VT

Easy Summer Patio Upgrades

One of the many fun things to do during summer is to enjoy spending time outside on your patio. It's a place where you can rest and relax or party it up on summer nights. There are some easy way that you can make this space work for you 

Update your furniture

If you're looking to change things up you might be in the market for a new look for your patio. New chairs, tables, and cushions can completely alter the look and feel of this space. You might simply need to upgrade furniture that has weathered through one too many seasons. 

Shade

If your patio receives a lot of sun, then you'll definitely want to invest in some man-made shade. Table or free standing umbrellas are super easy but you could go bigger with a canopy or pergola. 

Light

When the sun goes down you might still want to enjoy your patio and that's why it's a good idea to install some light fixtures. These can be as simple as hanging lights off the side of your house or citronella torches to keep those pesky bugs away.

Party Time

Ensure that every get-together is a blast with a grill and cooler to keep the refreshments coming. Lawn games are super fun and with those lights, you don't have to stop when the sun goes down. 

11 Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Summertime is the perfect time to relax and stop worrying about muddy footprints, snow removal, and other problems. Unfortunately, it's also a great time to catch up on, or keep up on, maintenance of your home. Winters in Vermont can be brutal, and it seems like we haven't seen the sunshine since summer began. Making sure your gutters are clean, your roof is leakproof, and taking some time to deep clean your carpets, can do wonders for a house that's been put through the ringer. Jaymi Naciri, from Realty Times, brings us 11 things you should at least consider looking at this summer.

  1. Clean out your Gutters - This is a given, you want rain water to be able to drain efficiently off your roof, specifically into an area that it's supposed to.
  2. Deep Fridge Cleanout - We're all guilty of forgetting something that has been in the fridge for a little too long. Maybe something spilled and left a sticky mess, the point is, it get's gross, really fast. The easiest way to stay on top of cleaning your fridge is to schedule a time each month or so to keep up with it.
  3. Change batteries in your Smoke Detector - Another very important thing to keep up on, your smoke detector is there to keep you safe. Make sure it's functioning properly so you know you can depend on it in an emergency.
  4. Change your Filters - This is especially important if you have allergies. An overused filter will allow more dirt, pollen, dust, and other allergens to enter your home.
  5. Deep Clean your Carpets - As a pet owner, I know how dirty carpets can get in just a short amount of time and a simple vacuum isn't always going to cut it. Stains and smells can set into your carpet and you may not even notice because you become desensitized to it. Do yourself, and anyone who visits your home a favor and do a deep clean. You can usually rent one at a local supermarket.
  6. Have your Air Conditioning Unit Serviced - Air conditioners work better and last longer if they are regularly serviced and cleaned. If it's not working at it's best, it could be racking up your electricity bill.
  7. Check your Deck - Your deck stands strong through all the seasons but that doesn't mean it shouldn't get a little TLC. Harsh rain and snow can do a number on it so you should keep an eye out for loose planks, nails, and possible rotting. Putting a fresh coat of sealant may be required.
  8. Shower Heads - This can be a place many of us don't think to look but you don't want to miss it. Bacteria and soap scum can build up and eventually affect the flow of your shower. Check out Wikihow's two methods of cleaning a removable and non-removable shower head.
  9. Dryer Vent - This is a must for keeping your house safe. Dryer lint is a highly flammable substance that accumulates after each use. It's best to empty this after every load to be safe. 
  10. Check the Roof - A long winter or rainy season can leave your roof needing a little touch-up. Check for any loose tiles or shingles to help prevent leaks
  11. Do a Leak Check - To save water, make sure to check hoses and faucets for leaks. Even a small drop adds up to a lot of water over time.

 

 

Festival Season

Summer in Vermont is bursting with festivals and fairs for anyone and everyone. We like to have a good time, and you can see that with how many events we have going on in June alone! From family friendly Renaissance fairs to more music festivals than you can count, we've got something for everyone. Check out the lineup: 

June 10th - (Warren) Sugarbush Brew-Grass Festival - Dozens of brewers, three bands, and a variety of food vendors make up the Brew-Grass Festival in the Lincoln Peak Courtyard.

