Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

Aug 06 2014

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Manage Back-To-School Stress with these Tips – The House Plan Shop

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School Bus StopWhen it is time to head back to school, preparing your kids for the upcoming school year can be stressful. Below are some tips to help you remain stress-free as your family gets ready for the new school year.

 

  1. Routine is key. – Get everyone on a schedule and find a comfortable routine that works for your family. Children are comfortable with routines because they know what is expected of them and what will happen next. Stress-free kids equals stress-free parents. Additionally, consider asking your kids for their input when making the schedule. By adding their input, you’re kids will be more cooperative when it comes to the daily routine.
  2. Shop with a plan. – When it comes to buying back-to-school clothing, only buy what your kids really need rather than overbuying. Determine what each child has outgrown and purchase only the clothing items needed to fill in the gaps. You’ll spend less time shopping and less money on clothing that isn’t necessary. Additionally, when buying school supplies, shop from the list provided by the school/teacher for each child. There is no need to buy items that are not on the list. This will help keep your budget in check.
  3. Get organized. – Getting ready for school each morning will go more smoothly if you take some time to get organized before the first day of school. Designate a space to store backpacks, jackets, etc. If your children put all of their belongings in the designated space when they come home from school, everything will be easy to find in the morning. Also, create a plan for packing lunches. If you children buy lunch at school, distribute lunch money as part of the daily or weekly routine. If they take lunch form home, pack lunches (or let the kids do it) and place them in a designated area each morning, so the know where to find them before leaving the house.
  4. Eat breakfast. – We’ve heard it a thousand times, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Eating breakfast before everyone heads out the door will curb hunger, boost energy, improve mood and help everyone focus throughout the day. Breakfast will provide plenty of energy until lunchtime, and when the kids are happy and in good moods, you’ll be less irritable and happy too.
  5. Take a break. – Parents often spend so much time taking care of others that they do not take care of themselves. Schedule “me time” each week and stick to it, whether that means going for a weekend jog or sleeping in on Saturday morning, when your happy, rested, and relaxed, it will help you take care of others with a smile.

 

 

 

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May 20 2014

Profile Image of M.K. Tenney

Hurricane Season: How to Prepare – The House Plan Shop

HurricaneHurricane season can last almost a half year (typically June – November), and with hurricane season quickly approaching, you don’t want to be caught off guard. If you live in a coastal area, now is a good time to review your emergency plan and prepare your home and family in case disaster strikes. Review these tips and hints to help you prepare:

  • Create an Emergency Supply Kit – Create your own emergency supply kit. Consider storing these items in a waterproof container: First aid kit, flashlights, blankets, clothing, shoes, water, non-perishable food, radio, prescriptions, toiletries, insect repellant, extra keys, important documents like insurance policies, emergency phone numbers and some cash. Include a phone charger that plugs into the car’s power system for at least one of your cell phones. If you have children, include toys to keep them occupied and of course bring the usual diaper bag contents for infants. Don’t forget leashes and carriers for the pets.
  • Prepare you Auto – Keep your car maintained and the tank full of gas. Know ahead of time the safest route to an emergency shelter and keep in mind alternate routes in case yours becomes blocked.
  • Safety – Safety features in your house should include smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. Consider learning first aid, including CPR. Know when and how to turn off your utilities. Review with your children how to call 911 and other emergency numbers.
  • Have a Plan – Everyone may not be at home when the storm hits, so designate a meeting place and review it with all family members. Also, designate a friend or relative that lives away from the storm’s path, as an emergency contact. Write down all contact information for each family member to carry with them. Practice your plan so that everyone can remain calm and competent when the storm actually hits.
  • Keep Informed – Register for emergency alerts for your cell phone, tablet or computer. Bad weather can take out phone lines and cell towers so be sure to keep a battery powered radio tuned to the appropriate channel/station. Know the difference between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning. A watch means a hurricane could happen, while a warning means that it will happen. This is when all of your preparation and practice will go into effect.

With these helpful tips and a little planning your and your family will be better prepared should a hurricane make land fall in your area.

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Mar 25 2014

Profile Image of M.K. Tenney

National Walk to Work Day: Pedestrian Safety Tips – The House Plan Shop

Filed under Miscellaneous,Safety

National Walk to Work DayWhether it’s jogging, walking the dog, or running to catch a bus, all of us join the ranks, sooner or later, of the most vulnerable users of the road. Thousands of pedestrians are injured or die every year along our roadways. As we look forward to National Walk to Work day on April 4, 2014, review these reminders of how to keep yourself safe on the road.

1. Use the Crosswalk – Of course everyone remembers the rule about not crossing in the middle of the block, we just need to remember to follow it. When crossing at busy intersections don’t assume drivers will yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

2. Increase Visibility – During the day wear light or bright colors. Add reflective clothing at night and carry a flashlight to help you see and to be seen by motorists.

3. Use Sidewalks – Take the sidewalk whenever one is available. If a sidewalk is unavailable and you must walk in the street, walk on the side facing the oncoming traffic.

4. Be Aware – Avoid the distractions of using electronic devices. Keep headphone volume low enough to still be able to hear what’s going on around you. If you have a particularly distracting phone call or text, stop a moment in a safe place to attend to it.

5. Walk Defensively – It’s no different than what you do when driving. Keep an eye out for cars displaying erratic behavior or speeding. If the driver is too preoccupied to control his vehicle, he is not watching out for you.

6. Don’t Drink and Walk – Okay that may sound like a joke or a cliché, but seriously, a third of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents are legally drunk. Alcohol impairs judgment and slows reaction times. Well, you know the drill, just don’t do it.

