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Clutter versus Keepers: How to get (and stay) organized

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: February 8, 2017

When you move into a new home, you usually start by getting organized. When you were packing up your belongings, you probably purged a lot of items, just to lighten your load.

Before long, you see signs that the clutter bug is back. Mail, magazines, and an assortment of papers are scattered on tables, counters, and other surfaces. Your once-tidy closets are in disarray. The kitchen cabinets are so crammed, it’s hard to find the one thing you need, when you need it.

It’s time to channel that new home mindset, the one where you put everything in a logical place and don’t cling to the unnecessary.

Here are some tips to get and stay organized by separated the clutter from the keepers.

Do you need it? Are you keeping things “just in case”? A half-empty bottle of lotion, cleaner, or other item that has been sitting on a shelf somewhere for ages is taking up space. If “just in case” hasn’t used up the remainder by now, throw it out.

Also, remember that “want” and “need” are two distinctly different categories. You need to have a first aid kit on hand. You want to have an overstuffed supply of extras. Distinguish between want and need so that you avoid keeping things where the clutter quotient outweighs its value.

Does it function properly? Do you have something you’ve been holding on to, until you can get around to repairing it? This could be a pair of pants, a small appliance, a piece of furniture, or maybe chipped pottery. If you haven’t fixed it by now, you’ve been living quite nicely without it. Diagnosis: Clutter.

How sentimental is it? Quite likely, a large percentage of possessions you’re clinging to have sentimental value. Ask yourself how much sentiment you need. Your child’s first tooth is a keeper. All the ones that followed are not. Your college diploma is a keeper. Your participation certificate from the intramural soccer club is not. You don’t have to be ruthless (well, maybe a little). Just be realistic. Something with true sentimental value is worth having close at hand—displayed on a shelf, hanging on the wall, or among your valuables. If it’s not worth looking at on a regular basis, the sentimental value has depreciated considerably.

Once you’ve gone through the task of purging, organize what remains by storing it in a logical location, in proper containers (not cardboard), and with clear labels, so it’s easy to find when needed.

Before you toss out some of your things, determine if it can be donated to local charities, churches, schools, libraries, senior centers, or other groups.

As a rule of thumb, schedule a purge annually. Make it a part of your spring cleaning routine so you keep the clutter bug out of your home.

10 ways to improve your indoor air quality

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: January 26, 2017

You spend a lot more time inside your home during the cold weather. Did you know you could be breathing in more pollutants inside your home than outside?

Dust mites, pet dander, second-hand smoke, and mold are the obvious culprits, but the problem goes deeper. Household cleaners, air fresheners, carpets, furniture, and even the paint on your walls could be releasing harmful toxins. Other allergens and irritants are being tracked into your home. With the improvements in insulation being installed in today’s homes, you’re living (and breathing) in an airtight environment that is comfortable but could be harmful.

Protect your household by making healthier choices. Here are 10 ways to improve your indoor air quality.

  1. Use a good vacuum with a HEPA filter. Don’t skimp on your choice of vacuum. A lesser quality vacuum will suction up the dust, mites, allergens, and pollutants, but then sends them back into the air via the exhaust. Choose a vacuum that features a HEPA filter, rotating brushes, and strong suction. Be sure to clean the filter regularly, for best results.
  2. Mop after vacuuming. It’s not enough to vacuum. Go over the laminate, wood, and tile floors with a wet mop (no cleaners) after you’ve finished vacuuming, to ensure you’ve removed as much unwanted debris as possible.
  3. Protect your entryways. Prevent dirt, pet dander, chemicals, pesticides, and other traveling pollutants from walking into your house. Place a durable mat at each doorway. Ask people to remove their shoes when entering your home.
  4. Manage the humidity. Moisture is a breeding ground for mold and mites. Keep your humidity to no more than 50% by using a dehumidifier in the months when your home is closed tight, and empty the drip pans as needed.

You can also reduce the humidity by using an exhaust fan in the bathroom and kitchen (particularly when the dishwasher is running). Be careful not to overwater your house plants. Repair leaky pipes and faucets, and vent your clothes dryer to the outside of your home.

