Spring Cleaning CheckList

SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST

  • Top of bookshelves and cabinets.
  • Organize all books and knick-knacks, start a garage sale or donation pile.
  • Windows (inside and out). Wash on cloudy days to prevent streaks.
  • Clean granite and seal.
  • Deep clean appliances with specialty cleaners (check manufacturer’s instructions):
    • Dishwasher
    • Laundry washer
    • Dryer
    • Oven/stove
    • Refrigerator/freezer
  • Pantry/Fridge – check expiration dates, throw out old food or freezer-burned items. Wash shelves and organize.
  • Deep clean carpet and flooring
  • Check tile throughout house and clean the grout with a neutral pH solution such as baking soda & water
  • Closets: organize and remove clothes that don’t fit or you have not worn in over 6 months. Put in garage sale or donation pile.
    • Wipe down closet shelves
    • Throw out broken or old hangers
  • Disinfect coffee makers and other appliances.
  • Go through kitchen cupboards. Organize and remove any items that are “extra” or never get used. Add to garage sale/donation piles.
  • Clean or replace pillows and comforters. Don’t forget the pillows on your couches and chairs!
  • Vacuum and sanitize mattresses. Check for bed bugs or mildew. Spot clean.
  • Wash baseboards.
  • Walls: holes, chipped paint, etc.
  • Wash walls with a gentle cleaner
  • Dust and rearrange bookshelves. Look for creative ways to make shelves appear clean and attractive.
  • Clean brooms (remove lint and hair)
  • Vacuum area rugs and every few years, have them professionally cleaned (not necessary every year)
  • Prep and clean patio furniture
  • Wax wood furniture
  • Oil any wood cutting boards, bowls, etc.
  • Clean and polish silver
  • Wash window screens
  • Test fire extinguishers
  • Test smoke detectors, replace the batteries
  • Take down drapes, clean in air fluff cycle with a damp cloth
  • Dust picture and art frames, plants…
  • Wash out trash cans and sanitize (remember garbage cans outside too)
  • Clean under beds and other furniture. Pull everything out, vacuum, reorganize and declutter.
  • Check for cracks or leaks around doorways and windows
  • Clean and repair faucets in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Regrout where needed: check your shower around the bathtub and faucets.
  • Scrub all grout
  • Check drains for lime buildup and hair, etc.
  • Clean your vacuum brush from hair and debris
  • Take down shower curtains and wash with soapy water. Let air dry in the sun. Disinfect. Or purchase new ones.
  • Clean chrome fixtures with a 50/50 solution of rubbing alcohol & water.
  • Scrub your grill and check you have sufficient propane for grilling season.
  • Power wash the outside of your home and the walkways.
  • Clean and organize the garage.
  • Pump up the tires on bikes.
  • Put up shovels and other winter items, bring out sports equipment, mowers, etc for the summer.
  • Check your mower for fuel or any maintenance needed.

Have a giant garage sale for all the items you decluttered from your house!!

Spring Cleaning Tips

As much as I love the soothing voice of Andy Williams, I’d have to say that SPRING is the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. With the birds singing, sun shining, buds blooming, and the grass greening up – it makes me want to throw the windows open and do a little Julie Andrews dance as everything, including the hills, come alive!

But seriously, it’s a time of newness and refreshing, AND naturally, a time to deep clean and organize. I’m pretty sure it’s part of our DNA. This week I woke up one morning and everything in me drove me to start rearranging and cleaning, much to the dismay of my husband as he came home to a completely rearranged (but clean!) living room.

I remember, as a child, when my grandmother would visit at the end of the school year. We all knew that the house would be torn apart and everything (I mean everything) received a scrubbing!

This got me thinking about what we should give a good look at for cleaning and organizing. When it’s time to clean, it forces me to take an “intimate” look at the house. This always results in plenty of projects which I promptly put on my honey-do list. (Yea, hubby!) Also, as we go through our cleaning and decluttering, we set aside all that extra “stuff” in a donation or garage sale box.

Tip:  Keep boxes for “donations” and “garage sale” handy all year long to help keep “stuff” you accumulate in check.

WHY SPRING CLEAN?

Besides spring creating the natural tendencies for most of us to clean a little deeper, there are a few great reasons for why we should set aside a few weekends, make a list, and get scrubbing.

