Locating the Right Home

Have you lived in an apartment for many years? If this is the case, you might think it is finally time for you and your family to upgrade to a house. This will obviously be a very big step in your life so you should not rush into anything. Carefully look at all of your options because it will be a very large financial commitment on your part. There are many things that you should take into consideration before you settle on a house. Being an educated buyer will allow you to find the perfect home and save you money in the process. Here are some of the top considerations you need to make while house hunting.

1. Will the house be a good investment?

This is one of the things that many people do not think about before they buy a home. There is a good chance that you will not live in your new home forever. Therefore, you need to seriously consider how much potential a home has to go up in value after you have lived there for a few years. Is the home in a desirable area? Does the house sit on an attractive piece of property? Does the house have many features that potential buyers would find attractive? Basically, you need to be certain that you will not have a hard time selling the home. You will also need to get a solid return on your investment.

2. Is the house large enough for your requirements?

You should take some time to consider the space requirements that your family has. Do you have many possessions that you will be putting in the house? Will you be buying things in the future like gym equipment that will take up a lot of space? Will you be having more children while you are living in this home? These are all questions that you will need to ask yourself. You can then limit your house hunting to homes that are large enough for the specific needs of your family.

3. You might want to think about leasing your new home.

Taking out a mortgage is not the only way that you will be able to get a new home. The option of leasing a beautiful home from a company such as Invitation Homes could be an alternative that can save you a considerable amount of money in the long run. Invitation Homes housing is something you should seriously look into if you are lacking the funds to make a down payment on a typical mortgage. Homes that are leased are also maintained by a property management company. This means that they are always in outstanding condition.

4. Does the home come with all of the features that you and your family will require?

There will most likely be features that you have in mind when you go house hunting. You might not be able to find a house that has all of them. However, you should be patient and try to find a home that contains as many of them as possible. Make a list of the features that you want and give it to your realtor. This will prevent your realtor from wasting your time by showing you homes that you are not interested in.

IHOP Extends Their All You Can Eat Pancakes Thru February 12! Win A Gift Card, Too!

The anticipation has been building since fans took to social media last year to beg IHOP® Restaurants to bring back ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes.’ So, to thank loyal Breakfastarians everywhere, today IHOP announced the extension of this wildly popular promotion, which lets guests dig into unlimited orders of its freshly made, world-famous Buttermilk Pancakes for a great price* until February 12!   

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

How many can you eat?

Just in time to gather family and friends and celebrate the New Year, IHOP’s ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ offer features a great value on the fluffy, golden pancakes that set the breakfast standard almost six decades ago. After enjoying a full stack of five Buttermilk pancakes or a short stack of two pancakes with a combo plate of eggs, golden hash browns and choice of sausage, ham or hickory-smoked bacon guests can request additional short stacks of two Buttermilk pancakes until they’ve fulfilled their craving. ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ is available all day, every day for the month of January at participating IHOP restaurants nationwide.


all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

“The best way we know to kick off the New Year is to offer our guests’ favorite freshly made breakfast at IHOP’s best value.  Almost six decades after serving our first stack of delicious, made-to-order Original Buttermilk Pancakes, IHOP continues to bring people together,” said Kirk Thompson, senior vice president, Marketing, IHOP. “Every year our guests look forward to IHOP’s ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ offer, asking for the return of a great value on our signature pancakes, to be enjoyed any time of day, every day, for the entire month.”


*Dine-in only. All You Can Eat offer valid per person, per order. For a limited time. Price and participation varies.

Win a $25 IHOP Gift Card!

One of my readers will win a $25 IHOP Gift Card so they can eat all they can eat pancakes! Just use the Giveaway Tools form below to enter. Giveaway is for US residents only. 

Using Technological Innovations To Your Advantage

It’s no secret that the modern world is full of a diverse array of innovation. From computers to smartphones, smart cars to thermostats which are connected to the web via the IoT (Internet of Things)…heck even engineering supplements to improve the ultimate machine, the human brain, it truly is a “brave new world”.

Remaining secure in this brave new world can be accomplished through available upgrades. Consider smart-home technology, as an example. From solar panels to garage doors, internal thermostats, and more, wireless internet technology is making the future a reality.

