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How to Keep Your Carpets Looking Like New When Life Happens.

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: July 30, 2019

Sure, your brand-new carpets look fantastic when you move into your new home! But, how do you keep them that way when you really live in your new home. Even if your carpet looks clean from across the room, think about everything that might eventually be lurking underneath. The mud your kids tracked in from the backyard this weekend. The glass of wine your aunt spilled last Thanksgiving. Not to mention whatever’s on the bottom of your pet’s feet!

If you have kids or pets or a particularly messy significant other (not pointing fingers!), learning how to clean your carpets properly is a must. You can certainly shell out the money to rent a steam cleaner or shampooer every few months, but that gets expensive not to mention unrealistic — you definitely want your carpets to look like new forever, but life happens.

Keep your carpets looking just like the day you move in by following our tips for squeaky-clean floors – no steamer required.

  1. Tackle Stains the Right Way, Right Away

We all know you can’t stop spills from happening – they’re just a fact of life. But there are things you can do to prevent stains from settling deep into the fibers of your carpets. It may seem obvious, but it’s best to tackle a stain right away. Don’t leave it until it’s dry. Take care of those stains right away – and do it the right way.

  1. Blot, don’t rub!

Blot stains with a cleaning solution or water using a clean cloth or sponge. Apply minimal pressure to soak up the stain, but not so much you rub it into the carpet. Professionals will also recommend blotting from the outside in, to prevent spreading the stain around.

  1. Take it to the Club

It’s not just a myth. Club soda really can lift out wine and beer stains, as long as you use it properly. Looking back at tip #1, add club soda to a clean cloth or paper towel and gently blot the stain. Remember to blot slowly and deliberately, taking care not to rub or press too hard.

Alternately, you can spray a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and water on the stain. Let it soak in for 10-15 minutes, then press a clean towel or sponge to the area to soak it up. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone. Be sure to rinse the area with water afterward if you don’t want to smell vinegar for a few hours.

  1. Detergent – not just for dishes

Grease stains are notoriously difficult to remove. But a little trick is to turn to the substance you use to remove grease every day – dishwashing detergent! In a cup, dilute a few drops of dishwashing detergent in a cup of water. Then, put it in a spray bottle or soak a towel in it, then blot using the method from tip #1. Repeat as needed until the stain vanishes!

  1. Blood on the floor? No problem.

Anyone who has gotten a small cut or bloody nose knows the fear of ruining a light-colored carpet. Even darker carpets show blood. Luckily, there’s a pretty easy solution to this.

First, scrape up any dried blood using a mixture of water and soap. Then, apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain and wait. It’ll start foaming – don’t worry, that’s normal. After letting it sit for a moment, dab it up with a clean cloth. Be sure to test the peroxide on an inconspicuous part of your carpet, as it could bleach darker rugs. Stick with our other solutions if you have dark carpet or are worried about this.

  1. The Deep-Clean Baking Soda Method

Here’s a method that lets you deep clean a carpet without needing to rent machinery. You’ll need a vacuum cleaner, baking soda, a clean towel, and a spray bottle. Ready?

First, give your entire carpet a thorough vacuuming. You want to get up all the dirt and dust clinging to your carpet fibers. Then, lightly but completely spray your carpet with warm water. You want it to be damp, but not soaked. Next, sprinkle baking soda across the wet carpet. Be sure to have an exit strategy, so you’re not stuck in a corner for hours!

Open your windows or turn on some fans to speed up the drying process. Once the carpet is fully dry, vacuum up the baking soda.

You can supplement any of these tips with a professional deep-cleaning by renting out equipment or hiring local cleaners. Generally, you should plan to clean your carpets every six months using method #6 or with a carpet steamer. Be sure to tackle stains as they come, and enjoy a squeaky clean floor!

Easy Glossary of Home Building Terms for New Homeowners

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: June 10, 2019

Being able to build a home from the ground up is so exciting. You’ve spent time pouring over your options and selecting the very best – from the color of the home the color of the flooring. Now it’s time to start putting those ideas into action. Here’s where all that excitement can turn to confusion if you’re not sure where you are in the process. You may be hearing terms flying around and have no idea what they are, or what comes next.

Whether you’re in the middle of buying a new home or just preparing for it, we’ve put together a quick glossary to help you understand what’s going on. Here are some terms you’ll undoubtedly come across as a new homeowner when you purchase a brand new pre-sale home.

