Tips to Up Your Spring Barbecue Game!

food being cooked on a grill

What is your favorite thing about springtime? We enjoy the longer days in spring, the colorful flowers, the warmer temperatures, and the newness of everything after the cold winter. The warmer temperatures and the longer days provide the perfect opportunity to host an outdoor party like a spring barbeque. This is a nice way to spend quality time with friends and family while maybe showing off your grill-master skills. Spring barbeques are also a great way to celebrate milestones like birthdays, engagement, graduations, or family reunions. What are your best tips for hosting a spring barbeque that will create memories to last all season? Here are some of ours:

  • Add a little fun and excitement to your outdoor barbeque with a theme! As an added bonus, having a theme will make the design and planning easier. Once you have a theme, select invitations, decorations, and food that will best showcase your idea. The possibilities are endless, your theme can be casino night, beach party, disco night, Hawaiian luau, or something goofy like a pirate party.
  • Do a little spring cleaning. Make time to clean out the grill, and clear any cobwebs, debris or weeds that may have grown over the winter. Hose off the deck and seating areas and scrub any surfaces that will serve as food stations.
  • Set up some yard games to keep everyone occupied. Games like cornhole, badminton, horseshoes, darts, giant Jenga, and bocce ball give guests a great opportunity to interact and get to know each other better.
  • Don’t forget to set the mood. Set the tone of the barbeque with a great playlist piping through outdoor or Bluetooth speakers. Strategically place string lights and other lighting around to turn the party area into a magical place. It still gets chilly during the evening in the Piedmont Triad, so a fire pit will help keep your barbeque cozy. It will also provide a fun spot to have guests make their own s’mores for dessert!
  • Prepare food and drinks beforehand. Make sure all the food is ready to go on the grill when the guests arrive and that any side dishes are assembled and cooked as needed. This will enable you to spend your time enjoying the company of your guests. Of course, you don’t have to do all the cooking yourself. Ask your guests to bring side dishes and desserts, people love to show off their signature dishes! For the drinks, consider making batch cocktails or mocktails ahead of time. Create drinks that will reinforce your theme to make them more memorable. Offer guests a beverage when they arrive, and then encourage them to help themselves after that.  
  • Pest proof your barbeque by using tightly sealed food and drink containers or coolers. Another option is to serve all food and drinks inside and save your outdoor space for eating and entertaining. You can also light some citronella candles or oil as it masks the smells of humans that are so attractive to insects.

Spring is certainly an extraordinary time of the year! If you are planning on a move this spring, allow Zippy Shell to make all the necessary arrangements. Let us take all of the guesswork out of the moving process!

How to Prepare Your Home for Overnight Guests

welcome sign by a plant

When you have friends or relatives coming to stay overnight, make their visit a pleasure by thinking ahead and offering the same generosity you would like to be shown. And while hosting guests definitely takes some prep work, everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Just spend some time focusing on the following areas and all will be well. 

  • A Place to Sleep – Your overnight guests will need a comfortable place to lay their heads each night. Not everyone has the luxury of an extra guest bedroom, and there is nothing wrong with having guests sleepover in your living room, den or office – just make an extra effort to help them be comfortable there. To prepare a sleeping area for your guests be sure to include comfy pillows, freshly cleaned sheets, extra blankets, a wastebasket, a lamp or nightlight, and privacy curtains. A nightstand by the bed is a nice added touch because your guests are able to keep their phones and other personal items nearby at night.
  • A Place to Get Ready – Your guests will need a place to store their belongings during their stay. Clear out a drawer, part of a closet, or a flat surface for your guests to place their suitcase on. Stock the bathroom they will be using with extra towels, toilet paper, and toiletries. If you will be sharing a bathroom, it is a good idea to discuss shower schedules. Bonus tip: To keep guests from getting confused about whose towel is whose, give them towels in different patterns or colors.
  • A Place to Eat – Check with your guests about any dietary restrictions and be sure to plan meals around those. Keep meals simple and incorporate self-service as much as possible. You can prep items for fun meals like a waffle bar, a taco bar, or make your own pizzas or sandwiches. This gives everyone options and allows your guests to be involved in the process. Show guests where to find extra snacks and beverages to serve themselves when it is time for a little off-hours nibbling. Coffee, tea, or something else – of course have on hand their beverage of choice to wake up to!
  • A Place to Play – Check in and see if there is anything your guests would like to do or see while they are in town and offer some fun activities to supplement their time with you. Keep both kids and adults amused by creating a designated fun zone in your home. Stock it with games, puzzles, and a few decks of cards for those in-between times when there’s no scheduled activity.
  • A Place to Relax – Everybody needs a little downtime. Cushion your scheduled events and outings with unplanned time so that everyone has a chance to relax. You can provide books or magazines for your guests to enjoy in their own space. And always provide them with the WiFi password.

