Climb For Kids Team Completes Acclimatization Hikes

On Monday we shared with you the first update from CENTURY 21 CEO Rick Davidson and the Climb for Kids team as they arrived in Russia. The team is preparing to climb Mt. Elbrus, the tallest peak in Europe.

Today we are happy to report the team is feeling healthy after completing two acclimatization hikes.

Earlier this week the team arrived at base camp in Terskol, Glade Azou, Russia, which is at the foothills of Mt. Elbrus.

To get acclimated to the terrain and elevations, the team climbed Mt. Cheget which is on the border of Russia and Georgia.

This climb is up to 11,000 feet and one of three the team will complete before attempting Mt. Elbrus.  They were able to reach 10,000 feet before being restricted to go higher.

From his satellite phone, Rick has shared with us, “It’s beautiful here. The people are friendly and many from all around the world. We played Frisbee with two Russian children yesterday and spent time talking to two climbs from Pakistan and Bangladesh. We also saw the team from South Korea who we met at the airport. We hope to see them on the mountain.”

While preparing for the big climb up Elbrus, the team met up with a group of climbers from Singapore who are also planning to summit Elbrus.

The woman pictured above to the right or Rick (in blue) has summited Mt. Everest. She has friends who summited K2 this week. There was a U.S. team who submitted K2 this week as well becoming the 13,14 and 15th Americans in history to do so. That team was lead by Garrett Madison, the guide from the Climb for Kids trip to Mt. Hood.

On their final acclimatization hike this week, the team was able to reach 11,000 feet before ascending to high camp.

They caught their first view of Mt. Elbrus.

Rick reports that, “The team was really strong and the weather report says our summit day weather is looking good!”

Want to support the Climb for Kids? The team’s goal is to raise $100,000 for Easter Seals and there is still time to donate. Click here to show your support.

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How to Style a Nursery

Bringing home a new addition to your family is one of the most exciting moments of your life. Savor each and every day with your little one in a nursery that your family will enjoy.

Here are our style tips and nursery essentials:

Color Palette: Colors evoke emotions. Surround your baby with pastel colored walls, furniture, and bedding to create a calm, safe, and soothing environment (Custom Home Group).

Crib: A comfortable and safe crib is essential for any nursery. Choose soft, plush bedding to increase the likelihood that your baby (and you) will get a good night’s sleep. You’ll also need bumpers and a comfortable mattress. You may want a crib mobile to help your baby fall asleep (and be entertained if he or she wakes up during the night).

Chair: We recommend having a comfortable chair or small couch so that you have an area to sit with your baby.

Bookshelf: Keep picture books on a bookshelf because, as a new AAP policy recommends: “pediatric providers advise parents of young children that reading aloud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development and parent-child relationships” (Parents Who Read to Their Children Nurture More Than Literary Skills, Lori O’Keefe). You and your child will enjoy reading together, and the time you spend will introduce a love of reading at a young age.

Storage Space: If your baby has toys and stuffed animals, keep clutter at bay by storing them in a trunk, storage box, or large basket. This will make the room cleaner and safer (as your baby starts to explore) Plus, as an added bonus, it will also make the room feel larger!

Safety Essentials: Buy a baby monitor, night light, outlet covers, and other items to baby-proof your home.

Dresser: Keep your baby’s clothes in a dresser and use a drawer for diapers and changing table necessities. Buy a changing table pad for the top of the dresser. Once your child is older, he or she can use the dresser, meaning you’ll have one less piece of furniture to buy.

Rug: A soft rug will give your baby a safe, soft, and comfortable place to play.

Gallery Wall: Set up a gallery wall with your favorite art, prints, and photos. We recommend putting together a wall of your favorite family photos!

These tips will help you to create a nursery where your child can grow, play, learn, and (hopefully) sleep through the night.

Recommended Reading:

-10 Ways to Baby-Proof Your Home

-Serene Spaces: 5 Ways to Create a Calm Bedroom

-10 Secrets for Making Your Bedroom Feel Larger

-How to Style a Gallery Wall

-How to Style a Bookshelf

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Climb For Kids Team Heads To Mt. Elbrus

This week, CENTURY 21 CEO Rick Davidson and the Climb for Kids team boarded planes in their home states and headed for Russia. The team will be climbing the tallest peak in Europe, Mt. Elbrus.

