How to Clean Up Thanksgiving Dinner

Cleaning up after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is full of family, friends, and food. However, with all the fun comes a mess. Here’s how to take some steps before the meal starts and after to prevent some of your Thanksgiving mess.

  1. Empty fridge

Before beginning Thanksgiving preparations, clean out your fridge. Get rid of any empty bottles or expired products. This makes room for any ingredients you need for your meal and any leftovers you will have.

  1. Clean as you go

Clean up as you go so that everything isn’t piled up by the end of the night. Wash and put away pots and pans as you cook. Before your guests arrive, run and empty the dishwasher. As dinner goes on, continue to load the dishwasher to reduce the amount of clutter.

Before everyone comes over, empty the trashcan and put in a new bag. Put a few bags in the bottom of the can so you don’t have to search for new bags in the middle of the party.

  1. Use foil

Line the bottom of your oven with a large sheet of foil. Any drippings or food that falls off the pan will be caught by the foil, and you won’t have to clean your oven afterwards. You can also line your baking pans with foil to avoid any baked-on food.

  1. Use parchment paper

When making your baked goods, cut a piece of parchment paper to line the inside of your baking pans. It works the same way as the foil does, keeping food from baking onto the pan and making it difficult to clean.

  1. Tablecloths

Once you are done with dinner, roll the tablecloth up and bring it outside. Shake out all the food crumbs left on the tablecloth and throw it into your laundry room. Wash it after your guests have left.

What is a Buyer’s Market?

Buyer’s Market

A buyer’s market happens when the housing market favors the home buyers. This occurs when home prices are low and there are more homes available on the market. Most real estate agents and analysts use a six-month scale as their base level for determining where the housing market is. That is, if most homes have taken more than six months to sell, then it is a buyer’s market.

What causes a buyer’s market?

There are several reasons the housing market may switch to a buyer’s market. Firstly, when there is the construction of new homes, without ensuring that there will be buyers to purchase the new homes, the market can swing into a buyer’s market. Additionally, economic trends can greatly impact the housing market. Loss of jobs may cause people to search for smaller homes or apartments, which in turn adds their homes to the market. Finally, home buying patterns can cause shifts in the housing market. For example, many millennials are waiting longer to buy a home, which shrinks the number of buyers in the market.

What are the results of a buyer’s market?

The biggest result of a buyer’s market is the lowering of new home prices. People who are selling their homes may be eager to move on and reduce their asking price (often more than once) in an attempt to entice buyers. Additionally, buyer’s markets encourage real estate investing. Buyers rely on the buy-low, sell-high philosophy, which relies on the expectation that the market will soon shift into a seller’s market. When it does, they can re-sell the home at a higher price. Finally, a buyer’s market keeps homes on the market for longer, which is more expensive for sellers. This is because a seller must maintain the cost of upkeep of the home to keep it looking nice for potential buyers and the cost of a real estate agent.

 

Ten Things to Know Before Signing a Lease Agreement

What to Know About Your Lease Agreement

The most important thing you must do before signing on to rent an apartment is read the lease agreement. These are a few of the most important things you should know about before renting an apartment.

  1. Security deposit

Typically, a security deposit is equal to one month’s rent, although it can be higher. In addition to how much your security deposit is, your lease agreement should also tell you when you will get the money back when you move out and any circumstances in which you would not get your money back.

  1. Insurance requirements

Some leases require you to get renter’s insurance. Regardless, it’s a good idea to get renter’s insurance as a landlord’s insurance won’t protect your property should there be a flood, fire, or any other damaging events.

  1. Rent’s grace period

A grace period is how many days after your rent is due that you can pay without incurring a late penalty. The grace period varies by state. If you still do not pay rent before the grace period is over, you will be charged a late fee.

  1. Number of occupants allowed

Most cities have fire codes that limit the amount of people that are able to live in a room. Additionally, a condo or homeowner’s association may also limit the amount of people able to live in the apartment. If you are planning on adding a roommate sometime after you sign the lease, make sure they will be able to move in.

