Fruit still a major topic at garden events

Harris County Master Gardeners fruit tree preview and sale: 8 a.m. preview of dwarf apples, plums, goji berries and other fruits: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. sale at the Harris County Agrilife extension office, 3033 Bear Creek Drive; 281-855-5600,

Fort Bend County Master Gardeners fruit tree sale: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. or until sold out at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds, Barn H, 4310 Texas 36 S., Rosenberg; 281-341-7068,

Montgomery County Master Gardeners fruit tree preview and sale: 8 a.m. preview, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. sale at the Montgomery County AgriLife extension office, 9020 Airport, Conroe; 936-539-7824,

High Density Home Orchard Management: with Angela Chandler. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-351-8851,

Growing Citrus in Your Backyard: with Master Gardener Chris Anastas. 6:30-8 p.m. at Galveston County AgriLife extension office, 4102 Main, La Marque; reservations, 281-534-3413.

Pruning Your Peaches, Nectarines and Plums: sponsored by Urban Harvest. 4-6 p.m. at southwest Houston residence; 713-880-5540, $24 members, $36 nonmembers. …read more

Via: Gardening


Personal libraries become retreats

With the advent of tablets, cellphones and e-readers, could the book-lined home library go the way of the formal dining room?

“When there’s an endless river of (digital) content, the words, text and images we choose to print and bind into a physical book will make (it) even more special,” he said.

Branca imagined the space, which included walls covered in chocolatey faux bois (wood-grain appearance) sateen and a plump sofa blanketed in tartan, as a room where you could store favorite vintage books but also use a digital reader.

Create an enveloped space by running shelves up to the ceiling; wood tones keep the ambience warm, but consider white or even an interesting color – creamy yellow or rich carmine (deep red), for example – so books, accessories and art will pop.

Spanish design house Playoffice turns a run-of-the-mill home library into a playhouse with a sturdy mesh net suspended across the whole space like an enormous hammock. …read more

Via: Gardening


What You Need to Know From the Latest National Housing Report

Buying or selling a home is obviously one of the most exciting, challenging and emotional things any of us will ever be lucky enough to do. While the majority of us make the decision to buy or sell based on a lifestyle needs, it would be naïve to think we don’t lay awake at night throughout the process wondering and worrying about the financials. That’s why it is valuable to look at the monthly Existing Homes Sales report issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

This report spurs a flurry of housing-related articles that you will see today and tomorrow with so many using it to gain perspective about the state of the U.S. economy and the housing market.

Today’s report shows that the housing industry continues its return towards normalcy. Along with a look at December, the report highlights what happened in 2013. There were 5.09 million homes (not including new ones) sold in the U.S. last year This was 9% higher than 2012 and the strongest since 2006 when 6.48 million homes were sold. The median price of these homes was $197,100, an 11.5% increase over 2012.

There are a few other really interesting stats. The sales of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) have dropped substantially to 14% in December compared to 24% in December 2012. So while that is good news, what remains a concern is the current lack of inventory, the amount of homes currently for sale.

NAR reports that there are 1.86 million homes currently on the market, a 4.6 month supply. While this sounds like a lot, this categorizes most as “seller’s markets”. A six-month supply is considered balanced with more than that classified as a “buyers’ market.” It’s a simple supply/demand equation. Not enough homes for sale means buyers don’t have as much choices nor leverage during negotiations since there are likely more bidding for the same homes.

The homes that are on the market are selling quickly. The median time on market for all homes was 72 days in December with 28% selling in less than a month. Again, this fits the supply/demand model.

Clearly, homes are bought and sold by individuals with their own personal needs and national statistics do not shed light on local conditions. But it is clearly wise for those considering, thinking or dreaming about buying or selling a home, to take a moment and ask a Coldwell Banker agent what’s going on at home. If you don’t know any agents, go ahead and use to find an office near you and reach out to the manager there.

Good luck and we’ll be back next month with NAR’s next report.

The post What You Need to Know From the Latest National Housing Report appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


And the Winner of the 1st Ever #HomeRocks Award Is…

CWB HomeRocks Instagram 612x612 02 And the Winner of the 1st Ever #HomeRocks Award Is...

In anticipation of the upcoming GRAMMY Awards, we are excited to announce that “Take Me Home” by Midnight Red is the winner of the first ever #HomeRocks Award after receiving overwhelming support from fans and over 72,000 votes!

