Top Phone Apps to Use When Moving

apps

The decision is made, you are making a move. Congratulations! And now it is time to hit the ground running. Whether you have the luxury of extra time or not, beginning the move process as soon as possible will help everything go much smoother. Planning is key in a move and there are plenty of resources that can assist with the process. We have compiled a list of the best, most useful apps for moving. Take a look and get ready to download!

  • When searching for a new home, you can get property information in a snap – literally – by taking a picture with the Homesnap app. You can unlock sales history, interior features, lot boundaries, market information, school district ratings, and more.
  • Zillow is another popular app used for finding a new home. It boasts photo-heavy listings as well as a multitude of filters that you can apply to your searches.
  • If you have found a promising home, but you are not sure if the neighborhood will fit your needs, the AroundMe app can be a very helpful resource. You can find out within seconds information about the surrounding area, like how long it will take to get to a grocery store and restaurants.
  • The one thing that can keep a move from being overly stressful is being organized. Try the Todoist app to capture and organize all your moving tasks. You can set reminders, prioritize your tasks, and even assign tasks to others.
  • Speaking of assigning tasks to others, if you are on a tight timeline you might find it helpful to outsource some of the items on your list using the TaskRabbit app. It can match you with freelance labor for moving projects of all shapes and sizes like packing, hauling away items to the landfill, completing home maintenance tasks in preparation for listing your home, and more.
  • Whenever possible, you will want to base the decision of what furniture to keep and move on the layout and size of your new home. You don’t pack or move anything that doesn’t have a dedicated space in your new home as that will just add to your workload and moving expenses. You can use the MagicPlan app to create a 3D floor plan of your new home by taking pictures of the space.
  • The Sortly app is a lifesaver during the packing and unpacking phases of your move. It is a digital organization app that lets you catalog what you put in each box, so you know where all of your things are at all times. With the premium version, you can even create QR code labels to put on your boxes.  
  • Once you are settled into your new place, use the Nextdoor app to stay informed about what is going on in your new neighborhood. You can do anything from finding out about local events to finding somebody to help you take care of your yard. Using Nextdoor will keep you in the loop and make the transition to your new neighborhood much easier.

Make your move simpler by using portable storage units from Zippy Shell. You load your belongings at your convenience, and we will simply move them for you or we can safely store your belongings as long as you need. When the time is right, we will deliver everything to your new home. Contact Zippy Shell today to get a quote.

6 Ways to Make a Cozy Home

fire place

There is no place like a cozy home in the middle of a freezing cold winter night. Now that holiday and other seasonal décor has likely been packed up, have you made any design changes to make your home feel cozy and inviting? If not, take a look at some of our favorite ideas for adding a warm and comforting touch to your home for the winter season.

LIGHTING

If you are using daylight or cool lighting, switch to warmer tones for a more comforting and cozy atmosphere. Did you know you can purchase smart bulbs that connect to your wifi and you can control from an app on your phone? You can change the color, brightness, and even choose settings like “flickering candle” to give the appearance of a burning candle or fire. While these bulbs are a little pricier than your standard bulb, they are worth the extra money if you are looking for an inexpensive way to overhaul the atmosphere in your home this winter.

BLANKETS

Big, chunky, warm blankets are a must-have during the winter season. You can find affordable, oversized throw blankets at almost any retail store. Not only will you love curling up under a warm blanket at the end of a cold day, they look great draped over the side of a chair or couch.

SEASONAL SCENTS

Use a wax burner, candle, oil diffuser, or plug-in to showcase a seasonal cozy scent. There are scents like pumpkin spice, apple pie, bon fire, sugar cookies, and others that can make your home feel inviting and comforting.

ELECTRIC FIREPLACE

While not exactly cheap, if you don’t already have a fireplace in your home, an electric fireplace can copy the look and feel of one. These can be especially useful if you need extra heating in your home and already need to use something like a space heater. The cool thing about these electric fireplaces is you can put them almost anywhere, even your bedroom. Talk about fancy!

CHANGE OUT YOUR WINDOW COVERINGS

This is not exactly a design suggestion, but more of a functional change. If you use heavier drapes during the winter, you will be able to keep some of the cold air that can sometimes seep in around the seals of the window behind the curtain. Have you ever pulled back your curtains and felt cold air rush out? Heavy drapes can help your home feel warmer and even help you save a little money on your heating bills.

