Some people think that their carport is just a place to park their car. Nothing could be further from the truth! A carport can be a great place to host a party. Just imagine your friends and family talking and laughing during a birthday party held underneath the roof of your carport. Or maybe your wife wants a unique place to celebrate a coworker's baby shower with all of her friends. A carport is ideal because guests can enjoy the warm breezes while staying out of the sun. I thought I would share some simple ideas for transforming your carport into party central. Party on!
Setting Up the Seating
Often, guests like to mill around and talk with one another during a party. But you should provide some seating if they want to sit down for a while to enjoy a piece of cake. One idea is to set up a few folding tables and cover them with tablecloths. White tablecloths are a traditional choice, or you could liven up the décor with a collection of pastel colors. Remember to set up a long folding table that will hold all of your refreshments. Bring out some folding chairs and set a few of them around each table. Whether it's a baby shower, a birthday party, or just a celebration of summer, flowers are the perfect centerpiece for your tables. Yellow daisies, blue hydrangeas, and tulips of any color are all appealing choices. If your party falls on a windy day, be sure to secure your tablecloths with tape so they won't take flight during your party!
Decorate Those Legs
One of the easiest ways to prepare a carport for your party guests is to decorate the legs that support it. One suggestion is to wrap colorful streamers around them. Be sure to leave a loose tail at one end of each steamer so they will blow in the breeze. Or tie some balloons to the legs and let them bounce around to signal the presence of a party. If you're having a baby shower, try making paper rosette balls in pink or blue and hanging them from the legs of the carport with silky ribbon. This is a perfect decoration if you already have a supply of tissue paper streamers.
No Bare Walls Allowed
If you have a carport that is partially enclosed by a single wall, then you have another place to put decorations. If you're throwing a bridal shower, put up a collage of pictures featuring the engaged couple. Or if it's a birthday party, put up a large piece of poster board where friends and family can write down their birthday wishes for the guest of honor. Photographs, artwork, and greeting cards are all fun items to display on this wall.
Finally, play some entertaining music in the background of your party. A portable CD player or even an iPod are both great ideas for supplying some tunes at a small, outdoor party. And remember, the best thing about a party in a carport is that a spilled glass of punch or a dumped plate of coleslaw is no big deal! Thanks for reading. - Alan
"Spring Cleaning Makes for a Tidy Home!"
A solid round of spring cleaning is yet another way to sweep away the memories of a tough winter season. This week, I thought I'd outline some tips that can help make some of the most common as well as some of the less common spring cleaning tasks a little bit easier. Happy cleaning!
11 Tips to Help with Spring Cleaning
- Clean Those Windows. This is a task seen on many springtime to-do lists. In order to get the job done right, you have to do both the inside as well as the outside of the windows. To avoid leaving streaks, try cleaning your windows with newspaper. This is a great way to use those newspapers that don't make it into the recycling bin. Plus, by taking this approach, you can really save on your paper towel budget!
- Give Your Garage Floor the Once Over. During the wintertime, you may have stored your car inside the garage every night to protect it from the icy winds and snow. Well, if you've noticed oil spots on your garage floor there's an easy way to get rid of it. I recommend that you pour some kitty litter on top of the spot. Put on some old shoes and spend a few minutes grinding the kitty litter around beneath your feet. Finish the job by sweeping the kitty litter into a dustpan and throwing it away. As the kitty litter is swept up, you should see very little, if any, of the oil stain on your garage floor.
- Winter Coats, Take a Vacation! If you have your winter coats in a hall closet, it's time to take them out and wash them. Put them in garment bags to keep them in good shape for next winter. If you don't have garment bags, you can just push them toward the back of the closet to make room for spring jackets and raincoats.
- Examine the Dog's Bed. This is a spring cleaning task that is often overlooked. It's likely that your dog spent a lot of cold winter days curled up on that bed. He's no fool! Wash the bed to get rid of all of the odors and dog hair that accumulated over the cold weather months.
- Let the Breezes In. Many families transfer their storm door to the garage and replace it with a screen door for the warm weather season. Hose off the screen door and sweep away the cobwebs with a broom before putting it up.
