Real Estate Headlines for Thanksgiving

Loosen that belt buckle and break out the sweater that’s extra roomy because there’s a lot of eatin’ going on this week. Before you either jump for joy or start feeling depressed, let’s kick off this week of feasting with a Thanksgiving themed weekly dose of real estate headlines:

Miles Standish wishes he had this ultimate Thanksgiving Spotify playlist to make that first Thanksgiving even more festive.

A Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie is like American Idol without Ryan Seacrest. It just isn’t right. However, if you’re feeling adventurous here are 5 new ways to serve pumpkin pie from your kitchen.

Eating your turkey in front of the TV? I bet you wish you were instead having dinner at one of these fictional TV homes who would offer a ridiculously entertaining Thanksgiving.

So you’re the guy (or gal) who wants to deep fry that bird this holiday. In order to ensure you make it to New Year’s please take a look at these tips to deep fry that turkey safely.

Heading over the river and through the woods or just around the corner? Either way many of us will be “Homeward Bound” and there’s definitely a Thanksgiving-esque sentiment behind the lyrics to this classic Simon & Garfunkel tune.

Uh oh. Just found out your cousin’s girlfriend is a vegetarian? Here are some tips on hosting a vegetarian for Thanksgiving. (Hint: Avoid Tofurkey.)

What’s that? You’re going to serve turducken at your house? John Madden has some tips for you.

Don’t be the home that has a vegetable platter for appetizers. Try one of these 15 delicious appetizer ideas for Thanksgiving.

Does your dining room table need a turkey centerpiece? I’m pretty sure it does. Etsy has some options for you.

And finally, round apple pies are so 2012. Here’s a recipe for the best apple pie you’ll ever have come out of your kitchen…and it’s square.

The post Real Estate Headlines for Thanksgiving appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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Learn about rain gardens and nature ponds at Houston Arboretum r

Sunday
Designing Rain Gardens and Nature Ponds: with Joe Blanton. 1-3:15 p.m. at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; 713-681-8433, register at houstonarboretum.org. $40 members, $65 nonmembers.
Nov. 30
Reptiles and Raptors: with Adrian and Laura Berg of Crossbone Corns and Kevin Gaines of Wildlife Revealed. 11 a.m., 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m. at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; 713-681-8433; register at houstonarboretum.org. $15 members, $25 nonmembers, $10 ages 2-15, ages 1 and younger, free. …read more

Via: Gardening

    

Tips on Hosting a Vegetarian for Thanksgiving

Guest Blog Post by Anna Visioli

You are turkey-day ready. You’ve been planning for weeks and are ready to brine, roast or deep fry that bird to perfection, to the inevitable delight of the brood gathered before you. So imagine the horror of all horrors, when yes, you are told that you will be hosting a vegetarian at your Thanksgiving table.

It’s okay, put down the paper bag. There’s no need to hyperventilate. And for crying out loud, stop searching for the nearest store selling Tofurkey. No one eats that stuff outside of Friends re-runs. As a 20+ year vegetarian, I’ve survived my share of conversations about preferring neither the white NOR dark meat, thank you, being served (and having to pretend to enjoy) some weird vegetarian approximation of a turkey, and simply feeling like a holiday pariah. So whether it’s your first time hosting a vegetarian or just another year serving a brood of vegans, here are my tips to make any vegetarian feel at home at a table of carnivores.

Focus on the sides

Make no mistake about it; the turkey is the star of your Thanksgiving table with the mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied yams and green bean casserole functioning merely as lesser supporting players. However, many of these seasonal favorites are naturally meat-free, and will allow your vegetarian guest to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast along with everyone else. Most side-dishes can easily be vegetarian-friendly. Just make sure to avoid bases like chicken stock in stuffing or your mashed potatoes, substituting vegetable broth instead (it should go without saying, that giblets in the stuffing are a definite no-no). You don’t even need to nix the gravy. Campbell’s mushroom gravy is one store-bought vegetarian option.

