Jumping into Spring with Tips to Get Ready for a New Season

Spring has sprung and we couldn’t be happier to start packing away the winter clothes, snow boots and basically anything winter related. It’s time to embrace this new season with an appreciation for all it promises to bring. It’s a known fact that the shorter days and colder weather can make you feel down; there’s even a name for it, season affective disorder (SAD, an appropriate acronym). As a result, we are ready to not only dust off of our state of mind but also get our home in order. Just like us, they take a beating from the cold, so it’s important to take care of things we’ve had to neglect due to the weather.  Tackling these projects now will ensure you’re ready to enjoy spring before moving into summer!

Since the exterior of our homes bear the brunt of the cold season starting outside is best:

  • Check all windows and doors – the cold weather can break down the caulking and stripping that seals your doors and windows so take a walk around your home to check for any damage. Replace any old, cracked caulk and/or stripping for proper insulation. You don’t want to let the warm air inside especially when you’re running your air conditioner this summer!
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts – During the winter leaves and other debris can accumulate inside so it’s important to clean out and ensure proper functionality. Gutters direct water away from the perimeter of the home and with rainy months ahead you don’t want clogged gutters, they’ll only cause trouble.

Gutter

  • Service your air conditioner –To ensure you’re prepared for the hot summer days that follow spring, it’s a good idea to begin servicing your air conditioners Begin by replacing the filters to ensure the efficiency of the unit. Clogged filters make it difficult for the unit to work properly. For anyone with allergies, consider replacing the filter about every 60 days or so. For the more complicated servicing consult an HVAC professional at least once a year.
  • Landscaping – Check the surrounding areas of your home, both front and back, and sweep away any old leaves, debris, and tree branches. If your yard contains any bushes or plants give them a trim; most likely they’ve gotten a bit overgrown during these last few months. And don’t forget to replace that winter ravaged door mat for a fresh new look.

Trimming

  • Trim and siding maintenance – Icy and windy winter conditions can wreak havoc on the exterior which can be fragile. Contact a professional if you spot any damage.

Once you wrap up outside, here are some inside spring cleaning tips to get your home in order:

  • Replace damaged or torn window screens – For anyone who likes to keep their windows open it’s important the screens are in perfect condition. This will allow the maximum amount of fresh air to get into your home as well as keep insects like mosquitoes and flies outside where they belong.
  • A deep clean – Give extra care to cleaning your windows; take down and launder the window treatments, dust off the blinds, and clean them with a damp sponge. Carpets and rugs take a hit during the winter months so a deep steam clean will revitalize them. You can either hire a professional service or if you have some extra time, there are places that will rent the machine to you on an hourly basis.

Window Cleaning

  • Test all emergency systems – Check all of your systems (house, smoke, carbon monoxide alarms) to make sure they’re working properly. These units should be tested regularly and spring and fall maintenance are the best times to do this.
  • Ceiling Fans – You might not realize this but the direction of the blades makes a difference. In addition to giving the fan a good cleaning, you’ll want to change the direction of the fans to blow air down to give the room a breeze and make it feel cooler.
  • Store dry goods in airtight containers – With the warmer weather insects return so it’s important to store all your dry goods in sealed containers as well as wash out your pet’s bowls after every meal.

Food Storage

  • Organize, organize, organize – File, shred, and eliminate any clutter. Clean out cabinets, toss anything old such as medicines and cosmetics, and donate or discard get rid of any unnecessary items you don’t use or need.

Escaping New York noise – soundproofing your apartment

 

Whether you’re relatively new to New York City or you’ve been living here for most of your life, it’s never easy to adjust to the daily (and nightly) grind. No matter how many floors you walk up, street noise, snow shoveling, garbage collection, your neighbors, traffic horns and other noises always seem to make their way into your apartment – particularly when it comes time to sleep.

Of course, “soundproofing” per se generally refers to completely eliminating sound. And for those of you living in NYC, you’ll agree that eradicating sound 100% isn’t exactly possible. That’s why we’ve pulled together 3 handy hints for minimizing the noise getting in to your apartment and dealing with the city sounds around you.