- Patio Furniture Time! If you have patio furniture it's time to take it out and hose off the dust and dirt. Allow the fabric on the chairs and the patio umbrella enough time to dry completely. Shine the glass table top to give your patio area some extra sparkle.
- Clean the Sofa. The start of spring is a wonderful time to take the cushions off the sofa and chairs in your sitting area and clean them off outside. You can vacuum them or beat some of the dust out of them with the handle of a broom. I suggest you leave them outside to soak in some of that fresh air while you vacuum the bare sofa and chairs.
- Don't Forget the Refrigerator. A round of spring cleaning is a great opportunity to vacuum beneath the refrigerator as well as on top of it. It's easy to forget these places, so a lot of dust can build up before you know it.
- Clean the Oven. Cleaning the oven in the spring is a smart thing to do after using it to cook all of those comfort foods during the cold weather months. Simply follow the instructions on the can of oven cleaner.
- Take a Peek Under the Bed. This is an area that needs to be addressed after a long winter. I would be very surprised if you didn't find more than one family of dust bunnies living there. No matter how careful you are about cleaning, dust bunnies seem to find a way under the bed while you're not looking! The upholstery attachment on your vacuum will do the trick.
- Close Up the Fireplace. If you have a fireplace that you used over the winter, it's time to take any logs out of it and sweep it out. Make sure the flue is closed and the glass doors are secure. Do this and you'll be ready to light a fire on the first cold night that rolls around next winter.
Thanks for reading!-Alan
I've found that the tasks of organizing a garage and getting rid of clutter often go hand in hand. Let's face it: It's much easier to organize a garage when there are fewer items to organize! That's why I recommend that you consider hosting a garage sale. This is a convenient way to get rid of items you don't need and create more space in your garage. And you may be surprised at what people will pay for items you no longer want. Take a look at some tips that can help you to bring some organization to your garage sale.
Capture Their Attention
Depending on where you live, there may be several other garage sales happening on the same day as yours. Having competition makes it all the more important to carefully plan your sale. It's a good idea to draw people onto your street by posting colorful signs with arrows that lead drivers to your house. You may want to highlight some brand names on your signs to get people curious about what you're selling. Once you see a steady stream of shoppers entering your neighborhood, you know that you're off to a good start!
Imagine Your Life with …
It's not enough to put your items out on tables and sit down to drink an iced tea. I recommend that you create an arrangement that helps shoppers envision themselves with various items. For example, if you are selling a popcorn popper, make a bowl of buttery popcorn with it and set it next to the popper. The aroma alone will get the attention of shoppers! Put a few DVDs or a novel next to the bowl. Hopefully, this will get your shoppers thinking of how fun it would be to pop some popcorn and sit down to watch a DVD or read a great novel on a Friday night. In addition, try putting various outfits together along with pairs of shoes. If you have a mannequin to dress up, that's even better. A complete outfit is a lot more appealing to look at than a rack of miscellaneous clothes. An older sofa in your sale looks a lot more comfy with colorful throw pillows on it or even a crocheted blanket. In short, small touches can make the difference between selling an item and loading it onto a donation truck at the end of the day.
Divide Your Garage into Departments
Hang a sign in the areas of your garage that contain women's clothing, men's clothing, and kids' clothing. This makes it easy for shoppers to navigate their way through your "sales floor." Organize the clothing items by color and season. The easier you can make things for shoppers, the more likely they are to linger at your sale and make a purchase.
Set Your Garage Sale Apart from the Crowd
There are many extra elements that can make your sale more appealing. Try playing music in the background. Music with a lively beat is a good choice. One idea would be to play some rock and roll from the 1950s. Choose something that shoppers can tap their feet to as they look through your items. Serving snacks is another idea that can set your sale apart from competing garage sales. Give away tiny cups of lemonade and maybe some homemade cookies. (Be sure to let people know the ingredients of the cookies ahead of time.) Also, don't let people wander in without being recognized. Greet people with a smile and thank them for coming, even if they only buy a kids' plastic ring for five cents. You never know: That person may tell a neighbor about your sale and you could get another customer.
