Costs and SpendingFirst Time Home BuyerHelpful Tips January 19, 2021

Increase Your Buying Power

Buying a home can sound like a pretty daunting idea, especially in our current market. However, there are ways to empower yourself by strengthening your financial standing. It’s all a numbers game when buying a house. The following categories are items that lenders will look at to determine your eligibility for a loan. Review them to find out what you can work on to increase your buying power.


Increase savings for your down payment

A down payment will often times increase the likelihood your offer will standout from other offers. The down payment is typically around 20% of the home’s sale price. That amount can sound like a lot, but there are ways to slowing increase your savings. First, you could put a little away from each paycheck into a savings account. Your savings will start growing without you needing to put in much work. You could even open up a special savings account just for your down payment savings. Second, you could find ways to generate additional income. Explore an opportunity for a part time job, and dedicate all the additional income towards your savings.

There are many benefits to offering a serious down payment. Outside of your offer being a standout, you may also be able to negotiate a lower interest rate on your mortgage and it could even remove private mortgage insurance (PMI). So, get to saving!


Improve your credit score

It’s pretty straight forward – when your credit score is better, your interest rate is better. It’s not something that happens overnight, it takes work and dedication. But, it will be beneficial in the long run. There are many things that factor into your credit score including your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, credit mix, and new credit. To start raising your score, focus on paying down your credit cards, especially those with high interest rates. Avoid opening unnecessary lines of credit. Additionally, try not to make any large purchasing leading up to the time you are preparing to make an offer. Remember that student loans also affect your financial picture so paying them off consistently will improve your standing.


Stabilize your debt to increase buying power

Your debt-to-income ratio is also looked at by lenders to determine what you can afford. The purpose is for lenders to confirm you can pay your mortgage on top of all your other debts. They figure this out by finding out which portion of your monthly income will go to your mortgage payments and which portion will go to your other debts (the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance of your mortgage payments, credit card payments, student loans, and any other loan payments). When you pay off your credit cards and make steady progress on decreasing your loans, it will in turn help your debt-to-income ratio.

We are here to help!

Having the right realtor always increases your buying power! The right realtor knows the market, the area, great lenders and your specific situation, which allows them to assist the best way possible. We can do just that! If you have any questions or want to get started increasing your buying power, reach out!

Phone: (208) 818-2456 or (208) 818-2365

Email: or




Credit: Windermere Blog by Sandy Dodge

Our Events! January 8, 2021

Super Bowl 2021

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!?!?!?! We are! The most showcased NFL game of the year is just around the corner. However you chose to watch and celebrate, you’ll want to be prepared. Check out the details of the game, ways to celebrate & some recipes to try below.


Game Details

If you are a football fan, you likely already know all the details of the game. But in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s what you need to know. Super Bowl 55 kickoff is set at 3:30pm on Sunday, February 7th. It’ll be located at the Buccaneers stadium in the Tampa Florida and you can watch the game on CBS. And for those of you who are only watching the game for the halftime show, you have the 3 time Grammy award winner & Canadian singer-songwriter known as The Weeknd to look forward to!

Get Pumped for the Game

If you’re team isn’t in the Super Bowl or you have kids that totally understand the concept, there are still some great ways to get into the spirit:

1. Pick your team and go all in! Make signs and banners and start decorating. Wear your team colors, dress up and you could even paint your face.

2. Make fun recipes with your kids. The best part of Super Bowl has to be all the yummy snacks! This year, instead of putting out all the classics, cook up some new things with your kids. It doesn’t have to be crazy or complicated, your kids will love to get messy in the kitchen with you. Go a step further and create food that represents you team of choice.

3. Play a Super Bowl themed game. The game can tend to get a bit long for some, keep it interesting with a game. There are tons of ideas out there such as commercial BINGO, football brain teaser, place your bets and more! Check out some more ideas and how to make it a reality here.

4. Start Celebrating Early. If you have kids that are too young to stay up for the game or you just want to start the celebrations early, try watching some Super Bowl themed movies. Try the classics like Little Giants, Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans and Rudy. Or you could start your own family flag football game.


Chicken And Waffles Sliders -

Recipe Ideas

Wanna impress everybody at your Super Bowl party? Try some new and exciting Super Bowl foods like mac and cheese bites, chicken & waffle sliders, maple bacon wings or pulled pork ring. Check out some other great ideas here!






