Cindy Lyons

Jump Start Spring Cleaning

April is just around the corner and that means you need to get your act together. We know you've been ignoring the steadily growing checklist of things you need to do; declutter, wash the windows, sweep, etc. The truth is you just have to do it. 

One of the biggest things people seem to struggle with is an overabundance of STUFF. Do you really need so much STUFF? Probably not. Getting rid of unwanted or unusable items will make your job much easier. We've made a list of some things that need to be chucked.

Wire hangers - They're bent, they're awkward and every piece of clothing you own falls off of them. Chuck 'em.

Dish sponge - If you can't distinguish what color the sponge was when you got it, it's got to go!

Old shoes - We all tend to stock up on shoes since they're generally not cheap but if they've seen better days then you need to let go. Maybe donate them if they're still usable but not your style.

Clothes you’ve never worn - Along the same lines; you know you have clothes that you have never and probably will never wear. Bag or box them up and give them to someone who WILL use them.

Solo socks - If your sock has lost its companion give up all hope. You will never find it again.

Expired makeup/medicine - This is important for space and for health. Old makeup can build up bacteria and irritate your skin and old medicine becomes ineffective. 

Toothbrush - Our rule of thumb? If you can't remember when you bought the brush, chuck it.

Calendars - We know it's March but I still have a 2017 calendar up so I figured I wasn't alone. 

Unidentifiable frozen objects - If you want to risk it, that's your prerogative. 

Old glasses - If you've upgraded prescriptions you're never going to be able to use those glasses anyway. Donate them.

Old chargers - People today get new phones every other year or so but it can seem like a waste to throw perfectly good chargers away. Too bad. Ask if anyone can use it and then toss it. Older model phone chargers won't work with today's newer models anyway. 

Remotes - You know how you have 5 remotes on your coffee table? Chances are you don't need them. At the very least, pack away the ones you never use or have forgotten the use for.

Manuals - Most manuals can be found online these days and you don't need to keep a textbook-sized packet on your new blender.   

Games with missing pieces - If you're missing an integral part of your game, like the wheel in LIFE, it might be time to get a new set. 

Old maps - They made GPS for a reason.

We hope these help you on your quest to conquer spring cleaning!

Winter Storm Prep - Before & During

As Northeastern Quinn barrels up the east coast, we figured it would be a good time to discuss prepping for a storm and best practices for during. Snow can build up fast in New England and Vermont especially where winters can be unpredictable. Most of the time, life moves as usual, if at a slower pace, but you want to be prepared. Heavy snow can lead to home damage and power outages and this can become very dangerous if you're not ready for it.

Emergency supplies: First things first you'll want to hit the grocery store and make sure you're stocked up on water & food that doesn't require a microwave or oven. Depending on your heating situation you'll want to bring in more wood, make sure your propane tank is full, or check on your generator.

Simple supplies like blankets, pillows, and warm clothes are very important if you rely on electric heat. Power lines going down are not uncommon with big snowstorms and depending on how bad the forecast is, it could take a while to get your power restored. 

Shovels are a must-have for any homeowner and we suggest owning a couple. Heavy snow has broken more than a few shovels, so it's best to invest in quality ones. In this case, finding the best deal is not advised if it's a cheap piece of plastic.

A couple of other items to make sure you have handy would be flashlights, batteries, and matches.  

Snow removal: During a storm, it's important to keep up with things like shoveling. Roofs and decks can collapse under the weight of snow if it accumulates too much. It's best to shovel before too much builds up, so you don't overexert yourself trying to remove too much at once. If you are living in Vermont, or other New England states that can see a lot of snow, you will want to invest in a roof rake as well. You might not be able to remove all the snow from your roof but even shoveling off half will reduce the stress being put on your structure.

If you know of a place in your house, maybe a window or door, that is generally drafty, make sure you cover it up. There are actual draft guards but rolling up a towel and placing it appropriately can be just as effective. This will keep you warmer and save energy costs.

