Home Tip of the Day: Make Your Own Wrapping Paper

It’s officially wrapping season! Looking for a unique way to doll up your gifts? Try making your own wrapping paper. Here are a few ideas on how to customize your holiday gifts to make them even more special.

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

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Real Estate Headlines with Derek Jeter, The Flinstones and Dubai

Twas the week of Christmas and all through house, not a package was wrapped and your freaking out. Before panic sets in and Christmas dinner is cooked, here are some weekly real estate headlines you shouldn’t overlook.

Happy holidays to you and your home and thanks for making 2014 our best year yet on the Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog. Now for the headlines:

The Motley Fools wants you to please stop making these home buying mistakes.

Guess who’s buying up property in Dubai like it’s going out of style?

Dick Clark’s Flinstones inspired home has been sold by Coldwell Banker agent, Diane Carter.

What are the cities with the largest homes?

Forbes shares 10 hot real estate markets to watch in 2015.

Take a look at the most incredible video in real estate this year.

Bigger Pockets shares 25 tips for smarter real estate investing.

Can you guess how much America’s housing market is worth? Hint: it’s in the trillions.

Derek Jeter may have just bought a house in a place you’ve never heard of: Skaneateles Lake, NY.

And finally, Gawker says, “rents are going up suckas.”

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The Ultimate Christmas Cookie Roundup

Baking Christmas cookies is one of those home traditions that fills up a kitchen with fun, brings a feeling of nostalgia to the soul and leaves your tummy feel full of love. Here is a roundup of cookies you may find helpful whether you are baking for Santa or for a holiday cookie exchange. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies

I am pretty sure Sugar Cookies are the official holiday cookie. From sprinkles to frosting, there are countless ways to give these little sugary bites a fun and unique holiday look.

via Delish.com

Salty Caramel Butter Cookies

Rumor on the internet is that this salty sweet recipe is the secret to cookie nirvana.

via Traceys Culinary Adventure

Melted Snowmen Cookies

This recipe may or may not have been the impetus for the writers at Buzzfeed starting Pinterest Fail listicles. If you can nail this recipe the outcome is simply adorable.

Here’s what is SHOULD look like…

via homeiswheretheboatis.com

Here is what the typical Pinterest fail looks like…

Cream Cheese Cookies

These are my ALL TIME favorite cookies. This was my grandma’s specialty and when I take a bite I am brought back to my childhood. Fun Fact: it is impossible to eat just one.

via eggmeon

No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal Cookies

Any recipe that doesn’t require turning a stove on is worth a try!

via Food Network

Cherry Sugar Cookie Macaroons

You can feel good about eating these because they have fruit in them. It’s basically like eating diet cookies ;)

via Pillsbury

Peppermint Christmas Cookies

Colorful + Minty Fresh = YUM!

via Pamela (Food.com)

PB&J Linzer Stars

Since my nickname is Linz, I couldn’t resist leaving out this sweet treat.

Bonus: I’ve heard Santa’s reindeer LOVE peanut butter!

via Parents.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, this cookie staple is always a crowd pleaser.

via VeryBestBaking.com

Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

What do you get when you mix confetti sprinkles and cookies? A Christmas party in your mouth!

via Sally’s Baking Addiction

Wishing you a sweet Christmas! Have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe to share? Leave it in the comment section below.

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Holiday Decorating Ideas: Add a Festive Touch with Sentimental Items

It’s the time of year when holiday decorating ideas are on the minds of Wichita homeowners. As the holiday season approaches, rearranging and redecorating are on many to-do lists to make room for entertaining family and friends. Whether you’re just looking to add a touch of glamour to a certain spot or completely redo a room, holiday decorating ideas that make use of sentimental items will help you add a personal touch to every area.

How to Use Sentimental Items for Your Decor

It can be tempting to walk into a store and take an entire display as-is, but that can be a bit impersonal. By hand picking sentimental items and placing them in the most lived-in areas of your home, you can create a more inviting space. Try to add more sentimental pieces that are able to trigger memories about a certain time or event, connecting you with the happy memories associated with these pieces: Think about including pictures, or maybe a keepsake that you picked up while on vacation or while running errands with a friend. When you’re surrounded by pieces that make you smile, your space will feel more homey for you and your guests.

