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Holidays

by Scott Zeller
 

373

 

Shalom in the Home: Hanukkah

 

Gather round the dreidel and save room for some latkes cause Hanukkah is here!

Put on your yarmulkes, it’s time for Hannukah!  You know the next line: “instead of one day of presents, we have eight craaaazy nights!”  Even though you might know every line in Adam Sandler’s magnum opus, you may not know why we celebrate the “Festival of Lights.”  But who could blame them?  There are as many spellings of Hanukkah (or is it Chanukah? Or Channukkah?) as there are spins of a dreidel.  And when does it even start? Hanukkah falls each year in December.  Or is it late November?  Or sometimes January?   While some say the differing dates are due to the differences between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars, I’m convinced they change to keep the desktop calendar business afloat.  So, I felt it was a good opportunity for me to be a mensch and take everyone on an exploration of Hanukkah. Like a young Mandy Patinkin, I will continue the long standing tradition of re-telling the Hannukah story:

History

Let’s take a journey back twenty-one centuries in history.  The area occupying modern-day Jerusalem was part of the Roman Empire and ruled by the Syrian-Greeks who wanted to convert the population to their religion.  However, a small band of Jewish inhabitants and warriors, known as the Maccabees, sparked a rebellion and defeated the larger Syrian army.  I wonder if this was that first time in history they used the “David vs. Goliath” cliche to describe the win…

Once the Maccabees claimed victory, they rushed to the Great Temple in Jerusalem to light its Menorah which was never to go out.  Although they found only a small amount of oil, a miracle occurred when it lasted for eight days.  Jews only celebrate the miracle of the oil; not war.

I know nowadays this miracle may seem modest, but if you’ve ever been in the middle of the desert without light or electricity, you celebrate when you get a spark.

Traditions

The first and most recognizable Hanukkah tradition is the candle lighting (or candle lightbulb twisting for some).  Families gather in their homes to light the Menorah (or Channukkiah) which consists of eight candles of equal height plus a ninth “servant” candle sitting above the rest.  The servant candle, or Shamus, is used to light one candle per day from right to left to commemorate the miracle of the oil.  The Menorah is then placed in a visible area to remember what happened in Jerusalem two thousand years earlier.

The next Hanukkah tradition consists of something I believe all holidays should prominently feature – gambling. Here is the game: after a pot consisting of chocolate, candy, and other small items is collected, a dreidel (a spinning top) with four sides is spun and will land on one of the following letters:  ש (shin), ה (hay), ג (gimel), נ (nun).  These are the first letters in the translated Hebrew phrase, “a great miracle happened there (Jerusalem).”  (In Israel, one letter is changed to say, “a great miracle happened here.”)  Here are the rules:

-If you spin a נ (nun), you get nothing, you lose, good day, sir!

-If you spin a ג (gimel), you win it all!

-If you spin a ה (hay), you net half of the pot.

-If you spin a ש (shin), you put one in.

I still remember the hot streak I went on in my dreidel spinning prime during the Hanukkah of ’95.  By the end of the game, I walked out of my grandparents’ house with a garbage bag full of chocolate and the deed to my cousin’s jungle gym.

Another Hanukkah tradition is gift giving.  This tradition is actually a Jewish-American invention. Where Jews in the “old country” once only exchanged “gelt” or small amounts of chocolate or candies,  American Jews have begun the tradition of gift giving now due to its proximity to Christmas.  The unknown first Jewish child that guilt tripped their parents into getting them presents like their Christian friends is one of my greatest heroes.

Food

Now, on to my favorite category on any list of any topic: food.  As Walter Sobchak eloquently tells “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski, the Jewish people have had, “three thousand years of beautiful tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax.”  And I am certain we used that entire time to perfect one thing: the potato pancake.

Potato pancakes – or latkes – are pretty much mashed potatoes fried in a pan with vegetable oil.  Perfectly crunch on the outside and creamy on the inside, one source described these treats as “slammin’”.  Whether you eat it with apple sauce, sour cream or plain, it is amazing.  Oily foods are the tradition on Hanukkah; another homage to the miracle oil of the Great Temple in Jerusalem.