Storm prep BEFORE winter: It's too late to do some of these now, but they can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Clear gutters – build up in your gutters can lead to ice dams in the winter where water can sit for long periods on your roof. If this happens and the water sinks under your roofline you can be looking at thousands of dollars worth of water damage. 

Trim branches - tree branches can get extremely heavy under the weight of snow and power lines aren't the only thing they can take out. Trim back any large branches that extend close to your home and you won't have a rude awakening when a branch decides to break a window or take out part of your roof.

Insulate exposed pipes - the cold weather from a few weeks ago caused major damage to businesses and homes around the state when pipes burst. Simply using foam can help and be done relatively easily, depending on how accessible your pipes are. Some people also suggest leaving warm and cold water dripping, so there's movement through the pipes. 

Maple Open House Weekend 2018

One of Vermont's most popular events is the state wide Maple Open House Weekend. Every March, dozens of sugar shacks open their doors to the public and spread the delicious joy that is maple syrup! This years's Open House Weekend is just about a month away on March 24th and 25th. Some things you can expect are:

  • Free maple samples
  • Sugar on snow
  • Maple inspired foods (donuts, waffles, maple candy, maple pops, etc.)
  • Maple creemees (deserves its own category)
  • Tours
  • Maple gifts
  • Hay rides
  • Animal Interactions (some shacks are located on farms)

Activities and products vary based on sugar house so it's best to visit a bunch to get the full experience.

You can see a full map of the open maple houses here.

Small Kitchen? We Have Some Ideas For You

kitchenetteThe kitchen is one of the, if not THE, most important rooms in your home. It's where family meals come together and memories are made. You want to make the most of this space even if it's not as big as you'd like. Luckily for you, we know some ways to make a small kitchen look and feel bigger.

Hang your pots

Save space on your counters and in your cabinets by hanging your most-used pots, pans, and utensils. You can also install a magnetic knife strip so you don't need to have a huge knife block sitting on your counter and taking up space you don't have.

Bye bye cabinets

One way to really make your kitchen feel open and airy is to replace or install open vertical shelves. Boxy cabinets can make a space seem smaller when simply opening a cabinet door is likely to close-line someone. A mix of classic cabinets and open shelves might be an option you want to look at.

Box it up

If there are items you don't use as much in your kitchen, box them up and put them somewhere out of the way. Cabinets that have room above them can be a perfect place to store a box that you might need but don't want to be in the way.

Scale down the appliances

You can save a lot of space in your kitchen by cutting down on the total inches that your appliances take over. Do you really need a double sink or would it be better to have more counter space? Dishwashers usually come with a standard 24-inch width, but you can get them in 18th-inch as well and use that extra space for a larger cabinet or more drawer space. Even fridges can be downsized if need be.

Built-in appliances

While you can scale down appliances, there are also ways to arrange them that will take up less of your valuable space. For instance, a built-in microwave that sits above your countertop will save a lot more space than having a free standing one. Same goes for refrigerators that can be installed at cabinet-depth and not stick out into your precious space.

Decluttering Your Home

Decluttering your home is necessary for anyone but especially if you’re moving. It can make the process much simpler and faster when you’re boxing things up. While it seems like a daunting task you can break it down to make it easier to swallow. Here are some tips from us:

10-15 minutes

This is a super popular way to declutter for those who are way too busy to actually do it. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes dedicated to decluttering a certain room or organizing a space. If you do feel like spending more time, don’t allocate more than 2 or 3 hours to one space or project. Spending too much time can drain all your energy and make you less efficient.   


Before you begin, you want to know where all of your stuff is going to go. Get at least three bags out and label them trash, donate, and relocate. This way you can easily take care of everything that is hanging around without moving it somewhere else where it doesn’t belong either.