The Climb for Kids team includes two CENTURY 21 System members, Scott Becker of CENTURY 21 New Millennium and Natalia Aulenbacher of CENTURY 21 Freedom Realty.

Also joining the Climb team is retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Benjamin Breckheimer.  Benjamin was in rehab for two years following a roadside bombing in Afghanistan. Though severely wounded, he has taken on mountaineering. When asked about his addition to the team, Rick shared, “What an inspiration and what an American hero! It’s no accident that we got connected.”

As the team begins their adventure, Rick is sharing photos with us, live from Russia. Here is a shot of the team at the airport, waiting to board their final connection:

At the airport our team discovered another climb team from Seoul, Korea, who is also planning to summit Mt. Elbrus.

Once in Russia, Rick and the team did a bit of sightseeing and even took a few selfies!

When sharing the below photo, Rick joked, “The market is upside down in this neighborhood!”

Amidst their exploring, the team found the perfect spot to take a group photo.

Next up, Rick and the team will prepare to set up at base camp.

Want to support the Climb for Kids? The team’s goal is to raise $100,000 in support of Easter Seals and there is still time to donate. Click here to contribute.

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Home Offices Essentials

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or a student, having an office space in your home is important. (Not everyone can get work done while lounging on the couch in pajamas!) We’ve already shared some handy productivity tips, but having the right environment can also make a world of difference.

Here are some essentials for your home office:

Designated Work Space: We don’t mean the kitchen counter or your comfy bed. Set aside a specific room or corner of a room as your “office.” This will help train your brain to be in “work mode” when you sit down and “off the clock” when you leave. By creating a designated work space, you’ll be able to achieve better work-life balance.

Desk: The right desk is key. Think about what type of desk best suits both your needs and the size of the space. Do you need just a simple flat table? Will you need multiple drawers for storage? What about a conference table so that you can really spread out or have meetings?

Comfortable Chair: If you don’t have a comfortable chair that you love sitting in, chances are you won’t end up actually using your office much (and will instead head to that comfy couch or bed). Look for a chair with arm rests and the ability to tilt, swivel, and roll.

Computer, Printer, and WiFi: This is how the work actually gets done. Make sure that you have functional tools to research, create, and communicate in our modern world.

Good Lighting: Aim for having both natural and artificial light. Exposure to sunlight has been known to improve mood, sleep patterns, and productivity. And when you’re working past sundown, you’ll need good (soft, non-fluorescent) artificial light. We recommend having both a desk lamp and an overhead lamp to better adjust the light.

To Do List or Planner: Start each day with a list of specific tasks that need tackling. Make sure that the list is manageable and the timeframe is realistic. Making this a tangible to-do list (rather than using an app) gives you that extra satisfaction of crossing items off when you complete them, thus helping to spur your motivation through the work day.

Calendar: Have a place that allows you to look at the bigger picture and plan ahead. Sure, you might have a calendar on your computer or phone, but having an accessible, physical calendar that’s in plain sight allows you to easily glance at upcoming events. We like DIY chalkboard or Post-It note calendars.

Coffee and/or Tea: Whatever beverage of choice gets you going in the morning (or during that afternoon slump), make sure you have plenty of it on hand. You’ll save time and money if you don’t have to take frequent trips to the local coffee shop or store. Plus, sometimes even the ritual of making coffee or tea can help signal “work mode.”

Decorations & Inspiration: Some might call these “nice-to-haves,” but we think they’re essential. Having a window, piece of artwork, or family photo on display can give a nice reprieve from staring at your screen. Consider hanging a photo of the dream vacation you’re working toward or an inspiration quote or mantra to keep your motivated.

We hope that these tips help you create a productive work environment. An added benefit is that having a designated work area will allow you to see the rest of your home as a relaxing and fun area for spending time with friends and family. Close the door and you are done for the day.

Recommended Reading:

-Productivity Tips for Working from Home

-The Secrets to a Perfect Staycation

-5 Ways to Take Your Bedroom from Good to Great

-Good to Great: How to Take Your Kitchen from Good to Great

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Be My Guest: How to Style a Guest Room

Hosting friends and family members means that you get to spend quality time with people you love. Make your guests feel at home.

