Things We Like: Renting Out Your Unused Bedroom For Cash

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

Ever thought of operating your very own mini-hotel? It may be easier than you think.

Many of us have an extra bedroom or two in our homes that go unused throughout most of the year. The extra space is certainly nice to have when your family or other guests come to visit, but what about the other 80 percent of the time? What if you could make money from your extra bedroom or guesthouse, all while meeting new travelers along the way.

The idea of renting your second home or extra bedroom to travelers looking for alternative lodging isn’t anything new. I can’t help but think this is how the first Bed & Breakfasts got started. While operating a formal B&B often requires special licensing and permits under state hospitality laws, there are a number of companies that specifically cater to the part-time hotel/landlord market, namely Airbnb (though, there are others like 9flats, HomeAway, and Travelmob — to name a few). However, you should check with your state laws before renting your space, as a New York Judge recently declared that short-term rentals violate its state hospitality laws if the owner isn’t present. Other cities, such as New Orleans, have similar laws.

What is Airbnb?

“Whether you have a spare bedroom, own a second property, have a treehouse, or just want to rent your place and pay for your travels, you can list it on Airbnb.”

In a nutshell, Airbnb is a directory/listing platform that connects homeowners with travelers. In addition to helping you find a guest for your underused space, Airbnb also manages payments and deposits. It even comes with a guarantee, covering you for up to $1,000,000 for loss or damage caused by theft or vandalism.

While it the idea of Airbnb may be a bit too novel for many would-be hotel managers/guests, it’s actually pretty easy. I’ve personally used Airbnb on a number of occasions when visiting cities for a couple days, and have nothing but great things to say about my experiences. Most recently, I used Airbnb to find a cheap apartment to stay at for a wedding trip. Not only did I save hundreds of dollars over staying in a hotel, I also got to experience the city more like a local.

How much do people actually make renting their empty beds? Well, that depends on your home and location. That said, one entrepreneur amassed over $30,000 renting out her bedroom and sofa on Airbnb, which she used as seed money to start a business. That’s way more than I’ve ever found between the sofa cushions!

What would you do with a little extra rental income? Would you ever consider listing your space as a short-term suite? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Breakfast in Bed: Brown Sugar Scones

Post by Alison Hein.

Last Friday I was at my sister’s house, waiting for a washer and dryer delivery. You know the drill, right? An automated message the night before provides a 4-hour delivery window. You completely rearrange your next-day schedule, report for duty at the appropriate time, then twiddle your thumbs for three to four hours. Finally, your truck arrives.

I’m wise to this schtick, so I scouted for something to occupy my wait time. I poked around in Janet’s cabinets, shelves, and refrigerator. In search of?: a project with simple ingredients and a short, hot bake time. My quick inventory yielded the perfect answer – scones!

After searching for cinnamon for 20 minutes, I decided not to use any. Instead, I upped the amount of dark brown sugar to infuse the scones with a deep, caramel sweetness. I like to pre-score my scones before baking, to make them easy to separate without crumbling. A sugar and egg wash crisps the tops, and leaves behind a textured, crystallized taste with each bite.

18 minutes later, I took the bubbling hot scones from the oven, smeared them with lightly salted butter, and  with the last of my cooling coffee, I indulged.  Still only one hour into my wait time…

Don’t worry, Jan. I only ate one scone. Plenty left for you and your family to have a sleepy Saturday morning and a sugary breakfast in bed.

Ingredients
2¼ cups flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (one half stick) cold butter
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 eggs

Preparation
Preheat oven to 425°. In large bowl, mix together flour, 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and cut into dry ingredients.

Combine milk, vinegar and one egg in separate small bowl. Mix well, then add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed in.

Turn batter out onto lightly floured board. Divide into eight equal pieces and shape into balls. Press each ball into a flat round, and place scones on lightly greased cookie sheet. Cut crosses in the top of each scone, but do not cut all the way through.

Lightly beat remaining egg, and brush on top of scones. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar. Place in oven and bake for about 18 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.

Makes 8 scones.

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Bedtime Stories: Delicious, Mouthwatering Weather

Post by Mark T. Locker

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett; illustrated by Ronald Barrett.

My Grandpa bought me this book when I was a kid and I was fascinated with it on so many levels. I brought it home from the library for my own kid this week. I’m not sure if he will obsess over it the way I did, but he definitely loves it. Apparently a movie of this book was released a few years ago…I’m just going to pretend that never happened and keep my memories preserved in the print version.

