Garden Calendar: May 24-30

Fruit trees and organic pest management: 9:30-11:30 a.m. (trees), noon-1:30 p.m. (pests) at Houston Makerspace, 100 Hutcheson; edibleearthresources.com. $35 for one class, $55 for both.

Enjoy a Night Blooming Garden: 10 a.m. at Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond; 2 p.m. at Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond; myenchanted.com.

Butterfly and hummingbird gardens: 10:15 a.m. at Cornelius Nursery, 1200 N. Dairy Ashford and 2233 S. Voss; corneliusnurseries.com.

Open Garden Day: 9-11:30 a.m. at the Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens, Harris County Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 3033 Bear Creek Drive; 281-855-5600, hcmga.tamu.edu.

Sponsored by Friends of the Texas Room at the Houston Public Library. 6 p.m. (reception), 7 p.m. program at the Julia Ideson Building, 500 McKinney; dorothy_houghton@sbcglobal.net.

Sponsored by Gulf Coast Fruit Study Group. 6:30 p.m. at Harris County Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 3033 Bear Creek; gcfsg.weebly.com. …read more

Via: Gardening

    

Coneflowers: Popular wildflower’s palette bursts with color

Thirty years ago, purple coneflowers dominated our Heights garden, begrudging space only to orange daylilies and old-fashioned German bearded iris.

The daisylike blooms – comprised of a raised, oversized, spiky center disk surrounded by slightly downward-facing silky petals – reminded me of a carnival swing ride.

Decades later, purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, remains a star perennial known for its resilience, low maintenance and as a source of nectar for butterflies and bees.

Given its qualities, plus medicinal properties, the nonprofit National Garden Bureau has named echinacea the 2014 perennial of the year.

All-America Selections winner ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ offers red, orange, purple, scarlet, cream, yellow and white flowers on a single 18- to 20-inch plant. …read more

Via: Gardening

    

The Right Way to Clean Your Grill

Memorial Day Weekend is finally here which means it is time to give your grill a little TLC.

A simple scrub down isn’t enough. Get expert advice from Mike Lang, of Weber Grills, on how to safely clean your grill in the video above.

Click for Recipe

Happy Grilling!

The post The Right Way to Clean Your Grill appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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Urban Dwellers, Use These Tips to Make Your Cramped Space Look Bigger

Urban Dwellers: Carry Design Elements from Room to Room to Visually Extend Your Space

As urban dwellers, it’s practically guaranteed that you live in a small apartment. However, there’s no need to feel like your home is a shoe box. Try these tips and tricks to visually extend your space.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Carry Design Elements from Room to Room

Extending design elements throughout your space will create a natural flow from room to room. You want to avoid distracting the eye. When possible, use the same flooring throughout your apartment. Beautiful hardwood floors or plush carpet in every room will visually extend the space and keep your eye moving throughout the interior uninterrupted. The same is true for paint and wall treatments. Carry the same shade (or tones of the same shade) throughout your home.

Consider the outdoors an extension of your home, too. If you live on a sunny, tree-lined street, incorporate shades of blue or green. Midtown dwellers might create a sophisticated color palette by picking up gray tones from surrounding buildings.

Urban Dwellers Should Choose Furniture Carefully to Visually Extend Their Space

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Furniture is Important

Choosing the right furniture is key. Start by getting rid of non-essentials. Do you really need three end tables?

There’s a misconception that small apartments call for diminutive furniture. While you don’t want to choose pieces that overwhelm a room, lots of little pieces will read as clutter. Go minimal instead. A large love seat and two substantial chairs anchor a space in a way that four small chairs won’t. Consider acrylic and glass furniture, too. It takes up very little visual weight, making it popular with urban dwellers (check out CB2′s Peekaboo line).

Choose a Monochromatic Color Scheme

Monochromatic, or tone-on-tone, palettes use one color in various tints, tones, and shades to create a pleasing, harmonious effect. Think about it: In a bold blue-and-green room, your eye jumps from the blue walls to the green pillow to the blue lamp, while in an all-blue room, your eye travels uninterrupted from one object to another.

Bring interest to a monochromatic color scheme by incorporating different textures, materials, and patterns into your space. Don’t worry. A monochromatic room doesn’t have to be boring. Houzz’s monochromatic color scheme gallery has more than 60,000 photos that will leave you inspired!

