Robert Ross' Blog
1 Parmenter Rd, Framingham, MA 01701
Thinking of buying a new home, building your dream home or remodeling the home you have? Before you reach out to your nearest real estate agent, find a building contractor or raid your local do-it-yourself home improvement store, gather and refine all your ideas in one place by creating an idea book.
As the name says, an idea book is a collection of all the ideas you have for your new home or remodel. It should include notes about what rooms you need, but also include things like the style. Do some research online or in magazines to determine what features you like and with what kind of home style they go. Include pictures of these features in case they are called something different so that you and your professional help, be it real estate agent or builder, knows what you are looking for in a home. Think about colors, size, layout and everything else you can think of to create the perfect home.
Analog Idea Books
For many, this old-school method is the way to go. Get a notebook or a stack of paper and start writing things down. Then browse home design catalogs, real estate brochures and anything else you can get your hands on, cut out pictures and descriptions that appeal to you and glue, tape, staple or tuck the photos between the pages, so they don't get lost. If you'd rather see all your ideas at once, try tacking them to a corkboard or use magnets to stick your pictures and notes to your refrigerator. If you want to get extra extravagant with your idea book, get yourself a scrapbook with slip sheets and decorative pages.
Digital Idea Books
Websites like Houzz, Pinterest, and Photo Stream offer a way to keep your digital ideas all in one place. The photo collage layout of an online idea book lets you see your thoughts in one place like a corkboard, but organize them using folders and tags more like in a physical book. A lot of contractors and real estate agents prefer these online idea books since they are easy to share and help them understand what exactly you want.
Where to Start?
At first, you might think that it is just too much. There are so many styles, windows, furniture, and colors you simply don't know where to begin. That's just fine. Start with everything you like. Its easier to pare down your ideas once you've got examples of everything in front of you. You can help this process by grouping the ideas by room type: exterior in one place, backyard and landscaping in a second, kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, living room all in their individual folders or collages. Its also a good idea to cross reference your likes and dislikes by color, feel and even which member of your family came up with the idea.
As you progress, you’ll start to notice you gravitate toward certain types and styles including specific windows, rooflines, and color schemes. When the same kind of drawer handles shows up in seven of your ten favorite bathroom cabinet styles, it’s a sign that you like that style a lot. You can go as specific as you want with your idea book, or you can leave your options wide open, but get some basic parameters around what you do and don’t like.
Once your book is ready, find your real estate agent or builder and show them what you want!
Making your own candles is a fulfilling endeavor to take. You’ll learn about the art of candle-making, get the chance to make something for your home yourself, and reap the rewards once you get to burn it and diffuse whatever (if any) fragrances you choose to use.
Many people are surprised to learn that it isn’t all that hard to make a candle. However, to make one that will burn well and smell nice can be tricky.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through how to make your own candle for your home.
In the times when households weren’t yet powered by electricity, candle-making or “chandlery” wasn’t just a fun skill to have--it was downright useful.
Since the earliest times in recorded history humans have been making candles. First from tallow, or beef fat, and then of beeswax and other animal-produced substances.
Today, however, the most common candle wax base is paraffin, due to it being the cheapest base. As a petroleum byproduct, many people are concerned with potential health risks of paraffin and have elected to use alternatives. The two most common are beeswax and soybean oil.
The wax base you choose is up to you, but you’ll likely find that soy is a good middle ground between quality and price.
Gather your supplies
Once you’ve decided on a wax, you’ll need to think about a few other ingredients--namely your wick, container, and any oils you’d like to add for fragrance. You’ll also need a way to melt the wax, such as a double boiler.
When it comes to wicks, it’s easiest to buy them pre-assembled. However, you can buy a roll of braided rope and tabs to make and cut them yourself. When cutting your wick, leave an inch or two extra so that you can cut the wick to the proper size later on.
In terms of a container you have several options, some of which might be laying around in your house at this very moment. You could reuse an old candle container, use mason jars or coffee cups, and most other heat- and flame-resistant containers. If you plan on making several, buying a pack of candle tins of mason jars online is an economical way to go.
Finally, you’ll need to choose some fragrances if you want your candle to smell like anything. There are hundreds of essential oils to choose from. However, they don’t all go nicely together. It’s best to do a bit of research and find out which oils make good pairs. Some examples: Cedarwood and bergamot, lavender and rosemary, orange and lemongrass.
Making your candle
Put water in the bottom of your double boiler and add roughly ½ lb wax to the top pan. Heat slowly until the wax melts, stirring and chopping up the larger chunks throughout the process.
Once the wax is melted, take your wick and dip the tab into the wax, then carefully press the tab into the bottom of your container. Use a pen or other tool to do this to avoid burning yourself on the wax.
Next, add your essential oils to the double boiler. A pound of wax typically requires only an ounce of oil. Then, stir it for a minute or so to distribute the oil throughout the wax.
