Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New Faces of Piccard Homes

A lot of exciting things have been happening at Sawgrass South, and among them is the addition of several new faces at Piccard Homes! We would like to take a moment to formally introduce and welcome our new sales and construction staff:

Christine Fox
Christine Fox is the new Sales Assistant at Sawgrass South.  Originally hailing from the D.C. Metro area, Christine led a successful career in the Aerospace Quality Assurance Control field. Upon her relocation to
Delaware, Christine worked in the healthcare field for several years before shifting her focus towards a career in the new home sales and marketing field.

Christine is enthusiastic to be part of our Sales Team and is excited to help our homebuyers have the best experience possible. She possesses a bright personality and a passion for helping others. We’re sure she will be a great asset to Piccard Homes and the Sawgrass South community.

Josh Weldin
The newest addition to the Piccard Homes is Josh Weldin, our new Assistant Construction Manager.  Josh is native to Delaware and has lived in Milton his entire life.  He has an extensive background in construction due in part to his previous experience at Bayside Exteriors working as a roofing and siding contractor.

Josh’s role at Sawgrass South includes working closely with Customer Care and Steve Shoemaker, our new Project Manager, to ensure each home meets or exceeds the standard of quality that homebuyers have come to expect at Piccard Homes.

Josh is very happy to be working at Sawgrass South and looks forward to utilizing his skills and expertise in a capacity that allows him to ensure the happiness of our current and future residents.

Kathy Hickerson

Kathy Hickerson is the new Sales Manager for Sawgrass South.  Originally from the Hudson Valley area of upstate New York, Kathy has been a resident of Rehoboth Beach since 1996 and loves living at the beach!

Having sold new construction for both regional and national homebuilders in the area, Kathy is attuned to the dynamic and ever-changing real estate market in this resort area.  Kathy takes pride in her honest and professional reputation and enjoys fulfilling the expectations of every buyer she works with.

Kathy is eager to be part of such a dynamic team at Sawgrass South.  She is looking forward to helping new buyers attain their dream of living in coastal Delaware and making the home buying experience as satisfying and effortless as possible.

Steve Shoemaker
Steve Shoemaker, the new Project Manager at Sawgrass South, has recently relocated to the Millsboro, Delaware area from northern Maryland. He and his wife Teresa, a pre-school teacher, are loving living in this wonderful area of Delaware.

Steve has worked in the construction field for 39 years, overseeing both commercial and residential projects. He brings a tremendous amount of experience and professionalism with him to Sawgrass South.  His positive attitude is contagious and we are so pleased to have him with Piccard Homes.

Be sure to introduce yourself to Steve when you see him in the community!
We hope you will take a moment to help us welcome these new, wonderful additions to the Sawgrass South family!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fall Fun

Apple cider and donuts and hayrides, oh my!

During the autumn months, a fun, traditional outing is to visit a pumpkin patch.  There are several places that offer pumpkins and produce for sale, however, if you are looking for a full day experience, here are some details on three of the bigger places located around Delaware:

Fifer Orchards:
Location: 1919 Allabands Mill Rd, Camden Wyoming, DE (About 1 hour north of Rehoboth)

Fifer Orchards is a fourth generation family farm dating back almost 100 years. Fifer’s focuses on safe, sustainable farming practices that preserve the environment, reduce waste and promote healthy growing systems. All the fruits and veggies grown here are ‘Non-GMO”.

U-Pick experiences:
Strawberries (daily picking conditions are subject to change. It’s best to call ahead (302-697-2141)
Apples (Fridays and Saturdays only through late October)
Pumpkins (closed Sundays)
Blueberries (currently not in season)
Peaches (currently not in season)

Corn Maze Fun Park:
Corn maze, pumpkin painting, straw slides, pumpkin pad, tire tumblers, straw castle with farm volleyball, bee line swings, mini straw maze, corn crib, rubber ducky races, pedal tractors, octo-ball, tetherball, additional fun games and attractions and free parking.

