January 2nd, 2012
Read this yesterday and just loved it, thought this was a great mindset to share for all our endevors in the New Year.
If I have an apple, and you have an apple and we exchange these apples, you and I will still each have one apple.
But if you have an idea, and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
-George Bernard Shaw
September 1st, 2011
September 1st: Did You Know
Recently I wrote about Labor Day as the new New Years’ Day. Turns out September 1st is quite an interesting day in history, LOTS of firsts, and auspicious new beginnings. For example-did you know:
-It’s Hero’s Day in Tanzania, Revolution Day in Libya (!!), and Independence Day in Viet Nam
-The first yacht race took place (1661), between England’s King Charles, and his brother James
- Phillis Wheatly became the first African-American poet to be published (“Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral”, 1773)
-William Becknell left Independence, MO with other traders, for Santa Fe, creating what would be known as the Santa Fe Trail (1821)
-First American settlement was established in the northern Oregon Territory by Marcus Whitman, and his wife, Narcissa. She was also the first woman to have made that trip.
-Joseph Lister performed the first surgery using antiseptics (1865)
-Emma Nutt of Boston became the first female telephone operator (1878)
On September 1st-the first Pullman sleeping railroad car was put into service (1859), first Labor Day was observed in NYC (1882) by Carpenters and Joiners Union, then declared a national holiday by Congress (1894).
September 1st also saw the first triple-header was played (1890, Boston vs. Pittsburgh). Helen Keller graduated with honors from Radcliffe (1904), WWII ended with Japan’s surrender (1945).
VERY INTERESTINGLY, Mommar Gaddafi deposed then-Libyan ruler Kind Idris (1969), Bobby Fischer of the US defeated Boris Spasky ofRussia for the world chess title (1972), and the wreck of the Titanic was found, 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland (1985).
All this courtesy of a daily email drop called On This Day, from Reference.com. You can subscribe for free, they don’t spam you, and in about 45 seconds you can be smarter, every day.
May 13th, 2011
Was out walking Bella earlier, and ran into a dog and her owners that I have never met.
Living in the middle of White Plains, pet-friendly buildings are few and far between; as a result, most dogs and owners know each other, so this was an exciting morning for Bella-NEW FRIEND!
As dog owners are prone to do, they talk about the dogs first. So we did.
Asked if they just moved in, turns out they lived a few blocks away for a while, we just never met.
When our new friends found out where I lived, they confided they loved the property, would come in and just stroll around to check it out; even looked into buying something. Which I found to be very exciting, from both a real estate, and a shareholder point of view.
Then she shared …‘but we just missed the first-time home buyer credit program’.
Those words kind of hung in the air. Thoughts raced thru my head. No matter how you would define ‘just missed’, it’s still been over for the greater part of a year.
While I am not a realtor, or otherwise cleared to speak on behalf of neighbors who are selling-it seemed to be a perfect opportunity to make some sort of statement about a field I believe in, and am confident about.
Questions and suggestions battled each other, trying to form a thoughtful and appropriate response: Define ‘just”. What happened? What did they do in the year since, and what are they doing now?
Stalling-and me, without a TWIXST bar!!-I observed that in my business as a Professional Stager, I’ve seen a nice uptick in the number of people who were making decisions and getting on with their life.
I am not good at doing math in my head, while people are watching me (old throwback to being at the blackboard!), so I hesitated, the moment was lost, and the subject was changed.
She had mentioned a few moments earlier that some of the units they were checking out were in the low 200′s (which is a GREAT price for this property). If I were the seller, or their buyer agent, seems to me that qualified first-time buyers would be in a position to make an EXCELLENT offer-i.e-fewer conditions, and probably a cleaner set of financials.
An $8,000.00 price reduction on a $220,000.00 listing is a very average 3.7%. My instinct was to suggest they find the unit they liked, and have their realtor (YES OF COURSE I encouraged them to work with one!!) approach the selling agent, making an offer with this in mind.
It’s not a ground-breaking idea, and the math isn’t that hard to figure out…so what was really going on? Certainly there could be other reasons they didn’t want to bring up with a virtual stranger.
Maybe they just had buyer burn-out-overloaded with so much bad and incomplete information, that their filters were clogged, and not knowing who to believe, they just threw in the towel?
But as the saying goes, you never know until you ask…if I was a seller who really wanted to sell, or a Realtor, I would have encouraged that conversation. How would you have reacted? What would you have said?
February 28th, 2011
You know those things you come across from time to time that just make you say an inner ‘wow’?
Simple statements, thoughts or bits of trivia that are intriguing enough to fill in a blank, or put things into a perspective you just never thought of before.