Not to be outdone, for dessert on Hanukkah, sufganiyot (plural) are eaten.  A sufganiyah (singular) is the widely loved jelly filled round doughnut.  Who knew that Dunkin Donuts already specialized in traditional Hannukah desserts?!

 

Though not the most religious holiday, one thing has remained constant: giving thanks for the opportunity to be with family loved ones. The traditions of Hanukkah have morphed and changed throughout the years, and in the United States, Hanukkah has become a part of the holiday season in December.  I hope you grab some latkes, sing “Dreidel, Dreidel” in your best Barbara Streisand impersonation and have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hannukahhhhhhhhh (Adam Sandler voice)!

And just in case any of your questions have not yet been answered, JB Smoove of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame has you covered.

 

 

 

Header image courtesy of Flicker user Robert Couse-Baker.

Sam is the Marketing Coordinator for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. He is Jersey born and bred, and currently resides in Roseland, NJ. He is an avid reader, loves Games of Thrones and is a New York Yankees die-hard.

You can follow him on Twitter @World_Shalom

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Autumn Nights Outdoors

by Scott Zeller
 

651

 

Autumn Nights Outdoors: How to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space in the Fall

 

Extend the life of your porch or patio by transforming your favorite summer spot into a cozy retreat that’s perfect for enjoying autumn nights outdoors.

Guest post by Angie Erickson

As we welcome cooler temperatures and colorful foliage, many homeowners might be tempted to pack up the outdoor furniture for the year. Not so fast, we say. Extend the life of your porch or patio by transforming your favorite summer spot into a cozy retreat that’s perfect for enjoying autumn nights outdoors.

Keep It Cozy

When the temperatures begin to drop, consider putting away the umbrella for the season. You’ll not only invite more sunlight to your space during the day, but you’ll also clear the view for stargazing during alfresco dinner parties. To bring more warmth to the area once the sun sets, circle a few outdoor chairs around a firepit. Make sure you keep the sparks at bay by picking a fireplace with a mesh lid.

To make things even cozier, layer on comfort with outdoor pillows. Swap out summer’s tropical hues for classic fall colors. Orange, wine and dark green instantly make the space feel autumn-ready. Make sure to complement the pillows with plenty of soft throw blankets. Chunky, knit options are ideal for snuggling up on the outdoor sofa on chilly nights. If you’re entertaining a large crowd, consider bringing a sharable-sized quilt outside.

Get Creative with Lighting

As the sun starts setting earlier and earlier, it’s important to have enough light on your porch for dark nights. A simple porch light does the trick, but creative lighting is a great way to add ambiance to your space. For instance, outdoor string lights bring an enchanting look to the porch or patio. For a soft glow around the perimeter of your yard, wrap a few long strings of white lights around the trees, shrubs or fence posts. Shorter ones are a gorgeous addition to the tabletop. Simply place them over your runner with an autumn leaf garland for ambient lighting during moonlit meals.

If you need more lighting, nothing creates a more romantic glow than candlelight. To give your outdoor table a fall feel, opt for pillar candles in seasonal colors—orange, red and ivory candles in clear glass holders play up the colors of changing leaves. To diffuse the light, go for white candles in textured glass or metal hurricanes. Lanterns look lovely scattered around the porch. Fill a few with birch candles and others with fall botanicals such as pinecones and acorns.

Looking for something unexpected? Try decoratively carved pumpkins. While the quintessential smiling jack-o’-lantern works well in October, other designs can add ambiance to the porch beyond Halloween. Carve the shapes of acorns, autumn leaves or abstract patterns into gourds, and place a tea light inside of them to show off your handiwork. The fun doesn’t stop with the carving. Rather than tossing the seeds, roast them on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper or cinnamon for a delicious treat.

