May 21st, 2013
You know that annoying feeling when you can’t find that piece of paper on your desk, or that favorite pair of jeans you want to wear?
What about if you couldn’t find your desk…your closet…your home; worse- your family pet or, most cruelly, a loved one?
Last month I wrote about coming back from the events that we here in the northeast have faced in the last 6 months, and quoted Mr. Rogers…and it bears repeating. Just over twenty-six hours ago one of the worst tornados in recorded
history chewed through the town of Moore, Oklahoma. The loss, the trauma, the sheer scale of rebuilding these residents will be facing in the months to come is staggering. They need helpers.
The Red Cross is clear, they need money. Money for food, shelter and medicine, money for rescue and recovery efforts. To help support these efforts, The Refreshed Home announces Working for Moore: Consults for a Cause, here’s how it works
- Call now, mention this post, and book up to two hours of Interior Decorating or Home Staging interactive consulting through May 31st.
- At the end of our consult, you write a check to the American Red Cross for the rate of $95.00/hour, and I mail it in a pre-addressed envelope
The Refreshed Home helps you make good plans and wise decisions, so you can get on with your life. Together, we make better sense of your space, and your stuff. Consults can be for buyers as well as sellers, remote, or for shopping services and in-home/on-site in Westchester and lower Fairfield county.
Got a listless listing? Looking for a unique housewarming, wedding or birthday gift?
Maybe it’s something you’ve been thinking about for yourself? Now is a great time to act.
Do good, get good, call now 914.607.2895.
Working for Moore: Consults for a Cause
December 3rd, 2012
Broad tables laden with fine table linens and bed coverings…well-organized shelves, full of all things tabletop….unusual accent pieces of every price point imaginable, filling in whatever space is left….If you enjoy big warehouse sales with a wide selection of products for the home, get thee to the annual Casafina Holiday Warehouse Sale, starting tomorrow, Tuesday December 4th.
Importers of hand-decorated ceramic and glassware, stoneware, and such, Casafina Warehouse Sales have been a local and easily accessible treat for about 25 years now I think.
We live in an area where there are a lot of shoping choices, so if you’ve never been, let me tell you why a trip to Casafina will be worth your while: First-it’s a great physical set-up. The space itself is like a set of those Russian dolls, just when you think you’ve seen it all, you turn the corner, and there is something else to see.
It’s well-lit, and from the parking to the wrapping station, well-organized. No clawing around, hunting for whatever. Product is laid out by type, then color and patterns, and attention is paid to keeping it orderly, and replenished. Everything is sold separately, but there is usually enough of everything that you could purchase a complete set of something, if that’s what you wanted.
The merchandise is both current, and retired patterns of stemware, tableware and serveware. And the assortment is wide: there are things like hand-painted glass tumblers for the powder room, ceramic pet bowls, piggy banks and wall clocks. And cement statuary…and handmade throw rugs…and hostess gifts of every caliber. And OHYES< nice pricing, too!
Sale is rain or shine, 9am to 6pm Tuesday 12/4 through Saturday 12/8, and 10am to 5 pm Sunday 12/9. Minutes off exit 8 of 684, click here for directions. And make sure you sign up for their mailing list, to get future notifications and special offers!
November 18th, 2012
Maybe you have a freind or client whose space needs a fresh look. Or maybe you are looking to amp up your own home for the holidays, start the process of getting it ready to sell-or even ring in the New Year as a more organized you? This could be the nudge you need…. NOW is your opportunity to get started, while giving a hand to those affected by the superstorm.
To add to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort, I’m joining with two other local women business owners, to contribute in the way we know best. The result: Will Work for Food, a fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross.
Between now and November 30th, Denise Hoffmann, Allison Segreto and myself -Accredited Homes Stagers and Interior Decorators all-will be offering a limited number of one hour consults free, in exchange for a direct and immediate $100.00 contribution to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Each of us created and run our own, independent business. Together we represent almost 60 years of hands-on, in-home design experience, Will Work for Food is the first time the three of us have collaborated.
Appointments will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis, so don’t wait-here’s how it works:
- Check out the profiles of the companies, and the different services.
- Choose the professional and the service you want, and follow the links below to contact them and directly to schedule an appointment.
- At the end of your one-hour consult, write a check for $100 (or more, if you are so inclined!!) made out to the American Red Cross, and give it to your provider. They will have pre-addressed official Red Cross envelopes, and will mail it on your behalf.
Questions are welcomed, hope to hear from you soon!
Denise Hoffmann, Owner of Cameo Home Staging Featuring Real Estate Staging & Home Design Services. Serving Westchester, Dutchess & Putnam counties. Licensed & Insured. Mahopac/Carmel & Yorktown Chamber of Commerce member. 914.497.0924
Allison Segreto,Owner of Mission: Organization Offering home and office organizing, decorating, and home staging services to clients in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties. Simplify Organize Stage 845.528.2444
Marie Graham, Founder of The Refreshed Home. Interior Decorating, Home Staging and Project Coordination in lower Westchester/Fairfield counties, Helping you make good plans, and wise decisions, so you can get on with your life. 914.607.2895
November 3rd, 2012
The first holiday solicitations arrived around Columbus Day. A package with holiday wrapping paper, some thematic greeting cards, and (still more) personalized address labels.
Most of these mailings were not inexpensive. Had donated to some of these causes in the past, but several came in my maiden name-which I have not used in 18 years. That I received them at all can only be attributed to my having the same address, and mail carrier-for that long.
Pricey, or repeated unsolicited mailings always make me wonder about the overall value of the organization itself (like how much service I’ll really get from an insurance company that every week spends money to send me something telling me how much money I’ll save by switching…!) or in this case, how wisely, how effectively does a charity utilize donor funds.