Maximize Lighting

A well-lit room with proper lighting feels more spacious than a poorly lit room. Avoid relying solely on an overhead lights to illuminate your home. Think about how you use each space and include a mix of task, accent (or decorative), and ambient lighting.

New York apartments often have small windows. Make the most your windows by choosing curtains that open easily; opt for a color scheme that echoes your walls. You can also place a large floor-to-ceiling mirror across from the window to reflect light throughout the room.

Urban Dwellers: Draw the Eye up with Floating Shelves

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Draw the Eye Up

Finally, you can extend your …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog

    

How to Sublet an Apartment in New York City without Getting Burned

At some point, you may need to figure out how to sublet an apartment in New York City. There are many reasons that you may find yourself in a position where you need to sublet your space. Your company may have just offered you a six-month assignment in its London office. You may have received a grant to study the stick-like zanna tenbrosa bug in Madagascar for the summer. Whatever the reason, it sometimes becomes necessary for New Yorkers to find someone else to take over their leases or stay in their co-ops or condos while they’re out of town. There are plenty of people on the hunt for NYC sublets, so once you determine that you need to sublet your apartment, here’s a brief overview of what you should do next.

I have a rent-stabilized apartment. Can I sublet it out?

Absolutely! You may be one of those people who scored a rent-stabilized apartment, and you may assume that, thanks to all the rules regarding these apartments, subleasing it is a no-no. In fact, you are allowed by law to sublet your rental apartment, whether you’re a person with a standard rental agreement in a regular rental building or you’re someone holding a rent-stabilized lease. When it comes to figuring out how to sublet an apartment, here are some steps you’ll need to take:

  • Send the owner of the unit a letter by certified mail informing him or her of your intent to sublease. In effect, you’re asking for permission to do so, but laws state that landlords must comply with reasonable requests.
  • Include pertinent information in your certified letter, including the name and permanent address of the sublessee, how long you intend the sublease to be for, and the reason you need to sublet the space. Make sure you send the letter at least 30 days before your sublet is supposed to begin.
  • Figure out how long you want the sublease to be. In NYC, you can generally sublease your apartment for up to two years within a four-year period, but it cannot be for a period less than 30 days. Check with a housing lawyer before you start the sublet process. You want to make sure that you’ve dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s.

This sounds great! I own my apartment. Surely I can sublet it out as well?

You’d think that would be the case, but an owner-resident usually needs to jump through more hoops than a renter does, especially here in the city. While some co-op boards do allow owner-residents to sublease their apartments at will, many others tack tons of restrictions onto the process, while still others forbid subletting outright. One of the key reasons that many co-op boards limit residents’ abilities to sublet their apartments at will is to protect the other residents in the building. They also want to make sure that sublessees are able to pay the rent during the owner’s absence. If you’re planning on subletting the apartment that …read more

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3 Easy Ways to Make Your Deck Shine for Spring & Summer Selling

Guest Blog Post by HomeAdvisor

After a winter full of snow, falling leaves, winds and other climate changes, your deck probably looks a little worn down. If you’re planning to sell your home this spring and summer, the deck definitely needs to look its best to be a selling point.

To save time and avoid spending thousands of dollars on a new deck, here are some quick and easy maintenance steps to reinvigorating your deck for prospective buyers:

  1. Clean by pressure washing: During winter, the deck probably accumulated leaves, dirt and other buildup that would take hours to sweep away with a broom. So why not pressure wash the deck to get rid of it all? Pressure washing pushes enough force against the wood that dirt and grime flow off the deck without a hitch. Homeowners can purchase or rent a power washer for the weekend. Just be sure to wear goggles and gloves as safety precautions. If you’re worried about breaking glass or pieces of wood, exterior power washing costs between $290 and $390 depending on the deck’s square footage.
  1. Stain the wood: When your deck was first installed, it might also have been stained. However, climate conditions and wear might have deteriorated the stain. A deck can really shine under the sunlight and last for a long time with consistent staining. Staining works best for wood like redwood, cedar and pine, but it has to be the right type of coating to accent the grain. By consulting a deck contractor, he or she can help determine the best stain to bring out its natural beauty and last against the elements.
  1. Deck it out: While the deck itself should grab a prospective buyer’s attention, accent it with decorations and other attractions. You could have lighting installed for $125 or more as reported by homeowners to bring out the stain’s sheen at night. Placing furniture will illustrate how cozy the space is for grilling, parties and relaxation. Adding potted flowers and trees will help it blend into the landscape. A buyer who steps onto the deck will feel immediately immersed, increasing their desire to buy your home.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+.