Indulge in Fall Flavors

To take the bite off of chilly fall breezes, warm up with hot drinks. Hot apple cider is a fall favorite. Make your own with fresh apples from your local orchard, and simmer in a stock pot with sugar and spices. Serve in glass mugs, garnish with a cinnamon stick and add your choice of liquor if desired. If you’re short on time, simply keep bottles of hard cider and ice in a beverage tub, and provide pint glasses. For kid-friendly beverages on family night, serve hot chocolate in ceramic mugs by the firepit.

For dinner, make the most out of the grill before winter sets in. Tailgate with hot dogs and burgers for casual meals during football season. If you want a more formal dinner party, grill steak or salmon accompanied by hearty sides made with seasonal ingredients such as squash or sweet potatoes. Plate on leaf-decorated or autumn-toned dishes that coordinate with your outdoor decor.

For dessert, make things more interactive with a build-your-own caramel apple station. Provide bowls of warm caramel or chocolate for coating, with plates of chopped nuts and candy for easy rolling. If you’re hosting a bonfire, s’mores are a must. Provide skewers alongside serving bowls full of large marshmallows, and let your guests roast their own. As a twist on the classic, consider setting out cookies as an alternative to graham crackers.

With just a few changes to your porch, you can continue to entertain outdoors well into autumn. Think about inviting everyone to the backyard for a Halloween party, post-football game dinner or a weekend bonfire before winter arrives.

 

Angie Erickson writes inspirational content for Crate and Barrel. She shares entertaining and interior design advice on lifestyle blogs.

 

Kitchen Organization

by Scott Zeller
 

387

 

8 Genius Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

 

Clear out the clutter and tidy up your kitchen with tips from our friends at HomeAdvisor

The following is a guest post from Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor

The kitchen is one of the most difficult places in the home to keep clean and organized. Between your dishes, utensils and cooking appliances, you have lots of oddly shaped and bulky items to store. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the stuff in your kitchen, or maybe just need a more efficient way of storing and organizing, consider these genius ways to tidy up your kitchen.

#1 Group Similar Items Together

Grouping items together according to their use is a sensible way to organize your kitchen. Categorizing similar items makes it easier for you and your guests to find things quickly.

#2 Use Baskets to Store Commonly Used Items

Searching for commonly used kitchen items is frustrating. Rather than storing them in random cabinets, use a simple wicker basket to corral and hold popular items. It looks nicer than just stacking utensils on the counter and it’s more organized than stashing them in available cabinets.

#3 Install Slide-Out Pantry Drawers

There’s nothing worse than having to pull everything out of a drawer or cabinet to reach something you’re looking for. Rather than shuffling with all of that mess, install slide-out pantry drawers or cabinets. Now, when you need a spice or are looking for specific dry goods, you can slide the entire cabinet out.

#4 Use Open Shelving

There’s nothing wrong with showing off some of the items you own, like your formal dinnerware or antique teapots. The only challenge you’ll face is keeping it all straight and tidy on your shelves. Installing an open shelving solution will help you organize everyday kitchen items and bring an open, airy energy to your kitchen. As an added benefit, you won’t have to open drawers and doors to find the items you’re looking for.

#5 Explore Alternative Storage

Traditional kitchen storage is great, but sometimes alternatives are just as functional. Consider storing extra kitchen items in wooden crates, baskets and other containers. Do you have a movable kitchen island with space underneath? Use woven baskets to hold your plates and bowls below.

#6 Don’t Waste Space

If you’re struggling to find space to organize all of your cutlery, plates and other utensils, consider high-shelf storage. Remember to only store rarely used items, like your fine china or fondue pot, on high shelves.

#7 Cut Down When Necessary

The kitchen is one of the most popular places in the home to display knick-knacks. If your assortment of collectibles has outgrown your space, the easiest way to organize is to eliminate what you can’t put out on display. This cuts down on clutter and opens up the visuals of your kitchen.

Conclusion

These are just a few simple ways to improve the organization of your kitchen. Now you can enjoy less frustrating meal preparation and less overwhelming visuals.

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and rwelcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016.

