We all love watching our children express their artistic side. But over time the mountains of paintings, drawings and crafts can get overwhelming.
As parents, we can tell ourselves that nobody really needs a dozen stick-figure family portraits, but that doesn’t make us feel any less guilty for tossing these priceless “masterpieces” in the trash.
Maybe your art collection is stacked in a pile on your desk. Plastered all over the refrigerator. Stashed away in a closet.
The good news is, there’s a clutter-free way to curate your home gallery. Here’s how.
Hang artwork in matching frames. Putting children’s artwork in matching frames gives your collection a more polished look than taping up loose papers. To tackle this project on a budget, collect any old frames you might have lying around, or purchase some inexpensive ones at a craft or thrift store. Then, choose a color of your liking and spray paint them for a uniform look.
Construct an art wall. An art wall gives you a designated place to hang pictures while saving time, money and space. There are several easy ways to create your display. You can string up twine or picture wire, then hang the artwork with clothespins. Or, mount a series of clipboards to the wall. Either approach will let you easily rotate in their newest artistic expressions.
Make a themed display. Whether the latest obsession is dinosaurs or unicorns, your kids’ interests can change rapidly. So hang pictures based on what they’re into at the moment. Creating themed displays can help you thin down their art collection, while letting them show off the things they love most.
Create a collage. Show a large sampling of their artwork in one place with a collage. Work with your child to select your favorite pieces of art. Then, cut them into smaller squares and mount the images in a collage frame. This one takes a little more time and effort, but the result is a piece you’ll enjoy for years to come.
- Try a digital frame. Want to reduce your paper collection? Buy a digital frame to show an endless display of your child’s artwork – without having to find room on the wall. All you need to do is scan or take a picture of each drawing, then upload them to your computer. This will let you archive their artwork forever.
As your child grows, artwork plays an important role developing creativity and self-expression. But remember that you don’t need to keep every single drawing, finger painting or sticker page. Using the tips above can help you decide which pictures to keep and make part of your home for years to come.
At Erie Insurance, we know there’s more to your home than the pictures on the wall. The true value in life is found in spending time with the little hands that created them.
Posted on 18 July 2019 | 9:00 pm
Going camping doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the comfort. Although everyone’s version of “roughing it” is different, even the most primitive campers love to find ways to make the outdoors feel like home.
One or two camping hacks can be the difference between a soggy, miserable trip and enjoying the sights and smells of the great outdoors. Everyday household items can save you time and money, and your newfound ingenuity will make you feel like a seasoned survivalist.
Whether you’re a new or experienced camper, check out these hacks to make your next adventure a more comfortable one.
Kickstart your fire. Use hand sanitizer or lint to get your fire going faster (while following recommended campfire safety precautions, of course). They’re both inexpensive and highly flammable. Can’t find kindling? The oil in corn chips or Doritos mean these tasty snacks will burn long and slow, too.
Light up your campsite. Flashlights are a camping necessity, but they only shine light in one direction. To create a wider field of vision, attach a glow stick or headlamp to a water bottle and watch your homemade lantern light up the camp.
Keep things dry. Rain is no fun when camping. But keeping your gear dry will make the best of a bad situation. Place a trash bag in your backpack to keep its contents dry. And use sealed plastic containers to keep anything from matches to toilet paper away from water.
Say no to soggy sandwiches... Place frozen water bottles in your cooler instead of ice cubes to keep food cold. You’ll end up with a cold drink when it melts – and save yourself the trouble of dumping out a cooler full of water.
…and soggy shoes. Wet shoes can take hours to dry out. Looking for a faster solution? Put your dirty clothes in them overnight to soak up moisture and get ready for your next hike.
Repel mosquitoes. A campfire is no fun when you’re too busy itching and scratching to enjoy it. Burn sage or try a homemade spray or candle to repel mosquitoes and avoid buying cans at the store.
Warm your toes. Unless you’re in an RV, your toes can get cold at night – even in your sleeping bag. Place a bottle of hot water or a bundle of clothes near your feet to keep them nice and toasty.