Need and giving are hugely emotional issues that touch our core; under ‘normal’ circumstances the next 6 weeks is high season for giving-and asking. But now we on the east coast have come to know Hurricane Sandy.
In the days and weeks to come, chances are we will be asked, and perhaps motivated and able to make a charitable donation or two. We all want to be sure our donation will be used properly and efficiently, here are two ways to give with our heads as well as our hearts.
To get an overall, independent read on different charities, try Charity Navigator. http://www.charitynavigator.org/ acknowledges charities have different services and programs, which leads to inherently different cost structures. They break over 10,000 charities into classifications and rate them on their efficiency, in their classification. Their top ten lists feature the effective, as well as the overpaid, and the broke; eye-opening and interesting reading, to say the least.
www.bbb.org/charity Just like BBB certification, charities that want to belong apply and provide vital info like contact info, their history, size, structure as well as a financial statement. BBB will tell you if the charity meets their 20 standards for accountability, and if their info is vetted, a Wise Giving Alliance report is issued, good for 2 years.
Best for providing a snapshot of , and credibility for a particular organization. Because charities have to apply, it is unlikely any less than stellar ones would. Seeing your favorite here is a positive, but not being on the list isn’t necessarily a negative.
Both sites are very useful , and for those who are really interested-The Chronicles of Philanthropy is a great source of info for non-profits www.philanthropy.com.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and the harsh realization we were just a few towns away from total destruction, I keep coming back to this quote, incongruesly from Dr. Seuss: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
October 27th, 2012
“Westchester County” is often spoken of in rarefied terms, the proverbial land of milk and honey. It’s all I know, I’ve lived here my entire life.
Last Sunday the Journal News’ lead feature was called Hidden Hunger, and featured six personal stories of local residents who are clients of local food pantries. According to the article, in 2010 roughly 1 our of every ten residents was food insecure-that is, they didn’t know where their next meal was going to be coming from.
It’s said that big issues with big numbers ‘read’ as incomprehensible, unfathomable to others-but when names, faces and specific circumstances are shared it becomes real. A big thank you to these reporters, and to those who shared their story. If you missed this series, please follow the link above and check it out.
Hunger is not a new, or seasonal issue.
Being hungry puts a lot of other things in perspective.
I know a lot of people, and see many faces in the course of a day. The thought that 10% of them might be juggling, trying to find a way to feed themselves and their family really hits my core.
Last year Janet Jones, a Stager friend in Hawaii wrote about her volunteer efforts for the Maui Food Bank, and suffice to say, I am inspired, and in the days to come will be laying the groundwork, and announcing The Refreshed Home’s commitment to give back.
Meantime, if you have any upcoming gift-giving opportunities, please consider making a donation to their local food bank, on the behalf of your gift recipient. Be they clients, family or friends-it will resonate in ways you cannot imagine. Here is how you can help, how you can make a difference in our area: Food Bank of Westchester , or the Food Bank of Hudson Valley for Rockland and Putnam counties. Gifts of funds, food and yes, your time are all welcome. And stay tuned.
September 20th, 2012
Fairfield County residents-sorry, I’m letting the cat out of the bag…
Moments off exit 8 of I-95 in Stamford CT is Juliska, one of the most lovely gift and tabletop stores I have even been in. Even better-this Saturday starts their annual warehouse sale!
A company store year round, Juliska is nestled pretty much in the center of Stamford’s antique shop district. Carrying primarily their own lines of china, crystal and other tableware, but augment it beautifully, seamlessly with product from other vendors. The displays are creative and engaging, full of unusual finds, at very reasonable prices. Under the best of circumstances, it takes me about an hour to go through this shop….I just don’t want to miss a thing.
For the sale, they are expanding into the parking lot, filling a 5,000 sf tent with all sorts of product-ceramic, table linens, lighting and more. Some seconds, but many retired designs as well.
All I can tell you is it’s a perfect place to shop anytime, but if you have gift-giving occasions coming up, be there when they open at 9am, you won’t be disappointed.
Juliska-465 Canal Street, in Stamford. 203.316.9118 Have fun…and make sure you hit Barry and Fred’s next door while you’re there!
September 11th, 2012
I remember a lot of that day eleven years ago, but more about the days after. Vividly, violently confronted with the previously unimaginable, people in the NY metro area clung to each other in their horror and grief. From this vulnerability came tenderness and kindness.
In the days-weeks-months that followed, I remember reading reports on how many took definitive actions. Actions that affirmed who you were, what you believed in, and what you wanted from your precious, remaining days here on this earth.
Some enlisted, others made life decisions they had been dallying with, deciding to marry-or divorce; to have children, or to change jobs. Six weeks after the attacks we bought a house.
Last year the media here was brutal, beating the sensationalistic drum for the tenth anniversary remembrance for a month before. Inescapable, I was conflicted and angry-what, I’m not sad or grief-stricken enough? and guilty-with such close proximity to NYC, how was I spared any direct loss? and how can whatever I feel be of any importance, compared to what the friends and families of those that were killed have to live with every day?
Loss, grief and ways of coping are all very personal. While I respect and honor others’ feelings, and their time table, just being passively sad does not work for me. I feel it’s a waste of the wonderful gift we have, when we wake up every morning with oxygen in our lungs.
My good friend Heather does a 9-11 memorial stair climb, where she prays while reading the names of those who were killed, while climbing 110 flights on the Stairmaster. I like that a lot. And I love that more and more this time of year calls attention to service.
As much as we wish otherwise, we cannot change the past, we can only shape the future. Using the memory of that terrible time can collectively spur us on to make better days, and help us to live our best life on September 12th…January 10th…April 30th…etc. Taking action. Giving back.
