Around the home

There’s nothing like sitting around an open fire, watching the tinder catching the spark, the flames curling the bits of kindling, sending bits of embers into the air, as the flames consolidate and grow. During the early evening or under the beauty of the starry night sky, a fire sings its own song adding a different rhythm to the chorus outdoors. Warmth, protection, a source for cooking—campfires are practical but they are also fun.

Welcome to October! Crisp air, beautiful trees, and the cider couldn’t be better!  It’s time to enjoy all those crazy corn mazes and football games, right? Well, sort-of. DO enjoy the outdoors but do NOT forget that this is Minnesota. Temperatures will drop and snowflakes will fly before you know it and you will want your home to be ready before that first hard freeze. Here are some important reminders.

Nice to have a safety net.

A home warranty is a common part of a real estate transaction. The cost is around $600 per year and covers appliances, mechanicals and other components of a home. But if I already have homeowners insurance, why would I want a home warranty?

Because it can save you money, that's why.

When I was a child, landscaping meant adding a border and mulch to spruce up your flowerbed and the term outdoor space was redundant. But, like many other things, these terms have evolved. Landscaping has become an art form, encompassing design and the environment.

It is spring, and everyone in my family has gone garden crazy. My wife and sons have been weeding, digging, and planting everything in sight, they eat as many meals as possible outside on a picnic blanket, and they’ve secured permission from more neighbors than I knew we had to collect dandelion flowers for their jelly operation.

It's getting greener out there every day, and you can green up too! Earth day is a great reminder of all that our community is doing, (to steal a popular slogan), to "live responsibly by nature". But we can always be doing more. I know I can and this year I am redoubling my efforts to figure out which plastics go in recycling and which ones I shouldn't be acquiring in the first place.

It can't be understated: smoke detectors can save your life. They are inexpensive, easy to install and must be checked on a regular basis. Take the time for safety in the home.

Not all smoke detectors are created equal. It shouldn't take a horror story to convince you of the importance of having working smoke detectors in your home, but in case you need some examples, check out these videos.

Spring is coming fast now, and it’s time to start planning the gardens we’ve been dreaming of all winter. Garden catalogs have been arriving at our house thick and fast, and my three-year-old pages through them identifying the plants he’d like to have in his garden (hint: it’s pretty much all of them).

Radon has been in the news the last couple of months with some changes to Minnesota law, and the EPA designated January as Radon Action Month, so this week I’m taking a few minutes to give a quick overview of radon, the risks it poses, regulations and recommendations, and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

The first time I climbed down the (only slightly rickety) stairs into my house’s unfinished “Minnesota basement,” I noticed that one interior cinder-block wall looked as if it had been knocked in with a sledgehammer. Peering into the darkness through the snaggle-toothed hole, I found a large, sunken rectangle full of broken bricks, chunks of dirt, and occasional corpses (only rodents as far as I know).