Giving Local Nashville

Giving Local Nashville

Our Living Local Nashville team is passionate about serving our clients and serving our community, and as we kick off this season of giving, we’d like to take this opportunity to spread awareness about a few local non-profits that are especially close to our hearts:

 

Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms’ mission is to “heal, empower, and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction” which is done by “providing safe and supporting housing, the opportunity for economic independence, and a strong community of advocates and partners.” Last year alone, 59 women survivors were employed by Thistle Farms, so consider giving Thistle Farms’ Love Heals products as Christmas gifts or catching up with friends over lunch at The Café at Thistle Farms.

www.ThistleFarms.org

Oasis Center Nashville

Oasis Center

Oasis Center “is dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of youth in Middle Tennessee” by providing a wide range of opportunities “from crisis intervention to youth leadership and community engagement to college and career access” to over 3,500 youth and families a year. A fun way to get involved is to sign your family up to assemble and deliver sack lunches on a day when volunteers aren’t available to cook.

www.OasisCenter.org

Room in the Inn Nashville

Room In The Inn

Room In The Inn provides “programs that emphasize human development and recovery through education, self-help and work, centered in community and long term support for those who call the streets of Nashville home.” Consider hosting a hat-glove-sock drive or travel-size toiletries drive at your workplace, or sign your family up to serve a meal at the downtown campus, where a general population of 300 is served every week day and about 90 residents are served three times a day all week long.

www.RoomInTheInn.org

Stepping Stones Safe Haven Murfreesboro Tn

Stepping Stones Safe Haven

Stepping Stones Safe Haven offers a Day Shelter and Night Shelter for homeless mothers with children, with the help of 16 churches who open their doors once a month or more to allow these women and children to eat and sleep in their buildings. There are many ways to serve this organization, such as volunteering as a shelter representative, crafting with children, and fundraising; or if you have a green thumb, volunteering in the community garden which supplies these women and children with fresh fruits and vegetables. Currently, the greatest need for volunteers is during 3:45 to 5:15 p.m. to check guests in.

www.SteppingStonesTN.org

New Beginnings Center TNB Fitness Nashville

The New Beginnings Center

The New Beginnings Center’s purpose is “to improve Tennessee health statistics with a targeted focus on women’s health needs. Its program provides “access to wellness programs, strength training, physical and nutritional education and personal coaching” to lower-income women. Clients are empowered to improve their health, which often carries over to their family and friends, thus boosting the health of the community as a whole. You can help by becoming a member of their sister organization, TNB Fitness, where a portion of your membership fees will help sponsor The New Beginnings Center’s clients.

www.TheNewBeginningsCenter.org

Senior Ride Nashville

Senior Ride Nashville

Senior Ride Nashville is an “affordable, assisted ride service that pairs a senior who needs a ride with a volunteer who can give one.” Give as little as one ride a month, and in return, you’ll help seniors stay connected with the community… and you just might make a friend too.

www.SeniorRideNashville.org

Middle Tennessee Boxer Resuce

Middle Tennessee Boxer Rescue

Middle Tennessee Boxer Rescue has been rescuing and placing boxers since approximately 1990. Our family joined the MTBR family when we adopted “Bella” earlier this year. Every dog in the program gets a thorough vet check, is brought up to date on inoculations, is checked for heartworms (and treated if it is necessary and the dog has a good chance of full recovery), and is spayed or neutered before placement in an adoptive home.

www.MTBR.org

If you would like to join us in contributing to these organizations, whether through donating goods or money, giving your time and skills, or simply spreading the word, please visit the website for your desired organization to see how you can get involved.