Prep your breakfast... Mix your pancake batter or omelets beforehand and store them in water bottles. Then, when the coals get hot, you can start cooking right away.
…and your dinner. Wrap all your dinner ingredients in tinfoil for an easy meal over the fire. Just toss the foil package directly on the fire. After a while, your dinner will be hot and ready.
- Pack light. Sometimes, less is more. Pack a double sleeping bag and share, or use a bag with your clothes in it for a pillow. You can be just as comfortable at night without taking up as much space.
Whether it’s old-school backpacking or modern-day “glamping,” your camping experience is your own. You don’t need to use every camping hack you read, but anything that makes your experience more relaxing is worth the investment.
It doesn’t matter if you're camping in an RV or pitching a tent. Erie Insurance wants you to sleep well at night, every night. For us, that means helping you feel secure about all the things you’ve worked so hard to get with the right homeowners insurance.
Contact a local ERIE agent so we can get to know you and help find the best coverage for your family. Then, you can relax knowing we’ve got you and your home covered for all the trips ahead.
Posted on 16 July 2019 | 9:00 pm
Would you like to be the first to know when every friend, family member and casual acquaintance is ready to move into their new home? Then maybe you should consider the glamorous life of pickup truck ownership!
The truth is, there are lots of reasons to buy a truck. Need to tow a boat, camper or trailer? No problem. Time to landscape the flower beds? Forget stuffing those bags of mulch into the trunk of your car.
Trucks are the perfect utilitarian choice of the automotive world. But pickup ownership does come with a unique set of pros and cons.
Ready to take the plunge into truck ownership? Here are 8 things you should know:
You’ll be asked to help people move. A lot. I’d like to think I’m a generally helpful and considerate person. But when you own a truck, you may find your kindness stretched to its limits — at least when it comes to providing free manual labor. Here are the facts: Moving requires a truck. And you own a truck. That’s something nobody forgets. On the plus side, if you suddenly hear from an old friend you haven’t talked to in five years, you probably know why they’re calling.
You’ll never wonder, ‘Will this fit?’ We’ve all experienced that embarrassing moment when you buy something in a store, only to discover it won’t fit though your car door. As a truck owner, those worries are gone (and say goodbye to delivery fees)! Whether you’re buying sheets of plywood or a new couch, you’ll never wonder if you have the space to take it home.
Parking can be a chore. Every year, it seems it seems like trucks are getting bigger. Parking spaces, on the other hand, are not. This can make navigating tight spaces a pain. If you’re opting for the newest heavy-duty pickup, be prepared for a longer walk from the parking lot.
Related: How to Parallel Park Like a Pro
Always be ready to lend a hand.
I’ve been on both sides of this one. Earlier this spring, I drove my car to watch a race at a local road course. It had rained all weekend, and the parking was in an open field. As soon as I pulled off the gravel path, I heard my car sink into the soft ground. I was stuck. I didn’t bother calling a towing company. Instead, I walked down the aisle to the first 4X4 truck I could find. The owner happily grabbed a tow strap, hooked up my car and saved the day. If you’re buying a truck, be ready to do the same.
Related: What to Include in a Car Emergency Kit
You’ll pay more at the pump.
I still remember the sticker shock I received the first time I paid nearly $100 to fill up my truck’s empty tank. Sure, that’s when gas was nearing record highs. But the truth is, you’ll always have higher fuel bills when you choose to drive a truck. They’re big. They’re boxy. And those large engines that are great for towing are also way less efficient than your friend’s hybrid.
Related: The Difference Between Regular and Premium Gas
People will ask to borrow your truck. A lot.
When you own a car, you rarely get asked to loan it out. But when you drive a pickup, you can expect requests to borrow it at least a few times a month. What you do with those requests is up to you. Just make sure you understand how insurance works when you lend out your car.
