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Organize Your Family Drop Zone

Have you made your New Year’s Resolution list yet? Like many people, you may have added “Get Organized” to your list of things you’d like to accomplish this year. One place that many people have trouble getting organized is the family drop-zone; a central place in the home where family members (sometimes literally) drop their keys, bags, mail or other important documents.
Many of our homes have built-in drop zone areas , like the Glenstone or Livingston floor plans. However, if that area isn't organized, the accumulation of everyone’s stuff can get overwhelming! By getting (and keeping) your family drop zone organized, you can make sure everyone gets out the door in the morning quickly, while still keeping your home clutter-free at the end of the day.
When you're preparing to tackle your family drop zone, ask yourself these two questions.

Do I use this item on a daily basis?

If the answer is no, find another place for it. Only keep must-have items in your drop zone so that you keep it from becoming a dump-zone!
How can I better utilize this space?
After you’ve cleared out all the unnecessary items out of your drop zone, look at the space itself. Is there something you can add to make the space more efficient?

   • Place a decorative bowl on the counter to hold your keys, or mount hooks on the wall to hang bags or purses.

   • Get a basket for each member of the family to hold shoes, gloves, or scarves.
   • Put drawer organizers to good use by holding pens, pencils, stray paper clips or stamps.
The final step in keeping your drop zone organized is to commit to keeping it maintained. When you come home from work, don’t just drop all the mail in a giant heap. Pledge to sort everything into its proper place. Involve your kids in your efforts too. When they walk in the front door, make sure they know that their shoes and bags need to be put in their bins or hung on the wall instead of dropped on the floor or the counter.
Do you have a family drop zone that you plan on organizing this year? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Create Curb Appeal at Your New Ball Home!

Now that you've moved into your new Ball home, you're ready to add your own personal style to it. There's furniture to arrange and cupboards to fill, but don't let winter weather keep you from putting your personal touch on the outside of your home. There are things you can do right now to add curb appeal to your new home and add "you" to your new abode.

Knock, Knock

Your front door makes the first impression for your house. Make it shine with a new wreath or door mat to greet your guests, like this DIY welcome mat from bottosblog.blogspot.com. If you have a porch, add a decorative bench or rocking chairs. Create symmetry with topiaries or sconces flanking the doorway.

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Light Up the Night
Attract attention to your home even after the sun has gone down. Install decorative lighting in your landscaping or along your front walkway. The bright side (no pun intended) with installing outdoor lighting is that it provides safety and security as well as looking great. Here's an article from the designers at HGTV on working with landscape lighting.

Stop and Smell the Flowers
Plants and flowers can bring instant color to a dreary landscape. Because planting in the winter can be tricky, install ready-made planters or window boxes. Keep your shrubs trimmed and freshen up the mulch to keep your garden areas from looking overrun or tired-looking. Eventually when the weather warms, you can define your landscape with edging stones to add more color and texture to your garden beds.

Making a Basic Tool Kit

There is no doubt that, at some point, you will need to use a tool kit when you move into your new Ball home. From hanging pictures on the wall, to installing new curtain rods, make sure you’re prepared for anything life (and possibly your decorating style) throws at you by assembling a basic tool kit for your home.
There are a couple of different ways you can go about assembling a tool kit. Many stores offer a complete set of tools in an already assembled kit, or you can purchase individual tools as you need them. Depending on your budget at the time, one option might be easier than the other. The most basic tools will often get the most wear and tear, so make sure you buy tools that are of good quality.
·         A tool box, bag, or bucket to put everything in
There’s nothing worse than not being able to find the tool you want when you need it because everything is scattered all over the place. Make sure you have a large box or bag to put all your tools in at the end of the day. Don’t worry about buying a container that is too big--you’ll fill it up eventually.

·         A claw hammer
A claw-style hammer is used to drive and pull nails. This style of hammer will more than likely accomplish any job you need around the house. The more you use one, the more you’ll appreciate a cushioned grip.

·         Screwdrivers
There are many types of screwdrivers out there. The most common ones you will need are varying sizes of a flathead screwdriver (the one with a straight edge) and a Philips head screwdriver (the one with a + at the end). If storage is tight, buy a screwdriver with interchangeable tips.
·         Measuring Tape
Purchase a model that has a blade lock on it, so you can measure what you need without it snapping back on you. The blade should be at least 3/4” thick to keep the tape from buckling when you’re measuring longer lengths. 

·         Flashlight
A flashlight is vital if the power goes out or you are working in a tight area. For starters, any sturdy flashlight will do for your collection, but eventually, you can include other lights of various sizes or ones that can bend or tilt.
·         Pliers
Standard pliers and needle nose pliers do different types of the same job. Needle nosed pliers are handy when you are working with something small and need to grip or bend wires.Heavy grooved pliers are better for removing nails or large staples. Your hands will thank you for getting pliers with padded grips.

