WHAT ARE THOSE BLACK STREAKS ON MY ROOF?!?

From the Desktop of Nancy Kapp, Realtor

A few years ago I was driving up to my house one day when I noticed black streaks on my roof.  They’d probably been there for a while, but on that particular day I just happened to notice them.  My neighbors have a huge Fourth of July fireworks display every year.  It is very impressive for a neighborhood display and I thought to myself (since I’m right behind the house where they’re shot off) that it’s from the ashes of those annual fireworks displays.  WRONG!

black-streaks-e1480386807700

I found out that the black streaks on my roof are a form of algae, probably gloeocapsa magma, also known as blue green algae.  So how did they get there?  Algae spores are airborne, so if there are any in the neighborhood they will spread.

They are most commonly found in warm, humid environments.  That pretty much describes North Carolina.  The black streaks come from the protective layer that the algae forms to protect itself from damaging UV rays — kind of like a suntan.  You’ll also probably notice, if you have the black streaks, that they are only on one side of the roof — usually the north side.

Roof algae is more common today than it was 20 years ago.  That’s because asphalt shingles got their name from what they were made of — mainly asphalt.  Nowadays it’s more cost effective to add fillers, such as fiberglass and crushed limestone. Limestone is a food source for the algae.  Who knew?  I have a feeling this was an unintended consequence.

The good news is that they are not harmful or dangerous.  The bad news is that over time they can cause your roof’s protective UV granules to come off.

Roof algae is easily removed by a simple roof cleaning.  A few words of caution — if you decide to do this yourself, be sure to check your roof warranty or homeowner insurance policies.  And never use a pressure washer, even on the lowest setting.  Using a power washer will definitely void any roof warranties.

As I have a little bit of height anxiety, I’m not climbing on my roof, but for the more adventurous of you, the website at the end of this post has information on how to do it yourself.  There are professional roof cleaning services for those of you who are like me.

Once you have had the roof algae growing on your roof, if you have it cleaned, they are likely to return.  They are airborne and our climate seems to support their growth.  With that said, there are a few things you can do to slow the growth or keep it at a minimum.  The reason the algae grows on the north side is because it doesn’t get as much sun.  If you have tree branches that shade your roof, keeping them trimmed will help.

You can also install copper strips close to the peak of your roof because copper kills the algae.  Whenever it rains, the water will wash down the roof and kill any algae that may be lurking there because the water will have algae-killing molecules from the metal.  I’m not certain which is less expensive — installing the copper strips or occasionally having the roof cleaned, but they are both options.  Finally, should you have to get your roof replaced for whatever reason, they now have copper-infused shingles.

 

Information and photo taken from:  https://roofrevivers.com/reason-black-streaks-on-your-roof/

 

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Thirsty Thursday. On WordPress Wednesday.

From the desk of Alisa McCulloch, Realtor®

What’s your go-to thirst quencher?

Water. Sparkling water. Flavored water. Energy water. So many options!

I have not always been a fan of  water other than regular old water or… (let’s leave the jokes about water brewed with hops and barley for another post.) Bottled water, fine. Tap water with tons of ice, great. Anything else to me was so pointless! Bubbly water with not much flavor??? Why?? And “energy” drinks…my energy comes from a) waking up early to get the day rolling and b) coffee. My daily workout helps immensely as well, but I can’t always get that in first thing.IMG-1102

Queue the random new year resolution, well into the new year.  [Call it a nutrition goal.] I recently decided to start drinking more water.  Not for any particular reason, other than it’s important to stay hydrated & I don’t like the feeling of “end of day bloat.” That said, I quickly realized it is super boring drinking plain water all the time. I know it’s good for you and all that. But sometimes I just want something bubbly & crisp!

Enter bubbly sparkling water. (Admittedly I got hooked on this by mixing it with other things. Again let’s save that for another post.) I quite enjoy pouring a sparkly flavored water into my Yeti with ice. I feel refreshed, happy; it’s a lovely pick-me-up. My go-to flavors are blueberry/pomegranate by Kroger;

kroger

Waterloo’s Watermelon & Polar Seltzer Vanilla Orange.  Black Cherry is OK but sometimes can taste like Robitussin if you get a weird brand.

gro_pid_4201103_j

Moving on. Other days, when I’m feeling a bit sluggish, I need a bit of a boost.  But–I don’t like to drink coffee in the afternoon.  Coffee for me is my morning ritual. A cuppa joe, a quiet chair. The dog in my lap. These are my mornings. I need something different later on. Enter BANG! My favorite “energy” drink. I despise high-sugar energy drinks… they keep you buzzing for 10 minutes and then you crash… no thanks!! I prefer Bang as it’s loaded with BCAAs, which I love to drink during/after my workouts; plus it has zero everything… no calories, no carbs, no sugar, nothing except caffeine, creatine, some vitamins and aminos to keep me focused and energized! Bang-Full-Label-slider1400x900

