Help Around the House

Declutter Your Kitchen

Who hasn’t had a cupboard full of Tupperware come crashing down on their head? And don’t we all have a drawer in our kitchen that holds every scrap of paper and useless knickknack we have ever owned? While kitchen clutter may be a universal truth, it can also make using your kitchen a time consuming and frustrating task. Though de-cluttering your kitchen may seem like an equally unpleasant job, a few simple tricks can get it organized and keep it that way.

Clear Off The Countertops

Kitchen-Counter-BS-Tropico_Island_KitWhile some appliances, such as the coffeemaker and toaster, have a home on a countertop, usually appliances that we rarely if ever use also end up there. Find a cupboard in which to keep all the small appliances you don’t use often, and be sure to put them back after using them. Also, while fruit bowls and flowers can make a kitchen a more inviting space, too many decorative items can create clutter and reduce the usable counter space in your kitchen.

Rearrange Cupboards

Are your dishes and glasses miles from the dishwasher? Storing the kitchen items you use in drawers and cupboards closest to where you actually use those items makes good sense. And more importantly, it also makes putting them back easier. This is also a good opportunity to get rid of all the things you don’t use!

Invest In Organization

Purchasing a few useful gadgets for the kitchen can make organization easier. A lazy Susan for a bottom cupboard can make getting to your pots and pans easier. Also, drawer trays to separate utensils and Tupperware that stacks can make using your kitchen a more pleasant experience.

Eliminate The Junk Drawer

While it may be hard to let go of that convenient place to put all the things that don’t have a home, in most cases what ends up in the junk drawer is just that—JUNK. If you haven’t used it in the last few months, odds are you never will!

Create A Kitchen Office Space

Whether it is just a notepad to write the grocery list, takeout menus, or a complete home office, we all have some paper that ends up in the kitchen. Organizing your bills, receipts, and menus all in one space and not in piles will make for a more functional and a neater kitchen.

These few simple tips can make your kitchen a more inviting and functional room, and by creating purpose for the space, and purchasing a few tools to do that, you can keep your kitchen clutter free!



Looking to buy or sell a home in the MetroWest area? Real estate agent Robert Brown of RE/MAX Executive Realty services areas such as Hopkinton, Hopedale, Milford, Upton, Mendon, and many more. To learn more about MetroWest real estate agent Robert Brown, please visit the Meet Your Agent page on

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Don’t Make These Spring Cleaning Mistakes!

Is it true? Is Spring really coming? My Hopedale, MA home is still under 4 feet of snow, I’m going to guess we won’t be seeing grass until April. While the snow is melting, get some spring cleaning done. Nothing feels better than a clean, organized house, especially when it starts feeling like spring. Make sure you do spring cleaning the right way – avoid making common spring cleaning mistakes. Read more

Monitor Your Water Quality

Not that long ago, most people didn’t think twice before grabbing a glass, and filling it up with tap water from their kitchen sink. But in the past few years, concerns over water quality have prompted people to look for safer alternatives. While some regions are plagued with tap water having a “bad taste” (usually due to water treatment agents like chlorine), other areas have more serious issues to deal with, like bacteria proliferation and industrial pollutants.

Read more

Choosing Color and Design Options for Window Treatments and Draperies

If you would like to create a comfortable, airy feeling in your own home, it can be as simple as changing your drapery and other window treatments. The colors and styles of these decorating accessories add to the mood, style and feel of a room.

First and foremost, the main idea is to create a space that all in the household will be happy with, and that also is something that will be welcoming to guests. Incorporating the right moods and styles into the design element can help with both. Read more

6 Benefits of Switching to a Sewer System From a Septic Tank in Hopkinton, MA



The switch to a sewer main is something many homeowners with septic tanks in Metrowest Massachusetts towns like Hopkinton consider. There are a variety of reasons why that switch could be a good decision, which include property value, pollution, subsidence and maintenance. Since towns such as Hopkinton, Hopedale, and Milford already have sewer systems available, it may be worth it for you to switch away from your septic tank.

Here are six benefits of switching from a septic tank to a sewer main.


1) Pollution

One main reason that homeowners should consider the switch from a septic tank to the local sewer system is the fact that septic tanks can pollute the ground around them. Water runoff from septic tanks can flow into streams, lakes, and oceans, carrying harmful bacteria along the way. Especially if you live near a body of water like Lake Maspenock in Hopkinton, you may want to heavily consider switching to the sewer main.


