November Tip of the Month

November

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Thinking about downsizing and/or moving? Have an estate to clear?  Here are some things that set us apart from others in the industry:

  1. We will never accept a tip.
     
  2. We will never accept a gift of any sort.
     
  3. We will never buy anything from a client.
     
  4. We will never discuss our clients with anyone.
     
  5. We are bound to protect our client’s privacy and gain their trust knowing that we are hired for the sole purpose of getting their job completed in as short a time as possible, leaving them with a positive feeling about the process.
     
  6. We listen to our client and abate their fears, anxieties and concerns.
     
  7. We go out of our way to resolve problems and do not walk away from the tough issues.
     
  8. We offer our opinions and advise without taking ownership of the issue – the client is always the boss.
     
  9. We make working with the family a priority so that there is always a win-win at the end of the day.
     
  10. We’re never a one-and-done! We are there when our clients need us.
     
  11. We understand what is needed for estate clearances and dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” for the Personal Representative or estate attorney.
     
  12. The majority of our business comes from customer referrals. Our reputation is everything and that is why we are proud to have just won the Torch Award for Ethics from the Better Business Bureau.

Proud winner of Better Business Bureau Torch Award

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Next Step Baltimore is honored and proud to have been awarded the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Ethics. Our reputation is everything to us – most of our business is generated by referrals from other happy clients. Our teams strive for excellence with each of our customers making sure that they have a smooth and seamless move experience.   

October Tip of the Month

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October is a busy month. I have a firefighter friend who insists that we have the chimney inspected yearly – he’s been to too many chimney fires. So, in comes the chimney sweep and out goes the built-up soot.  Which reminds me that the furnace needs to be inspected before we turn it on for the winter. So, I arrange for that visit while I’m at it. 

Then I look outside! The leaves need raking, the yard needs organizing and although many like to rake leaves (why, I don’t know), we personally mow them to bits, creating nutritious mulch for the lawn as the temperatures start to cool. The garden seems its most glorious – we hate saying goodbye to the gorgeous geraniums – they’re trying so hard – so we lug them indoors and winter them over beside a sunny window. But we are busy as beavers clearing out the dead tomato plants and other yard debris, fertilizing the yard, cleaning the windows and inspecting the screens before putting them away for the winter. Of course, the porch furniture needs a good once-over and reconditioning before it heads to its winter home (the garage or barn). And the gutters need cleaning! How about the spring bulbs!  They have to go in the ground now! The list of to-dos seems never ending but then one day, when our home is cozy and a cherry fire burns in the fireplace and the yard is trim and tidy, we can relax and pull out that pile of books we’ve been considering but been too busy to read. Then we can pour a hot drink, admire our handiwork and know that, at least in our part of the world, all is right.

September Tip of the Month

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It’s true that time and tide wait for no man. We’re already in the 9th month of 2017.  Kids are back in school, the weather isn’t quite so warm, the days are getting shorter and all is right with the world! If you pull can yourself away from the glories of September in Maryland, here are a few little projects that will prepare you for the coming change of seasons.

As the days get cooler, keep the windows partially open to get some fresh air circulating in the house. Bring in, prune and fertilize your houseplants to improve your home’s air quality.

Put all your upcoming dates on your calendar. Include school breaks, parent teacher conferences, doctor appointments, etc.

Finish picking your tomatoes and zucchinis and other summer harvest. This is the perfect time to make breads, sauces and other goodies to freeze for the coming months.

Create a winter-time coziness by putting away the remains of summer –seashells,  summer curtains, bathing suits and towels. Although it might not be cool enough for winter bedding, get it all out to clean and air before it’s time to make the change. If it’s ratty, let it go and invest in fresh bedding – you’ll be glad you did.

Switch out your winter and summer clothes. Be sure to clean and press everything before putting them away for the winter. Inspect your winter clothes and clean, mend and organize before you need them.

Every night before retiring, get everyone in the house to take ten minutes and collect all the clutter. Plump the cushions, put the clean (and not clean) clothes in their spots, store all the shoes, gather up all the paperwork and clean off the kitchen countertops so that tomorrow starts off on the right foot. Look at your calendar so you are ready for tomorrow’s appointments.

Most importantly, enjoy every day of this month that is full of nothing but perfection! If you never get to a single to-do item, at least you will have the satisfaction of having savored a beautiful September.