They may make you smile or make you think. Perhaps make your day a little brighter, even make you feel a little smarter.
Welcome to Ruminations… the new home for all these neat, thought-provoking ideas ( that are now on pieces of paper on my desk…on the dresser…on stickies, attached to my mirrors…) and yes, your comments and contributions are welcome!
Did you know the 2010 Best Picture of The Year-The King’s Speech came from an un-rehearsed reading of an unpublished play?
In his acceptance speech, Tom Hooper, the film’s director, explained that in 2007 his mom was to meet friends for lunch and then attend this reading, to be given in a small town in her native Australia.
She did not find the subject matter appealing, or even of interest, and almost didn’t go.
She decided to go, and was struck by the telling of this heartfelt true story. On her return home, rang up Tom and said: “Son, I think I’ve found your next movie”.
Greatness is all around us…looking past hyperbole, we free up brain space so we can be open to new ideas and opportunities.
February 7th, 2011
Saturday’s talk at the Ossining Library went really well: thank you to James Trapasso who schedules the programs, Edgar, who helped with the set up, and to all of you who made it there, and for your thoughtful questions.
Sunday’s 40 degree temps inspired a few email inquiries, so those getting a head start on Staging their home or their Spring Cleaning, here are some resources I like to recommend…
REALTORS: Please take SPECIAL NOTE-as your clients get closer to moving into-or out of a property, their usable, unwanted goods can make a world of difference to a local family in need. Please pass this around within your office.
Furniture Sharehouse takes your gently used, average-sized unwanted furniture, some furnishings, and working small appliances, and re-distributes them free to clients of 3 dozen Westchester agencies. Click here for link to site, and check donation and pick-up guidelines. Also here is video clip that was filmed as part of pitch to PBS.
Northern Westchester Shelter, also known as Hope’s Door has been providing safety and support to survivors of domestic abuse since 1980. Their space is small, and their needs change from week to week, but new to gently -used clothing (all different sizes) and baby items are usually high on their priority list.
Please email them or give them a call 914.747.0828 to check and see (they also keep an email list for when there are multiple, or especially great specific needs, if you’d like to subscribe)
Pets Alive Westchester (click here) in Elmsford, and SPCA in Briarcliff (click here) are both no-kill animal shelters that welcome towels and bed linens to make their animals’ lives easier, softer, and warmer. Check sites for guidelines of other needs.
No matter where you live, there are thrift shops that use your donations to raise funds for good causes; and any 501c3 charity will give you a donor receipt for your taxes.
Even though tossing may be the quickest/easiest thing to do, your donation could make a real impact by considering taking this extra step. Check the phone book, google around, or call me if you are stuck/in need of a good recommendation-and thank you!!
February 2nd, 2011
Why, I’m talking about your brain, OF COURSE!
While these days find it ohsotempting to be one with the sofa, while decked out in comfy-cozies, I find too much ‘relaxing’ dulls the gray matter.
Exploring new horizons, meeting different people, engaging in something new doesn’t just make the time pass quickly. It builds new brain synapses, and is a great quick-start to your creativity. You will feel empowered, inspired, and well, refreshed.
Here are three quick, easy and cheap-to-free ways to keep you in top form, you know, for when it finally stops snowing…
1. Go to a bookstore, or the local library and browse through the new titles. There is a lot to know/see/think about in this world of ours, the new releases will span a broad spectrum of topics, great food for thought, and for those ‘small talk’ occassions that seem to sneak right up on you.
2. Go to a museum. PLEASE. I can’t say this enough (or keep writing about it!!) No matter where you live, I can almost guarantee that there are a handful of places you have never visited within a half-hours drive, and many have free or reduced admission at certain times. Learn something new, see something from another’s point of view.
3. Take a class, or attend a talk. This is ‘High Season’ for Adult/Continuing Education in most local school districts or community colleges.
I took scuba diving at the Y this time of year once. While it wasn’t a hobby I ultimately pursued, I completed the course, and got my certificate, and for 6 weeks, got out of the house doing something different one night a week.
Dining Etiquette, Cartooning, All About Pearls-all part of our own WCC’s veritable smorgorsboard (orgasboard-orgasboard) of a line up. Check it out and have fun. Your sofa could use a night off.
January 3rd, 2011
There are very few things that are more at the heart of who we are, than our homes. At the end of the day, people want to be home.
Because the last few years has been so very trying, I believe 2011 will be a year of shared purposes and goals, and with that-better communications.
The right words can inspire great things. Here are some more words that I think we will all be hearing a lot in the New Year. They are a little different, and I like the sound of them.
We are all in this together, and one’s success-a rising tide-will lift all our boats. May 2011 be your best year ever!!