And along the same lines– I discovered REIGN total body fuel recently as well, and it’s a superb option when Bang isn’t available. Reign also has lots of electrolytes, so this one is a great choice for my post-workout drink!! 7B792817-E362-44AE-A838-89D560987DAF

I will say that in my journey to increase my water intake, it has helped tremendously to have additional choices besides just regular water. I feel it’s an added bonus too, because my taste buds aren’t bored & I feel like my mind/body are getting more “fun” fuel now than they were previously.  (Note: I’m not suggesting I only drink these kinds of energy drinks & water instead of eating food for fuel. I eat a ton of food. Once again let’s save that for another post. ) If you’re like me, and you’re considering upping your water intake, I highly recommend taking a few of these products into consideration. Let me know what you think. Bottoms up!!

 

A Clean Sweep

From the Desktop of Nancy Kapp

No one has every accused me of being a neat freak, but I’ll be honest, when I am stressed or overwhelmed, I really like cleaning.  I thought there must be something wrong with me, so I was glad to find I’m not alone in this feeling.  In fact, according to a survey done by Offerup, “70% of Americans say tidying their home offers them a feeling of accomplishment, 61% say it makes them feel “destressed,” and 54% say they experience relaxation.”  Okay, it’s not like a glass of wine, but for some reason I really do feel better after spending a little time cleaning.

I have learned a few tricks along the way, mostly by asking excellent housekeepers how they keep their homes so clean.  Years ago an article in the October 2009 Womans Day magazine gave me the routine that I try to follow.  Key word, “try.”

In that magazine the article, “Countdown to Clean” by Susan Sulich, gives these suggestions:

Your gear:  spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner, spray bottle of glass cleaner, can of furniture polish, dust wand with adjustable handle, 3-4 microfiber cloths, small scrub brush, vacuum, mop, bucket.  I have a container that makes it easy to carry this room-to-room.  Note:  Many people are switching to more chemical-free products.  That’s my goal as well and so my list has been changing recently because of the Norwex products. This is recent and I’m slowing working on changing my habits.  More about that later.

15 Minutes a Day.  It’s called the “Daily Hotel Clean.”

Step 1.  Make the beds.

Step 2.  Make sure dirty clothes are all in hampers.  Do a quick room-by-room pickup, putting items back in place.

Step 3.  Wipe dirty counters in the bathroom and kitchen.

Step 4.  Put away all dishes.

Step 5.  Sweep the kitchen floor.

Weekly Clean Sleep.  Either set aside a 2- to 3-hour chunk of time, or work in 15-minute increments throughout the week.  The basic formula:  clean top to bottom and left to right, and only go around a room once (not including floors).

Step 1.  Bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms.  If you have a two-story home, start upstairs.  For one floor, begin in the area farthest away from the front of the house.  First, go through all the rooms and empty wastebaskets.  Then go back into the first room and start at the top, removing any cobwebs with your dust wand and working your way down, dusting ceiling fans, door frames, moldings, picture frames and lamps.  Switch to the furniture spray and a microfiber cloth to clean dressers and tables.  Remove knickknacks first.  Clean mirrors with the glass cleaner and a fresh cloth.  When you’ve finished all these rooms on a floor, vacuum, staring farthest from the door in each room and vacuuming your way out.

Step 2.  Bathrooms.  The pros have a special way to clean bathrooms.  First, spsray cleanser on the shower doors and walls, tub and sink, and in the toilet to start loosening dirt.  Then use the same top-to-bottom, left-to-right system.  Remember to wipe the towel racks and toilet paper holder.  Clean the toilet inside, outside and behind the bowl.  Vacuum, then mop.

Step 3.  Kitchen.  Starting from the top, wipe cabinet fronts and work your way down.  Empty the toaster’s crumb tray and clean inside the microwave.  Unlike your daily counter wipe, now is the time to get behind canisters, mixers and other counter dwellers.  Do the kitchen sink last, then sweep and mop the floor.  Don’t foreget the vent at the bottom of the refrigerator.

Tackle Monthly.  Pick a Saturday to do all eight, or add a few to each weekly session.