  1. The guest policy

Much like the number of occupants allowed, many apartments have stipulations about the number of nights a non-rent paying individual can stay. If you plan on having family or friends stay with you for an extended period of time, make sure it won’t interfere with your lease’s policy.

  1. Renewals

A majority of leases are for one year, or eighteen months. If you plan on staying for longer, make sure to know what the renewal process is like and what your options are.

  1. Utilities

Find out whether utilities such as gas, electricity, heat, and hot water are included in your monthly bill or if they will be additional expenses.

  1. Sharing-economy policy

With many businesses such as Airbnb breaking out, many landlords are adding a sharing-economy policy to their leases. This prohibits you from renting out your apartment to travelers through these websites. In certain areas, you may even be breaking the law (not just your lease) by renting out your apartment.

  1. Penalties for lease-breaking

If you leave your lease early, there are consequences. You are to continue to pay for the unit until a new tenant is found. While the landlord must be actively looking for a new tenant, there is no time limit. This means you could be stuck footing the bill for months! Additionally, many leases have a clause that will make you responsible for any releasing costs. This includes broker’s fees, cost of advertisements, and credit checks for potential tenants.

  1. Pet policy

If you have pets, or are thinking about getting one, make sure that your apartment allows your furry friend. Some landlords do not allow dogs while others will allow dogs up to a certain weight limit. Each lease is different, so make sure you know exactly the policy for the apartment you want.

Make sure after picking an apartment and signing the lease, you keep the hard copy of the lease document. This will protect you should your landlord add a stipulation later or try to charge you for something that’s not covered in the lease.

 

Six Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Vacant Home

Vacant Homes

When searching for homes, you may come across a few that have laid vacant for the past few years. Before falling in love with these properties, there are a few things that you should check to ensure that the home is in tip-top condition. Here are the top things you should check before buying a vacant home.

  1. Plumbing

When the water hasn’t been turned off, pipes are prone to fractures. Plumbing fixtures require water in them to stay pliable. If there’s no water inside the pipes, flooding is possible. Make sure you turn on all water and valves a few days before a home inspection. This will allow an inspector a better chance to spot any potential issues.

  1. Faucets

Minerals can build up in unused pipes, which can prevent water from flowing when a faucet is turned on. These minerals can clog the system and are hard to get rid of. To clear out these minerals, run both hot and cold water from the faucets. Additionally, remove and clean each aerator to flush the system and place them back.

  1. Appliances

If appliances aren’t properly cleaned before they were turned off, mold and mildew can build up. In this case, you probably aren’t going to want to use the appliance when you move in. When you are bargaining for a price, include the cost of buying new appliances.

  1. The attic

A home that sits rarely sits alone. Squirrels, rats, bats, and other critters love to take solace in the warmth of an attic. In addition to them making the home theirs, they can also make snacks out of the insulation and wiring. Use a pest removal service to see if you have any infestations.

  1. Diminished home inspection

When the water, gas, or electricity is shut off, an inspector can’t properly check the condition of each area of your home. Turn on the utilities a few days before to get the most out of your inspection.

  1. High insurance

In addition to your inspection, an insurance agency may want to complete their own inspection before issuing a policy for a home that’s been vacant. Get several quotes from different companies before purchasing the home.

What is a Bidding War and How to Win One

Bidding Wars

A bidding war occurs when two or more buyers are interested in a home and continue to make higher offers they are willing to pay for the property. This is usually fast-paced, meaning buyers will have to make less thought out decisions. While bidding wars may be the dream for a seller, they can often lead to buyer’s remorse. As such, be sure that you really want a home before you continuously put in more bids. Bidding wars are exceedingly common in a seller’s market.

How to win a bidding war

  1. Price is important, but not everything

Price isn’t the sole thing sellers take into consideration when deciding which offer to choose. In fact, for many sellers, the price may be a secondary consideration to many other factors. Consider whether the sellers need to close quickly. If you have pre-approval and all your paperwork in order, you can use the promise of a shorter close to your advantage.

  1. Have a face-to-face conversation

Sit down with the seller’s agent to find out why the sellers are moving, and use that information to your advantage. Find out if they are selling for the money, if they are moving for a job, or are just under pressure to get rid of the house. Any information can help you in a bidding war.