Each and every one of us can ‘do’ something, even if it’s quiet prayer, or sharing a kind word or gesture with a stranger. Those in the Hudson Valley looking for a more substantial connection could find it in The Volunteer Center. They match your time, talents and interests to a specific local need. They are also a year-round entity, so no worries if your availability does not coincide with a memorable day. Kindness matters…pass it on.
April 14th, 2012
Adopting A Dog? Read THE CHOSEN PUPPY First
Who doesn’t love spring? OK allergy sufferers aside…who doesn’t love spring? There is just so much going on, and so much to like about this time of year.
One thing I’m seeing and hearing a lot about are pet adoption events. Pet stores, volunteer rescue organizations, even vets are promoting pet adoption.
Pet adoption is an act of true compassion. Done well and responsibly, I think it’s a wonderful idea, as there are SO many animals, with SO much love and comfort to
give and share.
Animals end up in a shelter for a number of reasons, but one big one is a pet owner making an impulsive, uninformed, or unsuitable choice in t
he first place, which is why I love this book so much.
No matter your age, or your level of experience or familiarity with the canine species, you will learn something from
Carol Lea Benjamin has been writing about dogs for decades. Easy to see it is a lobor of love. Much of her early work is about dogs from shelters. I found this book at the local library about 10 or 11 years ago; I have since bought and given out probably 2 dozen copies as gifts.
See, here’s the thing-when you finally make it to the shelter, in your mind, you think you have made the hardest decision. You get there, and you are goo…just so are ready to scoop up the first wriggling bundle of fur so you can romp off into the sunset together. After losing Maggie Mae in 1999, we were three years in between dogs, and my arms literally ached to hold, and snuzzle with a dog again, so I know the feeling.
The Chosen Puppy is less than 90 pages long. A paperback, it’s about $10.00, unless you buy a used copy online someplace. It is sweet and short and common-sense advice on how to interview, choose, and train a shelter dog of any age.
Suitable and interesting for readers of any age, no complex terms, and lots of cute pencil drawings, reading it before we made the trip to it was an INVALUABLE guide when our moment of truth arrived, and in the ensuing months as we were training our sweet Bella Blue.
If you have a friend-neighbor-relative-client who is contemplating adopting a dog-get them this book. Spring is house-buying season, so if you know a dog is in the future of a new homebuyer, it makes a great housewarming gift. And while you’re at it, might as well check out, even pass on the links of these local shelters: Pets Alive in Elmsford, and the SPCA in Briarcliff. You’ll be glad you did.
The Refreshed Home~Because Experience Matters and Kindness Counts
February 2nd, 2012
This series started as a way to shine a brighter light on local merchants and businesses who offer unusual and thoughtful options for holiday gift-giving.
Three things became quickly apparent: First-we give gifts year-round, for different occasions. Two-sometimes we are the most deserving gift candidates we know. Third (channeling Sally Field now) you really, really liked it!
So now, going forward, this is a year-round, on-going series. Valentines Day is coming…so are birthdays, anniversaries, baby and bridal showers, etc. Please make this a favorite, and consider coming here first for you gift-giving inspiration.
For a number of years, I have been drawn to what I THOUGHT yoga was about, but got intimidated by all there was to KNOW: Intense yoga, hot yoga, gentle yoga? And oh yes, all the media images of slender flexible lovelies in spandex….the only constant was that I would read stories about real-life devotees in their 60s, 70s and beyond who were calm and happy, healthy and flexible. And the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve wanted THAT to be MY future.
This is not to educate anyone on the specifics of yoga…it’s about how that even early on, it’s come to work in the real life of an unathletic, non-graceful, kind of fearful and and semi-lumpy person (me), and that why a gift certificate for some introductory lessons could be the best gift you’d ever give
Through a business organization I came to know Michele Weiss professionally. Travel is her business, but yoga is her passion. A casual conversation some months earlier led to an email about classes she was teaching, which then found me in a cozy studio in Stamford on a Saturday morning about 6 weeks ago.
Yoga Space Stamford is nestled in the 2nd floor of the LAA (Loft Artists Association) Building on Canal Street, just down from Fairway, off exit 8 of 95. Love the creative feeling of the building, and the clean, simple feeling of the studio.
Owner Silvana Stein opened Yoga Space Stamford in 2008. First a practicioner for nearly 30 years, then a certified instructor, she has taught in lower Fairfield county since 1993, she is one of those afore-mentioned devotees with an amazing story of healing.
There is a very old saying (proverb?) ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear’. That has proven to be the case in other profound times in my life, and I am seeing that here, too. As I contemplate writing this, it occurs to me how un-intellectual this is. Thinking, talking, reading about it will not help you understand…for me, so far, it’s been about just showing up, listening and doing…just following instructions
lynegar yoga is what Silvana, and Michele, and the other instructors practice, this link can tell you more about it. Six weeks in, I can tell you first I am sore the day after…but it’s a good sore. I never was concious before of how many different body parts there were that I had such control over. But I am also thinking better, and carrying myself gently, straighter. I am taller and calmer, and deep, settling breaths just come, involuntarily. It’s wild.
Yoga Space Stamford has a full schedule of classes for those of all abilities, and some very attractive deals if you wanted to try a few without any monster commitment. If you are ready, and lucky enough to live in the Stamford area( it’s 20 minutes for me, coming from White Plains), check out the site and call Silvana for any questions. If you are out of the area, research it a bit, and look for your own local haven. Treat yourself, you’ll be glad you did.
January 24th, 2012
Did you hear the one about the guy who died, then arrived at his post-earth destination?