I hope these tips prove helpful to you on the day of your garage sale. Happy selling! - Alan
Clearing the Way for Spring
With the arrival of spring comes the task of putting away all of those wintertime supplies. I've found that this can be a pleasant job, particularly if the winter months seemed to drag on for an especially long time. It's wise to organize these items so you can find them when wintertime rolls around again. Here are some tips for storing your winter-related items. Enjoy!
Snow Removal Equipment and Supplies
Most of us have at least one traditional snow shovel and maybe even a few high-tech items that we use to clear the driveway of snow. I suggest you store your snow shovel on a large hook on one wall of the garage. This way, it's off the garage floor and out of the way until you need it again. If you have a shovel rack to hang it on, that's even better.
Storing a snow blower is a simple task if you have one available corner in your garage. Park the snow blower there and put a plastic tarp over it to keep the dirt and dust off. Storing it in a corner keeps it from getting in the way of the car, bicycles, and other items that are used every day.
Many of us have at least one bag of salt for throwing on icy sidewalks and driveways. Make sure that the bag is completely closed and that there are no holes in it. Put the bag in a plastic bin with a lid and place it next to your snow blower or shovel. You may even want to put a label on the lid of the bin so you won't need to open it to know what's inside.
Wintertime Items for Your Car
Maybe you have a set of chains that you put on your tires during the snowy days of winter. If you do, they need to be stored in an appropriate way. Make sure the chains are completely dry, and store them in a plastic bin with a lid. Be sure to put them in a large bin so the chains won't become tangled. The goal is to keep the chains away from moisture that could rust them and make them less effective when you need them next winter.
A bottle of leftover antifreeze can be stored on the top shelf of a cabinet in the garage. This prevents it from being spilled and keeps it out of the reach of young children who may be playing in the area. Sometimes it's helpful to put a label on the outside of a cabinet in order to keep track of all of the items stored there.
You may be someone who keeps a heavy blanket in the trunk of your car in case your car stalls on the road in the dead of winter. If you want to take this blanket out of your car to make room for other things, I recommend that you wash it, fold it, and put it into a plastic trash bag. This keeps it in good condition for next winter. Be sure to label the bag so you don't mistakenly throw the blanket out with the weekly trash!
I hope this adds some organization to your garage and inspires you to dust off that patio furniture. Bring on the springtime! Thanks for reading! - Alan
A Storage Shed or a Playhouse for a Child? You Decide!
I've found that there are some people who purchase a storage shed for a specific reason. They may want a place to put all of their gardening tools, or they're looking for somewhere to store their children's bicycles and sports equipment. There are other people who look at a storage shed and envision dozens of possible uses. This week, I thought it would be fun to learn about some of the creative ways that people use their storage sheds.
A Home Office
Who ever said that all work has to be done in a stuffy office building? Not me! There are individuals who look at their storage shed and see a comfortable home office. They may put their desk near a window to take advantage of the natural light. Also, the addition of a soft rug, a cushy sofa, and some pictures on the walls can immediately transform a storage shed into a peaceful place to get some work done. One of the biggest advantages of making a shed into a home office is that you can accomplish your work away from the noise and commotion going on inside your home. When you're done with work, you can leave it behind you in your home office!
A Kid's Playhouse
Some people opt to make their storage shed into an adorable playhouse for a kid. Many of them paint the exterior while adding a small table and chairs to the interior. A rug, a loveseat, a bookcase, and even a kitchen playset are all great additions to this kids-only area. The décor depends on the child and what they want the interior to look like. A shed-turned-playhouse is an ideal place for kids to spend their time playing pretend games with friends from the neighborhood.
A 'Man or Woman Cave'
It's likely that Mom or Dad needs a place to get away for a while. This is why some people convert their storage sheds into a "man cave" or "woman cave." A man cave may have a big sofa or an easy chair along with an electrical hookup for a television. I recommend a mini-refrigerator full of fun snacks and beverages: After all, no man cave is complete without snacks! A busy mom who wants her own place to get away could decorate her woman cave with her favorite things. Maybe she wants to get in some television watching, too. Curtains on the windows and a soft chair to read in would make the place all her own.