For your vegan guests (those would be the folks that avoid dairy as well as meat) you’ll have to go one further, substituting soy milk and vegan margarine (Blue Bonnet and Smart Balance Light Margarines are both vegan) in your potatoes. You’ll also have to ditch the canned mushroom soup in your green bean casserole. If you’re so inclined, you can make a green bean casserole base from scratch using fresh mushrooms and soy creamer.

Pass on the Tofurkey

The protein portion of the Thanksgiving meal provides perhaps the biggest challenge to vegeterianizing your Thanksgiving. This should serve as no surprise to your vegetarian guest, and you may simply want to ask him or her what they would prefer you serve. If you’re lucky, they will offer to bring something in for themselves, allowing you to avoid this conundrum altogether. However, if your dinner isn’t a potluck or you would just prefer to make something special for your guests, consider simple, make ahead options that won’t require you to make a parallel vegetarian meal.

Try a vegetarian pot pie, the internet offers a myriad of vegetarian and vegan options. Stuffed butternut squash is seasonal and pretty—consider making extra for the non-vegetarians at your table. Or to really wow ‘em, try my meatless meatloaf recipe below. The loaf …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog

    

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Moments

thanks football Our Favorite Thanksgiving Moments

Thanksgiving is an occasion to be enjoyed with others. Instead of just one of us talking about Thanksgiving memories, traditions and even plans for this year, Gus, Lindsay and I sat down to share our different takes on turkey day.

Here’s how the discussion played out:

What’s a Thanksgiving tradition in your home?

David: Coming from an Italian family, we didn’t just have turkey on Thanksgiving. We had to have pasta too. Sometimes ziti. Sometimes stuffed shells. But red “gravy” was always involved.

Gus: With Puerto Rican and Italian roots in my family, our roasted pork, “arroz con gandules” and lasagna dishes were just as important as the turkey! Food aside, for some reason we always end up watching “The Honeymooners” DVDs until the wee hours of the morning.

Lindsay: Helping my husband get ready for his annual Turkey Day Classic football game with his family (image to the right). His grandfather started the tradition over forty years ago and the tradition continues to live on. The morning of Thanksgiving my husband is up bright and early fired up to play and I get such a kick out of seeing him so excited.

What’s a favorite Thanksgiving memory from your home growing up?

Gus: The Thanksgiving of 2009 is a special memory to me. I had moved out of my parents’ house a few months earlier and hadn’t been around much besides the occasional quick visit. I made a point of going back “home” first thing that morning and remember how great it felt to be back. We all ate breakfast together, watched the parade, I played entirely too much Playstation with my little brother and just had an all around perfect day with my family. It felt good to be “home”.

Lindsay: I have two. The first was my first Thanksgiving home from college. I have a really special relationship with my parents and it was hard for me to move away from home. Spending that first holiday home with them after I moved out was something I will always remember. My mom and dad, as always, went overboard and made sure it was a day filled with amazing food, champagne toasts, and happiness. Of course, it made it hard to leave and go back to school. My second favorite memory was the first Thanksgiving I spent with my husband who at the time was my boyfriend. I had never spent a holiday away from my family. Spending our first holiday together was a big step toward spending our life together and I could tell by the way his family acted together that it was family I wanted to be a part of forever…and now I am.

David: I distinctly remember it’s the day when my parents broke out the Christmas music. The tree and other decorations might not have been up, but the music was playing and brought to the car for the trip to Grandma’s house. That and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were standard operating procedure in my home.

Is there some piece …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog

    

How to Choose the Right Insulation for a Cozy Home

Guest Post via Allstate Insurance

There are a number of ways to make your home comfortable; new paint and furnishings are tactics that come to mind. But an often-overlooked factor is proper insulation, which can help better regulate temperatures inside your home.