  1. Use paper towels or a cloth to thoroughly clean the tracks of sliding glass and shower doors.
  2. Run ½ cup of vinegar mixed in a full pot of water through your coffeemaker (or follow our coffeemaker’s directions).
  3. Wash down the shelves and veggie bins in the refrigerator.
  4. Clean stove hood vents.
  5. Vacuum under couch cushions. A handheld vac makes quick work of this chore.
  6. Clean the top of the refrigerator.
  7. Wash insides of garbage cans and baskets.

A Few 60-Second Quick Fixes.  These simple changes will make your house tidier – no elbow grease required!

  • Place a mat at the front door and enforce a strict no-shoes-inside rule.  You’ll eliminate 70% to 90% of the dirt entering your home.
  • Last person to shower squeegees the shower door to cut down on mineral depositis left behind when the water dries – less scrubbing time for you.
  • When you see it, clean it.  Spills on the counter, a towel on the floor … a few seconds as you pass through a room saves many minutes later.
  • Switch to microfiber cloths.  They speed cleaning by trapping and picking up dust, not just moving it around.  Wash and hang to dry after use.

And the Annual List.  Twelve annual chores, one for each month:

January:  Clean medicine cabinets; toss expired meds.

February:  Clean all the hard-to-reach places:  behind the stove, refrigerator, washer/dryer, sofas and under beds.

March:  Steam-clean carpets.

April:  Wash windows and screens.

May:  Organize the pantry and kitchen cabinets.

June:  Wash duvets, blankets, comforters, spreads, pillows.  I actually do this twice a year.

July:  Clean and organize the garage.

August:  Clean out drawers and closets.  Donate usable clothing and items to charity.

September:  Clean out the linen closet(s).

October:  Defrost (hopefully you have a frost-free fridge, but some of the older ones still need this done) and clean freezer, refrigerator, stove, oven.

November:  Polish silver, wash china, dust inside the china cabinet.

December:  Turn mattresses.

 

About Norwex products. I found out about these products from a Norwex party I attended.  They are perfect for people who want to begin to eliminate chemicals from their home.  The ones I love the most are the window cloth and the dust mitt.  While I have not been able to eliminate all the chemicals from my cleaning, I have begun to have fewer and fewer.  It’s a work in progress.  If you’re interested in these products, try to attend a party — that’s how I got started.  Their website  is https://shopus.norwex.biz/en_US/customer/shop/cleaning.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/wellness/a26898773/how-cleaning-helps-anxiety/https://www.bhg.com/homekeeping/house-cleaning/tips/10-best-home-cleaning-tips/

 

 

MUST-HAVE TOOLS for homeowners

Ah, homeownership: gone are the days of calling the landlord when you have a leaky faucet or a faulty light switch.

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, [cue the Handy Manny theme song.] [Wait am I the only parent who remembers Playhouse Disney in the mid 2000’s?], you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects. *Note: THIS LIST EXCLUDES THE 2 MOST IMPORTANT HOMEOWNER-TOOL ITEMS: CLOROX WIPES & DUCT TAPE.* (And ps, we are assuming that you already have some sort of  bin that includes a few screwdrivers & a hammer. Perhaps a measuring tape. This tool list is a sort of motley crew “off-the-beaten-path” tool list, if you will.

  1. Cordless drill. A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month.
  2. Drain cleaners. Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.
  3. Shop-vac. No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.
  4. Loppers. Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.
  5. Flashlight. You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!

 

GET PLUGGED IN!

From the desktop of Nancy Kapp, REALTOR

Technology is great … when it works and especially when it’s charged!  And those darn cubes!  They always seem to be hiding when I need them the most.  One solution to the problem of the missing cube is to install duplex USB chargers at one or more of your regular household receptacles.  In this post, we’ll show you how simple it is to do this.  Thanks, Noelle Donovan, for demonstrating the easy steps to installing.

From this:

USB1

To this:

USB16

  1.  Safety first, always!  Disconnect the power to the receptacle where you are installing the USB charger by turning off the circuit breaker.  Be sure to double check that the power is no longer running to the outlet.  If you have a circuit tester, that’s great.  If not, just plug in a small electrical appliance to make sure power is no longer running to the outlet. USB2
  2. Gather your materials — the USB charger, a new cover plate and a screwdriver.
  3. Remove the wall plate and pull the device from the box.
  4. Label the wires that are connected to the existing device and then disconnect the existing device.USB8
  5. Use the diagram from the device that you purchased.  Noelle noted that they aren’t all exactly the same so look at the diagram for your device.  The picture below is for the “legrand Pass & Seymour radiant Duplex USB Charger 3.1A.”
  6. Using a screwdriver, attach the wires according to the diagram for your device. USB11
  7. Mount the device to the wall box and attach the wall plate.  Restore the power. 