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Take a vacation at home this weekend.

by Scott Zeller
 

319

 

How to Bring Summery Goodness to Your Bedroom

 

Create a vacation vibe in your at-home sanctuary and you’ll be better able to recharge.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

With warmer evenings and sunlit mornings, summer begs us to take a more relaxed approach to life. That might mean a slower-paced schedule, a breezy wardrobe or a goal of keeping the house tidy. These eight rules can help you savor the season each day from the moment you rise and pull open the shades until you tuck into bed at night.

1. I will preserve time at the beginning and end of the day for quiet reflection.Even if it’s only five minutes spent sipping your first cup of coffee in the morning or herbal tea before bed, having a smidgen of dedicated me-time in the peace and privacy of your bedroom can bookend a frantic day, or bring satisfying closure to a pleasant one. Write in your journal, read an inspiring book, meditate or simply look out the window as you set intentions for the day ahead.

2. I will treat myself to extended weekend mornings in bed. If you’re a parent, finding a way to make this happen may be impossible at times, but the bliss of a morning in bed (read: at least 20 uninterrupted minutes with a fresh pot of coffee and your favorite publications) is worth whatever scheduling acrobatics it takes to arrange.

3. I will keep my wardrobe simple. Living out of a suitcase on vacation can seem carefree because you have fewer choices. Re-create that feeling at home by editing your wardrobe down to your most-loved and worn pieces, and stash away (or consign) the rest. While editing, keep in mind that the smaller the wardrobe, the more important it is that everything goes together. Stick with pieces that mix and match (such as colorful, patterned tops and solid, neutral bottoms) to maximize outfit-making potential.

4. I will decorate with reminders of summer. Surrounding yourself with visual reminders of what you love most about summer will make your bedroom feel more like a getaway. Try nautical maps, postcards from far-flung locales, snapshots taken on your last vacation, a bedspread bought in a seaside town, or shells and sea glass collected on the beach.

Set the Mood: 5 Colors for a Calming Bedroom

5. I will keep things clean and uncluttered. Putting away clothes and shoes each day isn’t a glamorous task, but the five minutes (or less!) of effort is well worth the calm atmosphere you will enjoy coming home to when everything is neatly put away. Need inspiration? Give your bedroom a makeover at the start of summer to motivate yourself to keep the space looking sharp.

How to Get a Half-Painted Wall Right

6. I will help overnight guests feel at home. When friends and family come to stay, a few special details are all it takes to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. Snip flowers from the garden for the bedside table, set out a selection of beach reads and make up the bed with light layers. Don’t have a spare quilt or even a guest bed? A tapestry (the sort pinned to dorm room walls) or even a large sarong can make a summery and budget-friendly bedspread, whether you’re covering a bed or an air mattress.

See the rest of this eclectic home

7. I will say yes to mermaids. Mermaids are equal parts kitschy and mysterious, making them the perfect motif for a summery bedroom. Plus, having something to collect makes shopping at your favorite flea markets and art fairs even more fun. Not into mermaids? Pick your own icon of summer, and start collecting.

 

8. I will let the stars guide me to bed. Can’t get away to that rustic lakeside cabin? Pretend you’re camping at home, and turn down the electric lights in favor of candles and lanterns a few hours before bedtime. You may be surprised at how this one simple change can make your home feel completely transformed, at least for the evening. Indulge in screen-free entertainment like playing cards or board games, and be sure to peek outside at the stars before retiring to your room.

Tell us: What is your favorite summer tradition? Share it with the Houzz community in the Comments!

More
The Rules of Summer: Kitchen Edition
Genius Home Prep: A Guest Room in a Box
Key Measurements to Help You Design Your Dream Bedroom

Related Reads
Keep a Journal and a Book on a New Nightstand
Nautical Themed Quilts for Your Bed
Dreamy Star-Like Lighting for a Cabin Feel

 

Victoria Keichinger is the Senior Manager, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not nurturing a culture of storytelling at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse. A true francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.

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More Outdoor Living

by Scott Zeller
 

301

 

How to Create an Ambrosial Fragrance Garden

 

Here are some tips on creating an ambrosial fragrance garden to your outdoor living space this summer.

