5 Grilling Tips For Your 4th of July Barbecue

Grilling

With most parades and firework shows canceled across the country, 4th of July is going to look a little different this year.  Fortunately, we are still able to celebrate with our families at home. If you are planning to barbecue with your family for Independence Day, check out some of our favorite grilling tips.

PREPARE YOUR MENU AND SUPPLIES IN ADVANCE

Don’t wait until you are about to get the grill fired up to make sure you have everything you need. Stores are generally packed and out-of-stock on classic 4th of July foods and supplies, so make sure you get stocked up beforehand. Check your propane tank or charcoal supply in advance as well. Plan your menu and do your shopping a few days before.  If you plan to marinate your meat, get that ready the night before. It is also important to take the time to make sure your grill and all the grates are clean and ready to go.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Try to not overwhelm yourself with a complex menu. The more variety that you have, the more you will have to keep up with. It can be hard to cook multiple types of meat and veggies at once if they require different temperatures and cooking times.

HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED ACCESSIBLE

You should have all your tools and supplies that you are going to need nearby and accessible—clean pans to put the food in once cooked, a meat thermometer, spatula and tongs, aluminum foil, and a spray bottle in case of flare-ups.

JUST LET IT COOK (NO SQUEEZING)

Once you get your meat cooking, you want to leave it alone as much as possible. One common mistake is pressing down on the meat and squeezing out the fat, which will drip down causing flare-ups. The goal is to keep the fat in the meat, so don’t press down on it! Try to keep your flipping to a minimum as well.

REST YOUR MEAT

Once your meat has reached the appropriate temperature, allow it 5-10 minutes to rest. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it nice and moist. We know it is tempting to jump right in once the food is done, but trust us, this extra time will make a difference.

ENJOY!

Grilling out is a favorite pastime for a lot of us, especially on celebratory days. We hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare to celebrate the 4th of July. If you have any other grilling master tips, we’d love to hear them! Stop by our Facebook page and share with us and the rest of our Zippy Shell community.

If you have an upcoming local or long-distance move, or you are in need of mobile storage, give us a call at 888-947-7974. We would be happy to talk with you and provide you with a free, no-obligation estimate. You can also use our website to reserve your move at your convenience.

Four Ways to Make Your Small Space Feel Larger

living room

Small spaces come with both charm and challenges. Small spaces are easier to decorate, easier to keep clean, and easier to organize, but at the same time, they can feel cramped and claustrophobic. Everyone wants their home to feel open and welcoming, no matter what the size. So we’ve compiled some creative ways to give your home some space, or at least the illusion of space!

Make use of multi-purpose furniture. This will not only save space, but it will also save money as there’s no need to purchase multiple furniture pieces if you can have one item that can do more than one function. For instance, swap out your lounge chair or sofa for a sleeper couch. Replace your coffee table with an ottoman to double up as extra seating for guests. Try a room divider that includes built-in shelving. Buy tables with drawers whenever you can so you’ll have more storage space.

Clear the clutter. Don’t take up valuable space and mental energy with items you no longer use. Ask these questions as you are purging and really think about the emotional reasons you may be hanging on each item.

  • Does this add value to my life?
  • Have I used this in a year?
  • Do I have more than one of these?
  • Would I buy it again?
  • How many times have I used it?
  • Does it fit?
  • Do I have space for this?

Monochromatic decorating gives the illusion of space. Contrasting colors tend to break up a space, making it appear even smaller than it is. Drapes and furniture that match the wall color blend with the space, giving the illusion of a bigger room. Also, decorate with light colors to keep your rooms feeling airy and open. An abundance of dark colors in a small space can feel overwhelming and like the room is closing in on you. Of course, any room will look larger if it’s well-lit, preferably by natural light. Make sure light coming in from your windows is not being blocked by furniture or other stacked objects.

Add reflective surfaces. Try swapping some of the art on your walls for mirrors and see what it does to your home. The reflection will open up the room, making it look bigger. Mirrors not only reflect light, they also reflect the view, thereby tricking the eye into the perception of more space. Just remember that you don’t want the mirror to reflect a cluttered or cornered space – this will defeat the purpose!

If you own items that you don’t have room for, but you want to keep – a mobile storage unit may be the answer you seek. Pack your extra items in a Zippy Shell and send them off to a secure, climate-controlled storage center. Then sit back and breathe a sigh of relief in your small sanctuary of a home!

Are You Prepared for Hurricane Season?

house in a storm

Hurricane season has officially begun and will drag on through November. NOAA recently released predictions for an “above-normal Atlantic hurricane season”. The outlook they released states we have a 60% chance to see more activity than a normal year. If you live in a potential hurricane zone, now would be a great time to make sure your home is ready, and even more importantly, that you and your family are ready. Take a look at some of the things you can do now to be more prepared for an active hurricane season.

