Jason Robie: Conscientious cleaning

I enjoy cleaning the house. OK, to be clear, I enjoy the feeling of HAVING a clean house, and the best way to get to that goal is to actually clean. I’m not fancy enough (yet) to have my own house cleaner, but that’s on my bucket list, for sure. Imagine combining my love of a clean house with simply coming home to a house that has been cleaned. I’m giddy at just the thought. But with all that said, there are some myths floating around about cleaning that I’d like to shed some light on. Some are simply helpful to avoid and others are downright harmful to your home. Let’s get scrubbing!
The first myth is about the value of bleach. I think we all fall in various places along the spectrum of bleach use, depending on how our parents and grandparents used it. The important thing to remember is that bleach does not “clean," it only disinfects. The example I like is trying to wash muddy hands with hand sanitizer. You first need to remove the dirt and grime, and then you can move on to sanitizing. Also, bleach needs around 10 minutes of contact with the offending germ-covered item to be effective. So using those combo cleaners that include bleach is likely a waste of time and is obviously not great for your lungs. Focus on the grime and soap scum in the bathroom and leave the bleach for the germs.
Moving on to your wood furniture, consider taking it easy with the polish. Many polishes are simple beeswax and are great for shining the wood and giving it that showroom new look and feel. The flip side of that is the fact that loads of polishes are filled with funky-named chemicals and can leave an unwanted buildup on your furniture. Don’t be afraid to use polish, but don’t feel like you have to use it every time you clean. Just make use of a high-quality microfiber cloth (damp with water) and you’ll have great looking pieces all over the house without the waxy buildup. This is a safer option, too, because if you are like me you inevitably get some polish over-spray on the floor, and that slippery spot is there for days just waiting for you!
Speaking of flooring, don’t be afraid of too much vacuuming. We had our carpets replaced when I was in high school. I will never forget the installer telling my mom that carpets tend to weigh 10 times what they did when they were new after as many years of use. I’m sure it didn’t help that the house contained two teen boys, either. Lots of vacuuming can help eliminate some allergens, loads of dust and can actually help the house stay smelling fresh longer. Obviously you need to be more careful with oriental and handmade rugs, but you get the idea.
Staying down there on the floor, let’s talk mopping. My honey always uses that nice smelling floor cleaner when she attacks the floors. Our entire first floor is hardwood so it looks amazing when she’s done. When it is my turn, I tend to just wet the floor-cleaning pad with water. It really doesn’t matter which you use as long as the fabric is damp. This doesn’t just “push the dirt around” and will do a great job of picking up (and holding onto) the dust and dirt on your floor. While the cleaner is not necessary it does leave a nicer shine and smell than just water. I think the switching off works just fine and saves us from having to buy the cleaner as often.
“Floor cleaners are great for leaving a nicer looking finish and scent throughout the home,” notes Badger Realty agent, Debi Davis. “Although any moist cloth will work well, the important note is to tackle the floors more often than not. Grit and dirt, especially as it is crushed under foot, is the best way to scratch and mar those floors which nobody wants to have to deal with,” she continued.
Last but not least are those dishes in the sink. I’m a fan of hand washing. Not because I think I can do a better job than the dishwasher, but because for most of my adult life I haven’t had enough dishes or silverware to last me long enough for when the dishwasher will be full again. Even now we haven’t unpacked all the silverware, so with only eight forks and two of us dirtying dishes, the math doesn’t work. All that said, it is still better to let the dishwasher handle its task if you are concerned about the cleanliness of your plates, glasses and flatware. All the scrubbing in the world (by you) can’t compete with the water temperature and constant soaping that that machine can provide. So give yourself a break (and go buy some more forks!).
Cleaning the house is not a chore that many of us love and get excited about. But if you are the one tackling this task, make note of a few of these suggestions. Perhaps it will make the cleaning faster and easier, and it could even save some wear and tear on your furniture and flooring. Now that we have that covered, get yourself outside and enjoy this lovely fall weather! You can always clean up your dirty boot droppings next weekend!

RE/MAX donated to Stand Up Androscoggin Valley Coalition

BERLIN — Recently Realtors with RE/MAX Northern Edge Realty made a donation to the Stand Up Androscoggin Valley Coalition. The coalition is a spin off of the Community Leadership Team/Project AWARE Program at the Berlin Public Schools and are focused on addressing substance misuse faced by our Androscoggin Valley Community. Their mission is to reduce and prevent substance abuse among youth by working together to build healthy, safe and drug free community. On Oct. 21, they are planning a 10K race and they are hoping this will be an annual event. The race will be a USATF-certified 10K race, between Berlin and Gorham, and will be promoted as a Stand Up Androscoggin Valley event "to promote resiliency, wellness and a chem-free lifestyle in the Androscoggin Valley." At this time they are looking for donors/sponsors and volunteers who will be willing to help with this ambitious first big coalition event.

Remax Donation Stand Up On hand to receive the donation were Kacey Micucci, Kevin Carpentar and Pam Laflamme. Pictured from the left in the front row, Carl Mercier, Kacey Micucci, Kevin Carpentar and Pam Laflamme. In the back row, Wayne Micucci, Chris Lunn, Matt Martel and Mark Danoski. Missing from the photo, Lucie Remillard and Steve Grone. (COURTESY PHOTO)


Jason Robie: Seller's Soul Searching

It happens to nearly all of us. At some point we will begin the inner dialogue about whether now is the right time to sell or not. Of course there are always extenuating circumstances that come into play. Jobs, kids, military service and marriage are just a few of the life-factors that will push you in one direction or the other. But if you are not being forced to sell by a big life change, what are some of the questions you need to answer to best come to a decision? Let’s take a peek.