Of course, you want your home to sparkle when guests arrive. But the most important thing you can do is clear the clutter giving your guests space to feel comfortable. And as hard as you try, everything won’t go perfectly. So more than anything, relax and just enjoy your guests. If you stay relaxed and comfortable, most likely your guests will also!

4 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

Woman cleans her living room.

How many times have you heard New Year/New You? It’s true that millions of us make New Year’s resolutions, but what about resolutions that focus on your space? After all, your space is where you spend a lot of downtime, friend time and family time. Creating an inviting space, whether in your current one, or in a new one, could mean a happier and healthier New Year. It isn’t too late to amend or add to your New Year’s Resolutions and make a better home environment!

Bravely declutter: Take a moment to consider what came into your space last year that maybe wasn’t needed – the extra decorative box picked up at the vintage store, more coffee mugs received from co-workers during Secret Santa or yet another blue shirt because you had a coupon. Be courageous enough to edit down your personal belongings. Donate duplicate items and recycle things that don’t work or are in disrepair. If you aren’t sure about items, consider putting them in temporary storage with Zippy Shell and make the decision after living without them for a while.

Spruce up a single area or a single item: Sometimes planning for an update feels overwhelming. Consider focusing on a single objective in the New Year and make it happen. Ideas include:

  • New paint in one or more rooms
  • A new rug or some new flooring
  • Updating a single new fixture (like in the kitchen or bathroom)
  • Repairing something that’s been broken for a while
  • Adding fresh mulch or a few new plants to the landscape
  • Painting your door or adding a new wreath

Plan to recycle and save more energy (or recycle more): Recycling not only feels good, it does good. If you currently recycle, consider upping your game. If you don’t recycle, consider starting small until it becomes a habit. Small starts include unplugging electronic devices when not in use to reduce using phantom or vampire energy, taking reusable bags to the market, saving and recycling all of your plastics and cans during the week, opting for paperless billing or purchasing a reusable water bottle instead of buying water and drinks in plastic bottles. Next steps could include composting, buying local and eating seasonal and creating your own unique gift paper rather than purchasing wrapping paper or gift bags for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

Stay safe: Your space is your haven. Keep it safe by:

  • Checking for dryer lint. Most people know to check the lint filter at the front of the dryer, but did you know that there may be vents and ducts behind the dryer that could be a hazard and need attention, too?
  • Testing your detectors. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are just two of the items in your space that need routine tests.
  • Changing a/c filters. Checking and changing the filters keeps your unit running more efficiently.
  • Checking for a fire extinguisher. Do you have an extinguisher in the kitchen? How about upstairs, if you have another floor? Check them and any expiration dates they may have.

As the New Year rolls in take time to consider more than just personal resolutions. Make a few resolutions for your space, too.  If you find you need extra space, give Zippy Shell a call! We would be happy to help you safely store some of those extra belongings!

Prevent Frozen Pipe Problems this Winter with These 7 Tips

Kitchen faucet running in a home

One of the most important things you can do as a homeowner is to winterize your pipes to prevent them from freezing. When water freezes in pipes, volume expands and puts pressure on pipes from the inside. The result of this pressure will cause the pipes to crack or rupture entirely, causing expensive damage to your home.

Here are 7 tips to help you avoid a frozen pipe issue this winter.