Country Store:
Fall veggies, pumpkins, apples, fresh apple cider, doughnuts, apple butter, local honey, caramel apples, fresh baked pies, hand-dipped ice cream, unique specialty foods, fall decor items.

*Saturday only* extras:
Hayrides, tractor train rides, farm animal exhibit, pony rides, food vendors, live music, face painting, kids bounces.

Corn Maze Fun Park Admission Pricing:
Youth – $10 (ages 2-17) – includes 1 free jack-be-little pumpkin
Adult – $5 (ages 18-69) – includes 1 free jack-be-little pumpkin
Children under 2 years – Free admission
Ages 70+ – Free admission

Some ‘Saturday only’ activities have additional costs:

The ticket booth on Saturdays sells tickets for ‘a la carte’ activities such as: hayrides, tractor train rides, pony rides, farm animal exhibit and face painting. Tickets are $1 each. Season passes are available.

 Fifer Orchards also has live music each Saturday from 11:30-2:30

 For full details and pricing, visit their website.

Loblolly Acres:

Location: 3893 Turkey Point Rd, Viola, DE 19979 (About 1 hour north of Rehoboth)

Another option if you’re looking for a place that offers a little bit of everything is Loblolly Acres. This fun farm has been in business since 1964 and still going strong today.

Children - $6.00
Adult - $3.00

Your admission price includes:
Scenic hayride tour of the farm
A petting zoo with adorable and unique furry friends, including hedgehogs, a mini pony, and Ruddy the pot belly pig Straw maze
Fun play area
Corn Maze
Face painting
Nature Trail
Corn pit
Big slide

In addition to your admission there are plenty of other things Loblolly Farm has available:

Straw bales for sale
Corn stalks
Gift shop
Wonderful café with homemade soups and chili
Great fall decorations
Tag your Christmas tree and get 10% off your tree purchase
Special Events

For more detailed information check out their website.

Ramsey’s Farm:
Location: 330 Ramsey Rd, Wilmington, DE 19803 (About 2 hours north of Rehoboth)

This farm has been operating successfully since 1995. With a sprawling 12 acre pumpkin patch and 8 acres of corn maze, Ramsey’s Farm has plenty to do for everyone. If you happen to be going to the Wilmington area, this might be the place for you:

Activity Costs:

Corn Maze - $7.00
Sorghum Maze - $4.00
Hay Maze - $3.00
Pumpkin Painting - $2.00
Hay Play Area - Free
Hay Ride - $3.00

All Activities Wristbands:
Adults and children 6 and up - $10.00
Children 5 and under - $6.00

In addition to farm activities, Ramsey’s also has a food tent and pumpkin field.

Click here for more info:

We wish you all a happy and fun filled autum season!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Prepare for Change

Autumn is here, the season of change. Vibrant reds, oranges and yellows will fill the trees, the warm breeze of summer will turn crisp, kids return to school and our clocks will fall back an hour. Before we know it, winter will be staring us right in the face. So- what can you do to prepare? Here are some tips you can use now to get ahead of the game and make your home winter ready:

Check for drafts – Now is the time to ensure your home is sealed up tight to prevent cold drafts and excess heating. A good starting point isto look for old caulking or weather stripping that needs to be replaced. For more information, click here for a great article on detecting air leaks.

If you do happen to notice a problem with the caulk in your home, it is an easy, do-it-yourself project. Please see here for simple steps to follow the next time you need to reseal.

Mulching leaves – While most people tend to rake and bag their leaves, you may consider the alternative of mulching them instead. Mulching leaves has many benefits including the improving grass and reducing weeds. For more information read here, or do some further research to make the best decision for you.

Test your home’s detectors – Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors are one of the most valuable assets to your home, and ensuring they are working properly should be one of your top priorities. It is recommended that you test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month and replace their batteries twice a year. A good rule to follow is to change the batteries when you change your clocks.

Evaluate your roofing – Before we get hit with snowfall, it is a great idea to give your roof another once over to ensure there are no cracked, broken or missing shingles. Without intact shingles, you run the risk of your home getting water damage as the snow melts. Read here for more information, but remember, roofing work is dangerous and it is always a good idea to hire a professional.

