What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Our Ongoing Saga of Selling Our House

The listing for our house with this realator officially ends today.  They have had it for six months with no offer.  Shortly after extending our listing in January our real estate agent turned a bit snarky.  After the first more than inappropriate email I made my mind up that we would wait out the listing and be done with them.  As it stands no offers came in so I thought the end date would be the end of it.  She emailed to say that we had a holdover clause so if we sold the house in the next 60 days after the listing ended.

What a holdover clause means is if we accept an offer within 60 days of the listing end from anyone this realtor introduced to our propery via a showing during the time our house was listed with them, they are entitled to the commission.  Furthermore if we were to list with another realtor within that 60 days they are entitled to 50% of the commission.  However and this is big, if we sell to someone that did not see our property while it was listed they are entitled to nothing.  That means we can sell privately and they are still entitled to no commission.  We have bought and sold houses before so am well aware of what this clause means.

The real estate agent is under the mistaken impression that they now have 60 days to present any offers.  Hello!  Our legal obligation ends at the end of the signed contract providing we honour the holdover clause.  We are under no obligation to entertain any offers from their clients and for all intents and purposes until we say otherwise the house is officially off the market aka not for sale.  I cannot believe she is pulling this type of attitude.  If they wanted to present an offer it should have been presented BEFORE our contract ended or they should have asked for an extension of the contract.  If she thinks we are going to be at her beck and call for another 60 days she is sadly mistaken.  If she thinks she is going to bully us for a commission she is sadly wrong.  She had her chance.  Now that the house is off the market we will excerise one of several options but she will not be getting a commission!

Garden Gnome

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Freshening a House for Real Estate Showing

We've had the house on the market now for thirteen months.  Each time I get the house ready for a showing I am very cognisant to household odours.  We don't use chemical sprays like air or fabric  fresheners so as normal I rely on natural deodourizers like baking soda and vinegar.  Sulphur from a lit match is effective in the washrooms.  Burning a couple of beeswax candles has air cleaning properties as well.  Dusting as well helps to remove that off, not quite fresh smell.   Opening a window or two a crack even during the winter is another great way to freshen the air.

Various textiles like comforters, pillows, bath mats, cushions and afghans can hold onto odours and while not necessarily blatant can make a room smell just not quite fresh.  I have found that popping these into the dryer on air setting for fifteen minutes is enough to freshen.  Hanging items on the line outdoors is another good way to freshen them if there is enough time and the weather permits.  Vacuuming larger upholsteried furniture (eg. couches, mattresses) helps to eliminate any odours as well.

These few extra efforts make your house smell as good as it looks, helping to show it at it's best.

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sidetracked Home Executive

Quite some time ago I was following Flylady.net as an organization tool to keep our home neat and tidy while leading a very active lifestyle.  A few years ago I found myself sidelined and still have not resumed much in an active lifestyle.  Oh sure I do a lot of canning, gardening and traveling but on a day to day basis it's nothing like what it was.  My attention span is short and my multi-tasking is high.  I can't sit much longer than about 20 minutes so computer tasks take longer to complete but the good news is knitting and crocheting projects are worked on while watching television while straightening is done during commercials.  Add to that the chaos of having our house on the market for the last thirteen months and it is easy to see why sometimes I'm what the Flylady refers to as a SHE (sidetracked home executive).

I have continued to use a few tips from my Flylady days like the 27 Fling Boogie and 15 minute timer.  Both techniques work well for me as does clearing a hot spot and the three box toss method.  It's not like the house is dirty or we are suffering from CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrom) but with a potential move I'm looking at ridding some more of the clutter.  Most of the clutter is hidden in bins and boxes that we haven't unpacked from the last move.  The thing is if we haven't used it in four years perhaps it is time to get rid of it.  Now in fairness we had quite a bit in the garage from two kids, one who moved out of an apartment just before we moved here so we had all of that.  The situation for both has changed so we have been able to get rid of a lot of that.  While we have been decluttering for the last year in anticipation of moving, there's still more to do.  I have decided that I need to re-establish some of my former Flylady habits.  It will make the move a lot easier when we do move!

Garden Gnome

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garbage Day

Our garbage collection day is Thursday with pick-up usually before 8 AM.  It's an odd day and rather inconvenient for putting out garbage from the weekend when entertaining but overall it isn't bad.  Every other week they collect the recycle bins on the same morning so at least we don't have to worry about remembering a different day.  Several years ago I saw a news clip about a family in British Columbia that only had if I recall correctly two small shopping bags of garbage for the entire year.  Everything was recycled.  Ascribing to that ideal has proven to be almost impossible.  Even though we put out on average one large garbage bag each week and even though that is a lot less than our neighbours, I am still not happy about it.  We have cut back and cut back yet the garbage is still there!  Here's some of the things we do and yet still have garbage for pick-up.

  • compost - We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables which means a lot of trimmings.  I compost what I can but with the amount we eat even the compost cannot keep up.   In addition to the daily produce consumed, we go through a vast amount of produce for home canning and freezing at least a year's worth at a time.  Aesthetically and in terms of space there is only so many compost bins we can have and due to property limitations there is only so much compost we can use and give away. 
  • non-compostable food scraps - Certain food scraps cannot go into the compost.  These include fats, oils, dairy, corn cobs, fish parts and type of thing.  Two houses ago we had a food garburator which helped immensely but until we move back into town a garburator is not an option.  I save larger bones for a friend of ours who has a dog.  I also save bones for stock making which gives me a useful product before having to toss the bones.  Cooking oil is a huge concern as the only way to dispose of it is in the garbage. 
  • food containers - We use little in the way of food containers since I do a lot of home canning.  What we can't curb side recycle which is mainly plastic tub containers are used around the house and garden but what we can't use find their way into the garbage.  This concerns me and it won't be a problem when we move into town but for now it is a problem.  Short of not buying cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream and ricotta cheese there isn't a way to eliminate these containers so finding a way to recycle them is the only option.
  • burnables - We are technically rural so can have a burn pile or barrel but we don't.  While this is a ready solution and we have used a relative's burn pile for brush, burning normal household garbage just contributes to air pollution trading the landfill issue with air quality issues.  Although some household waste could be burned we don't take advantage of this.  
  • excess packaging - We are quite diligent about reducing the amount of packaging we bring into the house.  Less in means less that has to be tossed out.  We  use reusable shopping bags as well as shop farm stands, farmers' markets and bulk food stores which eliminates a lot of food packaging.  We are at the point where we don't need to buy a lot of household items so that saves on packaging as well.  Still there is some packaging that is unavoidable but we keep looking for alternatives.
Garden Gnome