Leaving Home and Going to College

The following is a guest blog post from Julie Allison, a Syracuse University senior and Coldwell Banker Commercial summer intern.

When it came time to apply to colleges, I knew for sure that I wanted to be somewhere different than my home state, New Jersey. So when I was accepted to Syracuse University, I readily agreed to separate from everything I knew to live in a quad with three other girls. I was very excited but also nervous to go somewhere I knew nothing about besides the brutal winters that everyone seems to mention. Little did I know that would be one of the many challenges of going away to school.

The excitement of starting a new chapter lasted for some time until I finally realized, you’re not in Jersey anymore Julie. There were a lot of new things to adapt to including: complete freedom, sharing a bedroom and bathroom, dining hall food and living on a floor with 30+ other people. These challenges also came with more responsibility especially when dealing with money, time management and people. One of the most difficult adjustments I had to make was sharing a room with someone I hardly knew. Add the stress of a homework load I had never experienced before and I quickly became very homesick.

Within three weeks I even found myself on a plane, yes plane, on my way home to see my family and friends. I really missed my family, friends and the delicious bagel sandwiches that no one in Syracuse could ever seem to replicate.

But there is undeniably something Syracuse has that New Jersey just doesn’t for me, the opportunity to grow, become an adult and meet and learn people from various parts of the world. Throughout my time in college it became easier to adapt once I realized the lessons I learned from leaving the comfort of my home. I’m happy that I was ultimately able to meet new friends who helped me find a place where I could get some delicious pizza (thanks, Varsity!).

Freshman year was a time of important life lessons and once I came to grips with all of the opportunities there are for me at college, being away from home turned out to be just as sweet. I also now have a newfound appreciation for my family and their unconditional love and support…and obviously the home cooked meals!

There’s no place like home, but there’s something quite comforting about the journey and lessons you learn when you decide to leave.

college cover photo

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Candy Decorations: A Sweet New Party Trend

Birthday Party Candy Bar

Candy decorations seem to be the thing to have for parties now. In the North State area, candy bars — or buffet-style assortments of candy that allow guests to help themselves to sweet treats — are popping up at weddings and parties for adults and children alike. According to an employee at Candy Tyme in Redding’s Mt. Shasta Mall, sales of colorful types of candy have increased as this trend continues. And it’s no wonder candy bars are taking off: From young to old, no partygoer can resist the feast for the eyes that is a colorful, well-done candy bar. Your candy decorations can enhance your party’s color scheme; you can also tailor your selection to suit the tastes of your guests or your guest of honor.

“Chews” Your Candy Decorations
From rock candy to saltwater taffy, your candy options are endless — as are your options for the way you choose to display your candy decorations. Whether you go for something elaborate and ornate or whimsical, the choice is yours. No matter what, you’ll have a fun and delicious addition to your event. Use your candy bar to help set the mood of your party. Need ideas? The photo below shows an example of how you can set up your own candy bar. This one was for a 30th birthday party, and the theme was “Why grow up?”

Along with your display, make sure to include small bags guests can put their candy in; that way, once your guests have made their choice, the bags will allow them to take their candy home as a parting gift. Redding homeowners can find a variety of bags and candy choices at Party City.

A Candy-Themed Kids’ Party
If you’re hosting a children’s party, why not make candy the theme? Make your own lollipop decorations by painting cardboard circles and attaching them to thin dowels. These can be used to line the walkway into the house; you can also tack them to the walls of the party room. Smaller cardboard circles become balloons when attached to ribbon. To create a party atmosphere, tape these cutouts to the walls and ceiling. And you can wrap even smaller cardboard circles (or paper plates) in colored tissue paper and tie both ends to create decorations that look like wrapped candy.

Decorating the Cake
When you’re planning your candy-themed party, don’t forget the cake! A birthday cake can be completely covered in a variety of colored candy decorations, with jelly beans and other assorted candy spilling out over the cake table. This is a great way to have your candy and cake, too! After all, while the birthday cake is the centerpiece of the party, the candy is the element that makes your event every child’s dream party!