These tips will help you style a guest room that they will love (yes, even your in-laws).

Minimal Style: Your guests may have different home decor preferences than you. We recommend choosing a soothing color scheme for paint, bedding, and furniture. Neutral paint colors will create a soothing space.

Comfortable Bedding: A bed is a focal point of any bedroom and it is essential for getting a good night’s sleep and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some people prefer hard pillows and mattresses and some prefer softer. We recommend choosing ones that offer medium support so that guests at either end of the preference spectrum will be comfortable. Once you’ve chosen a mattress and pillows, make the bed with soft bedding that your guests will love to sink into at the end of a long day.

Nightstand: Stock the nightstand with essentials that your guest may need during his or her stay. If you have makeup, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and soap samples, put them in a small makeup pouch for your guest to use if they accidently left anything at home. If you don’t have samples you can place full size bottles in the bathroom for them to use as they get ready. Keep a few books on the nightstand in case they want to read before bed but didn’t pack a book. You may want to add extras like fresh flowers, a candle, and an alarm clock.

Closet and Dresser: If you have space for a dresser, add one to the room so that your guests can unpack and organize their clothes and essentials. Stock the closet with a few hangers.

Towels: Place towels on the bed so your guests have something to use when they get ready.

These guest room essentials will ensure that your guests have a comfortable stay when they come to visit.

Recommended Reading:

-Serene Spaces: 5 Tips for Creating a Calm Bedroom

-5 Ways to Take Your Bedroom from Good to Great

-Sweet Dreams are Made of These: How to Style a Bed

-How to Style a Nightstand

-10 Secrets for Making Your Bedroom Feel Larger


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How to Keep Your Home Cool Without Touching the Thermostat

Contribution by Andrea Davis, HomeAdvisor

The temperature keeps rising…and rising…and rising! When will it stop? As you wait for the temperatures to make their slow decline, how about helping to avoid high utility bills? There are plenty of ways to keep your home cool without turning on the air conditioner. Here are some simple, effective methods that will cost you a fraction of the electricity bill:

1. Keep the sun out! From about May to August, the sun is not your best friend from around ten to four p.m. That’s when it shines through the windows and increases the temperature inside. So avoid it by installing window shutters, blinds and shades to keep the rays out. If you already have them installed, be sure to keep them closed from the time you leave until you come home.

2. Get those ceiling fans turned around. You might not be aware, but ceiling fans need to have their motors switched seasonally. During the winter, they need to turn clockwise and during the summer counter-clockwise. Counter-clockwise pushes cold air down and warm air up so the room feels cooler, whereas during the winter you want the fan to push cold air up and warm air down for the opposite effect.

3. Buy more fans. If some of your rooms don’t have ceiling fans or seem hot anyway, you can always purchase standing fans. Recent innovations have allotted new fans that don’t have spinning, loud blades. You can buy regular fans with blades or tower fans that have adjustable airflow and are completely quiet.

4. Invest in energy-efficient lighting. Did you know fluorescent and incandescent bulbs give off heat, which helps to increase room temperature? Buying LED bulbs is not only energy-efficient, but they also help keep your house cool during summer days. They come in all sizes and watts to fit about anywhere you need lighting.

5. Ventilate hot air immediately. Because you can’t grill every day during the summer, there will be times when you have to cook with the oven or stove. This means a lot of hot air, so you need to use the hood vent immediately. The same goes for when you take a shower or bath with the bathroom fan. You should also be sure your attic fan is properly venting out hot air that could increase house heat by 10 or more degrees. By getting that the hot air out immediately, it won’t spread to other rooms and increase the temperature.

Photo courtesy of Home Power

6. Let in the cool air! When the sun sets and temperatures start to drop, there might be a cool breeze blowing across the yard. So open the windows and back door to let it pass through the house and cool down all of your rooms. It will require no electricity, and you’ll be able to take in the night sounds as you fall asleep.