“The best way to find yourself is to lost yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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Creating Traditions in Your New Home

Creating Traditions in Your New Home

For many of you that have settled into a new home or started a family this year, you may be looking to start some new traditions with your family. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’ve compiled a few ideas to inspire:

  1. Host a food pantry drive and ask everyone to bring a non-perishable food item.
  2. Ease into the day and spend a little quiet time with yourself before the family arrives.
  3. Set up a puzzle or board game station to keep the children busy while the adults are preparing the meal.
  4. Create a signature Thanksgiving drink (and non-alcoholic version so the kids can be included), such as hot apple cider and rum punch.
  5. Have everyone write the things they’re grateful for on a butcher paper tablecloth or on a large pumpkin that’s been painted white, or have them hang a note of gratitude on a “thankful tree.”
  6. Take a moment to remember your loved ones who have passed.
  7. Have the kids serve dessert.
  8. Take a family walk after dinner.

 

 

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50 Fall and Winter Home Maintenance Tips

50 Fall and Winter Home Maintenance Tips

Before the temps drop too much lower, it’s time to get some things done around your home to protect your investment, save on energy costs, and remain warm and cozy through the winter months.

1. Perform a home energy audit or hire a professional to do one.

Whether you prefer to do-it-yourself or leave it to the professionals, there are plenty of ways to conserve energy in your home that will save you money and make your home more comfortable.

2. Schedule a tune-up for your heating system.

Don’t wait until the coldest night to call your HVAC service tech when your heat goes out. A proactive check-up now might save you hundreds of dollars in service calls later, and an annual inspection of your heating system can help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Install a carbon monoxide detector or change the batteries in your existing one.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning kills 400 Americans every year and sends 20,000 to the hospital, according to the CDC.  Learn more about CO and how to prevent CO poisoning here.

4. Vacuum your baseboard heating units.

Dirty electric baseboard heaters aren’t only unsightly, they’re also inefficient.  If your home has baseboard heaters, use a soft vacuum brush attachment to keep them looking fresh and working properly.

5. Order propane refill.

If your heat runs on propane and you aren’t set up for automatic delivery, it’s time to reorder when your gauge reads 30% or less.

6. Have your fireplace inspected, cleaned, and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

To prevent chimney fires, CO intrusion, and other chimney-related hazards, Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends having your chimney inspected annually by a certified technician. Learn about the three levels of chimney inspections here.

7. Use draft guards at window sills and exterior doors.

While a draft guard won’t sufficiently seal your home airtight, it’s better than doing nothing at all to keep the cold air out and hold the warm air in.

8. Open curtains during the day to let warmth in.

Thick curtains are great for protecting your house from heat loss during the night, but let the sunlight in during the day for a natural and free heat source!

9. Reverse your ceiling fan blades.

Operate your ceiling fan in a clockwise direction and run on a low speed in the winter to force warm air near the ceiling back down to the occupied space.

10. Install a programmable thermostat.

The EPA’s Energy Star program concluded that homes with programmable or smart thermostats can save up to $180 per year on heating and cooling, which is a sizable chunk of change. A smart thermostat such as Nest may be the preferable investment if you plan on being in your home for a while, however, the same savings can be achieved with a more affordable programmable thermostat.

11. Add extra quilts to your beds.

This one is from Grandma’s playbook. It’s a little obvious, but how often have you adjusted your thermostat instead of getting extra blankets out of storage?

12. Seal gaps with caulk and weather stripping.

You might be amazed at how much air travels through the cracks and gaps throughout your home. A little bit of caulk and new weather stripping can go a long way in winterizing your home. It also helps to keep pests out in the warmer months.

13. Insulate attic, garage door, unprotected water pipes, etc.

If your attic isn’t properly insulated, you’re probably paying a lot more than you should be to heat your home. Likewise, by insulating your garage door, you will keep the garage at a more moderate temperature, preventing cold air from entering the house every time the interior door is opened and closed.  Wrapping your water pipes with foam will prevent them from freezing, which can cause extensive damage.

14. Change your HVAC filters monthly for best efficiency. 

Don’t make your heating system work harder than it needs to. We’ve heard from several local professionals that it’s okay to buy the cheapest filters available; the key is to change them every 30 days no matter what type of filters you use!