Then, pour the wax into your container with one hand. With your other hand, keep the wick held in the center of the container.
Finally, you’ll need to keep the wick in the center of the candle until the wax dries. You can do this by tying or taping the wick to a pen or pencil and resting the pencil on top of the container so that the wick stays in the center.
If you have always wanted to own a second home in the mountains, near the beach or just about anywhere else, now may be the ideal time to transform your dream into a reality. The housing market offers many opportunities for property buyers – even those who already own a residence. If you understand what it takes to navigate the homebuying journey, you could quickly and effortlessly purchase a second house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Ultimately, there are lots of things you can do to streamline your search for a second residence, such as:
1. Get Your Finances in Order
If you still have a mortgage on your current residence, there is no need to stress. In fact, by consulting with a mortgage specialist, you can evaluate your home financing options as you prepare to search for a second house.
Mortgage specialists are available at banks and credit unions, and they understand the ins and outs of home financing. Thus, mortgage specialists can help you analyze your current mortgage, establish a homebuying budget and determine the optimal financing option for a second house.
Of course, if your current house's mortgage is paid in full, mortgage specialists can still help you get ready to launch a search for a second residence. If you collaborate with mortgage specialists, you can get the help you need to immediately obtain financing to acquire a second house.
2. Narrow Your Home Search
You know you want to buy a second house – now, you just need to hone your house search based on your individual needs. If you focus on residences in a select group of cities and towns, you may quickly discover a wonderful house that you can enjoy for years to come.
As you consider potential cities and towns where you want to purchase a second home, think about your short- and long-term goals, too. By doing so, you can boost the likelihood of finding a second house that will suit you perfectly both now and in the future.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
For those who want to acquire a second home sooner rather than later, hiring a real estate agent is a must. Because if you have a friendly, knowledgeable real estate agent at your side, you can minimize the risk of encountering roadblocks that otherwise could slow down your homebuying journey.
A real estate agent is happy to teach you about the housing market in your preferred cities and towns. Plus, he or she can offer expert recommendations about how much to offer to pay for a residence you want to acquire. And if you have concerns or questions as you pursue a second home, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them right away.
Take the guesswork out of finding and purchasing a second residence – use the aforementioned tips, and you could speed up your search for a second house.
Staying organized an on top of your bills is important to not only maintaining your lifestyle but to reducing your stress and working toward your savings goals. There are many ways to get yourself organized and plenty of digital tools to assist you along the way. For those just wrapping their heads around payment organization here are a few basics to get you started.
Know what you owe; know whom you owe.
The first step to managing your bills is knowing what you owe. It’s easy to forget about one of your credit cards or how much your car insurance payment is each month. Start setting yourself up for success by laying out all of your bills and what each monthly payment will be. For credit cards make sure to note your current minimum payments and your goal payment or each month. You can create a basic spreadsheet or use one of the many free or paid online services and phone apps to account for all of your bills.
Know your payment due dates.
The second step you'll need to take is knowing your due dates. Take a thorough look at each of your bills and note what dates they are currently due. Do a little more digging to learn if you have any bills that you can control the due date for, just in case the current due date doesn't work for you when you're trying to determine a payment plan (more below). It helps to take a look at these dates on a current calendar to see where they fall in relation to your paycheck delivery dates.
Determine payment plans.
When you know how much you owe, and when your payments are due you can start creating a payment plan. Take a look at your current income sources and the dates you get paid. Are you a single income household? Do you and your partner contribute to your monthly income? Do you get paid the same times or on an opposite schedule? Note all of the income you’ll receive in a given month and the dates each check comes in. Compare your check dates to the bill due dates you noted before and tally up how much you can pay from each check while continuing to buy groceries and other daily necessities. You may realize that you need to rearrange some of the due dates to better balance more substantial payments across multiple checks. Go online or get in touch with your payees and set up your due dates the way you need them.
You can take further steps and set up automatic billing if you like. Automation may not work for all your bills or be the preference for everyone. Think about how you prefer to make payments and set up a plan that works for you. Maybe you only set up bills you tend to forget for automatic debit or those that are the same amount each month, but you continue to pay variable bills like utilities manually.
Track your payments.
Tracking your payments will help you catch any bills you haven’t paid before they fall through the cracks. It will help you save on late fees or expedited payment fees. Payment tracking will also help you discover any adjustments you need to make to your payment plan, so you can best rearrange payments and due dates for future months when you see a glitch in your system. If you aren't the best at spreadsheets or prefer a simple user interface, you can access on your phone investigate the budget tracking applications out there and find the right one to help keep you on top of all your payments and manage each bill.
Being able to manage your debt and monthly outgo is the first step in managing your finances to build toward your savings goals. Start here, and you'll be on your way to saving for your home down payment, remodel, vacation or whatever it is you're dreaming of doing.