He was given a tour…first, he saw an enormous room, filled with long tables, benches on either side. The benches were filled with people who were trying to eat. Unfortunately each only had a spoon that was longer than their arms. It was not working, and they were unhappy. The man was told ‘this is hell’.
The next room was pretty much the same scene: long tables, crowded benches, many people, with oversize spoons. He was then told ‘this is heaven’. He was puzzled, until he realized the difference was these people were smiling…because they learned how to feed each other.
I LOVE THIS STORY> In a nutshell, it illustrates how we can grow and thrive as a species. OR-what could be the very death of us. Maybe that is why I am so excited about this program called Empty Bowls, it is win-win-win, and so very life-affirming.
Empty Bowls is an international project that got its start 22 years ago when John Hartom, an art teacher in Michigan partnered with his friend Lisa Blackstone, and got involved in a fund-raising campaign in their community. They wanted to create an event where artists and art students could participate, and make a difference.
His students made bowls to be used as serving pieces at a fund-raising meal of soup and bread. After they ate, and were told they could keep the bowls, patrons were silent. All were touched; many, in fact wept, and they all realized what they had on their hands. That was many events, and millions of dollars ago.
Today under the ImagineRENDER Group, Empty Bowl programs abound in at least a dozen other countries. While each community structures it to their own resources, they are all called Empty Bowl events, and the mission is singular: to raise money to end hunger and food insecurity.
This coming Sunday, January 29th, from 11:30am to 12:30 pm you can be a part of this fund-raising effort, right in your own backyard, when the Rye Presbyterian Church Youth Group hosts their Twelfth Annual Empty Bowls Event in the Churchs’ Assembly Room.
The event is co-sponsored with the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, and all funds raised go to the Port Chester Interfaith Soup Kitchens, an organization of 3 soup kitchens and food pantries in Port Chester. In the last 11 years, close to $55,000.00 has been raised.
For the last month the twenty-plus members of the Youth Group (sixth through eighth graders) have worked with local artists and members of the community to make bowls for the event. Last count there were close to 300 that were made, glazed and fired at CAC.
Most bowls will fall between the $10.00-75.00 range, with soups courtesy of Corner Stone Caterers in Rye, with The Kneaded Bread of Port Chester providing the artisan breads. Come, and bring your friends. Buy a bowl, enjoy some soup, and support the community.
This is my bowl, made earlier in the month at the Clay Art Center. When it was done, we were asked to sign it…XOX, for love to whoever eats from it seemed exactly the right marking.
January 8th, 2012
Welcome back to Give Yourself A Gift For 2012- where good ideas and smart people who know what they are doing could help make 2012 your best year ever.
Finally deciding to move forward on something you’ve been holding off on can be a huge relief. While this is time of great opportunity, the paths are rarely clear or direct, well-lit, or even reasonably level.
Knowing the questions to ask is just as important as knowing the answers. Unless you less you truly know what you are doing, you could end up seeing your dreams up in smoke if your try to go it alone. Our world is not simple to start with , but in these turbulent times, the need for an advocate has become a necessity, not a luxury.
Transactional law specializes in laws governing transactions between businesses and/or individuals. If selling or purchasing a property or business in New York State is in your future, I recommend a conversation with Phyllis Knight-Marcus be on the top of your list.
Phyllis is a transactional attorney who you always want to be sitting on your side of the table. Meet her once and you will know why. I have known Phyllis for years, she is knowledgeable, dedicated and experienced, and extremely tenacious when protecting the best interests and assets of her buyers and sellers.
Let’s say you’re a homeowner who has come to the painful realization that a short sale is in your future. Did you know the amount that forgiven by the banks (the difference between what is owed, and what selling price is) is considered income to the seller? Or that many short sale lenders reserve the right to go after the sellers for the difference after the closing?
A good transactional attorney will discuss the tax consequences with you beforehand in the former scenerio-perhaps you qualify for the IRS expemtion? They will also negotiate with lenders, and advise you of options in the latter.
Thinking of purchasing a short sale property? On average, purchase contracts bind the buyer for an average of 90 to 180 days, while the seller gets approval. This length of time is dishearteneing, but it can also require buyers to incur fees to extend the mortgage commitment or interest rate.
A good transactional attorney will limit that time, or include an ‘escape clause’ in the contract.
Even in a regular sale, buyers and sellers both need to know if the deck, addition, or basement on a property is legal, and has a CO.
Reviewing building and tax department records and advising you what to do about any problems will protect you before a contract is signed.
Looking to start, sell, or buy a business? How do you know what is an accurate price? And beyond price, are the terms like conditions of lease, and whether to buy business assets, or company stock-in your best interest? And flippers-how’s your cash flow, really?
The world can be a complicated place. The take-away for anyone contemplating making a move is to protect yourself, your rights, your money and your future: You need an advocate, before you start signing things and committing yourself financially. Just start a conversation, and get on with your life!!
January 1st, 2012
95% of the time I see cooking as a necessary evil.
I like to eat, and I’m not a bad cook…love to do things for holidays and other group occasions, but stopping what I’m doing to fix a meal is annoying.
Whatever else I’m doing is almost always more interesting-more rewarding-more important that cooking. And much of my cooking is by look, and by instinct…which can make some people crazy (but he’s learning to see the error of his ways!).
This ’gift’ is it’s easy and flexible: you make it to your own taste; it’s inexpensive and nutritious, and you won’t be driving all over town to track down a source for any expensive or esoteric ingredients (‘…yes, I’m looking for fresh honey from juvenile, Argentinean honey bees…’). Chances are you can make this from what you have in the house. Double bonus: it keeps well and re-heats beautifully.
Today I call this New Years’s Soup-because it is filled with GOOD THINGS, and GOOD INTENTIONS-but bottom line, it is the best vegetable soup EVER, feel free to make it your own, and call it what you will.