Scraping

You’re starting to see some progress! Scraping is when your home’s future site is prepped for foundation work. The site’s protective grass layer is scraped away to reveal the dirt below. Once this happens, the crew can start building your future home’s foundation.

Pre-Construction & Selections Meeting

This one may seem self-explanatory, but this is a meeting between you, the American Classic Homes selections manager, and the construction manager to review your home plans. You’ll all make sure all the options you selected are then represented on the plans.

Once you’ve finalized everything, you’re ready to go! You can expect to start seeing your new home slowly but surely take shape after the pre-construction meeting.

Homeowner Orientation

Your new home has walls, floors, a ceiling, and you’re so close to moving in the excitement is palpable. All that’s left is your homeowner orientation. We’ll send you out to meet with the Customer Service manager to look over the almost finished house to walk the home and to learn the ins and outs of it.

Here, you’ll make sure the new home has been built following the plans, matches all of your chosen options, and that nothing is missing.

You will also go over your plumbing and additional home details and we’ll make sure you understand how to change filters, check for problems, and know where your emergency shutoffs are.

Now onto the next step…moving in! You’re finally ready to move into the house you’ve watched being built from the ground up. Or at least, you know what to expect when you finalize building plans and get to the pre-start process. Keep this glossary handy as you move through the building process, and you’ll be ready every step of the way.

Simple Monthly and Yearly Maintenance Schedule for New Homeowners

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: May 28, 2019

If you’ve just moved into a new home, it’s hard to imagine anything but that shiny, perfect interior and exterior. However, as a homeowner, you’re going to be putting a lot of time and energy into maintaining that home. When you start considering everything that needs to be updated, cleaned, and repaired over time, it can get a little overwhelming.

But you can prepare for regular maintenance by keeping this schedule in the back of your mind (or right in your Google calendar). That way, you can tackle these tasks head on and keep your home safe and secure for many years to come.

Monthly Tasks

Check and Change HVAC System Filters

Checking your filters each month is an easy way to avoid super expensive repairs later on. Plan to go around the house checking these filters at the same time each month; you can even build it into your regular monthly chores. Be sure to clean or replace filters when they get dirty.

Inspect Your Fire Extinguisher

Don’t wait for a full-blown grease fire to realize your fire extinguisher is outdated or worse, missing. Every monthly, take a look at your fire extinguisher(s) to make sure it’s easily accessible, has the right amount of pressure, and isn’t expired.

Clean Your Kitchen Range Hood

Range hood filters get grimy fast. You definitely don’t want to pull yours out a few months from now and find a thick layer of grease covering it. Use a degreaser to clean it, then rinse and dry before replacing thoroughly.

Check Water Softener

You won’t need to add salt to your water softener each month, but it’s a good idea to take a look and make sure.

Yearly Tasks

Replace Batteries in Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

There’s nothing more important than your family’s safety. Regularly check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re in working order. Once a year, replace all the batteries in those detectors. Don’t forget — plan to do this every year on the same day, like an anniversary, daylight savings, or a holiday.

Service Your HVAC System

Once a year, it’s a good idea to get your HVAC systems serviced by a professional. Clean systems are more energy-efficient, and you can stay ahead of potential issues by regularly serving these systems.

Vacuum Refrigerator Coils

You heard that right. As the fridge coils get dusty and dirty, they can suck up a ton of extra power. Keep your refrigerator running efficiently by vacuuming out all that grime.

Service and Prepare Air Conditioner (in the Spring)

Depending on whether your home uses window units or has central air, you’ll want to prepare your air conditioner before the hot weather rolls in. If you have a central air system, consider calling in a professional to service it and get it ready for summer.

Turn Off Outdoor Faucets, Unhook Hoses (in the Fall)

Prepare for colder weather by turning off your outdoor faucets and flushing them, and doing the same to your hoses. Unhook them and store them until the Spring.

There are other tasks you’ll want to do on a semi-regular basis to keep your home exterior maintained, like cleaning out your gutters in the Spring or cleaning out window wells in the summer. But the list above of monthly and yearly tasks are the most important ones to keep in mind to make sure you’re keeping your home up to date. With regular checks and repairs, you’ll be able to live in a safe and secure home for years to come.