Credit: SportingNews, MomyNearest

Helpful TipsWinter December 15, 2020

North Idaho Winter Driving

Here in beautiful North Idaho we are lucky to have 4 very distinct seasons. Everybody loves the warmth of Summer, the freshness of Spring, the colors of Fall, and the coziness of Winter. With winter comes SNOW and that can mean snowstorms!  Driving in the snow and knowing how to be prepared for winter driving can be a bit stressful. Knowing what to do or even where to start preparation can be one of the biggest hurdles. There are simple preparations that can be done to your vehicle and with your family to get through the longest and coldest season. Check out the winter driving preparation tips below to help avoid winter sneaking up on you and those you love.


Preparation Tips for Winter:

Get a Vehicle Winter Maintenance Check-up Before Winter Hits:

  • Don’t wait to check your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, lights, brakes, heater/defroster, and wipers
  • Tire shops and mechanics are busiest just before and during winter storms, so get your check-up scheduled NOW


Know How to Drive in the Snow and Ice

  • Start your vehicle early and scrape your windows each morning before heading out. It will ensure you will have a clear view of the roadway and keep you warm
  • Be smooth and slow in steering, breaking, and accelerating. If you move the tires too quickly, they don’t have time to respond and you will end up on snowy road surrounded of green trees
  • Drive for the conditions – that means drive slower, accelerate slower, don’t stop if you can avoid it since accelerating back up may be difficult and leave additional room between you and the vehicle in front of you (Keep in mind that the larger the vehicle the longer it will take for it to stop)
  • Do not use cruise control because if your car skids or hydroplanes it accelerates to maintain the vehicles speed which will make it very difficult to remain in control of your vehicle.
  • Accelerate from a stop in 2nd gear because there is less torque and you’re less likely to spin the tire.
  • Know how to handle a hill, do not power up the hill or stop on your way up.
  • Drive in the snow pack next to the road to get more traction if the road is too icy
  • Remember that all-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive vehicles do not stop faster or steer better on ice
  • Slow down when you approach intersections, off-ramps, bridges, or anything that looks like it may be icy or where you will need to stop
  • If you end up behind a snowplow, slow down and give the plow extra room
  • Chain-up and removal areas are often where people are out of their vehicles so be sure to slow down and be vigilant in those areas

Practice driving in parking lots to learn how to handle your vehicle in a slide and get to know your breaks, that will help tremendously in a real-world situation.


Have Basic Winter Survival Kit & Basic Winter Travel Gear in Your Vehicle:

  • You never know what you will run into when you drive away from your home each winter morning, so it’s best to always be prepared. The checklist below will make sure you have everything you need.

What to Keep in Your Car – Checklist

Line of cars driving in snow

Know What to do in an Emergency:

  • If you start to slide, first thing to do is stay calm! Avoid sudden movements. Do not turn your tires quickly, accelerate or break suddenly, it can cause you to lose traction. Look where you want to go and steer that direction. If you start heading off the road, steer towards things that will cause the least amount of damage, such as an empty field or yard.
  • Find a roadside assistance company and plan that works for you. Check with your insurance provider and see if it’s comes with your plan or any possible discounts. Don’t forget to renew the policy! Many individuals let it expire and forget about it until it’s needed.
  • There may be a situation where you are stranded, maybe your vehicle broke down or you’ve slide off the road, and you need a tow truck or a ride. It’s good to have phone numbers saved in your phone in case you are at a location where you can’t access the internet. Below is a small list of tow companies and ride options in our area:
  • Schaffer’s Towing – (208)667-2330
  • Reliable Towing – (208)762-5151
  • Cole’s Automotive, Mobile Service, & Towing – (208) 83-3582
  • Al’s Towing – (208)265-8697
  • Coeur d’Alene Cab – (208) 667-9000
  • Collins Taxi(208) 704-0151

Note: Often with ridesharing options, such as Lyft and Uber, you must sign up and create an account to use their service. If you haven’t already, it would be a good idea for sign up for one, so you have another ride option.


Keep Your Fuel Tank Full:

~ Don’t let it fall below half a tank because condensation can form in the empty portion of the gas tank. In cold weather, that condensation will freeze then collect into icy blockages in your lines and make it difficult to start your vehicle.


Empty road with snow on the ground

Plan With Your Family:

~ Create a plan that works well with your family in case an emergency happens, especially if you have younger drivers

~Go over it each year before the snow falls


Stay Informed:

~ Be sure to find your local station for traffic reports and emergency messages. Most local stations in your area will have weather alerts, but if you’re specifically looking for a weather channel, click here to find one in your area.
~ Check the weather frequently so you are prepared for its arrival


Check Your Tires:

~ Make sure your chains fit before the first winter storm

~ Have the correct type of tires for the weather

~ Check tire pressure during cold weather. To do so, first find out what the recommended pressure is. Then after your tires have cooled, press the tire gauge directly into the tire vulvae and hold firmly (You should hear no air coming out). Based on what the gauge says, you could either release some air, add some or leave it. Check it frequently though winter.


