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Preparing For Fall: Fire Pit Safety

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

As our warm summer nights turn to crisp fall evenings, the appeal of a cozy fire pit, surrounded by friend and family snacking on s'mores, increases exponentially. In recent years, Americans have jumped on the outdoor fire pit/fireplace/fire bowl bandwagon enthusiastically and with little reservation.  And who can blame us? A warm fire, golden flames, and friendly crackles signal camaraderie and security to us all.  But maximum fire pit enjoyment requires some forethought and plenty of preventative measures. To ensure continued safety and utmost enjoyment, we encourage you to consider these six friendly fire tips.

1. Pick a proper location. When installing an outdoor fire pit, it is essential that you choose a position in which the pit or bowl will be on a steady surface.  The location should provide for proper ventilation and should be away from homes, trees, and anything potentially flammable.  We also strongly advise you to consult the owner’s manual and manufacturer's instructions.  Should any questions arise, a professional should be called.

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2. Keep a fire extinguisher.  This should be accessible to the fire pit and, of course, in good working order. It is also wise to keep a bucket of sand and a garden hose handy just in case things get too hot to handle. 

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3. Start small.  When the fire pit is correctly set-up, dousers are nearby, the manufacturer's instructions have been read, and you’re ready for fire, proceed by using a recommended fire starter.  Gasoline should never, under any circumstances, be used to fuel fire pit flames.  It is especially important to be mindful of strong winds that could lead to flying sparks, and wood stacked too high that can result in fire-y pellets spilling out.

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4. Keep children at a distance.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?  Of course!  BUT, it is well worth the nagging reminder if it means that kids remain safe and unharmed by your “cozy” fire.  Children should never be unattended and it is a wise idea to establish a line a few feet from the pit that children are not allowed to cross.

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5. Utilize large, stainless steel cooking accessories. If you intend to cook over a lit fire pit, your utensils should be long enough to reach over the flame. Stainless steel will not rust and can withstand the elements.

6. Snuff out flames.  Although your fire pit is a safe place to have a fire, that doesn’t mean that you can just leave it alone to extinguish on it’s own.  A fire should be put out completely by using an extinguisher or by pouring water over the fire and hot coals or wood soak, until there is no steam.  When all is said and done, coals or wood can be stored in a metal ash bucket until completely put out, and the fire pit should be covered with a lid.

Back To School: Home Organization!

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

If there is ever a time to get yourself, your home, and your family organized, it is the back-to-school season!  We know that organization is the key to stress-free school days.  And we want you to start the school days off right, so here are Ankeny Real Estate Service’s tips to make the back-to-school transition as easy as ABC.

1. Make a “drop-space.”  Using cubbies, hooks, and baskets, designate an area for coats, shoes, and backpacks.  Keep family member’s belongings divided, decluttered, and off the floor.  Having a space for these things means that there will never be a frantic morning search for the missing shoes or MIA backpack.

2. Adopt a system for school papers.  As a general rule, there are two types of papers that come home from school -- the ones that need immediate attention and the ones you’ll need for future reference. Both kinds need a space to land! For those that need your immediate attention, why not adopt some sort of “in” and “out” mailbox? Stacked mail sorters/desk organizers would be great for this purpose.

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3. Make use of a family calendar.  For this project, we encourage you to think big and be diligent! A large calendar, in a central location, color-coded by person, with each family member’s activities, and updated frequently is sure to keep your hectic days organized.  Whether it be a store-bought fridge-mounted variety, or a DIY/customized project (I’m thinking chalk paint, cork board, magnetic paint, or vinyl clings!) a family calendar for everyone to reference will keep you coming and going in the right direction!

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4. Develop a homework station for your kinds to make working on school projects painless and peaceful. As parents, we care about the kind of learning experience our children have in the classroom AND it is just as important to give them the right study environment at home, too.  A quiet, undisturbed, dedicated, and fully stocked location for studying will help kids be able to focus and be productive! Ensure that your homework station has everything your child will need to finish a project -- paper, pencils, colors, pens, erasers, markers, staplers, scissors, etc. 

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5.  Finally, consider placing a memo board or some type of message center near the door your family uses the most frequently.  This is a great place to leave messages, reminders, and kind notes. 