A storage shed can easily be transformed into a workshop for a family member who loves to fix things or do woodworking. Simply move a small workbench and a collection of tools into the shed. Make sure the workbench is close to a window in order to have plenty of natural light. Open the door on warm days and enjoy the breeze while concentrating on a beloved project.
Whether you want to use your storage shed for storage or something else, it's a place that can serve all sorts of useful purposes. Thanks for reading! -Alan
"A Modern Day Garage"
Every so often, I think about garages that belong to different eras like the 1950s. I like to compare them with the garages of today. Not surprisingly, I've found that there are some similarities as well as some fundamental differences between them. Consider what I came up with to see if you agree.
Garages from the 1950s vs. the Garages of Today
Whether it's a garage from the decade of the '50s or one used in the 21st century, the ultimate purpose of a garage remains the same. A garage is a place to store one or more vehicles to protect them from the harsh weather elements. So, if you're lucky enough to have a red and white 1957 Corvette that's in mint condition, there's no better place to put it than inside a sturdy garage! Another similarity between garages of the 1950s and today is the flooring. Most garages from both eras have cement floors that can be swept and cleaned very easily. For instance, oil that leaks from a car onto a garage floor can be cleaned off cement with relatively little effort. I recommend using kitty litter in the cleaning process. Mud, dirt and leaves can all be swept off a cement floor in a matter of minutes. There is one more undeniable similarity between 1950s garages and today's garages. Today, people put boxes, old clothes, broken appliances and other unwanted items out into the garage just as they did back in the 1950s!
Certainly, there's a difference in the amount of space found in today's garages as compared to garages of the 1950s. In fact, some ranch style homes of the 1950s had an attached carport instead of a garage. Many households owned only one car so a single car carport was a logical choice. Today, it's common for a household to own two or maybe even three cars. Therefore, today's garages are made to accommodate two cars and sometimes more. Another difference between today's garages and garages of the '50s is the amount of light in them. A typical garage from the 1950s may have had a single window on one side that let in a little bit of natural light. Alternatively, today's garages can have several windows that create an airy atmosphere inside the structure. There may even be a side door where a person can enter and leave when the main doors are closed. Some owners even opt for a garage door with glass panels. People use their garages in a different way today than they did in the 1950s. For instance, instead of thinking of a garage as a practical structure, some people transform the space into a living area. A garage may become an outdoor sitting room or even a recreation room for family members. In short, they choose to keep their cars elsewhere and create a relaxing space for family and friends to gather.
Finally, no matter what you plan to use your garage for, you have a lot more choices when it comes to this type of structure. So, let your imagination go and make your garage into a place that serves the unique purposes of your family. Thanks for reading!-Alan
I've noticed that people who are pack rats like to put things in many places throughout the house. Basements, closets, crawlspaces, and spare rooms in a home are just a few examples. A garage is also a favorite storage place used by individuals who never seem to throw anything away. Whether you're a pack rat or not, sometimes it's difficult to get rid of certain items that are taking up space in the garage. They may have sentimental value, or perhaps you think an item will be used sometime in the future. I thought I would use this week's blog to offer some suggestions on how to get rid of unnecessary items in a garage.
Five Tips to Help You Rid Your Garage of Unnecessary Items
1. Consider How You Want to Use the Space in Your Garage: Some people want to have enough room to put two cars in their garage, while others want to use the space as a workshop. Determining how you want to utilize your garage gives you a goal as you begin to dispose of various items. As you deliberate on whether to get rid of an item, try to focus on your new plans for the garage space once the clutter is gone.
2. Take a Good Look at the Things in Your Garage: If you have items in your garage that haven't been used in months or years, then it's time to get rid of them. Boxes of used clothing, discarded appliances, books, and old magazines are just a few examples. It's helpful to look at each item in your garage and think of the last time you used it. Chances are good that if you haven't used an item in six months, it's time to get rid of it by either donating it or pitching it.
3. Make Arrangements to Donate Large Items: If you have chairs, a sofa, a table, or other furnishings taking up space in your garage, you can donate them to a local charity. Of course, they must be in good condition. I recommend that you go with a charity that offers to pick up the donated furnishings.