#1 Sealing is believing

 

Yes, that gap between the bottom of your door and the floor really might not seem like much, but it allows for the entry of a great amount of noise. Try using a door seal or draft guard to fill the gap! Not only will this help block extra unwanted noise, it’s a simple and cost effective way to add a little extra insulation to your apartment, helping to trap warm air in in the winter. You can pick up a draft seal from Bed, Bath & Beyond for under $10! 

Image: Bed, Bath & Beyond
Image: Bed, Bath & Beyond

 

#2 A win-win(dow) situation

Do you own your apartment? While upgrading your windows is a step up from purchasing a door seal in terms of the price tag, it’s certainly a worthwhile investment. Did you know with the appropriate glass thickness and the right insulation, some windows can block up to 95% of external noise?

If you’re not sure upgrading your windows is worth your investment, you can check in with an acoustic consultant, or soundproofing specialist, to get their advice. You might like to check out Brooklyn Insulation and Soundproofing or City Soundproofing in Manhattan.

Image: Brooklyn Insulation
Image: Brooklyn Insulation

#3 The quick fix: White noise

How does adding more noise to the equation work? Generally speaking, it isn’t the noise itself that keeps you awake or wakes you up during the night, but rather sudden changes in the consistency of noise that jar you awake. White noise creates a masking effect, evening out sudden changes and helping you sleep more comfortably. You can find an interesting read on White Noise by Marpac here

While there are plenty of apps on the market for white noise, a simple table fan will suffice. The hum of a window-unit air conditioner also works great – and will keep you at a comfortable temperature at the same time! 

Image: Marpac
Image: Marpac

Date night? 3 evening childcare services in Brooklyn

So you’re planning a romantic date night with your other half? Unfortunately, when you’ve got children, date night isn’t just about the two of you anymore, is it? Every great date night requires peace of mind knowing you’ve secured safe, reliable evening care for your little ones at an affordable price. And as a quick Google search will tell you, that’s no easy feet!

That’s why we’ve shortlisted 3 evening drop-off childcare services in Brooklyn, so you don’t have to miss out on your next date night.

brooklyn-childcare-map

#1 The Parent-Free Pajama Party

Brooklyn Explorers Academy – Brooklyn Heights

brooklyn-explorers-academyEvery Friday evening, 6-9pm (excluding holidays), Brooklyn Explorers Academy host their parent-free pajama party, with dinner in the main room followed by a child-friendly film showing in the library upstairs. Caring for children ages 2+, Brooklyn Explorers Academy recommends advance registration to secure a spot.

$20 per child

$10 per additional sibling

 

#2 Kidville Park Slope Drop Off Pajama Party

Project Play Date – Park Slope

pj_party_product_7_1024x1024Similar to BEA’s parent-free pajama party, Project Play Date offers a three-hour kids-only party, every third Friday of the month. From 6.30pm-9.30pm they’ll enjoy an evening of activities including dinner, arts and crafts, story time, dance time and movie time!

While the extra activities do come with a slightly higher price tag, you can RSVP via the website for a $20 trial deal.

$60 per child

$40 per sibling

 

#3 Kid’s Night Out (a.k.a. Parent’s Night Out)

Ms. J’s Gymnastics and Dance – Williamsburg

ms-jsSaturday evenings never sounded more fun! Kid’s Night Out at Ms. J’s, for children ages 3+, includes pizza dinner, play time on the big trampoline, learning tumbles across the floor and a range of balance, flexibility and social exercises. It’s safe to say the kids will probably be ready for bed time by the time you come back to collect them!

$40 per child (members)

$5 discount for siblings

A Mean but Green Kitchen Clean!

If you spent Winter hibernating like us, then your kitchen probably got quite a workout. Between roasts, pastas, soups and stews, our cookware, appliances and counter-tops are in urgent need of a refresh. So we’re having a kitchen clean party! Harmful cleaning products are not invited however – all guests must be au naturel.