    You’re ready to use your new USB charger!

“FIX ‘N’ LIST” list

From the desk of Alisa McCulloch, REALTOR®

You guys know I love a good list! A to-do list, a grocery list, a list of all my hopes & dreams…

In the real estate industry, lists are paramount.  Seller lists, buyer lists, attorney lists, inspection lists.  The list goes on and on (ba-dum bum.) But what about before any kind of transaction happens? Yep, there’s a list for that, too. I like to call this one the “fix ‘n’ list” list.

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s important to ensure it looks its best! Taking time to highlight its strengths [re: gleaming wood floors! New kitchen fixtures!] and fix up some of its [possible] weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are the NDT’s top recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

1: Repaint walls.

Giving your house a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a DIY project (unless you have major OCD or you’re too short to reach the 2-story foyer even with one of the tall ladders.)  TIP: Cover all walls that have scratches and/or chips, and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat. FAVORITE COLORS RIGHT NOW: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Grey; Sherwin Williams Light French Gray; Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray

2: Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas.  *See my previous post on DIY wood floor scratch repair! If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them–especially in the “first impression” rooms, like foyer or great room, where potential buyers’ eyes (and feet!) will land first. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!

3: Refresh the landscaping.

Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well! Have your walkways and driveways pressure washed; plant seasonal flowers (or display potted plants on the porch); trim hedges and trees; fill in mulch and gravel. *See Nancy’s post on front porch decor for some super easy DIY ideas!!

4: Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds….especially in your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. You don’t have to go all out with a gut & renovation.  New cabinet hardware, an updated faucet, and a modern light fixture over the sink can make a frumpy kitchen look fabulous! I like to buy fixtures of all kinds (my newest lights, kitchen sink & faucet) from Wayfair.com! TIP: if you decide to update your old light fixtures, I always recommend you do them all together so they match. Buyers don’t like to see old brass upstairs and rustic farmhouse down. Keep it simple & aesthetically pleasing…and easy on your wallet!

 

SPRING INTO CHEERFUL FRONT PORCHES

From the desk of Nancy Kapp, REALTOR®

It’s amazing how the dull, drab browns and grays of winter quickly disappear into a burst of color.  Spring is here, at last!

Decorating my porch and/or patio is not my strong suit.  I have a black thumb, but I still try to include flowers because I love the splash of color they add to anything.  I’m always looking for inspiration. The ideas below are from the homebnc.com site.  There are so many amazing ideas on the site.  Some are simple:

And some are a little more involved:

With a busy schedule, it’s hard sometimes for me to keep up with the seasons.  I try to keep things simple on my front porch, and found this idea for three cute little rabbits.

rabbit inspiration

First, I had to create the pattern.  The first step was figuring out how tall.  My scroll saw has limitations, so I made the largest rabbit 18 inches tall.  The middle rabbit was ¾ that size (13 ½ inches) and the smallest rabbit was ½ of the largest rabbit (9 inches).  To keep it symmetrical, I drew one half of each of the three rabbits, then flipped it over to make the actual pattern.

I traced the patterns onto ¾” birch plywood and cut the pieces out using my scroll saw. The noses were just simple triangles and they were cut from 1/8” birch.  The pieces were sanded with my favorite “mouse” sander.  I glued the three rabbits together to make a more sturdy base using Titebond Original Wood Glue.

The rabbits are painted white, the noses pink and the whiskers and eyes black using DecoAmericana paint (Titanium White for the bodies, Petal Pink for the noses and Lamp Black for the eyes and whiskers).  For a protective finish I used water-based acrylic varnish (satin).  My favorite is J. W. Etc.’s Right Step.  Then I added ribbon bows to add a little color. The wood glue was used to attach the bows to the rabbits.

Rabbits are finished

I added the rabbits to my front porch with pots of flowers and I’m ready for spring.

bunnies on the porch

Watch out bunnies … there’s a fox lurking.

For more amazing ideas, click on the links below:

https://www.homestoriesatoz.com/decorating/20-beautiful-spring-porch-and-patio-ideas.html

https://www.pinterest.com/frontporchideas/spring-porch-decorating-ideas/?lp=true

https://homebnc.com/best-spring-porch-decor-ideas/

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: morning person

From the desk of Alisa McCulloch, REALTOR®fruit***Disclosure: I am a morning person.