August Tip of the Month

Mercifully, the days are not quite so blistering hot. But summer is speeding by and now’s the time to grab the last joys of summer. Sit by the ocean for a spell, lap up towering ice cream cones, and catch a jarful of blinking fireflies when evening comes. Best of all, gather the family ‘round for a fun read-aloud book! Pick a new book and have fun reading to your entire family. An incomplete list of favorite read-aloud books would include Charlotte’s Web, Cheaper by the Dozen, the Narnia series, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Little Women, The Little House series, My Father’s Dragon, Danny the Champion of the World, Anne of Green Gables, the Harry Potter series, and The Sign of the Beaver. Enjoy the end of the summer with your family, some good books and the great outdoors. Take some nice deep, relaxed breaths before the autumn chaos begins! 

July Tip of the Month

June might be for celebrations – graduations, weddings, end of the school year fun. But July sparkles with action! Splashing in the pool, picnics by the river, catching fireflies, fireworks at nightfall, outdoor concerts under the stars - all these spell July in Maryland.  

If you don’t have a pool, the city has several wonderful pools (like the tremendous Patterson Park pool) which you can join for $30 for the entire summer season! You don’t need to be a Baltimore City resident but a valid ID is required. Or the Beaver Dam Swim Club offers a full individual pass for $270.

Then there are the rivers – the Gunpowder dam lets out cold, cold, cold water all the time and tubing in the Gunpowder can be as close as you’ll ever come to suffering from hypothermia in the middle of a July heat wave. Just sitting on the banks of the Gunpowder drops the temperature by 50 degrees. Be sure to pack a good picnic and a nice cold watermelon for one of summer’s great pleasures – eating al fresco! If you aren’t brave enough to bear the cold, you can play games, riverside, and just enjoy the cool breezes wafting off the water.

For outdoor concerts, it seems there’s one going on every night of the week all over the area- there’s Oregon Ridge, Strathmore (they’re free!), Ladew Gardens, Annapolis Town Center, Pier Six, Belvedere Square (also free), Power Plant Live, just to name a few. Pack a picnic, enjoy the music and dine under a starry sky.

So, don’t miss out on what Maryland has to offer this summer because you don’t know where to go or what to do. Make plans for a glorious summer full of fun! And have a Happy 4th of July!

June Tip of the Month

What a time for celebrations! June is the perfect month for entertaining brides, mothers to be, graduates, and end of the school year pool parties. Leisurely picnics are in order for everyone, plus it isn’t too hot yet! The gardens look full and lush and the pollen is gone.  June nights are generally cooler – the air is like silk. The stars look like glittering diamonds and the full moon this month is called the Honey Moon.   No wonder there are so many June weddings! June beckons with promises of long walks, deep cool swimming pools and smoke rising from the grill. Think Grace Kelly and you’ve got the idea of June! It’s a wonderful month to be outside enjoying the beauty. However, if you are torn between all the great outdoors and the mess inside your house or garage, call Next Step Baltimore. We’ll tackle the indoors while you enjoy the beginning of summer.

May Tip of the Month

May is a perfect time to put your house on the market. You’ve probably heard that before but every Realtor knows it’s true. The flowers are in bloom and the the gardens are full of color again. It’s also an exciting time to think about moving on to new adventures in your own life. And there are few adventures larger or more challenging than moving!

Preparing for a move is not only physically challenging, but it’s also a head game.

There are typically two types of people facing an impending move. One is the foot dragger – paralyzed by indecision and overcome by the enormity of the task that lies ahead. You can identify them by that “deer in the headlights” stare and the overburdened stoop to their shoulders. It’s a sad sight.

The other type of person knows to call Next Step Baltimore and let us help move them calmly, systematically, steadily and happily towards their new chapter.

So, when facing your next great adventure in life, let Next Step Baltimore handle the details so that you can stay in a positive frame of mind to greet your new and exciting future.

April Tip of the Month

Although there might still be cooler nights, the days are getting longer and warmer – so now’s the time to prepare the house for a new season.
Back in the day, houses were organized, scrubbed and cleaned within an inch of their lives because spring cleaning was serious business. These days it’s more practical to settle for a lick and a promise! And today’s labor-saving words are VACUUMS and WASHING MACHINES!
Naturally, the first thing to do is hook yourself up with some fun, peppy, danceable music. Then go to town vacuuming the curtains, floorboards, the mattresses, all upholstered pieces, even the dog! Take a swipe underneath the furniture, the back of the refrigerator and up in the corners of each room.
Next, gear up the washing machine. Wash the slipcovers! Wash the bedding! Wash the pool towels! Wash your polar fleeces and store them for next fall. Put away those flannel sheets and pull out the soft cotton summer bedding. Wash your sweaters (on delicate, of course) – in fact, wash everything!
Now – your house is clean and organized! Not really, but at least you’ll be making a start and still have time to enjoy one of our region’ s great offerings – the steeplechase races. So instead of cleaning and organizing every Saturday, head out to the countryside and enjoy a picnic, the races and warm spring weather. After all, April in Maryland only comes around once a year.