ADD SOME GREENERY

Adding some greenery, whether live or artificial, can help give your home a warm and cozy boost during the winter months. If you are getting live plants, be sure to do a little research on easy care plants for the types of lighting you have available in your home.

We hope these tips will be helpful to you as you give your home a winter makeover. We would love to hear your ideas on how to make the home feel warm during the winter season! Stop by our Facebook page and share your ideas with our Zippy Shell community. We look forward to hearing from you!

Top 10 Holiday Decorating Hacks

holiday decorating

The holidays are all about doing fun activities and making memories with friends and family. Baking, looking at lights, listening to music, watching holiday movies, opening gifts, enjoying good food and drinks, and decorating are all ways to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. Some people stress over holiday decorating, but it should be fun, not stressful! Take the stress out of your holiday decorating with these fun and easy hacks.

Decorating the Tree

  • Bulk up your artificial tree by wrapping extra garland around areas that are looking bare.
  • If you are using a pre-lit tree, add an extra strand of lights or two for some extra sparkle. To make the look more interesting, add light strands with a different sized bulb.
  • For a perfectly balanced tree, place your large ornaments first and then fill in the gaps with smaller ones. You can also hang ball ornaments deep inside the branches of your tree to fill gaps and hide any bare spots. Use green floral wire or evergreen pipe cleaners to secure heavy or priceless ornaments to the branches.
  • We all know how tempting a fully decorated tree is for toddlers and fur babies. Hanging jingle bells on the bottom of your tree will give you a heads up when kids and pets are pulling on the branches.
  • If your old tree skirt has seen better days, multi-purpose a soft neutral-colored throw blanket as your tree skirt. It can be used year-round and doesn’t have to be stored the rest of the year!
  • When wrapping gifts for underneath the tree, use a specific gift wrap for each member of your family. This will cut down on having to use gift tags and if you keep your wrapping paper choices a secret, as a bonus it will also cut down on the holiday present peeking.

Decking the Halls

  • If you are short on storage and storing boxes of holiday decorations just doesn’t make the cut, use disposable items like paper or greenery to create cute holiday decorations.  Create festive garland with items like popcorn and cranberries that can be used to feed the birds after the holidays. Candy canes can also be used to create cute, edible decor.
  • Bring the outdoors in by cutting branches from winter trees such as pine and birch. You can use branches on your mantle, hanging above your bed, on the chandelier, or around the banister. Not only do these natural items look great you will also get a great holiday scent from them. Create natural garland out of pinecones or use them to make a wreath. You can spray paint your pinecone creations or add glitter for extra flair.
  • Using candles in hurricane vases surrounded by beads, evergreen, berries, fake snow, or small ornaments is always a favorite decor item. Get by with using less filler by placing a can beneath your candle in the vase. Not only will you use less filler your candle will sit perfectly straight! Another trick is to put a toilet paper roll in the middle of an apothecary jar allowing you to save filler there, too.
  • Tie strips of ribbon or burlap in any color scheme onto a string of lights to make a quick, cute garland. 

Finally, take photos of your decor when it’s all in place so you can remember for next year! And if you have a move coming up after the holidays, or you need options for storage, give Zippy Shell a call for a free, no-obligation estimate.

5 Ways To Upgrade Your Patio This Fall

fall patio

Now that fall has arrived, it is time to upgrade the outdoor patio to create a cozy place to hang outdoors during the cooler temperatures. We love bundling up in a throw blanket and enjoying the vibrant scenery the fall season always brings. Take a look at 5 of our favorite patio upgrades for the perfect Fall spot.

SET UP A FIRE PIT

Fire pits are perfect for those beautiful, yet chilly, fall nights. You can sit around the fire with your family or close friends, making s’mores and telling stories. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a fire pit either. You can now find small portable fire pits at most home improvement retail stores for less than $300. Or, if your budget allows, you can have a professional landscaping company install a permanent structure on your patio or in your yard.