  1. Use natural cleaners. Many store-bought cleaners contain harmful chemicals that you’re spraying into the air and wiping onto your home’s surfaces. You don’t need those chemistry experiments to keep your home clean. Some of the best cleaning products are in your pantry: lemon slices, baking soda, white vinegar, tea tree oil, olive oil, salt, and castile soap.
  2. Avoid artificial fragrances. Plug-in air fresheners have been proven to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are considered toxic. Laundry detergents, air fresheners, dryer sheets, and other consumer products that boast a “fresh scent” are the result of harsh chemicals, such as phthalates. Avoid any products with artificial fragrances. For indoor air that is healthy and smells fresh, use an air diffuser with essential oils.
  3. Read labels. Some of the woods and wood products used in furniture are treated with chemicals, like formaldehyde, and assembled with toxic glues. Look for furniture, electronics, building products (e.g., cabinetry, countertops, lighting, flooring), mattresses, wallcoverings, and windows treatments that carry the GREENGUARD Certification,
  4. Look for low- or no-VOCs. If you’ve ever walked into a room with fresh paint, you know the odor. You might have even experienced a headache from the VOCs in the paint. Choose only low-VOC or Zero VOC paint.
  5. Add plants. Some house plants remove toxins from the air and emit healthy oxygen in return. These detoxifying plants include the areca palm, bamboo palm, gerbera daisy, spider plant, variegated wax plant, and Boston fern. They remove chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene from your air, AND they’re safe for pets (cats and dogs).
  6. Open the windows. There’s nothing like airing out your home. Yes, it’s cold outside, but let in some fresh air occasionally—and let the bad air get out.

Hot Spot Home Buying Map

Categories: American Classic News, Seattle, Washington | Posted: January 16, 2017

Here at American Classic Homes we know that making a move can be a big decision. Some of the biggest details to consider are things like the average cost of either purchasing or renting a home (depending on which is a better option of you), the ability to commute, and the cost of living. Using data from Trulia and Expatistan, we took a look at some of the biggest US cities with major appeal that are considered ‘Hot Spots’ to live in and then we created this map portraying where those cities rank within these major decision factors. We hope this tool helps you decide what the next place you should call “home” is!

Post-holiday home touch-ups

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: January 5, 2017

The party’s over. Friends and family members have gone home. You’re taking down the holiday decorations, with far less enthusiasm than when you festooned your home with the sparkle, glitter, ribbons, bows, and scents that put you in the holiday spirit.

Now you’re seeing the fresh scars on the wood furniture, stains on the rugs and upholstery, nicks on the walls, and who put thumbtacks in the mantle?

Don’t assume the “bah, humbug” mode. These nagging little issues are simply an opportunity to start the new year fresh with some post-holiday home touch-ups.

  • Steam-clean your carpets, rugs, and upholstery. You’ve got a lot of indoor living to do in the months ahead. The fresh smell and revived look will perk up your spirits.
  • If you don’t want to patch and repaint the nail holes and nicks in your walls, apply wall decals. You can find anything from an inspiring quote to a panoramic image.
  • A minor furniture scratch can often be rubbed out with a 50-50 mixture of lemon juice and vegetable oil. Click here for other furniture repair tips.
  • Don’t wait for spring cleaning. While you’re moving your furniture back from its holiday location, dust and vacuum those spots that are usually hidden.
  • You probably spent a lot of time in your kitchen over the holidays. Did you experience frustration with clutter or disorganization? Now is a great time to reorganize this vital space. Clean out your cabinets and determine a more convenient way to store those small appliances that you suddenly discovered have more value than you realized (e.g., the immersion blender you never took out of the box). Discard old herbs and spices, replace them, and create a better system for keeping stock so you don’t run out of ginger just when you’re ready to make gingerbread cookies with the kids.
  • Before you stash all your holiday decorations back where they live for 11 months of the year, do a quick inventory. Are there any you don’t want to keep? If so, purge now and lighten your load.

It’s a new year. Start with a clean slate, a clean house, and a fresh perspective!