Check out this video for additional recommendations and visuals to help with the tips listed above:


Click on the Checklists Below for More Information:

Get Ready for Freezing Temperatures & Snowfall

Get Ready for Winter Weather Driving





Sources: Washington State Dept of Transportation, Take the Winter by Storm, US Forest Service, Osceola Garage, Your Mechanic

Best of CDA November 6, 2020

Veterans Day

We all enjoy a day off from work or school because of a federal holiday. And Veterans Day is one of those great days. But, not all Americans may know the history behind that date and it’s important to understand the holiday. As well as know how to honor those who have served.


The History

Man Holding Us Flag

November 11, 1918 was the official end of World War I. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of Veterans Day, then known as Armistice Day. Then, in May 1938, legislation was passed declaring that day as a legal holiday and “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.” This new holiday was put in place to honor World War I veterans.

In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the 83 U.S. Congress amended the act, and word “Armistice” was replaced with Veterans. On June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor all American veterans.

The Uniform Holiday Bill was signed on June 28, 1968. The purpose was to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating 4 holidays on a Monday. One of those holidays was Veterans Day which was moved to the 4th Monday in October. Although intentions were thoughtful, many states didn’t agree with the decision and continued celebrating these holidays on their original days. Starting in 1971, Veterans Day was celebrated on October 25th.

Finally, on September 20, 1975, it was determined that the “commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance” to many. Therefore, President Ford signed a law which returned the annual observance to its rightful day on November 11th, beginning in 1978 – and has remained until today. This decision was supported by state legislation, veterans service organizations and the American people.

Returning the holiday back to November 11th, not only “preserves the historical significance of the date, but also helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”


Celebrating Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a day for us all to honor all our military, past and present. If you’re trying to think of a way to do so this Veterans Day, there are plenty of things you could do. Check out of a few ideas:

flag of America

1. Show up.

Go to a Veterans day event in your area. Not just a small get together with friends and family, but an actual organized event.

2. Donate.

There are a ton of different organizations that all offer either support, services or appreciation for our veterans. Check out a list here.

3. Fly a flag correctly.

Veterans Day is a perfect day to fly an American Flag. Just be sure you’re do so properly! Check out how to do that here.

4. Ask someone about their service.

We all know somebody who served at some point in their life and Veterans Day is a great opportunity for you to ask about it. Here’s some ideas on a few questions to ask: “What did you do in the military? How long did you serve? What was your favorite moment in all your time in the service? Did anyone else in your family serve? Why did you choose to go into the service branch you did?” Be sure not to ask if they’ve killed anyone, that may not be something they want to discuss. Sometimes you won’t even have to say anything, just listen.

5. Write.

If you know a veteran, just simply writing them a letter or post card is huge. If yo don’t know a veteran, write the local military installation and send one there. It will be very appreciated, even if sent anonymously.

6. Don’t confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day & know the difference.

Although similar in nature, these two holidays are different. Confusing or combining the two could diminish the importance of both. Check out the difference between the two below.

7. Visit a VA hospital.

Volunteer and spend some time with veterans at your local VA hospital. Many of the facilities will have an event or lunch that you can assist with.

Man Wearing Blue Uniform

8. Take a veteran out.

You could take a veteran & their family to a national park since admission is free for all visitors on Veterans Day. Just being outside can boost their emotional well being and improve their physical and mental health.


Veterans Day vs. Memorial Day

Although both holidays are similar, they are separated for a reason. Memorial Day is meant for us to remember those who died in service of their country or those who incurred an injury during battle. And although deceased veterans are also remembered on Veterans Day, that day is specifically set aside to honor and thank those who are still living. All the veterans who served honorably during both wartime and peacetime.



Credit: U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, &

Helpful TipsHome & Projects July 8, 2020

Organizing Your Home

In these times we seem to be stuck inside more often than not. This can make our home feel a bit more cluttery or unorganized. Take advantage of the time you’re home and get things organized. But, where do you start? If you break it down room by room, it will make the task feel a bit less overwhelming. And before you get started, consider the follow tips.



A kitchen is often the most used room in the house, which can cause it to feel to most unorganized. The countertops especially seem to be the catch all for almost everything. The first thing you can do to make a difference is to take unused or unnecessary items off the counters. Adding open shelving is a great way to store those frequently used items for easy access. And store the larger items that you don’t use as frequently in cabinets above or below.

