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Displaying blog entries 181-190 of 199

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.  

Ankeny SummerFest, Part II

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Welcome back to part II in our series highlighting Ankeny’s SummerFest and some of our favorite/we-think-you-ought-to-know-about events!  As we mentioned last time, not only do we pride ourselves on being the “Ankeny Specialists” when it comes to real estate, but we’d like to think we know a little something about our community and it’s happenings, too.  So, without further ado, here are just a few of the, what we consider to be, can’t-miss events from SummerFest days 3 and 4 (July 13 and 14).

Read Part I {here}.

Saturday, July 13, is a day jam-packed with fun and activities for all ages and citizens with a wide variety of interests. 

● The day begins with a bang as the SummerFest Grand Parade takes to the streets of Ankeny at 9:00 am.  As long-time patrons, we encourage parade-goers to find a spot along the route early, come prepared, and be ready to to be entertained!

●In it’s 16th year, the Cardboard Boat Regatta is among the most popular of SummerFest events!  The challenge to, “design and build a person-powered corrugated cardboard boat that is capable of racing, or at least floating,“ is not only exciting for participants, but is also highly entertaining (read: hilarious!) to watch.

●Once again, no SummerFest evening is complete without a stop by the Leisure Garden where bands like Throwing Toast and the Standing Hamptons will be performing on Saturday.

●Among much, much more, don’t forget to check out other Saturday events, such as: The Miss 16 Contest; Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast; Sand Volleyball, Slowpitch Softball, and Bags Tournaments.

Even on it’s final day, SummerFest doesn’t let up on fun!  The events schedule is full, but a few of our Sunday favorites are:

Ankeny Optimist SummerFest 5k/1 mile run.  This is the perfect way to work off some of that fantastic fried food from the midway that you’ve been consuming all weekend!  Even better?  It’s for a great cause!

Corks & Caps: Iowa Wine and Craft Beer Festival.  A perfect opportunity to check out wineries and breweries from all over Iowa!  Tickets are available at the door!

Fireworks!  The finale!  It’s a spectacular show...especially for those that choose to be up close and personal, viewing the fireworks from the Leisure Garden or Prairie Ridge Sports Complex!  These fireworks are the perfect way to celebrate another successful year of SummerFest!

And there you have it!  Our complete list of must-see/must-do 2013 SummerFest activities!  For the full schedule of events, details, and other general information, visit www.ankenysummerfest.org.

 

Ankeny Summerfest, Part I

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

At Ankeny Real Estate Service, we like to refer to ourselves as the “Ankeny Specialists” when it comes to Ankeny homes.  BUT, that doesn’t mean that our expertise ends with the real estate market. Nope! We are proud to be a long-time, Ankeny-based business, which means our community ties are strong and we are well-versed on all things Ankeny...including local events. 

This year’s Ankeny Summerfest is right around the corner and we think you need to know about it!  However, this 4 day event (July 11 - 14) is just too BIG for us to cram into just one blog, which is why we’ve decided to make this a 2-post series.  Today we’re excited to share with you some of our favorite Summerfest activities, beginning with the events of the first 2 days (July 11 & 12), then finishing up with the final 2 days (July 13 & 14) in our blog post next week.  So, hang onto your hats, this is going to be fun!

Summerfest 2013 begins with a Thursday evening chock-full of fun!  Here’s the rundown on what Day One has to offer:

Summerfest on-site carnival and vendors.  Runs Thursday, July 11 thru Sunday, July 14.  There are games, rides, and lots of attractions for the kids (or kids at heart!), as well as, plenty of foods, drinks, and vendors for those less interested in the Midway shenanigans. 

●The ever-popular Leisure Garden will be playing host (yet again!)  to the band, The Rumbles on Thursday, July 11, from 7:30-11:00 pm.  As always, entrance to the Leisure Garden is free.

●This year’s 3-On-3 Youth Basketball Tournament gets it’s start on opening day.  What an awesome opportunity to grab a couple buddies, lace up those sneakers, and begin your quest for 5th-8th grade total basketball domination! 

The Summerfest fun continues on into Friday with a full day of activities offered.  Some of our favorites include:

●The Ankeny Alumni Association will be hosting it’s Tenth Annual Golf Tournament at Otter Creek Golf Course.  This is a 4 person best shot tourney, with a $70 registration fee that includes a cart, lunch, and plenty of swag!  Details can be found {here}

●The Bill Riley State Fair Talent Show, presented at Prairie Ridge School Stadium.  Be there at 7:00 pm and be prepared to be wowed by some of Ankeny’s wicked-awesome talent!

●This year’s Kiddie Parade is fully embracing the Summerfest theme of “Get Loud” and we have no doubt that it’ll be just that...plus LOTS of fun! Kids (and parents) should meet in Uptown Ankeny at 6:00 pm.  Judging begins at 6:15, with the parade to start soon after at 6:30.

