoying your outdoor spaces again! Here are some great tips on what to tackle when you start spring cleaning the exterior of your home.
Clean Out Your Gutters
Winter snow and wind can cause your gutters to fill up with debris. You want to clean your gutters out before spring to ensure they are working properly to allow all of the water from the Spring showers to flow through them properly. Grab a ladder and a trash bag and start bagging up the debris you can find. After you have removed all of it, run a hose to flush out the rest of your gutters. While you are running the hose through you can also see where any leaks may have formed during the winter and patch those up before the next rainfall.
Clean Up Your Yard
After the snow melts, you most likely will find leaves and other debris left in your yard as well. Start by raking and collecting it all in bags for disposal. To give your lawn some extra nutrients, you can always use a mulching mower to shred and mulch the leaves and use them as compost.
This is also a great time to look around at your trees and shrubs and get them ready for the spring bloom. You will want to cut off any dead, diseased, or out-of-control branches. Always cut away from you so that the branches don’t risk falling on you.
Wash Off Your Home’s Exterior
One of the best ways to get grime and dirt off the exterior is by using a pressure washer full. The best method to use your washer is to allow its cleaning solution to work on one area for a few minutes before you rinse it off with water only. Always start at a low pressure to ensure you don’t damage any of your siding in the process.
This is also a great time to get your windows clean so you can let in all that beautiful spring light! Some great ways to get the exterior side of your windows clean are by spraying them with window cleaner and then using a large squeegee to wipe them clean. To avoid leaving streaks on your windows, wipe off your squeegee with a cloth after each pass.
Aerate Your Lawn
Once the grass has begun to grow it is time to start thinking about aerating. This is usually done after the first or second mow. Aerating your lawn allows for greater movement of water, fertilizer, and air throughout the soil, which allows for deeper root growth and a healthy lawn. It is important that you do this before fertilizing to ensure you get the maximum benefits. There are several places around town you can rent aerators, including Menards and River Bend Rental Mankato if you aren’t ready to buy one just yet.
Get Your Garden and Garden Beds Ready to Bloom
Your garden needs just as much love as your lawn does if you want it to bloom beautifully this spring. Make sure you remove all weeds that may have grown in to allow for beautiful plants and flowers. After you clear out all weeds it is time to fertilize. Use a pH kit to determine which fertilizer would be best for your soil. Mulching your garden and garden beds is also very beneficial to prevent weeds and help the soil maintain more water all season long. Layer your mulch 2”-4” deep to help keep weeds from sprouting.
Prep Your Patio
After winter you always want to check your patio and deck for any damage that may have happened during the many snowfalls. If you see any damage that has been caused, make sure to make those repairs as needed. Other ways you can prep your patio is by sweeping off any excess debris and pressure washing off any crusted dirt or stains. Once your deck/patio is clean you can bring your outdoor furniture out of storage. You will want to wash off all your furniture and make sure it's clean and ready for spring and summer sitting. Finish off by bringing out any outdoor rugs, planters, lights, wind chimes, grills and smokers. Now that your patio and deck are all prepped, you are ready to start enjoying the warmer weather!
Stainless Steel Cleaner
½ cup olive oil
½ cup distilled white vinegar
20 drops of lemon essential oil
Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and shake well. To use spray on Stainless Steel and use a polishing cloth to wipe it off. This cleaner can be used to remove grease, fingerprints, and food from the surface while also leaving a shining finish.
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup baking soda
a squeeze of liquid castile soap
2 cups water
Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and give it a good shake. Keep the spray bottle on hand and use it whenever you have a tough stain on your clothes or your carpet.
All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner
2 cups white vinegar
15 drops of any essential oil
To make, fill a mason jar with citrus peels and white vinegar and close the lid tightly. Allow this mixture to sit for a week. After a week, strain the solution into a spray bottle and add in your essential oils. It is now ready to be used all around your home in replacement of your other multi-purpose spray.
Floor and Glass Cleaner
1 cup isopropyl alcohol
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
15 drops of any essential oil
Pour the alcohol, vinegar, and water into a spray bottle and mix. Then, add in your choice of essential oils. Spray on paper towels to wash mirrors and windows or put into a mop bucket to wash floors.
Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
3-4 drops of any essential oil
Combine lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, and your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle. Test a small area of your wood by wetting a washcloth (squeeze out any excess water) and spraying the polish onto the cloth. Use this mixture on all wood furniture! Afterward, buff furniture with a dry microfiber cloth.