EVALUATE YOUR POLICIES

Make sure your insurance policies are up-to-date and will cover the full cost of a rebuild. You should also consider adding flood insurance to your policy. Go over your policy from top to bottom to make sure in the event of minor to severe damage, you will be covered. This would also be a good time to evaluate your valuables and belongings to make sure you have a current list of what you would need to replace.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR ROOF

If you live in a hurricane zone, you probably already give special attention to your roof. In case you haven’t, here is your reminder to make sure your roof is sealed and secure. You can use waterproof tape to seal the seams and purchase roof straps to secure your roof from your attic access. If your budget allows, hire a roofing professional to come out and inspect your roof. They will be able to tell you if there is any need for further upgrades or maintenance and will be able to give you a pricing estimate.

SEAL IT UP

Over time, the seals around windows and doors can become worn down and start to do a bad job at keeping out the elements. You can find tutorials on Youtube that will teach you to fix these yourself if you do not want to hire someone to do it for you. Take the time to go around and inspect your home looking for holes or cracks that may need to be filled and sealed. Bonus: this will help your energy bills year-round.

SECURE IT

You shouldn’t have anything laying around outdoors that you wouldn’t want to lose or that could become a projectile in high winds. Secure your outdoor items or bring them in if you have heavy storms enter your area. Other home features like your porch, carport, and garage doors should be inspected to make sure they are anchored and secure.

HAVE A PLAN

Sit down with your family and make a plan for what you will do if you enter a hurricane watch or warning. Discuss evacuation routes and make sure everyone has a disaster bag packed with essentials. The Red Cross has a very easy to follow action plan that you can review that covers what you should do before, during, and after a hurricane. You could print your plan and place it in an accessible area of the home.

We hope you all stay safe and healthy this summer. If you have any other preparedness tips, we’d love for you to stop by our Zippy Shell Facebook Page and share with our online community. We look forward to hearing from you.

Tips for Transitioning Your Home from Spring to Summer

summer house

Summer is here and it’s the perfect time to update your home with a summery feel that will make you feel like you are in permanent vacation mode. No matter your budget or style there are simple ways to welcome the summer months into your home. It is also time to check off those summer home maintenance tasks. Then everyone can shout, bring on the sunshine!

Summer Decor

  • Summertime begs for more vibrant colors. It is time to replace spring pastel accent items with brighter colors. Keep the same neutral fabrics on large pieces of furniture, but add bold-colored accents such as flowers, throw pillows, area rugs, or artwork. Cheery yellows, oranges, coral, and marine blues and turquoise will transport you to the tropics.
  • Bring the outdoors in. Nothing says summer quite like flowers and tropical looking greenery. Decorate with botanicals by placing plants on the entry table, on the kitchen counter, in the dining area, or add small potted options on bookshelves in the living or bedrooms. Another idea is to incorporate brightly-colored floral fabric prints in your accent pieces.
  • Transform your patio or deck to a place that can be enjoyed all summer long. Incorporate simple furniture and fun decorations to create a comfy outdoor living area. Place some potted flowers and string some lights to create the perfect sanctuary for friends and families to gather.
  • Add storage for summer activities both inside and outside. Summertime means the kids will be home from school. Keep your organized home from being turned upside down by providing storage for activities that will keep them entertained all summer.

Summer Maintenance

  • Annual maintenance is essential for keeping your air conditioner running as efficiently as possible this summer. And if it has been more than 3 months since you changed the filter on your air conditioner, do that now! The dirtier your air filter, the harder the system has to work to keep your home cool.
  • Dust all the ceiling fan blades and check that fans are working properly. During the summer, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise to push cool air down to the floor.
  • Sweep your porch or deck thoroughly and then scrub all the spring pollen off with soap and water. Look over your deck at this time for signs of rotting and hammer in any nails that are poking up.
  • Give your outdoor grill a deep cleaning to get it ready for all those summer bbqs!
  • Add a layer of mulch to your plant beds. This will keep weeds down and help the ground retain its moisture during the summer heat, giving your plants a chance to grow.
  • Wash your windows. If you didn’t tackle window washing in the spring, now’s the time to get your glass clean. Replace curtains and window treatments with light, neutral colors to allow in natural light.
  • Trim any landscaping that is overgrown. Deadhead both perennials and annuals to keep them producing well into the summer.

By checking off the items on this list, you can refresh and relax this summer in a beautiful space. Zippy Shell sends you wishes for a summer filled with wonderful memories!