If you haven’t read this before, I’ll give you a quick synopsis. One morning Grandpa comes over and makes pancakes for the kids. A mishap leads to a pancake landing on a child’s head. Inspired by the incident he tells them a story that night about the land of Chewandswallow. In that land, nobody has to cook their own food. Instead, the food comes in in the weather systems. It might rain orange juice in the morning, mashed potato clouds might roll in for lunch and a roast beef front may come through in the evening. All is well and good until the weather starts to go haywire. Overcooked broccoli three days in a row. Giant doughnuts rolling down Main Street. Apparently that’s a problem but I don’t see why.

It’s a fun, creative and unusual book from the author/illustrator couple who also brought us Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing (which is also great fun). Now go, read, and dream of hamburgers raining down.

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Movies in Bed: NOVA science NOW

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Neil deGrasse Tyson or David Pogue? Sorry, David, but Neil has a rock star appeal you’d be hard-pressed to live up to. This question only makes sense if you are a regular watcher of the PBS show which makes science approachable to the masses, NOVA science NOW.

In our home, if we are all going to watch something together, we try to make it as pleasant as possible for we the grown-ups. Luckily for us, our kid likes some pretty fantastic programming. Most recently, we turned him on to this show. We watched an episode called, “How Smart are Animals?” which discusses, as you doubtless guessed, the intelligence of animals. We all love to watch it. It’s approachable enough that a 4 3/4-year-old enjoys it and takes something away from it. And, IT’s FASCINATING. Dolphins are SO smart! They can coordinate all new tricks together, like a new synchronous twirly flip without EVER having done it! Even dogs are apparently smart; it’s not just dog peoples’ bias. I like the older episodes because of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s aforementioned appeal. But David Pogue is actually quite entertaining. A little grating to me but he definitely gets the 4 3/4-year-old crowd.

They have a bunch available online and on Netflix. It’s entertaining and you get to feel good about yourself for watching it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_jt5OIQqbc

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Things We Like: Bohemian Bedroom Design

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

With summer just around the corner, now is a perfect time for a bedroom makeover. And if you’re looking for a fresh new style for your bedroom, consider going bohemian. Bohemian design is a fun and friendly look that exudes creativity and a carefree attitude; just don’t tell anyone how hard you worked to perfect it.

What is Bohemian Style?

The original bohemians lived in the Czech province of Bohemia, which was a center for political, cultural and religious discord. Residents of Bohemia were characterized by their artistic lifestyle, unconventional and outspoken political views, and laid-back attitudes. Today, the term bohemian (“boho” or “boho-chic” for short) is used to describe a casual, creative style for both apparel and interior design.

How To Make Your Bedroom Boho-Chic

Bohemian design is limited only by your creativity. Described as a little eclectic, a little modern, but always vintage, Bohemian design can be the perfect way to create a stress-free haven in your bedroom. Since the bohemian style varies widely, the best way to get a sense of bohemian design is to look at examples. As always, Houzz has an excellent gallery of bohemian bedrooms. There are also a number of other websites dedicated to the look.

Once you have a general sense for the different ways other people have succeeded in designing a boho-chic bedroom, it’s time to connect with your inner artist and get to work. First, you need to decide on a color scheme. While bohemian design can accommodate just about any color palate, it should include a mix of neutral colors like brown and terracotta accented with jewel tones and gold.

Next, you’ll want to think about patterns and textures. Bohemian design is anything but flat, and you’ll use a lot of different patterns, textures, and styles to achieve the look. You don’t really need to plan out the patterns and textures you’ll use ahead of time, just know that more is better when it comes to bohemian design.

On that note: accessorize excessively. Artwork, pictures, thickly framed mirrors, decorative cushions, frilly throw pillows, heavy rustic rugs, eclectic light fixtures, textured window treatments, and airy canopies or baldachins are all part of the bohemian style. Flea markets and vintage stores are both great places to find accessories for your bohemian bedroom.

Finally, and most importantly: have fun. Bohemian is all about being carefree and whimsical. It’s about doing what makes you happy — a hodgepodge of everything that’s you. Don’t worry if you think you’re overdoing it, or whether a piece of furniture you like will “work” in your bohemian room. If you like it, chances are it will.

Ryan Saghian over at Haute Design Network came up with a boho-chic recipe that can serve as a useful guide if you’re still wondering how to create the look in your own space.

So what do you think: Is boho-chic for you? What do you think the most important elements of bohemian design are? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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