Keep gutters clear – Due to the high amount of autumn debris from leaves and twigs, it is imperative to ensure that your gutters and downspouts are clean. Clearing your gutters allows for water to drain properly while also preventing them from getting weighed down, causing separation from your home. With the wide variety of issues that can come from clogged gutters, it is best to clean them in early fall instead of waiting.

Check your HVAC system ahead of time – Have a certified professional perform a standard maintenance check on your heating and air conditioning system now before the cold sets in. During this time, it would also be beneficial to replace your air filter according the manual’s instructions. This way, you can be sure that there will be no down time when you really need it most. **If your air conditioning unit is outdoors, it is advisable to put a cover over it while not in use.

Adjust HVAC dampers – With the weather cooling down and many people starting to run the heating in their homes, it is important to remember to make these changes. By adjusting the damper in your home, you can redirect the warm air to the lowest level of your home. Since heat rises, this adjustment will help with the amount of energy your furnace uses to heat your home.

Turn on humidifiers – Another change that occurs in fall is the level of humidity in the air. Along with the cooling temperatures the air becomes dryer. Using a humidifier to increase moisture in your home has many positive impacts such as reducing dry skin, lessening static electricity and helping your home feel warmer. Please refer to your owner’s manual for instructions specific to your unit.

Chimney inspection – After sitting dormant during the warm months, a good practice is to contact an NFI Certified Chimney Sweep to evaluate your chimney and fireplace for cleanliness. Having a dirty chimney can result in fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Click here for a great resource to help you when determining your selection.

Winterize outdoor faucets – Before freezing temperatures arrive, it is necessary to winterize any outdoor faucets. To do so properly, you must drain all water from the faucet before shutting off the outdoor water supply.  When water freezes, it can build up pressure, resulting in pipe bursts and possible leaks which cause major damage to your home. This website offers a great tutorial on winterizing your faucet as well as other basic maintence operations.

In addition to draining faucets, it is also a good idea to drain and store any hoses which may be attached to outdoor faucets.  It is recommended they be rolled neatly and stored in a dry place.

If your home has an irrigation system, it is advisable that these be drained as well.  In some cases, the homeowner may be responsible for this on their own and should consult their owner’s manual or hire a professional for assistance. In other circumstances, homeowners may have an HOA that does the work for them when appropriate. Click here for more winter plumbing tips.

Reverse ceiling fans – During the cooler months of the year, it is ideal to switch the rotation of your ceiling fan blades. By doing so, the fans help to push warmer air towards the floor as it rises.

Service winter equipment – Now is the time to ensure that all equipment you may need for a snowy winter is in proper working order. If you happen to have a snowblower or backup generator, here are some of the basic things you can do:

* Check the oil
* Inspect the belts
* Tighten the bolts
* Replace air filter

Be sure to review your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance for your specific unit or call a professional for servicing.

Check walkways and driveways – Take the opportunity now to evaluate your walkway and driveway for cracks. This would be the perfect time to get them filled preventing water from settling in and freezing, causing them to get bigger and more expensive to repair later.

Stock up on supplies – Don’t wait until there are mobs of people flooding the stores to stock up. Here are a few items you may consider getting ahead of time:

 * Firewood
 * Shovels
 * Emergency items: flashlights, batteries, bandages, blankets and replace any expired items from an emergency kit
* Non-perishable foods
 * Bottled water

Reorganize shed or garage – Rearrange your garage or shed so fall and winter tools are more accessible and shift other things back that you won’t need. This is also a great time to clean and store seasonal furniture.
By preparing now, you can get ahead of the game and have a much smoother winter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Did You Know...

1. The State Bug of Delaware is the Lady Bug - This became so on April 25, 1974 due to an intense effort by Mrs. Mollie Brown-Rust’s second grade class at Lulu M. Ross Elementary School in Milford, Delaware. Ladybugs are great allies to gardeners, since they are a natural predator to crop-damaging aphids.