It can help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and, by ensuring that your home runs more efficiently, insulation can even save you money on energy costs.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that, unless your home was built specifically for energy efficiency, you can probably reduce your energy bills by adding more insulation – anywhere from 5 to 30 percent per year.

Of course, the challenge is that different climates and different home styles require different types of insulation, so there’s not a “one size fits all” solution. Here are some basics to help you decide what’s right for you.

Run an Energy Audit First

Where to begin? The best way to determine your insulation needs is to have an energy audit performed on your home. An audit helps you understand how your home is using energy, determine where you might be experiencing leaks and can help you prioritize potential solutions.

An audit will also reveal the “R-value” of existing insulation in your home. The R-value rates how well the material resists the passage of heat or cold. Obviously,

the higher the R-value, the more effective the material.

Insulate from Top to Bottom

According to Energy.gov, your home needs to be properly insulated from the roof down to the foundation for optimal energy efficiency.

That means you need insulation in the attic, in cathedral ceilings (if you have them), inside duct work, on exterior walls, the foundation, and any floors above an unheated space like a garage. Most homes do have some insulation, but it might be old, faulty or inadequate. In some spaces, you may have to identify drafts and seal air leaks before you begin an insulation project.

Pick the Right Insulation for the Job

Once you’ve completed an energy audit and determined the R-value of your existing insulation, you can move forward to deciding what type of insulation is best; often, it’s a mix of types.

To give you an overview, we’ve included a list of the most commonly used insulation types:

  • Blanket Insulation: Most commonly made of fiberglass (but also available in cotton, mineral wool, and plastic), blanket, or batt, insulation is what most people picture when they think of insulation. You can use blanket insulation on unfinished walls, and in floors and ceilings. Blanket insulation is relatively inexpensive and, according to Energy.gov, can be installed by a DIYer.
  • Blown-In Insulation: Loose-fill insulation (which is blown into place) is an option for any hard-to-reach spaces such as wall cavities, unfinished attic floors and existing walls. It can be made of fiberglass, cellulose (typically recycled newsprint) or even mineral wool.
  • Sprayed Foam Insulation: This type of insulation can be added to existing areas that are finished, an irregular shape, or located around an obstruction. The foam-like …read more

    Via: Coldwell Banker Blog

        

My Two New Favorite Cleaning Products

ssc My Two New Favorite Cleaning Products

When I moved into my house last month I knew I would be rolling up my sleeves to de-germ and clean what was left from the previous owners. What I didn’t know was that I would be faced with two of the toughest cleaning tasks I have ever faced.

Stainless Steel Solution

Let’s start with the stainless steel oven and refrigerator. Before I go any further can I just question whoever put the “stainless” in stainless steel? When I moved in my appliances were covered in smudges, streaks, and spots that no product in my normal cleaning arsenal stood a chance against. After spending 30 minutes, destroying a rag, and wasting countless paper towels I accepted defeat and headed off to Home Depot. Before I could even finish my sentence I was greeted with a smile and was pointed toward the cleaning section where I was introduce to my first favorite new product…

This CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner worked like a dream. Within seconds my appliances looked like they were brand new. They were smudge free, shiny, and there was thin layer that seems to prevent future smudging.

Shower Door Savior

We hired a cleaning service to deep clean everything before we moved our furniture in. I was so excited to come home to find everything (except for the stove/refrigerator) shining like new, until I walked into the bathroom. I could tell they clearly cleaned the sinks, floor, mirror, and toilet but it seemed like they completely forgot the shower door, which was in bad shape when we moved in. I called our cleaning woman and she said they did their best but there was nothing more they could do and that I might have to replace it. I tried my own luck and no matter how hard I scrubbed I couldn’t get the cloudy, dirty look out of the glass. It almost seemed like the glass was dirty from the inside.