Coffee Shop Favorites That Will Keep You Coming Back For More

Categories: American Classic News, Community Spotlight, Renton, Sammamish Plateau, Seattle | Posted: December 28, 2016

Renton, Washington

It’s hard to compete with the coffee capital of Seattle, but Renton, Washington has been stepping up its game to provide coffee favorites for its 97,000 residents. Whether you are a local or just visiting, a city-guide for coffee is always necessary. Ranked based on coffee quality, accessibility, and creativity, below are the top three choices for your daily java fix.

liberty cafe renton

#1 Liberty Cafe: From the outside, this small cafe in Old Downtown Renton doesn’t look like much. Papyrus font gold lettering, a liberty bell decal, and a couple of metal chairs. But step inside and the taste of a creamy chai latte on a gray Seattle morning will quickly transport you to your happy place. Liberty Cafe, on Main and South Third Street, is known for it’s open mic nights, fast wi-fi, and fun drink creations. In addition to the vocal artists that come through the door, Liberty also invites the expressions of photographers and other visual artists to display their creations. The artists don’t only come through the door as guests, they work behind the counter too. With holiday drinks like an eggnog chai tea latte, there’s no question that the creative juices are always flowing.

 

#2 Black Bear Coffee Company: Let’s face it. Most days we are in a rush. We press snooze one (or two or three) times more than we should, just to avoid stepping out of our warm beds and onto the never-ending to-do lists we’ve created. Coffee is a necessity, but once we move from the warm bed into a (finally) warm car, we aren’t always ready to get out. Thankfully, there’s a delicious coffee drive thru that won’t disappoint. Black Bear Coffee Company offers just what you need to get your morning fix. The well-known experience of a Cafe D’Arte espresso, flavored with Torani syrup, and a milk of your choice is what you can expect to find. For the mornings where you just need coffee to be predictable, Black Bear will deliver every time. Feeling a little adventurous? Try their Grizzly Mocha that includes a “top secret” ingredient that will keep you guessing. Espresso not your thing? Try one of their many Red Bull drinks, guaranteed to wake you right up and spice up the flavor of an ordinary can.

 

renton vinces coffee#3 Vince’s Coffee: For the students out there, Vince’s Coffee is a welcoming place for getting cozy and studying the day away. No need to read in a stiff metal chair, at Vince’s you are invited to stretch out your legs in their comfy leather arm chairs or plush couches. You’ll feel like you are in your own living room with a walk up coffee counter. Where many coffee shops lack in the food department, here you’ll find breakfast and lunch panini’s that will help soak up some of the caffeine to keep away those afternoon jitters. Is your day off to a rough start? The friendly staff will help turn that around by not only providing you with your morning fix, but with customer
service that is on point. Another advantage? It’s not overly crowded. You’ll most likely always find a spot to curl up with your book and cup of joe, without being too disturbed. Bring a set of headphones to play your favorite tunes while drinking a delicious cup of coffee, and rest in the comfort of a place that can quickly become your second home.

So whether you are looking for the creativity of Liberty Cafe, the convenience of Black Bear
Coffee Company, or the comfort of Vince’s Coffee, these shops are sure to quench those coffee
cravings and keep you coming back for more.

 

Sammamish, Washington

The beautiful city of Sammamish is tucked between the trees to the East and Lake Sammamish. It’s proximity to Issaquah and Downtown Seattle makes it an incredible place to call home. Here are the top three places to enjoy the bold flavors of rich espresso and sweet vibrant syrups used to enhance the coffee in this charming town.

Sammamish Cafe

Pull right up to Sammamish Cafe and enjoy a gritty American feast with the locals. This cute diner was modeled after a 1940’s fishing lodge and has a bar counter tables and booths inviting you to sit and stay awhile. There are seven cafes throughout Washington that are linked to this one, including Saw Mill Cafe and Issaquah Cafe all serving hearty American meals. Each location carries a special blend of Village Cafe Coffee roasted on Camano Island. If you show up on a Sunday morning expect to wait a while but don’t be disappointed–they will offer you free coffee Bringing your kiddos along. They will fall in love. The cafe offers an M&M hot cocoa that is insanely delicious. Whether you are meeting a friend for coffee and a slice of pie in the evening or bringing your family in for brunch on the weekend this local spot can’t be beat.