A must-have for all kitchens organization is a lazy Susan. This brings the back of your cabinets to the front. The best items to put on a lazy Susan are the heavy, messy and clumsy ones that you seem you use often. Plus, they’re much easier to clean than a cabinet.


Living RoomOrganized Living Room - Chaos to Order - Chicago Professional ...

First, take inventory of all the items. Figure out what doesn’t belong, what needs to be disposed of, or what can be moved to make it feel less cluttery. It’s best to really take the time to consider the flow of the room and how foot traffic will interact with the furniture.

A good tip is to use items that serve as multiple types of things. Find items that have storage underneath, this will really help cut down on the disorganization.



Open shelving seems to work the best in bathrooms as both functional storage and for aesthetics. It allows you to store bathroom supplies, towels and toiletries in addition to providing a very welcoming feel.

Then, check under your sinks and in your medicine cabinets. Time to go through all those items and discard any old, unused or expired items. Once the amount of items are reduced, you can reorganize to make it feel much cleaner.


8 Ways To Simplify & Organize Your Master Bedroom - Organization ...Bedroom

In a bedroom you want to maximize space and minimize clutter. A couple tips to do this, especially if your closet is small, is to place a garment rack against the wall or store out of season clothes elsewhere. Additionally, use the underside of your bed as a storage area with bins or roll out shelving. If you have a nightstand, use that as a dresser or a bookshelf as a decor piece.

The way you hang your clothes can also make a big difference in reducing clutter. Hang the most used items at eye level and those not used as often and accessories higher up. This will help you not also stay organized overtime but also save you time when you’re getting ready.



Garages can get very unorganized and cluttered since it’s not often looked at. But if it’s done right, it can be a very useful storage area with room to park vehicles. The best tactic is to go vertical. This will allow you to store your items as well as those large bulky items that you don’t use everyday.

If you go room by room when reorganizing your home, it can make it a much more doable task. And don’t be afraid to really tear a room apart to put it back together. Something it has to be worse before it can get better.

Credit: Sandy Dodge – Windermere Blog

Best of CDACDA is AwesomeHelpful TipsLife on the LakeSummerThings to Do and See in North Idaho June 15, 2020

Safety On The Water

One thing you can almost be sure of is at some point you will find yourself on a boat during the summer here in North Idaho. With the numerous amount of lakes and rivers, it’s near impossible not to enjoy boat life, even if it’s only for a day. Whether you’re an avid boater, only enjoy it every now and then or are just getting into boating, it’s always a good idea to know the basics of boating safety before leaving the dock.


Image result for boating


1. Check the Weather Before You Leave

Be sure to check the weather of your route and destination, including the water conditions, before you depart. You can’t always tell a storm will roll in just by looking outside.


2. Have the Proper Gear Onboard

You never know if or when you’ll have an emergency. Being sure you have all the proper gear onboard will help avoid additional issues and will ensure you’re prepared for every type of situation. Check out a full checklist here!


3. Be Aware of Carbon Monoxide

Always maintain fresh air circulation in your boat and be sure you and others on the boat are aware of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms. Click here to learn more about CO & CO poisoning.


4. Take a Boat Safety Course & Know the Rules

There are several different courses you can take online for boat safety that you can receive certification for them. Check out the list here.

Knowing your rules will ensure you and other boaters safety. Check out the navigation rules here.



5. Get your Boat Checked

You can receive a free boat check! The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons both offer that service. These checks make sure you have the proper safety equipment and that they are in the proper condition per state and federal regulations. Find out how to get your check scheduled by clicking here.


6. Use Common Sense

Many of the rules on the water are consistent with the rules on the road. Stay alert, operate at a safe speed, make sure passengers are following safety measures, avoid alcohol use when driving and stay clear of the engine are examples of just a few.

Image result for boating in north idaho


7. Follow Proper Procedures

Knowing and following proper docking & anchoring procedures are an important part of boating. Depending on the type or boat you have and the weather conditions, the procedures you need to follow could be different. Be sure you know what to do.



Credit: Discover Boating & Nationwide


Helpful TipsHome & Projects June 2, 2020

Backyard Chickens

Backyard chickens have been increasingly popular as people try to have more self-sourced food. But what is really involved in raising chickens in the backyard of an urban development? Is the benefits worth any drawbacks? Where do you even get started? We know a few families who keep chickens and they have some advise and information that may be helpful if this is something you’re considering.


Where to Startbrown chicken

Step 1: Know the Law.