March Tip of the Month

Consider the following dates, just in March alone, dedicated to getting your act together! First, there’s the National Organize Your Home Office Day (2nd Tuesday of the month) – a date meant to spur you into action so you can actually find your home office again. 
But why, one wonders, have just one day when an entire week could be spent in the pursuit of organizing! Consider the National Clean Out Your Closet Week (3rd week of March) or the National Clutter Awareness Week (4th Week). I suppose the National Clutter Awareness Week is the fourth week of the month because you are overwhelmed by what you’ve might have been tackling on the 3rd week of the month.  
But if you are like most of us, participating in Procrastination Week: (2nd week of month) ensures that we never address the 3rd or 4thnational awareness weeks of March and instead go outside and enjoy some spring-like weather. If that is the case, call us! We’ll take on the challenges of closets, clutters and procrastination.

February Tip of the Month

The weather outside might be frightful, but inside you can have a delightful time organizing and giving your kitchen the TLC it needs to best serve you. Put on some jazzy music and get started! Open your pantry and toss the outdated staples. Then vacuum every square inch of the cupboard. Wipe down the shelves and lay down fresh shelf paper.
Next, set your sites on your oven and stovetop. Nothing is more exhilarating (it’s all in the attitude, folks!) than making these workhorses shine after months of hard work. While you’re at it, give the microwave the old one-two.
Then onto the refrigerator. Take everything out, thoroughly clean it out then consider the following advice from Le Cordon Bleu trained chef Christine Gallary:
Upper Shelves: Leftovers, drinks, and ready-to-eat foods (like yogurt, cheese, and deli meats).
Lower Shelves: Raw ingredients slated for cooked dishes.
Door: The refrigerator door is the warmest part of the fridge, so only condiments should go there. Don’t put eggs or milk in the door, as they should be placed in a colder part of the refrigerator.
Drawers: These can be tricky. Since they’re designed to hold produce at specific humidities, it makes sense to store fruits and veggies there. But they’re usually at the bottom of the fridge, so we risk contaminating our fresh vegetables if we put meat on the shelf above.
Some solutions?
If you have two drawers, make one of them exclusively for veggies and the other exclusively for raw meat.
If one drawer is above the other, use the lowest drawer for meat. If they’re side-by-side, either drawer would be fine. Clean the drawer you’re using for meat often.
Need both drawers for fruits and veggies? If it’s unavoidable to put raw meat above other foods, improvise your own meat drawer by using a clear plastic bin that will catch any accidental drips and keep the meat safely away from everything else.
Next, organize your kitchen drawers, sorting out the extraneous and ratty looking items.
Now time to go to the store for fresh supplies. Once you have purchased fresh rice, oatmeal, cereal, grains, etc., transfer them to large glass Mason jars for safest storage.
The weather outside might be snowy and miserable but your kitchen will shine with happiness and you can glow with the pride of a job well done.

January Tip of the Month – Winding up 2016

Out with the old and welcome the new!
Now’s the time to collect, organize and put together all your 2016 files, health forms, and tax documents for the accountant. Organizing these papers ahead of time saves you money and time. While you’re at it, check with your accountant to see if your old financial records have exceeded their statute of limitation. You may have mountains of paperwork that can be shredded. Think of all the room you can create!
Next, create fresh files for the coming year for all your vendors, investments and other papers that you create. Replace your calendar and date books. Put in important dates and, most importantly, plan some fun for the year.
Lay the groundwork for a joyful, organized and prosperous 2017.

December Tip of the Month

Of all the months, December may be the most overwhelming. Between the holidays, gifts and houseguests, the entire month can an endless to-do list. If it all seems too much for you to tackle, then consider two options: you can either pare down your holiday expectations or you can give Next Step Baltimore a call.
From wrapping gifts to cleaning out your spare guestroom, we can tackle your mounting lists like Santa’s elves and have you feeling merry and bright!

Here’s to a happy, relaxed and love-filled holiday and a very Happy New Year from your friends at Next Step Baltimore.

November Tip of the Month

Not only is your home one of your greatest investments, but it’s also your safe place to relax and regroup at the end of a busy day. Our grandparents had it right – changing our interiors with the seasons created a magical place of cozy warmth in harsh winters and cool relief in the hot Baltimore summers. In today’s world, people don’t have time to seasonally change the house around as our grandparents may have done. However, we still get out the blankets, flannel sheets and downy jackets setting the stage for winter’s coming. Making your home cozy and welcoming for winter can be a start of the new season and remind us to remove the used and unwanted things that clutter up our living space. (We can help!) You will enjoy the fireplace so much more if you can actually see it from your cozy chair!