Comfort, sanctuary, authentic: “HOME“ is both a universal and very personal entity. These words go to the core of what we all crave.
Mentor, support, engage, collaborate: Good relationships build trust, and creativity. Interactions will be quality, and rewarding.
Wanderlust, adventure, dream: I want to live a few moments of each day like a 3 year old, seeing the wonder of something for the first time.
Cellular, visceral, intuitive: We are all ohsotired of the intense and frenzied, but we will still think about, and feel things deeply.
Evolve, thrive, grow: Forward motion that with time, brings better things.
Yes. Because I like the sound of it.
January 2nd, 2011
Recently there has been a different tone and tenor in jobs I’ve had, and people I’ve been speaking with. There is a willingness to believe. I see and hear more confidence, less trepidation.
Many are tired of being held hostage to this market; they want to put the past behind them, and get on with their life.
NOW is the perfect time to embrace a new plan of action!!
Too many sellers-and sorry, agents too-still think inside a very small box-i.e. what they see on TV. The extremes of the market make for the best TV, but don’t really address the needs of the majority of sellers.
Staging is not an intellectual discussion, it is a verb, you just get your hands onto things and start to make some changes. SO-get off the couch, and turn off HGTV; here are some really quick/easy/cheap ways to get you going.
Now, more than ever, buyers buy homes they want, homes they connect with on an emotional level. Good Home Staging starts by knowing who the buyers will likely be, then the strengths of the neighborhood/property that’ll draw buyers there in the first place. Then visually, tangibly taps into those motivational forces, to complete the picture for the buyer.
You are selling a lifestyle A low pegboard with a few bright yellow slickers, or attention paid to a spacious eat-in kitchen could be very appealing to a parents of a growing family.
A few touches of luxury inside-even as simple as new white plush bath towels- could really speak to downsizers who are ready to enjoy a life not ruled by durable, practical and kid-friendly choices.
Cute pet bowl-empty, please-reminds buyers this could finally be the opportunity to comfortably add a new member to the family
Offer the unexpected Buyers will linger in and bond with a room where there is something clever or engaging for them to see.
Nothing fancy/blingy/personal, but think signs of life: how about a simple goldfish bowl in a child’s room, even an in-progress jigsaw puzzle or Scrabble game on a game table?
Draw them outside Whether the property has a 4×8 balcony, a million-dollar view, or falls somewhere in between, buyers need to be outside and experience it to fully appreciate it. Give them something to look at, touch, and be engaged with to make that impression.
If there is a yard, in 3 of the 4 seasons I like to set up a volleyball net, horseshoes, even bocce ball-what better way to take the pressure off than to have the buyers toss a few shoes?
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers should take your word for how great it is to have a deck and a grill-show them it’s a year-round benefit.
Shovel a path to the grill and keep it looking good; buyers will be reassured they will be just fine in the next power-outage, even see themselves hosting the next Super Bowl party!!
Decorating some tress decorated with bird and squirrel-friendly treats will be entertaining for kids, while adding color and life to your property.
This market is extremely saturated with condos and co-ops. All the more reason to find something to make the space stand out.
A mini herb garden on the window sill points to light, and a fragrant rosemary tree would probably do well year round on any patio or balcony, and few could resisit touching it to release it’s aroma.
A string of white lights adds a nice touch year-round, but would be most charming and memorable at winter time showings.
NEXT: Multi-anything is GOLDEN; even golden is GOLDEN…except we’ll call it Pittsfield Buff, OK?
December 20th, 2010
Ghandi once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
There is nothing wrong with malls, we all need a new scarf/tie/pair of gloves/etc. every so often…but if you are looking for something with greater meaning, how about supporting a change you, or a loved one would like to see in the world?
Wherever you or your loved one is, there are non-profit (501c3) organizations that would welcome donations of both time and money, at any time of year. Kids or teens pledging volunteer time as a gift to a parent/grandparent could pay great dividends to all concerned.
There is no shortage of good causes. The typically most at-risk seniors and women with young children are now joined by all the other segments of the population, all in need of the most basic support-food and shelter. Here are some local organizations, and links to their websites to get you started/inspired.
Meals on Wheels is both a local and a national program, started originally to serve the elderly and otherwise home bound. They operate year round, bringing prepared meals, as well as companionship to those they serve.
Food Bank of Westchester The statistics are sobering; almost 200K Westchester residents are hungry, or at risk of being hungry; and 83% of them are either seniors, or under the age of 18.
Formerly known as FoodPATCH, Food Bank for Westchester collects, warehouse and distribute 6 million pounds of food a year, supplying 95% of all the food for approx 200 front-line food providers county-wide: soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, day care centers and other hunger-relief centers in Westchester.