Sharing the Excitement of Your New Home’s Construction on Social Media

Categories: Home Owner Tips, Lifestyle, Seattle, Washington | Posted: May 15, 2019

Social media is a big part of all our lives. Most of us use Facebook to stay connected to friends and family in different cities (or even countries!). And Instagram has let us take part in other peoples’ lives, whether it’s a new addition to their family, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or just day-to-day living.

These platforms are outlets for us to share big, exciting news with the people we love and care about. What could be bigger or more exciting than building a new home? Not only can you use these platforms to share the news – you’re building a home! – but you can take people along for the ride. Here are a few ways you can document and share your new home journey through social media.

Keep Your Friends & Family Updated

Use social media to document the home building process and give your friends and family updates on the process. Let them celebrate each milestone with you, even if they are hundreds of miles away. Regularly post updates and share photos of your new home as it’s being constructed.

They’re sure to offer words of encouragement and love, sharing in your excitement and joy each step along the way.

Reach Out to Your Followers for Style Input

As you know, there are a million decisions that go into building a new home. Like paint colors, flooring, kitchen cabinets and countertops, and so much more. While there are a lot of places to find inspiration, why not turn to your friends or family for ideas?

You could post photos of different rooms and ask for decorating advice or input. If you have particularly stylish friends or family, maybe reach out to them directly by tagging them in the photo. It’s a fun way to get people involved in the process and let people see the progress you’re making.

Create Photo Memories of Your Building Journey

Social platforms like Facebook make it super easy to create digital photo albums. By posting images of your new home in an album, you can both share it with your followers and keep a record of it for yourself. Years down the road, when you’re happily living in your new home, you will appreciate being able to look back at the process.

You’re going to be so busy in the next few months; you’ll hardly have time to really appreciate how amazing it is to build a home! Luckily, you can revisit these digital albums again and again to relive the journey.

Social media platforms are great for sharing updates and photos during your home building journey. Share learning moments and excitement with friends and family. Even better, each time you post you’re building digital photo albums you can revisit years from now.

Take Advantage of Low Interest Rates to Get More Home for Less

Categories: Home Owner Tips, Uncategorized | Posted: April 18, 2019

You’ve probably heard that now’s the time for buyers to get into the market. The main reason for this is interest rates – that is, historically low interest rates.

If you’re considering buying a home in the next year, you may want to bump up that timeline. Right now, interest rates are low enough that you could afford more home than ever before. We’re talking about how interest rates affect your buying power and why you can afford to buy more home for less by taking advantage of today’s rates.

How Interest Rates Affect Buyer’s Purchasing Power

It’s important to understand how interest rates affect how much home you can afford. After all, the interest rate you can secure will impact not just monthly house payments, but also your overall purchasing power.

What is your purchasing power? It refers to how far your dollar goes. Purchasing power is the amount of house you can afford based on your available budget. There are all sorts of factors that go into this, like your down payment amount, debt, and credit score.

But interest rates play a huge role in what kind of home you can buy. Take a look at the chart below, which shows how different rates affect monthly payments for two different houses.

 The chart above doesn’t factor in any down payment amount on the home and focuses on Principal and Interest (P&I) monthly payments. If you’re interested to see how your monthly payment may change with these interest rates, you can calculate that here.

Paying Less for More Home

You can see how the buyer’s purchasing power changes based on what interest rate they can secure. We’re specifically looking at homes in the $400,000 and the $450,000 range.

A buyer who secures a rate of 3.75% for their new home could have the same monthly payment ($2,087) on a $450,000 home as someone with a rate of 4.75% would spend on a $400,000 home. The lower the interest rate you can get, the more home you can afford.

Today’s buyers can afford more home for the same monthly payments. You can extend these numbers to larger, more expensive homes depending on your budget.

Comparing Today’s Rates to The Past

Today’s interest rates are historically low. Even just a few years ago, rates were double if not triple what they are now. Back in 2006, the average mortgage interest rate was 6.4%. While that’s not terribly higher than today’s higher rates, even a few percentage points can make a huge difference in monthly payments.

Before that, in 2000, interest rates were averaging at 8%. Your monthly payments for a $400,000 home back then would have been $2,935 — nearly double the highest amount on the chart above.

While doubled interest rates may not seem crazy to you, consider what homebuyers faced back in the ’80s. In 1981, buyers faced interest rates at 16% or higher (source).

Can you even imagine? Compare that to today’s rates, even on the high end of 4.75%, and you can see why so many people are urging homebuyers to jump into the market right now.