Did you forget to close the garage? Just pull out your smartphone and swipe your finger across the screen; they’ve got an app for that. Likewise, you can also control the temperature of your home remotely. Turn off maintenance systems while away to save utility costs, then turn them on as you’re coming home so the house is nice and toasty (or refreshingly cool) when you arrive.

The Solar Angle

Today, solar panels are less expensive than they’ve ever been before. In fact, though current estimates put the average cost of solar technology at about seventy cents per Watt, by the end of 2017 that number is supposed to be down to thirty-six cents per Watt.

Just to put that in perspective, a 3.1 kWh solar system currently increases property value as much as $18,000, or more. 3.1 kWh is 3,100 Watts per hour, or 3,100 multiplied by .36, for a total of $1,116. Certainly, by the end of 2017, the value added by making the solar switch probably won’t be so great. Still, right now there’s a sixteen-fold increase on such an investment.

Now, with solar technology, you’re going to need a charge controller, an energy sink (think: car battery), and a power inverter to convert the energy in the sink to regular home use. It’s conceivable that you could properly accommodate a 3.1 kWh system for under three thousand dollars.

So, if you go that route, and refrain from installation, you’re looking at a $5,000-or-less investment that raises the value of your property as much as $18,000. That’s more than threefold.

For the elderly individual looking to maximize profits from selling a home, or to ensure it has the greatest value before it is turned over to other members of the family, going the solar route has financial advantages to recommend it.

Keeping Safe

You’ll likely be able to increase the value of your solar panel system based on the property’s needs. The more solar energy you buy, the greater your property’s value. It becomes sustainable at that point. You don’t need grid power.

But there are aspects of grid living which shouldn’t be entirely avoided; like emergency services. The fact is, there is a high statistical likelihood that eventually you’re going to need some help from the cops, or the fire department, or a local hospital.

One of the best ways to ensure you can be served by all three, and without getting a “life alert” or some other unhandy device, is through a good fire alarm system. It’s more than just a smoke detector.

Many agencies today have noticed there’s a crossover between fire alarm services, and burglar alarm services. Securing your home is the ultimate goal of both, so why not consolidate service offerings?

It’s easy enough to have both installed in one fell swoop; and getting appraisals should be cost-free, as a general rule. According to Alpha Fire Alarm Systems, who offer security camera system installation in NJ, “we can provide you with a free estimate and no-cost risk assessment at your business or home.” Now is the time to use technological innovations to your advantage. What types of technology do you use in your home?

The Big Zombie Tour 2 with Atlanta Movie Tours Review

Our tickets were comped by Atlanta Movie Tours so that I could write this review, but all opinions are mine. 

The Walking Dead. I absolutely love that show. I love it so much that we watched all the episodes from season 1 through season 6 over the summer. I am itching to see the season 7 premiere. October 22 can’t get here fast enough! To say that I am a fan is, well, an epic statement.  So, when Fabgrandpa was in the hospital back in August, we were talking about The Walking Dead with two nurses who were in the process of removing the catheter from his leg. One of them asked me if I had been on any of the Zombie Tours yet. And I said, “No! I didn’t even know they had tours.” She said her mother works for Atlanta Movie Tours, and we talked a little bit about it. You never know what you are going to learn from talking about things you love. 

So, I got in touch with Atlanta Movie Tours, and worked out a plan for doing a review of Big Zombie Tour #2. Fabgrandpa still did not feel well enough to go, so I asked my daughter, Emily, if she wanted to go with me. Even though she is a teacher, and it was on a school day, she took the day off as a personal day so she could go. She is an even bigger fan of The Walking Dead than I am, if that is even possible! 

senoia georgia

Senoia, Georgia is the starting point for The Big Zombie Tour #2.

On the day of the tour, we left my house at noon, headed to Senoia, Georgia. It was a 66 mile drive from my house to The Waking Dead Cafe, the check-in point for the tour. You can also meet at the Atlanta Movie Tours office in Atlanta, and ride their bus to Senoia. There was a sign on the sidewalk in front of the cafe so it was easy to find. Inside the cafe, there were The Walking Dead posters on the walls. The coffee drinks were all named after characters in the show. 