The Bridge Fund Founded here in Westchester in 1991, and since has been the model for organizations in NYC, CT and MA; The Bridge Fund aids working poor families/individuals who are in imminent danger of losing their housing. Last year they handled almost 2800 requests for help, and ultimately prevented 312 evictions and foreclosures.
All of what they do, and the individualized way they do it doesn’t fit this 5-8 sentence format, so I would urge you to click the link above, and find out more about them.
Furniture Sharehouse Near and dear to my heart, Furniture Sharehouse collects and re-distributes clean and serviceable furniture free, to clients of about 3 dozen local agencies.
Started in April 2007, they crossed their 1000th Westchester family served in September.
Pets Alive is the new name of the Elmsford Animal Shelter. Still the only no-kill shelter in the area, they merged with Pets Alive rehabilitation sanctuary in Middletown NY earlier this year.
They support animals, and the people that want to adopt them. Again, their programs and needs are varied, please click link above to find out more.
December 12th, 2010
“Astonished” is a good word to describe most people’s reaction when the first super bookstore opened here. BOOKS?? And they want you to sit down, drink coffee and read, even if you don’t buy??
Conventional wisdom had them there not too long. Well, WHO KNEW, these would come to be such hopping places, full of people seeking both knowledge and camaraderie at 10 PM on Saturday nights?
While recent years have not been kind to places like this, our passion for ongoing learning has not abated.
A holiday gift that embraces, enhances and encourages another’s gifts and curiosities could be a most welcome surprise, so here are a few local ones you may not have thought of:
The New York Botanical Gardens -They offer year-round programs/classes for kids and teens; Gardening, Horticulture, Photography, Floral, and Landscape Design are some of the adult ed classes coming up. There is also a dandy of a Winter Lecture Series starting in January.
Gift certificates are available for classes or lectures, they can also be separately purchased for the gift shop; additionally gift memberships are $75.00. How cool would it be to find one of those folded up inside a new pair of garden gloves, or in an emptied seed envelope, in the toe of your stocking?
Know someone who’s had the interest, but perhaps not the time for music lessons? No time like the present (!!) to start.
The Westchester School of Guitar works one on one with any age or experience level, on every facet from traditional lessons for the beginner, to composing and techniques for the more advanced students.
Owner and founder Jeff Brown (left) has s been teaching guitar for 30 years, and feels it is the intuition he has developed on how each different student can be best taught that has accounted for the success and growth of the business.
Very conveniently located in Briarcliff, they offer a complimentary intro lesson, and a 4-lesson ‘try-out package’, as well as 12 week tri-mester.
Any drummer wanna-bes in your life? Simply, John Arrucci is the one you want to know.
As a percussionist, John has composed, performed, taught, recorded and traveled extensively for nearly 3 decades. He works with percussion instruments from many different cultures, all around the world, and offers private classes in composition, drumsets, percussion and piano.
Westchester Skating Academy in Elmsford, and theIce Casino at Playland both offer ice-skating classes for all ages and levels, both figure skating and hockey instruction.
Don’t overlook WCC! A SUNY school, their Spring schedule (starting mid-January) is chock-full of things include lessons in 9 different languages; plus courses in Writing, Dance, Film, Art History, Cooking, Politics, Wine Appreciation, Tai Chi, Area Rug Making, Boxing and …well, you get the picture.
It’s close, and quite affordable: while costs vary, but many 5 or 6 session courses are in the $60.00-100.00 range. While the student would have to register themselves, you can still surprise them with an appropriate small gift-like a book, or accessopry on the topic, with the course description tucked away inside…
Like the idea, but none of these exactly right? Or maybe you’re not so local? Just look around, chances are the perfect gift is right there, in your own backyard.
November 14th, 2010
OK< house is ready-nice listing photos, everyone is remembering to keep the house neat, there are good showings.
YAY! There is an acceptable offer!!
DOUBLE YAY!! Buyer financials are looking good, and since your agent priced it accordingly (I know, sorry, that’s a whole other post), inspection and appraisal should go right through, right?
As a seller you may be thinking hoo-rah, but agents know better. Ownership of your property needs to be easily and readily transferrable.
Properties that have had work done without the proper permit and inspection process can get derailed in the blink of an eye. When caught by an appraiser, inspector or title company, everyone in the sale is notified, and no one is happy.
It comes up most often when houses have had one owner for a long time, but ownership means responsibility, so newer sellers can be on the hook for past owners’ oversights/misdeeds as well. Things that may have been missed/misfiled in in the busy/crazy markets past now have..shall we say… very dedicated…people looking at them.