●Friday night’s Leisure Garden band line-up begins with Abby Normal from 6:00-8:30 pm, then continues from 8:45 to 11:45 pm with Summerfest-newbie Fahrenheit

And there you have it -- just a FEW of our Summerfest favorites from Days 1 & 2.  To view a complete schedule of events and to learn more about all that Summerfest has to offer, visit their website at www.ankenysummerfest.org.  Plus, don’t forget to stay tuned for next week when we highlight more of event favorites from Saturday and Sunday in our blog: Summerfest, Part II.

Rain Barrel Watering System (a great addition to your raised garden!)

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Now that you’ve had a full week to research, design, build, and plant your own raised garden bed, you’re probably ready to install those environmentally friendly rain barrels and watering systems that you see everywhere!  Right??  Ok, ok, maybe you’re not there quite yet, but if and when you are, this is the post for you! 

Here is how one of your own Ankeny Real Estate Service team members added a rain barrel watering system to a raised garden bed.  Plus, keep reading to the end of this post for a couple great resources for those of you thinking of investing rain barrels!

“Through a little research, some trial and error, and a consultation with our local Menards specialist, we came up with a system that has proven to be, not only useful, but downright simple. It’s an arrangement that has encouraged us to spread the word about the ease and benefits of rain barrel watering systems.  Here’s a little bit about what we’ve done, our set-up, and what has worked for us.  Hopefully, you too, can recognize the simplicity and relief a rain barrel system can provide.

First, we purchased our rain barrels from Menards, and then connected them to the downspout using a valve system (also purchased from Menards).  All 3 barrels are joined using PVC piping so that once one fills, it will overflow into the next, and so on. Which brings me to my next point...it is wise to have some sort of overflow system for when your barrel (or barrels!) fills -- and it will (likely much sooner than you anticipate!)!  This means that it is a good idea to have a hose or something similar connected to the last barrel, so that when your barrels are full, then the excess will have a place to run. 

Next, we positioned our barrels at the top of a hill, along the side of our garage, and above garden level so that we could utilize gravity to water our soon-to-be sustenance.

Finally, we connected to the last rain barrel to a soaker hose (3, to be exact) that runs throughout the garden beds. That way, when we are ready to water, all we need to do, is open up the flow system from the barrels and let gravity work its magic!”

So where should YOU start?  Great news! Ankeny now offers a stormwater management (rain barrel) reimbursement program that you might find worth looking into.  In addition, Polk County Conservation offers a rain barrel workshop, which provides all materials and tools necessary for your system.  There are so many resources available to people interested in going green, making a difference, and utilizing the resources readily available to us.  Do us all a favor and take that first step!

Raised Garden Beds

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Gone are the days of traditional, space-wasting, hard to water gardens.  Raised garden beds are latest trend in horticulture.  And it is one that has homeowners, even those with limited lot sizes, testing out their green thumbs, reaping the benefits (fresh produce -- yum!) and enjoying the results!  The perks of garden boxes are countless, but among the most praiseworthy are:

● Fewer weeds.

● Better water retention in sandy areas and more favorable drainage in areas with clay-based soil.

● Warmer soil earlier in the season that stays warmer longer.

● Less soil erosion.

● Prevention of soil compaction.

● Improved pest control.

● Ease of accessibility to reach each plant.

● Aesthetically pleasing.

Speaking of ease and aesthetics, check out these easy-on-the-eyes raised beds from two of your own Ankeny Real Estate Service team members!

Now you’re probably asking yourself, where I can learn how to make a raised garden bed (or 2, or 3!) of my very own?  And since we’re all about helping you make your house a home, we gathered a few good resources on raised garden box building for your convenience.  Check them out, give it a try, and let us know how it goes! 

 

How to make a raised garden bed: http://www.sunset.com/garden/backyard-projects/ultimate-raised-bed-how-to-00400000011938/

A video tutorial from National Gardening on how to build your own garden box:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuTYXmy4Yb0

Soil calculator from Gardener’s Supply Company so you know exactly how much soil you need:

http://www.gardeners.com/Soil-Calculator/7558,default,pg.html

And a great resource on when to plant your seeds:

http://sproutrobot.com/

Finally, an all-round great, chock-full of information article:

http://eartheasy.com/grow_raised_beds.htm#c

Movies Under The Stars: Free Family Fun in Ankeny!

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re huge fans of all the free fun that Ankeny has to offer.  And now that our sunshine-y summer weather has finally arrived, the fun is in full force! Topping the list of our favorite free family events in town is Movies Under The Stars presented by Veridian Credit Union.

A free event open to the public, Movies Under The Stars, gives our community a place to come together on Friday nights, take in a show, and relax under the warm summer sky.  Movie-goers are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets, bug spray, snacks, and lots of excitement for, what is sure to be, an enjoyable evening. Movies Under The Stars takes place at Wagner Park Bandshell, is free to attend (have we mentioned that?!?), and begins at dusk.

So, what fabulous flicks can you expect to see?  Here’s the line-up for the rest of this season.