  1. Get a pre-approval letter

Getting pre-approved greatly helps your chances in a bidding war. Submit all financing documents to your lender before considering houses and writing any offers. Include your pre-approval letter with your offer. This shows sellers that not only are you serious about purchasing the home, but they won’t have to wait and see if you will be able to pay the amount you offered.

  1. Be flexible, but firm

To win a bidding war, you must be flexible. However, make sure not to bend your offer or terms too much.

  1. Limit the contingencies

In a bidding war, sellers have the upper hand. They will want to see clear and concise offers. If you know there are a lot of offers coming in on the house you want, avoid having too many contingencies in your offer.

What is a Loft Apartment?

Loft Apartments

When searching for a new place to live in, you’re probably going to come across many different types of spaces. One of the places you might find is a loft apartment. The definition of loft can vary depending on the region you are looking; however, it is most commonly used to describe one type of apartment.

Most common usage of “loft”

A loft apartment is most commonly defined as a large, open space. The space generally does not have any internal walls, with the exception of the bathroom. These apartments are usually in buildings previously used for commercial or industrial use that have been turned residential. Loft apartments generally characterized by high ceilings, exposed pipes, and support beams. They also have wooden or concrete floors as well as oversized windows. These types of apartments are can be found in neighborhoods and cities across the United States but are commonly associated with New York City.

Second usage of “loft”

In some areas of the country, a loft apartment is an apartment that has an upstairs or overhead loft area, that is partially open and overlooks the main living area. Most times, this space is used for a bedroom. However, it can also be used as an office space or a living area. It’s likely that this area doesn’t have normal ceiling heights. Most times, the ceiling is about four feet high for sleeping lofts, where mattresses are meant to be placed on the ground. However, ceilings can get up to the standard nine feet high. Access to this area is usually gained by a normal staircase.

Benefits

Lofts work well for people who want an open space. They also are great for people who want to be flexible with their living space, as the open space allows them to transform their space as they desire. Loft spaces are also great for people who want one space to work and live in.

What You Need on the Table for The Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving has no set menu. However, there are a few items that continuously end up on our menus. If you’re struggling to figure out what to put on your menu, here’s some items to round out your Thanksgiving menu (and leave your kitchen smelling delicious!).

The main event

  1. Classic roast turkey

A classic roasted turkey is the crème de la crème of a traditional Thanksgiving menu. Brine your turkey to get the most delicious and juicy meal.

  1. Fried turkey

Fried turkey is a great way to give the classic dish a new twist. Coat your turkey with a dry rub and let your turkey sit until it reaches room temperature. Fill a turkey fryer with oil and heat it to 350°F. Once fully heated, lower the turkey into the hot oil until it’s fully submerged. Fry the turkey for three minutes per pound. When finished, remove turkey from oil and drain on paper towels

On the side

  1. Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish for turkey, whether it’s for Thanksgiving or not. For creamy mashed potatoes, press boiled potatoes through a ricer or use an electric mixer.

  1. Gravy

To make a classic gravy, mix together any pan drippings from a roasted turkey, one to two cups of broth or water, some vegetable oil or butter, ¼ of a cup of all-purpose flour, and salt and pepper.

  1. Stuffing

Stuffing can be made to go into your turkey or left on the side. Use cubed bread, salt, sage, thyme, poultry seasonings, and sautéed onions and celery. If you are leaving your stuffing on the side, stir everything together and bake in the oven.

  1. Cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is simple to make and perfect for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. All you need is some cranberries, sugar, water, and salt to make this perfect tart side dish.

  1. Dinner rolls/biscuits

Whether you home make them or buy them for the store, you can’t go wrong with some bread on the side to sop up all the gravy!

Vegetables

  1. Green bean casserole

Green bean casserole has been a staple of the Thanksgiving table for years. Throw together some blanched green beans, a mushroom sauce, and freshly fried shallots to get a fresh twist on the old classic.

  1. Brussel sprouts

Brussel sprouts may be a controversial vegetable, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a role on your Thanksgiving table! Trim and halve the sprouts and then toss them in an olive oil, salt, and pepper mixtures and roast them in the oven.