Summer Lawn Care Tips

lawn care

With Summer just a few days away, it’s time to start thinking about Summer lawn care. The hot and dry weather over these next few months can pose some problems when you are trying to keep your lawn lush and healthy. We have a few tips that will help you make sure your lawn stays beautiful and magazine-worthy through these hot summer months.

WATER, WATER, WATER

One of the hardest parts of taking care of your lawn during summer is making sure it receives enough water. The combination of high temperatures and lack of rain can be extremely damaging to your grass. The general rule of thumb is to make sure your grass is receiving 1-inch of water each week, sometimes even more according to how hot it gets in your area. You can place a flat-bottomed container on a flat area of your yard to keep track of how much water your lawn is really getting each week. Timing is important as well. You generally see people out in the morning watering their lawns because watering in the evening—just as the sun is about to go down—can create the optimal environment for fungal growth.

MOW IT

You should change the height on your mower blades to allow taller grass in the summer. Different types of grasses require different heights, so be sure to adjust accordingly. Generally, warm-season grasses are cut at 2”-3” and cool-season at 3”-4”. Keeping your grass longer during these hot months will give the ground some shade, keeping it from drying out as quickly. It will also encourage root growth and make the grass more tolerant to droughts. Another tip to remember is to not cut too much at once. If your grass has gotten exceptionally long, do not cut more than a third of the blade’s total height. If you cut too much at once, it can stress the grass and leave too thick of a layer of grass clippings. You also want to make sure your mower’s blades are sharp. If the blades are dull, it will tear away at the grass instead of giving it a clean cut.

MINIMIZE WEAR AND TEAR

Just as we use area and walkway rugs to protect high-traffic areas of our indoor flooring, you can do the same for your lawn. If you have high-traffic areas that you are struggling to keep looking healthy, consider installing purposeful walkways. You can install permanent concrete walkways, or simply use stones or pavers. This will also encourage people to stay off the grass if there are designated walkways to use.

HIRE A PRO

If you have not had any success keeping your lawn healthy through the hotter seasons, you may find it helpful to hire a professional company to come out and assess your lawn. Many great companies will offer a free estimate and will not only get your yard looking amazing, they will keep it that way.

Zippy Shell is standing by to help with all your moving and storage needs. We have facilities across the country so you can securely store your things while you move. Give us a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online.

Pool Safety Reminders for the Summer

swimming pool

The temperatures are getting hotter every day, and many are spending time in their backyard pool to cool off. It’s a great way to stay cool and get some exercise, but it is also important to remember some key safety tips to make sure your time at the pool is a fun day with no mishaps. Take a look at some of the things you can do to protect your family in and around the water.

SUNSCREEN

It may not seem like a big deal, but keep your child covered in sunscreen will help protect them from potential health issues down the road. And more immediately, from the pain of sunburn and even sun poisoning. Check the brand you use for their recommendations on how often you should apply it for optimal efficiency.

SUPERVISE THEM

If you have children in or around the pool, you or another adult should be in charge of keeping an eye on them at all times. Infants and toddlers should be within reach. If for any reason you need to walk away, bring your child with you or ask another adult to take over. Accidents can happen quickly, so keep the little ones looked after the entire time.

TEACH

You can begin teaching pool and water safety to your children from a young age. Let them know your expectations and rules regarding the pool and explain the dangers of unsupervised trips to the water. You should also make sure your children know how to swim and know what to do if they become fatigued in the water and need to rest. If you feel more comfortable having a professional teach them, you can often find group classes year-round to enroll them in.

USE FLOTATION DEVICES

If your child does not know how to swim or cannot swim very strongly, use proper flotation devices. Some may tell their child to stay in the shallow end and allow them to swim without flotation, which is fine if you are right there and you are watching. But if you plan to go chat with your friend, put the child in floaties and watch to make sure he doesn’t struggle in the water.

SECURE THE AREA

If you have a backyard pool and young children, it is a particularly good idea to have the pool gated off so they cannot wander in on their own. You can even invest in a pool alarm system that lets you know if someone has gotten into the pool.

LEARN

Learn CPR by finding a nearby class. This is an important skill that everyone should acquire, but it is especially important if you have children. Classes are generally very affordable, and some will give you a certification. If an accident were to occur, you would be the first responder while waiting for help. This could save a life!

Swimming is great fun for the whole family! We hope these reminders will help you have a safe and cool summer. Don’t forget to give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 when you are ready to schedule your local or long-distance move. We are here and ready to help!