If it’s any consolation, they may offer to compensate you for your troubles. One time, my brother-in-law left a $5 bill on the dashboard. It helped cover a fraction of the gas he used (see No. 4).
Some will use it as a trash can. People can be the worst sometimes. If you own a truck, don’t be surprised to find an empty soda can or cigarette butt in the bed. It may not happen often, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
You’re ready for anything. Bad weather. Dirt roads. Camping. Towing. Hauling. Whatever the task, your truck can handle it. In many ways, it’s the perfect adventure vehicle. So take some comfort knowing you’ll always be ready for action at a moment’s notice.
There you have it – my secret insight into the world of pickup truck ownership. Some of it’s good. Some of it’s not so good. But if you ask most truck owners, they wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Posted on 16 July 2019 | 9:00 pm
Whether you’re moving your child back home from college or hauling equipment for your business, a trailer helps when you need some extra space to pack things. While towing a trailer may not seem much different than driving a car, there are a few things to keep in mind before you hitch your trailer.
VERIFY THE TOWING CAPACITY
Just because you have a vehicle with a trailer hitch doesn’t mean it can tow any type of trailer. It’s important to verify that your vehicle’s towing capacity is adequate to tow the trailer you’re using. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time getting started and may cause damage to your vehicle.
Start by checking your owner’s manual, which will tell you how much weight your vehicle can safely tow. If you exceed the recommended weight, you run the risk of losing control. That often leads to overturning.
Remember: Never try to manipulate your hitch into towing something it’s not designed for. This can increase its risk of breaking free.
Also, never set off without securing the pin in the hitch. The pin keeps you from potentially losing your load when you go over bumps in the road.
CHECK THE BRAKES
Another important aspect to check is the trailer’s brake lights. If the trailer’s light wiring harness is plugged in correctly, it will trigger the trailer’s brake lights to light up when you hit the brakes in your car. If they don’t, you will be a hazard to other vehicles on the road – even in daylight – and may be rear-ended.
Have the light wiring harness fixed before using the trailer if it’s not working. If your wiring harness is plugged in and some of your lights aren’t working, you’ll want to replace the bulbs that aren’t.
When you’re securing the wiring harness, you’ll also want to attach the trailer’s safety chains to your hitch. These chains serve as a last resort in the event your hitch fails. A best practice is to cross them in an X formation.
SECURE THE LOAD
Before driving off, make sure your load is secure within the trailer. An unsecured load has the potential to topple over or fall out if you’re using an open-ended trailer.
Make sure the load is balanced, as well. An unbalanced load can cause the vehicle to sway. Place heavy objects near the floor at the front of the trailer to minimize wobbling. Be sure to distribute other lighter objects evenly as you load up the trailer.
ADAPT YOUR DRIVING
Towing a trailer requires making some changes to your driving style. When turning a corner, you’ll need to swing out wide. Turning like you normally would in your vehicle could result in jumping a curb or nicking another vehicle. Never make sharp steering corrections, as the trailer could jackknife.
Remember that your stopping distance is essentially doubled when you’re towing a trailer. Begin braking sooner than normal in order to stop safely.
CHECK YOUR AUTO INSURANCE COVERAGE
Lastly, make sure your auto or business insurance policy has enough to cover your trailer and the goods you’re hauling in it. Generally, liability for your trailer is covered by your auto insurance policy as long as you’re using an insured vehicle to tow it. Physical damage coverage for your trailer is also available, and can be purchased separately.
Whether this is your first time towing a trailer or your 500th, you want to set out knowing that your trailer and its contents are covered. A quick conversation with your ERIE agent can help confirm you have the right coverage for the job.
Posted on 15 July 2019 | 9:00 pm
Switching up your home’s exterior siding is a bold statement… and a big decision. When starting your research, a few factors to consider are curb appeal, maintenance, weather conditions, durability and – of course – your budget.
Here’s the good news: According to Remodeling Magazine, homeowners recoup 76% of the cost of new siding when they go to sell their home.
Here’s what to know about exterior siding options and how to make the right decision.