4. Make Plans to Drop Off Donations: Set aside a particular day and time to drop off the clothing, books, appliances, and other items that you clear out of your garage. Having a plan can help you to follow through with getting rid of these items before you begin to come up with reasons why you should keep X, Y, and Z.
5. Clean Out the Garage on Garbage Pickup Day. By cleaning the clutter out of your garage on garbage pickup day, you will have very little time to retrieve items from the trash cans. Once the trash is gone from the curb, you won't be able to entertain any second thoughts about what you pitched.
I hope these suggestions help you to clear away the unnecessary items in your garage. Your reward will come when you eliminate the creeping clutter and get your garage back! Thanks for reading. - Alan
Make Your Horse a Welcome Addition to the Neighborhood
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that dealing with manure is probably not a favorite task of most horse owners. But it's certainly a part of the work involved in caring for a horse. This week, I thought I'd offer some tips to horse owners on the topic of horse manure storage and management. I hope they prove helpful to you.
The Importance of Location: When considering where to put a manure pile, it's best to put it in an area that is not prone to flooding. Runoff from a manure pile can pollute water sources used by humans. The location of a manure pile should be accessible to horse owners but not too close to other homes. I recommend that you create a diagram of your farm that includes a manure storage area so you can determine the most logical place for it. Drawing a diagram can even help you to figure out where you can put the pile so it will be downwind from your neighbors' homes.
Consider the Number of Horses Living in Your Barn: A horse owner must calculate the amount of manure storage space that will be needed. This is done by multiplying the average amount of waste a horse produces per day by the number of days it will stay in the storage area. The amount of bedding a horse has in its stall should also figure into your calculations. Of course, if there is more than one horse living in the barn, it will affect the final calculations. The goal is to end up with a manure storage area that can accommodate all of the manure produced by the horses in a barn until it is time to haul the waste away.
Disposal of Horse Manure: Before that pile of manure grows too large, I suggest that you have plans for its disposal in place. Some horse owners spread the manure in a pasture or in their gardens. Other owners hire a company to haul the manure away on a regular basis. There is also the option of composting horse manure. This is an option if you want to dispose of your horse's manure in an organic way and take advantage of the benefits of composting.
Shielding a Manure Pile: You may want to consider putting a tarp or a heavy plastic covering over the manure storage area. This can prevent run-off when it rains. Some horse owners go the extra mile and erect a fence near the manure storage area so it's not immediately visible to visitors. Using a fence to obscure a manure pile allows you to control the appearance of your stable area or farm. I imagine that there are other features of your farm that you want to highlight!
Proper Manure Storage Prevents Small Intruders: By keeping a manure pile on a concrete slab in a partially enclosed area, it can reduce the incidence of problems with parasites as well as insect and rodent infestation. Keeping the amount of manure under control is the key to storing it in a successful way until it can be used or removed.
I hope these tips take some of the hassle and mess out of horse manure storage. Thanks for reading! - Alan
'Make Your Shed Space Your Own'
Just because a backyard shed is a practical structure doesn't mean you can't throw some creativity into the mix. I enjoy seeing the creative design ideas that many people have when it comes to their backyard sheds. Check out the collection of sheds below that are worthy of a double take!
Nine Unbelievable Shed Spaces and Designs that Will Make You Want Your Own
- A Shed with Modern Style. There is nothing traditional in the design of this backyard shed. The roof is slanted and there are large windows at the front of the structure as well as a glass door. Just imagine all of the natural light that flows in through those windows throughout the day!
- A Shed with Natural Flair. This shed is certainly worth a second look. From the side, it appears to be a typical shed with an appealing exterior, but check out the roof… There are various types of vegetation growing in compartments arranged on its roof. The unique look of this shed changes each day as the plants grow and flourish.
- A Backyard Shed with a Unique Design. A five-sided wooden shed provides extra interior space for storage. Alternatively, a gathering of chairs and a coffee table transforms this shed into an outdoor sitting room. A unique shape paired with classic French doors and large windows makes this shed a bona fide attention getter in the backyard.