1 cup water
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
2 tbsp dish soap
1/2 roll of paper towels
In a bowl mix the water, alcohol, and dish soap and stir well until combined. Cut your paper towel roll in half and pour the mixture all over the roll until it is fully soaked. Store the paper towels in an air-tight container and use them as needed on countertops, stoves, or just everyday messes.
¼ cup baking soda
1 tsp of salt
A little bit of warm water
Mix baking soda and salt, then continue adding water until you have created a paste. Cover your oven in the mixture and let it sit overnight. In the morning scrub and then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Fabric Sanitizer/ Refresher
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup witch hazel
2 tbsp baking soda
20-30 drops of antibacterial essential oils (ex: lavender, lemongrass, cinnamon, lemon)
Combine water, witch hazel, baking soda, and essential oils in a spray bottle. Spray onto fabrics for a quick refresh.
1 cup distilled vinegar
Juice of one lemon
Place both ingredients in a cup and put it in your microwave. Turn your microwave on for 2 min. Leave the door closed after the 2 min for another minute or two to allow the steam to accumulate. After opening, simply wipe down all sides of the microwave and it should be nice and clean.
2 cups distilled vinegar
1 cup baking soda
DO NOT COMBINE INGREDIENTS AHEAD OF TIME! Instead, first, pour the vinegar into the toilet bowl, then pour the baking soda on after. This will create a fizz, which means it is working. After it stops fizzing, scrub it with a toilet bowl brush and flush it.
Winter Activities in MN
Just because it’s getting colder, doesn’t mean you can’t find fun things to do inside and outside! Check out all of these amazing activities that are available to you all over this beautiful state!
Explore the Trails
Minnesota has hundreds of trails to go cross-country skiing and snowshoes, along with more than 22,000 miles of groomed snowmobiling trails! Here are some great resources to find the best trails near you this winter!
This might be one of the most popular sports in the state and it is a great way still to enjoy all of our beautiful lakes over the winter! Here in Minnesota, there are a ton of fun tournaments for Ice Fishing throughout the state! One of the biggest ones is the Fishing for the Ducks competition in Mille Lacs and the grand prize is $20,000 CASH!! So, whether you are up for the competition or you just want to enjoy the day with some friends and beers, ice fishing is an amazing way to spend your winter days!
Find a Rink
We all know that Hockey season is the best season in Minnesota and we are so glad it is finally here! Whether you are playing or watching you know that you will have a great time! Grab your kids and catch a game, or maybe put them in some skates and teach them how to play the most beloved sport. There are several rinks around town, both inside and outside that are perfect if you are looking for a winter activity for the whole family.
Hit the Slopes
Skiing and snowboarding are both amazing ways to stay active and get outside this winter! Whether you are brand new to the sport or you have been doing it your whole life, there are slopes for everyone! Here are a couple of our favorite slopes around the state that you and your family should check out this winter!
Try Dog Sledding
This is a bucket list item that you really should try at least once! If you aren’t ready to try it just yet you can also choose to watch a dog sled race instead, which is also incredible to see. Whether you are looking to watch a race or race yourself, head up to Duluth and you can do it all!
Go Snow sledding or Tubing
No matter your age, sledding and tubing are always a great time! Once the snow begins to fall, grab your sleds and your family and head over to your favorite sledding hill! One of our favorites in town is out over in Sibley Park. You can also head over to Mount Kato for an awesome tubing experience that will be fun for the whole family!
Find Some Frozen Falls
Minnesota is known for its amazing Lakes, but we also have some amazing waterfalls! If you have never seen a waterfall frozen in the winter, then you have to check one out this year. You will have to wait until the temperatures hit the single digits to see these incredible frozen falls, but once they freeze they are truly breathtaking. Here are a few falls to check out this winter!
Go See the Christmas Lights
Christmas is just around the corner, which means that the lights are going up! Check out the local lights around you! One of our favorites to see is Kiwanis Holiday Lights! If you aren’t in the Mankato area or are visiting family for the holidays this year, here is a list of other great light displays around the state!
Check out the Ice Maze in Eagan
Starting on January 6, 2023, the ground around Viking Lakes in Eagan will become a winter wonderland for 45 days straight! This wonderland will include= an ice rink, warming house, pond hockey, and the Minnesota Ice Maze. This is an event you won’t want to miss! Check out more details here!
We all know that children and pets can get into things they aren't supposed to do way too often. So here are some great ways for you to baby and pet-proof your home to keep all your children and pets safe!
Use Safety Gates to Restrict Areas
There are always places in your home that you want to keep children and pets out of and since you don’t have 12 sets of eyes to watch everyone, a great way to keep them out of those areas is to set up safety gates. These are also great to set up around stairs to help ensure no one falls down them.