Home Buyers Today Can Afford More Home for Less

The interest rate you secure plays a considerable role in determining how much home you can afford. Today’s rates are crazy low compared to those just a few years ago, not to mention those back in the ’80s and ’90s.

If you’re looking to buy a home, now’s the time to do it. You can take advantage of these historically low interest rates. You can even go beyond your expected price range because you can realistically secure a rate low enough to pay the same monthly payments on a bigger, more expensive home.

The market is hot right now for a good reason. Lower interest rates help home buyers – whether first-time buyers or seasoned buyers looking for their next home – get more bang for their buck.

Getting to Know Your New Community After a Move

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: April 11, 2019

Relocating can be tough for you and your family. Even if you’re only moving a few miles away, it’s hard to deal with so much change. Not only are you facing different commutes to work, school, and grocery stores, you’re also contending with joining a new community.

Getting to know your neighbors and neighborhood can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve gathered a few easy ideas that can help make the process easier. Even if you’re not a social butterfly, don’t worry. These are easy ways to help integrate yourself into a new community and learn about a neighborhood.

Take Regular Walks Around Your Neighborhood

Assuming you haven’t moved in the dead of winter, take some time in the mornings or evenings to walk around your neighborhood. If you can’t manage this every day, at least try to get out and about on the weekends.

You are likely to discover new bakeries, restaurants, or shops within walking distance from your new house. As you’re walking around the neighborhood, you will probably also run into your neighbors.

Besides, moving is so stressful for you and your entire family. Taking some time, even just five minutes, to walk around and get out of the house is an excellent de-stressor. Recharge your batteries every day, so you don’t wear yourselves out.

Take Notes On Your Neighbors (Without Being Creepy)

Not everyone feels comfortable approaching strangers. But even if you’re on the shy side, you can still get to know the people who live in your area. While taking walks through your neighborhood, pay attention to the kinds of activities your neighbors are into.

For example, maybe you see a neighbor wrangling kids carrying soccer gear. Or maybe you see the same neighbor working daily in a gorgeous garden. You can strike up a conversation later about community sports or ask for recommendations about local greenhouses. Finding common ground with the people living near you can be an excellent ice breaker.

You can learn about your neighbors this way without feeling like a stalker, which will make it easier to get to know them. You can also take a stronger approach and invite your neighbors over to your new home. Which leads us to…

Throw a Neighborhood Housewarming Party

No doubt your friends and family would love to join you in your new home for a housewarming party. But if you’re looking to get to know your neighbors, consider hosting a neighborhood get together after moving in.

First, give your family time to settle in, unpack boxes, and paint the walls. Then, within the first month of moving in, send out invitations (by mail or in person) to your neighbors inviting them over. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors in a relaxed environment.

There’ a good chance you haven’t met all your neighbors yet. After all, moving can be so time-consuming! So, hosting a get-to-know-you party is a great way to meet everyone.

Sign Up For Next Door

Have you ever heard of Next Door? It’s a private social network for neighborhood communities. People living in your area can post about neighborhood news or alerts, sell or give away items, and generally interact with each other.

What’s great about Next Door is it offers you the opportunity to interact with people right away after moving into your new home. Since each neighborhood community is only open to those living within the area, it helps keep interactions local.

Sign up for your neighborhood’s Next Door community and introduce yourself! Start up conversations with people in your area, find common interests, and even learn about ways to get involved. People are always posting about intermural sports teams, community events, and other meetups.

Joining a new community can be a lot of fun. You have the opportunity to meet new people with similar interests and get involved in new activities. Pay attention to community events and attend them with your whole family. You’ll have a good time, and it will make the entire relocating process that much easier.

What to Expect to Buy After Moving Into Your New Home

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: March 29, 2019

In the flurry of packing and coordinating moving trucks or loyal friends, did you remember to grab an extra roll of paper towels? How about garbage bags? Probably not, even though you’ll be needing them on move-in day.

Then there are other things, like a welcome mat or curtain liners, that you might prefer to throw away and purchase a replacement than pack up to a new house.

Many home buyers wait until after moving into their new home before buying these things. For some, it’s out of necessity – there’s just too much going on! For others, it makes more sense to wait until after the chaos has died down.

So, if you’re a soon-to-be new home buyer, here are some of the items you can expect to buy after moving into your new home.