Image Source: Flickr/Corey Balazowich

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Las Vegas shines in the Little League World Series

Post by Tammy Pitts, Vice President, Operations with Coldwell Banker Premier Realty

Las Vegas has always been known for fantastic entertainment, gaming, fine dining….and a little ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ action. What most may not know about our wonderful city is that outside of the Strip, the Las Vegas Valley is truly a dynamic family and civic community topped off with amazing weather, which is perfect for our many outdoor leagues and activities (we’re still tooting our horn about being named National Geographic’s Top Adventure Town a few years back.) And now we have yet another reason for a huge dose of pride about our desert city with being able to cheer our Mountain Ridge Little League team as they represent the West and Las Vegas in their class-act style at the Little League World Series!

Just like these amazing young men in the World Series, Las Vegas typically flies under the radar when it comes to anything outside of what Las Vegas is known for. If you drive (or stumble) literally less than a mile off the Strip in any direction, you’ll find people living, working and enjoying life in Las Vegas. From parks, master planned communities with affordable to truly luxurious housing, and more churches than you can shake a rosary at (Las Vegas is typically on the nation’s list for having the most churches per capita….that’s right, churches in ‘Sin City!’) there’s nothing we DON’T have in our mountain-encrusted valley.

Now, people will finally believe us when we say we all don’t actually live or work in a hotel on the Strip and that we have an incredibly diverse list of sports available to kids and adults, which, not to boast again, can be played year-round outdoors. You should see the talent of our athletes! Wait….you already are on ESPN. To name just a few: indoor/outdoor soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse, football, basketball, volleyball, hiking groups, marathons and 5Ks, cheerleading, wakeboarding (Lake Mead is next door) skiing/snowboarding (another surprising factoid: the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard resort is open from Dec-April with real snow and is just 30 miles from the Strip) martial arts. Are we bragging again? Sorry. But we can’t help it.

No matter the outcome at the Championship game this weekend, the Mountain Ridge team (and many of our other local underdog teams) is a winner in our book, with the Mayor of Las Vegas scheduling a parade and celebration in their honor on August 30th. This will allow our 2 million residents a chance to cheer for these fellas even though the majority of us couldn’t make it out to Pennsylvania. Hopefully not everyone will show up so we can get a parking spot and a front-row seat at the parade.

Even if they weren’t the first Nevada team to reach Williamsport in the 70 years of the LLWS, we are more than proud of these young athletes who are not only representing the game of baseball, but an …read more

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Felicity Huffman & William H. Macy Aspen Retreat

Celebrity couple Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, Jr. recently listed their $4.25 million home in Basalt, Colorado with Buck Jones of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse. A true mountain escape, the spectacular property boasts 35 acres in Sopris Mountain Ranch located at the base of Mount Sopris, just 30 minutes from Aspen.

We know Felicity Huffman as a resident of Wisteria Lane on the hit drama Desperate Housewives, but off the silver-screen she prefers residing off the beaten track. Considered “an authentic western experience with a contemporary mountain lifestyle,” Sopris Mountain Ranch is the perfect mountain escape for those who walk the line between cowboy and celebrity. With fantastic views of the surrounding mountain landscape, private hiking trails on property and a backdrop of aspen groves and evergreen forests, this property is the ultimate Rockies retreat.

It is not just the breathtaking setting that makes this home so spectacular. The mountain lodge showcases extraordinary workmanship and attention to detail throughout, including a magnificent stone hearth, rustic wood ceiling beams and butcher block counter tops in the kitchen.William H. Macy may be known most recently for his role in the hit TV series Shameless, for which he received an Emmy nomination, but off-screen his home life looks quite different. With six bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, a gourmet country kitchen and two complete living areas, Macy’s home is beautifully designed for family living and guest entertaining. And when speaking about his home, it is the memories and the unforgettable backdrop that he remembers most fondly:
“We love this house and so do our two girls. We’ve had the best dinner parties and holiday feasts. Felicity and I love to hike up toward Sopris Mountain, right out the back door. We’ve spent hours on the back deck watching the fantastic colors as the sun sets over the ranch. We put a secret door between the kids bedrooms which has been a huge hit. And of course, my wood shop where I’ve made some lovely pieces of furniture.”
See more of this family home set in a picture perfect backdrop on coldwellbanker.com, or search for your dream home.

