Sequim Lavender Festival

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This weekend is one of my favorite weekends on the peninsula; the Sequim Lavender Festival!  There are all sorts of neat things to do–farm tours, street fair & vendors, and fun foods using–you guessed it–lavender! Enjoy a lavender lemonade (or margarita!) and lavender garlic fries while checking out some pretty fantastic Northwest Vendors and artists, then visit some of Sequim’s lavender farms, and don’t forget the live music and entertainment too!

Find out more here.

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Tips for Effortless Entertainment

It is summertime, and along with summer comes lots of visiting and entertaining.  Sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with complicated recipes, fancy drinks, and crazy themes, but none of those things are necessary.  Here is my recipe for effortless entertaining:

  • Simple is best. You don’t need a million options or to use the most complicated recipes. Don’t be afraid to scrap a thing or two if you are running low on time. It will save you stress and no one will know you didn’t make that extra dish!
  • Grab items that are easy to unwrap and put out.
    • Grab some salami, prosciutto, pancetta, and ham. Either transfer directly or plate it up creatively.
    • Grab one or two types of cheese and cut into cubes/slices and position near the meat.
    • Put out a few crackers and/or apple slices to go with the meat and cheese.
  • Fresh veggies and dip. My go-to has always been Ranch but I have started developing spread recipes as well to offer another option for our guests. Pre-made hummus is another great go-to option. Check out the Blue Cheese and Pecan Spread. It is always a hit. The spread works well with the veggies or along with some fresh French bread. And is worth a few extra minutes of prep time.
  • Throw a few pickles or olives out for a salty taste. Nuts are another great option.
  • Then, add something for the late night sweet tooth. My favorite thing has been to try out different popcorn recipes. Everyone loves popcorn and who couldn’t resist it late at night! Check out Crack Popcorn & Peanut Crunch for one of my favorites.
  • Chips and dip. Store bought or homemade pico de gallo is highly recommended or even make your own guacamole.

Thanks to ahintofginger.com for this blog post.

Uncommon Mortgage Terms You Need to Know

When it comes to finding a new home, there are lots of complex ratios, terms, and contracts that you’ll encounter – and at times, it’ll feel like you’re trying to navigate a minefield. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself signing on for a mortgage that doesn’t suit your needs. Here are five mortgage terms you may not encounter regularly that you’ll need to know when buying a home.

Escrow: Money Held In Trust To Pay Taxes

An escrow account is a bank account that your lender maintains on your behalf. When you close your mortgage, you’ll need to deposit a certain percent of your annual property taxes into the escrow account, which your lender will hold in trust and use to pay your property taxes.

PITI: How Your Lender Calculates Your Monthly Payments

Your lender uses a specific formula used to calculate exactly how much money you need to pay your lender each month. Each month, your mortgage payment will include portions that go toward your principal loan amount (P), your interest payment (I), your property taxes (T), and your homeowner’s insurance (I). If you have private mortgage insurance, it’ll be included with this PITI payment.

Rate Buydown: Lowering Your Interest Rate With A Larger Down Payment

A rate buydown, also known as a discount point, is a chunk of your mortgage interest that you pre-pay in order to get a lower monthly interest rate over the life of the loan. Each point you buy reduces your interest rate by a small amount.

Loan Estimate: What Your Lender Must, By Law, Give You

A loan estimate is a form that your lender is required to give you when you apply for a mortgage, as per the Truth in Lending Act. Your loan estimate will include your estimated costs of carrying the loan – including monthly payments, interest rates, and processing fees. Loan estimates allow you to compare terms and rates across different lenders.

Loan-To-Value: Determining How Much House You Can Afford

Your LTV (loan-to-value) ratio is a ratio that is used to calculate the amount of equity you have in your home and to assess your risk as a borrower. Typically expressed as a percentage, your LTV is determined by dividing the total amount of your mortgage loan by the property’s fair market value. Borrowers generally prefer to see lower LTV ratios.

DIY Lawn Tic-Tac-Toe

Now that the kids are out of school, it’s time to entertain them.  I love this backyard tic-tac-toe game that they can make themselves…so easy!

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And, while you’re painting lady bugs and bumblebees for your tic-tac-toe game, consider painting some rocks and hiding them throughout Port Angeles with the Port Angeles Rocks group on Facebook.  So much fun! Click here to learn more about Port Angeles Rocks!