15. Replace any problem windows with more efficient models.

Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25%–30% of residential heating and cooling energy use, according to Energy.gov. If your windows are in good condition, there are more cost-effective steps you can take to improve their efficiency, but if it’s time to start thinking about replacing them, here’s what you should know first.

16. Change batteries in smoke detectors.

It’s recommended to change the batteries in smoke detectors once every 6 months (doing it around Daylight Savings makes it easy to remember). If any detectors are older than 10 years, it’s time to replace them.

17. Clean your carpets.

Clean your carpets before holiday guests arrive and enjoy the Fall weather with the windows open while they dry. This will also help to rid your home of germs before sickness hits!

18. Clean the air.

Prepare for spending more time indoors and clean the air throughout your home. Whole house air cleaners can also help extend the life of your HVAC equipment.

19. Quiet those squeaky doors.

Squeaky hinges driving you crazy? Hit them with a can of WD-40 before the cold weather makes them worse.

20. Power wash the exterior of your home.

Wash the exterior and windows of your home to prevent mold and mildew.

21. Waterproof any gaps in your home’s exterior.

Caulk where masonry meets siding, where pipes and wires enter the house, around windows and door frames, and at corner joints formed by siding, so water doesn’t find its way into the walls.

22. Touch up or add a fresh coat of paint or sealer.

Lower humidity makes Fall a great time to paint (as long as it isn’t below freezing yet). Touch up or add a fresh coat of exterior paint or sealer to protect from weather elements.

23. Caulk first.

If doing any interior painting, be sure to caulk before painting for a more finished look.

24. Inspect your roof and repair any leaks before Winter.

Cold weather can aggravate a small roof leak. Use binoculars to look for any missing, loose, or damaged shingles on the outside, and check your ceiling and attic for leaks inside. Then your best bet is to bring in the professionals to accurately assess the leak and fix any problems quickly and safely.

25. Keep the air flowing.

Make sure vents in the soffit, gables, and eaves aren’t blocked so that air can flow above the insulation. This will prevent moisture buildup and condensation in the Winter as well as overheating in the Summer.

26. Give your gutters some love.

Clean, repair, and protect your gutters to prevent blockages and keep water flowing away from your house instead of into it.

27. Extend downspouts at least 10′ from the house.

Water is one of the most damaging elements to any home. One of the simplest measures you can take to protect your home from water intrusion is to extend the downspouts at least 10-20 feet away from the foundation.

28. Inspect for unwanted guests.

Check the attic for any pests that may have found their way in to get warm. If you have a crawl space, you’ll want to check there too and make sure any vents are properly covered.

29. Repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.

Cold weather can aggravate cracks in concrete driveways and sidewalks and bigger cracks in the Spring can lead to injury if your guests aren’t careful where they step.

30. Move cold-sensitive items and plants indoors.

Many yard ornaments, outdoor lighting, and plants such as cacti can’t withstand below freezing temperatures. Bring them in before the first frost to avoid damage. Don’t forget to check the underside of any plant leaves for hitchhiking insects.

31. Winterize your outdoor faucets and sprinklers.

Drain and store hoses and winterize your outdoor faucets and sprinklers. You can pick up styrofoam faucet covers for around $3.00/each at most any hardware store.

32. Organize your garage.

Take advantage of these beautiful Fall days to organize the garage and make space for your car before the cold weather hits.

33. Wash away pollen and mildew.

Wash away pollen and mildew from your outdoor cushions and perform any annual maintenance that your outdoor furniture may need.

34. Clean lawn equipment.

Clean your lawn equipment before storing it for several months to prevent corrosion. It’s also a good idea to remove your lawn mower battery for the winter and store it in a cool, dry place.

35. Clean garden tools.

Good tools aren’t cheap, but if you treat them right they’ll last for years. Thoroughly clean all of your garden tools and store them on a rack to keep them from falling over.