My family friend, Armando, who lives on our street came over to check out our house that night and when I showed him the bathroom I pointed out how embarrassing the shower door was and said I was going to replace it. He asked me if I had any CLR and I lit up remembering the success I had with the Stainless Steel cleaner. He told me they make a bathroom/kitchen spray and sure enough it worked perfectly.

bk My Two New Favorite Cleaning Products

Take a look at this before and after picture of the door:

showerdoor My Two New Favorite Cleaning Products

Our Shower Door Before and After CLR Cleaner

So as you can see I am now a MAJOR fan of these two products and look forward to trying more from this brand. Here is the full list of Jelmar CLR products:

Bath & Kitchen Cleaner
BBQ Grill Cleaner
Grease Magnet
Metal Clear
Mold & Mildew Stain Remover
Outdoor Furniture Cleaner
Power Plumber
<a class="colorbox" …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog

    

Xbox One Wants to Be the Center of Your Home

There once was a man who had a plan for how his company could take over the world. Like a magician using slight of hand, this master of illusion made the world think his plan would come to fruition through the working force world where nearly everyone would be familiar with his company’s name. But quietly and gradually he inserted the very same product inside homes across the world until one day you would suddenly realize your home cannot function with out it.

That man is Bill Gates and that company is Microsoft. And the Xbox is the most powerful computer system he’s ever created.

The dream of a computer in every living room became a reality not through laptops or tablets, but with Xbox. Disguised as a video game console, the Microsoft product has become a digital epicenter for your home. Sure it is still used for playing Halo, Fifa and Batman: Arkham Origins, but with the release of the Xbox One it’s no longer trying to disguise itself.

The Xbox One launch might be the most devastating assault on the entertainment world and your living room since the dawn of cable TV. Go ahead and look at your TV in your family room. You probably have at least 4 other “boxes” hooked up to it. The Xbox One wants to eventually replace all of those.

At launch in addition to playing video games and DVDs, the Xbox One will offer homes with certain cable companies to allow you to ditch the often confusing TV channel lineup visuals and DVR functionality and instead access it through your Xbox One. The display of the TV interface for Xbox One is extremely simple and can be navigated using a controller or your smartphone. That’s at least one less remote you have to worry about.

What about that Apple TV or Roku box? The Xbox One wants you to forget about those too. With a subscription to Xbox Live, you can access apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, NFL programming and the uber popular YouTube channel, Machinima all on your console. Plus you can rent movies, download TV shows or stream music through the Xbox’s entertainment library. Plus you’ll be able to stream content from your Windows PC directly to your TV through Microsoft’s embedded software suite.

And we haven’t even gotten to how the Kinect motion-based system and camera will allow you to Skype with friends while playing games or watching TV and use motion or voice-based controls to browse through your Xbox dashboard.

Did I mention it plays games too?

Don’t just look at the Xbox One for what it offers on day 1. Look at what it’s potential is for your home in the future. If Xbox One can take over your cable box, rendering it useless, who’s to say that once it’s on your home’s network it can’t also offer apps from Nest to control your home’s temperature controls or an app from ADT to access your security system from your phone. If you have DoorBot …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog

    

Home of the Week: The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Chicago

In our newest ‘Home of the Week‘ we move from a European country house in Aspen to a chic penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Chicago.

Located in an ultra-exclusive forty-story tower in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, this 3 bedroom home listed at $4,840,156 is truly a sight to behold. Besides the spacious and expertly designed interior, the home features inspiring Chicago city views and access to the world-renowned service of The Ritz-Carlton.

The luxurious condo’s location in the heart of the Magnificent Mile means that homeowners have the best of Chicago right at their doorstep. In addition to its enviable location in the Windy City, being located in the residences at the Ritz-Carlton means you have access to world class perks and amenities highlighted by “The Landmark Club”. The club is a privately owned full-floor city club that comes complete with an elegant bar, private dining areas, personal wine storage bins, a billiards room, a movie theater and a gym just for starters.