Organizing October – It’s Never Too Late!

Now’s the time to establish good organizational habits for you and your entire family. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a calm start to the day – everyone enjoying a nice breakfast in clean clothes – not scrambling to complete homework or pack lunches?

Then start the day before to ensure a smooth morning tomorrow. Homework should be completed and in backpacks before bedtime. Laying out clothes makes groggy mornings easier to handle. Set the breakfast table and pack lunches the night before. Then rally the whole family to take a few minutes to straighten up the house before bedtime. Being proactive the day before is the key.

The best part, going to bed knowing that you did your part today and tomorrow will take care of itself.

September Tip of the Month

September feels like the month of fresh beginnings. The weather is starting to break and children are back in session, rested from a play-filled summer. It’s possible that you’re spending more time in the car – driving carpool, dropping off and picking up from play practice, sports, choir practice, and play dates. With that in mind, why not start off the school year by organizing and tuning up your car. Collect all the trash, clean out the gunk, vacuum, wash and generally neaten up the space that carries you and your family about town. Then have the oil changed, the tire pressure checked, the brake pads replaced and treat your car to a once-over. After that, make a point to daily clean out the trash and extraneous items not needed in the car. Then, in the style of Marie Kondo, thank your car for keeping you and your family safe while you drive.

August 2016 Tip Of The Month – Back-To-School Preparation

The end of summer is drawing near, but we are going to soak up every ounce of sun-saturated joy that remains! Savor the garden tomatoes that are only here this time of year and revel in the long days and warm nights. At the same time, start thinking about preparing for the school year ahead. Mark Maryland’s tax-free shopping days on your calendar (August 14-20) for the annual trip to stock up on school clothes and supplies. Unearth the backpacks and clean out the pencil shavings inside. As they come in, add special dates to the calendar, such as parent’s night, game dates, practices, tutoring appointments, and other important events for the upcoming year. These small preparations won’t take long and will help the whole family transition gently into the coming school year.

July 2016 Tip Of The Month – Organize Your Closets

When it’s hot outside and you feel overwhelmed by all your clutter inside, here’s a suggestion to clear a path to order, peace and calm in your life. Organize your linen closets. Yes, you read that right! Most of us rarely think about the importance of our linens, but your sheets and towels are central to providing a good quality of life. From that perspective, it’s fitting that they be treated with the respect they deserve. Shoving your sheets into a pile in your closet does not honor their importance in your life. Plus, the jumbled mess takes up more room than those properly sorted and put away.

First, gather all your sheets, towels, hand towels, washclothes, pillowcases, summer spreads, mattress pads, blankets, quilts and hall-closet stuff together in one location. Clean off the shelves and let them air out a bit.

Now, look at each item critically. Make sure everything you want to keep is in first-rate condition. Eliminate sheets with soil marks that are not going to come out and blankets that haven’t been used for years.

Next, ask yourself if you really need more than 2 sets of sheets for each bed? This is the time to sort through and donate the bedding, towels and junk that has been shoved in those recesses silently creating chaos in your closets and your life.

Finally, neatly fold up and carefully shelve what you plan to keep. You will be pleased every time you open your closet door. By treating these little thought-of possessions with care, you’ll be creating an environment of peace and serenity.

Sleep well tonight!

Donate Your Unwanted Furniture to Second Chance

The patio is calling and so are all kinds of opportunities! This year, as you get out the patio furniture, inspect each piece carefully. Consider renting a power sprayer to get them clean – especially if your patio furniture is wicker. To give the entire patio a fresh look, update your chair cushions. As long as they are not shredded by mice, donate the tired cushions to Second Chance – a store/training center/emporium of amazing things located in South Baltimore at 1700 Ridgely Street.

About Second Chance

Second Chance is an amazing outlet for people to find great buys for their homes at affordable prices Plus, Second Chanceis an employment vehicle for those in need. The mission of Second Chance is to employ the unemployed in Baltimore City. They teach job skills and hire the people they train.

So, while you are getting the cushions together for Second Chance, think about including distressed furniture that you know you’ll never refinish. It’s a win-win-win for you and for others in our community! You will rid yourself of a looming project and create more positive energy in your home. Someone will be able to afford “new” something for the home. And you’ll help create job opportunities for those willing to learn a new trade.