36. Watch for deals on lawn equipment.

Keep an eye out for good deals on lawn and garden equipment for next year. There are likely to be some great discounts on outdoor items as we head into Winter.

37. Get your snow gear out of storage now.

Get your snow gear out of storage now, including a backup generator if you have one. Don’t wait until the coldest, snowiest days to run to the hardware store. They’ll likely be sold out then.

38. Change outdoor light bulbs.

Change outdoor light bulbs… you’ll want them working for these shorter days and longer nights!

39. Add lighting.

Consider adding lighting to your walkways to enhance your curb appeal. Plenty of outdoor lighting is also one of the best deterrents for burglary.

40. Plant a tree.

Rain helps trees and shrubs establish their root systems and cooler air encourages root growth without new top growth, so planting in the Fall results in a stronger, better developed root system in the Spring!

41. Divide or move perennials, remove dead annuals, and mulch hardy perennials.

While some perennials can withstand a cold winter, many cannot. Know which plants to cut back, divide, or remove altogether and consider mulching around your hardy perennials to insulate the soil during Winter.

42. Pot up some cool-loving plants such as pansies or violas.

Add months to your gardening season by planting one of these 12 cool-weather annuals in the Fall when temperatures are too chilly for more tender varieties.

43. Create fall containers.

Tuck fall combo favorites, such as flowering kale and mums, into containers to add color to porches and patios. Accent the containers with homegrown gourds and pumpkins.

44. Plant ahead for spring…and beyond. 

Planting perennials in your fall garden will make for a more beautiful spring. See how to add these long-lived plants to your garden now.

45. Adjust your watering schedule. 

Cooler temps mean your garden (and indoor plants) need less water. Adjust your irrigation schedule accordingly.

46. Trim dead branches out of trees.

Keep dead branches from falling out of trees in a Winter storm by proactively trimming them now.

47. Rake leaves to prevent lawn and gardens from suffocating.

Raking leaves is a matter of lawn health, not just tidiness. Depending on the size and quantity of leaves in your yard and the type of grass they’re covering, consider raking or mulching the leaves to let your grass breathe this Winter. As an alternative to raking, a lawn mower with a bagging attachment provides a fast and easy way to shred and collect the leaves.

48. Put raked leaves in a compost pile or use as mulch.

Once you’ve collected your leaves, add them to your compost pile or use them to mulch your Fall garden and flower beds.

49. Aerate your lawn and spread fertilizer and grass seed.

Unless your grass is healthy and thriving, aeration can help promote root growth in a struggling lawn. For cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass, it’s best to aerate during the growth periods in Spring and Fall.

50. Prep your firewood pile.

It’s best to store your firewood in an open shed or under a tarp to protect it from rain, and keep it at least 20 feet from the house and elevated to prevent pests from hitching a ride inside.

RECOMMENDATIONS

As always, if you need professional recommendations for any of your home maintenance needs, we are just a phone call away and always love hearing from our clients and friends!

 

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Benefits for Veteran & Military Home Buyers

Benefits for Veteran & Military Home Buyers

Benefits for Veteran & Military Home Buyers

Guest Post by Tim Britt

Greetings! November is one of my favorite months of the year! I love the milder weather, changing of the season, and the colorful display nature often brings us. I also enjoy celebrating my 2 favorite holidays of the year. Thanksgiving is likely the obvious one that comes to mind for many. I typically take that time with my family and close friends to enjoy a hearty meal, good fellowship and express my gratitude for the many blessings of my life.

However, Veteran’s Day is the holiday that touches me the most. In the United States, we set this day aside annually to honor those who serve or have served in the US Military in defense of our freedom and security. The history of Veteran’s Day is connected to the end of hostilities in World War I. The official end of that war, marked with the Armistice with Germany, occurred at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Hence, November 11 is recognized as Veteran’s Day. Originally known as Armistice Day (as it still is in the UK and France), it was officially renamed Veteran’s Day in 1954. Canada also honors their veterans on this day, which they recognize as Remembrance Day.