Cleaning Supplies

When moving, there are things people forget to bring and other things people would rather replace than pack up. Cleaning supplies fall into both of these categories. Paper towels are probably the last thing on your mind, and who would take their dirty sponges into a new sparkling house?

So, after the moving trucks have left and you’re basking in that new home glow, it’s time to make a list. Think about all the cleaning supplies you will need, going room to room if that helps. Be sure to include day-to-day items (like toilet paper!) first.

Here are some common cleaning supplies new homeowners need:

  • Hand soap and dish soap
  • Garbage bags (for your kitchen and bathroom(s)
  • Paper towels
  • Laundry detergent
  • Sponges
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies
  • Plunger (treat yourself to a new one)

Though not an exhaustive list, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate having these items around on move-in day and the week following it.

First Aid Kit

An often-overlooked purchase after moving into a new home is a first aid kit. With all the picture hanging, light bulb replacing, and general maintenance you’ll be doing in the first few weeks of living in a new home, you’re going to want one.

You may have an old one that moved with you, but it’s likely outdated by now. Most people don’t regularly replenish or replace items in their kit. Make sure to pick up a first aid kit with bandages in multiple sizes, tweezers, and antibacterial spray. You certainly don’t want a cut or splinter ruining your move-in momentum!

Groceries and Staples

Of course, you’ll need to go grocery shopping soon after moving in. Leftover pizza only lasts so long. But remember, many people end up trashing things from their old home to make the move easier. If you’re a cooking pro, you may need to do some serious work to replenish your cupboards.

For instance, you may need to restock spices you didn’t bother to pack up. Or you may have put off buying more rice or pasta when you were running low in the last few weeks. It likely took you some time to build up that pantry, and it may take a while to do it again.

But there’s a silver lining here. You can start over. In other words, now’s the time to revisit that Pinterest board. Seen any cute ideas for storing spices? Interested in totally revolutionizing your pantry organization? Use this blank slate to your advantage to try out some new ideas.

Odds and Ends

How annoying is it when a lightbulb dies, and you don’t have any replacement bulbs? When moving into a new place, this is bound to happen.

Be sure to take a trip to the store for those odds and ends you wouldn’t usually remember to pack, like extra light bulbs, candles, or matches. Batteries are on this list too. Be sure to get replacement batteries for everything that needs them — or you’ll find yourself with a bunch of AA batteries when you need AAA.

Other “odds and ends” to consider:

  • Extension cords
  • Welcome Mat
  • Laundry basket
  • Clothes hangers
  • Shower caddy

Most of the time, it’s better to wait until after moving to buy anything new. After all, the more you have, the more you move, right?

Don’t worry about forgetting to buy band-aids or not having enough dish soap on the day you move. You’ll have plenty of time to buy these supplies after the move. Besides, cleaning supplies and groceries are great housewarming presents from family and friends. You may be surprised how many items people gift you in the week after moving in.

Pro Tips to Avoid Damaging Your Home on Move-In Day

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: March 15, 2019

Moving into a new house is both exciting and overwhelming. There are so many steps involved, so much planning, that it can be easy to forget about preparing your new home for the move. After all, the last thing you want is to chip new paint, scratch or stain the floors, or gouge a railing on move-in day. So, while you’re carefully packing, stacking, and transporting all your belongings, take some time to strategically plan how you’ll move it all in without destroying your home.

Strategically Plan Your Move

Taking the time to plan your move strategically is key in maintaining order and patience. There are some precautions you can take to ensure you’re minimizing scratch, bump, and scrape damage. These tips will also make the moving process so, so much easier:

When packing up your belongings, be sure to pack up boxes by room. Clearly label these boxes and keep them together in your moving truck. Not only will this keep the packing process organized – letting you go from one room to the next – but it will also help when unpacking in your new home.

To minimize traffic through your new home (and potential bumps, scratches, and scrapes), plan to move from back to front. Bring in furniture for areas farthest from the front door, like for upstairs bedrooms. Your move will go faster, and you can reduce traffic in and out of your new home.

Protect Your Floors

When you move into your new home, you’ll likely be re-arranging furniture all day. People will be coming in and out bringing boxes and furniture to every room. With so much to do, you’re likely not being as gentle or careful as you’d like. The last thing you want in your new house is scratched floors or chipped paint from move-in day.