So if you choose to walk to work on April 4th or any other time you opt to walk instead of drive or take the bus, remember to follow these pedestrian safety tips.

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Oct 21 2013

Profile Image of M.K. Tenney

Halloween Safety Tips for Your Family – The House Plan Shop

Trick or TreatersWith Halloween just days away, it is necessary to think about your family’s safety on this special night. Below are some Halloween safety tips that you probably already know, but please read through them as a reminder to stay safe this Halloween. Remember scary is only good if it’s fun!

  • Accompanied by an Adult – Children should always be chaperoned, preferably by their parents. There is safety in numbers, so travel in groups if possible, and know where you are heading before you start out on Halloween night.
  • Unrestricted Costumes – Make sure your children’s costumes are short enough that they won’t trip when walking. Enlarge the eyeholes in masks or use makeup instead, to help them see where they are going. If they are carrying any props like swords or brooms, make sure they are flexible to prevent injury if they should fall.
  • Light It Up – Bring along flashlights with fresh batteries to help brighten your path. Use reflective tape or glow lights on costumes to help little ones to be seen. Try to stay on well-lighted streets and go only to the houses that have a porch light on at the front door.
  • Don’t Eat the Candy – Wait until you get back home and have time to go through all the loot your children receive.  Inspect wrappers for tampering of course, but also check for choking hazards like small hard candies or toys and items your children are allergic to.
  • Identify Your Auto – If you are staying with the car while sending your trick-or-treaters up to the porches, remember cars can look alike in the dark. Decorate your dash board or radio antenna with something that lights up so the little ones can easily identify their ride. Be sure they are aware to enter the car on the curbside instead of the street side. Don’t forget seatbelts, even if it is a short ride.
  • Obey the Law – Remind little ones the proper way to cross the street, using crosswalks and signal lights when possible. Stay on sidewalks and do not cut through alleys. Some communities post a curfew for trick-or-treating, so start early and get home in a timely manner.

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Jul 30 2013

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

5 More Home Building Tips – The House Plan Shop

Home Construction SiteBuilding your dream house is exciting. But be aware, it can have its challenges, too. In a recent blog post, 5 Practical Tips for Building a New Home, we provided tips to help make the home building process run smoothly for you. Below are five more tips that will help you through the construction process, prepare you from some of the challenges you might face, and ensure success with your home building project.

  1. Choose your location carefully. One of the most important decisions you’ll make about building your new home comes well before construction begins – choosing your lot. It is necessary to be selective about where you build. If building in a neighborhood, ask your yourself, “What makes each possible neighborhood stand out from the rest?” What amenities does each possible neighborhood offer? Walking/bike trails? A community playground? Stoplights and crosswalks at intersections? Next consider if a particular neighborhood will accommodate your lifestyle. Is it closet to work, school, shopping centers, etc.? Is it neat and clean? Drive through the neighborhood at various times of the day over period of a week or two. Pay attention to what is happening in the neighborhood. If you have kids, look for kids playing, riding bikes, etc. Is this a kid-friendly neighborhood? Get a good feel for if this neighborhood is the one you have imagined living in by observing all the activity as you drive through it. If you are building on acreage outside the city or suburbs, you might be looking for property with a view, something that offers natural resources like wooded areas or a pond, or maybe you just want a lot that has good lighting allowing you to take advantage of natural lighting in your new home. It is OK to be choosey. You are going to build your dream home here.
  2. Be familiar with your construction timeline. Constructing a new house doesn’t happen overnight. It usually takes several months to build a new house. During the construction phase, many things must be arranged and coordinated, such as pouring the foundation and delivery of other materials. Your builder or general contractor will take care of the majority of elements related to the actual construction of the home. However, there will be a lot for you to take care of, too. If you currently own a home, your current house must be sold and you must arrange for a new mortgage, all the while you are making decisions about your new home such as what type of kitchen cabinets you want, and whether you prefer hardwood floors or carpet in the dining room. Talk with your builder to get an estimated completion date and plan accordingly.
  3. Monitor progress. Once you and your builder have established an estimated date for completion, it is in your best interest to monitor progress closely. One of the best ways to help prevent construction delays is to be involved in the building process. Visit the construction site regularly and keep track of what is being done. Talk to your builder often and keep up-to-date on progress. Ask questions if something seems incorrect, is taking too long, etc. Carry your own set of blueprints in the trunk of your car and refer back to the construction drawings when visiting the jobsite. This will help you keep a close eye on progress.
  4. Pay attention to your budget. When building your dream home it is easy to go overboard on adding amenities that you’d like to have, but these often add up to BIG BUCKS! Choose upgrades carefully and know exactly how much each one is going to cost. The last thing you want to do is blow your budget half way through the project. And remember, some upgrades can be added later. If you don’t have enough for that fancy chandelier in the dining room, choose a modest light fixture now that will do the job and then upgrade in a couple of years when you’ve had an opportunity to save up for the fixture you really want.
  5. Avoid changes. During construction, you might realize you want to change one aspect or another about your home. Be aware, sticking to the blueprints will help you stay on budget and on time for your scheduled completion date. Try to avoid making changes to your house plans once construction begins. Changes are often costly and can delay the completion of your home. Avoiding changes will help you finish on budget and on time.

The home building process is going to be more enjoyable and more exciting to experience if you are prepared for what to expect in the building process and make careful decisions. If you are considering building a new house, these tips will help you be ready for what is to come.

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