INSTALL NICE LIGHTING

Putting up some new lighting is a very affordable way to change your outside atmosphere from drab to fab. You can use a variety of different stringed lights for an instant upgrade to your porch or patio. You can choose novelty lights, like globes or Edison bulb lights, or you can go for the classic Christmas tree style lights. Just make sure whichever style you choose is meant for exterior spaces and will be able to hold up to fluctuating temperatures and weather.

OUTDOOR KITCHEN

If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, we love the idea of an outdoor kitchen. It is a great way to expand your living space and it adds instant value to your home. Perfect for entertaining, an outdoor kitchen will give you and your family the perfect place to spend those fall evenings. No need to go eat out in a restaurant when you have a gorgeous cooking and eating location outside your own home.

RAISED PLANTER BEDS

Raised planter beds on the patio look amazing, but they are functional too. You can grow beautiful flowers or even herbs and vegetables. Some veggies that grow great in the fall in raised beds are brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, snow peas, bok choy, and turnips. You can make growing veggies a family project that you will all enjoy. If you have not tried your hand (or thumb) at growing vegetables before, we suggest starting small and getting the advice from someone with experience.

INSTALL SCREENS

We are looking forward to the day that we are no longer hounded by mosquitoes, but the temperatures have not dropped low enough to get rid of them and their buddies just yet. Install screens around your patio for an upgrade that benefits you all year-round. We like eating outdoors, but it can be hard to enjoy it as we should when mosquitoes, gnats, bees, and flies are terrorizing us. A screened-in area where you can eat without bother will be the highlight of your home. This will also add value to your home if you were to ever decide to put it up for sale.

If you are moving soon or need mobile storage, give Zippy Shell a call for a free, no-obligation estimate. We have a variety of storage and moving solutions to meet any need. We look forward to hearing from you.

6 Houseplants Anyone Can Keep Alive

watering houseplants

You have probably noticed that houseplants are making a major comeback right now. Through this pandemic, we have all endured some stressful times. As people have been spending more time at home, a lot of us have turned to houseplants to bring some calming nature inside. If you have been tempted to pick up some plants but aren’t sure if you have the time or know-how to keep them alive, we have some suggestions for some of our favorite plants that anyone can keep alive. If you have small children or curious pets, be aware that most houseplants are toxic if consumed—artificial plants may be better for your household in that case.

SNAKE PLANT

The snake plant, or sansevieria, is one of the most tolerant plants in existence. Known for its air-purifying capabilities, there are over 70 varieties and they can adapt to many different atmospheres. Even if your home has low-light and you constantly forget to water your snake plants, it will forgive you and keep growing on. If you have bright light in your home, you can expect your snake plant to grow much more rapidly.

POTHOS

One of the many varieties of pothos will be a great beginner plant. It tolerates low-light but will thrive in medium or high light situations. The pothos will look beautiful in a hanging basket or even as a trailing centerpiece on your dining table.

IVY

Like the snake plant, the varieties of ivy are known for their air-purifying effects and can even help with mold spore issues in the home. While ivy will be content in low-light situations for a while, they prefer medium to high light to thrive. The ivy will forgive you for forgetting to water it now and again but be careful to not overwater it or it will turn brown and crispy on the leaves.

ZZ PLANT

The ZZ plant, or Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is a highly tolerant plant that is perfect for practically any situation. You can even grow a ZZ plant in your office under fluorescent lights. With beautiful waxy leaves, the ZZ plant is prepared to survive drought and low light situations. You can’t go wrong with this hardy plant.

SPIDER PLANT

These plants will grow best in bright light but will tolerate any low or medium-light areas in the home. This plant has long cascading leaves that will look beautiful in a hanging basket while offering you air purification capabilities.

PEACE LILY

You have probably seen the peace lily featured in interior decorating magazines or television shows. The big, green leaves and gorgeous flowers are known for their beauty and tolerance. A talkative plant that will let you know when it needs water with some drooping. But as soon as you give it water, it will perk right back up. They tolerate many light situations and is another great option for the office under fluorescent lights.

We hope these suggestions help you delve into the houseplant world. We’d love for you to stop by our Facebook page and share with us your favorite, low-maintenance houseplants.

If you have a move coming up, be sure to give Zippy Shell a call for a free, no-obligation estimate.