What siding is best for your house?
Drive around and see what homes you like – and, more importantly, don’t like. Note the siding types and color combinations. Take a look at your roof, shutters and home accents to see what will complement the features of your home.
You want your home to fit into the streetscape without duplicating your immediate neighbors’ selections.
Also, be sure to check if your neighborhood has any restrictions before making a decision. Some communities or homeowners associations will regulate the siding colors and building materials, so it is important to find out if there are any limitations before you start shopping.
What are the different types of siding?
These days, you have lots of options. Here are 5 popular choices.
Vinyl House Siding
The most widely used material on home exteriors is vinyl. That’s for good reason: Vinyl siding is durable, and it’s typically under warranty for 30-40 years after installation. Available in an insulated version, vinyl siding has the potential to raise your home’s energy efficiency and help you cut down on heating and cooling costs.
Vinyl is easy to maintain, requiring only an annual cleaning with hose or power washer. And color options are almost limitless. Panels generally come with the color infused with the vinyl itself so it cannot flake or chip off.
One downside to consider: Vinyl has been known to warp in extreme heat.
Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement is a popular composite siding option. Made from a combination of substances such as wood fiber, sand, clay and cement, this material is designed to mimic just about any other siding material. Fiber cement siding can look like wood lap siding boards, cedar shingles
and wood shake. Fiber cement is known for its longevity, typically a 30-50-year lifespan. Like vinyl, it is available in virtually unlimited color options.
One downside to fiber cement is it will require regular painting and caulking to maintain its appearance. Plus, due to its weight, installation can be a little trickier and require special training.
Natural Wood Siding
If you’re considering natural wood siding, you have several to choose from. Popular woods include cypress, pine, spruce and cedar. In addition, wood offers a variety of styles such as lap, shingle, shake, tongue and groove, board and batten and bevel.
Wood siding requires painting or staining, offering a unique streetscape option. This biodegradable option makes it an environmentally friendly choice to consider. If maintained, it can last for decades.
A note of caution with this choice: Wood can be susceptible to insects and damage from weather elements.
Engineered Wood Siding
Made of wood fibers and exterior-grade resins, engineered wood siding is a less expensive alternative to real wood siding. Built to mimic the look and feel of natural wood siding, it offers less maintenance hassle and more resistance to insects. Plus, it comes already primed or painted in a wide range of colors. The resin surface means that it doesn’t peel or chip as quickly as real wood, although it can crack and fade over time.
Metal House Siding
Available in steel, aluminum, copper and zinc, metal is a more expensive siding option that has a lot of benefits. Metal siding cannot mold or rot, unlike other siding with the potential for water damage. Known for its low maintenance, the no fading of color with steel siding puts it at an advantage over vinyl and fiber cement.
Metal is relatively eco-friendly, since each panel is precisely cut with little waste material. Plus insects cannot find a home in metal siding, while other siding types may require periodic spraying of insecticide. Like all metal, this siding can dent.
How much does it cost to side a house?
Siding pricing depends on the material you choose.
Vinyl siding is typically considerably less expensive than other siding options. Depending on quality, vinyl pricing ranges from $2 to $7 per square foot installed. You should plan to budget $4 to $6 per square foot installed.
Regardless of the material you chose, houses with bump outs, trim, extensions or complicated corners will increase installation costs. If you plan to remove and dispose of your current siding, that typically costs extra too. Geographic location will also impact your cost: Labor varies by region, so be sure to get several quotes before you commit.
How to get the right insurance coverage for your siding
Home renovations can be fun – when they’re on your terms. If you have damage from something like a storm, you may face unplanned home repair projects. No one wants the stress of wondering: Is this covered under my homeowners policy?
When it comes to being helpful, that’s where we shine. With ERIE, every policy comes with your own local, independent insurance agent. By getting to know you, your agent can help you customize your policy for that perfect fit – and help you understand what it covers in case the unexpected happens.
Posted on 8 July 2019 | 9:00 pm