- An Outdoor Sitting Room. These owners transformed their shed into a breezy, outdoor sitting room complete with a casual sofa, chairs and even some comfy pillows. I could go for an afternoon nap just looking at this space! It looks like an ideal place to spend warm summer evenings visiting with family and friends.
- A Shed with a Familiar Look. I want you to imagine a shed with a design that matches the design of the main house. It's literally a mirror image of the owner's home. All the details on the shed are the same including the color of the exterior walls and the design of the front door as well as the roof's design. Even the flower boxes are the same!
- A Shed Surrounded by Gardens. The owner of this simple white shed with a quaint sloping roof can keep watch over the gardens as well as the little courtyard. Its glass door allows sunlight to enter this quiet shed that looks like the perfect place to escape to after a busy day.
- A Shed with a Lighthouse Theme. If you dream of life by the sea, you will love the look of a shed with a design that mimics that of a lighthouse. The exterior walls are decorated with white shingles and there are even light fixtures atop the structure that illuminate the backyard.
- A Pleasant Place for a Get Away. Attractive French doors lead out onto the porch of this backyard shed that serves as a studio. The trees surrounding the shed create a quiet atmosphere perfect for creative work.
- A Shed with Invisible Walls. An owner who isn't concerned about privacy, but wants a wonderful view may opt for a shed in a glass design. All the walls along with the ceiling of the shed are made of glass. It's a greenhouse for humans! Put a shed like this one beside a lake and you could relax and watch the scenery without venturing outdoors.
I hope these unbelievable shed designs spark your imagination! Thanks for reading!-Alan
Whether you store items in a garage, shed, or barn, there are certain things you can do to keep your space organized. I believe that packing and storing items in an organized fashion helps to accomplish two things. First, you're able to find an item fairly quickly when you need it instead of spending an hour digging through a mountain of boxes. Secondly, if you ever decide to move, many of your items will already be packed and ready to go onto the truck! Consider some simple tips that can help to take the headache out of the storage process.
Seven Steps for Making Storage Easy
Arrange Items in a Logical Way. If you take a few extra moments to create an arrangement for your storage area, you can avoid going on a treasure hunt every time you want something from the garage. Put the items you use most frequently in an easily accessible location. For instance, if you have several boxes piled in one corner of the garage, I would put the Christmas decorations against the wall, at the back of the pile. After all, these are only used once a year. Alternatively, I would put my toolbox near the front of the pile so I could get at it easily if I have to do some quick repair work.
Remember Your Back When You Pack Items in Boxes. At one time or another, you may have tried to lift a large box off the floor only to find that it contains what feels like a collection of cement blocks. If this happens too often, your back could pay the price. That's why I recommend that you put heavy items in small boxes. Some examples of items you may want to put in small boxes are books, pieces of artwork, or a kitchen appliance such as a mixer.
Make Use of Sturdy Wire Racks. Storing items on a wire rack is an ideal way to create an organized storage area. This storage method works even better if you keep items in clear plastic bins so you can see exactly what you have.
Hang Up Your Clothes! By hanging up your stored clothing on an inexpensive clothing rack, you can avoid opening up a cardboard box full of wrinkled, stiff garments. Hang up groups of clothing items and put them in a garment bag. Or you can pull a garbage bag over them like they're fresh from the dry cleaners.
Label Now and You'll Thank Me Later. It may seem like a waste of time to label each box in your storage area, but it can really pay off. When you go out to the garage in the dead of winter to look for a box of Christmas ornaments or the extra space heater, you'll be grateful for the short amount of time it takes to find them!
Take Good Care of Your Books. I suggest that if you have a collection of books you want to store in your garage or shed that you organize them by size. This method of storing books helps you to make the best use of the space inside a box. Be sure to use small boxes for heavy books and pack them with filler so they can't slide back and forth when the box is picked up. The bottom shelf of your wire rack is a great place to store a box of books: They'll be off the ground and away from any moisture on the floor.
Keep Your Plates in One Piece. The best way to pack plates in a box is to put them in vertically instead of stacking them in a pile. Whether you're moving or just putting the plates into storage, they must be packed with crumpled paper or another type of filler so they don't shift around when the box is moved. You can help yourself out by writing the word "F ragile" on the container.
Thanks for reading! - Alan