8 Things That Every New Homeowner Should Do

Brick Home

Congratulations on making it through the long and stressful process of homebuying! If you are getting ready to settle into your very first home, you may feel overwhelmed as you navigate this last step. Some things need to be done immediately—like turning on utilities—but others you can start as you get settled in and through the next few months. Take a look at 8 things we think every new homeowner should do in their first year.

INVEST IN A HOME WARRANTY

A home warranty can be a lifesaver if a major appliance, or the HVAC system goes out in the first year of owning your home. Not every company or policy is created equal, so make sure you do plenty of research before deciding who to go with. We recommend asking your friends and family, or even your real estate agent, for recommendations.

START AN EMERGENCY FUND

Even if you do have a home warranty, it is still a good idea to start an emergency fund in the event something breaks that is not covered or even for a potentially bad financial month where your emergency savings could help you make all your payments on time until things improve.

TEST FIRE AND CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS

This is something that should be done sooner than later. Just because you see smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed, doesn’t mean that they are working. Replace all the batteries and set a reminder for six months out on your phone or in your planner to change them again. Be sure to test each alarm after replacing the batteries to make sure they are working as they should.

MAKE A PRIORITY LIST

If you had a home inspection, you may have a report full of small to medium things that need to be fixed. Go through the report and prioritize the things that are safety issues and most important to you and your family. You don’t have to do everything all at once, so take some time to research the issues, determine costs, and make a long-term plan.

START A FILE WITH RECEIPTS AND INVOICES

As you start to make improvements and repairs around the home, keep a file with receipts and invoices. If you were to try to sell the home, many improvements can be shared on the home listing to draw in buyers. Things like septic tank maintenance can be very important to a potential buyer.

HAVE A HVAC CHECKUP

HVAC maintenance is important to making sure your system doesn’t break down on you, especially during extreme temperatures. Have a professional come out and do an assessment and “tune up” to make sure it is in good working order. Don’t forget to replace the filter.

KNOW WHERE ALL YOUR SHUTOFF VALVES ARE

If you have a home inspection report, the inspector may have listed where the gas and water shut off valves are located. It is important to familiarize yourself with these so you can act quickly in the event of a burst pipe or a gas leak. You should let the other members of your household know where they are as well.

LEARN (AND LABEL) THE BREAKERS

You probably have seen the circuit breaker by now, but have you opened it up and check to see if it is clearly labeled? If the previous owners didn’t already label each one, it’s now your very important task to complete. You can essentially map your home by turning off all the circuit breakers and turning them back on one at a time to determine which lights, outlets, and major appliances are on each one. This information will come in handy one day.

Do you have any other tips to share with a new homeowner? Stop by our Facebook page and share with our Zippy Shell community. If you are getting ready to move into your new home, be sure to give us a call and we will provide you with a free, no-obligation quote. We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Tips to Help You Save Money at the Grocery Store

Grocery Shopping

Groceries can be expensive—especially when you are shopping for a family. Food is necessary, but when we don’t plan ahead or we start throwing together meal ideas in the store, it can add up quickly. As we are living in this uncertain time, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at our budgets and see where we can trim a little. If you have found yourself leaving the grocery store with a cart full of stuff you didn’t need, or fell for a store’s “sale”, keep reading to check out 5 of our favorite tips for shopping smart and saving money.

COMPARE WEEKLY ADS

Before you head to the store, take a look at all your local store’s weekly ads. Some stores may have tempting sales like “Buy One Get One Free” advertised, but another store may still be selling it for a cheaper price. If you don’t receive a newspaper with advertisements there are several different free apps you can download that not only allow you to view each store’s weekly ad, but compare prices for different advertised items. This can make your research go much faster!

KNOW YOUR STUFF AND STOCK UP

It’s important to know when something is a good deal or not so you don’t waste any money at the grocery store. Some people keep a list on their phone that has main items and the best stock-up price for each one. For instance, if you see boneless chicken breasts drop under $1.99/LB, it may be a good time for you to grab a few extras for your freezer. If you are able to stock up a little when your most used items go on sale, you can save money when the prices inevitably shoot back up.