  1. Roasted carrots

Cut your carrots and toss them in an olive oil, salt, and pepper mixture and roast them. Top it all off with dill or parsley when they come out of the oven for the perfect carrot dish.

A sweet touch

  1. Pumpkin pie

It’s not Thanksgiving without pie, and pumpkin pie definitely stands out among the rest as the king of Thanksgiving desserts. Find your favorite recipe online or go to your favorite bakery to make sure this makes it to your table.

  1. Pecan pie

Toasted pecans, honey, corn syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt make the perfect base for your pecan pie. Find your perfect crust recipe online or buy one from the store to make this sweet dessert a reality.

 

Host the Perfect Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Whether it’s your first-time hosting or your fiftieth, Thanksgiving is always a stressful holiday. Here is an essential timeline to de-stress and enjoy the day.

Two to Three Weeks Before

  • Make a plan

Start planning your dinner. Think about where you want guests to sit and where you want to set up your food. You can do a buffet style or place the food on the table with your guests. If you will have more than eight guests, it’s better to do a buffet style.

  • Create a menu

Create a menu with recipes that are simple and trusted. Try not to get too crazy with new recipes. If you want to do something unique, try making a signature drink or a new dessert to go along with your classic pumpkin pie. Once you have your menu confirmed, create a grocery list.

  • Order your turkey

When ordering your turkey, you’ll want to purchase three-quarters to a pound of turkey per person. This will leave you with at least one day of leftover turkey. You can buy the turkey ahead of time and freeze it. Keep in mind you will need one day of thawing for every four pounds. While you’re ordering your turkey, consider ordering prepared appetizers or desserts to serve. There’s nothing wrong with not preparing everything that goes onto your Thanksgiving table.

  • Confirm your guest list

Make sure you know how many people are coming to your house. You’ll also want to make a note of how many children are coming as well. Once you have an idea of how many people are coming, you can ask people if they would like to bring anything with them. Many people may even offer to bring something. For this, make sure that you get specific as to what they should bring (you can even provide them with the recipe) so that you know what food you will be serving.

One week before

  • Grocery shop

Grocery shopping can be stressful. Get it out of the way five to six days in advance to avoid the day of craziness at the grocery store.

  • Prepare for overnight guests

Make sure have fresh linens and towels for your guests. Make up any beds and make sure that you have shampoo, conditioner, and body wash that they can use ready in the shower.

Week of

  • Make the table

Taking care of this relieves some day-of stress. If you plan on having assigned seating, have place cards ready. Sit small children between their parents. Pro-tip, if you have any lefties eating at your Thanksgiving, place them on the end of the table to avoid any bumping elbows.

  • Take inventory

Make sure you have all the essential tools needed for cooking and serving your meal. Make sure you have a meat thermometer, casserole dishes, and enough plates and silverware for everyone to use.

  • Start cooking

You can start cooking some items a few days ahead so you don’t have to worry about preparing the day of. Gravies can be frozen and casseroles and vegetables can be cooked a few days in advance. If you can’t make something in advance, try to prepare any items you can. Chop herbs and vegetables, get spices ready, or anything else that can speed along your cooking process on Thanksgiving Day.

Day of

  • Wake up early

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving isn’t the day to sleep in. Make a schedule beforehand and stick to it. You’ll want to be prepared at least an hour before guests are set to arrive. You will most likely have guests arrive early, and there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of getting dressed when you have someone at the door!

  • Keep food warm

There are many ways to keep your food warm while you’re waiting for dinnertime. Use your microwave to keep food warm for up to half an hour. Gravy can be kept in a thermos to keep it warm. Use crock-pots to keep other sides warm.

  • Get the perfect turkey

The general rule of thumb is to cook the turkey for thirteen minutes per pound. Check in three places, the breast, thigh, and stuffing, to check whether the turkey is cooked. The temperature should be at least 165°F. If it isn’t at this point in any of the three locations, cook the turkey for twenty more minutes. If you don’t have stuffing, your cooking time may be slightly different. Look online to find the perfect way to season your turkey.

