Marianne Belanger - RE/MAX Vision


There are few things more frustrating than having to put multiple holes into your drywall just to hang a picture frame correctly. One would think that, in this age of advanced technology where anything seems possible, we would have developed a standardized frame hook that cures all of our frame-hanging woes. Unfortunately, we still have single hook frames that can't hold a picture straight or two-hook frames that we can never measure just right. Well now you can put all of your bad frame hanging experiences in the past. In this article we'll cover the basics of hanging different types of frames and share some frame-hanging hacks that will help you get it right the first time--every time.

Choosing the right hook for the job

Over the years several cutting edge innovations have occurred in the work of frame hooks that you may never have even heard about. Monkey hooks, for example, weren't front page news when they hit the shelves, but they should have been. These painfully simple hanging hooks push right into your drywall and secure themselves on the back side holding up to 50 pounds (wow!), no hammer necessary. You can also go with tried and true nails, anchors, and wall plugs. The important thing to remember when using these methods is to consider the weight of your frame. A 10-pound monster of a frame shouldn't be put on the shoulders of one lonely nail that isn't even penetrating a stud. That's a for-sure way to break your frame and rip up your drywall as it comes crashing to the ground.

Placement is key

It isn't a picture hanging party without someone standing behind you saying "up a bit more" for 10 minutes while you lose circulation in your arms. You'll need a partner standing back a bit to tell you exactly where it should go. It's essential that they tell you where it should be hung so they can't blame you if they don't like the placement later on. If you don't have the luxury of a picture hanging partner, try tracing a part of the frame (extremely lightly in pencil) on the wall and standing back. If you're hanging a gallery or a frame that you want to align with another object on the wall, don't try to "eyeball" it. Get out the tape measure and be meticulous when measuring the dimensions for the other object.

Hanging Hacks

Thanks to the internet, there are several picture framing hacks that will make this whole process a lot easier. They are:
  • Use painters tape for marking and leveling. If you want the frame to line up with one near it, simply run the tape along the lower edge of the frame that's already hung to where you want the new one to be.
  • For frames with two hooks, run a wire between them and hang it on a single nail. It is virtually impossible (for me anyway) to get two nails exactly level for hanging a picture.
  • If you must use two nails, use your level as a ruler. Put one nail into the wall and rest one side of the level on it. Move the other side up or down until it's level and then mark exactly where the next nail should be.
 

Humans today live a lifestyle more fast-paced than ever before. We're constantly keeping track of work, bills, emails, friends on social media... the list goes on. With all of these social and work responsibilities it's sometimes hard to unwind at the end of the day and fall asleep on time at night. Americans have some of the poorest sleeping habits on earth. One in three have what could be considered "mild insomnia." While sleeping patterns vary between cultures, one thing is certain: getting enough quality sleep is vital to living a long and healthy life. Here are some changes you can make in the bedroom that will help you get more quality shut-eye.

Beds are for sleeping

Are you the type who stays in bed watching TV, eating, reading on your phone or laptop. If so, you might be losing sleep because of it. It's important to train your body to know that when you're in bed with the lights off it's time to sleep. Read in your kitchen or on the sofa at night rather than in the bedroom if you're the type who has to be busy up until bedtime.

Clean your room

If your bedroom is messy, cluttered, or uncomfortable in any way it might be affecting your sleep. Clean things up to make it a more spacious, cozy environment. Once you've cleaned, don't stop there. Try adjusting the lighting and colors in your room as well. Studies have shown that the colors in our environment affect our mood. You don't want bold, stimulating colors in a place devoted to sleep. To make lighting adjustments, keep your shades or curtains open at night so natural light wakes you up in the morning. This is a good practice for your circadian rhythm (our 24-hour sleep cycle that helps us wake up and fall asleep naturally). If you do use lights in your room at night, use a soft, yellow light. Blue light, liek that emitted from most LEDs, is higher on the UV spectrum and tricks your body into thinking it's daytime.