One of the first questions that need answering is: Why Now? As noted above, sometimes life just dictates that it is time to sell, but other factors can also play a big role. Is this a great time to sell because it is a hot seller’s market? Do you just plain need the money due to a job loss or divorce? Has the home simply become too expensive to maintain (or heat!)?

And, of course, there are positive reasons to go right along with those challenges as well. Did you get a new job in a new town and need to unload this property? Did you partner up with someone special and the maintaining of two homes is no longer necessary? Has a raise or other financial uptick allowed you to upgrade your living conditions and move to a nicer space? Any of these are legitimate reasons to want to sell, regardless of the current, local market conditions.

Just like we all “should” be exercising every day and eating more vegetables, there are also times when we feel like we “should” sell our homes. I’m not a big proponent of these because they are typically based on “norms” or other societal pressures rather than actual facts. If you feel you “should” sell because that’s what people your age do at this time or because your neighbor just sold and made a nice profit, take a step back. This is a huge decision and one that should not be made based on what other people think is the right thing to do or what your neighbor did. Get some professional, objective input to evaluate your “why” decision and make it based on facts, even though they are a little hard to come by these days!

The next question is: What is next? If that new job in the new town is your driving reason, this has already been decided. But if you’re moving to increase or decrease space, eliminate a mortgage, move to a new area or simply get a change of scenery; do you have a plan? I can tell you from experience that moving across the country without a place to “land” or any real plan is a bit stressful, although also a bit exciting. Consider all those who will be impacted by this move including friends, adult children and certainly your pets.

At the end of the day the decision is yours, but it will help alleviate some of the stress if you have a solid plan in place before you kick things off. Your friends will appreciate it. Your kids will not come home from college to an empty house (It happened to a friend in college!). And it will help you have a higher level of confidence in the decision you have made. There are always doubts that creep in. But if you have a solid plan to move forward, that will help you answer those doubts.

Now that you have a plan in place and are confidently moving forward, what does a successful sale look like? “Very often sellers are relying on the sale of this home for the purchase of their next home,” notes Badger Realty agent, Roland Turgeon. He continued, “There are also other factors such as fixtures, furniture, plants and even a garden harvest that all come into play for a successful sale. I encourage my sellers to take a mental (or pen and paper) inventory of all the pieces of this deal that are important to them before we get started.”

Roland is right. Often times we see sellers jump into the game before really considering what a quick sale of their home might mean. Kids’ schedules, pet care, pre-planned trips and visiting family can all throw a wrench in the works if they are not considered up front. Before you start making calls to your local real estate professional, run through the next six months in your mind or on your calendar and make sure you are prepared for what may come up.

Selling a home is a really exciting time. It smells of new adventures and new beginnings. There’s quite a bit to consider during this transition so carve out some quiet time and make sure all of your ducks are in a row. With some careful planning and strategizing, you can make this a smooth process and mitigate some of the unnecessary stress. Now let’s get moving!


New Hampshire Food Bank and Citizens Bank Nothing Campaign reaches 1 million meals

To mark Hunger Action Month, the New Hampshire Food Bank and Citizens Bank announced today that the Nothing Campaign has surpassed 1 million meals with donations totaling more than $567,000 over the past 5 years. The statewide campaign features cans of “nothing” representing the reality that thousands of New Hampshire residents have nothing to eat.

“Citizens Bank continues to be an incredible partner to the New Hampshire Food Bank, providing critical funding to support our ongoing effort to eliminate hunger in New Hampshire, and we are tremendously grateful for the support,” said Eileen Liponis, executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank. “The NH Food Bank is able to turn every $1 donated into two nutritious meals, we can turn the $96,000 raised to date during this year’s Nothing campaign into 192,000 meals. While the need continues to grow, this support is making a profound impact on those who are most in need.”

Citizens Bank and the New Hampshire Food Bank launched the Nothing Campaign in New Hampshire in 2013 to spread awareness and raise funds for those in need — and the need is growing. In New Hampshire, 10 percent of residents, including 13 percent of children, are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Throughout April and May, participating grocery stores sold cans of nothing for $5 each to raise funds and awareness for the New Hampshire residents who have nothing to eat.

Citizens Bank has been the sole underwriter for the Nothing Campaign since it began five years ago.

“Citizens Bank is proud that, in partnership with the New Hampshire Food Bank, we’ve been able to raise awareness about hunger and provide 1 million meals to New Hampshire residents through the Nothing Campaign,” said Joe Carelli, president, Citizens Bank, New Hampshire. “One hungry family or individual is one too many. Through our partnership with the New Hampshire Food Bank, we are making a difference for individuals and families across the state who are facing food insecurity.”

All proceeds go to the New Hampshire Food Bank to buy meals for the hungry. So far this year, the Nothing Campaign raised more than $96,000 and provided more than 180,000 meals for those in need. To learn more, visit nhfoodbank.org/nothing.

The New Hampshire Food Bank, which receives no state or federal funding for food distribution, continues to address the growing need in New Hampshire. In 2016, the New Hampshire Food Bank distributed nearly 13 million pounds of food to its more than 400 partners statewide, an increase of 55 percent over the past four years.