The beauty of this formula revolves around the lowly crockpot. You probably could do something on the stovetop, but with a crockpot you just assemble, and let it go. Doesn’t have to be fancy, mine is a 2-temperature, 5 quart model that’s almost 20 years old.
I like this to feel like a meal, so I prefer it to be be substantial: chunky and with a robust taste, so I start by browning meat.
Use a deep pot on the stove, about 1 to 1.5 lbs of meat with a good sized chopped onion, minced garlic, cumin and pepper….I use ground turkey-and season meat with Bell’s turkey seasoning, but ground or cubed beef and your favorite seasonings are all fine. Just keep the cumin, it really adds to the flavor.
Once browned, add tomatoes to the meat. Use up to 3-28 oz cans of tomatoes, and/or some fresh if you have them. I use two cans whole and one crushed, but again your call. Simmer the tomatoes, meat/onion/garlic for about an hour.
You want the whole tomatoes to get soft, so you can start breaking them apart. When whole tomatoes cook, they break down and the fibers make for a nice, thick soup body. You don’t have to crush them into oblivion, but once sauce is bubbling, about every 10 or 15 minutes smoosh them up a bit with a potato masher.
Now is the time you will be cutting up the veggies. Fill your crockpot about 1/2 full of chopped hard/crunchy vegetables of choice. Carrots, peppers, squash/zucchini, celery and potatoes; string beans, or peas in pods work well too.
If you’re skipping the meat, throw in some sliced okra for a great smoky taste. Add a semi-drained can of beans (I like dark red kidneys). Add meat/tomato mixtures, set on low and pretty much forget for the next 10-15 hours, except for the occasional stirring.
It’d be really hard to overcook this, but the first time you make this you will have to play around with the mix, the quantities, and the timimg til you find what works best for you.
It’s perfect for those days where everyone is coming/going/eating at different times, and a great alternative for game-day knoshes (meat and beans lets you sneak lots of veggies into everyone!)-just get it going Saturday night, so it’s ready for kick-off. YUM! And did I mention, EASY??
December 29th, 2011
Welcome back to my post-holiday series Give Yourself A Gift For 2012: where good ideas and smart people can help you have your best year ever.
At a recent WCBS Business Breakfast, Barbara Corcoran famed NYC Real Estate agent was the featured speaker. I did not attend, but caught an insight I found fascinating. She spoke about how she saw two types of people in the current market, in pretty much a 50-50 split: those sitting tight, and those making big moves.
Historically, recessions have proven to be fertile times for many business of all sizes and types to start, make a move, grow and expand…Hyatt, Sports Illustrated, FedEx, Trader Joes and media giants CNN and MTV are a few of the more well-known biggies that got their start in the midst of economic down cycles.
Will 2012 be your year to make some changes, to make something happen?
You don’t have to have plans for world-wide domination of your industry, but if you have bigger plans, or even are in a space, or a lease that is not meeting your needs, a really good first step would be to talk to a professional who can give you information and feedback to start the process, and I recommend you have that conversation with Trevor Tunell.
Trevor is the Vice-President of family-owned T-Square Properties. T-Square Properties specialize in all aspects of commercial real estate.
They represent Tenants to Landlords (including lease negotiation); represent Landlords to attract new Tenants, and maximize the value of their assets; and manage properties for owners. T Square Properties will also represent your interests if you are looking to buy, sell, or lease a new property.
And it costs nothing to have that conversation.
Besides that Trevor is a nice guy and a smart guy, he and the T-Square team “know” Westchester. They have been Westchester-based since they first opened their doors in 1983.
We all know real estate is hyper-local. Is there any reason to think a conglammorate with sattelite offices would really know the neighborhood better, understand market nuances better-or who’d be in a better position to serve their clients than a company with deep local roots?
As the population ages, the demand for easily accessible, state of the art specialized medical and dental services can only grow; but right now is also an especially good time for anyone in the Personal Services field-or even mid to large-sized corporations to make a move into larger, existing spaces.
Does your business depend on good foot traffic? Today’s economic climate has convinced some successful long-time shop ownersand restauranteurs to retire, making some very attractive storefronts in desirable locations available.
Commercial Real Estate is a highly specialized field. The right or wrong terms or location can make the difference between a dream realized, or a dream deferred. Don’t be afraid, just don’t go it alone.
December 27th, 2011
Welcome back to my latest series, Give Yourself A Gift in 2012: good ideas and smart people who can help you enter the new year purposefully, with a clear head and lighter heart.
When comedian George Carlin first debuted his routine on “Stuff” in 1981, he observed that sometimes we have so much stuff, that we pay to store some of our stuff…’ IMAGINE< an entire industry based on keeping an eye on your stuff!! ’ The audience was hysterical-what a concept!
Several years earlier, Business Week made some predictions about business in the future, one was the computer would render us to be a paperless society. HA! A lesser-known-but correct prediction was our having a computer on every desk, but it has been ‘paperless society’ that we remember. (Fact is, the boom of affordable desktop copiers-and consumer-oriented retail stores that sell them- helped to more than DOUBLE the worldwide use of paper from 1980 to 2000!)
What was out there and funny then is all too real now. There are a number of things that have brought us to this glut of stuff, but one big question-how to deal with it?
At the least, excess stuff is annoying and inconvienent. It weighs us down, affecting our concentration and productivity; in more severe situations, it can be unhealthy, even life-threatening….sadly, three Westchester residents lost their lives in recent years when fires started in their over-loaded homes…they couldn’t get out, and firemen couldn’t get in.
As our lifestyles have changed, businesses have grown to meet these needs and provide solutions for for these issues. Organizing is one of those services.
