Winter Retreat Ideas

Wintertime in the Pacific Northwest is often cold and wet, but this year, we’ve had a comparatively mild winter and many folks are considering heading outside to explore the area they live in. Winter retreats or getaways are a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of regular life and get caught up on some necessary rest and relaxation. Here are some of my go-to places in the Pacific Northwest that help me recharge!

Hood River:
This area has beautiful views of the water and lots of fun things to do. It’s full of amazing hiking and walking trails that offer breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge. There are also several wineries and vineyards that are fun to explore, as well as some great dining spots. There are a variety of vacation rental homes available or stay at one of the several in-town hotels, such as the historic Hood River Hotel.  No matter what you do here, you’ll be surrounded by quintessential Pacific Northwest stunning scenery.

Skamania Lodge:
This is another great place to unwind. It’s only a short drive from Clark County and the lodge is surrounded by forest greenery and overlooks the Columbia River Gorge. The lodge is known for their outstanding weekend brunch – it’s one that you won’t want to miss! Many of the rooms have fireplaces, so if a book and a cozy blanket by the fire sounds nice for your retreat, you’re in luck. Or, venture out to one of the nearby walking trails or take a short drive to Multnomah Falls to walk around.

Oregon/Washington Coast:
If escaping to the ocean is one of the ways you can best relax, you’re in luck with many different beach options. Rockaway Beach, Long Beach, Ocean Shores, Seaside, or Cannon Beach are all great options when it comes to a winter retreat. Wintertime at the beach can sometimes be rainy and stormy, but the smell of the ocean air is invigorating, no matter what. Stay inside and read or watch some of your favorite movies if the weather is stormy, and when the weather settles down for a bit, head out for a beach walk and some famous coast clam chowder.

Clark County:
Of course, if you need a retreat but your budget doesn’t allow for any overnight getaways, there are great ways to relax in the comfort of your own home. Unplug your laptop and your phone for a day or two and recharge without any electronics. Focus on doing some things that you love doing locally, even if it’s just sitting at home with your favorite warm beverage and catching up on reading your newspaper or watching some of your favorite shows.

No matter how you decide to take a break from the stresses of every day life, setting time aside for yourself to recharge is important and a winter retreat will do great things for your soul, body, and mind!

Posted on February 5, 2018 at 9:57 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home, Vancouver History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Winter Energy Savings Tips

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Winter weather has arrived and we’re likely to have more snow and ice in the coming months. When the frozen weather hits, we want to stay warm and cozy, but not break the bank on heating bills. Here are some simple winter energy savings tips that can help you save energy and keep your heating bill under control.

Tip #1: Don’t let air leaks go unattended.
If your home is leaking cold air in and warm air out, you’re likely wasting hundreds of dollars every year. Be sure to caulk and seal around any small openings around windows or doors. Door frames should have weather stripping secured around door frames, especially if they are showing signs of deteriorating. If you have old ductwork in your home, call a professional heating and cooling company and ask about duct sealing. This can be an affordable and effective way to seal air duct leaks and will help keep harmful particles out of the air you breathe inside the home.

Tip #2: Service your furnace.
Plan on having your HVAC system serviced once a year. These regular check-ups are helpful because technicians can take a close look at the furnace or heat pump and be sure that everything is working at its peak. They’ll replace air filters, offer solutions on how to make the system more efficient during the winter, and will point out any problems that may need repair.

Tip #3: Turn your thermostat down.
When you keep your thermostat in the 60 to 70 degree range without changing it all the time, you can save up to 5% on heating costs. If you keep your thermostat down to 68 degrees at night and instead use extra blankets while you sleep, you could be saving a lot of money every year. In addition, if you plan on being away from your home for an extended period of time, set the thermostat to 55 or 60 degrees. There’s no need to keep the heat on in an empty house.

Tip #4: Replace old appliances.
Has it been a while since you’ve replaced your appliances? Did you know that old appliances (especially old refrigerators) are huge energy drains! Replacing your old gas or electric appliances with those that have Energy Star® labels can be a great way to save energy and decrease your monthly utility bills.

These tips aren’t just helpful in the winter, either. They’re helpful all year long! Stay warm this winter!

Posted on December 22, 2016 at 12:03 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Child-Friendly Christmas Décor Projects

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Decorating your home for the holidays can be a lot of fun, but decorating with children can make it even more magical. If you’re looking for some fun ways to get your home looking festive this year, put your creativity and your kids or grandkids to work. There are a variety of kid-friendly Christmas décor projects and here are some of my favorites.

#1: Do-it-yourself Picture Snow Globes
Memories captured in photos are such treasures, especially when the children get older. Creating a photo snow globe with your them can be a special keepsake item that you can use year after year. Grab a glass jar with a lid, scrapbook paper, a photograph that you want to use, some spray paint, Popsicle sticks, hot glue, and any other jar decorations that you want. Paint the lids whatever color you want and cut a piece of scrap paper to fit the inside of your jar to serve as a background. Fold the bottom part of the photo to serve as the base on which the photo stands. Then, use the popsicle stick to glue to the bottom back of the photo, then apply more glue to the bottom to stick it into place. Add white pompoms or spray paint white around the glass jar to make it look like snow. Decorate the outside of the jar however you want and soon you have a special snow globe.

#2: Personalized Gift Tags
Let you’re the children in your life do all the decorating for gifts this year and let them create personalized gift tags for each person on your list. You could print photos of the gift recipient on the tags, then let them decorate them however you want. You could also have them decorate tags with loved ones’ names on them and use them as Christmas tree décor.

#3: Gummy Snowflakes
Grab a box of toothpicks and your favorite colored gumdrops and create bright snowflakes! You could string them up and put them in a window, put them on the Christmas tree, or eat them as an after-school snack.

#4: Villages
Head to the craft store or the dollar store and look for inexpensive porcelain houses. Then, pick your favorite colors and let your kids paint them for a little village of brightly-colored homes. Make them even more fancy with decorative touches like glitter or feathers.

The magic of Christmas is in the air and spending quality time with family and friends at home during the season doing crafts can be a special memory-making time. I wish you much joy during the holiday season!

Posted on December 5, 2016 at 7:04 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Home Buying Tips, Home Remodeling Tips, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,