  1. It prevents the build-up of dirt, dust, and clutter.
  2. It’s the best way to prevent the hoarding of “stuff” we no longer use or need.
  3. Cleans out allergens and germs, keeping your home healthy.
  4. Creates a new excitement for your space. (For all of us, our homes can start to feel tired and worn out. This doesn’t mean it is time to go buy new furniture, etc. A deep cleaning and moving around of furniture and decor gives your home a fresh, new appeal. Thus, maybe saving you some money?!?)
  5. Everyone is more relaxed when they live in a clean, organized, decluttered space. (And isn’t that what your home is for? Your retreat and getaway from the stress of work and “life”?)

WHERE TO START

Big tasks can be overwhelming to think about and as a result, we can shut down mentally and forget about it. While there is literally hundreds of tasks that can be tackled, let’s focus on the most important for you.

First, sit down and do a “brain dump” of absolutely everything that needs to be done in your house and around your house. Inside and out. Walk through each room, look at the walls, ceiling, baseboards. Check out the windows – is there any air coming through or cracks? How about your shower or the kitchen. Notice the condition of grout, tile, and look for any leaks. What is the condition of your floors? Need any paint touch-ups? How is the condition of the exterior of your house?

BE REALISTIC

Now that you have your list, remember that most likely you will not be able to do them all. THAT’S OK. Prioritize your list based on need or based on what is truly doable for you to accomplish. Then keep your list handy for next spring (or the next time you are ready to clean). Not everything needs to be done every year.

SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST

TOP SPRING CLEANING ITEMS

Here is our top areas/items that need attention for your Spring Cleaning project. Compare it to what you wrote down. Don’t worry about doing everything. Personalize and tailor your spring projects to what is prudent and reasonable for you. Below I’ve listed the basics. If you don’t have time to do much, at least deep clean these areas to help rid your home of allergens, dust, mold, and leave it feeling fresh.

WASH THE BASEBOARDS and walls

This was the first thing my grandmother did when she arrived at our house. My sister and I would get a bucket and sponge and get to work. To this day, I notice baseboards wherever I go. They are the first places to collect dust and sticky grime. It is a quick job and really does clean up a room.

Tip: Clean the baseboards AFTER you clean your carpets and dust. Then use warm water and vinegar (or a natural cleaner like Basic-H) and wipe them down. Make sure to use a damp cloth so you don’t leave the boards wet. If the boards are unstained, then a natural wood cleaner should be used.

Tip #2: Make sure to have a Magic Eraser handy to clean up scuff marks.

coffee pots, tea kettles, Keurig, irons

Sometimes we forget that our appliances need attention. Mold and mildew, along with mineral deposits, can build up in our coffee pots, irons, steamers, etc. Use a mild solution of warm water and white vinegar to soak for 20-30 minutes. Rinse several times and wipe down. Note: Check manufacturers cleaning instructions first.

pillows, sheets, mattresses, comforters

The source of many allergens can come from where we lay our heads. Deep clean those pillows by putting them in the sanitize setting on your dryer. You may also want to spray them regularly with essential oils such as Lavender or Roman Chamomile. For cleaning old, yellowed pillows, check out this post: How To Rescue Your Old Yellowed Pillows.

Tip: Don’t forget the pillows on your couches!! 

tops of cabinets, bookshelves, doors, fans, blinds

We forget about those spaces we can not see. However, that is where you will find the largest accumulation of dust and sticky residue. All a breeding ground for allergens just waiting to get stirred up by a summer breeze.

cleaning dirty blindsTake down your blinds and wash them with a hose on a warm day. You will still need to use a sponge to clean off any grime. Warm water and vinegar will do the trick for most of the work, but for tough grime try the tips found in this article instead of using harmful chemical cleaners.

Reminder: Don’t forget to clean your ceiling fans before turning them on this season! Also, the tops of your artwork and photos need to be dusted and cleaned as well.

deep clean carpets, flooring, upholstery, drapes

Again, I’m tackling the areas that hold dust mites and other substances that we inhale and can cause allergic reactions or even colds. If you can hire a professional to clean your flooring once a year, that’s great. Otherwise, consider using these green cleaning tips that can be applied for all your upholstered items in the house, such as couches.