Keep these five key points in mind when decorating with sentimental items

  1. Play with scale. Scale is important to remember when incorporating any pieces into your home. Try to use large objects, as well as the smaller knickknacks that are more easily found in your home. Some ways you can experiment with scale include enlarging your favorite photos or hanging a map of the Biltmore you visited last summer.
  2. Refurbishing furniture to match your holiday color scheme. Consider refurbishing heirloom furniture that’s been in your family, an outside table that your grandfather built for the garage or a side table from your great-grandmother, for example. These pieces do not need to necessarily be antiques, but by placing them in your home, you are adding layers to the design.
  3. Picking conversation starters. Concentrate on decorating with these sentimental pieces in rooms where you spend lots of time with guests — the dining room, for instance. These pieces double as conversation starters when your guests notice how unique your decor is.
  4. De-clutter flat surfaces. On the other hand, if you overcrowd your home’s surfaces with too many sentimental items, you’ll overwhelm your decor and fail to highlight the individual pieces. So curate carefully. Strategic storage can help: By placing items in easily accessible storage containers, you can easily change your decor throughout the seasons, and highlight individual pieces.
  5. Personalize it. If you’re just starting out as a homeowner, and haven’t built up a treasure trove of an attic or garage yet, you can always add a more personal touch by using an item that features your initials. Adding a personalized touch or a monogram to your pieces makes them more interesting and allows you to have more of a connection to the item.

Image Source: Flickr/Brad Wilson

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Burglary Prevention 101

Christmas is a popular time for people — including homeowners — to close the shades, turn on a light, lock up the house and travel across the country. Most come back to their home the way they left it; some are not so lucky.

A home burglary happens every 13 seconds in the United States, and the holiday season is no exception. A staggering 66% of burglaries occur in residences, which leaves traveling homeowners at high risk — especially if they haven’t taken preventative measures.

So what should you do to protect your home against a burglar? Consider hiring a home security professional to install an alarm system. And, check out this infographic on how to beat burglars this holiday season:

Provided by HomeAdvisor

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World’s Most Expensive Homes – Episode 5: Palazzo di Amore

In the Coldwell Banker video series, World’s Most Expensive Homes, we’ve taken you to some exotic places. From South Beach to Aspen to the Virgin Islands to Napa, you’ve seen some of the most luxurious places to call home on planet Earth.

But none of them quite compare to what you’re about to see.

In this episode of World’s Most Expensive Homes, you step inside the $195 million Palazzo di Amore in Beverly Hills, CA. Listed by superstar Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agents, Joyce Rey and Stacy Gottula, this property is truly a marvel.

With a little help from our friends at Tesla, we take you right up the driveway and into the most expensive home for sale in the United States. I challenge you to spot which of the shots is actually a walk-in closet and not a living room. Let me know if you can spot it in the comments.

I could tell you about all the amazing things you’ll see, but just take a look for yourself and then explore some other episodes of World’s Most Expensive Homes on Coldwell Banker On Location.

To see other amazing homes or ones for sale in your area, visit coldwellbankerpreviews.com.

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Kicking Off Hanukkah 2014

To most Hanukkah represents one thing and one thing only. Adam Sandler singing his infamous Saturday Night Live Hannukah song. But clearly there is much more to the holiday than what he classically called “Eight crazy nights.”

Hanukkah is actually a minor Jewish holiday that honors the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews fought back against the Syrian-Greeks. After emperor Antiochus outlawed Judaism in 167 B.C.E., the Jews retreated before re-engaging in battle. They overtook the Syrian-Greeks and wanted to “cleanse” the Temple by burning oil in the menorah for eight days. But they only had enough oil for one day, which by a miracle, lasted the eight full days.

The holiday has only “recently” become a major one largely due the commercialism of Christmas as Jews have an opportunity to celebrate the holidays with gifts too.

Beginning tonight, Jewish families around the world will begin the celebration in their homes at sundown (because Judaism uses a lunar-based calendar). Here are a few of the traditions you would see at a Hanukkah celebration:

The lighting of the Menorah – the Shamas (usually the one in the middle) candle is the lead and after being lit is used to light one candle for each of the nights of Hanukkah. Start with one candle on night one and move on to the appropriate number for each night.