Organize first

Many people go through an organizational supply crisis when they realize all the stuff they have to find a place for. This usually translates to going to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and returning home with countless bins, crates, and other storage options. Before you go crazy, organize first! You don’t want to buy more than you need and only contribute to the clutter problem. Plus, you might find all the storage space you need once you start looking around.

Don’t do it half way

If you start working on a task, finish it! Many people don’t like decluttering or organizing and stopping before you’re finished might mean you never finish. This also means taking out trash or recycling that you’ve accumulated through the process, and not letting it sit in the garage; you’d just be creating more clutter elsewhere.

Waterbury Winterfest 2018

One of Waterbury's biggest celebrations is back for it's 2018 debut! Winterfest is a culmination of seasonal fun over a ten day period with activities for everyone.  

The full list of events are as follows:

Friday, Jan 26th - Christmas Tree Bonfire, Jazzyoke, Winterfest Dance, and Sled Hockey

Saturday, Jan 27th - Broom Ball Tournament, Capture the Flag, Drone Races of NNEDO, Harwood Hockey Game, Jazz & Hockey, Hockey Mom's Dance Party, Hockey Game(VT Enforcers vs. Harwood Coaches)

Sunday, Jan 28th - 5K Fun Run, Connector Trail, Women's Intro to Hockey

Monday, Jan 29th - Baby & Toddler Story Time, Winter Felting Workshop

Tuesday, Jan 30th - Vermont Beer Quiz

Wednesday, Jan 31st - Harwood Hockey Game, Wassailing

Thursday, Feb 1st - Preschool Story time, Rhymes, and Crafts, Game Show, Winterfest Music Fest: Dave Keller

Friday, Feb 2nd - Winterfest Music Fest

Saturday, Feb 3rd - Guided Snowshoe Tour, Puppet Show, Fat Tire Events, Sock Hop, Winterfest Music Fest Grand Finale

Sunday, Feb 4th - Snow Football, VAST Trail Traverse

Click here for more details.

Reduce Your Home Heating Costs

Winters in Vermont can be brutal and your heating bill can add insult to injury. We've put together a couple of ways you can reduce your heating costs in simple and cost effective ways.

Keep the shades closed

During the night or when you're not home, there is no reason to keep the curtains open since it only adds to any drafts coming from the windows. On days that aren't brutally cold, it can help to leave curtains open in rooms where the sun will shine in. This will add some natural heat for no extra cost.

Programmable thermostat

While these aren't free, the money you could save will be worth it. Programmable thermostats allow you to preset times to turn the heat down or up when you're not home or sleeping. It's perfect if you're more forgetful or too busy to be changing it manually multiple times a day.


Have you ever noticed that you feel considerably warmer or cooler depending on whether you're wearing socks? Simply putting on some winter socks can make your home feel warmer. 


Use ceiling and standing fans to your advantage by using them to circulate warm air to different areas of the house. Just place them strategically to filter the air from heating vents or wood/gas stoves.

Only heat what you need

You might find that you don't need all the rooms in your home to be heated all the time. If the study or laundry room don't see as much traffic, then you might consider closing those doors (or vents) and saving more heat for other rooms. 

Deck the Halls

Holiday decorations can be the ultimate hassle on top of an already stressful season. Lucky for you we have some fun ideas that don't have to take too much time or effort to employ.

Solar Lights - There's a solution to the headache that is always putting up lights in and around your lights. Wrap these around trees and bushes and they'll turn on automatically when the sun goes down. No extension cord needed!

Mailbox - If your home is less visible but you still want to show your neighbors the holiday spirit decorated your mailbox. You can wrap garland around the post or simply attach a bow.

Wreaths - You can't go wrong with a holiday wreath. If a fancy pre-made wreath is not something you're willing to pay for, there are plenty of other options. You can buy a simple, bare, fake wreath for a few bucks and decorate it with wrapping ribbon and other products from around your house. This is a great way to save money, as you won't have to buy a new one next year either.