See more images from the property featured in the cover photo here.

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Home of the Week: A Historic 17th Century Roman Mansion

Our focus on our finest international properties enters its third week as we head to the “eternal city” of Rome, Italy for a look at a historic 17th century detached mansion.

This prestigious home is located in the heart of the city just steps from the Roman Forum and other important ancient temples and structures that were at the center of Roman life. The home located in the famous building known as “Palazzo del Grillo” is listed for $8.9 million and features a royal-like interior with more than 5,300 square feet of interior living space.

Owning this 3 bedroom and 4 bath home is like owning a piece of ancient Roman history. Besides its privileged location, the home itself has been renovated, designed and even owned by some of Italy’s most famous artists and socialites – all who left an indelible mark on this magnificent property. With ceilings tastefully decorated by the famous Pietro da Cortona, who was the leading Italian Baroque painter of his time; to owners like Marquis del Grillo who was admitted to Roman aristocracy by Pope Clemente X; this home is teeming with historical significance.

While I certainly do appreciate history, let us not forget that this property also makes for a breathtaking trophy home! This charming residence offers up two large main halls for entertaining, chapel ceilings, frescoed halls, gorgeous courtyards and lovely over-sized windows. On top of all of this (literally), the home features a rooftop terrace that offers up priceless views of historic Rome.

Click here if you’d like to see more of this superb home listed by Valentina Bodini with Coldwell Banker Immobiliare Gruppo Futura.

The post Home of the Week: A Historic 17th Century Roman Mansion appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

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New York Neighborhoods with the Best Transportation Options

When folks are scouring New York neighborhoods for the perfect apartments to call home, commuting time to work is nearly as important a consideration as the apartments themselves. New York is probably the only city in the country where someone would think about taking a junior one-bedroom with a tight galley kitchen and a small shower-only bathroom that’s close to transportation over a two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath pad with a terrace, eat-in kitchen, and hardwood floors that’s 90 minutes from work.

People choose the city specifically because they want to live close to where they work and where they play. If your top priority is to live in a neighborhood that doesn’t require you to take a plane, train, and automobile to get to the office, read on to learn more about some of the most commute-friendly New York neighborhoods.

Financial District, Downtown NYC

Once upon a time, if you’d told someone you lived in NYC’s Financial District, they’d have looked at you like you’d grown three heads. Located around the city’s southernmost tip, no one lived there save for a few brave souls who didn’t mind not having access to things like toilet paper at 3 in the morning. Merchants didn’t open stores there — why bother? For a while, it seemed like the area would forever be a residential ghost town. But shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was formed to help with the redevelopment and reconstruction of lower Manhattan. A combination of tax and price cuts for potential residents and businesses alike helped give the area new life. Businesses and residences have sprouted up everywhere, transforming the Financial District from “No” town to “Go” town. You’ll find transportation options galore. Just take a look at the MTA subway map, and you’ll see that the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, R, A, C, E, and J trains are practically at your doorstep to take you anywhere you want to go. Most bus routes in the city end up here and start off here, so if it’s a leisurely bus ride you’re after, you’re in luck.

Union Square/Flatiron District

Union Square can be considered the nerve center of downtown. The area stretches from 14th Street to 17th Street north to south. The Flatiron District sits right on top of Union Square, so the two areas are virtually interchangeable. What makes it easy for people living in this area is that the Union Square subway station is a majorly important transportation artery for the city. The 4, 5, 6, N, and R trains are located right at the station, and the L train connects you to the west side A, C, E, 2, and 3 trains while providing easy access to Brooklyn.

Columbus Circle/Time Warner Center

Before the Time Warner Center burst onto the scene a few years back, the Columbus Circle area was well known, but it didn’t have the definitive identity that it enjoys today. The soaring, beautiful buildings that make up the area in and around the …read more

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Are Grown Up Decisions Being Influenced by the Youngest Members of the Family?

