May 2019 Are You Sure This Is a DIY Project? A major remodel can be expensive, making DIY an attractive option. But as you ponder tackling a home improvement project on your own, here are a few things to consider:How extensive is the project? A complete remodel might include relocating walls, reconfiguring spaces, and replacing floors, fixtures, and plumbing systems. A refresh could involve painting walls, refacing cabinets and countertops, and maybe changing out hardware.How old is the home? Older homes often present bigger problems. Antiquated electrical and plumbing systems can be dodgy for a DIYer. And issues such as mildew, mold, asbestos, and lead paint require treatment and/or removal by an experienced contractor.Are permits required? Are essential systems up to code? You may need a licensed contractor to obtain necessary permits.Do you have the right tools? Before you start, determine what tools you'll need and the cost to obtain them. You might find that hiring a contractor is more cost-effective than buying tools.Are you able to transport and store tools and materials? Remodeling projects often require large tools and heavy materials.Are you prepared to undertake the job, and are you resourceful enough to respond well if something should go awry? Mistakes can be expensive. In the end, you could end up saving yourself time, money, and frustration by hiring a pro to do the work. Alternatively, you might try a hybrid approach and do some of the before-and-after work yourself. How to Unleash Your Creative Genius"Creative types" are a myth. It's not because they don't exist. It's because we're all creative. Some of us simply lose touch with our creative sides along the way.We don't all have to be artists and writers, but there are benefits to taking up creative endeavors. They help us express ourselves, relieve stress and anxiety, and give us a sense of freedom.If it's been a long time since you've doodled, painted, or written freely, you simply need to spark your creativity. Here are four ways to do so.Put your phone away. Boredom or free time is great for getting creative, but we've gotten so used to taking out our phones whenever we have a free second. Try a digital detox for a few hours or a few days and see what happens.Listen to or watch something creative. A documentary about an artist or chef or a TED talk by a creator can be a great way to inspire your own creative thoughts.Go outside. Head out into nature for a walk or jog, or just to sit and reflect. Natural beauty and wildlife can help lift a creative fog.Just do it. Set aside some time and grab a notebook and a pen, or watercolors and a canvas. Then dive in. Don't think about what you're going to write, sketch, or paint; just start and see what happens.If you practice these techniques, you might be surprised at the creative juices that start to flow! Marinated Eggplant Serves 4 as a side dish2-3 medium eggplants Olive oil for brushing Salt and pepper to taste 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 tablespoon chopped basil 3 tablespoons lemon juice 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 clove garlic, crushed Red pepper flakes, to tasteDirectionsPreheat oven to 425 degrees.Trim the ends off the eggplants. Cut into thirds widthwise and then into wedges. Line the wedges on a large baking sheet, skin side down, and brush generously with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 15-20 minutes or until they are soft and golden brown on the edges.Meanwhile, whisk together the herbs, pepper flakes, lemon juice, olive oil, and crushed garlic in a large bowl.While the eggplants are still hot, add them to the marinade and toss to coat completely. Allow to marinate for 2 hours before serving. Quick Quiz Each month I'll give you a new question.Just send us an email and submit your answer.Who is considered to be the "Father of Computers" for his creation of the first mechanical computer?First 10 responders will be entered into drawing for 3 Starbuck's gift cards.Last month's winners were: Lee Ann ReeseMindy FrenchEmalee Stowers Mann Worth Quoting Some Quotes on FriendsDon't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.Albert Camus A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.Elbert Hubbard Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.Oprah Winfrey A friend should be one in whose understanding and virtue we can equally confide, and whose opinion we can value at once for its justness and its sincerity.Robert Hall True friends stab you in the front.Oscar WildeA friend to all is a friend to none.Aristotle Landscaping Losses: Are They Covered by Insurance?Your neighbor's teenager drove over your beautiful flower beds. That old oak finally fell, and it took out your fence on its way down.If a disaster hits your landscaping, is this covered by homeowners insurance? In many cases, yes. As part of your home, your landscaping is often covered by your homeowners policy, but not always. Here's the scoop:Plant perils: Homeowners policies typically cover costs to replace plants, trees, and shrubs that are damaged by fire, lightning, vandals, or someone's else's vehicle. However, damage caused by weather and pests, such as flooding, wind, and insects, often is not covered by homeowners insurance.Tree tragedies: Tree coverage can be a bit tricky. Coverage varies depending on the specifics of the situation. If a tree falls on a structure, your policy may provide coverage for the cost of removing the tree and the repairs to the structure. If it falls without damaging anything, you may have to pay for the tree removal yourself. Additionally, your coverage probably won't pay to replace the tree in either situation.Landscaping limits: As with most policies, homeowners insurance usually has limits on the landscaping coverage provided. Often, this limit is a certain percentage of the dwelling protection. The policy may also limit how much can be spent on each replacement plant. It may be possible to extend your coverage to include higher amounts and additional circumstances.Reach out to our office to determine whether you'd like to expand your landscaping coverage. A quick review of your policy will reveal what protection you're currently offering your plants. Meet Amber ThomasAmber is the newest addition to our staff and new smiling face in our office. As an administrative assistant she provides support to the staff and has excellent client service skills. She has over 20 years of customer service experience and is looking forward to becoming a Customer Service Agent in the near future. We're all delighted to have Amber as part of our staff.