Marcia Sloman was one of the first professional organizers in our area, and her company Under Control Organizing has been helping Westchester get organized since 1992. I’ve known of Marcia for years, but it was only after a series of phone calls and emails that we finally, recently met. Minutes into the conversation, it’s easy to see why she has been so successful: she is warm and friendly, precise and very focused, but with a light touch.
Numbers on how much time we spend looking for things vary, but all of them give pause: Online I found surveys quoting anywhere from 16 minutes a day (or approximately 1 year of your life) to 55 minutes a day (a mind-numbing almost 14 years of your life!).
Even at the lower end, it’s still a lot of time lost…wouldn’t that be a great burden to have lifted from your shoulders in the New Year? Getting cleared out and organized not only will save you time and energy, again, you re-claim some valuable real estate in your home. Marcia’s services run the gamut, but some of her specialties are managing paper and stuff, and making the most of two finite entities: time, and spaces.
Solutions or systems mean little if they’re unrealistic, or, frankly if you don’t trust or respect the person coming up with them…it’s that way with Staging, too…one great, very user-friendly mindset Marcia recommends to deal with a big project: Divide things into the following groups: Trash, Recycle, Sell, Give Away or Donate.
Organizing styles-especially as far as paper is concerned-also figure strongly into her approach. Marcia creates filing systems for the “In-nies”-those who need stuff to be out of sight, but easily accessible; and can have specialized storage spaces made for those “Out-ies”-folks who need an open, visual display to keep things orderly and find-able.
Bottom line-while having someone help you clean out your closets, your garage, or set up your office might seem like an indulgence, ask yourself: so how’s doing it yourself working out for you?
If the answer is not so good, start a conversation, give yourself a gift, and get on with your life!
December 26th, 2011
WHEW. Busy couple of weeks, and 2012 is looming large. Ideas for new beginnings and fresh starts abound this week, but what will be meaningful and feasible for you? Many not only share this thought, but in my experience, share the very same sticking points as well.
Really looking at the stuff that holds you back, takes up way too much space in your brain or keeps you up at night is hard, but resist the urge to pull a Scarlett O’Hara (I’ll think about it tomorrow), or make grand vows for sweeping, 180-degree changes. Neither are good paths to real solutions.
the refreshed homehas always been about getting past the stuff that gets in your way: ID-ing issues, providing specific solutions, and connections to people who can help get resolution . SO-welcome to the first in a series of posts that will get you, your space and your stuff in it’s best place ever.
This first post was a no brainer, it is the #1 issue I see in almost every home I am in. Look and your space and ask yourself:
- Is the most attention-grabbing feature in your family room a wall of components, a bookcase full of DVDs, or a pile of remotes on the coffee table?
- Do cables and wiring snake around your room, following the baseboard, up the walls and around door frames like those vines in “Jumanji“?
- Is your new HDTV (blu-ray player/smart phone/tablet/etc) still in the box, while you’re on hold, or reading manuals trying to figure out how to set it up, or get it to work with your other things?
- Have you just adapted to your home office setup, putting stuff where there is room-or a plug?
Love them, hate them-electronics are as much a part of our day as brushing out teeth. Everything from our music and games, computers and smart phones-we are rarely far away from these modern day ‘necessities’. They connect us, and make us viable in school and business, and dis-organization here can cost you. That’s why giving yourself the gift of e-organization could be the most satisfying and productive thing you could do for 2012.
Folks in the big-box stores could be semi-qualified to talk about the stuff they sell, but can’t possibly have the best answers for your overall digital, electronic situation.
Khattar Hashim is the owner of Digital Media Integration of NY. Beyond smart, he’s an electronics artist. Ask him to tell you about the kosher refrigerator, or speakers-as-car-fenders he created for two clients. He gets that electronics are solutions to a problem, and should enhance one’s space and life-not create their own problems.
Khattar has been a self-professed digital-geek since 1997, and if you live in the lower Hudson Valley, he is the guy to call to get yor stuff positioned, hooked up, working properly, and to it’s intended capacity. He is also an authorized dealer, and installer for some of the worlds’ best products: Bose, Samsung and Crestron, to name a few.
Re-claim your living space with an installation that hides wires, or can bury the components, out of sight, in a closet. Program your lights and thermostats to work off your smart phone or tablet, get that man-cave set up for the Super Bowl soiree!
Get the little green men on your TV back to their normal color, convert all your music and movies onto a media server, and imagine-get it all to work on one remote!
Update and synch your stuff, get those speakers in exactly the right place and calibrate it all…then enjoy, and get on with your life!
NEXT: The Paper Chase
December 16th, 2011
Welcome back to Giving The Gift: Thoughtful, meaningful gift ideas to consider for this gift-giving season.
As I get older, I find this time of year to be more and more of a challenge.
Partially because my sensibilities and priorities are changing, partially from the 25+ years I worked in retail, and certainly because of the sobering effect the last few years have had on us all.
Unlike Linus, I struggle to find a balance, and be at peace with money and cost vs. authentic meaning.
Went through a similar mind-block when I was first seriously forming my company. I needed a name that reflected heart, left room for individuals of all perspectives to find value and comfort, and did not define itself, or align this value with a dollar figure.
There is nothing wrong with a tangible gift, but if you are struggling to find meaning at the mall-or find yourself at a loss when asked ‘what do you want?-here’s an alternative: Consider giving-or asking for-the gift of support.
There are fewer ways to better honor someone you hold dear than to support something near and dear to them. Because there are so many segments of the population in need, you’re giving the gift of hope. Many people already have favorite charities or causes, but not all. If this calls to you, here are three points to help you choose well.
Local or larger?