Mercury Coffee Co

Enjoy an Eastside favorite when you walk into to get your latte at Mercury Coffee Co. Their standard brewed coffee is a combination of bold rich chocolaty flavors with a fruity finish. Nothing is more satisfying for the days when you’ve decided it’s time to “treat yourself” try ordering a Hawaiian Silk Latte. This special treat contains white chocolate, macadamia nut, coconut, espresso, and milk that feels like velvet. If you’re feeling a little spicy, they also offer a Mexican Mocha with spiced chocolate and espresso. Mercury Coffee Co first opened in 1998 in Woodinville and has been expanding over the last several years. They’ve won awards for their coffee since 2012 naming them “best” on several occasions. Their Sammamish store is scheduled to open in late 2016 early 2017 and you won’t want to miss it. Until then their nearby Redmond store is ready for you to dive in and start becoming familiar with their drinks that will soon become your favorite.

Starbucks

Only 20 miles from the flagship store, there is no doubt that Starbucks holds its own in any neighboring Seattle town. There are two Starbucks locations in Sammamish one drive-thru and one walk-in storefront. If you’re looking for a space to spread out and work the drive-thru location a tad bit closer to Eastlake High School might be your best bet. If you are a teacher or a parent of students at Eastlake High¨ the convenience of having two Starbucks locations so close is unmatched. Whether you are

craving one of their signature holiday drinks such as the Fall-favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte or a grab-and-go warm bacon gouda sandwich it is hard to compete with the predictability of stepping into a Starbucks. If you find yourself in Sammamish it is highly likely that you enjoy spending time outdoors. Take any coffee to go and enjoy it on a beautifully-paved Lake Sammamish trail or with a pastry as you sit alongside the lake. Invite your friends and family to join you for breakfast at the Sammamish Cafe become a regular at the new Sammamish branch of Mercury Cafe or celebrate the holidays with a Starbucks classic drink as you curl up next to the fireplace.

No matter how you enjoy your coffee, enjoy it in Washington.

Drive Me Yummy: Food Trucks of Seattle

Categories: Seattle, Washington | Posted: December 27, 2016

Ever since food trucks became a craze in 2008, mobile food options have continued to make a presence all over the country. They are the perfect lunch option for business men and women on the go, offering delicious options without the wait of a restaurant. For the college and young adult crowd, they provide the adventure and excitement of unique food in unique environments. Whether you are looking for something sweet, savory, simple, or complex, Seattle’s food truck scene has it all.

 

Best Food Trucks by Category

Dessert

Who says you can’t have dessert first? The Seattle Cookie Counter hand-makes 100% vegan ice cream sandwiches out of a VW Bus. Can you get any cooler than that? (Pun intended). This food truck pops up in rotating locations and was just saved by the community because it is so well loved. Support this local business when they reopen in January and experience the creamy goodness of a milk and cookies happy hour yourself!

 

Mealtime

If you’ve had the opportunity to try any of Marination’s restaurant locations, you won’t be surprised that this made the list. A Hawaiian-Korean fusion might be a new combination for you, but try telling me a Kalbi beef taco with Asian slaw doesn’t sound amazing. Another favorite?

Kimchi fried rice. The flavors are unmatchable and the prices reasonable. The only problem? Once you try it, the cravings won’t stop. Find their truck, Big Blue, hitting the streets again in 2017. Find them on twitter: https://twitter.com/curb_cuisine.

 

Best Food Trucks by Location

Eastside

If you live and work on the Eastside and are looking for somewhere new to check out, try The Peach and The Pig. This gourmet food truck is often parked in Bothell, Shoreline, and Redmond and offers an amazing pulled pork sandwich, apple bacon brussel sprouts, and fried green tomatoes. Find out where they are: https://twitter.com/peachandthepig.

 

South Lake Union

Meet the staff that everyone raves about at Tacos El Tajin. This South Lake Union food truck is known for their smiling faces, extra avocados, tender meats, and unbeatable prices. It can be hard to find a great Mexican food option in the Pacific Northwest, but quench those cravings at this local hotspot on your next lunch break. Check out their menu here: http://eltajintacos.com/.