  • Use drop clothes, carpet protectors, or even flattened cardboard boxes to protect both your floors and walls
  • Place moving blankest or cardboard boxes underneath furniture so you can slide them around with ease
  • Add felt pads to the bottom of chair legs, tablets, and other hard furniture to avoid scratches or scuffs to your floor

Protect Your Walls and Railings

Like your floors, walls and railings can get damaged during moves. This is especially true for tight corners or narrow staircases. Luckily, you can use the same materials to protect these areas that you used on your floors.

  • Wrap banisters or railings in bubble wrap or flattened cardboard boxes
  • Secure protections to your walls using painter’s tape to avoid peeling off the paint
  • Use corner guards or cardboard boxes around easy-to-bump wall corners

Keep Your Furniture Safe

As much as you want to avoid damaging your new home, it’s also essential to protect your furniture. Wrapping your furniture makes it easier to transport and keeps surfaces from getting scraped up.

  • Wrapping furniture in moving blankets keeps it safe and helps prevent scratches or scrapes against your floor and walls. Even better, you can stack bundled up furniture without worrying about scratches.
  • Whenever possible, disassemble furniture. Keep track of the pieces and make sure they’re moved together.

As you can see, a quick trip to the hardware store can go a long way in easing tensions while moving furniture and belongings into your new home. Taking the time to protect your walls, floor, and furniture will ensure a smooth move and keep your home looking fresh and new.

Essential Kitchen Tools That Are Actually Worth Buying

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: December 7, 2018

Kitchenware has gotten to a point where it’s almost overwhelming to walk down the kitchen aisle in a store or – heaven forbid – venture into a specialty cooking shop.

There are gadgets aplenty, single-purpose miracle tools, and frying pans in every conceivable shape and size. Even for a seasoned chef, it’s enough to make you want to run away. Everywhere you look, another kitchen tool you’ll use once and toss in a junk drawer forever.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Some kitchen tools are essential, while others are better left on the shelf. We’re going to walk you through some of the most basic kitchen items that are truly must-haves (get out of here, weirdly-shaped-avocado-slicer).

We’ve pared this list down to five of the most essential, multi-functional kitchen tools. Of course, there are plenty of useful tools that didn’t make it on the list. But for barebones necessities, it’s perfect.

Whether you’re brand new to cooking or an accomplished cook looking to pare down their cookware, this is the list for you.

  1. Heavy-bottomed Pot

These pans are great for everything. Perfect for sauces, stews, fudge, and candies, the heavy-bottomed quality means you won’t immediately burn every ingredient you add. These pots are thicker at the base, which means they distribute heat more evenly. You’re less likely to have hot spots with a heavy-bottomed pot or pan compared to a thinner one.

We’re looking for even cooking here without the looming threat of burned ingredients every time you turn away for a moment. Selecting a nonstick interior is even better. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but it’s a real pain to scrub out stuck-on bits of burnt food.

Like most cookware, there’s a wide price range for these types of pots. You don’t need to go for a high-end option though. Any reasonable heavy-bottomed pot is an excellent addition to your kitchen.

  1. Dutch Oven

The versatility of Dutch ovens is impressive enough to make you want to go out and buy one RIGHT NOW. These multi-purpose pots can go straight from stovetop to oven to your counter. They’re big enough to hold an entire roast and come with heavy lids that keep liquid in for slow braising.

As a bonus, Dutch ovens often come in beautiful colors, making it a beautiful centerpiece on your dining room table. It’s a serving dish itself. We all know what that means: fewer dishes to take care of later. Score!

Le Creusetcookware is classic, of course, but you can turn to Lodge for a more affordable, equally hefty option. Choose an enameled Dutch oven to prevent sticking or the maintenance of cast iron.

  1. 9 x 13-inch Baking Pan

If you’ve ever looked at a recipe for brownies, casseroles, cakes, egg bakes, or any delicious baked dish, you’re familiar with this pan. It’s arguably the most called-for pan in the world! (Don’t fact check us on that one).

These pans are super versatile and don’t take up a ton of room. You can also use them to roast veggies or meat by popping a cooling rack on top. The grease drips down and keeps your food from getting soggy.

For those of you who attend a lot of potlucks, consider picking up a 9×13-inch baking pan lid. It makes transportation (and carrying home leftovers) a whole lot easier.