2. The State Butterfly is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – This butterfly was adopted on June 10, 1999.This large yellow and black-striped beauty is indigenous to Delaware. Out of a possible three choices selected by Richardson Park Learning Center, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail won by a vote of 1,611 out of 3,175 students.

3. The State Wildlife Animal is the Grey Fox – The Grey Fox was adopted June 10, 2010. This swift and powerful creature is the only American canine that can climb trees, and can also run up to 28mph.

4. The State Mineral is Sillimanite – Sillimanite was officially named the State Mineral in 1977 as suggested by the Delaware Mineralogical Society. This polymorph mineral is often fibrous, and comes in many colors ranging from clear to gray-white, yellowish, brownish and bluish. Sillimanite is formed in higher temperature/ higher pressure environments.

5. Henry Heimlich – The man responsible for the Heimlich maneuver was born in Wilmington, DE on February 3, 1920. Heimlich first wrote about the maneuver in a June 1974 informal article published in Emergency Medicine. In 1974, there was a report that a retired restaurant-owner used it to rescue a choking person.

6. The State Star is Delaware Diamond – Delaware Diamond is a star of the 12th magnitude that can be seen with binoculars or a telescope. Located in the constellation of Ursa Major (Great Bear) with the coordinates of right ascension 9h40m44s and declination 48⁰14’2”. Twelve-year-old Amy Nerlinger of Wilmington named the star through a contest sponsored by the Delaware Museum of Natural History in the summer of 1999. Delaware Diamond is the first star on the International Star Registry to be registered to a state.

7. The State Macroinvertebrate is the Stonefly – Adopted in May, 2005, the Stonefly was chosen due to its intolerance to any sort of water pollution. This Macroinvertebrate was chosen because its presence around the state represents Delaware’s remarkable water quality.

 8. The State Shell is the Channeled Whelk – The Channeled Whelk was adopted as the state shell in May of 2014. After reading a book of Delaware state symbols, 6th Grade Girl Scout Allyson Willis, noticed that Delaware did not have a state shell while many other states with fewer beaches did. This realization prompted her to contact her state legislators and it was officially signed by Gov. Jack Markell. The channeled Whelk is one of only two predatory sea snails found near central and lower Delaware, and the typical shell size can grow up to 5-8 inches long.

9. Lowest Average Elevation – While there are states that beat Delaware on the lowest low point or lowest high point, its overall mean elevation is the lowest in the country with an average of 60ft above sea level. Delaware’s highest point reaches 450ft and its lowest point is Sea Level.

10. Fewest Counties – Delaware has the fewest number of counties in the country totaling only three - Kent County, New Castle County, and Sussex County. Sussex County was established in 1631 and is the largest of the three at 938 sq. miles. Since the city of Lewes was the first town in Delaware, it holds the title of the first town in the first state, and also makes Sussex County the birthplace of modern day Delaware.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Plotting a Successful Garden

Warm spring temperatures invite us to take advantage of the outdoors. If you are looking for a new way to spend time outside, you may want to consider planting your own vegetable garden. Not only will it produce some delicious food, but gardening can be very relaxing. If you’ve never grown your own produce before, it has been recommended to start off small and build up to a larger garden in the future. Creating a small plot gives you a great introduction to gardening, what tools you like, and how much time is required to maintain your plants.

Garden Bed– The first decision you will need to make is what type of bed you’d like for your garden. In addition to just using pots, you have two choices - planting directly into the ground or in a raised bed. Both options have pros and cons so it really just comes down to preference. With many views on each type, it’s best to do some research and decide which works for you. If you choose to go with a raised bed, you can either buy one at your local hardware store, or build your own.  For information on building your own click here.