Install Childproof Locks
We all have places you don’t want your pets or children getting into, whether that is drawers with kitchen knives or cabinets with dog/cat treats, you can install childproof locks on almost everything. You can also put locks on things like doorknobs or even on your stovetop knobs to keep everyone in the home safe.
Keep Cleaning Solutions and Medicines Out of Reach
The last thing you want is for your child or pet to accidentally get into something that could harm them. A great way to help ensure that doesn't happen is to keep all cleaning solutions, medication, alcohol, etc up on high shelves and out of reach. If you have cats, I suggest locking these supplies up in a medicine cabinet because cats can get to some of those higher-to-reach places.
Always Put the Seat Down
You might not think about this one, but pets love to use the toilet as a waterhole when the seat is left up, so try and always remember to keep it down. Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep a lock on it while you have young children too just to keep them from trying to reach into it out of curiosity when they are able to start wandering around.
Secure All Unstable Furniture
Both children and pets can get a little rambunctious at times and you always want to protect them from getting hurt. To help keep them safe around your furniture when they get too rowdy, secure all bookshelves or anything else that could fall over when bumped with anchors or brackets!
Hide All Toys
Whether it be a dog toy or a baby toy, keep them in a closed bin that neither your pets nor child can get into when they are not in use. This can prevent children from getting a hold of toys that are choking hazards and keep pets away from toys that aren’t for them.
New Season, New Activities! Looking for some fun Fall activities to do with friends and family? Look no further! Here is a list of some great things to do around Southern Minnesota!
Southern Minnesota has a ton of Apple Orchards around that are a great way to spend your fall days! Pick your favorite one and enjoy walking around the orchard and picking your own fruit to take home! Some orchards even have other fruits to pick or bakeries with freshly made apple goodies! Grab some friends and family and head on over to your favorite orchard this Fall!
Some of our favorite Apple Orchards:
A-Peeling Acres Orchard, New Ulm
Emma Krumbies, Belle Plaine
Another Fall favorite is pumpkin picking! What better way to spend the day than picking out the perfect pumpkin to carve or decorate? Several pumpkin patches also have other vegetables you can pick from and some even have hay rides!
Some of our favorite Pumpkin Patches:
The Little Green Wagon Pumpkin Patch, Mankato
Jack McGowans Farms, Mankato
Autumn Drives Through the Leaves!
One of the most beautiful parts of Fall is the changing of the leaves and Minnesota has a ton of them! Some of the best views of the changing leaves can be seen driving along the rivers and through the landscape. Truly no matter where you drive you can find some beautiful scenery, so hop in the car and start exploring!
Sip the Local Favorites!
Whether it’s beer, wine, spirits, or a mocktail, Minnesota is not short on craft beverages! Craft alcohol has been flourishing in Minnesota over the past decade and several breweries offer fall-themed beverages such as an Oktoberfest beer, a Harvester cocktail, or mulled wine! Plan a day to go visit some of your favorite local spots or try someplace new!
Head Out to a Sports Game!
Whether it’s an MSU football game or a Timberwolves basketball game, Minnesota is not short on sporting events in the fall! Pick your favorite team, grab some friends and make a day out of going to cheer them on!
Get Your Scare On!
Halloween is just around the corner, and that means that haunted corn fields, mazes, and Tricks and Treats at Valleyfair are upon us. Minnesota is not short on haunted places, so now is your time to pick a couple of them to check out this fall and get you into the Halloween Spirit!
Some of our favorite Haunted Places:
Tricks and Treats at Valleyfair, Shakopee
Rochester Horror Haunted House, Zumbrota
Attend a Harvest Festival!
From pumpkin weigh-offs to grape stomps to Applefests, there are tons of things in harvest this time of the year! Check into what kind of local harvesting events are around you this season!
Harvest Festivals in Southern MN:
Sever's Fall Festival, Shakopee
Every Fri, Sat & Sun in October
Tons of towns in Minnesota celebrate the great German Tradition of Oktoberfest! One of the biggest Oktoberfests is in New Ulm and that German town celebrates the holiday right with Schell’s Brewery! Don’t miss out on these fun, beer-filled events!
Oktoberfests in Southern MN:
Oktoberfest Lite @ Morgan Creek Vineyards, New Ulm
Oct 7th, 8th, 14th & 15th from 6:30-9 pm
Summer is coming to an end... are you and your home ready?
Not sure how to get your home ready for Fall? Don't worry, we have you covered!