How to Keep Your Plants Healthy During a Move

plants

Besides the attractiveness of house plants, there are many health benefits to having plants around your home. Studies have shown indoor plants boost mood, productivity, creativity, and they can clean indoor air by absorbing toxins and producing oxygen. When the time comes to make a move, there are steps to ensure your houseplants arrive at the new destination safely. Here are five steps to help you before, during, and after a move.

  • Check regulations – If you’re moving out of state, you may need to do a little more prep work to be in compliance with the law, as each state has its own set of regulations and certification requirements for moving with plants. Before packing up your plants, check the laws and regulations in the state you’re moving to make the best decision. If you choose not to take a plant due to regulations or for any other reason, consider gifting it to a friend or a nearby nursing home.
  • Make arrangements – Your delicate, leafy friends will almost certainly not survive the trip in your trunk, a portable storage container, or the back of a dark moving truck. Make arrangements to transport your house plants in a car that is making the trip. Keep them near a window if possible so the plants have sunlight and fresh air to keep them healthy. If you stop overnight along the way, bring them inside so they are not affected by extreme temperatures. You can also contact your local shipping office to see if sending your house plants through the mail is an option. They can also advise on the best way to pack your plants to ensure they arrive in the best shape possible.
  • Prepare your plants – About a week before moving, transfer plants from decorative pots into plastic holders. This will give you the opportunity to wrap breakable decorative pots in paper, bubble wrap, or cloth and pack tightly away for the move. Inspect and treat any plants with pests. You don’t want to transfer insects to your next destination. Keep your plants healthy and make them easier to transport by trimming back any dead or protruding limbs. Water plants two or three days before moving. The soil should be moist, but not too wet on moving day. It’s important to make sure the roots stay damp while moving.
  • Pack with care – To help avoid plants from falling over, place them snugly in appropriately sized boxes. Place newspaper or bubble wrap around the base of the plant so it won’t shift during the move. For large plants, use packing paper or sheets to gently cover them. Your goal is to protect the leaves and limbs from bending or breaking during the move.
  • Ease the transition – Packing your plants last and unpacking them first will minimize any distress from the move. Unpack carefully to avoid any breakage, establish a new location for your plant, and water it on a regular basis. With time it will adjust to its new environment and hopefully continue to thrive.

While we don’t recommend moving or storing live plants in a Zippy Shell container, we will keep your other belongings safe and secure until they are needed. Our storage centers are equipped with climate control and added security. When you are ready, we will redeliver your storage container or move it to your next destination.

Mattress Moving Made Easy

moving a mattress

When it is time to plan your move, some items in your home will take more thought than others. Large items that can’t be put into a box, or moved by yourself, will need some advance planning. We often hear from clients asking for advice on how to move items like a mattress. Take a look at a few of our favorite tips for moving your mattress to your new home or storage.

PURCHASE MOVING SUPPLIES IN ADVANCE

Mattresses are not cheap to replace, so you should do what you can to protect your mattress set as best you can during your move. Mattress moving bags are generally easy to find, but don’t wait until the day of your move to purchase them. You need to determine which sizes you need and if you need a simple, quick cover, or bags that offer maximum protection. You can find a variety of types online if you prefer something more than the standard bag. You can even find some with handles. Don’t forget to get bags for your box springs as well!

ASK FOR HELP

If you have a large mattress, you are going to need some help. Even getting the mattress bag or cover on would be difficult without an extra set of hands. A king size mattress needs at least two strong persons, preferably three, to safely move. If you are trying to move with minimal help, plan to have all your large furniture pieces moved in the same day.

BE EXTRA CAUTIOUS

As with any large item, we recommend working with even more caution than normal. Heavy items can cause bodily injury if not lifted and moved properly. If a mattress is not too floppy, you may be able to slide it across the floor. Even more dangerous, though, is moving large items down stairways or narrow pathways. Make sure the route is cleared of all items that could pose an obstacle or tripping hazard. You should also make sure that you are able to clearly communicate with the person helping you move the mattress.

SECURE IT IN THE UNIT

Once you have your mattress loaded into your portable storage unit, make sure you are able to secure it against the edge. You want to store it upright on the long edge rather than laying down. Use moving straps to make sure they cannot fall over once the unit is moved.

HIRE A PRO

If you prefer to skip the extra work of moving your mattress and your other heavy furniture, hire a professional mover! You can save your efforts for unpacking and getting your new home set up how you want. Professional movers will get your large furniture to your new home without you having to lift a finger.

We hope this article helps you when it comes time to move your mattress. If you need references to professional packers and movers, we would be glad to help. Give Zippy Shell a call today at 888-947-7974 for all your moving and storage needs.