Kids spinning the Dreidel – It’s a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side that form an acronym meaning “a great miracle happened here.” Each side represents “take all,” “take half,” “put in” or “do nothing” as the children play for Hanukkah “gelt,” usually chocolate coins.

Fried foods – To represent the oil, you will likely find mountains of potato pancakes called latkes. Dip in apple sauce and you have pure goodness!

Gifts – At a Jewish home you are likely to find tons of presents. At least eight for each person piled somewhere near the menorah. But believe me, not every gift is an Xbox One.

So as you drive home tonight, think about how lucky the Jewish kids are this year because they are getting their presents starting 10 days before Christmas. But on the flip side, think of those same kids as you unwrap your gifts on the 25th while we look on in envy!

Happy Hanukkah!

Cover image via lovefromtheoven.com

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Real Estate Headlines with Die Hard, Shakira, and Steampunk

Don’t look now, but your home is about to be overrun with holiday cheer. Hanukkah start this week and ends just when Christmas Eve arrives. Before you know it the ball is dropping in Times Square and you realize you have no idea what happened to the last 365 days. But instead of stressing about wrapping paper, secret Santa and credit card bills, I bring you good headlines with great joy in your weekly dose of real estate headlines.

The star of the best Christmas movie of the last century has just listed his remodeled Manhattan apartment. Of course I’m referring to Bruce Willis in the holiday classic, Die Hard.

Shakira is taking time off from The Voice to sell her “Zen sanctuary” in Miami.

Can the decline in oil really impact mortgage rates in 2015?

HousingWire shares what appraisers need to know about solar power.

‘Tis the season for cheap real estate?

A 3-year old shares some last minute Christmas tips.

Did homebuilders just get the best news of the last 10 years?

All the rich hipsters will soon be flocking to the steampunk condos coming to New York City.

This Old House shares a comeback story of a house built in 1900.

And just in time for the holidays, it appears America’s 18-34 year olds are finally moving out of their parents’ basements.

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Elf on the Shelf Overload: My Love-Hate Affair with Howie the Elf

The Elf on the Shelf

You’re out shopping in Grand Rapids, and you see him sitting there on the store shelf. So cute with the red hat and the rosy red cheeks. The moment you see him, you know your children are going to love their Elf on the Shelf. We brought our elf home three years ago. There are so many cute elf names out there, like Tinselbottom, Sugarplum, and Snowflake. My daughter named ours Howie. And as soon as Halloween is over, she asks daily when Howie will show up. All parents know, of course, that Thanksgiving night is when the Elf on the Shelf makes his reappearance. And so begins the love/hate affair with the little stuffed dude.

When my children are misbehaving during the day, it’s so easy to say that “Howie is watching” and will report back to Santa that night. A reminder that they might end up on Santa’s naughty list does wonders! You have a select number of days each holiday season where the simple presence of this elf creates harmony in the household during the daytime, at least.

But after sundown, very quickly you, the parent, remember why you dislike him so much as well. You’ll be lying in bed late at night, almost asleep … when you realize you forgot to move the elf to a new spot. Muttering not-nice words under your breath, you get up to accomplish this before the kids wake up. Fantastic. Now it’ll take you another hour to fall asleep.

And not only do you have to move him into a new spot every morning, you’re supposed to get really creative with what your elf is doing. Pinterest has pages devoted to elf shenanigans. Howie has taken Barbie for a spin in her car, been held up by pirates, drank syrup with a straw out of the bottle, etc. But here’s the thing: Most nights, I’m too darn tired to get inventive. I’m lucky if I just remember to move him. My husband insists that I brought Howie home, so he’s my responsibility. Way to duck out of that one! Now the elf that I so dearly love during the day has become the bane of my existence.

Elf on the Shelf attacked by pirates

Elf on the Shelf, playing cards

So I issue these challenges to all parents out there:

  1. If you have an elf already, please do not create elaborate elf happenings. Your child goes to school and tells all their friends, making the rest of us look bad!
  2. If you don’t have an elf at your house yet, think twice before you decide to add one to your family. Not only do you have to move it every night and get super creative, but now the stores also sell clothes and other accessories for your elf. Do you hear the money flying out of your wallet?

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