 

Dealer’s Choice

Nosh: Fish and chips, fried rabbit, bone marrow, these are just some of the amazing things you can find on the Nosh truck. They bounce around from Westlake to Fremont to Downtown

Prevent a Christmas tree fire.

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: December 22, 2016

Every year, about 210 home fires start with a Christmas tree, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. One-third of these fires results from an electrical problem, says the U.S. Fire Administration. That twinkling symbol of holiday joy could end up causing you tremendous loss, unless you follow steps to prevent a Christmas tree fire.

  • Choose a fresh tree that isn’t on the verge of drying out. Rub your hand along a branch. If the tree is fresh, the needles will stay where they are. If not, you’ll end up with a handful, indicating that tree is not going to last through the holidays.
  • Set up the tree at least three feet from any heat source that could spark a fire, such as a radiator, fireplace, vent, wall sconce, lamp, or candles.
  • Cut off about two inches from the bottom of the tree’s stump so that it will better absorb the water it needs to remain fresh.
  • Fill the tree stand with water every day. During the first few days, the tree will soak up a lot of water.
  • Use only UL-certified strings of lights (and extension cords, if needed). Make sure the cords are not frayed, cracked, or damaged. Check for loose connections or broken light sockets.
  • Avoid overloading your extension cord. Limit your use to three strings of lights per extension cord.
  • Don’t leave on the tree’s lights when you’re away from home or going to bed. Either turn them off or unplug them altogether.
  • After the holidays, remove all electrical lights before taking the tree outside. Don’t store a dry tree in your garage or basement. Place it outside, away from the house until you can recycle or otherwise safely dispose of it.

If you choose an artificial Christmas tree, choose one that is specifically identified as “flame retardant”. Check the lights to be sure they are UL-listed and the cords aren’t twisted.

Everyone in your home will enjoy the holidays even more when you put safety first.

Seattle Fun For Everyone: A Family Guide to Seattle

Categories: American Classic News, Seattle | Posted: December 15, 2016

If you are looking for the perfect vacation spot that is fun for the whole family, Seattle is hard to beat. The city is always alive with events, outdoor and indoor activities, restaurants and coffee shops, and the never-ending people watching. No matter what time of year, you will never run out of options. See our top picks for places to take your kids!

 

The Seattle Children’s Museum at The Seattle Center

It’s not surprising to see why this made the list, it’s right in the title! The Seattle Children’s Museum was created with your kids in mind, bringing education and encouraging wonder for the future leaders of our world. Located in Seattle’s central hub, The Seattle Center, The Children’s Museum is a great place to spark imagination in kids of all ages. Throughout the Museum there are chances for the whole family to interact with what they are seeing, including adding a piece of their own art to the monthly community piece in the Imagination Studio. Check out their website for their seasonal calendar events and rotating exhibits: www.thechildrensmuseum.org.

 

Stadium Tour at Safeco and CenturyLink

Let your kids be your excuse to explore the behind-the-scenes of your favorite venues. Both Safeco and CenturyLink Stadiums offer stadium tours that give you the opportunity to see the fields as the players do. The tour not only offers incredible views of the surrounding cascades and city skylines, but an education and history of Seattle’s famous teams. Are your kids enrolled in a sports team of their own? A stadium tour might be the best way to open their eyes to their potential and encourage the dreamer inside. They also offer group tours for teams and birthdays! Whether you are a Sounders, Mariners, or Seahawks fan, this is the place to be.

Find more on pricing and packages here: http://www.centurylinkfield.com/tour-centurylink-field/ and http://m.mlb.com/mariners/tickets/info/tours-details.

 

Local Cultural Festivals

Every month Seattle hosts a plethora of festivals, from International Film to the Seafair Navy Fleet Arrival to the Olympic Music Festival. They also host a number of festivals celebrating cultures and nationalities from around the world. What better way to help your children experience a new people group than bringing them to a Hmong New Year’s Celebration?