All of the songs nominated for the #HomeRocks Award were released in 2013, represented a theme related to how we feel about home and contained the word “home” in the title. We are overwhelmed with the response to this inaugural contest as we received over 130,000 votes this past week and plenty of heated debates in the comments section. It’s evident that music plays a big role in lots of people’s homes as fans of all the artists expressed their support in both the comments and on social media using the #HomeRocks hashtag.

This morning my esteemed colleagues, Lindsay Listanski & Gustavo Gonzalez, are meeting with Midnight Red to present them with a surprise gift to honor them on winning the #HomeRocks contest. Pics and vids are sure to come a bit later.

Don’t miss the debut of the new Coldwell Banker Real Estate ad as it debuts on the Grammys on Sunday night, 1/26 on CBS.

About the #HomeRocks Award: The winner of the #HomeRocks Award was selected by a vote that was open to the public on the Blue Matter blog from January 13 to January 21. Intended to generate excitement through social media for Coldwell Banker’s new commercial airing during the GRAMMYs, the #HomeRocks Award celebrates new music from 2013 and demonstrates the many ways that feelings about home can be celebrated through music.

The post And the Winner of the 1st Ever #HomeRocks Award Is… appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


There Is No Place Like Home Sweet Home

CWB HomeRocks Instagram 612x612 06 There Is No Place Like Home Sweet Home

Inspiration can come from many places. Sometimes it happens when you least expect it. Recently on a business trip to Louisiana I found myself delayed at the airport, sure to miss my connecting flight. Now the last place I’d ever expect to find inspiration is an airport, but it happened.

I’m sitting in the terminal on the phone with the airline’s automated phone system. Seeing me get frustrated, a person sitting across the table from me asked if she could help. Turns out she worked for the airline, but was off duty. After assuring me that the airline would reassign me to a later connecting flight, she asked where home was. At first, I thought it was a little odd that a complete stranger would ask me such a question. Where is home? Hmmm.

She didn’t ask where I was “headed.” She didn’t ask where I “lived.” Turns out, home had a special meaning for her. She was headed home to meet her husband who was flying from Afghanistan after a six month tour of duty. She said to me, “he’s finally coming home.” I thanked her for her helping me navigate the airline delay, wished her safe travels home and to please tell her husband “thank you” for everything he does for this country.

Later as I sat there, 37,000 feet above the earth, on my way home I couldn’t help but reflect on the meaning of home, and of course how precious it must be for that serviceman who is hours away from coming home to his wife. And how many people around the world are holding on to that feeling of “going home.” You see the meaning of home is the same everywhere in the world. It may come in different languages, shapes, sizes and certainly represents different emotional moments, but no one ever said “I can’t wait to get back to my long-term financial investment.” Right?

In fact, think about all the different phrases where we use the word “home:”

  • “I can’t wait to get home to and sleep in my own bed.”
  • There was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home…..”
  • How many moms have said “just wait ’til your father gets home!”
  • There was that great moment in Top Gun when Goose (Anthony Edwards) said “Take me home, or leave me forever!”
  • One of my favorites is “home for the holidays.” How can you not be happy about that?
  • While it doesn’t have “home” in it, how about the term staycation! That’s right, getting away from it all at home.

That’s the feeling we are trying to convey in the first of two ads Coldwell Banker Real Estate will be unveiling in 2014. We call this first spot “Home Sweet Home” and you’ll see why for a couple of reasons. First, the song that is the track for the ad is from the infamous band, Mötley Crüe, and is appropriately titled, “Home Sweet Home.” Second the visuals in the ad convey how each of us from all walks of …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


Home of the Week: Bob Hope’s Estate in Toluca Lake

In our newest ‘Home of the Week‘ we move from a waterfront home in the British Virgin Islands to the estate of legendary entertainer Bob Hope.

More than just a home, this exceptional compound listed at $27.5 million is more akin to a retreat or resort. The secure sense of privacy and sense of calm close to the hustle of Los Angeles is no doubt what attracted the late great actor Bob Hope to this estate in the late 1930s. Built especially for the Hope family, this once-in-a-lifetime property sits on over 5 acres and has a main house with more than 14,800 square feet of interior living space.