Basic Gardening Tools – When starting a garden, you’ll need to acquire the basic tools necessary to regularly maintain it. The size of the tool you purchase will be heavily determined by the type of garden you choose to create. For instance, if you choose to go with a raised bed garden, you may want to opt for smaller hand tools. This list should help you get an idea of what many gardeners keep in their shed:
  • Gloves - A thick pair of gloves to protect your hands from thorns and chemicals. Leather or synthetic offer a bit more durability and protection over cotton.
  • Hand Trowel – A small tool used for digging holes in a garden bed or mixing soil with other additives such as fertilizer or compost. Look for a hand trowel with a solid/comfortable grip and strong blade.
  • Hori Hori Knife – A versatile tool that can be used for digging, weeding, planting, cutting bags open and much more.
  • Pruning Shears/Knife – Ideal for harvesting as well as cutting plants back.
  • Hoe – Good for breaking up soil and weeds
  • Shovel – For digging larger holes to plant trees and shrubs, and is also good for mixing larger quantities of soil.
  • Rake – Ideal for removing leaves and bits of debris from your garden.
  • Hose – Be sure to purchase a nozzle for the end so you can water your garden with more of a spray rather than a large stream of water.
  • Wheelbarrow for carrying your soil or heavy items.
  • Bucket to keep small tools, gloves etc… in a central location, it can also be used to gather up your leaves and clippings.
Location – Where you place your garden can have a big impact on its success.
  • Reminder – It is a good idea to put your garden somewhere you will see it or pass it daily so you will be reminded to tend to it for at least 10 minutes a day.
  • Sun – Most vegetables tend to grow best with between 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. While this is pretty typical, there are other options if your home does not have quite so much sunlight. You can plant vegetables that require less sun, such as root vegetables, or stick to planting seeds in containers that can be moved to sunnier locations as needed.
  • Space – You will need to put some serious thought into what you hope to accomplish with your garden and then select an area that can accommodate the amount of space you will need to achieve your gardening goals. This will definitely come into play if you are planning to grow any vegetables or fruits that sprawl, such as grapes or others that just require more space between plants.
  • Water – To save yourself a little bit of work, try to situate your garden close to your water supply.
Choosing vegetables– With your garden all ready to go, you just need to get some veggies planted. Things to consider:
  • Your Climate
  • What season you are planting in
  • How much maintenance is required
  • How much space do you have
  • Timing – Should you plant seeds or transplants? Consider when you are planting, if you get a late start you may want to just go with transplants.
A few ideas to get you started in your veggie choice for late spring include:

Cucumbers – These tasty vegetables are a great option for your home garden and are best to be planted when the temperature is a reliable 70 degrees or above. While there is a vine variety, bushes are better suited to containers or small gardens. Cucumbers are great because they grow fast and don’t require a ton of maintenance aside from consistent moisture, about one inch per week. For more information on cucumbers please click here.

Snap Beans – Another great addition to your home garden are snap beans. Not only are these a dependable producer but they are very easy to manage. These delicious veggies come in a variety of sizes and colors. These can be grown either by pole, which requires a tall trellis, or bush, which requires less set up. It is important to keep beans weeded and mulched to conserve moisture. To learn more, click here.

Tomatoes - These are a great, low-maintenance option to consider planting in your new garden. Tomatoes need a heavily sunlit section of your garden to ensure they get between 6 and 8 hours of sun each day. Before planting, it is wise to decide on a plan for supporting them, trellis, cage or stakes, as they tend to grow pretty tall. Click here for more info.

Here are a few links to help you get started with seed selection and a timelines:

The options are really endless when trying to work out your garden. It is a good idea to jot down your ideas, research your options and plan your space before starting. By planning ahead, your chances for success become much greater. Happy gardening!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Get Ready for Spring

Now that we are coming to the end of winter, it’s a great time to start thinking about how to prepare your home for the spring season. So, fling open those windows, break out the scrub brushes and let’s get busy!

Display some greenery – Not only do live plants brighten a room, they can also improve the air quality indoors. While there’s a wide variety to choose from, some of the best purifiers include English Ivy, Peace Lily, Spider Plant and Chinese Evergreen. In addition to internet and library resources, talking to your local nursery / florist is a great way to figure out which plants are right for your home.