No phones in bed

Just like the LED lights mentioned above, your phone, laptop, and tablets all emit light that can keep you up. When darkness falls your brain begins producing melatonin (a chemical than makes you fall asleep). Staring into these screens inhibits that production, keeping you up later. You may feel that you're "just not tired," which is perfectly true. But it's because you're stopping your body from telling you it's time for bed. Some alternatives to looking at your phone would be to read or knit in bed while you wait to feel sleepy. Then you can just put them down and drift off to sleep. Helpful bedtime tips:
  • At night, set your phone's brightness to very low and if you have an iPhone use the "night shift" mode that turns your phone's light from blue to yellow
  • Listen to calming, ambient music on your iPod that will take your mind off distracting thoughts
  • Listen to an app or podcast designed to help you sleep
  • If you can't sleep after an hour or so, try getting up for a bit or having a protein-filled snack. Then try going back to bed
     

If you're selling your home you'll want to take photos that show off both the inside and the outside of the property. Taking photos outside, however, is drastically different than inside. You'll be dealing with a lot more natural light, which you can use to your advantage. However, you'll also have the disadvantage of having to work with the elements: changes in lighting, shadows, weather and climate, and so on. In this article, we'll show you how to take great photos of your home with a digital camera. We'll cover the settings and angles to get you started, and then it will be up to you to experiment to get those stunning exposures you'd see in a magazine.

Step 1: Setting up the yard

As important as how you take the photo is what you're photographing. Even the best photography will fall short if they lack the right subject to shoot. Before you even reach for your camera, you'll need to do some work in the yard. Freshly mown grass is one of the most important aspects of outdoor real estate photography simply for the reason that it takes up so much of the frame. A full, lush yard will pop in the photo, plus it will tell your potential home buyers that the lawn is well-manicured. Aside from the lawn, it's important that other landscaping features be tidied up. That doesn't mean you have to go out and buy new lawn decorations. Simply make sure that the lawn is edged neatly, that any mulch is fresh and not faded looking, and that trees, bushes, and plants have all been pruned and trimmed. It's also a good idea to clean your doors, windows, shutters, and siding of your home. A pressure washer works wonders, but you can often get them clean enough with a good car wash scrubber.

Step 2: Setting up your shot

There are many techniques to photographing the exterior of a home. Some photographers wait until the sun is setting and turn on all the lights in the home creating the sense that the house is the warm center of the property. Other photographers prefer to shoot in the day time with a sunny sky to show of the home's architectural details. Whichever way you choose, there are two important things to remember when taking your photos: First, make sure you have shots with the entire house in the frame. Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing this way, but it also allows potential buyers to see what the house would look like with the naked eye. Second, be sure to take detail photos of any aspects of the home or property that are of particular interest, such as a pool, patio, or excellent view.

Step 3: Camera settings

As a rule, you'll want to take your outdoor shots using a tripod. Camera shake can cause blurry, out of focus photos even indoors. But when you're outside, you also have the wind and uneven ground to deal with. Move around and take shots rom several different angles. You'll likely find that shots taken head-on with the house feel flat, whereas shots taken diagonally create more space, making the home and yard appear larger and more interesting.

American households are busier than ever before. Parents are working overtime to keep up with the cost of living. Meanwhile, kids and teenagers have more homework than previous generations. Teens and parents alike are burdened with saving for college. And, everyone in today's world has to take the time out of their day to stay updated on social media. That doesn't leave much time in the day to hang around and relax with your family. If you--like many American families--wish you could spend more time together, it could be as simple as having a plan and making time on your schedule. This article will cover the steps to planning a weekly family night and how to stick to the plan once you start.