·         Utility Knife
It is important to have a sharp, sturdy utility knife. These knives work well for trimming or slicing and the blade can be used to open many types of products. A better option would be to get a knife with a retractable blade, for safety and storage convenience.
·         Level
A level is a must for straightening up pictures, drilling holes in a level line, checking tabletop alignment, or mounting towel bars perfectly. It's important to get an accurate level for accurate positioning. A good sturdy level will last a lifetime, so make sure you go with a quality brand.
 
·         A variety of hardware
Finding the right size screw, nut, or bolt can be intimidating. Luckily, most hardware stores sell handy kits full of the most common sizes. Alternatively, get a few screws, bolts, and nails in small, medium, and large sizes to keep on hand. Having some in silver tones and some in gold tones is a good idea, too. In all events, hardware stores are usually staffed with friendly experts who can answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
·         Power drill
As the unquestioned king of the power tools, a power drill will save you lots of time and offers versatility. You can use a cordless drill for light home maintenance and repair jobs.
Besides drilling holes in a variety of materials, it can be used for grinding, sanding, polishing, and mixing paint. If possible, buy a variable speed drill. You'll find this particularly useful for driving screws, and if the drill also has a reverse switch, you can remove screws as well.
This list is, by no means, all-inclusive. As your life changes, you may find that your tool needs change as well.

Thanksgiving Preparations

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, hopefully your holiday preparations have already begun. Just in case you need a boost before your home is full of your family and out-of-town guests, here a few things you can do this weekend to get ready for turkey day!
·         Give your house an all-over cleaning. Don't waste time with hidden areas and deep clutter; focus on the places your guests will most likely travel, like the entryway, bathrooms, the dining room and the living room.
·         Tidy up the front porch, check porch lighting and add a few fresh potted plants or a wreath on the door. 
·         Clean out the fridge and freezer. You’ll need enough room in your refrigerator to store all those tasty leftovers. For tips on how to clean out your refrigerator, check out this post from our partners at Milestone Realty Consultants.
·         Review the menu and gather all the recipes in one spot. Make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to purchase.
·         Shop for and begin cooking dishes that can be made ahead and frozen, like pie dough. If you are buying a frozen turkey, make sure you buy it ahead of time so it has time to thaw in the fridge. If you need ideas for tasty treats that can be made ahead of time, check out Real Simple’s list here
·         Set your dinner table. Iron out the wrinkles on your table cloths (if you’re using any) and set up your table decorations. Find decoration ideas on our Pinterest page! Use sticky notes to set up the layout of where you want each dish to be placed.
·         Write the cooking plan (oven temperatures and cooking times) on a whiteboard or tape it to the wall, somewhere that you and your helpers can easily check it. You won't have added stress of people coming up to you and asking how long something has to cook for--it's already written down for them!
Do you have any other Thanksgiving preparations?

Organizing Your Kitchen


After you’ve moved in to your new Ball home, make sure your kitchen remains organized and clutter-free with these quick tips!

  • Organize your kitchen cabinets by placing items you’ll use the most on the lower shelves and the things you’ll use least on the higher shelves.
  • Store small appliances like a coffee grinder, handheld electric mixer, and toaster, inside a cabinet on a large lazy Susan. You’ll be able to keep the large, bulky items hidden, but still within reach when you need them.
  • Use your new glass-front cabinets to showcase your good china, antique bowls, or even canisters filled with pasta. 
  • Create a cooking zone around the stove, storing pots and pans as close to the range as possible. Stow essential tools together within easy reach of your cooking zone for efficient food prep.
  • Utilize your interior cabinet doors. Line a door with cut-to-fit sheets of cork to create a message center, or attach a magnetic board to the inside of a door.
  • Set aside one drawer for junk. Most organization experts agree that you can and should have a junk drawer for all the little odds-and-ends things around the house. Use drawer dividers to keep it organized and make sure you go through it at least once every few months to throw away the things you really don’t use. 

    Do you have any other kitchen organization tips? Let us know on our Facebook page!

  • Group like items together. Keep plastic bags and wrapping together in a drawer near the refrigerator to make quick work of storing away leftovers. 
  • Organize your pantry shelves as you would a library, with food items grouped by category. Save space by storing bulky food items in coordinating containers.
  • Line the base of your cabinets with a waterproof mat. You’ll be able to easily wipe up spills, leaks, or crumbs while protecting your cabinets. 

    Do you have any other kitchen organization tips? Share them with us on our Facebook page!