June 23rd - 25th (Essex Junction) - Vermont Quilt Festival - The oldest and largest quilt festival in New England is back for another year! Contests, classes, presentations, exhibits, and much more make this a great way to immerse yourself in the quilting community.

June 23rd - 25th (Stowe) Stowe B3 Festival (Bikes, Brews, & Beats) - Kicking off on a Friday with a block party for the whole family. The rest of the weekend hosts multiple group rides and other events for mountain bike enthusiasts.

June 24th - (Waterbury) Grooves and Brews Festival - Following the Waterbury Parade and ending with the firework display, this festival brings you three kicking bands, tons of delicious food options, the best of von Trapp Brewery, and much more!

June 24th - (Stowe) - 25th Vermont Renaissance Faire - Travel back in time as you enjoy all the best of a festival with a Renaissance twist. Attendees are encouraged to come in garb, so it makes for some pretty memorable photos!

June 29th - July 1st (Warren) Frendly Gathering Music Festival - (There is no "I" in frends) With over twenty bands playing throughout the festival grounds this event is all about the fun. Enjoy camping, yoga, art, local food, dance workshops, and much more!

 

 

 

Homes with High Standards

Green building practices and Energy Star ratings are growing in importance among home buyers and home builders, alike. Paul Arnot, of Arnot Development Group in Waterbury, is a respected builder who understands the importance of green design and technology. Arnot is well known for his Waterbury Commons village community, which meets the Energy Star criteria. It is a close-knit neighborhood that embodies the term "community."

"The Blue Energy Star on a new home means it was designed and built to standards well above most other homes on the market today. When Energy Star's rigorous requirements are applied to new home construction the result is a home built better from the ground up, delivering better durability, better comfort, and reduced utility and maintenance costs," according to Energy Star.

Not only do Waterbury Common homes earn the Energy Star rating, but other aspects of the community fit nicely in the sustainability category of being in close proximity to public transit, and walkable to many village amenities like shopping, restaurants, library, schools and recreational venues.

For more information on Waterbury Commons, visit waterburycommonsvt.com

Pond Skimming Season

It's just about April which means pond skimming is just around the corner! For anyone who is at a loss for what this event could possibly be, it's just as it sounds. Contestants race down a small hill and try and see how far they can make it across a 'pond' with their skis or boards as they skim across the water. Awards are typically given out for best splash, longest skim, style, best costume, etc. It's a great pastime that draws hundreds to the mountains for a fun-filled day. 

Bolton, for example, designates a theme for each years' pond skimming event. This year is 1966 to celebrate their 50th year. Visit each mountain's page below for more details on their event.

April 1st - Stowe Mountain Resort

April 1st - Bolton Valley

April 8th - Sugarbush Resort

 

 

Ideas to Improve your Small Front Yard

We realize it's still snowing, but before long we're going to have spring flowers popping out of the ground. If you live in a more rural area of Vermont chances are you've got a lot of yard to work with, but that's not everyone. If you've got a home in town or live on a bustling street, it can be hard to make your small front yard seem comfortable and appealing. Whether you're looking to sell or simply upgrade your own digs these tips, from Andrea Davis at Realty Times, could give you some ideas to work with. 

There are many ways to improve your small front yard without uprooting your driveway or dialing back your front porch. In fact, with the right touches, small front yards can be just as appealing as large ones. Here are some ideas to make your small yard more appealing year round:

#1 Take a symmetrical approach.

One way to make your small front yard more appealing is to use symmetry. Balancing the elements of your yard on either side of your sidewalk -- grass, fencing, flowers, shrubs -- will make it look grand and inviting; it will also cost less than it would in a larger yard because you have less acreage to cover. You can also find a local landscaper to map out and implement a symmetrical yard plan for you.