One of the benefits many veterans enjoy is access to a home mortgage product specifically created for them near the end of World War II.

Guaranteed by the Veteran’s Administration, the VA Loan Program allows qualified veterans to obtain a mortgage to purchase their primary residence, without a minimum down payment requirement. Most veterans, whether currently serving or honorably discharged, who have served at least 181 days on active duty are eligible for this benefit. Additionally, Reservists or National Guard Members with 6 years of qualifying service may also qualify.

As stated above, the main benefit of this program is the absence of a minimum down payment requirement. There is also no mortgage insurance, which is required on some Conventional and all FHA loan products. The VA does, however, charge a “Funding Fee” amount based on several factors. The fee is waived in some instances: for example, veterans who have a documented service-connected disability of 10% or greater are not charged this fee. The funding fee, when applicable, can be financed into the loan. Thus, the only funds needed for closing are those associated with the Closing Costs and Pre-Paid Expenses typical with most mortgage originations. Although these costs cannot be financed into the mortgage, sellers can, and often do, contribute to help offset these expenses as part of the transaction. Interest rate credit may also be used to offset these expenses. A licensed Realtor and Loan Officer can help a Veteran navigate these options during the negotiation and loan application processes.

Most banks, independent lenders, and many credit unions offer VA Loan Programs.

The VA doesn’t actually originate the loan. Rather, they establish the qualifying criteria for lenders to use in order to have the loan guaranteed by VA via this program. To determine eligibility, Veterans can either research for themselves at www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans, visit their local VA or military facility, or apply with a bank or lender who offers the program. The bank/lender will ask to see a copy of the DD-214 or Military Identification Card. If a veteran has already verified their qualifications, they’ll receive a “Certificate of Eligibility” or COE from the VA, which states their entitlement for the program.

As a 20-year veteran of the US Navy, I was fortunate to be able to use this benefit on 2 occasions while on active duty in Pearl Harbor Hawaii. The 0-down payment feature of the loan helped me purchase a home that, in both instances, I would have otherwise not been able with traditional lending products. It’s always a source of pride and gratification for me when, as a Mortgage Loan Officer, I’m able to help other veterans utilize this benefit to purchase a home.

VA Loans - Benefits for Veteran & Military Home Buyers

As I mentioned, I spent 20 years serving in the US Navy, specifically in the Submarine Force. During my career, I served during the height of the Cold War and the beginning of our first armed conflicts in the Middle East in the early 1990’s. My service included tours on 3 Submarines, a Floating Dry Dock, Submarine Tender, and as an instructor. I was fortunate to travel to many parts of the world I would’ve otherwise never seen. The education and experiences gained during my service provided a foundation for much of the career success I’ve enjoyed in my post-military professional life. Additionally, the exposure to people, places, and cultures other than those I’d grown up with taught me to view the world through a different lens…and to be thankful for the freedoms, the standard of living, and safety we enjoy in our country, relative to others parts of the world. Lastly, the opportunity to serve our country in defense of our freedoms was a privilege and honor that still stirs in me today.

If you know a veteran, please share this article with them and encourage them to investigate their VA Loan Benefits. If you’re a veteran, give me a call and let’s take a look to see if a VA Loan Program is right for you. Most importantly…thank you for your service! And for the family members of Veterans, thank you for your service and sacrifice as well!

 

Tim Britt Navy Veteran Loan Officer

 

 

 

Tim Britt, CWO, USN (Ret) is a Senior Loan Officer with Fifth Third Bank. For more information about VA or other mortgage lending programs, call Tim at 615.415.8887, or email [email protected]. The opinions expressed herein are Tim’s own and not necessarily those of Fifth Third Bank.

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Local Business Spotlight: Dobson Farms

Local Business Spotlight: Dobson Farms

Shop ­­local and get to know your farmer at this veteran-owned Tennessee Century Farm!