Guest post by LawnStarter

Creating a fragrance garden is a great way to attract hummingbirds to your home as well as provide a nice scent for guests who visit your outdoor living space. An ambrosial fragrance garden can consist of many different kinds of plants in the ambrosia plant family which is also known as Asteraceae. As an ambrosial fragrance garden may not be a super popular landscape trend in certain metros, it is a delicate gardening technique that can really vibe up the atmosphere surrounding your home, and not to mention make your backyard a unique beauty in the neighborhood. Here are some tips on creating an ambrosial fragrance garden to your outdoor living space this summer.

Plant Near Walkways

A fragrant plant that is located in the back corner of your garden will still look beautiful but the chances of you enjoying its scent are low. Make sure to plant fragrant flowers near areas of your outdoor living space that you pass by on a daily basis. Beautiful gerbera daisies would be a good option to include in a border or near a walkway. Other spots would include planting daisies in a pot near the front door or possibly an enclosed area where the scent can stick around for a while.

Plant Location Specific

A main part of creating a fragrance garden is to know how large each plant will grow. For those shorter ambrosia plants, like Marigolds, consider elevating their spot in the yard by hanging them in a basket or placing them in an elevated planter. This will allow you to get the full effect of the plant fragrance instead of leaving them near the ground where they would be hard to smell. Larger ambrosia species, like the sunflower, can be planted near the back of a gardenscape as their towering height will allow them to be fragrant to those passing by despite their far off location.

Don’t Use Chemicals

Flowers produce a fragrance based on their essential oils that evaporate into the air. Using chemical additives to your garden could mask the good scent of the flowers. Added chemicals could also hurt butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees that will be attracted to the plants. Make sure to protect your fragrance garden by using homemade options for insect control or biopesticides that are made from natural occurring elements.

Balance Out the Garden

The purpose of planting a fragrance garden is to enjoy the individual scent of each plant. Make sure to balance out where you plant aromatic varieties by placing like varieties in groups together. Spread out those plants that will give off a strong scent, like goldenrod, and plant unscented options in between the groups of fragrant ones. Doing so will help to create a balanced fragrance garden that will be pleasing and not overwhelming.

Use Different Colors

Choosing a variety of colored ambrosia plants is a great way to mix up the overall look of your fragrance garden as well as provide multiple scents. Those plants with white or pastel colored flowers will oftentimes produce more scent than those colors that are brighter like red or orange. There are so many plants in the ambrosia plant family with many different options to choose from. If you were a big fan of chrysanthemums, which is a popular ambrosia plant, you could choose many different colored varieties just in that one plant family to provide unending fragrance to your outdoor living space.

There are so many plants in the ambrosia plant family that would provide a beautiful fragrance garden. Consider adding marigolds that are placed at a higher level in the garden to easily smell their fragrance. Balancing out the garden and planting super fragrant varieties, like goldenrod, in groups by themselves will help to not overpower the garden. Placing plants near heavily used areas of the garden, staying away from chemicals, as well as using a variety of different colors will only enhance the overall look and scent of your ambrosia fragrance garden.

 

Sharon is the Manager of Product and Content Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She loves pun-ny jokes, true crime documentaries, podcasts and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day!

 

Pros and Cons of Adding a Hot Tub

by Scott Zeller
 

424

 

Pros and Cons of Adding a Hot Tub

 

Hot tubs come in a wide variety of options and can be found to fit most budgets. Check out these pros and cons to adding a hot tub.

Guest post by Peter Goldberg

Purchasing a hot tub for your home is becoming more and more appealing to those looking to spark joy in their outdoor space. Even the top local landscaping designs incorporate a steamy floral energy with hot tubs and water features.

Hot tubs come in a wide variety of options and can be found to fit most budgets. However, there may be some downsides to consider before adding a hot tub to your home. Check out these pros and cons to adding a hot tub:

Pros

Relaxation

Having a hot tub just steps from your back door can add an element of relaxation to your home. You can come home from work and let the stress of the day melt away in a warm, bubbling soak outside. Hot tubs also have palpable healing properties, as the warm water can help alleviate stress and loosen tight muscles. They are a favorable choice to have for those family members with chronic diseases or injuries that would respond well to heat. Having a hot tub allows for a daily opportunity to relax and unwind.