#2 Make a seamless transition from yard to house.

Use materials like box planters, stone steps or retaining walls to blend your home and yard together. Potted plants on your front porch or patio will also extend the yard without cluttering it. Make sure you choose plants that complement one another, so you don't have a lot of overgrowth.

#3 Use a hint of color.

If you want to wow people in your small front yard, pick a brightly colored flower, shrub or tree that stands out either on the porch or in the yard itself. Then use neutral colors around to make it stand out. This will be the eye-catching piece in your small yard that people will never miss.

 

#4 Hang basket flowers.

Hang flower baskets around your front porch or patio. They add fresh color and a natural element to your home without cluttering the porch area itself. You can change them every season or every year, depending on the flowers or shrubs you choose.

#5 Light it up.

Your front yard might be less appealing if people see it at night. That's why you should add plenty of lighting. One option is to install standing, solar-powered lamps along the walkway; another is to hang lamps on your front porch to illuminate the plants there. It just depends on how much money and time you want to invest.

#6 Refresh your front door.

While not a traditional part of the "yard", your front porch is still important to the beauty of the area as a whole. This means your front door needs to be appealing as well. Fix any cracks, scratches or other damage to the door. Also, think about revitalizing it with a new coat of paint. Choose a color that complements the exterior landscape.

Conclusion

These are only a few tips to help you improve your small front yard. You want to make it seem bigger, if not at least more comfortable. Adding a fence might be another option to consider, though you'll want to lean towards an open design pattern like picket or chain link. Just keep your budget in mind and try not to clutter your yard while trying to redesign it. 

To read the original article click here.

Area Winter Festivals To Know About

                               

Hopefully, if you're living in Vermont, you actually like the snow, cold temperatures, and all the wonderful activities that come with this type of climate... or at least you don't dislike them. But whether you're a seasoned winter enthusiast, or are just starting to work on your 'icy-parking-lot-walking' form, there are a few winter celebrations in the area you won't want to miss.

Stowe Winter Carnival - January 14 - January 28

In its 43rd year, this Stowe carnival is 15 days long and full of tournaments, ice carving, skating, dance parties, movie nights, karaoke nights, brews, and a fishing derby. 

Shelburne Winterfest - Saturday, January 21

This indoor/outdoor winterfest at Shelburne Farms includes family friendly activities including sledding, horse-drawn rides, crafts, music, and a rock climbing wall by Northern Lights Rock and Ice.

Waterbury Winter Fest - January 17 - February 5

New England Landmark is a Proud Sponsor of Waterbury Winterfest!

10 days of awesome winter activities in and around Downtown Waterbury, and Waterbury Center. Partake in anything from guided hikes and classes to the Winterfest Snowball, craft beer tastings, and the highly competitive annual broomball tournament! (Some preregistration needed, so check out the schedule in advance.)

Montpelier's Ice on Fire Winter Festival - Sunday, January 29

A celebration of community along with the season, this festival features storytellers, theatre acts, music, facepainting, crafts and winter games, hot cider, chili, and warming hut to help keep warm.

Brrrlington Winter Bash - Saturday, February 25

A kid-centered celebration of snow-fun a the Miller Recreation Center in Burlington. Free snowshoeing, xc skiing, face painting, crafts, and youth yoga classes by Spark Youth Yoga. 

 

9 Tips for Selling Your House in Winter

Laura Gaskill wrote this excellent article for Realty Times on how to make winter work for you when you're selling your house. Winters, especially in Vermont, can be harsh and make the showing of your home's assets a little tricky. Here are some tips and tricks to stand out this winter:

With people away on trips and cold weather making house hunting less appealing, winter can be a challenging time to sell your home. On the other hand, fewer homes on the market means yours will get more attention from buyers. By upping the cozy factor, making the most of winter assets and paying attention to details, you can make your house really stand out.

Here are nine ways to prepare and stage your home for success, and create a warm and welcoming vision for buyers, even when the weather outside is frightful.