Creative House Numbers

Little things add a lot of curb appeal.  Yes, house numbers are available at the hardware store, and they’re relatively inexpensive. But putting a little extra effort pays off big on curb appeal.  Here are a few fun ideas.

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Contemporary Frosted Glass. Instructions here.

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“Hit the nail on the head” with this easy project! Pick up a piece of wood of the right size from the scrap bin at the hardware store. Stain or paint if desired. Print out your house numbers in a bold font of the size you desire. Make sure to tape it to the house where it will be displayed, then step back and make sure it’s large enough to be seen from the street. Now tape the paper over the wood base. Starting in the center of each number and working your way out, tap nails into place within the printed number. The closer you can comfortably space the nails, the easier it will be to read. Use a needle nose pliers to hold each nail as you tap it into place. Try to get them straight! When finished, tear away the paper. This look would look great on both a more modern home, or if you are creating a more rustic feel.

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Find instructions for these fun “bucket” house numbers here.

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These are similar to the buckets, but with pots instead.

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This one is a fun and inexpensive one that allows you to get creative. Instructions here.

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I love this “grass” house number! It’s so fresh, modern and fun! Instructions here.

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Use succulents and scrap wood to make this modern chic address plaque. Instructions here.

Mosquito Repelling Plants

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There’s nothing worse than settling down in your backyard for a nice, relaxing evening only to be interrupted by the constant buzz and annoyance of mosquitoes! If you’re anything like me, mosquitoes love your blood and never have mercy when it comes to sucking you dry! Don’t worry anymore about those pesky bugs, try landscaping with some of these plants that help keep mosquitoes at bay.

Lemon Balm: Not only does this plant repel mosquitoes, but it also gives off a wonderful smell! Lemon balm is also known to help alleviate stress, which is always an added bonus.

Citronella: This plant is thought of as the “original” bug repelling plant because there is a similarly named ingredient used in many common repellents.

Catnip: Catnip not only repels mosquitoes but it also keep cockroaches away, which can be a great asset for lots of homeowners! If you have a cat, just make sure to keep this plant away from the others because cats enjoy rolling in it and may destroy other plants.

Marigolds: Other pests are also kept away with marigolds, not just mosquitoes. This plant is also edible and adds a great dimension of color to your garden.

Lavender: The great thing about lavender is that it can be grown inside and outside. So if you find mosquitoes coming into your home, just keep a pot of lavender near a window and watch it do its work!

Peppermint: Peppermint also has a great smell to invite and relax your guests in the yard. It also can be used to relieve itches if those mosquitoes do end up finding some victims!

Basil: Either you can grow basil nearby to ward away mosquitoes, or you can squeeze out its oils and make a spray to take with you wherever you go!
Cadaga Tree: This is a tree, so it takes a little more work than a smaller plant, but it can be a great feature to your yard and has bright colors in the foliage.

Garlic: Garlic can be used to repel mosquitoes and to add flavor to your food! This is a great choice to get as many uses as possible from the plants in your garden

Clove:The great thing about clove is the pretty color and the interesting shape of the buds! Add some protection and pop to your yard with this plant.

Floss Flower: If you want a variety of colors to choose from, then here’s the plant for you. Floss flower both repels mosquitoes and comes in blue, pink, and purple.

Eucalyptus: This requires quite a bit of work to grow and maintain, but I find the smell relaxing.

Pineapple Weed: The name may be a turnoff, but it has a great smell and is supposedly great for salads!

Pitcher Plant: This plant is cool because it doesn’t technically repel mosquitoes but eats them!

Rosemary: Rosemary is great by itself for repelling mosquitoes, or you can extract its oils and put it into lotions to make some fresh-smelling repellent on the go!

Snowbrush: Snowbrush is effective in repelling mosquitoes, but it is considered a weed in many areas.

Sweet Fern: Sweet Fern is especially effective in repelling mosquitoes when it is burned in a fire.

Tansy: This plant is very colorful, so it’s a great addition to your yard.

Tea Tree: Tea Trees repel mosquitoes but their oils can also be used to sooth irritations caused by mosquitoes or other outdoor factors.

Vanilla Leaf: This plant is a great choice because it has an interesting shape and is also effective in keeping away mosquitoes!