Adventures in Real Estate: Flat Tire Help

     Living way up North where we do, we have to learn to be a little more self sufficient when it comes to some things that we take for granted.  Ladies, this is especially true for us.  Being in a more remote area certainly has its benefits; peace, quiet, no traffic, and many miles of backroads.  If you’re not prepared thought, you can find yourself quite literally in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire, no cell coverage to call for help, and it could be hours before someone drives by.  Ask me how I know this!!!  I wish I had walked through these simple steps before I found myself 7 miles down a forest road with a nice flat tire and absolutely no kind folks passing by.  

 

Now, talking about making major repairs by yourself, but knowing ahead of time how to change a tire safely gives you a huge advantage.  Follow these few tips BEFORE you actually need them:

 

  1. Study your car’s owner manual:  If you never cracked open the owners manual, when you’re in the middle of a situation like a flat tire, is not the time.  So, go ahead and open your glove box and pull that book out.  Find the section on changing your tire.  Read it through first.  Then, go back and read it again.
  2. Locate the Necessary Tools:  Refer to your owners manual and find where they have hidden the jack, spare tire, and other tools you’ll need to change your tire.  Again, its better to check out off of this BEFORE you need it.  I found out when I was almost 7 miles down a forest road that in order to put part of my jack together I need a screwdriver.  Did the manufacturer include one of those in my kit?  Absolutely not.....and believe me, its hard to dig through your purse to find something that may or may not be a decent substitution for a real screwdriver.  
  3. Practice setting up your Jack:  Figure out NOW, in your driveway or garage, where you should place the Jack.  Don’t forget to set the parking brake on your vehicle. (This is a great safety tip!). I don’t know about you, but the pictures in my owner’s manual just don’t work for me.  I get my husband, son, friend, to show me exactly where that darn jack needs to be placed.  While you’re at it, make sure you know how to operate the jack.  My Toyota has some weird jack; well, at least to me it was.  Once I saw how it was supposed to operate, I thought “well, I can do that”
  4. Practice removing your spare:  Do you know where your spare tire is?  Do you know how to remove it?  Some spares are easily accessible inside the trunk of your care.  Others, like mine, require using a tool to lower the tire from underneath the vehicle and unhooking it.  Know where it is and how to get to it.
  5. Practice Removing and Replacing a Tire:  Once you know how where all of the tools are, how to operate and place your jack, and how to access your spare, try changing a tire.  Do this at home where you have “back-up” in case you run into an issue.  You might be thinking “oh this will be easy” or “I know how to do that”.  But wouldn’t you rather figure it all out in a new environment and not in an emergency situation?  

 

 

A buyers Guide to Home Inspections

Buying a home is a big investment and everyone wants to ensure they get a good deal on a solid home.  One thing that I always recommend my buyers do is get a home inspection on the home they want to buy. A home inspector can identify any problems or concerns and it gives you, the buyer, added peace of mind on this large purchase.  As you complete the purchase agreement, you can make your offer contingent on a home inspection. That simply means that you, as the buyer, are offering a specific amount of money for the home but that offer is based on what home inspector finds. As the buyer, you would hire an experienced home inspector to complete this task for you.  

 

There are a couple of reason to hire a professional home inspector.  First, the home inspector is not emotionally attached to the home.  While you can already imagine how your furniture will look in the living room overlooking the lake, a home inspectors is looking for any defects that would cause alarm.  Second, home inspectors have the experience and knowledge to look at many different aspects of a home that most home buyers don’t have such as plumbing, electric, roofs, heating and cooling systems, and more.  

 

The process of using a home inspector is really easy.  Your Realtor can give you the names and contact information for qualified home inspectors in your area.  Simply contact them, decide which you feel that most comfortable with and schedule a time that is convenient for you.  Or, if you prefer, your Realtor can schedule the home inspection if you are not available or do not live in the area.  

 

On the day of the inspection, the home inspector will spend 3-4 hours at the property.  He will look at everything and take pictures and make notes of anything that stands out as a possible issue.  As the buyer, you can spend the last hour or so with the inspector at the home so he can point out any issues.  You will also get a detailed Home Inspection Report.  Your Realtor can go through the Home Inspection Report with you and based on that report you can go back to the seller and ask to have certain things repaired, ask for nothing and take the property as-is, or walk away. If you ask for items to be repaired, the seller can and sometimes do, say “no”.  

 

One thing to remember as you look at the Home Inspection Report: No Property is Ever Perfect!  None of them. There will always be basic maintenance things.  Look at major issues or safety issues.  Are the fire alarms in working order?  Is the roof leaking?  Is there a plumbing issues under the kitchen sink?  Is the forced air heating system functioning properly. Is the basement wet or does their look like there maybe a foundation issues.  These are big deals. Little things such as a missing outlet cover or a tear in the screen are maintenance. 

 

  

 

10 Steps to a Successful Vegetable Garden in Northern Minnesota

 

 

I’ve always enjoyed gardening but I especially enjoy it in Northern Minnesota.  The weather is much more pleasant then it was in Tennessee and even though the season is technically shorter, the long days ensure beautiful vegetables.  I will say it was a bit of a surprise to find out that most folks don’t put anything in the ground until June 1st.  Heck, in the south, we were planting in February some years.  

 

I had a nice garden last year.  Rented a tiller and put in a nice, new garden spot.  And, while my veggies did relatively well, it still took time for the soil to warm enough to get the plants a really great start.  This year I’ve decided to do raised beds.  This option will give me better control of what’s happening to my soil, water, and plants.  