1. Have a cozy, crackling fire (or not).

If you have a gas fireplace or new clean-burning woodstove, go ahead and light a fire to welcome visitors. But if your home's wood-burning fireplace is older and leaves a smoky smell in the room, hold off. Those with allergies or smoke sensitivities can be turned off — or literally turned away when they have to go outside. No fire? Consider offering warm apple cider instead.

2. Keep entryways scrupulously clean.

As with any time of year, a clean and clutter-free house will sell more easily (and maybe at a higher price) than one with more visible clutter. During winter it is especially important to remove mucky boots outside and keep family gear hidden in a closet or trunk, where potential buyers won't trip over them. A Swiffer-style mop kept in the coat closet can be used to quickly freshen entry floors before each showing.

3. Give each room a warm touch.

A folded throw draped over the back of an armchair, a plump quilt at the foot of the bed or an area rug in warm hues are a few small additions that will make a big difference in the way a room feels to prospective buyers. Also, be sure that every light is on — even for daytime showings. Winter days can be quite dim, and your house will look its best when it's as warmly lit as possible.

4. Show how outdoor rooms can be used even in the coldest months.

If you have a covered porch or outdoor fireplace, be sure to keep the area fully furnished. Turn on outdoor lights, build a fire in the fireplace and drape a few thick throws over your outdoor furniture.

5. Emphasize spaces that will appeal in winter.

Basement playrooms, indoor exercise areas, heated toolsheds and the like will be especially welcome in a place with a cold winter. Remove all unrelated stuff to make the purpose of the room clear, and be sure to have your Realtor bring it up when showing the house to potential buyers.

6. Showcase the entertaining possibilities of your home.

Winter is prime time for festive parties and holiday open houses, so whet prospective buyers' appetites with an enticing display. Set out stacks of plates and fresh flowers on a dining room buffet or display holiday cookies on cake stands in the kitchen.

7. Use structural elements in the garden for winter interest.

In the middle of winter, it can be hard to visualize a blooming garden. Large urns and planters, benches, rock walls and other garden structures will help buyers see the potential even in the snow.

8. Clear all exterior pathways of snow and ice.

Nothing will turn away potential buyers faster than a treacherously icy path. Open-house guests should be able to easily walk all the way around the house and access outbuildings. Provide as much off-street (snow-cleared) parking as you can to make things easy for visitors.

9. Do decorate for the holidays.

Buyers want to be able to envision living in your home, so it pays to make that vision as inviting as possible. Festive twinkling lights, green wreaths or topiary, and a decorated tree near Christmas will strike the right note. That doesn't mean you have to go overboard — in fact, a house overly cluttered with holiday decor can be a real turnoff.

To read the original article,  click here.

The Moving-Day Survival Kit

Houzz.com wrote an excellent article for Realty Times entitled "The Moving-Day Survival Kit: Lifesaving Items & Niceties," on items that will make your move a lot easier. This is a very stressful time for everyone so why not take as much stress out at possible? Check out what you should have on hand:

What to Put in Your Moving-Day Kit:

At least a few rolls of toilet paper. This is the number-one most important thing to include, and you will never convince me otherwise.

Aspirin and all of your medications. This is the second-most important thing to include. I've never been so happy to see a little packet of aspirin as I was when I unearthed it at the bottom of my move-in bucket. It was a lifesaver. If you have antianxiety medication, moving day is a really good day to take some.

Of course, you will want all of your medications, important documents, laptop, jewelry and anything else that's very important or of great value somewhere that you're keeping track of and not with the movers.

OK, you've taken care of t.p. and your aches and pains; how important the rest of these items are is more subjective. I'd love to know what you think is the number-one thing, so be sure to voice your opinion in the Comments section later.

Toilet plunger. If you have only one bathroom, this is very important. The more bathrooms you have, the less crucial a plunger is for move-in day.