Locate your cities municipal regulations as well as your subdivision’s CC&R’s/Bylaws. Every city and neighborhood may have different rules and regulations around raising chickens. For example, many don’t allow roosters (which is fine because hens will lay eggs without them), you may need a permit, signed agreements with neighbors, or there may even be restrictions or ordinances regarding location or size of your coop.

Step 2: Decide on the Chicken Breed.

Believe it or not, there are actually many different chicken breeds that have been bred for different purposes. Depending on what you are using your chickens for, you may choose to get a certain breed or multiple different types of breeds. There are 4 different categories:

  • Egg Laying Breeds – As you could imagine but their name, this type of hen was bred to produce large amounts of eggs in a short production lifetime. This is typically the breed that many homeowners choose when picking the type of chicken to have in their backyard.
  • Meat Breeds – Once again, the name gives away the purpose of this breed. They grow very quickly, put on weight at a crazy rate and are typically slaughtered at about 9 weeks old.
  • Dual Purpose Breeds – This breed is productive in the egg laying department but also get large enough quickly to be used as meat, it’s the best of both worlds.
  • Heritage Breeds – This type of chicken is naturally breeding, they have a very slow growth rate and live long outdoor lives.

Step 3: Build Your Coop.

When it comes to building a chicken coop, there are a few things you need to be sure you have. First, you’ll want the basic shelter requirements, which means a waterproof place for the chickens to get out of the elements. Second, be sure they have enough space, since they can begin to peck at each other if they are too cramped. Third, the coop needs to have good ventilation so it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Fourth, you will need nesting boxes for your hens to lay their eggs. Fifth, include roosts, so the chickens have a comfortable place to sleep. Sixth, the chickens need a space to roam outside of their coop, whether that’s in a pen or free range. Lastly, be sure you have security, predators will not hesitate coming into your backyard.

Step 4: Prep for Chicks.

Raising chicks requires a few additional supplies compared to if you get you chickens full grown. Those supplies include a brooding box, this doesn’t have to be very expensive or complicated, it just needs to be large enough and protect the chicks from any drafts. Bedding, pine shavings will do, which is also inexpensive. Be sure they have traction and don’t slip around, or they could develop a walking issue later in life. Traction can be as easy as putting some paper towels down under your bedding. Warmth, since chicks don’t get all their feathers right away, we must help them stay warm. A heat lamp for the first 6-7 weeks should do the trick. Food, chick food can be a bit complicated but here’s how it breaks down:

  • 0-8 weeks: 18-20% starter feed crumbles
  • 8-14 weeks: 16-18% starter/grower
  • 15-18 weeks: 16% finisher
  • 18 weeks upward: 16% layer feed

    white and pink rabbit plush toy on yellow plastic basin

The food comes medicated, with a coccidiostat which protects them from a coccidiosis, or un-medicated. If all your birds have been vaccinated, the un-medicated food is fine . Additionally, getting a feeder along with the food will help cut down on the mess. Water, be sure the water you feed your chicks isn’t too hot or too cold and that it’s changed out frequently. You can add an electrolyte/vitamin supplement to the water for the first few days. For additional details on the specifics of the supplies you will need, read more here.

Step 5: Get Your Chickens.

You can purchase chickens at most any stage in life – from an egg to an adult – the best option for backyard chickens is when they’re chicks, typically about 1 day old. This option allows you to pick the breeds you’d like, when you’d like them and it’ll be the cheapest.  You can get your chicks at a local farm, hatchery or farm supply store. USPS also ships chicks, if you choose to purchase your chicks online. Determining where you get them will take some research and ultimately will be up to what’s the most convenient for you. And once you’ve decided where you will purchase your birds, you’ll want to be sure to pick the right ones. Avoid birds that are lethargic, sitting by itself & reluctant to move, or once that has any nasal and/or eye discharge. Check out the link here for some good questions to ask your breeder.


Caring For Your Chickens

Once you get past the chick stage, caring for your chickens is relatively easy. Your coop is built and it has everything they need. All that’s left for you is to provide their food and water and care for any physical needs. Water is very important because if a hen doesn’t get enough water, it can affect her egg laying. If a hen goes without water for 24 hours, she could stop laying for weeks. Hens needs about a cup of water each day, so be sure to set out enough water for all the chickens. Next, you’ll need to be sure to have enough food and the type they need. Chickens will dig up a portion of their diet and eat insects, seeds, etc. But, you’ll also need to put out chicken food specifically made for their needs. To read more about the right type of food, click here.