  • Enjoy!

Now that everything’s done, you can sit back and relax with your family and enjoy the delicious meal you have prepared.

Five Meal Delivery Services

Meal Delivery Services

Sometimes dinner isn’t always the easiest thing to plan. Whether you are a seasoned chef or you’re just starting in the kitchen, meal delivery services are perfect for you. Here are five different meal services for you to choose from.

  1. Blue Apron

Blue Apron has one of the lowest costs among other meal-delivery services at under $10 per person. It is also one of the easiest programs to sign up for. In less than fifteen minutes, you can set up your account and place your first order. Each week you are given six different meal options, which includes vegetarian and healthy meal options. Each box comes with easy to follow recipe cards with detailed instructions.

  1. Martha & Marley Spoon

Martha & Marley Spoon is Martha Stewart’s meal delivery service. It features $11 per-person gourmet meals and easy-to-follow recipes. Each week features seven new recipes, in addition to three customer favorites. From that, you are able to choose three meals for the week. Additionally, Martha & Marley Spoon doesn’t have a shipping charge!

  1. Sun Basket

Sun Basket is one of the most customizable meal-delivery services. You are able to pick from a wide variety of box options, including two, three, or four meals per week, with ten recipes to choose from each week. They also offer a range of different recipes, that include vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, and heathier options. For a two-person box, Sun Basket costs $11.49, with shipping costing $5.99.

  1. Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh gives you eight weekly meal options to choose from. A great benefit of Hello Fresh is that the company pre-organizes your meals into mini boxes, making it easy to start your recipe and store what you need in the refrigerator. The meal delivery service is $9.99 for a two-person box with three meals per week, and to top it all off, free delivery!

  1. Plated

Plated is a meal-delivery service with high-quality protein and produce. You get to choose between fourteen weekly dinner options, for a three-meal week. Shipping is a bit more expensive than other meal preparation boxes on the market. However, you can get free shipping on boxes if you spend over $60. The price for a two-person box is $11.95.

What You Need to Know About Houseboats

Alternative housing options have been gaining a lot of popularity recently. Nowadays, you can find people living in a variety of different housing options. One of these alternative housing options that have been gaining popularity in recent years is a houseboat.

What is a Houseboat?

A houseboat is a broad term, which covers many different styles of boats. Houseboats range from tiny boats with a mattress stuffed in the hull to huge yachts that outsize two-story homes. The most common style of houseboat, however, is a floating barge with a moderately sized engine. These boats have an outward façade that looks like any land-bound home. They typically cover approximately 600 square feet and usually have two stories.

Houseboats are usually docked in a marina slip for the summer and then moved into storage for the winter. Houseboats located in warmer or milder climates may stay docked in the slip year-round.

Buying a Houseboat

When considering buying a houseboat, contact a marine lender to see if you qualify for any types of loans specific to houseboat financing. Usually, when purchasing a houseboat, you will have to make a down payment between 20 and 35 percent of the home.

You must have your houseboat inspected in order to get a loan. The inspection includes inspection of the hull, the body of the boat, and the interior. The buyer pays for the inspection, so make sure your inspector is experienced. The inspection can take as long as twenty days to complete, so keep that in mind when considering financing.

The houseboat’s marina usually takes care of the property taxes. However, a buyer may be billed for homeowner’s association fees. The HOA fees usually cover water, garbage, and landscaping of the property. They may also include sewage. You will have to pay an annual relicensing fee as well. The cost of this fee depends on the size and the value of your houseboat.

Houseboat Maintenance

Any houseboat will need maintenance. All houseboats have holes in the hull that let outside water into inside systems, such as the toilets, showers, and sinks. Make sure to check these holes regularly as any leaks can lead to the interior flooding and lots of damages. Additionally, black water will need to be pumped out intermittently and sewage will need another outlet other than the body of water you are on.

A houseboat needs similar inspections as a car would. Make sure to check for oil changes, the ignition, the propellers, the roof, and other such areas on the boat. You may be able to do a portion of these maintenance needs yourself, however, you should leave the harder jobs to the professionals.