Cash. You should tip your movers, unless they call you "baby girl" or "princess" throughout the entire move, and talk on the phone in the cab of the loudly running semi truck all day while charging by the hour. Actually, I think I wound up tipping that guy too, because he knew where I lived.

Leatherman knife. While having the whole toolbox handy would be great, there are only so many things you can fit into the move-in-day survival kit, and a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife will fit in a pocket.

It's great for opening boxes, putting little pieces of furniture together and, most important, opening that bottle of wine you're saving for when the movers leave. If you don't think you'll be organized enough to have a Leatherman handy, make sure you have a box cutter and a box of wine.

Trash bags. You're going to want the big, sturdy yard trash bags as well as the clear recycling bags.

For those of you who still manage to be on the ball during moving chaos, look up what is recyclable locally before your trip so you can be sure to recycle all of your packing materials, or coordinate with someone else who is about to move to come pick up your boxes, Bubble Wrap, and tissue paper when you're done.

Power strip and mobile phone charger. The power strip will come in handy because you'll probably clear one little area to keep chaos at bay and wind up plugging in a lot of various things, like lamps, a laptop, your iPod dock and more.

Toothpaste and a toothbrush. Actually, expand this. You should pack a weekend overnight bag and Dopp kit for yourself, including soap, shampoo, deodorant, a razor and anything else you'd need for two to three days away.

All-purpose cleaner, Clorox wipes and a roll of paper towels. Hopefully, move-in day will not be a big cleaning day. Good sellers will have your home thoroughly scoured for you before then, but you'll want to be prepared if they are bad sellers. (Don't let it come to this, though; if you're moving from out of town, have your Realtor scope it out and help you find some cleaning help before the moving truck ever pulls up.)

No matter what, you'll want to give the toilet a cleaning, and some of your furniture may be dusty and have a cobweb or two as it comes off the truck. An all-purpose cleaner and paper towels should be enough to tide you over.

Bottled water and granola bars. You're not going to remember to eat until you are very hungry. Have some immediate snacks around for sustenance until you can get a meal together, and by "together," I mean "delivered."

Ideally, you would have paper plates and plastic utensils at the ready, but you can make do with what comes with the food, your Leatherman knife and that roll of paper towels I already told you to bring.

Local restaurant menus and phone numbers. Do some Yelping around and figure out what restaurants deliver or find a good local delivery service because you are going to feel filthy and exhausted by the time you get around to foraging for food.

Bandages. While a complete first aid kit is great for overachievers, soap, water, paper towels and a box of bandages should take care of any move-in mishaps. If not, you should probably head to Urgent Care anyway. Also remember that a handful of cars come with first aid kits weirdly hidden in the backseat armrest. I just remembered for the first time in eight years that mine has one.

Notepad and pen. Moving day is a time when many to-do lists are made, new numbers are learned and names of neighbors who have stopped by and introduced themselves are furiously scribbled down before they fly out of your head. I realize that many tech-savvy folks and young whippersnappers do all of this on their phones, but I believe in the usefulness of pen and paper.

Something to freshen the air. Whether you prefer a Glade plug-in, a bottle of Febreze or a fancy candle, even the cleanest house in the world will smell a little musty when it's been closed up for awhile. Get your own favorite scent wafting through the air.

Flashlight. This will come in handy at night as well as for checking out your new crawl space or any other dark corners. Speaking of light, be sure to pack a few extra batteries, a few lightbulbs and a nightlight that will help guide you to the bathroom in this foreign place.

Unpack certain boxes first. Hopefully, you've labeled everything well and the movers are putting the appropriate boxes in the appropriate rooms. While they are, watch like a hawk for linens and bathroom stuff. As soon as a bed is assembled and you've found the sheets, make up a bed. By the time you get to fall into it, you'll be way too tired to put the sheets on.

Also, unpacking the kitchen is a huge accomplishment that will make life from here seem much more normal. As soon as you have your own toaster oven, coffeemaker, blender and other appliances ready, you'll feel like you can do your first big grocery shop and start preparing meals that don't arrive in Styrofoam containers.