Step One: Scheduling

The hardest part of planning a family night is finding a time to have it. Each member of the family likely has sports, extracurricular activities, or other obligations that keep them tied up. Find one night of the week that works for everyone. To make sure nobody forgets, add it to your calendar and send invites to the whole family. You can do this via Facebook, Google Calendar, or just a note on the refrigerator--whatever works for your family's needs. A good practice to make sure everyone remembers is to send out a group text message reminder to the whole family so that no one is left out.

Step Two: Make it fun for everyone

If your family nights aren't "fun for the whole family" you can be assured that they won't last long. This can be hard in a family where kids are at different ages and have different interests. Games that your two-year-old loves will seem boring to your teenager, and vice versa. One way to make sure everyone enjoys family night is to alternate who gets to pick the activities. Start off with your youngest child and work your way around to yourself, this way everyone gets a chance to have a night that they can especially look forward to.

Step Three: Choosing activities

There are endless fun family night activities. Depending on the ages of the members of your family, you might have to stick to things that are more kid-friendly. You're also going to need to pick activities that are season and weather-appropriate. Here are some examples for family night activities that work for various ages and seasons:
  • Paint night - gather the colors, brushes, and paper you need, then watch a painting tutorial together
  • Game night - the most time-tested family night activity is board games. Roll the dice to decide which games to play.
  • Video game night - multiplayer games that include everyone are the best option. But you could also take turns or have tournaments to play against each other.
  • Ice cream - in the summer, take the family out for ice cream and a walk.
  • Bake night - make enough types of cupcakes, cookies, and brownies to last the whole week.
  • Backyard camping - set up your tent, build a fire, make S'mores, identify stars and planets, tell ghost stories, and whatever other fun camping ideas you can think of.

Being a homeowner comes with a lot of responsibility. You'll need to keep up with your bills, cleaning and maintenance, and have a keen eye for managing your finances. What many people don't tell you when you buy a house is that you could also become the victim of scammers who specifically target homeowners. Like computer viruses, scams are constantly evolving to stay one step ahead of the game. However, many of them rely on behavior that should raise a red flag for homeowners. In this article, we'll cover some common scams that affect homeowners and tell you how to avoid them to keep you, your home, and your wallet safe.

You've won!

Congratulations! By reading this article you've won an all-expenses paid trip to the destination of your dreams. One of the most common scams affecting homeowners come in the form of phone calls, mail, or even door-knockers informing you that you've won some kind of prize. Unless you've specifically entered to win a certain prize, you can almost be certain that this is a scam.

Identity crisis

We've often heard of the dangers of identity theft, but homeowners in particular are an at-risk demographic. Identity thieves attempt to steal your personal information in order to commit fraud or crimes. To avoid identity theft, be responsible with your mail. Always shred mail with personal data and be sure to have someone take care of your mail for you when away from home for extended periods.

I noticed your roof needs to be repaired

Many scams come in the form of people knocking on your door to offer a great deal on a service. People who solicit you and ask to be let into your home or onto your property to "inspect" part of your home should never be allowed in. They may actually be a roofer attempting to convince you to repair your roof (regardless of whether it needs to be repaired). Or, they could be a would-be burglar scoping out your residence. These scammers will attempt to sell you anything from "subsidized" and "energy efficient" home energy products all the way down to fixing imagined water/moisture issues in your basement.

Make $60k a year working from home!

Work-from-home jobs do exist, and they're growing in number as technology makes it easier and more efficient than traveling. However, some job offers are too good to be true. Be wary of job offers that require you to enter personal information like your social security number before ever having met the employer. Many of these "too good to be true" jobs can be spotted when they ask you for money to get started. They may say to need to pay for your own training but then can make thousands, or will ask for a company buy-in that will pay off later. Regardless, never give money to a potential employer.

I came to read the meters

Someone in a safety vest with a name tag and clipboard knocks on your door and says they're from the energy company, water company, etc. They seem legitimate and tell you how important it is to have your meter read. The might even say you're eligible for a refund or subsidy. It's important to always ask representatives to show you their ID or ask them to call and make an appointment before letting them enter your home.



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