  1. Chef’s Knife (Yes, just the one)

This may not be the most popular opinion, but you don’t need more than one knife to do almost everything you need in the kitchen. Sure, knife block sets are a classic gift for newlyweds or folks striking out on their own for the first time. But how often do you actually use them?

A sturdy, sharp chef’s knife is great for chopping vegetables and slicing meat. Pick a chef’s knife with a medium-length blade and a sturdy handle; you’ll be surprised how much more control you have over it. With a professional knife, beginner chefs have the added benefit of learning proper grip technique to prevent accidents and boost efficiency.

You can find affordable, quality knives ranging from $20 up to ridiculous numbers (we’re talking triple zeroes or more). If you can test it out beforehand, even better. Find a knife with a comfortable grip, and you’re ready to go.

  1. Non-stick Frying Pan

Omelets? No problem. Browning meatballs? Great! Cookin’ up a stir-fry? No worries. A non-stick frying pan is there for you every time.

Since non-stick frying pans prevent food from sticking, you can use less oil when you’re cooking. It’s also easier to get tricky food out of the pan, meaning you’ll likely ruin fewer dinners (it’s happened to the best of us).

And you can use the same frying pan for so many things! You’ll want to make sure that you don’t use metal spatulas, silverware, or any other sharp tool or you run the risk of scratching off the non-stick coating.  If that coating starts flaking off, throw the pan away! You definitely don’t want that in your food.

So there you go. The five barebones, most essential cooking tools you can add to your kitchen. No frills, no gimmicks; just solid tools to help you tackle any recipe, no matter how complicated or fussy. Happy cooking!

Tame the Chaos in Your New Home -Tips for Turning Your Entryway into an Organized Drop Zone

Categories: Home Owner Tips | Posted: June 29, 2018

You’re in the process of moving into your new home. Boxes of furniture and clothes and plates sit stacked all over the place, hopefully in the right rooms. Each time you walk in or out, running errands or bringing in bags from a Target run, you (or your kids) tend to leave things behind. Shoes, backpacks, jackets, stacks of mail. Pretty soon, you’ve got piles of random stuff cluttering the front room in your home. It’s not a pretty sight that greets you when you’re coming in from the garage. If this is sounding familiar, don’t worry! You can tame this chaos by turning that entryway into an organized drop zone.

Make a Decree: What Should Stay, What Should Go

This is the entryway from your garage into your home, and everything in it should have its own place. Don’t let this room become a repository for all things you can’t fit anywhere else – decide what should stay here, and what needs to go. For example, it makes sense to store coats and boots here, especially in the cold months when you and your family need to bundle up before going outside. But unpacked boxes or library books? It doesn’t make sense to store those things here. Once you’ve decided what should stay here and what should be taken into the house, it’ll be easier to keep this place tidy.

Hang Hooks to Hold Jackets and Scarves

If your entryway includes a closet, that’s great! But if you don’t have a dedicated place to hang coats, consider adding some hooks to the wall. You can find a wide array of attractive, stylized hooks at most hardware stores, making it easy to match them with your home’s décor. Hanging jackets on hooks is undoubtedly better than heaping them in a pile on the ground.

Extra Tip: If you have young kids, be sure to hang some hooks at the right height for them! Encourage them to hang up their own coats and scarves when coming into the house.

Keep Your Keys Handy

How many times have you gotten halfway out the door only to realize you can’t find your keys? Keep these important items in one place and give yourself one less thing to worry about. Find a designated spot for your keys, wallet, sunglasses, and anything else easily misplaced. You can opt for a low table, a key bowl, or smaller hooks. Keeping these items in the entryway to your garage goes a long way in taking the chaos of your home’s “drop zone.”

Add a Bench and Take a Seat

Nobody wants to stand in the entryway while holding groceries trying to kick off a pair of shoes. Adding a bench to this room actually does double duty here. You can use this bench to set down whatever you’re holding (great if you’re trying to snag all those bags in one trip!) and it’s also handy to sit on while taking off or putting on boots in cold or rainy weather. Consider using the space below your bench for extra storage as well. This is perfect if the room off your garage isn’t very spacious.

The most important thing in organizing your entryway, or any room in your new home, is consistency. Prevent this room from descending into chaos by planning ahead, making it easy to put designated items away, and keeping your most important belongings in one place. You can even add potted plants, artwork, or decorative pillows to brighten the room that greets you. Soon you’ll have a highly organized and tidy drop zone, setting the tone for your new home.