Check out this end-of-summer home maintenance checklist.
Clean your gutters! - It is best to clean your gutters at the end of each season to prevent buildup that could cause blockage. If possible, running a hose through your gutters is also a great idea to ensure it is still draining correctly and there are no leaks.
Make sure you are using weather-stripping! - As the temperatures begin to fall you want to make sure that the cold air stays out of your home. To help ensure this, add or replace the weather stripping on all your exterior doors and windows if your windows are 20+ years old or leaking air.
Insulate your water pipes before the first freeze! -We all know that once MN gets cold, it gets very cold, so it's always best to prepare early. The best way to keep your pipes from freezing as the temperature drops is to insulate all your water pipe sleeves, with heat tape, or similar materials.
Don't forget to replace your filters! - Your air conditioner has been working hard all summer, so it is very important to replace your filters after each season to prolong the life of your HVAC system. Luckily, changing your filters is super easy and affordable.
Prevent a carbon monoxide disaster! - First, make sure you have functioning carbon monoxide detectors within 10’ of all sleeping rooms in your house; it’s MN state law. You can buy these at any home improvement store for less than $30 and plug them into an outlet. Next, go around the outside of your home and make sure your home’s intake and exhaust pipes have sufficient clearance off the ground in case of snowfall blockage. Our favorite home inspector recommends having extensions 3’ off the ground. Make sure bushes/landscaping aren’t blocking these as well.
Aerate your soil! - By aerating your lawn you will be in a sense “allowing your lawn to breathe”. This may be the most important thing to do to your lawn to keep it healthy and looking good year-round. This should be done at least twice a year, preferably in Fall and Spring.
Don’t forget to fertilize! - Speaking of lawns, you should also be fertilizing your lawn in the fall. You should fertilize roughly 3 weeks before your last mow of the season. This will allow the grass to absorb the nutrients before the temperatures drop and the grass goes dormant for winter.
Winterize your sprinkler system! - Once you have finished watering your lawn for the season, you will want to blow out your sprinkler system to ensure it doesn't freeze. You can either hire someone to do this or use your own compressor to get the job done. Be aware that it is a process and do your research on how to do it on your own before attempting to tackle it at home.
Start prepping your winter car survival kit! - We know it is only Fall, but you never know when those temperatures will begin to drop. It is always a great idea to put together a winter survival kit to store in your car to be extra prepared in case you are ever stranded in the cold. Some great things to include in this would be blankets, mittens, hats, lighter, jumper cables, and boots, just to name a few.
Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Buy Instead of Rent?
Rent is increasing everywhere. No matter where you live, the cost to rent a place is constantly increasing. In many cases, your rent payment could be the same or even more than a mortgage payment. When you get a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payment will never change, which is great in a rental market that is getting more expensive each year. These increasing payments are just one reason you should consider buying a home instead of continuously renting.
Owning a home is a long-term investment. Imagine if you spend 30 years renting. At the end of that 30 years, you would have nothing to show for all the money you had been paying all those years. Now imagine if that whole 30 years you instead were putting that money towards your mortgage. At the end of that 30 years, you would own your home and could sell it to make a profit. This is a perfect example of why owning a home is an investment in your future.
As property values rise, so does your equity. Over the past several years, home values have been on the rise, and are expected to continue in the coming years. This means that all the money you have been paying towards your mortgage will provide a significant return when you finally decide to sell that home. Each mortgage payment will pay off a portion of your loan, giving you equity over time.
Owning a home comes with tax deductions. Everyone loves when they can save money on taxes, so here are a few ways that owning a home can help you do that. As a homeowner, when you itemize your deductions, you can reduce your taxable income by deducting interest paid on your mortgage. You can also do the same thing with the property taxes that you pay. Another great benefit is that if you live in your home as your primary residence for at least 2 years, and then you sell your home for a profit, you will not be taxed on the profit that you make (some exclusions apply; please consult a tax preparer).
Owning your own home creates housing security. One of the biggest stressors about renting is knowing what you will do at the end of each lease. Sometimes renters will sell the property and then the new owner will not continue to rent the property out, causing you to have to find a new home. To avoid ever worrying about if you will have a place to live at the end of your next lease, buy a home! By doing this, you know where you will be until you decide it is time to move on to your next home.
You can personalize the home you own. Have you ever rented a place that had restrictions on what you could put on the walls or have in your backyard? Well, one of the best things about owning your home is having the freedom to make all the changes and decorate however you would like. Want new light fixtures? Looking to have hardwood instead of carpet? These home improvements not only are allowed when you own a home, but they also can increase value!