 

e0351210b8387e40If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

Turn the oven off and clean it! Tonight you’re whipping up a homemade cleaning concoction of liquid dish soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, lemon and vinegar. Delish! Give your oven a quick wipe-down with warm, soapy water, then use a sponge to smooth the cleaner inside the oven. Shut the door and let the cleaner sit for at least four hours before using a damp sponge to remove. Now we’re cooking with gas again!

 

FRIDGEA Fridge So Fresh and So Clean

For a serious deep clean take out all food (storing perishables in a cooler) and outcast out-of-date items. Remove shelves, racks and drawers and wash them in hot soapy water. Wipe down all surfaces with a solution of 2 cups water and 2 spoons of baking soda. Rinse then dry. To prevent odors lingering store an open packet of baking soda in your fridge.

 

ecofriendlycleaningYour Finest Cookware

Baking soda, I got baking soda! For burnt-on stains and discoloration on stainless steel pots and pans mix baking soda with some warm water and a little dish soap to form a smooth paste. Rub on, let sit for a few minutes, then scour off stains and rinse. For cast-iron cookware wash with warm water then simply sprinkle with some coarse salt, scour and wipe pan completely dry. Salt also works for wood cutting boards!


Painless Stainlesssink

Sink your teeth into this quick and natural clean! Give the entire sink a once over with a mixture of baking soda and water and remove water spots with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. For stubborn stains mix cream of tartar with hydrogen peroxide and buff. For extra shine, toss some flour into the sink or a few drops of baby oil and rub. Polished to perfection!

 

 

Gardening Tips that won’t Leaf you Hanging

For many of our clients living in their new and huge homes (with yards!) in areas such as Marine Park, Gravesend and Madison; falling leaves can quickly turn from color to bother. Here are our tips on what to do in the fall to set yourself up for a beautiful, lush, safe garden.

Need gardening and hardware supplies? We recommend Brooklyn favorites dig and Indoor/Outdoor Gardener.

Practice rakes perfect

151103 - rakeAs we layer up, leaves fall down – all season long. Minimize the pain by being vigilant to your vision of a neat, fertile and safe yard. Clear the way before the first batch of snow crystallizes your yard into a slippery space, stripping your grass from the nutrients and water it needs to be alive and thrive by the time spring rolls around.

It’s an exercise of family fun – whether it’s an arm workout for you or nature’s bouncing house for the kids.

Care to compost

The golden rule of composting is the balance between carbon and nitrogen materials. A healthy compost pile should have about two-thirds carbon (brown) materials and one-third nitrogen (green) materials. The carbon-rich materials provide aeration to speed up the composting process, eliminate foul odors and help produce a light, fluffy finished compost.
Most families’ nitrogen needs are fulfilled thanks to kitchen scraps, fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, grass clippings and other fresh materials. Carbon-based materials are harder to come by and this includes leaves, vines, shrub prunings, straw and dried garden waste.

Less is more when it comes to moisture as your compost pile should be covered with a tarp to shed excess rain. Ideally, enclosed composters should be used as they retain the moisture from the materials the materials being composted and deter pests (such as racoons and mice) and speed up the composting process.

Fertilize

151103 - fertilizerBring the day spa to your garden and replace the massage and facial for a good fertilizer. A slow-release fertilizer during this time of year enables your grass to absorb the nutrients over time. Is a dull garden a grass half full or empty? If you fertilize now, you’ll be filled with garden warm fuzzies once the sun shines bright in the spring to a healthy lawn.

Weed out the evil

This one may be for the kids! Weeding during the fall is the smart start your garden needs so when the sunny season kicks in, your garden blooms on a clean slate.

Mulch

151103 - mulchTake the grass catcher off your mower and mow over the leaves on your lawn. Get the clutter to dime-sized pieces and until only about an inch of the grass can be seen through the mulched lead layer. The microbes and worms get to work recycling the leaves and the process helps grass grow brighter and greener. With several passes of your mower, you can mulch up to 18 inches of leaf clutter.

Our insider tip? Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® can help break down your mulched leaves faster.