Entertainment

Not only will your family love a hot tub but your friends and neighbors will too! Adding a hot tub that is large enough for a handful of people is a great way to entertain in your outdoor living space. You can grill out for a party and then invite everyone to change into their suits to soak underneath the stars. Kids love hot tubs and having one creates a fun opportunity to play with the grand kids without the major upkeep of an outdoor pool.

Year-Round Use

Unlike swimming pools that are usually not used during the winter months, a hot tub can be used all year long. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a hot tub under the crisp air of a recent snow. Hot tubs are also used in the summer despite the warm temperatures under the clear summer sky. Due to its smaller size, it is much easier to heat a hot tub in order to keep it available for use all year long.

Cons

Purchase Price and Upkeep Cost

The initial cost of a hot tub can leave some buyers in sticker shock. Brand new hot tubs can easily cost thousands of dollars depending on the size and features available. You can save money by buying used but run the risk of dealing with problems that aren’t covered in a warranty. Other costs to consider are the regular amounts of chemicals that will be needed to maintain the water as well as the electricity fee to keep the water at premium temperature. Owning a hot tub definitely has some costs that need to be considered before purchasing.

Attract Insects

Along with upkeep can come some pesky creatures that can make your outdoor space not so pleasant. Having any sort of water feature  can make for a seemly inviting atmosphere for backyard dwellers like mosquitoes. Similarly, rodents such as mice can find a new home within a hot tub installation that can be more an infestation to deal with. Whereas this may not be a deal breaker and prevented by using repelling plantsin your surrounding landscaping and adding repellent gel and inserts in your installation–creating a relaxing space in any backyard usually means it’s rid of annoying insects or rodents.

Tricky Installation

If you purchase a new hot tub the installation may be included in the price but there may be some hidden fees as well. Consider where you will be putting your hot tub and how it will fit into the space. Hot tubs weigh a lot and heavy machinery will most likely be needed to install them correctly. You may need to take out a section of the fencing to get the hot tub into the backyard. If you want your hot tub on a deck, a crane will be needed to lift the hot tub up onto the deck which can be another added cost.

Plan for Weight

The actual hot tub can weigh a lot but also consider the weight of the water that will be added to the hot tub once installed. A hot tub dealer will most likely help you with these logistics but you will need to verify that you have an adequate spot for your hot tub, especially if you are buying used. Calculate the total weight of the hot tub, the water, and the combined weight of the maximum amount of people who will use it in order to get a good idea of how much weight will be added to the property. A firm foundation of concrete will be needed for those hot tubs being added to a backyard. Decks will need to most likely be reinforced with extra beams in order to hold the added amount of weight.

Hot tubs are a great addition to any home and can be a good selling point if you don’t plan on taking your hot tub with you when you move. Taking a dip in the hot tub is a valuable way to physically feel better as well as provide an entertainment space that you can use all year long. Make sure that you plan for the weight of the total hot tub as well as the costs to upkeep it. Prepare for these pros and cons before adding a hot tub to your outdoor living space.

 

Peter Goldberg is a gardening and landscaping writer, and outdoor extraordinaire. He likes to fire up the grill to cook for family and friends, as well as using his organically grown garden produce to create mouth watering meals.

 

Sharon is the Manager of Product and Content Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She loves pun-ny jokes, true crime documentaries, podcasts and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day!

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Backyard is Healthy!

by Scott Zeller
 

590

 

Why Your Backyard May Be Making You Healthier This Summer

 

Buying a home with a backyard can contribute to a healthy lifestyle in more ways than one.