Key is understanding the process so you are prepared. Architect Steven Secon AIA, friend, colleague and principle of Steven Secon Architect in Dobbs Ferry NY explains it best:
“Many home and builing improvements require building permits. Before a project begins, an application is submitted to the municipality that the property is located in. When issued, the permit indicates the project has been reviewed and approved for conformance with the building code and zoning regulations; this is when the work can actually start.
“There are inspections throughout the process, and when the project is complete, a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is issued, and municipality records are updated. Having accurate and completed COs on file is a valuable asset; it tells appraisers, attorneys, title agents and buyers that all work was done in accordance with local regulations.
It is against the law to make most non-cosmetic improvements without these approvals or permits, period. Bringing work without prior, necessary permits/approvals into conformance is called legalization-it’s completing the approval process after the work is done.
No matter what you may think of the permit process (and yes, I do know) the bottom line is if you want to sell your property it needs to be compliant, or else it will cost you-time, money, and yes, even the deal. Often there are penalties, and perhaps some additional work will be needed to make it legal… NOT what buyers or lenders want to hear, especially when there are a lot of other properties out there.
Steve sums it up: “Moral of the story-whether you are re-financing or just doing some updates to get your property ready for sale- do your homework. Check with the municipality, take the time to get project approvals in order- or make sure the property is legalized before you get it on the market.”
November 5th, 2010
Am I the only one, 72 hours out, still feeling bruised, bullied, even dirtied from all the political campaigns?
Regardless of your affiliation, it was hard to escape the rancor or this electoral season, harder to imagine this not carrying over, or the sessions to follow accomplishing anything of importance with this bad attitude.
Personally and professionally, I have always felt dealing with people directly, and with respect is how to get things done. ”Incivility” is a word I first read in an op-ed piece in the NY Times about the message our preoccupation with our electronic devices really sends; loved it.
Very fortuitously, just as the dust is settling and the posturing is starting, I found a short essay, with a simple suggestion that I would call brilliant.
Joe Reeder is a former assistant secretary of the Army, and a lawyer in Washington. In a piece written earlier this year, he describes a quick, easy, no-cost, no downside way to help neutralize partisan nonsense so all our elected officials can really focus on the task at hand. http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-05-2010/break_up_political_parties.html.
If you want your elected officials to walk that walk, please consider sharing this with them. Common courtesy and professional respect, now THAT would be a refreshed house we could all get behind!!
October 24th, 2010
It has been a glorious start to fall…leaves in brilliant reds, oranges and golds. set against bright, clear blue skies. Days are comfortable, but nighttime is getting chilly, so we close the windows, maybe turn on the heat or if we are so fortunate, light a fire in the fireplace.
Two weeks from today Daylight Savings time will end, and in about 10 days the reminders are going to start-change the batteries in you smoke and CO detectors, I suggest not waiting.
Smoke detector laws in New York State have been on the book for some time, but CO detectors became law earlier this year.
CO-carbon monoxide-is produces when any flamable material does not burn completely-this is any type of flammable material: oil, coal, wood, natural gas; even kerosene, propane, charcoal and gasoline.
Colorless and mostly odorless, symptoms include disorientation, and often mimic those of the flu, and the more severe the exposure, the less likely someone is to be aware of their condition, or able to seek help.
Children, pregnant women and the elderly are at the highest risk. Most recent complete data shows there were 42,000 fire and rescue responses to CO poisoning in 2007.
No one is in more homes than real estate professionals, and no one better poised to help carry this message-dare I suggest year-round. We all have AA and AAA batteries on hand (heaven forbid the remotes don’t work!!) so I have started to keep a supply of fresh 9volt batteries in my car, to leave them with each new client consult, and include new detectors as part of my Staging and Decorating proposals.
Perhaps a new CO detector would make a great closing gift?
Local community laws vary and will trump state requirements-where I live in White Plains, part of getting ANY building permit closed is the installation of hard-wired detectors in the appropriate place. Office managers-how about scheduling an official from the local building department to speak of this at your next office meeting?
We all ‘know’ what fire can do, but seeing it first-hand is something else. Last year I was witness to 2 separate fire restorations. One, very close to home, in my own co-op complex; the other was a project I was called into. The former was a roof repair gone horribly wrong, the latter an electrical fire.
Photo on left is entry into apartment, hole in wall is where electric panel was; on right is in bedroom, looking up into bedroom of upstairs apartment.
If you look carefully, above 2nd beam on the left, you may be able to see outlet cover is melted, and soot stains coming out of it
October 17th, 2010
Every 3,000 miles, and change the filter too-were the hard and fast rules my dad taught me; it might have been more often than recommended in the owners manuals, but in my family, we tended to keep cars for a l-o-n-g time, so it was sort of an insurance policy, proactive maintenance.