Garland - Hanging garland is a holiday staple. You can utilize this kind of decoration anywhere that you want. Wrap it around your porch railing, hang it from the window panes, or string it along your fence posts. 

Candles - We know candles can be tricky due to the risk of fire, so we are promoting the use of electric automatic candles. In our house, we use individual electric candles that automatically turn on when the light starts to fade. Put them in your windows facing the road for a warm look for all to see.

Paper Snowflakes - If you live somewhere where your windows get a lot of notice, this is a perfect idea for you. Simply make or buy some paper snowflakes (very easy to make) and attach them to the inside of your windows. It adds a nice little touch to your home. 

We hope everyone has a safe and very merry holiday season!

Snowtime = Playtime

If you've lived in Vermont for any period of time, you know there are many many winter activities to enjoy. We're not just talking your usual skiing and boarding. Most towns offer a plethora of snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing options. Many, even have ice skating rinks. Check out these resources below to find the perfect place to get out and stay active once the snow comes. We also recommend taking time for snowball fights and snowman/snow fort building. 

(p.s. It always pays to ask the locals too, since many trails might be lesser known.)

For a detailed map of snowshoe trails check out this site -->

For a detailed map of cross-country skiing trails check out this site -->

For a detailed map of snowmobile trails check out this site -->

(Some trails are open to multiple snow traveling activities.)

Ice Skating Rinks:

The Ice Center - Waterbury 

Stowe Arena - Stowe

Skatium Ice Rink - Waitsfield

Barre Outdoor Ice Skating Rink - Barre

Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center - Montpelier

Essex Junction Skating - Essex Junction

Cairns Arena - South Burlington 

Sellers: Breaking Down Home Staging

Home staging is not a new marketing technique for home sellers but it is extremely effective. We want to share with you why you'll want to invest some time into it. It has the potential to make the selling process a lot easier.

The Data

  • A survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. found that staged homes spend half the time on the market than non-staged homes.
  • 81% of buyers say home staging makes it easier to visualize the property as their future home.
  • 45% of buyers say it will positively impact the value of the home if it is decorated to the buyer’s tastes.

The most common rooms to stage are the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom. These are the rooms that are going to see the most activity so they need to make a good impact. Common rules of thumb for staging are:

  • Declutter: The fewer odds and ends hanging around the better. Less clutter will show off more space which will appeal to your buyers. Plus, a clean house is more attractive to the eye and won't leave a bad impression.
  • No personal items: You may love the countless family photos hanging on your walls but it won't help your potential buyer when they're trying to envision living there. Put away any items that will interfere with the buyer seeing their future there.
  • Style: You might love your style but a vintage-chic or edgy contemporary style might not be appealing if it's too overpowering. Try to rein it in during the selling process, you can design your new home to your heart's content.
  • Floors: This is easy to overlook but a messy floor will give the impression that it might be hard to keep up with the cleaning of the home. A quick vacuum, sweep, or mop can take care of this easily. 
  • Furniture: Symmetrical arrangements are generally a good way to go. While many suggest pushing the furniture against the wall to make the room feel bigger, this can create issues if you are so far away from your company that they can't hear you. Pull the furniture off the wall to create a more community feel where you can envision actually having conversations.
  • Neutral Colors: Painting might not be in the budget but simply choosing neutral colors for pillows and throw rugs will allow for a relaxed atmosphere. Taking risks with bright colors isn't a good idea when it can turn off buyers. 
  • Pets: Clean, clean, clean! Having pets can make selling your home more difficult if there are paw prints and pet hair everywhere. Make sure you're doing a complete sweep of the home before potential buyers come over, especially if they don't have pets of their own. (Use deodorizers while cleaning to get rid of any smells. It's easy to become desensitized as the person living there but your guests will smell it!)

Depending on your budget you might want to hire a stager to do this for you or go the DIY route. For those going it on their own, check out Pinterest. The site has a ton of ideas to make your house shine. Just search things like "home staging" and "redecorating." Good Luck!