By Dr. Robi Ludwig

Click to View Full Infographic

Parenting styles have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. We’re clearly no longer living in a “because I said so” kind of world. Rather, societal changes have produced a more collaborative parenting approach than the authoritarian styles of the past. As a society, we’ve become more respectful, cooperative and open to new ideas.

But have we shifted too far and created a new parenting order? Have parents stopped calling the shots and in doing so, designated their children their family’s “Chief Purchasing Officer?”

It’s completely natural for parents to want what’s best for their children, but part of being a parent is knowing that what’s best for a child in the short term may not be what’s best for a child in the long term. Parents exercise this judgment every time they remind their children that ice cream is not an appropriate substitute for dinner, or that it’s time to go to bed after a fun day.

When making decisions for their family, it’s critical that parents not to lose sight of the big picture, especially when it comes to making major life decisions like whether or not to move to a new house.

So what does this shift to more child-centric decision making mean for modern families? When it comes to figuring out whether or not you’ve outgrown the family home or have the opportunity to relocate for a great job, remember that adult decisions should be made by the adults in the house. Consider the long-term impact a move would have on the family. Perhaps it’s a space issue. The kids are fighting about sharing a room, or maybe that dream job has finally come through and could open a lot of doors.

Change is scary for everyone, but it’s important for parents to be balanced when making major decisions, such as whether or not it’s time to move to a new home. This means weighing all the pros and cons for the short term and the long term. Most children don’t have the ability to accurately assess short-term discomforts against long-term opportunities, and this is where the parents can step in. The best changes in life often occur when we use our head, our hearts and then follow our instincts.

Because change can bring a lot of intense and uncomfortable emotions, we often forget how good it can be for both parents and children. Parents who embrace their fears are often struck by how well their children adapt and how positive change can be. While switching schools or neighborhoods may feel difficult at first, these changes can help children learn how to adapt to the larger changes they’ll experience in life.

One of the best ways to help children feel more comfortable and confident about the family moving is to make sure they feel involved and supported. Sit down and talk to your children about why you made the decision to buy a new home. Point out all of the positives they can …read more

Via: Coldwell Banker Blog

    

Tips for Finding a Rental Apartment in Uptown New York

If you’re looking to rent an apartment in the uptown New York area, you’re going to want to have a strategy. Here’s some advice to keep in mind as you embark on your search.

Figure Out Your Priorities

Your first step in the uptown apartment hunt should be to determine what your must-haves are.

Do you need an elevator building, or would you be comfortable with a walk-up? Uptown New York has many beautiful, quiet side streets with charming walk-up buildings.

Are you looking for a more populated area, or something in a quieter neighborhood? Uptown is a mix of both. On the east side, the subway is on Lexington Avenue, so the further east you go (toward York and East End Avenues), the quieter and less crowded it becomes. Conversely, the closer you are to any subway stop, the more businesses you’ll find nearby.

When thinking about a long-term rental uptown, here’s something to bear in mind: The city is currently in the process of building a subway uptown on Second Avenue, which means that there will be major construction activity going on in the years ahead. Upon its completion, subway travel will be much more convenient for East Siders, as per the MTA.

Use Your Network

Another good strategy for renting an apartment in uptown New York is to ask around, because some great rentals never make it to the web. If you ask friends, they may also be able to vouch for a certain building or landlord. Word of mouth is often the way to find a great deal. Brokers can be helpful as well. If you do decide to use a broker, contact the person well in advance, but be ready to move quickly. When you find the right rental, there’s often a great deal of competition, so you have to be ready to pounce.

See For Yourself

Another thing that can help is to simply hit the pavement. Walk around and look for signs on buildings. This is also a great way to get a sense of the vibe of each location, so you can start to get a feel for the area to which you might move. This could be the most enjoyable part of your search — strolling around uptown is a great way to spend a day.

As you explore, you’ll learn that renting uptown puts you close to both Central Park and the quieter Carl Schurz Park, with its gorgeous views of the East River. The Upper East Side is full of wonderful little shops and cafes, as well as great restaurants. Museums include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim on the east side, and the Museum of Natural History on the west side.

There’s no shortage of wonderful things to do uptown, and getting to know the area can transform the apartment search from daunting task to fun activity.

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Via: Coldwell Banker Blog