Consumers are now being asked to re-think this marker, and not in the way you might expect.
Advances in manufacturing and technology, and lifestyle changes point to longer time between changes; consumer advocates ask we take a look at our driving style/needs, and follow the guidelines of the owner’s manual to ascertain the optimum time for our cars.
Owner’s manual?! I have driven the same brand of car since 1981, and it’s gotten so I look in the owner’s manual only to find out how to re-set the clock when the time changes… but I took a look, and their recommendations are in the 4500-7500 mile range, depending on your driving style.
Overly-frequent oil changes not only wast money, getting rid of oil before it’s time is a hit to the environment, too-synthetic or natural oil, it still has to ‘go’ somewhere.
Jiffy Lube has started a program recommending people make their own decisions, and Edmunds.com is a site all car people know about. Scroll down to the bottom of the home page and there are a whole host of consumer resources, but for those of us not so inclined to peruse it just for yuks, http://www.edmunds.com/ownership/maintenance/articles/164686/article.html will tell you most anything else you want to know.
October 16th, 2010
These last two changes are unexpectedly satisfying-partially because they are so basic, and so simple.
4. Into the kitchen! Regular readers know I consider everyday cooking to be a real intrusion on the rest of my day, and faux-’easy’ recipes from hmm….rhymes with Meal Dimple…are insulting and annoying, so don’t get your apron stings all knotted up…
It’s known science that many spices promote good health-cinnamon helps lower high blood pressure, ginger aids digestion, hot spices fill you up with flavor (not calories), to name a few.
But they just LOOK so darn good, and with the weather changing and the holidays nipping at our heels, nothing exudes hominess, invites creativity and builds confidence in the kitchen and like an organized spice rack or shelf that you can just reach over to and sprinkle from.
Experts say dried spices lose their effectiveness after 6 months…I think that’s a pretty narrow window (probably researched by the sales arm of the National Spice Council), but it is a fact, their potency does diminish with thyme…ummm, I mean time :>
ANYWAY-toss out any container that is dusty on top, has no discernible scent, or you can’t remember using. Think about the upcoming cooking/eating season, look at some of your favorite cookbooks/recipes and make your list:
Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice for baking; paprika, cumin, chili powder and curries for soups, stews and chili; dill, oregano, thyme and sage for meat, poultry, sauces and dips. Then go NOT to the supermarket (who knows how long those little jars and tins have been sitting there) but instead www.atlanticspice.com.
This gem of a business is hidden just off Route 6 (bayside) on the North Truro-Provincetown (MA) line. Wholesale, but open to the public, ships anywhere, and spices are just the beginning.
Inventory does not stay long, they do business by the barrel, and sell bottles of spices for about $2.25 each (maybe HALF of what they sell for in the supermarket) and in things you may use in bulk-their minced onion and mixed provance herbs are my favorite-maybe $6.00 a pound? Browse their online catalog, and this season, you will ROCK in the kitchen.
5. Let me tell you about the magical restorative powers of new linens…After the age of 25, the most affordable luxuries are a good night sleep, and a refreshing morning shower.
Because things like sheets, pillows and towels degrade very very gradually, we don’t really notice it…but take a look now. If your linen closet is looking like a patchwork quilt, you are due for an upgrade.
Best news, you can do it very well, and stick to a budget….. I mean, have you been to a Kohl’s lately??
Recently I bought a set of 400 count (the number of threads per square inch) pima cotton(longer threads = smoother, more lustrous product) king size sheets for a client. This season’s merchandise, in a classic color; inc. flat, fitted, and 2 king pillowcases-$120.00 regularly, on sale for $49.00, LESS 15% with my coupon $42.50 when all was said and done.
Pillows can be gotten for $10.00 or less, and if you hit it right, you can get a new set of very nice towels-4 bath, 4 hand, 4 wash for maybe $75.00-I got this same client got new Tommy Hillfiger towels for $6.00 each at Home Goods.
EXTRA FEEL-GOOD POINTS: Most animal shelters are very welcoming of your unwanted linens.
We all have busy days/weeks/etc…having a great front door/neat closets/healthy plants/fresh herbs and spices or even crisp, smooth matching sheets and soft, fluffy bath towels isn’t really going to change that, but you will feel a heck of a lot better about it all, and at the end of the day, in’t that what we really want?
October 13th, 2010
Fall usually arrives too soon, sneaking in the back door while you’re still on the porch kissing summer good-bye…all of a sudden you find yourself indoors again, and WHOA!!-what happened to my house?