Over time, you will develop a routine with your hens. Mornings tend to be when you let the chickens out of their coop, check on food & water and do just a general inspection of everything. In the evenings, you’ll lock them back up in the coop and collect your eggs. There will also be other chores you’ll need to preform, like cleaning out their coop and tending to their nesting boxes. That usually happens about once a week.


The Things Nobody Tells You

You will get a list from any person who current has or has had backyard chickens of things they weren’t expecting. If you’re seriously thinking about getting chickens for your own backyard, you might want to consider that some of the following will be true for you as well.

two white eggsFirst off, something you’ve probably thought about already is that chickens are dirty and smelly. Seems pretty obvious, right? But the question is, how much dirty and smelly is too much for you? Whatever you do, it will not make the smell go away. They are constantly pooping and tracking it around. Lay out more straw or pick it up more often, doesn’t matter. With the smell comes the flies, which is a whole other problem that you’ll have to deal with.

Your chickens may not lay eggs when you expect them to. There’s a chance they’ll start laying after the age they’re supposed to, even if you get the egg laying breed. Or not as frequently as you were expecting. They could even stop laying all together, which is alarming and there’s likely a reason for that. Check out a few reasons here.

You may begin to feel and treat your birds as pets or even like your kids. They even enjoy human interaction like any pet would. And that’s all totally normal and okay, until…. and dies. Which happens frequently. One of your birds or the entire flock could get sick and die. Or, a predator may get into your backyard and cause a lot a mayhem. You could also get lucky and your bird will live through it production life, but then you’ll need to make the decision of keeping that bird and spending lots of money to feed it, giving it away, or even having it for dinner.

You may expect a hen but get a rooster, that isn’t surprising. Chicken sexing is about 90% accurate, which sounds pretty high. But there’s still a pretty good possibility that you’ll get a rooster. Which isn’t ideal for most backyard flocks since roosters and typically illegal and a nuisance.

Sometimes It Doesn’t Work Out

Don’t feel bad if after trying to raise backyard chickens you determine it’s not something for you. It takes the right kind of person with the right kind of circumstances to be successful and happy. And even if it worked for you in the past, sometimes circumstances change.


Credit: ModernFarmer, TheHappyChickenCoop, GoodHousekeeping

Helpful TipsHome & ProjectsSpringSummer May 15, 2020

Spending Memorial Day At Home

Staying home this holiday weekend?  Here are some great ideas to get ready for a great summer!

Memorial Day traditionally represents the kick-off of summer. Kids are getting out of school (that’s not so much the case this year), families are making summer vacation plans, and backyard barbecues are on everyone’s minds. This is also a great time of the year to get your house in order and ready for the summer season. The following is a handful of ideas and tips to help you with this process.


Outdoor Spaces

GardeningGardening It’s not too late to start your garden! This weekend I will be planting an herb garden; I planted summer vegetables a few weeks ago.  If you’re thinking of doing the same, just make sure you use starts because many summer harvest vegetables won’t start from seed this late in the season.

Outdoor living My home has an outdoor space with great potential, including a partially covered patio perfect for entertaining. This weekend I plan to upgrade the space with small touches to make it summer party ready. This includes finding outdoor lighting options, updating the seating and cleaning up the barbecue.

BBQ- Make sure your grill is ready to go this season by making sure everything is clean and in working order before you fire it up. In the northwest that includes making sure the fuel lines are spider-web-free. Also, make sure you have propane or charcoal on hand for impromptu dinners.

Clean Windows- Now is a great time to clean your windows, inside and out. Sun shows more dirt and smudges.

Lawn care- Prepare your lawn for the months ahead. Depending on where you live this means different things. Check your sprinkler system to make sure it wasn’t damaged over the winter; upgrade your lawn care to ensure fuller greens, check for and remove moss to prevent dead patches and start your weeding regimen.

Pool prep- If you have an outdoor pool, get it ready for a summer season of fun in the sun. Same goes for hot-tubs. Make sure your equipment has been serviced, chemicals are available and your pool is clean and ready to use. OR, head to the local hardware store and buy your kiddie pool now before they run out, as I learned one hot July!

De-winterize- I once was doused head to toe when we were turning the water back on to our exterior pipes because the pipe had split in the winter- so make sure all your pipes survived the cold, check your winterized projects and prepare your house for summer.  This is also a good time to look around the exterior, checking roof, gutters and siding.

Summarize- Check or replace AC filters, window screens, and household fans to make sure these are all functioning and will help provide maximum circulation in your house. Consider installing an attic fan or vent to help pull heat out of your home all winter long. Pack away excess cold weather items such as heavy blankets, jackets and other items so they aren’t in your way. Same goes for any sundry items you only use during fall and winter.