Whether it’s dining alfresco, tending to the garden, or getting in a run, summer living is an outside affair. But, did you know that buying a home with a backyard can contribute to a healthy lifestyle in more ways than one?  Here are 5 reasons why your backyard may be making your healthier this summer:
 
Better Bone Health
According to the Mayo Clinic, as little as 10 minutes in the sun is thought to prevent Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is important to maintaining normal blood levels of calcium in the body, which helps to build healthy bones. Spending just a short time outdoors, weeding, grilling or just lounging can have a positive effect on both mind and body.
 
backyard_HI
 
Slimmer Waist Lines
When the weather is warmer, salads are a great meal or side-dish.  Mix up any combination of fresh ingredients (fruits, vegetables, legumes or nuts), a heart-healthy vinaigrette and enjoy dinner with out any guilt.  For great ideas of summer salads, check out this collection of recipes from Cooking Light.
 
While the science of eating is complicated, grilling can be a healthier alternative to other cooking methods like pan frying.  Grilling lean meats like skinless chicken breasts and omega-3 rich fishes like salmon can make for a quick, tasty and healthy meal.  Add a few veggies like corn or peppers to the fire to round out a delicious summer feast.
 
Because it takes time to carry everything needed for a backyard meal out to the patio and back, you may find yourself more inclined to take your time enjoying the meal and less likely to be caught with your hand in the cookie jar after dinner.  Instead, opt for fresh fruit for a delicious after-meal treat.
 
backyard_CA
 
Peace of Mind
Nothing is better for the soul than quality time with those that we love.  Spend some time away from the screens (TV, phones, tablets, etc.) and instead enjoy some down time with family and friends in the great outdoors.  Nature has proven to give your brain a break from daily over-stimulation and can help improve focus and mood.
 
backyard_WA
 
Improved Vision
Birdwatching from the back deck may be doing more good than you realize. An Australia study has found that being outdoors can improve distance vision and lower the chance of nearsightedness.
 
backyard_FL
 
Healthier Hearts
It’s easy to stay active in the outdoors, whether you choose a run around the neighborhood, backyard yoga, or a lap in the pool.  Almost any activity you enjoy can be done within the confines of a backyard and will not only help keep those extra ice cream calories at bay, but can increase heart health.
 
To find your backyard oasis, visit coldwellbanker.com.
 

Road Trip Tips

by Scott Zeller
 

270

 

Summer Road Trip: Lock-Up & Pack-Up Properly

 

Before you hit the road this summer, follow these two check lists for locking up and packing up to keep your home safe, the car clutter-free, wire-free and the kids happy!

Guest post by Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

Road Trip! Remember the days when the whole family piled into the station wagon for a summer road trip with a few bags, a cooler and some mad libs? There were sing alongs, license plate games and quality family time. Today, that simple life is challenging with all of the electronic distractions we have, but with some packing knowledge and creativity, you can still create those memories for you and your kids, tech-free.  

Our digital world can help or hinder the security of your home while you are away. Home burglaries rise in July and August due to summer vacations.  Take simple steps to secure your home before hitting the gas. If you use some tech, you can actually protect your home better than ever before. There are also some good old fashion ways to secure your house, giving you peace of mind while you are on the open road.

So before you hit the road this summer, follow these two check lists for locking up and packing up to keep your home safe, the car clutter-free, wire-free and the kids happy!

Lock-Up

Secure Doors – Locks are not enough to keep a determined thief out. Ask your local hardware store about a strike plate lock. The strike plate protects your door from forced entry. And, don’t forget about sliding doors, they are the most vulnerable. So while you are at the hardware store ask them about a lock pin for your sliding door and place wooden dowels in the tracks. These three pieces of door hardware will frustrate a thief and likely cause them to give-up.

Install Timers – A dark house is a target. Don’t just flip a switch when you head out the door and leave it on the entire time. Place your outdoor lights and a few indoor lamps on timers. This way you will be green and fool potential burglars by setting them to a schedule. Put the timers on a few days before you leave to make sure your lights are going on and off correctly and mimic your regular routine.

Outdoor Lights – Install motion detectors on your outdoor lights. Illuminating a would be thief as they enter your yard is a great way to scare them off.

Refrain from Social Media – In our Facebook world, every vacation moment is shared. While it is tempting to share your fun and latest location with friends, you are also letting a whole lot of people know that you are not home. Save the pics and post them when you get home.