Header image courtesy of DesignMine

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Summer Savings: 5 Ways to Decrease Your Energy Bill

Summer is in full swing and as the temperature rises, so can the electric bill. When you’re ready to escape the sun, you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about seeking cool relief inside your home.

Here are five things that may help to decrease your energy bill this summer:

1. Use the energy saver option on your air conditioner (AC): When you leave your home, use the energy saver option on your air conditioner rather than turning it off. The energy saver will keep your house at a cool temperature. If you turn off your air conditioner the temperature in your house will rise, and when you turn the unit back on it will need to work harder to cool your house down again, which in turn, can increase your electric bill.

2. Fans are your friend: Well placed fans can keep cool air circulating in the house, which means you might be able to delay turning on the air conditioning—especially if you can also leave windows open on cool summer evenings.

3. Create a lights-out policy: Keeping all of the lights off in your home during the day is a simple way to conserve energy and lower your electric bill. Try to rely on natural light alone. At night, consider trying something new like candlelit dinners or dimly-lit game nights.

4. Use heavy drapes on the windows: We’re not saying you have to be Dracula, but try hanging some heavier drapes—especially in windows that get a lot of natural sunlight. Close the drapes when you leave the house to help keep the sunlight out and the cool air in.

5. Get your AC inspected: Inspectors can make sure your system is leak-free and operating as efficiently as possible. Don’t forget to clean air filters; some units require monthly cleanings.

Many people shivered their way through a long winter dreaming of summertime. With these tips, you can help enjoy fun in the sun without getting burned by rising energy bills!

Recommended Reading:

-How to Make Your Home Summer Ready

-Just DIY It: 5 Natural Cleaning Products

-How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget


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Cents and Sensibility: 5 Mistakes That Could Decrease Your Homes Value

Renovating or improving something too much sounds like an oxymoron, however when it comes to attracting a buyer and generating a return on investment, it is possible. The decisions you make may be best for you and your family, but it is crucial to consider the mindset of potential buyers.

Here are five common renovation mistakes that may decrease your home value:

1. Over improvement: Your home should be similar to other homes in the neighborhood. If your home costs much more than other homes in the neighborhood, potential buyers may choose that the updates you made do not outweigh the increased cost.

2. Over personalization: You may love bright paint, built-ins, and elaborate tiles but the potential buyer may see changing it as too much of a hassle. You want buyers to be able to picture themselves living in the home so it is helpful to have a neutral design aesthetic when you show your home.

3. Inconsistency: It is better to spend smaller amounts on many projects than spend a large amount of money on one project while neglecting other parts of the home. Instead of spending upwards of $30,000 installing a pool while keeping old and outdated appliances, it is a wiser decision to update the appliances.

4. Removing a wall: It may seem as though knocking down a wall between two small rooms to make one larger room is a no brainer but having more rooms is almost always better when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Your family may be smaller than the potential buyers and, for them, it may be better to have more rooms regardless of their size. Removing bedrooms can also decrease the value of your home. Turn an extra bedroom into an office or gym while you are living there, but switch it back to a bedroom when you are getting ready to sell.

5. Functional Obsolescence: Make sure that your renovations make sense. For example, potential buyers will probably not want to have the only way to enter one bedroom be to go through another bedroom. Another example would be turning a garage into a guest house. Although having a guest house might be better for your family, many families would prioritize having a garage.

Remember these mistakes when you are choosing renovation projects around your home. What seems like a good idea might not actually lead to a return on investment or, worse, may detract someone from buying your home.

Recommended Reading:

-Picture Perfect: How to Take Great Photos of Your Home

-Do This, Not That: Tips for Staging Your Home

-Your Pre-Sale Checklist

-Seller Marketing Plan

-Adding Value to Your Home

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Veteran Climber Natalia Aulenbacher Joins Climb With Rick Davidson

Natalia Aulenbacher of CENTURY 21 Freedom Realty is an outdoor adventure junkie. After moving to Alaska in 2000, she has served as a mountain guide and a rafting guide. Upon learning of Century 21 CEO Rick Davidson’s passion for climbing, she introduced herself at this year’s Global Conference and within minutes, had accepted the offer to join the Climb for Kids team.

We sat down with Natalia to hear more about her passion for the outdoors and how she’s preparing for this year’s trip.