The Big Zombie Tour #2 with Atlanta Movie Tours

The Big Zombie Tour sign on the sidewalk.

The Big Zombie Tour #2

The Waking Dead Cafe sign.

The Big Zombie Tour #2

The Walking Dead posters decorated the walls in the cafe.

When all of the people who were going on the tour had checked in, we got on the bus and started the tour. The tour guide, Kent, has worked as an extra and as a Walker on the show many times. He had a remarkable amount of knowledge about the show, and kept us entertained with inside information about the show, the actors, how to get a job as an extra or a Walker on the show, and about the movie and TV industry in Georgia. The bus also had a TV, and when we were passing by or stopped at a location that was used in the show, one of the tour employees played clips from the show with scenes from that location. The clips made the places we were seeing come to life. 

The Big Zombie Tour #2

Atlanta Movie Tours bus. It was very comfortable.

One of my favorite locations was the “Pudding House”. On one of the episodes, Carl found a 112 ounce can of chocolate pudding, and sat on the roof of the porch while he ate the entire can. I loved that episode, because it showed that even though Carl was mature beyond his age due to the challenges of living in a post apocalyptic world, he was still just a boy at heart. 

Big Zombie Tour #2

The “Pudding House”, where Carl ate an entire 112 ounce can of chocolate pudding while sitting on the roof of the porch.

The railroad was central to a couple of seasons of The Walking Dead. We saw several places along the railroad that looked so familiar because we had seen them in the show. This was the tower where Tara had to rest after twisting her ankle. 

Big Zombie Tour #2

The railroad tower where Tara rested after twisting her ankle.

Most of the tour we were on, The Big Zombie Tour #2, was easily accessible for me. I have a disability that makes getting up from a seated position, sitting down, going up and down stairs, and walking long distances difficult. There were only two places where it was hard for me, but I managed to do it. The first place was at an abandoned factory that was the location of the “fight arena” in Woodbury, where The Governor pitted Merrell against Darrell in a fight to the death of one of them. The only way to get to the set location was via a very steep, narrow, stairway. It was harder going down them than coming back up. I’m glad I made the effort, because I volunteered to be one of the people in “Zombie School” where we learned how to walk like a Walker on The Walking Dead. Fun! That’s my daughter, Emily, on the stairs in front of me. I went last so I wouldn’t hold anyone up. 

Big Zombie Tour #2

Very steep stairs down to the fight arena at the abandoned factory.

The fight arena location:

Big Zombie Tour #2

The set location of the fight arena where The Governor made Merrell and Darrell fight.

The second place where I had a hard time was when we got to the place where Morgan’s Apartment was. The tour guide parked the bus, and we had to walk a couple of blocks. I was waaaay behind everyone else, because I am so slow walking, but I made it all the way to the apartment. This is what is on their FAQ page about accommodating handicapped guests:

Do you make provisions for handicapped guests?
Yes. We want everyone to enjoy themselves. There are portions of the tours that occur on foot, but all surfaces should be safe for wheelchairs. The bus is not equipped with a lift and we ask that you notify us in advance if you need to bring a folding wheelchair with you so we may make arrangements for storage.

Big Zombie Tour #2

Emily was attacked by a walker in Morgan’s apartment. She was bitten, poor thing!

You can also find information on the FAQ page about transportation to Senoia from Atlanta for the Big Zombie Tour #2 and Big Zombie Tour #3; refund policy; interpreters; and a lot more. 

Big Zombie Tour #2

Emily and me at the wall.

Tours are priced at $65 per person, which in my opinion are well worth the cost. My daughter and I really enjoyed our tour. We saw a lot of places (I didn’t even show you pictures of more than half of them!) and learned a lot about how and where our favorite show is filmed. We are planning to go on Big Zombie Tour #1 and Big Zombie Tour #3 as soon as we can!

To contact Atlanta Movie Tours, you can call them at 855-255-3456; send them an email at info@atlantamovietours.com ; or visit them at their shop at  327 Nelson St SW, Atlanta, GA 30313. You can save $5 per ticket when you purchase them online using promo code FABGRANDMA at checkout! 