Be nice to your own buyers. Conversely, if you are moving out of a place, try to make the moving process pleasant for the new owners, unless they were jerks at the closing — well, even then, take the high road. Make the place spotless, leave a welcome note, organize instruction manuals for any appliances they are inheriting from you, leave the names of service providers you recommend and the numbers of a few good food delivery spots (or if they were jerks at the closing, just leave them the number of the so-so spots). These moves will keep your moving karma clean so that all will go well on your end.

To read the original article click here.

Super Easy DIY Tips for Saving on Winter Heating

Vermont winters are a force to be reckoned with. With mornings in the negative double digits, your home heating bill can shoot through the roof. This article, by Jaymi Naciri, points out some steps you can take to combat raising your heating costs. 

Have you taken steps to winterize your home this year? It's not too late to take a look at all the nooks and crannies (Seriously, you should start with the nooks and crannies since they're probably letting all that cold air in and the hot air out!) and make some easy, DIY changes.

Time Money reports that 45% of the average household's energy bill goes to heating. "According to the Department of Energy, heating is the largest expense in the average American home," they said. Have natural gas heating? The average cost of heating your home from October through March is $649. That number goes to $938 for those with electric heating, they said. A little time and effort can make a big difference in how efficiently your home runs - and how high (or not) your winter bills soar.

Change out your filters

You should be doing this on a regular basis, anyway, but, if it's been awhile, it's time to hit Home Depot. New filters help your HVAC system to run more efficiently, which can mean lower heating bills and a heater that lasts longer.

Close up leaks around doors and windows

"A one-eighth-inch" gap under a 36-inch-wide door... will let in as much cold air as a 2.4-inch-diameter hole punched in the wall," said Time: Money. That's a lot of air coming in and a lot of money going out.

Draft guards under doors can plug those holes for a minimal cost ($10–15). For doors and windows, weather stripping tape is cheap, easy, and effective at sealing holes. Still drafty? "Any remaining gaps in siding, windows, or doors can be filled with caulk," said Bob Vila. "For extra drafty windows and doors, caulk the inside too, pulling off moldings to fill all gaps in the insulation. Cost: $20 for a basic caulk gun and $5 to $10 for a tube of caulk."

Cover your windows

Taking care of the leaks around the windows is only half the battle. Heat loss through the windows themselves can also be costly. Insulated drapes can help, and so can insulation film applied directly to the windows. "It may not be the most fashionable tip, but window insulation film can keep up to 70% of your heat from leaking out of windows," said Bob Vila. "Cost: $20 to $35 per kit."

Switch your fans

Most fans come with a reverse switch, but many people don't know what it's for. Turns out, your fan can actually help you feel cozy in the winter and give your heater a bit of a break. "Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades," said Popular Mechanics. "Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes, while switching to clockwise makes it warmer. Air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space—cutting your heating costs as much as 10 percent!"

Banish the exhaust fans

Do you usually flip on the exhaust when you're cooking dinner, taking a shower, or running your laundry? Eliminating this one action could save you money.

"An exhaust fan blows the warm air in your house outside, dropping the temperature of your home as that air is replaced with cooler air," said The Simple Dollar. "Even worse, exhaust fans are usually blowing out moist air, which does a better job of holding the temperature. Instead of flipping on the exhaust fan when you take a shower, just leave the bathroom door open. This allows the warm air to naturally flow into the rest of the house, bringing the warmth of your shower along with it."

Lower the temps

It's no secret that the higher your thermostat is in the winter, the higher your heating costs. But did you know just how much you can save by going lower? "Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees," said the Consumer Energy Center. "For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or off at night or when leaving home for an extended time, saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs."

That goes for hot water heaters, too. "Set your water heater to the "normal" setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit, unless the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting," they said. "Savings are 7-11 percent of water heating costs."

To read the original article click here.