I only touched the tip of the iceberg for Spring Cleaning. For a more detailed list of Spring Cleaning items/tasks, I made a checklist here.

Happy cleaning!!

Preparing For Family Gatherings

This post can be read in its entirety on YourFutureMatters.co or by clicking the link below.

Preparing For Family Gatherings

FAMILY AND HOLIDAYS

It’s safe to say that we all envision a Normal Rockwell moment when we think of family gatherings for the holidays. The smell of apple cider, succulent turkey, pies, cookies, and breads….Mmmm! But what comes to mind when you think about sitting around with your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and siblings?Are you dreading what embarrassing comment your grandfather will make, or will your brother still be mad at you from a conversation months ago? Will you feel the judging looks and whispers of family members because of something in your past (or present?).

[Read More]

The High Country Garden

Living in the High Country has it’s beauty – and it’s challenges, especially when it comes to gardening and landscaping. Choosing plants and trees for your yard – when you live at a high altitude – that will grow well can be like playing darts while blind-folded.
Colorado Springs is not an easy place to grow anything. Varying terrains, high winds, thin air, intense sun, acidic soil, late/early frosts, lack of rain, and nutrient-lacking soil in the High Country stand between you and the yards on the magazine covers. However, armed with the right tools and knowledge you can have a lovely garden or landscaping that works well with our high altitude climate. Hidden in the Rocky Mountain are numerous native plants and trees that thrive and will give you a beautiful landscape. All it takes is a little research and knowledgable professionals to give you advice.

Mountain foliage Grand Lake CO
Mountain Flowers at Grand Lake, CO

Springtime makes just about everyone giddy with excitement in anticipation for a green and colorful Summer. Nurseries and the big box home improvement stores are stocked full right now and are flooded with weekend warriors piling carts high with brightly colored plants. Without thinking, most of us make our plant choices based on aesthetics rather than what will grow well. It’s pretty in the pot – so we buy it. But, are you tired of brown lawns and flowers that stop blooming or die within a few weeks? If you want a lasting, environmentally-friendly yard, it would be wise to take the time to find someone knowledgeable about the area. We’ve included a few recommendations below because we are not professionals by any stretch of the imagination.

Consult with a local nursery

There are several nurseries in the area that offer free advice. We like Phelan Gardens on the east side of town and Rick’s Garden Center on the Westside. Timberline Landscaping has a wonderful blog with very helpful information. Any of these professionals can help you determine what plants will be best based on your soil, the direction your yard is facing, terrain, etc.  The people that own and work at small, local nurseries live here, they understand the varying conditions that the high altitude presents, they are the best resource of information. Save the flowers at the big box stores for your indoor potted plants or container gardens.

Prepare your soil

No matter what you are planting: sod, flowers, vegetables, trees – your soil will need to be prepared. Much of the soil in Colorado Springs is full of granite, is acidic, and lacks nutrients. It gets a little better as you move east. Nutrients will need to be added to the soil, no matter what, and mulch is required to keep the moisture in the soil from evaporating as quickly (the result of the thin, dry air). A raised flower/garden bed is always a good idea. To find out what nutrients your soil needs, visit a local nursery.

Xeriscape

xeriscape
courtesy: Colorado State University

The city of Colorado Springs has an amazing resource for its residents: a sample xeriscape garden and free classes all Spring/Summer long! Water is an issue in Colorado Springs. We have been fortunate to have had a couple of years that brought drought-relief, however, it is more the norm to have water restrictions and brown lawns. A fabulous way to conserve water and have a beautiful yard is with Xeriscaping: It utilizes native plants, low-water plants, and other alternatives to water-guzzling sod. I personally love green grass, but I don’t need every square inch of my yard covered in it. Reduce the square footage of sod in your yard and add beautiful xeriscaping that features some of our native plants like Mexican Feather Grass, Yarrow, Mojave Sage, Indian Paintbrush, Columbine – and hundreds of other options available to you.