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Workshop will provide tips on cactuses and succulents for your garden

Workshop will provide tips on cactuses and succulents for your garden

Open Garden Day: 9-11:30 a.m., adult program at 10 a.m., children’s activities at 10:45 a.m. at the Harris County Texas AgriLife Extension demonstration gardens, 3033 Bear Creek; 281-855-5600, hcmga.tamu.edu/public.

Includes identifying trees and shrubs, planting, watering, nutrition, amending soils and mulches, with Linda Gay. 9 a.m.-noon Sept. 4 at VFW Post 4709, 1303 Semands, Conroe; gardenclasses4@gmail.com. $25.

Wildscapes workshop and native plant sale: sponsored by Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston. 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Houston Zoo’s Brown Education Center, 6200 Hermann Park Drive. npsot.org/houston, 832-859-9252; $35 for society members, $40 nonmembers before Aug. 29, $50 after (includes zoo entry). …read more

Via: Gardening


5 Laundry Rooms That Sparkle


The laundry room is one of the most utilitarian rooms in the house. But, these beautiful Coldwell Banker homes prove that the laundry room can be both functional and beautiful. Take inspiration from these 5 fabulous laundry retreats where dirty linens don’t stand a chance.

Plenty of storage, clean lines and top-of-the-line appliances make this modern laundry room both pretty and functional.

We’ve heard of double ovens, but how about double washers & dryers? This laundry room layout could handle the loads of a family the size of the Brady Bunch.


Sleek Italian-style black cabinetry is an instant upgrade for your laundry nook. Designing your laundry room to incorporate natural light can also make a huge difference. No more matching blue socks with black ones!


Adding a washer/dryer to a butler’s pantry makes tackling table linens a piece of cake.

Mud Room

Incorporating laundry into a mud room makes perfect sense. Grass-stained soccer uniforms and mud-spattered socks go right into the hamper before the grime gets any further into the home.


Adding under-counter lighting can turn a drab laundry room into a bright folding station.

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First-Time Renter in NYC? Here’s What You Need to Know

When it comes to first-time renter stories, everybody’s got one. Moving into an apartment in New York City can be challenging, and without the proper prep, securing one’s very first rental apartment can get stressful. If you’re thinking about renting a first apartment in NYC, the following tips can help everything move along swimmingly.

Visit the neighborhoods you’re considering before signing anything.

Take a weekend to explore the neighborhoods you’re thinking of living in. Experiencing a neighborhood in person can help you determine if you really want to live there. You’ll be able to figure out your commute time, whether you have easily accessible pharmacies and grocery stores, and where all the cafes, restaurants, and bars are. Make sure to visit the area both during the day and at night.

Figure out your budget before you go hunting.

You already know NYC real estate is expensive. So be sure to figure out your budget before you go looking, and find out what that budget will get you. Visit a few open houses for rentals in the areas you’re interested in and that fit your budget. You may find out, for example, that you can’t get a one-bedroom with a terrace in a doorman building, but you can comfortably afford a studio there. You may also determine that you’ll be able to afford the apartment of your dreams if you get a roommate. When figuring out your monthly budget, don’t forget to factor in things like utilities, food, and transportation.

Always make sure to read that lease thoroughly.

Whatever you do, make sure to read your rental contracts thoroughly and carefully. You want to know that your lease protects your rights, and that you’re not agreeing to something without realizing it. Most landlords use standard rental contracts, but some attach riders or additional language if they have additional rules they’d like to include — for example, they might forbid pets or restrict tenants from making changes to the apartment. Don’t wait until you move in to find out that you’re not allowed to replace that dreadful ceiling light.

Get all your paperwork in order.