Smart Devices – Consider purchasing a home management system with a camera that detects movement in your home. These devices will send you alerts when there is a presence in or around your home. You can also hire a home security monitoring service, make sure they come highly recommended.

Hire a House Sitter – Have a neighbor, family, friend or babysitter stay at your home or keep an eye on it for you. There are also companies that offer house sitting services. For example, LuxxeLife, a full-service estate management provider, will watch over your home and make sure it doesn’t get into any trouble while you’re gone. This is a great way to ensure complete home security, especially if you are taking a longer road trip.

Lawn Care – An unruly lawn is a giveaway. Have a neighborhood kid or landscaper mow your lawn while you are away.

Hidden Keys – This one may seem obvious, but can often be forgotten. Now is the time to remove any hidden keys!

Mail: Make sure you’ve put a vacation stop on mail and newspapers or have someone picking them up daily. A pile of mail is another giveaway.

Pets: Never leave pets unattended. Make sure they are safely boarded or hire a pet sitter.

Pack-Up

Organized Packing 101

Plan: Think about your itinerary and pack according to your stops. For instance, pack one suitcase with the family’s clothing for your stop to hike the Grand Canyon and another suitcase for the wine tasting and restaurant tour  in Sonoma. This will make unpacking and re-packing simplified as well as finding different weather and activity clothing a cinch.

Color Code: Keep bags and suitcases different colors so that they are easily identifiable or add bright stickers or yarn to the handles.

Involve the Kids: Encourage your kids to pack themselves so that they are involved in the planning of the trip. They can have their own suitcase or backpack that is their domain.

Be An Engineer: When loading up the car, think about when you will need to access to each bag along the trip. Make sure the first stop items are accessible first and so on. Next, place bigger items on the bottom and smaller items on top.

Don’t be afraid to turn things up side down, or on their sides, to fit better.

Essential Extras: Pack one backpack that stays well hidden in the car. Include your first-aid kit, camera, tickets, etc. And, bring one big collapsible duffle bag to for dirty laundry..

Entertainment!

We all know the key to a successful family road trip is keeping the kids happy in the car. Instead of relying on the devices and streaming movies, here are some helpful tips to focus on your surroundings to make the trip a memorable one.

Gift It: Wrap items like car games, deck of cards, sticker books, puzzle books, reading books, crayons, etc. as presents—try reusable bags to be eco-friendly. When you make stops along your route place the presents on the kids’ seats. When they come back to the car they will have an exciting gift to unwrap and play with! Bring extra backpacks to place the toys in once they are unwrapped.

Map It: Before you head out, sit down with your children with a map. You remember maps, right? Remember? AAA has them. Have your kids help you plan the trip out and then have them follow the map as you make your way to your destination. Do some research on each of the places you’ll be passing along the way. Print out a fact sheet for points of interest and use it to create a trivia game.

Happy Tummies: Hunger free kids are happy kids! Bring healthy snacks such as grapes, apples, carrots and string cheese. Include a loaf of bread, jar of peanut butter/almond butter and jelly, as well as treats like snack size packs of crackers and cookies. Avoid juice boxes as they tend to explode. Instead pack bottles of water and glass juice bottles that you can recycle at rest stops. Pack these items with plastic utensils and napkins in clear plastic bags in a cooler. Use blue ice – it is thinner and will easily fit into the mini-freezer in the hotel room.

Don’t Leave Home Without…

In addition to your luggage, the following items will come in handy during your road trip to keep everyone safe and happy.

  1. Kleenex
  2. Hand sanitizer
  3. Baby wipes
  4. Paper towels and window cleaner
  5. Extra snack bags
  6. Medications
  7. Personal pillows
  8. Cell Phone Charger (yes, still bring the cells for emergencies and confirming reservations)
  9. Bug repellent
  10. Sunscreen
  11. Reservation confirmations for flights, rental cars, camp sites and hotels

 Now gas up (or plug in that electric car – be sure to know where the charging stations are!) and head down memory lane!

 

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.   www.northstarmoving.com

 

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Coldwell Banker Snow and Wall
1980 Old Fort Parkway
Murfreesboro TN 37129
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