2) Property Value

Some may refuse to buy a home that is on a septic tank unless it is switched before the sell date. Homeowners that make the switch before selling will prevent that scenario. Avoiding last minute renovations is a great way to speed up the sale process. Prospective homebuyers do not want to deal with the future expense of having to do so.


3) Repair or Addition Permits

Some cities may block a homeowner from obtaining a permit on repairs and additions if they have a septic tank where there is easy access to the sewer main. A homeowner who wants to make repairs or additions should consider the switch from a septic tank to the sewer for this reason. Some reasons for the permit block may include the pollution factor, subsidence and rising water tables. Hopkinton does not have these blocks, but some other towns in nearby Massachusetts may have these rules in place.


4) Subsidence

Septic systems are one cause for subsidence, which is the action of the ground sinking in or creating a sink hole. Subsidence can be a very dangerous phenomenon, as it creates unstable ground. Homeowners who wish to avoid this can help prevent it by making the switch from a septic tank to a sewer main. As Hopkinton residents and those of nearby towns want to preserve our beautiful area, this is another major benefit of switching to the sewer.


5) Odors

Septic tanks can cause odors during wet weather and other conditions, especially when not properly maintained. Homeowners need to do routine septic tank maintenance to avoid some of these odors. The switch from a septic tank to a sewer main can resolve problems with odors without having to pay for what can become expensive routine maintenance.


6) Maintenance

Those who own a septic tank are responsible for routine maintenance of the system. That maintenance should include removing solids from the tank every few years. Many do not like to do this and some just don’t do it at all. A lack of maintenance can cause pollution to nearby groundwater, which can eventually get into lakes, streams and neighboring wells. The pollution of any of these can cause disease in plants, animals, and humans alike. Of all the reasons for homeowners to switch from a septic tank to a sewer main, preventing this type of scenario due to lack of maintenance should be the primary factor in making the decision to switch.

If you do decide to remain with your septic tank, there are plenty of reputable septic tank maintenance companies in the Hopkinton area. Just be sure, especially if you plan to sell your house in the near future, that you keep the very important topic of having a septic tank versus using the town sewer system in mind.

Pet Proof Your Home


Just like kids, your pets need a safe home to live in. After all, pets are like your children, too! Just like a curious toddler, pets can and most likely will get into everything that they could- or even things you think that they couldn’t! So here are some tips to keeping your four-footed children safe in your home.

The first thing you may want to do is get down on all fours and paw your way around your home looking for potential pet hazards. By taking the time to look at your home through your pet’s eyes you will be able to more likely spot possible problem areas.

Take precautions with your plants.  

Many common house plants are poisonous to pets when chewed or ingested. Check your plants and either eliminate toxic plants or move them to a safe area away from pets.

Lock your cabinets.

Just like you would for a young child lock up medications, and keep household and lawn chemicals out of reach from pets.

Install toddler safety gates to keep animals in safe areas only.

Note that toddler safety gates work a lot better for dogs than cats, who will often simply jump over them.

Move the trashcan to a location that your pet cannot access.

Food wrappers and some foods like grapes and raisins are harmful for pets. Put your trash in a locked cabinet if possible.

Look for strangulation hazards.

Curtains and blind cords should be tied up and kept out of your pet’s reach.

Tuck away and hide wires and cords.

Loose wires and cords are often quite tempting for pets who like to chew.

Don’t cage your pets, occupy them.

If you want to be extra-cautious, some may consider keeping your pets in a crate when you have to leave the house. However, this should be a last resort. Either keep them in a safe area where they can’t get into anything serious, like a fairly large-sized room (like a den) with closed doors. Ideally, you want someone to house-sit your pets whenever you’re away for any significant length of time, as keeping animals caged up is actually very bad for their health.

However, if you are going to use a crate, be sure that you don’t lock the entrance and keep enough toys, food, and water in there to keep them occupied while you’re gone. But that way, if they get out, just made sure that anywhere you don’t want them to get int is off-limits to them.

Pet proofing your home is an important thing to do to keep your fur children safe. Just make sure that their comfort is satisfied and that you’re not cooping them up too much. The last thing you want to do is cage them up and have them be frustrated when you get home. You want your pets to be content and healthy, but safe, as well. Follow the seven tips above and your pets should be safe and happy for a long time.

3 Tips and Tricks to Planting a Lawn in the Fall


Fall is the perfect time for planting seeds. The cooler temperatures and sunny days are the best combination for planting a new lawn. Giving your lawn a great start will determine the quality of that lawn for decades to come.