If you know someone well enough to give them a gift, you probably know what the giftees’ preference is, a local or a national organization. Start here, you’ll narrow the field dramatically.
What is close to their heart?
Organizations that support the basics of food, health and shelter abound at all levels-local, national, even international, but what about the not-as-dire?
Think education: literacy, libraries, specific school clubs and ancillary programs that support schools. Outreach programs: they exist for every demographic, unwed mothers to infants, at-risk kids, and seniors. Almost every worthwhile institution or program has a “Friends of ” organization behind it. Arts and parks, sports and animals, health clinics and hospitals.
Greater good causes? The enviornment, peace, veterans and military families. Google a topic and a locale, and no matter where you-or your giftee lives, you can get ideas and specifics.
CHECK IT OUT
Once you have a few contenders, do your research. Big glossy mailers do not an effective organization make. If you typically troll thru company reports, you can probably have your questions answered on the organization’s site; but if not, Charity Navigator is the world’s largest charity evaluator.
Last point to make about this type of gift: it does NOT need to be about money.
Time is just as precious, and volunteerism is how the bulk of things get done in these organizations. Consider contacting, and committing to time at an organization or cause near and dear to the giftee. TRIPLE BONUS: You will feel you’ve been ‘gifted’ as well.
December 13th, 2011
Welcome back to this years’ chapter of Giving The Gift!
The sensory bombardment the American consumer is exposed to this time of year is enough to throw the most steadfast of us off our game. Giving the Gift is a series that highlights local, creative businesses and thoughtful, unique gift ideas that will surprise and delight most anyone on your list, please click here to see all the write-ups.
This is something I fell into quite unexpectedly-and truthfully, equally unexpectedly, loved it!
Earlier this fall, reuniting with high school friends was the plan. We finally picked the date, but now, what to do?
Dinner somewhere or apple-picking were suggested (yawn)…then a colleague of Bert’s came up with pottery painting. I was not enthused, but it was the best option, so there is how we found ourselves at A Maze In Pottery. AMAZE,indeed!
A bright, happy, color-filled space, the feeling of serenity and creativity gives you a big old bear-hug the moment you cross the threshold. TOTALLY NOT an exclusive province for pre-schoolers, this is a place you want to know about for several reasons, more on that later
Set in a busy shopping center in the heart of Briarcliff Manor, it’s both convenient, and an escape. Owner Aggie Radzik, who holds a Masters Degree in Fine Art, Ceramic Design from her native Poland, opened this shop almost two years ago.
Here’s how it works: Shelves line the long walls, full of unpainted forms-maybe 400 to choose from, priced from $5.00 to $60.00. You buy the unfinished piece, and pay a small studio fee that includes time, paint, and glazing.
Idea books and a wide range of sample pieces give you food for thought…you pick your colors, then create, at your leisure. They fire it, and you pick it up about a week later.
There are mugs, plates, figures, as well as plain tiles that can be set into a tray, or a mirror. Glazes are lead-free, non-toxic, dishwasher and microwave safe.
While it’s a little late to have a gift made/fired in time for this years’ holidays, gift certificates are available in any denomination, and I LOVE THIS-given on a decorated tile for presentation! They also have seasonal forms, so not too early to think about a heart mug for Valentines’ Day, a baby’s footprint wall plate for Mothers’ Day, Teacher Gift…
As homage to our reunion, we chose to paint the same form, a big pasta/salad bowl. With studio time I think it came to around $40.00 each (pretty much what we’d spend on a bowl, anyway), but even $20.00 could get someone a complete project.
Aggie and her staff are creative and encouraging. Jessica gently guided Bert, Cindy and I through our blank-bowl terror, helping us arrive at 3 very different and satisfying projects.
On another recent visit, Aggie was helping a customer design a 12-tile tray as a gift to grandparents from their 11 grandchildren. Together they came up with the design: each child had their name on a tile. along with a favorite motif, the 12th tile was for the grandparents’ names and the date.
It is quite the happening place. There are daily specials, and parties galore: great for kids, but grown up events too. Daily specials for all ages and groups, and events can be tailored to most any occasion you can think of.
See details, and calendar of events on their site, but bottom line, it’s a joyful experience, just go!!
December 1st, 2011
Welcome back to this years’ chapter of Giving The Gift, where the spotlight shines on thoughtful, meaningful gift ideas that smart, creative local business people or organizations offer.
Do you have a challenging person to shop for this season? Is your house already overrun with superhero action figures, DVDs, electronic debris, or gaming stuff?
Maybe you’ve run out of ideas for a spouse or significant other? A cranky teenager (hey, they don’t read my blogs anyway, LOL) who likes nothing, or a boss who has everything?
Tell them to go climb a rock. Literally.
Passion about, and commitment to excellence of their product or service factors greatly into my thought process, just as much as a big WOW does. And from the moment I first walked into The Cliffs at Valhalla, an indoor rock-climbing and fitness center I was WOWWED. Mike and I spoke, and the rest of it kicked in.
Opened in September 2005, The Cliffs at Valhalla is the culmination of Mike Wolfert’s 20+ years of travels and experiences, and YOUR most excellent solution to the afore-mentioned troublesome giftees.
Located about 15 seconds off the Commerce Street exit on the Bronx River Parkway, simply, it is this huge space, with many engineered walls replicating all different angles of rock. There are at least 50 rope-climbing walls, and a whole big section of -I guess you’d call them freestyle?-bouldering formations. All are set with climbing ‘holds’ in creative climbing paths designed to accommodate ten different climbing levels-from absolute beginners/kids to seasoned climbers-each level designated by a different color tag.
Very clean, very friendly, and very, very safe-here are some things that surprised me:
- Women tend to be better climbers than men, at least early on (their natural stregnth is their core-abdomen/legs/butt-better for climbing)
- Climbing is a workout, not just a journey. You can climb as a way of getting fit, or working out those extra ya-yas.