Container Gardeningcontainer gardening

Maybe you are not a fan of xeriscaping and you haven’t been able to grow the kind of garden you have wanted to. Here’s my solution: container gardening. It is perfect if you live in a small space such as an apartment or condo or you don’t like the look of xeriscaping. It is easy and you have the ability to grow a wide variety of plants and vegetables. It’s also great if you have a creative side because you can use just about anything as a container for your garden. Look for old barrels, metal tubs, boots, and baskets. I love container gardening because you can create small, large, or massive containers, decorate them, put them just about anywhere: Group them together, put on a patio or a porch, line a driveway, create a barrier…the ideas are endless (I feel a Pinterest urge coming on! I’d love to follow you, you can follow me here.). Another benefit is protection from the early summer hail storms. We can’t avoid them, happens every year, but with smaller containers you can easily pull them under a porch or into your garage to protect them from the storm.

Community Gardens

Did you know that Colorado Springs has several community gardens?! Novice or expert, anyone is welcome to join. Not only do you have access to soil that has been prepared and ready for veggies or flowers, you have the benefit of gardening alongside several others who can share their knowledge. Each one requires a small fee to join their community but it is well worth it. Here are the community gardens we are aware of:

  • Bear Creek Garden Association: Located on 2 acres in Bear Creek Regional Park off of 21st street. Surrounded by fence and suited with water pipes and faucets. Call Karen at (719) 634-4433 or John at (719) 576-2664 for more information.
  • Vermijo Garden.  Vermijo and 27th Street (no contact info was found)
  • Old Colorado City Community Garden: Located at the Westside Community Center on 17th and Pikes Peak. Organic gardening. Contact Elise Miller at
    614.315.3507 for information.
  • Mill Street Gardens: Mill Street and Cascade. Info at ppugardens.org
  • Harrison Urban Gardens
  • Ranch Community Garden: 4625 Ranch Dr., 80918.  www.ranchcommunitygarden.com
  • Station 21 Community Garden.  Info at ppugardens.org.

Armed with the right know-how, you can have an amazing garden and yard – even in the high and dry country of Colorado Springs. We hope this information is helpful in getting you started on your gardens. We would also love to help you buy or sell a home. Contact us at

Home Inventory Project

Home Inventory List

[This is a perfect follow up post to last week’s Emergency Preparedness article. Part of being prepared for an emergency is having your possessions well-documented for insurance purposes.]

Benefits of Home Inventory

Home Inventory House Fire
Don’t wait for a disaster to happen before you inventory the contents of your home.

We’ve all heard we should gather an inventory of our personal belongings and property but how many of us actually do it? Putting together a home inventory is beneficial and can bring a sense of order to your home in the event of a major disaster or even with moving. Having an up-to-date home inventory can be helpful with:

  • Keeping track of items during a move
  • Home fire
  • Theft
  • Finding warranties
  • Renovations
  • Tax purposes: verifies losses or property owned
  • Natural disasters: speeds up claim process
  • Going through a divorce
  • Preparing for a garage sale
  • Memory jogger (can help you find something you’ve lost depending on how your information is organized).

Where is my…..?

If you are in the military, or you just happen to move frequently, you know that it is rare to have everything you packed make it to the new destination. I’m convinced there are moving gremlins due to all of the missing items I have had over the years. An organized home inventory system can alleviate many headaches – especially now that technology has made it so easy to keep track of all your possessions. Many inventory apps help you keep track of what items you have in each room of your house. Wondering if those ski’s you had in college are still in the garage? An inventory app can save you time from digging through dusty boxes. Packing to move? Instead of organizing your items by room, organize them by box numbers! Keeping an up-to-date inventory can be very useful in fighting off the moving gremlins.

Gathering Your Information

Insurers highly recommend investing the time to track your property. If you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a situation where you have experienced a loss, trying to recall what you have and recovering the proof of those purchases will be a nearly impossible task. Set aside a day of un-interruption to go through your house and assemble all the information for your Home Inventory project. The first time you do this will take several hours, however, once it is set up, maintaining it will be a breeze with the phone/tablet apps we will point out later.

Many Colorado Springs residents have had the misfortune of having to endure frantically trying to gather proof of purchase information, recalling all their property, and going back and forth with their insurance companies after recent wildfires and floods in our region. It is unfathomable losing everything you have, but then to deal with the stress of gathering all that information can be emotionally exhausting. Spend the time now to ease the stress later.