Here are 3 tips that will give you a great lawn for many years:

Condition the Soil

The most crucial element to having a healthy lawn is the condition of your yard’s soil.  Before you get started, you’ll want to purchase a soil test kit at your local garden center. These soil tests will analyze what nutrients are present in any given sample of your yard’s soil. This will help you to determine the type and amount of fertilizer you will need for your lawn.

Once you have done your soil test, mix whatever fertilizer you may need into the top four to six inches of your soil. Make sure that your soil should be tilled thoroughly.  If the tilth (condition) of the soil is very heavy or sandy, organic material such as peat moss, compost, or even sawdust should be added.

Choose the Right Lawn Seed

Before selecting the right lawn seed, determine how you will use your lawn and how much maintenance you’re willing to provide to it. Seed types are formulated for different needs and different climates. Some seed mixtures have tough and durable grasses designed for play areas while others have fine bladed grasses for a lush lawn. You may also need to buy seed designed for sun or shade. Read the seed bag before you buy to make certain it is the right mix for your needs.

When and How to Plant Your Lawn Seed

The best time to seed a lawn is from late summer through early fall. During this time of year, the soil is still warm from the summer sun. Watering is not as much as a problem as it is mid-summer, as it doesn’t evaporate as quickly, allowing more time for the water to be absorbed by the plants. There will also be fewer weed problems, as most of their seasons have passed already. All of these factors give your lawn a better chance of getting established.

For the best results in planting seed, you may want to use a hand crank operated seed spreader. Sow q quarter of your lawn seed (at a quarter of the recommended rate of most seeds) to your entire lawn area. Then, repeat this process three more times, while going in a different direction each time. You will then need to roll the entire lawn surface with an empty lawn roller to set the seed in the soil. Finally, water the entire area thoroughly with a fine mist.

Be sure to keep the new seeds evenly moist until germination. After the seeds germinate, water about one inch of water per week. When the grass is 2 1/2-3 inches tall, you’ll want mow it to about 2 to 2 1/2 inches tall to prevent overgrowth.

Getting your lawn off to a good start will ensure you have a green, healthy and beautiful looking lawn that you will be able to enjoy for many years to come.

Photo credit: Pixabay, Public Domain

Natural Ways to Repel Insects


Bugs are not only irritating and annoying – they can also prove to be quite the unhealthy visitors to your home. They carry germs and spread diseases, reducing the sanitary condition of your home. When they find their way into the kitchen, pantry and cabinets, they can bring with them a certain level of contamination. There are several ways of getting rid of these pests. The most common method is to use insecticide and fumigate the environment. When using an insecticide, however, you must take into consideration the long term effect of exposing yourself to these chemicals. Although the use of fumigants is a common method, there are ways to keep bugs away by using safer and natural methods.

Repelling Ants with Lemon Juice, Cayenne Pepper and Cinnamon

Ants are a common household pest, especially around the kitchen or anywhere else that food is stored. There are several ways to be rid of them.

  1. Lemon juice is a safe and effective way to repel them. Mix the juice from 4 lemons with 1/2 gallon of water and spray a fine mist of the solution onto the surfaces where ants are seen.
  2. Sprinkle cayenne pepper and cinnamon anywhere that you observe ant activity to keep them away.
  3. Bay leaves placed in the kitchen drawers, cabinets, and pantry will also work wonders at keeping the ants away without potentially exposing your family’s food supply to toxic chemicals.

Ridding Your Carpet of Fleas

Do you want to get rid of fleas? Here is how to do it:

  1. Sprinkle sea salt and baking powder on the carpet before you vacuum.
  2. Empty the content of the dirt catcher into hot soapy water as soon as you are done vacuuming.
  3. Once the fleas come in contact with the water, they will die.
  4. Repeat this process until you have completely eliminated the flea population.

Repelling Flies

  1. Like ants, flies are also repelled by lemon. Strategically place lemon slices around your home.
  2. Placing a cloth soaked in peppermint or lavender oil in your window sills will help keep flies away
  3. Make sure waste containers are shut and areas surrounding them are kept very clean to help reduce flies’ interest in these areas.

Tips on Repelling Mosquitoes

  1. Check your yard for areas where stagnant water is present. Eliminate as much of it as you can.
  2. Herbs such as lemon grass, lavender, and catnip can be planted around your yard to help repel them.
  3. Fresh lemon and orange peels are also great repellents; however, be certain to replace them as they dry out.
  4. Eating fresh garlic during mosquito season can also protect you from vicious mosquito attacks.

While it may be more convenient to use a chemical based insecticide to get rid of pests, choosing natural alternative to pest control is both better for the environment and better for you and your family’s health.

Photo credit: Fotolia