June 14 - Shark Tale (PG)

June 21 - Cool Runnings (PG)

June 28 - Little Big League (PG)

July 19 - Spy Kids 1 (PG)

July 26 - Beethoven (PG)

August 2 - HOP (PG)

From the Uptown Farmer’s Market and Ankeny Unplugged, to Movies Under The Stars, this city offers fantastic options for free family fun.  Check out Ankeny’s website for more ideas and information on all the fun to be had!  http://www.ankenyiowa.gov/

Keeping Your Home Safe While On Vacation

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Tis the season for getaways and summer vacations.  What do you have planned?  Maybe it’s a weekend adventure to a neighboring state or a 2-week-long holiday overseas.  No matter the kind of trip that awaits you, we want to help you maintain safety of the home you’re leaving behind!  Here are some tips to keep your home safe while you’re away enjoying a stress-free vacation!

● Lock all doors and windows.  Duh.  But seriously.  It’s worth double checking.

● Enlist the help of trustworthy friends or neighbors to “watch” your house while you’re gone.  Leave them a key, your emergency contact information, and specific instructions on your expectations for them.  Of note, we highly recommend the persuasive technique of bribery with food.  The promise of a free meal or yummy cupcakes is a commonly recognized form of reimbursement!

● If you don’t have them already, it is a wise idea to invest in timers for both interior and exterior lights.  At night, a well lit home can deter would-be thieves, while keeping lights on during the day is unnecessary and wasteful.  Timers are a simple solution for making an unoccupied home look lived in even while you’re away.

● Make arrangements for your yard work to be done if you are planning on vacationing for a long period of time.  If your lawns is always trimmed and perfectly manicured, then long grass can be a sign for potential burglars that you aren’t home. 

● Avoid social media.  Today’s society thrives on the use of social media and, all too often, vast amounts of “over-sharing” are happening on places like Facebook and Twitter -- especially when it comes to posting vacation plans, updates, and pictures.  Thieves are smart and will often rely on social media to tell them when you are away from home.  Be mindful of the information you’re giving and pictures you’re posting.  And, at the very least, change your social media privacy settings so that only your most trusted friends and family can see what you’re up to (at least until you’ve returned from your vacay!).

● Prevent power surges and potential fires by unplugging computers, TVs, stereos, coffee makers, toaster ovens, and other electronics -- or ensure that they are plugged into surge protectors.

● Alert the alarm company.  This may seem like another no-brainer, but it can often be forgotten.  If you have an alarm system in place, take the time to notify the company of your plans AND if you will be having friends or family check on your house.  Likewise, your “house watcher” should also be briefed on the ins-and-outs of your alarm system.

● Nothing says “I’m away on vacation, please burglarize my house” like a pile of newpapers on the front step or an overflowing mailbox.  Place a “stop” order on mail and newspaper deliveries or enlist the help of a trustworthy neighbor to pick them up daily. The USPS will hold your mail for up to 30 days, as a free courtesy.  This can be done in person or online https://holdmail.usps.com/duns/HoldMail.jsp.

● Secure valuables in a safety deposit box.  Say all of your preventative measures fail and an intruder happens to make his or her way into your home?  Well, then, ensure that you’re not leaving them anything of great monetary or personal value!  Take the time before your vacation to deposit jewelry, essential documents, and other important belongings into a safety deposit box.

At Ankeny Real Estate Service, not only are we in the business of buying and selling homes, but it is also our greatest desire to help you enjoy your home and life (vacations, included!) to the fullest.  It’s no secret that eliminating simple worries such as the safety of your home while away can greatly decrease stress AND increase your happiness.  So, what do you say?  Get out there and enjoy your summer!  Hit the road...but not until you secure the safety of the home you’re leaving behind.

 

Ankeny Unplugged

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Mark your calendars now!  Ankeny Unplugged starts this Saturday and runs throughout the month of June.  Take it from me, Ankeny area residents, this is an event you DON’T want to miss!

Featuring hot local and regional musical acts, Ankeny Unplugged offers a unique opportunity for friends and neighbors to come together.  This one-of-a-kind music fest has thought of it all -- good music, delicious food vendors, unique arts and crafts, refreshing beverages, sweet confections, a free bicycle valet, and more!

So, what more do you need to know?  Here are a few more details:

● This year’s concert series will take place the first four Saturdays in June at the Bandshell at Wagner Park (410 West First Street).

● Doors open at 4pm and bands take the stage from 5 to 9pm.

● Tickets are $3 at the door OR you can purchase an advance ticket and drink for $6 {here}.  Kids 12 and under are free.

● Ankeny Unplugged is organized by the Ankeny Jaycees, and sponsored by The City of Ankeny.

● This year’s musical lineup can be found at the event’s website (http://ankenyunplugged.com/) and is going to be rocking! 

On a personal note, I recommend dressing in layers, bringing bag chairs and/or blankets, and leaving your own food, drinks, and cigarettes at home!

Now that you know the details, have time to otherwise clear your calendar, AND have been enticed by the promise of awesome entertainment, good food, and a fun time with friends, you have no excuse to miss what is sure to be a great time!

Moving Tips and Tricks

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Displaying blog entries 181-190 of 199