- Creative thinking skills factor in just as much as physical ones do.
- Climbing is about setting a strategy and achieving goals-very transferrable skills in the rest of your life
- When rope-climbing, you are supported by the rigging at all times, and not at the mercy of someone else holding the other end of the rope
Here is why you should consider giving a gift certificate to The Cliffs at Valhalla: Mike and his 40+ employees love climbing, and want you to love it too. Lots of classes/packages, but best deal by far is their special Learn to Climb package. $99.00 gets you a inital 3 hour lesson on climbing safety and strategy…PLUS a months’ unlimited climbing….PLUS a follow-up 3 hour lesson, after that month to explore techniques and other skills.
It’d be an unexpected and fun break from the winter yuks, and if your giftee is smitten, there are all sorts of other packages and memberships they can take advantage of, plus an on-site gear shop with guides, apparel, and professional-grade equpiment suitable for both indoor and outdoor climbing.
There’s lots to like about The Cliffs at Valhalla. They host loads of special events (click here to see pics) and lots of specialty classes: afterschool, Scouts working on merit badges, even at-risk and kids on the spectrum.
But they are also good community partners: now thru December 14th they are sponsoring a Winter Coat Drive with 1071. FM The Peak-the refreshed home’s own radio station of choice.
These are the people, and the places you want to support. SO-go climb a rock, and tell them the refreshed home sent you!
Check out links to past Giving the GIft posts: Enrichment, Delight, Membership, In Honor Of (then Check, Before You Send A Check), Original Art, and Entertainment. Some of the specifics may have changed, but still snappy ideas!
November 30th, 2011
Annual Zwilling J.A. Henckels Warehouse Sale 12/2-12/4 In Hawthorne
Got any serious chefs on your shopping list? Then don’t miss the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Anual Warehouse Sale this coming weekend December 2nd-4th, at the Hawthorne location on Saw Mill River Road.
Since 1731 the German-based firm has been committed to the highest standards in quality, precision implements. shoppers can expect to find great deals on quality in the form of Henckel knives of every possible size and use-including those specifically for sushi!- along with blocks and cutting boards; stainless AND cast iron cookware, flatware, kitchen gadgets, personal grooming gadgets, and scissors(regular, kitchen, flower!), as well as all sorts of boxed gift sets.
Even if you’re not quite ready for your own cable cooking show, a good knife makes everything easier. We got several the weekend before-one a serrated-carving type thing that let me cut the leftover turkey carcass into managable sizes for soup, and a pair of great paring knives, each less than $5.00, I believe. There were also melon-ballers, and grapefruit knives-great stocking stuffers!-for I think $7.50
Click above link for directions and hours, and Happy Shopping!
HINT: you probably know exactly where it is, one building north of the Multi-Plex in Hawthorne on Route 9A. They have people to direct traffic, but best to approach from the north so you can slide right in, and not interfere with theater or sale traffic.
Also it’s a crowded space-both with merchandise and shoppers. Keep the big bag and puffy coat in the car, and although there are a few picnic tables outside, probably best not to bring the kids.
November 21st, 2011
As much as I would love this post to have a calm and moderate tone, sorry, it’s just not happening.
Just starting to come off the worst economic downfall most of us have ever been through, we find ourselves on the cusp of the start of the holiday shopping season.
Plan this morning was to write about promoting 2nd Annual Shop Small Saturday. This coming Saturday, November 26, the focus is on shopping at your local merchant, and supporting small business, which will, in turn support us all.
Watched the morning news first, was absolutely horrified to see wall-to-wall ads for big-box stores open all night, one gleefully adding the tag”…so you don’t have to wait outside.”
Folks-take a look at your downtown. See the empty storefronts?
Think about your own circle. Know anyone who is out of work, or had their hours cut back?
Money spent in the community puts dollars in the pockets of your neighbors, and strengthens us all. It is really that simple.
You don’t even need to be in a ‘big gift’ frame of mind. Have the last few years taught us nothing at all??
Last year I started a series called Giving the Gift, where ideas for unique, thoughtful and local gifts were highlighted, in the areas of Delight, In Honor Of, Entertainment, Enrichment, Membership, and Original Art. And yes, I have a bunch more of new ideas lined up for the days to come!
Will Hamm, a Realtor pal in Denver who works smart, and with his heart, shared a story written by a NEW Realtor friend, Toni Weidman from ReMAX of New Port Richey FL. Called Let’s Help Keep Our Local Businesses Open, Toni stresses the importance of not just buying local, but buying AMERICAN, and buying SMART. Click here to read her very simple, common-sense suggestions.
Look, I’ve been in retail 25 years. Trust me when I say big-box store management likens the American buying public to a gang of rats in a maze, looking for the cheese (in this case, cheap consumer electronics). With a few cheap TVs they manufacture drama, and attempt to re-train the consumer to think of shopping as a competiton sport. I say THEY need to be re-trained.
There is nothing wrong with big TVs, are we just that hard-up for them??
I understand these stores pay local taxes, and employ local people too, but a bad Black Friday will NOT cause anyone to lose their jobs in these stores. But even small actions of many COULD send all the right messages, on everything from quality of life, reminding them consumers hold the cards, and NO, we’re not stupid, and we’re going to be whores for a stupid TV…which will probably be just as cheap next week. SERIOUSLY.
SO-on Friday-sleep in. Make turkey and cranberry pancakes. Call some old friends and catch up. And make your shopping list for Saturday.
There is no single day where the consumer has more attention paid to them than the day after Thanksgiving. Please, choose to use your power for good. And thank you.