Happy June! Summer vacation is so close, I can almost smell the sunscreen, bug spray, and backyard BBQs. If you're traveling this summer, use the Pre-Vacation Home Checklist below to make sure you don't forget an important task. Mix up a pitcher of homemade strawberry lemonade to keep cool while you kick back in the sun. And don't miss the 5 decluttering tips that will have your home looking magazine-ready!



Stop Your Mail
  Visit the USPS Hold Mail website to pause your mail delivery until you get back
Put One or Two Indoor Lights on a Timer
  Set the lights to turn on in the evening so your home looks occupied while you're away. You can use a simple mechanical timer or a smart plug to accomplish this.
Install Motion- Activated Outdoor Lights
  Or, if you already have them, make sure they're still working.
Unplug whatever small appliances and electronics you can
  You might need to keep your WiFi router and smart home devices running, but unplug things like your laptop, TV, coffee maker, etc. These devices will still use electricity if they're plugged in, even if they're turned off.
Set the thermostat to be closer to the temperature outside
  But not so hot or cold that your plants, pets, or belongings will be harmed.
Clean out your refrigerator
  Toss out or give away any food that will spoil while you're away.
Take out the trash and ask a neighbor to roll it to the curb on trash day
  Because no one wants to come home to the smell of week-old garbage.
Keep your blinds/drapes how they always are
  While it might be tempting to keep your windows covered while you're away, if they're normally open, it's best to keep them that way. Anything out of the ordinary could tip off an ill-willed person that your home is vacant.
Call your bank and credit card companies (especially if you're traveling out of the country)
  Otherwise, they might see an out-of-state charge, assume it's fraud, and freeze your account. It's best to save yourself the hassle.
Prepare for inclement weather
  Put away or secure patio furniture and other outdoor items that could be damaged by a storm. And if your basement has a tendency to flood, ask a neighbor if they'd be willing to check on it after a storm.
Empty the Dishwasher
  And be sure to leave the door open, so it can dry out and not get smelly from lack of use.
Vacuum the floors and wipe surfaces
  Remove crumbs that could attract pests.
And, Finally, Wait until you get home to post about your vacation on social media
  I know you're dying to share your family beach photos on Instagram, but you'll also be letting all of your followers know that you're not home to watch over your belongings.

Once you've prepared your house for your absence, you'll be ready to hit the road and enjoy your vacation!

Love strawberries?
Love lemonade?

It's time to put them both together for the perfect summer beverage!
This delightfully refreshing
 strawberry lemonade is so easy you'll never buy the powdered mix again.
  • 1/2 pound fresh strawberries, stems removed
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 or 5 cups water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons)

1. Puree strawberries using a blender or food processor. (Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve if you don't want seeds in your lemonade.)

2. Make the simple syrup: In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together sugar and 2 cups water.

3. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

4. Strain the lemon juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart pitcher. Add simple syrup and strawberry puree and stir to combine. Refrigerate until cold.

5. Add 2 1/2 cups of cold water and stir. Taste, and add more water if it's too sweet.

6. Serve over ice and enjoy!

Recipe by Lauren Allen of Tastes Better from Scratch
If you feel exhausted just thinking about decluttering your entire home, no need to despair—just follow these 5 tips from professional organizers Miriam Ortiz y Pino and Elizabeth Larkin.


Focus on one room at a time. 
Clutter can feel overwhelming, so don’t make things any harder on yourself. Choose one room—the one that’s bugging you the most—and dedicate a day or two to focusing on just that room. Don’t move onto the next room until that one is completely decluttered.
Declutter one drawer or shelf at a time. 
Whether you’re organizing your bathroom closet or your kitchen cabinets, focus on just one compartment at a time. Even if you only manage to clean out one “junk drawer” in a day, you’ll be able to see your progress and it will inspire you to keep up the momentum.



Start with a garbage bag. 
Begin your decluttering mission by tossing the obvious trash, says Miriam. Hunt down all of the expired coupons, empty Amazon boxes and envelopes, and pens that no longer write. “The physical space that trash takes up hinders your ability to make good decisions about the rest of it,” says Miriam.
Move non-kitchen items out of the kitchen. 
Have you ever noticed how much random “stuff” tends to end up on your kitchen counters? Mail, handbags, the dog’s leash, books, sunglasses, kids’ toys, you name it. Use a laundry basket to gather up anything that doesn’t belong in your kitchen, then drop those items off to the appropriate rooms.



Use 5 baskets or bins to sort clutter into 5 different categories: 
Put Away (things that need to be put back in their proper storage place), Recycle, Fix/Mend (things you love but need to repair so you can keep using them), Trash, and Donate.

To learn more great decluttering tips, check out this article by The Spruceas well as Miriam’s blog at More Than Organized.


 As home prices continue to rise, buyers adopt new strategies.

Early May saw a continuation of home price growth—the median listing price grew by 15.8% over last year, marking the 21st week of double-digit gains. Combine that with higher mortgage rates, and affordability remains a huge challenge for many buyers.

One strategy buyers are implementing is making a larger down payment. This works well for buyers who have gained a lot of equity in their existing homes. First-time homebuyers, however, are struggling to find a home they can afford—and steep hikes in rent are making it difficult to save up.

The number of new and active listings are trending upward.

“After nearly three years of mortgage rates under 4%, a new reality has emerged for homebuyers," writes Joel Berner, senior economic research analyst for Realtor.com.

From mid-March to early May, mortgage rates increased rapidly. The national average for a 30-year fixed hit 4.16% the week of March 17, jumped to 4.42% the following week, and continued an upward trend throughout April to reach 5.27% the week of May 5.

Mortgage rates have jumped above 5%.

Housing inventory is still very low compared to pre-pandemic times, but things are looking up. In the first week of May, new listings were up 4% from a year ago, and active listings grew year-over-year for the first time since 2019.


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