C21: How did you get involved in this year’s Climb for Kids?

NA: I’ve lived in Alaska since 2000. I move here to climb mountains. That’s why I wanted to live in the state. I went to Alaska Pacific University where I received a degree in Outdoor Studies, which was gearing me towards owning my own guiding outfit.

As for this year’s Climb, I knew Rick loved to climb and I had just joined CENTURY 21 a year ago (in March 2013) and so when I found out her was a big climber, I wanted to reach out and talk to him about if the Climb would ever return to Alaska.

When Rick and I met in person at this year’s Global Conference in Las Vegas, we began talking about climbing and then offered for me to join this year’s trip.

C21: Each year the Climb supports Easter Seals. Is this your first time fundraising for the organization?

NA: This is my first time fundraising for Easter Seals. They don’t have as large a presence in Alaska as they do in other states.

C21: We know you love the outdoors, but how did you first get involved in real estate?

NA: When I graduated college I decided to work near Denali as a mountaineering guide. It made me realize that type of climbing wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. I decided to head back where I had worked as a raft guide in the summers. At that point I got very into fly fishing, which is probably the second most popular income generator for Alaska. I wanted to be a fishing guide.

A while later I would up working in Cooper Landing for Alaska River Adventures. I was there for four years when I decided I wanted to ask the owner if I could buy the business and take it over. I started to pursue that, I had three investors and then I had a moment where I thought, “I am buying a job. Why would I do that?” so I put on the brakes. I wound up working there for three more years and that is where I met my husband. He’s the one who introduced me to real estate.

C21: How did your real estate interest develop?

NA: My husband and I started investing in some properties. That lead me to meeting a realtor who recommended I get my real estate license. I spoke to that agent’s broker and I hung my license with them. In the fall of 2012, I officially started working in real estate.

C21: How have the first two years been?

NA: I definitely struggled that first year. The following summer I had a very good year and I’ve been cruising along ever since.  I really do enjoy real estate – helping people purchase and sell. I have built a niche here now. I help people analyze their investment opportunities and make a profit.

C21: We’re happy to have you in the CENTURY 21 System, Natalia. We look forward to hearing the tales of your climbing adventure with Rick and the team.

Natalia, Rick and team are aiming to raise $100,000 in support of Easter Seals. To help the team reach their goal, donate here.

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5 Ways to Take Your Bedroom from Good to Great

Your bedroom should be a comfortable oasis where you can peacefully start and end each day. Make your bedroom your favorite room of the house!

We’ve put together five simple ways to help take your bedroom from good to great:

1. Beautiful Bedding: Your bed is the focal point of your bedroom and a vital component for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A good night’s sleep is essential, and a comfortable bed will increase your chances of getting rest. Use our tips to make your bed beautiful and cozy!

2. Art and Personal Photographs: Surround yourself with your favorite art and personal photographs. You’ll love being surrounded by art and some of you favorite memories. Buying art doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a lot of resources for buying decor on a budget.

2. Sitting Area: A sitting area will help elevate your bedroom from good to great! Curl up in your favorite chair to read, chat with your family members while you savor your first cup of coffee, listen to music, and relax. If you are short on space, put a bench or two x-benches at the end of your bed. If you have more space, add a couch, chairs, and a coffee table or ottoman.

4. Storage Space: Create a place for everything so that your room always looks neat and tidy. Getting rid of clutter will also make your space feel much larger. Buy multipurpose furniture, storage bins for under the bed, and a bookshelf. If you have a large closet, you could optimize the space by getting built-in shelving, shoe racks, and drawers.

5. Paint or Wallpaper: Choose paint or wallpaper that matches your style and decor. We have put together a few different color palettes to choose from. Paint or wallpaper can make a huge difference in making your room come together!

One great thing about these changes is that they do not have to be expensive. You can take your bedroom from good to great in just one weekend. These small changes can make a big difference in making your bedroom your new favorite room of the house!

Recommended Reading:

-Sweet Dreams are Made of These: How to Style a Bed

-Good to Great: Take Your Kitchen from Good to Great

-How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

-How to Style a Nightstand

-Serene Spaces: 5 Tips for Creating a Calm Bedroom


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