Booths filled with food, music, and handmade goods, the festivals of Seattle are definitely unique. Check out the calendar to see where you might want to take your family: http://www.visitseattle.org/things-to-do/events/festivals/.

 

Seattle Children’s Theater

Are you ready to introduce your kids to the world of theater? Allow your kids to experience the magic of a professional theater production that was designed with them in mind. The Seattle Children’s Theater offers productions that inspire wonder, breathe beauty, and have quality acting that the whole family can appreciate. They offer classes for young thespians, school tours for field trips, and even active audience guides to keep your children engaged throughout the production. This isn’t your ordinary theater. For current shows, visit: http://www.sct.org/.

 

Tidepooling at Local Watering Holes

Looking for something free? Put on your rain boots or water shoes and start exploring! The Washington Trails Association shares about various places around the Puget Sound to take your kids on a sea adventure. Find a tidepool guide online, or let your bodies do the learning. Teach your kids how to see how different species are clumped together, get a feel for the different textures, and soak in the smells of the ocean. For a list of some of their favorites, go here: http://www.wta.org/hiking-info/children/how-to/tidepooling-with-kids.

 

Education, imagination, exploration, and wonder. Now the only question is which one to go to first

American Classic Homes Opens New Model Home at The Enclave Community in Renton, WA

Categories: American Classic News, Community Spotlight, New Homes, Renton Homes | Posted: December 15, 2016

American Classic Homes is thrilled to present our beautiful New Model Home at The Enclave in Renton, WA. We invite you to discover what community is all about at our Model Home Preview This Weekend!

When: Saturday, December 17th & Sunday, December 18th
Time: 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Where: 6513 SE 7th Place Renton, WA 98059

We look forward to seeing you at our brand new fully furnished model home at The Enclave this weekend! If you have any questions or would like to schedule your very own private tour, please give us a call at (206) 557-6353 or email Summer@AmericanClassicHomes.com.

 

About the neighborhood: The Enclave is American Classic Homes’ largest new home community in Renton. The Enclave features 31 spacious homes that will range from 3,462-5,210 square feet, 4-7 bedrooms, and up to 4.5 baths. Some home plans will include main-level guest suites, bonus rooms, master suites on the main floor, and daylight basements. This desirable location offers convenient access to I-405 and WA-169.

 

Schools: The Enclave will be served by the highly rated Renton School District including:

  • Maplewood Heights Elementary School
  • Mcknight Middle School and
  • Hazen Senior High School

 

Driving Directions:
• Take I-405 S Exit 4 to Sunset Blvd N
• Take a left onto WA-169 S
• Turn left onto 154th Place SE
• Turn right onto SE 6th Street
• The Model Home will be on the right at 6513 SE 7th Place Renton, WA 98059 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a sneak peak of the brand new model home at The Enclave beginning to be staged!

The price of procrastination: Mortgage rates are rising

Categories: New Homes | Posted: December 8, 2016

Homebuyers have been reaping rewards of a struggling economy since the recession. Housing prices and interest rates dropped to historic lows in 2009, and have not fully recovered in the years that followed.

Like all good things—if you’re a homebuyer, that is—the bargain is coming to an end.

At this writing, the rate for a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage is 4.01%. Three months ago, it was 3.579%. On the plus side, the current rate matches where we were in January 2016. We had a dip this year, but it’s not expected to happen again.

When you compare these numbers with the significantly higher rates in the early 2000s (approximately 6.3%), does this small change make enough difference to push the procrastinators off the fence?

Let’s look at the price of procrastination as mortgage rates are rising.

Purchase price: $295,000

30-year FRM

At 3.6%           $1,341 per month

At 4.6%           $1,512 per month

Over the life of the loan, paying one percent more for your mortgage will cost you an additional $61,560.

Housing prices are rising. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index posted a 6% increase in the past twelve months.

Based on the above scenario, you’ll spend $171 every month because you decided to wait. Are you getting more value? No. In fact, while you’re waiting, the price of your new home is increasing, along with the mortgage rate. That home you could have bought for $295,000 is probably going to cost you about $312,000 in six months or so.

If you don’t mind spending more money for a home, you can continue to wait, but be prepared to tack on the price of procrastination to your budget.

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