Replace your air filter(s) – The air filter is what helps to keep dirt and debris from entering your home through your HVAC system, allowing air to flow more freely. If too much dirt builds up in the filter, your system takes more effort to cool your home, resulting in higher energy bills. Read your product’s recommendation for filter replacement frequency as well as required size.
Check the screens – This is the perfect time of year to evaluate the screens on your windows. Keeping windows open gives your AC a break, and lets out some of that stale winter air. In addition to basic cleaning, also inspect the screens for any signs of damage and replace them as soon as possible to keep bugs out.
Test your home’s detectors – Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors are some of the most valuable assets to your home, and ensuring they are work properly should be one of your top priorities. It is recommended that you test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month and replace their batteries twice a year. A good rule to follow is to change the batteries when you change your clocks.

Get fresh air flowing – Now that you’ve checked all those screens, you can leave the windows open and get some fresh air circulating through your home. In addition to letting Mother Nature do her job, why not give her a hand with the use of some ceiling fans. If you already have some, dust them off and rotate the fans to run counterclockwise. By changing up the rotation of the blades, you allow the fan to push the hot air downwards to mix with the cooler air below.
Brighten up your living spaces – Now is the perfect time of year to give your home a more light, spring feeling. Here are some simple ways to achieve that goal without breaking the bank: 
  • Rearrange your furniture, sometimes a new perspective really opens things up.
  • Switch out your accent pillows to something brighter
  • Put out lighter linens
  • Clean the curtains
  • Put blankets in the dryer with a softener and no heat
  • Fluff up your pillows
  • Deep clean your carpets or polish your floors  
Get your roof ready – Now that the snow has melted away, it’s the perfect time to take a good, close look at your roof. Inspect it thoroughly for any cracked, broken or missing shingles. And while you’re up there, make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and working properly. 

Clean your refrigerator – Your fridge is one of the most important appliances you own, especially in the summer (how else will you keep those party snacks and beverages cold?). Be sure to set aside a bit of time to freshen it up:  
  • Remove any stale or old food
  • Wipe down all of the shelves, drawers and doors with a mild soapy solution. It is important to hand wash these items, as they are not dishwasher safe. Make sure to dry thoroughly before putting any items back in
  • Place a carton of baking powder on one of the shelves to help keep your fridge fresh
This would also be a good time to contact the manufacturer and inquire about how to clean the coils properly. 
Get the outdoors in shape – As the weather warms up and you’re spending more time outdoors, this would be a great opportunity to catch up on some outside maintenance. Here are a few good places to start:  
  • Clean and condition your grill
  • Organize your garage
  • Pressure wash your deck and/or patio furniture
  • Sweep off walkways and steps
  • Replace your outdoor lighting with energy efficient bulbs  
Check your HVAC system ahead of time – Have a certified professional check your heat and air conditioning system now before the heat sets in. This way, you can ensure that there will be no down time when you really need it most. 

Turn off humidifiers/adjust HVAC Dampers – With the weather warming up and more moisture in the air, it is important to remember to make these changes. These adjustments will keep your HVAC system working properly, and prevent potentially expensive maintenance.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Beat the Winter Blues

Winter may have its perks for some, but for others, the dreariness can be a bit much. It’s cold, it’s grey, it’s wet, and it can really put a damper on your mood. Here are some ideas to help you fight off those winter blues:

Brighten Your Environment Open windows first thing in the morning to take in as much sunlight as you can. Not only will the sunshine brighten your mood and mentality, but it can also help your body to get some extra vitamin D lacking in the cold winter months by staying inside more.
To further brighten your home, rearrange your furniture to infuse main sitting areas with light, while also allowing you to take in the beauty of the outdoors.

Eat Smarter - Choosing the right foods to eat during the winter months can have a great impact on your mood and energy. Try to avoid eating refined or processed foods is also important to maintain a daily intake of 8 cups of water a day. Proper hydration helps improve your mood, energy level, digestion and may contribute to better mental performance.