As if that wasn’t enough, all homes come with outdoor terraces and you have access to private on-site chefs, concierge and expertly trained staff members. Whether you’d like to spend all your time in this resort like residence, or plan on having a posh place to stay at whenever you’re in town; the residences at the Ritz-Carlton offer up a unique and surpassed lifestyle.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about this property listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

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Legos + Holidays + Home = Amazing Memories

building legos Legos + Holidays + Home = Amazing Memories

I built my first home at around 6 years old. It was actually a castle. Had a moat and even a stable around back. It wasn’t all that big, but it’s where I spent a great deal of time after school. Just so happened that it was made of Legos.

For me, Legos are synonymous with home. I grew up building Lego sets and home was where I played with them. You see, Legos don’t travel all that well and home is where you build them. I can remember going to grandma’s house for Christmas, opening up a brand new Lego set and then anxiously waiting for when we could go home so I could start building. I didn’t want to take a chance building it at grandma’s house and then trying to transport it through a 2 hour car ride home and take the chance of it breaking. No, Legos are built at home.

Not only that, but for me Legos and holidays at home go hand in hand as well. The holidays are usually the times when you get those new sets and you have days off of school to work on putting them together. The week before New Year’s was always dedicated to building new sets. I can remember asking my mom and dad to help me with any sets that had some tricky steps that I just couldn’t do on my own. Once completed, my room would have sections dedicated to displaying my handiwork.

Now as a father and homeowner, Legos are still very much a part of home. I have four boys and two of them are avid Lego builders. The day after Christmas our dining room table is dedicated to assembling the new sets they receive (image below). I’ve spent my fair share of hours alongside them assisting in their construction although now my oldest doesn’t seem to need the hand holding he once did, but I still find a way to put together a few pieces or two for old times sake.

The video above that Lego aired in the UK as part of their holiday campaign is one of my favorite depictions of home this holiday season. As you watch it you’ll see that home is the setting for every scene and shapes the memories that are being made.

Whether you’re a Lego fan or not, there’s something magical about building something in your home. And the most wonderful thing you can build is the memory of the moments shared with those you love, especially this time of year.

Here’s to home and all the magical things you build in it…including Legos.

The post Legos + Holidays + Home = Amazing Memories appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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Improve Your Curb Appeal for Less

The first sight prospective buyers see when pulling up to an open house is the yard and exterior of the home and this first impression can have a big impact on whether a property sells. Many buyers will connect what they see on the outside of the home with how attractive the inside may be. Improving curb appeal is an important part of selling a home, and it’s also one of the most simple and affordable actions sellers can take.

Spruce Up the Exterior

Over time, natural wear and weather can take their toll on the outside of a home, making it appear older and lifeless. Improving the exterior is a quick fix and homeowners can begin by washing the outside frame of their home to remove dirt and grime. The finished product can also help owners determine if a fresh coat of paint is in order. In addition, current owners can make their homes stand out more by painting shutters and doors a different color than the home itself.

Many consumers replace indoor fixtures when updating their homes, but it’s important not to dismiss the outside as well. Replacing door handles, house numbers, mailboxes, locks and frames can not only make the home stand out more, but also give the house a more modern and practical feel, according to MSN Real Estate.

Lastly, homeowners with fences should give them the same care and attention as the home itself. Missing pikes should be replaced, and repainting white or colored fences that have been damaged by the sun is also important in maintaining a modern look.

Beautify the Yard

Pulling up to a home covered in leaves and dead grass is not the first sight owners want buyers to see. Laying down mulch and conducting some basic landscaping can go a long way in making a lawn look healthier. In addition, owners should make sure trees, bushes and shrubs are properly trimmed, and pull out weeds that are hindering flower growth. Individuals who don’t have a garden can make their yards look more colorful by visiting a nursery and purchasing potted plants.

Also, tools, toys and other yard items should be removed from the lawn before an open house. This not only declutters the lawn, but also provides a measure of safety to the owner by preventing accidents from happening.

Looking for more tips? Click Here.

See more of the beautiful East Greenwich, RI home above.

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Via: Coldwell Banker Blog