Must Have Apps for Home Improvement


Courtesy Crown Molding

Becoming a homeowner means taking on a lot of new responsibilities. It can include simple things, like remembering to pull weeds in the front yard, to more laborious tasks such as maintaining the furnace and renovating kitchen counters and cabinets. But, per usual, there’s an app for that. Whether it’s finding the right person for the job or learning how to complete a project yourself, here are a few must-have apps for homeowners to have when tackling any home improvement project.

FriendTrusted (free)

FriendTrusted helps you find a trusted, reliable contractor to tackle your desired home improvement project. After description, photographing or shooting video of the project you need done, FriendTrusted will provide price estimates and recommended contractors. The best part? There’s no need to call and schedule an appointment or contact the contractor—booking and scheduling are all done within the app. This app is available for Android, iOS and Windows devices.

Handy Man DIY ($1.99)

Starting a home improvement project on your own has never been easier with Handy Man DIY. This app allows homeowners to store project information, such as dimensions measurements, provides cost estimates and shopping lists for specific projects and includes project instructions and video tutorials. It’s a one-stop app for anyone launching a do-it-yourself home improvement project. This application is available for iOS devices.

BrightNest (free)

Along with helpful tips and ideas, BrightNest gives homeowners the ability to organize all their home management responsibilities. From outdoor maintenance to cleaning the kitchen, this app helps you manage every project that comes with owning a home. Customize reminders, tips and projects based on what features you have at your home, such as a pool, water heater or whether or not you have children or pets. This app is available for iOS devices.

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Flag Day Facts

Celebration of Our Flag

June 14 is National Flag Day. Although not an official federal holiday, Flag Day still holds a lot of history and significance in the United States. It celebrates the selection of the flag of the United States, which took place 237 years ago. Here are a few facts and stories associated with the national observance.

Flag Resolution of 1777, Second Continental Congress

Cited in a paper read by William J. Canby (Betsy Ross’ grandson) before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870 is an historical recount of Congress approving of the American flag:

“In Dunlap’s Journal of Congress, at the date of June 14th, 1777 Vol III, page 235, occurs the only scrap of official history in reference to the origin of the flag of the United States yet published. In the proceedings of Congress on this page is found the following resolution: “Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, which in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

The Legend of Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross is credited with being the crafter of the first flag of the United States of America, working for General George Washington on the design. While there is no record of this story being true other than her grandson William Canby’s personal testimony of the event, the narrative has become ingrained in American tradition and history. However, historians say it’s possible Betsy Ross could have been the one who suggested five-pointed stars rather than six-pointed stars, demonstrating how to cut them efficiently.

Bernard J. Cigrand, the “Father of the Flag”

Bernard J. Cigrand was a 19-year-old schoolteacher in Wisconsin. An admirer of the U.S. flag, Cigrand decided to start honoring the day officially on June 14, 1885 at the school where he taught, Stony Hill School. Cigrand would speak around the country calling for observance and respect for the flag and is often considered the “Father of the Flag.”

More Flag Day Facts

National Flag Day shares a birthday with the United States Army, which was established June 14, 1775.

June 14, 1877, was the first national observance and 100th anniversary of the flag of the United States.

President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation in 1916 for nationwide observance of Flag Day, but National Flag Day wasn’t established by Congress until 1949 under President Harry Truman.

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Useful Tools to help you Budget


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Learning to Manage a Budget

Learning how to properly budget is crucial, especially for new homeowners and families. It’s important to set realistic goals for paying off your mortgage, projects around the house and overall spending habits. Being proactive in organizing expenses can help to avoid getting in the mindset of “it’ll get done eventually.” The digital age and advancements in technology have simplified the budgeting process. Here are a few free resources to guide you in the right direction toward healthy budgeting and spending.

Simply put, has it all. From budgeting, to categorized breakdowns of spending habits, to investment tracking, Mint provides the complete financial planning package. Users can connect bank accounts, credit cards and loans as they see fit to track user-determined goals for spending and saving. With as much as Mint has to offer, it’s still surprisingly easy to navigate, allowing users to maximize their budgeting and saving needs. Whether you’re at home or on the go, Mint is available whenever you need it and updates automatically. For those interested in tracking their day-to-day spending habits alongside longterm investment and loan goals, is your go-to resource.