  1. Pipe Insulation: Pipes located in unheated areas such as garages, attics and crawl spaces need insulation. Pipe insulation can be found at most home improvement stores for very little cost. It comes in long strips that can be cut to size with a utility knife. You can also consider heat tape for a few dollars more.
  2. Seal Cracks: Look for cracks or openings that might let cold air in on pipes that run from inside to outside the home (i.e. dryer vents, water pipes). Seal these cracks or openings with caulk.
  3. Outdoor Spigots: Turn off the outside water supply, disconnect garden hoses from spigots, and drain any water from the pipes. For optimum protection, purchase an inexpensive insulated faucet cover to be placed around each outdoor spigot.
  4. Garage: If water supply lines are in the garage, be sure and keep the doors closed. If you park your vehicle in the garage, minimize the length of time the garage doors are open to help keep water supply lines warmer.
  5. Kitchen & Bathroom: Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
  6. Faucets: Let your faucets drip to keep water moving through the water system. This will reduce the water pressure and help prevent frozen pipes. If a pipe does freeze, it is less likely to rupture due to the lower water pressure.
  7. Vacation: Prevent frozen pipes by setting your thermostat to 60 degrees or above while away on vacation. Ask a neighbor to check inside and outside your home to ensure your pipes have not frozen and ruptured.

Although you can’t wrap your house in bubble wrap, these preventative measures can help you prevent a costly disaster this winter. If you discover frozen pipes, call a professional plumber immediately. The team at Zippy Shell hopes you don’t encounter a frozen pipe disaster, but if you need to store your belongings, consider Zippy Shell for any short or long-term storage needs you might have!

7 Simple Steps to Protect Your Home When You Travel

A nice home exterior on a sunny day

According to a recent AAA travel survey, nearly 100 million of us are planning to take a family vacation this year, with 70 percent of those getaways happening during the summer months. And it is hard to imagine a worse ending to a summer vacation than returning to find that your home has been damaged or burglarized. To have peace of mind while you are on vacation, take time to protect your home with this checklist:

  • If you have a home security system, alert them of your travel plans and make sure the alarm is set properly when you leave. Display your security stickers prominently near your most obvious and accessible entry points like your front and back door.
  • Set timers on interior lights to give the illusion that someone is always home. Motion-sensor exterior lights can also prove to be useful for general home security when you are home and away.
  • Place a hold on mail, newspapers, and packages in your absence. Overflowing mailboxes and newspapers piled in the driveway are dead giveaways that you aren’t home.
  • Make a plan for lawn care maintenance. Have a friend or lawn care service mow the lawn at least once a week during your absence.
  • Alert a trusted friend or neighbor of your travel plans and have them check in every few days. They can take care of any unexpected deliveries and carry on with normal routines such as watering plants and bringing trash cans to the curb. 
  • Be prepared for a power surge while you are away. Unplug all electronics or make sure they are plugged safely into a surge protector.
  • Do not broadcast your travel plans on social media sites either before or during your vacation. Before your trip, inform only those who need to know. There will be plenty of time to share thoughts and photos of your vacation after you are safely home. 

If you are taking an extended leave from your home, we would love to talk to you about the storage solutions that Zippy Shell has to offer. Contact us today for a free quote and see how simple storing your belongings away while you travel can be!

Pet Health and Safety Tips for the Summer

French Bulldog lays flat on the floor

June is National Pet Preparedness Month and Zippy Shell knows that pets are part of the family! We have some fresh tips on the best way to keep them safe and happy all summer long.

Make a plan for pets: This time year sees tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding. Be sure your emergency preparedness plan includes how you will evacuate all of your pets, including birds, reptiles, fish, dogs, cats and rodents. Some shelters will not take pets, so plan on where you can go or who can house your pets if the disaster strikes.

Create a first aid kit for your pets: Do you take advantage of the longer days at the park? Go hiking or camping? Then you will want a first aid kit for every type of pet that goes with you with enough items for all of your pets. The ASPCA has a checklist for a general first aid kit. Find it here.

Make a disaster preparedness box just for pets: If the power goes out, your neighborhood is under curfew due to disaster or if you evacuate in your car with your pets, be sure to have a box for each of them. Items could include litter, small litter pans, food, collapsible water bowls, treats, pet-specific blankets or beds, medication, harnesses and carriers (even for cats), toys, and any grooming equipment.