Instead of seeing all you haven’t done/should do, or striving to achieve overall semi-perfection…again… and making yourself crazy/cranky/etc in the process, how about taking care of some oft-neglected corners of your home?
Here are the first few of my favorite high-impact, long-lasting, quick fall fix-its that are easy, cost you less than $50.00; I guarantee any of them will elevate your sense of personal well-being, and increase the enjoyment of your home.
1. Paint your front door Don’t remember how I stumbled upon this but am oh-so-glad I did! Susan Herin is an afficianado of all things house and home-oriented, living outside of Atlanta. Between Naps On The Porch is her blog, and whenever I read one of her posts, I am transported to a lovely, gracious world.
On it, Susan hosts 2 different blog parties, Metamorphsis Monday and Tablescape Thursdays, but here is link to an absolutely delightful blog post I found this summer about what the color of your front door says about you. http://betweennapsontheporch.blogspot.com/2010/02/what-color-is-your-front-door.html May we all aspire to red front doors, and thank you Susan for sharing!
2 Get your closets in order. Purge with abandon. Holding on to clothes-things-that don’t suit us anymore is really quite a burden. You’ll find a list of happy recipients for everything from kid’s clothes to old linens on the Good Turns page on my website.
Then, replace your hangers with new, matching hangers. Not going all Joan-Crawford on you here (remember, Mommie Dearest was not fond of wire hangers), but toss all those old and nasty hangers from department stores and dry-cleaners long gone.
Not saying you need new, hand-sewn silk paisley cushioned jobbies; but until you try it, you won’t believe the difference a few dozen decent hangers can make. BBB, Container Store, KMart all have very reasonably priced offerings.
Seal the deal by putting your clothes in color order, light to dark. Scoff if you want, but see how much more civilized you’ll feel.
3. Do some interior landscaping Cultivating indoor greenery was a novel thought in 1652, when Sir Hug Platt, an English country gentleman and horticulturist first wrote about it. Designing greenhouses and conservatories-bringing the outdoors in- quickly became a pursuit of the privileged. Happily, you need neither a staff or a trust fund to pursue this now.
Plants can scrub the air of certain harmful chemicals, as well as adding oxygen, now that our windows will be kept closed, it’s time to take care of our friends.
Replace plants that are not well, re-pot the overgrown, cut back the straggly, and fertilize them all. New dirt will add nutrients, and by supporting the base of the plant with a higher mound of dirt, you encourage new roots to form, and stregnthen existing roots.
Paperwhite bulbs should be available soon. Buy a bag-maybe $6.00 for 8?-place them in a bowl, supported by a layer of pebbles and add enough water to come to the top of the pebbles, and prepare to marvel. As the days get shorter, you’ll find new life unfolding-not to mention the wonderful scent-to be a wonderful boost.
NEXT: Viva la cucina, and sweet dreams!!
September 27th, 2010
50 years ago today politics and technology combined to make history.
Give up? The first presidential debate was televised. 70 million people watched in black and white, countless others listened on the radio.
It was the first opportunity for the country to see the candidates side by side, in a competitive arena. While experts proclaimed them evenly matched in substance-in fact, those who heard that debate on the radio felt Nixon had won-we all know how it worked out.
Kennedy had been campaigning on the west coast and was tan and appeared relaxed; Nixon was just coming out from 2 weeks in the hospital for a knee injury; he had lost weight and was pale. His clothes did not fit well, and worse, he did not shave again prior to this late day event, and passed on make-up at the studio. On air, he was sweaty and his 5 o’clock shadow stood out in stark contrast to his skin.
Kennedy looked his best, Nixon probably his worst; subsequent polls of viewers showed they perceived Kennedy to have won that first debate handily, and this momentum kept him going all the way to the White House.
The lessons learned here are unambiguous, and the parallels are clear. As much as some would like difficult decisions like picking a President-or buying a house-to be an intellectual pursuit, more easily compared on paper, there is another dimension. In big decisions, people trust what they see. They choose what they like, are attracted to, and are comfortable with.
In a competitive market, a professionally Staged house stands out. It converts online traffic to more showings, and attracts the attention of buyers and other agents-who represent buyers.
Simply, it gives you the best shot at selling your house quickly- on your terms, for the best price. If no one wants to see your house, or if offers are not coming your way, we should talk. REALLY.
September 17th, 2010
1. Sick of Telemarketers?
Every 31 days, FTC requires telemarketers to search their phone lists and delete any numbers found on the National Do Not Call Registry.
www.donotcall.gov lets you register home and cell numbers, and they stay registered, until you decide otherwise. You can also call from any phone you want to register 1.888.382.1222
2. Junk Mail
The average fadult receives close to 45 pounds of it each year!! If you are sick of recycling a small forest’s worth of paper, OR spending time un-clogging your In Box, the FTC recommends DMA Choice to establish junk mail and email preferences.