MAKE A LIST AND STICK TO IT

Once you have pored through the weekly ads, you can make your weekly meal plan based on items that are on sale. By making your list in advance, with a commitment to not make spontaneous purchases, you will be able to save quite a bit of money. When we sit down to write a list, we are much more conservative with what we want to get. Another way to save money is by using curbside or delivery options. Many of these programs have been expanded to meet demand, allowing you to choose each item carefully on your phone or computer, moving things to and from your cart to adjust your total. This will certainly eliminate the problem of shopping while hungry or being tempted by flashy sales on things you don’t use or need!

JOIN LOYALTY PROGRAMS

Almost every store has some variation of a loyalty program that either offers you additional savings or earns points that you can use on other things, like a discount on gas prices. This is an easy way to save money because once you join, all you have to do to save money and earn rewards is swipe your card at the store.

USE COUPONS AND CASHBACK PROGRAMS

Coupons are another way you can save money at the grocery store if you follow one important rule: do not buy items you do not need just because you have a coupon! Sometimes, you can save more money by sticking to a sale items, or an off-brand instead of using a coupon. Paper coupons are hard to keep up with, so if you don’t have the time to go clip coupons and organize them, check out your store’s digital coupons. You generally can load these to your loyalty card and use them when you check out. You can also use cashback programs like Ibotta to make a little extra money on your regular purchases.

We hope these tips help as you try to save money at the grocery store. Feel free to stop by our Facebook page and share your money-saving tips with our Zippy Shell community. If you have a local or long-distance move coming up, be sure to give us a call at 888-947-7974 for a free, no-obligation quote. We look forward to hearing from you!

7 Fun Tips for a Long-Distance Road Trip

road trip

As 2020 vacation plans were canceled across the country, many have turned to the good old-fashioned road trip to get away even if just for a few days. Whether you are traveling for a quick overnight trip or for a longer period of time, it’s important to make the drive part of the experience!. Keep reading for tips to make your long-distance road trip fun for everyone involved.

  1. Take lots of photos. Road trips can be filled with the wackiest of memories. Either with your phone or your fancy camera, document everything. From each state line sign, you pass to the wacky roadside taco stand you find, to the beautiful pull-off view that you stumbled upon by accident, taking photos will help you to remember it all.
  2. Listen to a podcast or an audiobook. This is the perfect way for everyone in the car to stay entertained together in a group activity, even the driver! If it is an especially long trip, have everyone in the car download a podcast or audiobook that they want to share prior to sendoff. It will be fun and eye-opening to listen to what your family members or friends pick out. Don’t forget to have a group discussion about the content after you finish, that’s the best part!
  3. Along the same lines, it can be fun to learn a new language as a family. There are plenty of apps or even CDs that you can play for the entire car to learn something new.
  4. Bring a frisbee, football, or soccer ball to burn off some energy when you make your pit stops. You can also get your blood pumping with stretches, jumping jacks, or burpees. Use an app like iExit or Playground Buddy to make the most out of your stops.
  5. Be flexible. Of course, you will want to plan your final destination, overnight stops, and must-see attractions along the way. But you should also leave time for spontaneity. If a weird sign or billboard piques your interest, why not see where it leads? Stopping at random places along the way will add to the memories.
  6. Have a road trip picnic. The temptation to grab a snack or a bag of candy at every gas station, as well as to eat out at restaurants or pick up fast food, can really add to the cost of your trip. It can also add to your waistline! So load up on snacks, drinks, and even premade portable meals before you leave. Find a rest stop or scenic pull off to stop at and eat along the way. The Roadtrippers app can help you find the perfect spot.
  7. Bring car activities like art supplies, decks of cards, or magnetic games for the kids. Or make up a scavenger hunt with items on the list they can cross off when spotted.

Road trips can be unpredictable, so don’t forget to laugh at even the messy moments along the way! Take a break from “real life” and enjoy each moment on your road trip to the fullest with those you love. And if you find your road trip destination becomes a new moving destination, keep Zippy Shell in mind! 

How to Build a Vegetable Garden at Your House

woman gardening

As we are all spending more time at home this summer, it may be the perfect time to start your first at-home vegetable garden. Gardening can bring a sense of order and calmness to the chaos of the year 2020. It is a fun activity that the whole family can get involved in to make the long days at home go by just a little bit faster. Plus, the end result is yummy home grown vegetables that will help boost your immune system!