Pretty sure it’s due to my insomnia (self diagnosed in 2006 with my first pregnancy and never regained hope) but nevertheless…it turned me into a morning person. I like to get up, have a cup of coffee in peace before the troops trundle down and begin the breakfast brigade. I really do feel like I get more QUALITY out of my tasks when I complete them in the morning. And, when I start burning through my to-do list, and I get more items done than I originally intended, it is extremely gratifying!

todo

*Sidebar: I like to physically make check marks — with my pen — on the boxes I draw next to each item on the to-do list because I love the feeling of accomplishment.  Who else does this? It’s either super satisfying or incredibly sad. Let’s go with satisfying.

Ever wish you could become a morning person? Someone who wakes with a start, feeling refreshed and energized. Someone who will get in a morning workout or wrap up some work before others even hit the snooze button for the first time.

Here are five tips to help you achieve that early bird status!

  1. Create a morning schedule. Physically write down the things you’d like to complete in the morning and set a time for each. Then stick with it. [Aha! The aforementioned checkboxing!]  It may take maximum effort the first few mornings… but like anything else, it does get easier.
  2. LET THERE BE LIGHT. Literally…Let the light in!!!  Whether natural or artificial, light tells your brain it’s time to get up and get going. This can be especially difficult during that weird week of daylight savings/daylight savings ends. But anyway.  If your room lacks large windows where you can open the blinds up, consider investing in a timed lamp or alarm clock with a light.
  3. Prep and eat breakfast. Although there are many people who choose to skip breakfast, [I see you, all you intermittent fasters out there!] it can be key to perking up your energy in the morning. Try prepping protein-focused meals the night before or grab a yogurt or fruit and try to consume it right after you wake up. PINTEREST HAS AMAZING EASY PREP RECIPES. I PROMISE YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED.
  4. Get your body moving!!! Whether it’s a short walk around your neighborhood (take Fido out for goodness sake) or a rigorous 5:30 am spin class, (Peleton anyone?) getting your blood pumping will not only help wake up your body, it has many other benefits, like stress and anxiety reduction. And really, you feel SO much better when you’re done.
  5. Feed your mind. Stimulate your brain and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. Try reading a favorite book, catching up on the news, doing daily meditation, or setting intentions. [I would advise against jumping on Instagram first thing in the morning, but it’s one of my rituals too.  Coffee, Instagram and the sound of nothing. For about 4 minutes. Then: SportsCenter, cereal-crunching, lunch-packing, dog-wagging, “where’s my book?” “where’s Dad?” “Mom I need $5 for school”… you get where I’m going with this.]

The point is!!! It doesn’t take a lot… It just takes some effort on your part. I really do believe that early bedtime and early wake time makes for clarity, strength, and wisdom. Try it for a week and see how you do. And if you don’t like it, go back to bed.

KINDNESS ROCKS!

From the desktop of Nancy Kapp, Realtor

It truly is the little things that make us smile and connect us.  I don’t really remember how I  started painting kindness rocks.  I think it was about two years ago when I heard a friend talk about finding a painted rock at Harrisburg Town Center.  I researched and found it’s a nation-wide scavenger hunt designed to promote kindness.  Community groups are formed on social media.  When you find a rock, directions are on the back of the rock that tell you where to post your find.  Then you can have the fun of posting the rock you found and hiding it to make someone else’s day.  And it’s not a crime if you fall in love with a rock you find and keep it.  Whoever painted it will just be glad they made your day.

This sounded like an amazing idea so I started painting rocks and hiding them.  I painted with my grandkids and we had a great time.  The pictures below show the products of one of our painting sessions, a pic of the boys hiding our rocks, and some I painted for Halloween.  And while we were hiding them, we even found one!

My younger daughter is an Occupational Therapist and she asked if I would help her paint with some of her clients who live in assisted living.  They loved it as well.  There’s just something about spreading a little kindness that makes you smile.

And if you paint or find a rock you love, they make great garden decorations and little surprises when people look at your garden or landscaping.  I painted this fox and I just couldn’t let him go.

fox rock

All you need to start is a few brushes, markers, paint, rocks, something to coat after you paint the rocks, and your imagination.  My favorite inexpensive acrylic paint is DecoArt Americana.  I also use a water-based clear varnish.

rock painting stuff

If you’re like me and need some inspiration, you can google “painting rocks” and click on images.

rockpainting ideas google.jpg

Because my grandsons live in Harrisburg, NC, we hide and post ours on that Facebook page which is “Harrisburg + ROCKS.”  I’m sure there’s a Facebook page in a city or town near you.

If your’re interested in the project or some information to help you get started, here are some great links.

https://www.thekindnessrocksproject.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheKindnessRocksProject/

https://www.scarymommy.com/the-kindness-rocks-project/

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Kindness-Rocks

https://www.pinterest.com/leaderconnectingleaders/kindness-rock-project/?lp=true