Gather these items before you start:

  • File folder
  • USB drive (optional)
  • Receipts of purchases
  • Model/serial numbers
  • Purchase date
  • Description of an item
  • Estimated value of major purchases
  • Smartphone or camera

By far the best way to organize your home inventory is with a smartphone app. (We have reviewed a few apps for you at the end of this post.) You can go old-school by going room-to-room and writing everything down but the apps streamline this process and organize it in a way that can’t be done easily otherwise. In addition to using a phone app we recommend taking a video of everything in your home once or twice a year. You will definitely need photos of every item in your house, and that is where the phone app is handy, but a quick back up video is also smart to have on hand.

Where to Begin

SONY DSC

  1. Create a file folder labeled, “Home Inventory”.
  2. Dig up as many receipts and warranty papers you can find and file them.
  3. Every time you make a purchase for your home, file the receipt away.
  4. Video your entire property, inside and out. Mention the date as you are making your video. Tip: Walk slowly while filming and zoom in on smaller items. Remember to capture items in drawers, cabinets, jewelry cases, under beds, and closets.
  5. Make 3 copies of your video and upload to a USB drive. Keep one at home, one in a safe deposit box, and another one with family or a friend.
  6. Update your video and home inventory list at least once a year. Make it part of your spring cleaning routine.
  7. Download a home inventory app on your smartphone.
  8. Order some take-out and get started going through your home!

As you begin the process of identifying your content, remember to consider what you have in your garage, sheds, storage units and look around the outside of your home. Patio furniture, grills, tools, cars, boats, bikes, motor homes, – all these items are susceptible to being lost in the event of a disaster.

Remember Older Photographs

old photo of people a background
Make a video of irreplaceable memories

If something should happen to your home, the greatest loss will be older photographs that are not backed up on social media or cloud storage. You know, the photos that were taken before the digital age. Gather your family photo albums and pull down photos off your walls and video each one. It still will not replace the loss of those photos, however you will treasure that video if, God forbid, you were to suddenly lose your home and all it’s contents. Ideally, it would be better to convert all of those photos to a high-res digital format, but the reality is that most of us will not do that. It only takes a moment to capture those treasured memories with a quick video. Tip: This would be a good time to ask older family members to join you. Have them share memories of the images while you are videoing them. Not only will you have a video record of your family photos, but you will capture the history and story behind them!

Home Inventory Phone Apps

Many insurance companies offer free apps to organize the content of your home. Allstate, State Farm, and Liberty Mutual all have free apps. Utilize these tools that they provide as a service to you. In addition, you can find a few good independent apps available for your electronic device. Before you download an app take a look at KnowYourStuff.org . It is very detailed and can be used on your desktop.

I looked through several apps and I found two that caught my eye; both apps have excellent reviews. Encircle is available for both iOS and Android devices. It is free and has a very nice layout. I love that you can add notes and details, plus you have the option to capture details of multiple items in one image. It also allows video (you don’t need to worry about video copies to a USB drive!). This is a GREAT app if you own multiple properties because you can organize your photos by property. The app organizes all your insurance information as well, and you can download reports.

Home Inventory is a paid app and a little pricey at $24.99. It is a one-time fee but has rave reviews and won the best-app award in 2013. It organizes your information by room and allows you to upload photos of your receipts (so you can throw them away instead of keeping a file folder!). This app also gives you a total value of your inventory, which is nice to know, and can break those numbers down by room. You can also add warranty info and schedule maintenance tasks. It’s the most comprehensive app if you don’t mind paying for it.

No matter what app you choose or if you decide to write it all down – just do it! Living in an area that has been struck by floods and fires 4 times over the last 4 years has been a painful reminder to our beloved residents of the importance of making a detailed and accurate home inventory list. Of the families I have come across, the worst part of going through a disaster was the headache of taking care of insurance issues regarding property damage and loss. While you are working on your Home Inventory Project, this is the perfect time to contact your insurance agent and review the coverage on not only your home, but the contents inside your home and around your property. This may be an inconvenience now, but there may be a day when you are glad you did it!

BE PREPARED, message on paper, smart phone and coffee on table

We love helping families settle down in to their perfect home. Purchase a home with me and I’ll help you get started on your project by purchasing an inventory app for you*. Call me, Susanna, at…..