Choosing Grass For Your Lawn

Climate is not the only factor that you should consider when choosing grass for your lawn. The yard space in your home might very well have its own micro-climate. You need to have a good idea of what the general climate in your area is like. If you live in an area that is constantly raining, you should consider getting cool season grasses such as ryes, Kentucky bluegrass, and fescues. Micro-climates usually differ from the overall climate due to the presence of a larger object: mostly houses, but the objects can also include bodies of water, trees, or large areas of pavement.

how to choose grass for your lawn

Photo courtesy of klahouse.com

If you take a walk around your house at different times of the day, you will understand this concept. The east side of your house is usually sunny and warm in the morning when the sun rises. In the afternoon, the west side becomes hotter and sunnier as the east gets shadier. On the north side of your house, it may be cool and shady the entire day. Conversely, the south side may stay warm and sunny all day. This proves that each side of your house has its own micro-climate, which depends on the movement of the sun.

Different types of lawn grasses adapt differently to the micro-climates of your home. Therefore, you need to look at the micro-climate of your yard before choosing grass. Alternatively, you can just choose a blend of different grass varieties when planting a lawn. Using different types of grass increases their chances of survival. For instance if you have a yard with both shady and sunny spots, you should plant a mixture of fescues and Kentucky bluegrasses. This is because Kentucky bluegrass flourishes in the sun but thins out in shady areas. The fescues, which are shade-tolerant, will fill out the thin areas.

When deciding which grass to plant in your lawn, you should look into different grass types and the conditions to which they can adapt. The following list of micro-climates will help you to choose the right grass to plant:

Choosing Grass For Shade

If your yard does not get up to 4 hours of sun a day, it can really mess up your grass. In the absence of sun, the lawn starts to thin out and is prone to disease and insects. Your house, fence, and trees are the main culprits of shade creation. You need to find different varieties of specific grasses that can tolerate shade better. Some cultural techniques allow shade-intolerant grasses to survive in the shade. You can try to water deeper but less often, mow higher, fertilize less, and stop others from walking on it. Decreasing the number of seeds planted will also reduce the competition for the sun.

Choosing Grass For Sun

Harsh sun that reflects off a nearby wall may cause your lawn grass to dry out faster. You need to compensate by applying more water; this keeps the grass from becoming weaker and vulnerable to insects.

Choosing Grass For Heat

Warmth that is stored in walkways and driveways usually radiates into nearby lawns. Those parts of the lawn dry out a lot faster, making them prone to pest invasion. Such areas need to be watered more often to counter the effects of the heat.

choosing grass or your yard

photo courtesy of homealarmadvisors.com

If you want to take care of your yard properly, you need to have a functioning sprinkler system. When your sprinkler is on the fritz, you need sprinkler system repair services. Get it repaired as soon as possible to prevent your grass from drying out. Make sure that you hire a qualified person. Choosing grass for your yard based on the micro-climates there will go a long way in creating a beautiful lawn. 

My Smart Pond® Fountain Is Finished

I received product from Smart Pond to create a fountain in my yard. 

I have to say that this project with Smart Pond® has been one of the most fun ones I have done since I started blogging. It was so easy to do, and the results are so cute! It adds a lot of beauty to my yard, for surprisingly little money. If you wanted to create a pond like this one in your yard, without a wooden platform, it would cost under $100. That is quite a lot of bang for the buck. 

My cute fountain made using Smart Pond supplies.

My cute fountain made using Smart Pond supplies.

Next summer, we are going to add to the flower bed, so that it goes all the way around the pond platform. We planted perennials in this bed, and will add annuals in containers next summer for instant color. In addition to adding a huge pop of color to our yard, the babbling of the water from the fountain is quite soothing when we are sitting on the porch. That same sound attracts birds, who come to visit our feeders. We are hoping to also bring butterflies to our yard with the butterfly bushes, and other colorful flowers chosen for just that purpose.

Here is a look at the fountain. You can also hear the water as it drops back into the barrel. I love this fountain. You can find the Smart Pond products at Lowes.