The online tool of the Mail Preference System first established in 1971, you address unwanted mail in 4 categories: Credit, Magazine or other sales offers, and Catalogs.
Direct mail is a green and cost-efficient way to shop, but everyone has different needs and preferences. Time spent noting your specific preferences will yield the best results Details at www.DMAchoice.org
3. Donate Life
While none of us know what the next day-even hour will bring, there are untold numbers of people hoping the next hour will bring them a phone call to give them hope, and a chance at a better life.
Leukemia strikes one in 29,ooo children in the US every year, and thousands of adults. www.bethematch.org is the National Bone Marrow registry that seeks matches for these and others with life-threatening diseases.
Thanks to a stranger’s grace, my friends Mary and Mike Carneiro’s son Mac received 27 blood transfusions, and is now a happy healthy 15 year old. Mike was since blessed to return the favor, and this past May, his ‘match’, Rachael Leisey became Mrs. Sean Neihart.
Closer to home, there are nearly 10,000 NY residents-70% of them in NY-metro area-hoping that the next hour will bring a phone call, with news of a life-saving organ.
The Electronic Signature Act, signed into law earlier this year allows NYS drivers, and those with non-driver ID cards to register their willingness and preferences online.
While this makes you consider distinctly unpleasant possibilities, putting myself in the other positions-being asked to make that decision and not knowing my loved one’s preference, watching a loved one wait, suffer and possibly die, even being in need myself-are much, much worse.
www.savelivesnewyork.org will give you the facts, answer your questions and let you register and print out form immediately for your signature. Truth told, I had to go back to site twice. Take a deep breath and do it. Mine was mailed this afternoon. Maybe it’s my imagination, but the skies have never looked bluer, the air never smelled as sweet.
September 9th, 2010
On vacation this week, catching the sunset, when I came across this week’s reason why home sellers -and their agents!-need a Home Stager.
From Red River Beach in Harwich Port MA, with the Atlantic fast approaching in the background, is a mostly intact, thoughtfully, beautifully and symetrically landscaped sandcastle.
When you sell your house, looks matter. Buyers (and other agents) pay attention to houses that have attention paid to them.
Talk to me, I can help. REALLY.
August 9th, 2010
Quotes inspire me. Several years ago Ellyn Spragins put together her first book of letters famous and semi-famous women wrote to their younger selves, What I Know Now.
Reflecting on what was a dark and stressful time in her 30′s, full of work, family obligation and illness, Olympia Dukakis counseled her younger self, observing that “‘You will come to understand that by purposefully capturing happy moments, you expand the soul.”
On a daily basis I misplace keys, glasses, and the like; and torture myself with-did I lock the door/leave water for the dog/flush?-but I remember this quote, it always centers me.
Sunday I not only purposefully captured a bunch of happy moments on my own, I witnessed others doing the same.
Two wonderful, funny and very smart friends-Deb Swee and Patrice Costa-after both jumping ship from their corporate backgrounds- launched a new venture; Doug and I-along with Bruce and Ginny* attended the inaugural event. (*Regular readers will know that Bruce and Ginny are Dougs’ and my partners in crime fairly often; always up for a new adventure, or checking out a new place, they are voracious foodies, and this was definitely up their alley.)
Culinary Collaborations www.culinarycollaboration.com looks to their fan base for feedback in creating all types of interactive food events. Upcoming events include an organic farm tasting/tour, making gnocchi with Hannah Hopkins of TV’s Chopped! , Seafood 101 and a more casual Burgers and Sides event.
Our event Sunday was Sunday Supper at Cutillo’s Restaurant in Carmel. The house Chef Patrick Cutillo was raised in has now been open as a restaurant since the early 90′s, an running it really is a family affair.
The first event was making fresh mozzarella-right in front of us! Cheese curd, hot water and salt, who knew?? I just assumed you needed to be in proximity to dairy animals to make cheese…something I was pretty sure the co op board would not be pleased with.
Said mozzarella quickly became a delicious Caprese salad; and was followed by pork tenderloin with peach brandy sauce, Giombotto (a diced and simmered vegetable dish) and Aborino rice.
Not only a great meal enjoyed in a charming setting with a very social group, but a unique and-seriously-very reasonably priced experience: this event-cooking lessons, and 3 course meal with glass of wine, coffee, tax and gratuity was $67.00 per person.
New events are always being planned, check it out, your soul will thank you!!