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Category Blogs I Follow

How do you know if it’s clutter?

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros on how do you know if it’s clutter.

How do you know if it's clutter?

You want to get rid of the clutter in your home, but how do you know if it’s clutter or something else? When you see objects around your home on a daily basis, they just become part of the landscape. After a while, you don’t even notice the clutter. Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you.

Do you use it?

We all have things around the house we never use, maybe you’re not even sure where it’s stored. That’s clutter. Things go out of style, your tastes change or maybe you were never a big fan of that item at all...

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Q&A: Winter gardening tasks

Thanks to the University of Maryland/Maryland Grows this informative article on winter gardening tasks.

Q: Is there any outdoor garden task this time of year that I may be forgetting to do? I’ve foregone a fall clean-up for the benefit of overwintering wildlife, and the lawn and veggie garden are “asleep” for the season.

A: There are a few things that are good to accomplish during the dormant season. Yard tools like pruners, loppers, shovels, spades, and mower blades are best stored clean, sharpened, and oiled. There may be local businesses that offer sharpening services. You can also do it yourself with a metal file or sharpening stone or rod.

Winter gardening tasks
Image: University of Maryland/Maryland Grows.

Sharpen those blades

Ideally, sharpen mower blades annually so the turf doesn’t...

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Your Guide to Choosing the Correct Firewood This Winter

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about choosing the correct firewood.

Choosing the correct firewood this winter
Image: Clean Sweep Maryland

Winter is here. If you haven’t used your fireplace yet this year, the perfect opportunity will be here before you know it. Here are a few tips to help you select safe, high-quality wood for all your fireplace, woodstove, and outdoor furnace needs.

Your Guide to Choosing the Correct Firewood This Winter

For starters, you’ll want to consider the density of the wood in question:

More Dense Woods

  • Oak
  • Elm
  • Hickory

Less Dense Woods

  • Pine
  • Basswood

The density of the wood directly relates to the energy output once the fire is started. Hard, dense woods like those listed above generate maximum heat and less flames, which lead to a longer burn...

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Answers for the Most Troublesome Kitchen Clutter Zones

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with her blog about troublesome kitchen clutter zones.

Everyone spends a lot of time in the kitchen. And a lot of things happen there. In your kitchen, you cook, eat and clean multiple times a day. It follows that the kitchen can become a major source of clutter. Let’s take a look at the most troublesome kitchen clutter zones and find out how to make them clutter free.


PROBLEM: No matter how many times you clean the counters, they seem to become a drop zone for all types of clutter. Small appliances, paper piles, food and cooking utensils can end up on the counters.

SOLUTIONCountertops are not storage areas...

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2021 Year-End Charitable Giving

Thanks to L. K. Benson for sharing this blog on year-end charitable giving.

2021 year-end charitable giving

The end of the year is a very popular time to give to charities. There are many deserving organizations out there that could use your help. This is especially true in light of the challenges we’ve all faced during the COVID pandemic. While your primary goal in giving to charity should be finding a cause that is important to you, there are many tax advantages to charitable giving that should also be considered. Some of these rules have changed in recent years. We thought we’d highlight a few things you should be thinking about as you do your 2021 year-end giving.

Don’t Miss the Above-the-line Deduction

For 2021, everyone is eligible for an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for single filers or...

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Mix It Up! Perennial Vegetables

Thanks to the University of Maryland/Maryland Grows this informative article on perennial vegetables.

asparagus perennial vegetables

Most of us plan our gardens each year with abundant annual vegetables to harvest and enjoy. There are, however, several perennial vegetables you may want to consider adding to the mix, some familiar and others, perhaps, less so.

Perennial vegetables have some attractive benefits: they tend to be low maintenance, are generally easy to cultivate, high-yielding, and often more pest and disease resistant than their annual brethren. On the downside, they can be slow to establish and, if they do succumb to disease, will often need to be removed.

One critical consideration in planting perennial vegetables is location. These are perennials and once established some will not be easy ...

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Seven steps to becoming organized

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with her blog about becoming organized.

Becoming organized doesn’t have to take over your life the way clutter can. Take these seven steps and watch your home transform. Before you start, be sure to give yourself enough time to organize at least one clutter zone.

Make a plan

Answer the following questions and you’ll start to hash out a plan. 

Why is this spot as cluttered as it is? 

Does everyone in the house use the area as a dumping ground? 

How can I change my habits to make this space work better?

How long will it take to organize the space?

Identify problem zones

Problem zones can be anywhere in your home from the entryway to the attic crawl space...

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Plants not behaving as expected: vegetable garden edition

Thanks to the University of Maryland/Maryland Grows this informative article on plants not behaving as expected.

Vegetable crops

Two of the vegetable crops I grew this year are known for loving the heat: okra and eggplant. I grow eggplant in pots on my deck, to avoid flea beetle infestation, and okra directly in the ground in my community garden plot. Both of them produced adequately over the summer. Now it’s fall; we’re having days in the 70s and nights in the 50s, and there are fewer hours of sunlight in the day. Time to pull the summer crops, right?

Except – boom! Both the okra and the eggplant are going gangbusters. More flowers, more fruits than in the hot summer months, by far.

Plants not behaving
Image: University of Maryland/Maryland Grows.

So why aren’t these plants following t...

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Make the most of your time

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with her blog about time management.

In order to make the most out of your time, you need to take matters into your own hands. You make time for the things you have to do. What you do with the rest of your day and the quality of your actions is the question.

Make a schedule

Create a schedule for your day and stick to it. Put everything in there, including breaks and driving time. Write everything down. Cross things off as you do them and you can track your progress.

Get rid of distractions

You might have to put down the cellphone and ignore texts to get the job done. You can put your phone on vibrate so calls won’t interrupt you...

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Keep Your Home Safe with a Dryer Cleaning from Clean Sweep

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about dryer cleaning and home safety.

Image: Clean Sweep Maryland

Putting off dryer cleaning keeps our dryers from working at their peak efficiency at best and can cause dryer fires in our home at worst. Around 3,000 dryer fires are reported per year, and 34% of them take place due to a lack of routine maintenance. During the humid summer months of Baltimore, the risk of dryer fires is at an all-time low. As we move into fall and winter, however, the risk will only grow.

Signs That Dryer Vents Are Overdue for Cleaning

  • Clothes are not dry after a normal drying cycle
  • A lingering musty odor clings to your clothes
  • When you open the dryer, clothes are unusually hot to the touch
  • When using the dryer, the vent hood flap does n...
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