Inside Spaces

Lighten the Space- Though I likely won’t spend much time inside once the mercury rises, I want to keep the house as light and cool as possible. I have found that replacing the curtains with a lighter shade lets the light in, but also keeps the rooms from overheating from sun exposure. Summer always makes me want to lighten up with the accessories- lighter colors, more whites, bright accents and less clutter.

Rearrange- Freshen up spaces by rearranging some of your wall art. If you don’t have enough wall pieces to rearrange regularly it may be time to add to your collection. You can find inexpensive original art online at stores such as Etsy or in person at local galleries. You can always play with other items like framed images from books, vintage posters or record albums. Here are some terrific ideas for using what you have to add interest to a room.

SpringCleanupAir it out- Open all the windows, shake out the rugs and update home fragrances to fit summer moods (citrus, freesia, clean linen, coconut, melon, fruits and tropical, etc.). You can create your own diffuser with essential oils to distribute fragrance. This may be more symbolic than practical but it always makes me feel ready for summer.

Paint- If you have a room you really want to refresh, a three-day weekend is a good time to take on a project of scale, so you have plenty of time to prep, paint, dry, and clean up. Painting is one of the least expensive ways to really transform how a room feels. Need help picking colors and paint type? Here is some good advice.

Garage or Basement- Tackle a big space that makes a big difference. Our garages and basements often become year-long dumping grounds for seasonal decorations and clothing, items that don’t fit in cabinets, memorabilia and maintenance tools. Go through your items and sort by keep, throw out and donate/sell and then group your keeps by function. Make sure your tools are accessible for easy gardening and entertaining by making sure your tools are accounted for, ready to go, and easy to reach. Here is a useful video on garage organization.

Yard/Garage Sale- If you have overflow at your house, plan a yard/garage sale to get rid of items you no longer need or want. Just make sure to pack everything up and donate it at the end of the sale otherwise you are just letting the clutter back in!

Plan a party- Once your space is all cleaned up and redecorated you will want to show it off! Plan a summer BBQ, dinner party, pool party, picnic or any other gathering.


What are your planning for Memorial Day weekend?

Source: Tara Sharp – Windermere Blog

Helpful TipsSpringThings to Do and See in North Idaho May 4, 2020

Morel Season in North Idaho

Beautiful North Idaho has so much to offer! One great thing is all the edible mushrooms you can find. And spring is a great time to find them. But, you need to know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for as there are more poisonous mushrooms than edible ones. Check out some mushroom identification and tips below.


The most common and popular mushroom in our area is the morel. You have likely heard about morels, and may even have had the great pleasure of tasting one, but you want to be sure you know what you’re looking for if you choose to more hunt.

Where To Find Them

Don’t expect an expect morel hunter to share their secret more picking spots, for many reasons. The majority of morels grow in the wild, so even if they know you well, they will likely keep their spot a mystery. They wouldn’t want to visit their spot and find it picked clean.

But, as a new morel hunter, there are some tips on places to look. For whatever reason, they tend to grow in areas that were burned the previous year. Searching in a recent burn is a great way to get your feet wet and figure out exactly what you’re looking for.

Additionally, morels tend to grow in cottonwood forests, under elms and by rivers. Once you find one, you will likely find more.Unfortunately, the growth of morels are a bit perplexing and difficult to find which adds to the reward when you do find them.


How To Identify

You could be looking in all the right places, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for then you won’t get very far. Below are a few tips to positively identify a morel:

  • Honeycomb-like cap with brown pits and ridges
  • The cap is fully attached to the stem and doesn’t pop off
  • If you slice the mushroom in half, it will be hollow inside


False Morels

The are a couple morel lookalikes in the area that you will want to keep a lookout for when morel hunting as these mushrooms are poisonous:

Gyromitra esculenta - Wikipedia

Brain Mushroom

  • Hooded False Morel | Project Noah

    Hooded False Morel

    Brain Mushroom – The cap of this mushroom is more or less convoluted, round & brain like which come in various shades or brown to reddish brown. The difference between this mushroom and a morel is that the Brain Mushroom doesn’t have a honeycomb like cap. These mushrooms grow at the same time and in the same habitat as a true morel.

  • Hooded False Morel – The cap is brown and saddle shaped, it starts out smooth but becomes more convoluted/wrinkled as it matures. So, this mushroom also doesn’t have a honeycomb like cap either. It also grows at the same time and in the same habitat as a true morel.


Both of these morels grow in north Idaho and are poisonous. They can cause adverse physically reactions within 1-24 hours of ingestion and I would advise avoiding at all costs.