Select and clear the area for your garden. The goal is to select enough garden space to meet your needs without taking away from your ability to enjoy your backyard with your family. You also need to take into consideration which vegetables you plan on growing as some plants take up more space. And don’t forget to check for sunlight. Most vegetables and herbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Once you have selected your spot, make sure the area is free of grass, debris, and leaves. Dig or till up the soil before planting to freshen it up as well as allow roots to penetrate the soil more easily. Another popular idea is to use raised planting beds. They allow for a longer growing season with better drainage and fewer weeds.

Fertilize your soil. The more fertile the soil, the better your vegetables will grow. Unless you are purchasing pre-fertilized soil, most soil will not contain the nutrients that your garden needs to thrive. The only way to truly determine the level of nutrients in your soil is to test it. These are usually available for free or at a low-cost from your local cooperative extension.

Choose your plants. You want to select plants that will grow well in the area where you live and in the space that you have available. Of course, if you won’t eat it and you don’t have anyone to gift it to, there is no reason to grow it in your vegetable garden! When you are planting, make sure to give each plant room to grow.

Add some mulch. Applying a layer of mulch that is 2-3 inches deep around each plant will reduce weeds and reduce moisture loss through evaporation. If you use an organic mulch, such as bark, compost, or cocoa bean shells, it will nourish the soil as it decomposes.

Keep your garden watered. A rule of thumb for watering is that plants need around one inch of water per week during the growing season. Sunny, windy conditions dry out soil more quickly than cool, cloudy weather. If you are still not sure, feel the soil 3 to 4 inches below the surface. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Attract the birds. For some natural pest control, incorporate birdbaths or birdhouses into your yard. Birds will help control the pests that frequently attack gardens, all while leaving friendly insects such as spiders or ladybugs alone.

We’d love to hear from you! Stop by our Facebook page and share with our Zippy Shell community what you and your family are growing this summer.

Dog Breeds that are Great for Small Homes

dogs

Zippy Shell knows that pets are part of the family! If you are a dog lover living in a small home, we have good news for you. There are plenty of dog breeds that will thrive in small spaces. It is not just about the size of the dog, but also about their temperament. A dog’s energy level, noisiness, and even friendliness need to be taken into consideration if you are living in a small space that is in close quarters to your neighbors, as is the case with apartment living. Check out the breeds below that will adapt to your space and steal your heart!

French Bulldog

They are bred to be smaller than their standard Bulldog cousins, so they’re perfectly suited to a small space. A brisk walk each day will sufficiently keep them in shape, and they rarely bark. As a bonus, they have short hair that doesn’t need much grooming.

Yorkshire Terrier

These precious pups are the perfect size for a lap dog. They are easy to train, hypoallergenic, and they only require short walks for daily exercise.

Greyhound

Although on the larger side, they only need a little bit of space, enjoy naps, and they love short bursts of exercise. These beauties are loving, affectionate animals that enjoy a good snuggle and don’t bark very much. Plus, there are many retired racing Greyhounds that need homes!

Bichon Frise

These cuties are in the poodle family but much more petite. Bichons learn quickly and love just about everyone. They don’t drool, bark, or shed very much, but their social nature will require a lot of playful attention.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These dogs love to cuddle and become very attached to their owner. Their size is just right for small spaces and they are very easily trained.

Pugs

Squishy faced pugs are playful and loyal pets. Due to their inactivity, quietness, and size, they make a good pet for homes of any size.

Dachshund

Dachshunds are the smallest of the hound dogs. They are joyful, lively, and have the cutest personalities. Their short legs allow them to be exercised entirely indoors, if needed.

Maltese

They are affectionate dogs who become very attached to their owners so you will have a constant companion! Another bonus is that they have no undercoat so they are not shedders.

Poodles

Toy and miniature sized poodles are a good size for a small space. They are intelligent, easy to train, and hypoallergenic.

As you are searching for a lifelong companion, it is important to remember that every dog is an individual. Put in the research time to carefully pick a pet that will fit your home, lifestyle, and personality.