Exercise - Exercising is not just a great way to lose weight and stay healthy, but has also has been found to elevate endorphins. Exercise encourages your brain to release certain mood enhancing chemicals while also increasing your energy level. Spending as little as 30 minutes a day doing a physical activity such as walking, running (outside or on a treadmill) or easy-to-do indoor exercises such as sit-ups or jumping jacks can be greatly beneficial.

Find the Beauty in the Season -While many of us may not like the cold, there are still many ways we can enjoy the winter. just enjoy the beauty of it. Next time you’re sitting by a window, use that opportunity to take in the beauty of the blankets of snow or the crystalline appearance of ice. You may find that it can be very relaxing and serene.

Listen to Music - When you’re having one of those down days, it may be beneficial to pop in some upbeat tunes to liven your spirits. Sometimes just listening to your favorite song or picking something to fit the mood you want to achieve can do a lot to relieve stress and increase your level of happiness or relaxation.

Plan a Vacation - If it’s possible, winter is a fabulous time to plan a vacation. Even a short weekend getaway can liven up your step. Even better, travel someplace warm to get out of the cold for a week. The anticipation as your trip approaches will pep you up and take your mind off winter. It doesn’t have to be an epic, dream vacation, but just having something to look forward to will really brighten your mood.

Help Others - Joining in a community service effort is a win/win for all parties. Not only will you feel good about contributing, but imagine all the happiness you can bring to others in the process. Here are some ideas to get you started:

* Volunteer at a soup kitchen
* Put together care packages
* Donate clothes or food
*Spend time with the elderly
*Help out at an animal shelter
* Join a neighborhood clean-up group
*Help someone shovel or salt their walks and driveways
*Volunteer to help at an event
*Teach! Have a skill that you’re good at? Take the opportunity to help others learn.

Get Fresh Air - While it may not sound enticing to be out in the cold or opening your windows, the fresh air can do wonders for your mood. It can be exhilarating to feel the cold air on your face and is sure to perk you up if you’re feeling tired and drained. Furthermore, the outdoors gives your body a break from the stagnant winter air trapped inside your home.

Find Support - During the winter we need to stay social. Many times we want nothing more than to hide in the warmth of our cozy homes, but joining friends out on the town is a fun way to keep our moods in check during a gloomy day. Bundle up, go out for a few laughs with friends, and just have a good time. We can all use a little support to get through the cold months.

Set Goals - Implementing small goals and keeping up with them can increase your mood by providing a sense of achievement. Take the winter months to follow up on those New Year’s resolutions. Set small, reasonable goals that you can live up to and that sense of accomplishment is sure to give you a boost.

Shake Up Your Routine - Find any small way to break up monotony and routine:

* Take a new route to work
* Try some new foods
* Watch a different TV show
* Select a different type of book to read
*Switch up your attire
* Listen to a different style of music
* Visit a new location

Winter may not be an ideal season for everyone, so all we can do is try to make the best of it. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you do just that!

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year, New You?

It’s time to welcome a New Year! We gleefully make our resolutions for 2016 with friends and family, announcing our aspirations to “lose X amount of weight” or “quit X”. This January, We'd like to share a few ideas that may be a little more unique and inspiring.
Have a new experience – It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just something new. Do you sometimes just watch others from the sidelines, nervous you won’t be good enough to participate? Are you typically shy? Step out of your comfort zone and try something new, just once. Be it Zumba class, cross country skiing, a new sport, dancing, cooking, or anything else, you’ll feel good just trying, and might discover something you truly enjoy!

Start a hobby – Everyone at some point has thought “I wish I could…” or “It would be fun to…” Make the effort this year to finally get into that hobby you’ve always wanted to.

* Reading – We always tell parents, 20 minutes a day instills a lifetime love of reading in children. This same principal applies to adults as well. Read while you’re waiting, lying in bed, or sipping your morning coffee. Start a community book club and find others that enjoy your hobby as much as you.