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In general, kids either love or hate going back to school, but an organized home and daily routines will benefit everyone when school schedules are tight and time is of the essence.  Getting organized now will free up time to attend activities, events or dinners and downtime with the family.  Not only do we love helping our clients find homes, but we also like seeing those homes run well, and the people who live in them enjoy life!

Easy Decorating: Locally Themed Art For Your Home

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

When it comes to decorating your home, the wall art options are endless.  From big name chains, to smaller home decor stores, no matter your style or budget, there is something for everyone.  So why not separate yourself by purchasing local, unique, and often customizable pieces to proudly display on the walls of your home?  Pieces that don’t go out of style and won’t break the bank. 

We’ve rounded up a few awesome Iowa and Des Moines Metro inspired art ideas that would be the perfect addition to any home!  And what’s more?  These unique pieces will get your guests talking -- talking about your terrific taste in art AND first-class home décor style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Des Moines Iowa City Skyline by YouandYoursPrints

 

Iowa by County - 18x24" Satin Print by SniffStudio

 

Home Is Where The Corn Is Iowa Map Print by For The Love of Maps

 

Des Moines, Iowa Love Print, 11" x 14", available in a variety of colors - Art By Amy Nelson

 

Iowa State - Iowa Art - Des Moines Iowa Print - Iowa Hawkeye State - custom 8x10 Iowa State Print by PaperFinchDesign

 

Des Moines, Iowa Skyline by LoosePetals

 

Iowa State Love Map, Iowa City, IA, 8"x10", Fine Art Print by SouthernSlang

 

Des Moines IA Sweet Corn Print by Domestica Print

 

10 Easy & Unique Housewarming Gift Ideas

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Giving a thoughtful housewarming gift doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.  Whether it be food, home supplies, kind words, or a sentimental gift, the thought is what counts (at least that what my mom always said...).  Check out these unique and friendly ways to warmly welcome friends and family to their different digs, or new neighbors to the ‘hood!

(See source list below)

1. Jar ‘o goodies by Little Life of Mine

2. Fancy wine gift: Source Unknown

3. Illustrated house portrait from Etsy shop: Rebekkaseale

4. Wine in kitchen towel: Source Unknown

5. Ice Cream Sundae Gift Box from Tip Junkie

6. Home Cleaning essentials: Source Unknown

7. New home needs bucket from Champagne Thursdays

8. Pasta dinner & wine in colander: Source Unknown

9. Lemonade makin’ jar: Source Unknown

10. Personalized address stamp from Etsy shop Foryoo

Home Swimming Pool Safety

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

In the midst of these sweltering summer days, we believe that it is especially important to be mindful of swimming pool safety.  And while Iowa isn’t necessarily known for it’s home swimming pool popularity, it is certainly a trend on the rise from the real estate perspective.  For this reason, it is crucial that homeowners remain diligent when it comes to maintaining a safe environment around their swimming pool.

We have put together a list of home swimming pool safety steps for homeowners in hopes to inform and educate, thus preventing a potential drowning tragedy. 

● Invest in and make use of a lockable safety cover for your pool.

● Secure pool area using a four-foot or taller fence, with self-closing and self-latching gates.

● Consider the use of pool and gate alarms that sounds when children go near the pool.

● Drain and suction covers should be checked on a frequent and regular basis. Defective equipment can lead to accidental entrapment and drowning.

● Pool and hot tub water should be kept clean and clear by maintaining proper chemical levels, circulation, and filtration. Water should be tested regularly to avoid spreading of disease.

● Keep life-saving floatation devices on a pool hook close-by to aid in emergency rescue situations.

● A first-aid kit (including scissors for cutting hair or clothing that may be caught in a drain, a charged portable phone for calling 911, and a floatation device), should be accessible and well-labeled. 

● Clearly mark water depths and have “no diving” signs visible.

● It may seem like it goes without saying, but children should always, always, always be under active supervision if they are in or near the pool.

● Additionally, children and adults should be taught basic water safety.

● Learn to perform adult and child CPR and keep those skills updated regularly.

● Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear life vests.

Nothing brings pool fun to a screeching halt faster than a water emergency. At Ankeny Real Estate Service, we take the safety of you and your family very seriously.  Therefore, we encourage you to go the extra mile this summer by implementing all of these steps to ensure a safer pool experience.  

Displaying blog entries 171-175 of 175