When To Look

The basic answer is spring time, so late April-early May. But that all depends on the year, elevation and temperature. Morels like warm soil, so you will likely find them in the lower elevations earlier in the year and higher elevations later on. Morel season could last up to 2 months. The best time to look is on a sunny day, after a rainstorm.


How To Pick, Process, Cook And Preserve

Like it was stated earlier, morels grow mostly in the wild. So you want to be sure to pick them correctly to allow for them to grow next year. Be sure to pinch or cut them at the base. Do not pull them up or remove the root ball. Additionally, carry them out with a woven basket or mesh bag. This allows for them to release and spread spores. Do not use a plastic bag which not only stops the spread of spores but it also makes your mushrooms get slimy quick.

How to Clean and Cook Morel Mushrooms | Serious EatsOnce you get your mushrooms home you want to be sure to immediately get them processed. First, get them washed. There are a couple schools of thought regarding washing a mushroom. You could just brush off any dirt and inspect for worms/pests. Not using water because that could cause the mushroom to soak it up and dilute the flavor. Or, you could soak them in salt water overnight to get rid of any worms/pests.

To prepare the mushrooms, they do need to be cooked. They taste the best when harvested at just the right time and cooked shortly after they are picked. These mushrooms are choice, highly priced and sought after so be sure to take your time and research the best way to prepare the mushroom to enhance the flavor. Click here for some resources I’ve found.

If you don’t plan to eat them right away, it’s best to store them in a brown paper bag on your counter for no more than a few days. Or, if you’d like to preserve them for longer, you could always dry them. You could use a dehydrator to do this or just thread them on a string and let it dry in an area that is hot, dry and with a slight breeze.


Other Mushrooms To Lookout For

There are many edible mushrooms in North Idaho, some show in spring and some grow in fall. It’s best to do your research to determine what’s edible and how to harvest and cook these mushrooms. Click here for a quick list of some edible mushrooms in North Idaho, and how to identify them.

Here are some gorgeous pictures of some wild mushrooms taken right here in our national forests:













































Credit: TwinEagles, IdahoStatesman, FunFal Forager, Riverman



Helpful TipsHome & ProjectsSpring April 21, 2020

Spring Gardening

Spring has sprung! It seems like it may be warm enough to start getting things in the ground, but we also live in North Idaho and could get random snow without warning. So, is it really a good time to start planting? Check out some tips below for getting fruits and veggies planted. It’s never too early to start planning.


When to Plant

On average, the last frost in the area is anywhere from May 8th-15th so planting before then is a bit dangerous. There are warmer years when the frost ends much sooner than that, but overall is a good idea to wait.

Wait to buy! All those big box stores are starting to bring out all their plants and flowers and they look great. But, the likelihood they will survive this early is up in the air without frost prevention measures. Resisting the urge to buy until it’s time to plant will save you money and time.


Seeding Indoors

Now is a great time to get some of your favorites seeded indoors. Purchasing seed packets are cheaper than plant starts and you get more options. You only need a few basic items and a warm, sunny window. Read all about how to start seeds indoors here.


Prepare Your Garden

Take a look at the winter damage in your garden. Make sure your perennial are still holding strong. Next, rake out any leaves or debris that’s left over. And pull out those weeds, the soil is wet so they will come out easier this time of year. If you choose to use a chemical to kill the weeds, be sure to read up on it so it doesn’t kill everything. Additionally, it’s not recommended to use vinegar as a weed killer. I will wilt the leaves and make them look dead, but their roots will still be alive. It will also damage the PH of your soil and kill the good micro-organisms living there.

person holding carrots

You can also start planning your 2020 garden. Figure out what and where you will plant things. A good idea is to not plant the same crops in the same spot each year, but rather to rotate them to prevent soil depletion and disease. Keeping a journal of your garden each year will help with that planning. It becomes a valuable tool year after year so you can know which plants thrive where, track weather patterns and planting times.

Don’t work with wet soil. It will compact and create rock hard mud balls which are impossible to work with. Only after the soil dries, should you gently turn the top layer of soil. No need for a deep rototilling, this will bring weed seeds to the surface. And before adding anything to your soil, it’s best to test it first so you know what it needs. You can find soil testing kits here.


Planting Calendar

You can plant cool season crops directly outdoors in late April or early spring. Those include peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, and carrots. But, of course, it all depends on the weather. If you plan to sow seeds directly into your garden, you will find that most of them do well when planted in early May. There are options if you want to transplant seedlings or start seeds indoors. Here are two great resources to help with timing of your planting:


Credit:,, Coeur d’Alene Coop