Sure the 8 bedroom home is seriously MTV Cribs-worthy with its indoor and outdoor pools, patios, golf course, terraces and prize-winning rose garden; but the history of the home is what truly makes this property a historic American landmark. The home is perfect for entertaining and entertaining the Hopes’ sure did. Imagine Liz Taylor and Lucille Ball telling jokes over dinner while Bing Crosby serenades guests as they enjoy post dinner coffees. It’s said that second only to the White House, have so many celebrities and politicians visited a home.

Be sure to watch this unprecedented look into Bob and Delores Hope’s home and click here if you’d like to see more pictures of this priceless home listed by Jade Mills with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

The post Home of the Week: Bob Hope’s Estate in Toluca Lake appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


How a Father Built a Home With Only His Hands

dads hands guitar How a Father Built a Home With Only His Hands

Our series of posts on how music shapes a home brings us to the following post from my co-worker, Renee Savoy, who not only works for Coldwell Banker but also knows how to work a microphone like few others I’ve met.

By the title, you might imagine that I am about to tell you about the hard laboring, weathered hands of the man I call Daddy. You’re right. My father earned a living with his hands but not as a carpenter or builder, as you may think. He was, and still is to this day, a professional musician, singer and songwriter. He provided for our family by touring the east coast playing everywhere from fancy venues to seedy nightclubs. Music is his life and, in turn, the core of our family.

This lifestyle often came at a high price. It meant he wasn’t home for long stretches of time. I can remember from as young as the age of four, running into my Daddy’s arms when he burst through the door of our house with his guitar case in hand! That case seemed enormous to me then and it had his initials, S W, in gold script lettering on it. That case meant Daddy was home. And it wouldn’t be very long before he would pull that guitar out of its magical case and play for and with us, filling our home with music and laughter.

My most vivid and heart-warming memories of my childhood home are of the music that filled it and overflowed from it. Daddy could write songs on the fly about any topic at all. But he also wrote serious songs about life and morality, as well as passionate love songs. He wrote a special song for each of his four children that bring tears to the eyes. Now this may sound like a love fest for my Dad and it may well be, but what makes him even cooler was his desire to expose me to all genres and types of music and artists. His vinyl (you kids can Google that) collection was extensive, diverse and downright eclectic.

I remember Dad sending me to the local music store to buy “needles” for the “record player”. Yeah, I’m showing my age but it’s worth it in this case. I was fortunate enough to live practically next door to my grammar school and my most favorite thing was coming home for lunch each day when Dad wasn’t on the road and having him play me a new piece of music. Monday: the Eagles. Tuesday: Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. Wednesday: Larry Carlton. Thursday: Earth Wind & Fire. Friday: The Beatles. You get the picture? What made this exercise truly inspiring was he would have me sit with my eyes closed and really listen. Then he would ask me how the song made me “feel”. No matter what I heard, it always made me feel. And those feelings will forever mean home to me.

And then there is Christmas – the most musically …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


For This CEO Home Truly Does Rock

DSC 0959 For This CEO Home Truly Does Rock

No doubt we all believe home rocks, though the term is probably subject to individual interpretation. Most of us feel home rocks due to it being the place where we spend the most time with those we love, or perhaps it’s due to the sense of peace one may find in a world that’s constantly moving far too fast just beyond our front door.

All, and more, are very true. But for me, the term may be a little more literal. You see, as a music lover, one of the things I enjoy most about home is shifting out of work mode, pushing that power button, and cranking up the stereo (to 11 for you Spinal Tap fans) to enjoy one of the thousands of albums, tapes, digital cassettes, mini-discs, or cds that I’ve collected over the last forty or so years since first borrowing my older brother’s copy of Bob Dylan’s “Blond on Blond.”

Others play golf, fish, or any one of other countless hobbies which allow them to turn off the switch in their head for a few hours, relax and escape from the complexity of business routines and endless commitments. But for me, it’s always been about diving into my collection and finding that melody which perfectly fits the moment and transports my home into an aural oasis where everything else is tuned out.

Regardless of generation, songs relate to specific periods in our lives. Often we can associate the most significant events to a song or artist who we were really into at the time, and hearing just a few bars triggers a flood from our memory banks. Why is it that we can’t remember what happened yesterday morning but can recall lyrics from a song we haven’t heard in twenty years?

Momentous events may also include relocations to the different homes one has owned during his or her life, and I have a particular song I can relate to each residence. There’s even a song I identify with my moves between homes. “A New Life in a New Town,” an instrumental written by David Bowie and Brian Eno in 1977 (the year I graduated high school) and made my first move away to college, has proven the first song I play after setting up my equipment in every new home though these many years, and it signals the beginning of yet another new chapter in life.