Home Inspection Facts for the New Home Buyer

home inspection

If you are getting ready to buy a home, you probably know that it can be a long and tedious process. There are a lot of different steps and many of those must be completed under certain time restraints. Knowledge is one of the best tools you can have in your arsenal when it is time to start making offers on the homes you like. While you likely have a real estate agent and a mortgage lender guiding you through the many steps, doing your own research will help you feel confident in the process. One aspect of homebuying that can be confusing is the home inspection. Who pays for it? Is it necessary? What do they look for? These are important questions that we are going to address.

WHO PAYS FOR THE HOME INSPECTION?

The buyer almost always pays for the home inspection. If the home inspection turns up issues that you do not want to fix, you can negotiate with the seller to have them pay for repairs. You also have the choice to walk away or accept the home as-is.

WHEN DO YOU GET THE HOME INSPECTION?

Once you make an offer and the seller accepts, you are under time constraints to complete each step. It is important that you already have a trustworthy home inspector ready to make a quick appointment. Some home inspectors stay scheduled out for weeks, so don’t wait until the last minute to find one that will be able to get you on the schedule.

IS A HOME INSPECTION REALLY NECESSARY?

While not always mandatory, home inspections are a necessary part of buying a home. It can be tempting to skip the inspection to save the money, but it could cost you far more in the long run if you decide to forgo the inspection. Inspectors know to look for things that we just are not attuned to. The last thing you would want is to move into your new home and find major issues when it is too late.

WHAT DO HOME INSPECTORS LOOK FOR?

Home inspectors look for many different types of things. They will check for water damage, damage that could affect structural integrity, roof issues, electrical system and plumbing problems, HVAC issues, pest problems, and more. You could also purchase radon and air quality tests. Hopefully, your inspection report does not show many problems, but if it does, you can make an informed decision on your next steps.

HOW TO CHOOSE A HOME INSPECTOR?

Ask around for recommendations from friends and family. Word of mouth is a great way to find someone that you can trust. The home inspector you choose should be current on all their certifications and training. You will also want to make sure they are fully insured and experienced in the type of property you are purchasing.

We hope this information on home inspections will be helpful to you as you enter the homebuying process. When you are ready to move, be sure to give Zippy Shell a call. We are ready to partner with you for an easy and stress-free move.

3 Steps to Setting Up a Home Gym

home gym

Around the country, gyms have been forced to either close or drastically make changes due to the pandemic. This may have you entertaining the idea of working out from the comfort of your very own home gym. If setting up a home gym seems like a daunting task, let us be your guide.

The Space

Find a space in your home that you can dedicate to workouts. It doesn’t have to be a lot of space. You can actually exercise in an area as small as 6’ by 6’. Utilize a spare bedroom, office, garage, or even a back porch or patio. If space is limited, the key is to pick workouts that don’t take up much room. Pushups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, jump roping, and yoga don’t require a ton of room, yet still, produce results. As much as possible, clear your exercise space of clutter and distractions. Adding a mirror is a helpful tool for feedback on your form during exercises and it will help your exercise area feel larger than it actually is! Stock the area with towels, water bottles, a Bluetooth speaker, and anything else you might use during your workouts.

The Equipment

You don’t have to buy everything all at once. Start with a few key pieces and then gradually build up from there. Here is a list of simple, multi-purpose equipment to get you started:

  • Exercise mat – An exercise or yoga mat makes floor exercises way more comfortable, especially if you are exercising on a hard floor. A mat can save your knees while doing stretches or push-ups and save your back during core work.
  • Jump Rope – A simple jump rope can provide you with a fun way to warm up and increase your stamina, endurance, and coordination.
  • Resistance Bands – This is an item that is often overlooked in the gym, but resistance bands are easy to store and very versatile. You can use resistance bands to increase flexibility, promote better form, build up your strength, and they are a great way to add an extra challenge to everyday exercises.
  • Kettlebells – A kettlebell’s weight is not distributed evenly like it is with dumbbells. This means kettlebell exercises are going to require a strict and controlled form and body mechanics which will improve your overall performance. Use these power horses to improve overall strength, core power, balance, flexibility, and coordination while also sculpting healthy and lean muscles. 
  • Stability Ball – Using a stability ball in your workouts forces you to focus on staying stabilized on the ball. This triggers core muscles, as well as stabilizer muscles, helping to improve muscle strength and posture.

The Routine

Due to stay-at-home orders, you can find a TON of live-streamed exercise routines right now. Many utilize just your own body weight to get fit. Check out this list of easy at-home exercises you can do today!

When setting up your home gym, you may find the need to remove and store furnishings or other home items. Zippy Shell is still here and working to cover all your moving and storage needs. We can easily store the stuff you don’t need right now to help you stay fit at home.