 

To get you started on your new Minnesota Vegetable Garden, here are 10 steps to a successful vegetable garden:

 

  • Plan on Paper First:  grab a piece of paper and simply draw out what you’d like your garden to look like, where you’d put different veggies, and determine how much space you’ll need. This is always fun for me.  I can start to visualize what my garden will look like.
  • Site Selection & Prep:  Check out your property and decide where you will put your garden. Take into consideration sunlight, what the soil is like, and will you need to protect it from the “critters” that love a free meal.
  • Soil Test:  Once you’ve determined the site and unless you are doing raised beds, do a soil sample test. (The University of Minnesota can run the test for you).  A soil test is an inexpensive way to determine what your soil is lacking.  Once you have this information, you can add to the soil to make it prime planting soil.
  • Veggie Selection:  So you have your garden spot, you’ve tested and prepared the soil, now you need to decide which vegetables you want to plant.  Get pretty specific here and be sure to ask if the specific variety you want will grow well in Northern Minnesota.  Let’s face it, not everything grows well up here.  But the good news is that there is plenty that does.  (I had the best carrots every last year because of the variety I researched and selected)
  • Planting:  When I moved up here, I was told my several neighbors “do NOT put anything in the grown before June 1st”. It’s a good rule to go by.  You can start plants inside in a sunny window or under a grow light, but wait until June 1st to put them in the ground outside.  Also consider staggering your planting so you have a longer harvest time. For example, don’t plant all of your radish seeds at once.  Plants some and then plant some again in 2 weeks.  
  • Nutrients:  Even though you’ve tested your soil and made sure it was ready, don’t forget to feed your plants.  I keep a little notebook in my garden shed with details of each veggie I’ve planted.  Some need more food than others, some more water....by using my notebook, I can remember to double check
  • Water Management:  My mother used to joke that the only way I’d remember to water my house plants was if I walked by the plant and it reached out a grabbed me and cried “please give me water.”  While it is true that often neglected my house plants, I’m very good at ensuring my vegetables have water.  Like Nutrients, plants have different water needs.  Be sure to read the directions on the seed package or ask at the local nursery when you buy your vegetable plants. I use a rain barrel to capture water for my garden.  It’s right there and easy to access.
  • Weed Control:  Raise your hand if you like weeding!  Me, not so much.  But I find if I spend a little time in the morning and in the evening, I can pretty much keep them under control.  If needed, mulch or black plastic works well to keep weeds at bay.  
  • Pest Management:  Nobody wants bugs eating their vegetables.  I’m not a big fan of using “products” too keep them away.  There are organic products that can help and I have been known to simply examine plants and pick the little buggers off.  For me, insects have not been an issue.  It’s the larger “pest” that I like to call wildlife that I must protect my garden from.  You know...deer, raccoons, skunks, mice, rabbits, and yes, even bears.  While I love the look of a cute little fence around the garden, in the North, we use 6 foot minimum and sometimes include a hot wire at the top.  Bigger pest, mean bigger fences.  OR you could simply plant 4 times as much as you need and share with Bambi and his friends.  Your choice!
  • Harvest:  All of the hard work you’ve done leads to the best part of gardening; the Harvest!  Check your garden daily and harvest what is ready.  We enjoy fresh vegetables all season long.  If you have an over abundance, can, freeze, or share with your friends.  

 

What tips do you have to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy your Northern Minnesota Garden!  I know I do. Oh and by the way, the lovely picture on the cover of this blog is not my garden.  It is my dream garden and one day I hope to be there! 

How to be your own Handy-Woman

Ladies, did you know that you can learn to be your own handy-woman without having to wait around for a man to help you. There are simple projects you can do by simply having the proper tools, some patience, and a little “Can-Do” attitude.

Every lady should have a toolbox with basic house-hold tools. We’ll stick to non-powered tools to get started. You can always add some power tools to your line-up as your confidence and skills grow. Here’s a list to get your Handy-Woman Toolbox started:

  • Hammer: hammers come in a variety of weights so pick one that you are comfortable holding and feels good in your hands
  • Screwdrivers: You might not be familiar with the proper names of the different screwdrivers, but you’ll want a set that has a flathead and a Phillips head. The flathead screwdrivers are simple flat at the tip. A Phillips head looks more like a small star. Most home projects can be completed with either a flat or Phillips head screwdriver.
  • Crowbar: Sometimes these are called a Cat’s Paw or Pry Bar. A small one is fine and will be helpful in many projects.
  • Saws: a small wood saw and a hacksaw (for cutting metal). Like the hammer, you want something that you are comfortable handling.
  • Toolbox: A nice box for storing all of your items. You can pick these up in any hardware, lumber, or home improvement store.

(Tomboy Tools is a great company that has a wonderful line-up of tools designed for women by women. You can visit their site here: https://shop.tomboytools.com/ I like that their tools come in pink which means your spouse or sons will never steal them)

To get started with your Handy-Woman work, pick small projects to start with. Things that might seem overwhelming like fixing a leaky faucet or patching a hole in drywall are all doable. You can fix a squeaky or sticky door, repair tile, and even build a flower bed with your hand tools. Don’t be afraid to try. YouTube is loaded with How To Videos and there are other sites such as www.seejanedrill.com and www.houselogic.com. I think you’ll find that learning to do things around your home is not only fun but also empowering.