Show up at every apartment showing with all of your paperwork in hand, including your credit report, bank statements, and job references. If you’re a first-time renter just starting out, and you haven’t built up an optimal credit history yet, consider asking a family member to act as a guarantor, or you could also try a guarantor company.

Image Source: Flickr/Wally Gobetz

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Tips and Tricks To Make You Fall in Love With Your Small Bathroom

Bright Bathroom 1

As the social media manager for Coldwell Banker I get to see some of the most incredible and luxurious bathrooms from around the world. From bathrooms with a view to a shower that is bigger than some of my rooms, I have seen it all. Of course, this make me feel less than in love with my small bathroom. In an effort to maximize my space I have found some interesting ways to give bathrooms an upgrade without breaking the bank…

Feeling Confined? Lighten Up with Brighter Shades of Color

Listed with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Boulder, CO

Dark shades of paint may make a bold statement but they can also make a room feel confined. Consider opting for a lighter shade of paint to make a room appear larger than it actually is.

Bathroom Boring? Add Some Character

Adding a wall to wall mirror or wainscoting are affordable and elegant upgrades that can completely change the look of a small bathroom.

Declutter! Less is More in a Small Bathroom

Beautiful Half Bathroom

Listed with Coldwell Banker BAIN Seattle, WA

A cluttered counter space can drive a person crazy. When possible, utilize cabinets and your linen closet so the room feels clean and organized.

Shower Space Tight? Hang Another Shower Rod

Via Reddit

Showerhead racks are bulky and can make a shower feel overcrowded. Adding another shower rod will allow you to hang baskets.

Go With Glass

Listed with Coldwell Banker BAIN in Seattle, WA

An opaque shower door may add privacy but it also cuts off the space in your bathroom. A glass shower door will open the space back up.

Short on Storage? Consider Mounting Drawers

via Shelterness

If you need more storage you can always consider ways to use wall space. Another great spot to add storage is above the bathroom door.

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8 Reading Nooks to Get Lost In

Turn an extra closet into the coziest of libraries!

As summer quickly comes to a close, it’s time to buckle down and finish those summer reading lists!

With back-to-school around the corner, creating a reading nook in your home is one simple way to make homework a little more enjoyable. Add comfy pillows and plenty of shelving to a small dedicated space in your home for a cozy reading lounge.

Here are 8 reading nooks that will make adults wish they had a required reading list to finish.

Turn an extra closet into the coziest of libraries!

A treehouse library makes reading an adventure.

A sitting area near the bedroom is the perfect spot for a reading bench.

A sitting area near the bedroom is the perfect spot for a reading bench.

A bay window with a view makes for the perfect reading nook.

A bay window with a view makes for the perfect reading nook.

A stair landing becomes a mini-library.

A stair landing becomes a mini-library.

The favorite spot in the house for little book lovers.

The favorite spot in the house for little book lovers.

A sophisticated readers lounge with a view.

A sophisticated readers lounge with a view.

Dive into your summer read in a luxe lounge chair like this one!

Dive into your summer read in a luxe lounge chair like this one!

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Filling Your Home with Positive Messages

Good Vibes

On Sunday my husband and I dropped off his used skateboard deck, freshly painted as a library book checkout card including quotes from two of his favorite books: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Mockingbird Wish Me Luck” by Charles Bukowski. The recycled skateboard was one of more than 100 created by local Atlanta artists to raise money for Brain Tumor Foundation for Children. Once we had the board checked in, both of us were eager to see what everyone else had been working on over the last month, and one thing that jumped out to me was the use of words on many of the boards.

Anyone who’s bought or sold a home understands the importance of a sign, but what about the importance of signs in our home while we live in them? I for one have signs all over my house – some incorporated into paintings I’ve created or bought, some letterpress prints I’ve picked up on Etsy that hang on my refrigerator, some simply on post-it notes stuck to my computer – all of them communicating positive reminders of life.

Check out some of my top Etsy picks for signs to fill your home.


Live in the sunshine



Go play

Everything will be OK

Main image photo credit via Flicker Creative Commons User Kate Ter Haar

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