Level Money

With Level Money, a mobile app for both Android and iOS platforms, budgeting is tracked on a daily basis. After entering your monthly income, bills, savings and other expenses, Level Money calculates the amount you can spend on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The app updates automatically with every purchase, providing a live projection of your allowed spending. Level Money also features digestible graphs and breakdowns of where your money is going. This app has a simple yet attractive design, and its easy-to-use platform is perfect for those looking to change daily spending habits.

Microsoft Excel Budget Template

Tools like and Level Money are great, but they’re not for everyone. For those who’d rather avoid tracking financial information online, the Microsoft Excel “Simple Monthly Budget” template is the perfect resource. It’s free to download and saves you the time (and frustration) of creating your own spreadsheet. The Simple Monthly Budget template takes it one step further by creating visual representations of your monthly spending using charts and graphs. It’s customizable, safe and secure to help make the best of your budget.

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Welcome Home Tuesday | Brothers by Birth-Friends for Life

Welcome Home Tuesday

Bailey and Meyers Leonard are brothers who have been close all their lives, but they share a tight friendship that is beyond sibling love. By the end of this touching video you will see just how much this Marine means to his younger brother and the unbreakable bond of friendship that they share. Welcome home Bailey!

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Backyard Ideas: Making the Most of Your Space


Making the most of your backyard space doesn’t have to be a time consuming, daunting task. No matter how big or small, there are a lot of fun, creative and inexpensive backyard ideas to help you spend quality time in your yard. Being able to create some of the best memories in your own backyard is one of the many perks to owning a home. With a few adjustments throughout the summer, homeowners can transform their backyard from a plot of grass to an outside space to call home.

Here are five backyard ideas for kids, adults and the neighborhood alike that allow you to make the most of your backyard space.

Fostering the community


One the easiest ways to make your backyard feel more welcoming is to make is a space for the whole neighborhood. Even in a smaller backyard, having a space for kids to run around, play games and interact is the perfect way to forge friendships with those in your community. If the space allows for it, take the time to set up a “field day” for the community with games, food and a place to enjoy the summer sun.

For new homeowners, using your personal backyard space creates an inviting, welcoming atmosphere when introducing yourself to the neighborhood.

Create your own movie theater


Take your weekly family movie night off the couch and into the backyard. All it takes is a few picnic blankets, pillows, a white bed sheet and a small projector and you’ve made your very own outdoor movie theater. Remember the popcorn and candy and you’re ready for a one-of-a-kind viewing experience.

Born to Lounge


Relaxation is key. If you have the space, investing in comfortable lawn furniture can do wonders for your backyard. Spend a weekend afternoon reading a book outside, have a few friends over or simply sit back and enjoy a glass of lemonade. Even if there isn’t quite enough space for permanent lawn furniture, a basic folding chair will do just fine. In fact, the ability to pack up the furniture and get it out of the away when you need the space is a nice option to have, as long as you’re able to sit back and relax somewhere.

All it takes is the right chair to cultivate a personal backyard paradise.

Potted possibilities


Gardens can be a lot of work, and not everyone have the space for them. Fortunately you don’t need a lot of space (or a lot of time commitment) for a few potted plants in the backyard. Choose your favorite vegetable or herb plants—from tomatoes and jalapeños, to basil and dill—and a few of your favorite flowers to bring your backyard to life. Not only will they become a low maintenance, aesthetically pleasing addition to your yard, but the whole family can enjoy the taste of freshly grown ingredients with every meal.

Gathering around the fire


Similarly to a garden, not everyone has the space or finances for a built-in fire pit. However, that doesn’t mean a family can’t still enjoy the warm glow of a fire on a cool summer night. With a variety of portable fire pits to choose from and do-it-yourself options, families can create the feeling of camping without piling the kids and equipment in the car. A fire pit is a great way to bring the great outdoors to your backyard and make s’mores the good old-fashioned way.

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