Probably most important is that you should always have all paperwork available. If you camp, then a copy of all vet records should remain in your camper. If you hike, keep a copy in your backpack. Also put a copy in your emergency box for your pets. The records should include vet information and all up to date shot information, especially rabies, photos and descriptions of pets and any medication needs. It doesn’t take much to include your during your planning. Make sure Fluffy and Fido are ready when something happens.

Outdoor Party Planning Tips for the Summer

Summer outdoor party

Are you planning a party any time soon? These tips are sure to help your event go smoothly! An outdoor party requires a little more thought than an indoor party for multiple reasons. Use these tips to ensure you will have a fun outdoor party in the Summer heat.

Outdoor canopy tent

Whether your party is during the light of day or the dark of night, a canopy tent will be perfect for you. During the day, the tent will provide shade for all of your guests to gather under. At night, you can string lights along the tent to serve as a fun decoration, as well as a resourceful glow.

Tiki torches

Tiki torches serve as a multi-purpose product. They are pretty and add a fun vibe to an outdoor setting. They also serve as bug repellent and can help your guests have a more enjoyable time by keeping bugs away from the party space.

Easy access silverware

When trying to hold a plate full of food in one hand and your drink in the other, grabbing silverware on top of all of that can be a problem. Make dining easy for your guests by arranging packets of silverware tied together. This simple addition allows them to easily grab a pack of cutlery while holding their food instead of trying to balance it all while picking out individual utensils.

Have enough seats

Even though the party is outdoors and most people will likely be standing around your yard, have some chairs on hand. You will want to set up seats at any empty tables you put out. However, not all the seats must accompany a table. Line a few seats here and there in a small circle or pair two seats together. This will provide your guests with the comfort of being able to sit down as well as conversate with one another.

Don’t forget lights

Most outdoor parties run from midday until nighttime. This will require you to provide some lighting for your guests when it starts to get dark. You don’t need to do any drastic measures, and just a few small lights will do the trick. A string of lights is perfect for attaching along a fence, deck, or even your house itself.

Yard games

To keep the guests entertained, lay out a couple of yard games for everyone to enjoy. Frisbee, horseshoes, corn hole, kan jam, and spikeball are all huge crowd-pleasers. If kids are attending your party as well, get out some whiffle balls and bats, soccer balls, footballs, and whatever else you have on hand.

Need some extra space to make room for a big party this Summer? Zippy Shell has you covered! We offer flexible temporary and long-term storage options and can keep your stuff in one of our nationwide facilities. We even offer local and long-distance moving services if you need it! Zippy Shell is here to make moving and storage simple for you!

Tips to Ward off Summer Procrastination

A man sitting at a computer looking bored

Tips to Ward off Summer Procrastination

The Summer season can be a tricky time when it comes to balancing relaxation and work. While it may be easy to fall in a bit of a Summertime malaise, prevent yourself from slipping into that trap with these tips.

Write down and prioritize your goals

Having all of your goals written out will help you remember what is important to you and what you need to focus on. Once you know what your goals are, decide which ones are the most important or most challenging. It can be helpful to get the most challenging tasks out of the way, so then you can relax and complete the more manageable goals afterward. You can then create deadlines for when each task needs to be completed will also help you stay on track.

One step at a time

Don’t try to take on too many projects all at once. If you can, only focus on one to-do at a time to avoid spreading yourself too thin and ultimately taking longer to complete each separate task. Complete the objective at hand, then move to your next project.

Mark your calendar

Once you know when each assignment must be completed, create a timeline of how you are going to space out your work. This will help you achieve your work over time, without the hassle of trying to cram it all in at the last minute.

Give yourself a break

If you try to complete several tasks in a short amount of time, it could very well lead to a burn out. Once that happens, it can be very difficult to pick a project back up again. Be sure to take a break every once in a while. This will help give your mind and body the rest that it needs to fuel up and get back to work at full force.

Use incentives

Rewards are always a great way to help you accomplish your goal. It can be as small as treating yourself to your favorite snack or taking a trip to your dream location. Just be sure to stick to your word and only reward yourself once you have met your goal(s).