* Writing – Carve out a few minutes each day to write in a journal or start that book you’ve always wanted to write. Jot down every idea you can think of, good or bad. Your idea could be as simple as a character name, or as big as a novel outline. Or, just write down some thoughts about your day. Follow the muse!

* Arts and Crafts – There are endless options for fine art and craft projects these days. Make a trip to a local craft store, check out some tutorials online, or take a class. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy it, and anyone can learn! Engaging your mind in a creative activity, even for only 5 minutes per day, is a great way to express and de-stress.

Build and race RC cars, start a new collection, learn to cook or take up a new sport. There are endless possibilities  - a Google search for hobbies might present you with something you’ve never even heard of that sounds interesting.

Update your look – Try something subtle or go all out, this is the perfect time of year to test out a new you. Get that new hair style you’ve been thinking of, or change the color to fit the season. Have a beard? Shave it off. Don’t? Grow one. Do something simple like trying a new clothing style you normally wouldn’t have considered just to see if it works.

Make a new friend – We live in such a different world today. All too often, we occupy our idle time looking at phones or avoid speaking to strangers. This year, attempt to make at least one new friend, the regular at the coffee shop, for instance, or someone in your yoga class. Take a moment, get to know someone new. They could have a ton in common with you, or perhaps become a networking asset to your business.

Try a new food -  Everyone has their own tastes, and some may be more open than others. No matter your adventure level, this is a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and let your taste buds experience something they never have before, even if just a new dish of your favorite type of cuisine. You might find something new that you fall in love with!

Remember the good times This year, make the resolution to write down something positive each day and put it into a jar.  When times get tough or the next New Year rolls around, empty the jar and read what you’ve wrote and reflect on all of the great things that have happened.

Travel somewhere new  Use the New Year to get out and explore. It doesn’t have to be far, just new. Check out that museum you always wanted to, visit a neighboring town. Or if you’re able, adventure further and visit a new state or country. No matter what your life allows, just commit to seeing something new - a great way to make lasting memories!

Say no  This year, make it a point to say no once in a while. Piles of laundry? NO. It’s ok to let it sit for a day and unwind. Piles of invitations and events popping up? NO. Go ahead and decline one and just take a day for yourself. Sometimes we need “me time” or chance to recoup and energize so that we can continue to do all of those things that we love. Resolve to take some time for yourself this year.

Say yes  What better time to just say yes to something you’d normally say no to. Sometimes we get wrapped up in rigid schedules, guidelines or behaviors, set in our ways.  Take a moment to re-evaluate and say “well, why not, sure!”

Be a kid again  Vow to let loose a bit more, be a kid again. Use your imagination, play with toys, run around and be silly, it’s ok. Acting youthful keeps us young at heart. Laugh until it hurts and just enjoy life from a different perspective.

Learn a new language - We live in such a culturally diverse country, and language can often be a barrier with others. Maybe this year, try to learn a new language. There are quite a few options for those seeking to do so:
* Take a language class

* Purchase a language learning software

* Download a language app

* Visit a place they speak the language natively

* Find shows, movies & radio stations that speak the language you'd like to learn

Even learning a few phrases could open doors. And, it’s a great way to exercise your brain. It’s not always easy, but it will certainly be fun trying!

Try something you previously failed at  If at first you don’t succeed… A new year is prime time to pick up where you left off and try again. I’ve heard this saying: don’t think of “fail” as a negative, but treat it like an acronym: First Attempt In Learning. With each attempt you learn valuable lessons for the future. Take the New Year to give it another go. Maybe this time you will succeed or maybe it’ll be all wrong, but you’ll never know unless you try and you will come out stronger for it.

Organize your home  Maybe this year, make the goal to give your living space a new spin. Find new and creative ways to get your home organized. Get rid of things you don’t need or find a new use for something old. De-cluttering and organizing is a great way to revitalize your home and get off on the right foot.

Whether you resolve to achieve big goals or small, it’s all about doing something attainable and that makes you feel good. Even the smallest change can revitalize and inspire, and bring new perspective to the new year. Happy 2016!