Whether it’s turning up the stereo with friends on the lawn in summer, dancing (if one wishes to call it that) with my wife across the hardwoods, or doing some serious listening alone in my favorite chair, music has, and will always be, a major part of why my HomeRocks!

The post For This CEO Home Truly Does Rock appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


Slideshow: 5 Homes Fit for “Royals”

Florence Slideshow: 5 Homes Fit for Royals

“And we’ll never be royals
It don’t run in our blood” – From Lorde’s ‘Royals’

While many legendary acts like Paul McCartney and Jay Z released new material in 2013, it was a 17 year old newcomer from New Zealand who proved to be the breakout star of last year.

Although Lorde’s album Pure Heroine was met with critical and worldwide fanfare; it’s her three-time Grammy Award nominated song “Royals” that catapulted her to Superstardom. In the song that topped charts for 9 consecutive weeks, she accurately states that “we’ll never be royals“, and unless your name happens to be William or Harry she’s probably right.

We might never “be royal” and have titles and lands to fight over like they do in Game of Thrones; but you could certainly feel like royalty in any one of these 5 homes fit for Kings and Queens:

This 12th century castle in Florence is something out of an old Shakespeare play; truly made for Kings and Queens. The estate includes the ancient castle with its Romanesque church, a farm, a villa and a tower with strong walls to fend off would be usurpers.

Listed by: Coldwell Banker Immobiliare Florence Branch

Located near Monaco and Cannes, this 19th century property feels like its been plucked straight from the pages of a Jane Austen novel. The villa was built by renowned Danish architect George Tersling and features 50 foot ceilings, sweeping staircases and a marble fireplace to read and enjoy tea like a proper royal. I’m no betting man, but I’m guessing Lorde would be “proud of her address” if she lived here.

Listed by: Coldwell Banker PREVIEWS Demeure Prestige.

Loches Slideshow: 5 Homes Fit for Royals

This 13th century castle built during the Renaissance still exudes all of the magnificence of its time, in its decorative elements and exceptional bands of medallions. Those wishing to live like “royals” need not to look any further; for this extraordinarily elegant castle features about 3 acres of trees, meadows and swimming pools that would even make a Lannister jealous.

Listed by: Coldwell Banker PREVIEWS Demeure Prestige

St. Martin v2 Slideshow: 5 Homes Fit for Royals

Not all Princes and Princesses were born in the 1500s, so this estate built in 2005 would be perfectly suitable for the discerning tastes of the 21st century royal. The cliffside retreat offers astounding coastline and island views of the island of Anguilla. How seriously royal looking is this phenomenal estate? Lorde or anyone else who lives here could certainly scream “Let me be your ruler” and it wouldn’t sound crazy.

Listed by: Coldwell Banker Real Estate St Maarten

Textile Slideshow: 5 Homes Fit for Royals

This estate was home to the Textile Museum until recently and has that quintessential early …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog


It’s winter and gardeners are busy

Fort Bend County Master Gardener fruit tree sale preview: 8:30-11 a.m. at the Bud O’Shieles Community Center, 1330 Band, Rosenberg; 281-341-7068,

Planting Fruit Trees: with Master Gardener Herman Auer. 9-11 a.m. at Galveston County AgriLife extension office, 4102 Main, La Marque; reservations at 281-534-3413,

Fruit and Nut Tree Gardening: with John Panzarella. 10 a.m. at the Kingwood Garden Center, 1216 Stonehollow, Kingwood; 281-358-1805.

Secrets to Attracting Birds to Your Garden: 10:15 a.m. at Cornelius Nursery, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss.

Harris County Master Gardeners fruit tree preview and sale: 8 a.m. preview of dwarf apples, plums, goji berries and other fruits: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. sale at the Harris County Agrilife extension office, 3033 Bear Creek Drive; 281-855-5600,

Fort Bend County Master Gardeners fruit tree sale: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. or until sold out at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds, Barn H, 4310 Texas 36 S., Rosenberg; 281-341-7068,

Montgomery County Master Gardeners fruit tree preview and sale: 8 a.m. preview, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. sale at the Montgomery County AgriLife extension office, 9020 Airport, Conroe; 936-539-7824,

Six-week course focused on landscape design, hardscapes and water features, sustainable design practices. …read more

Via: Gardening