Dobson Farms Mt Juliet TN Wilson County CSA Farmers MarketDuring the summer months, you could get Dobson Farms’ all natural, farm-raised beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and fresh brown eggs at the farmers’ markets in Donelson, Gallatin, Old Hickory, and Madison.

Now that the traditional farmers market season has come to an end, Old Hickory’s Lawrence and Clarke Cacti Co. will hold a winter market on Thursday nights 5-8 pm, starting November 1st, where you can pick up Dobson Farms products.

You can also buy directly from the farm, which is located at 20 Sanders Lane in Mt. Juliet. For appointments, text or call 615-829-0122 or email [email protected].

Dobson Farms also offers customizable CSA packages, available month to month, or on a 3- or 6-month subscription. Follow the Dobson Farms Facebook page for details about the Poultry Lovers package, the Breakfast Lovers package and other CSA packages, as well as seasonal offerings, such as mums, pumpkins, elderberry syrup, and holiday turkeys.  Although this year’s Thanksgiving turkeys are sold out, you can message Michael Dobson if you’re interested in a Christmas turkey.  Need a gift for that one person that’s hard to shop for?  Dobson Farms even has gift certificates.

Feel good – literally and figuratively – when you buy from Dobson Farms.

The Dobson Farms animals are raised in the most humane and natural ways possible, resulting in a healthier, better tasting, and more pure product.  Dobson says, “All our animals live fat and happy lives, receiving quality feed manufactured by a local feed mill from locally sourced ingredients, tailored to the animals nutritional needs, as well as all the fresh forage they choose to eat, and have daily access to roam and laze about at their own convenience.”

Products are free of added antibiotics, steroids, hormones and preservatives, and they are USDA inspected and vacuum sealed for safety and quality.

When you buy from Dobson Farms, you’re supporting a local farmer and Iraq War veteran, Michael Dobson. The Dobson family has owned and farmed their land since 1803, making it a Tennessee Century Farm.

 

 

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Honoring All Who Served

Honoring All Who Served

Happy Veterans Day!

To all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, our Living Local Nashville team offers our most sincere appreciation for your service and sacrifice. And because November is Military Family Appreciation Month, we also take this opportunity to thank your families for their contribution and support. We are truly grateful for all you and your families do for our country!

November 11 is Veterans Day, and while the men and women who have served our country deserve to be honored throughout the year, November 11 is the official federal holiday (observed on Monday, November 12, this year).

In celebration and appreciation of the service of all U.S. Military Veterans, these local parades and events are being held around Middle Tennessee this month:

Local Businesses By and For Veterans

Also, for those in the Donelson area, the groundbreaking for the new American Legion Post 88 is November 3 at 11:00 at 2717 McCampbell Avenue. Everyone is welcome. American Legion Post 88 is one of the oldest in the country and has been hosting events at their current location since shortly after World War II.

You can also show your appreciation by supporting these local, veteran-owned businesses: Semper Sliders in Donelson, Dobson Farms in Mt. Juliet, and Split Bean Roasting in Lebanon.  Also, by eating at Mission BBQ in Donelson, your dollars are put to good use by helping serve those who serve our country.

RTA Launches “Vets for the Holidays”

Military veterans to ride RTA commuter buses, Music City Star for free

“In honor of Veterans Day, the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (RTA) Board of Directors has launched Vets for the Holidays so that military veterans can ride RTA commuter bus services and the Music City Star commuter train for free.”

For more information, visit this link to the Star’s website.

Learn More About Veterans & Their Service with These Educational Resources

To learn more about veterans and all they’ve done in service of the U.S.A., visit The Veterans History Project, where you can watch or listen to 65,000 personal accounts of American war veterans.  Also, be sure to check out the Tennessee Military Museum (a branch of the Tennessee State Museum) located in the War Memorial Building. Admission is free!

 

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