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Holiday Lighting

by Scott Zeller

Creative Ways to Decorate with Holiday Lights

 

There is nothing quite like the glow of holiday lights to get your home ready for the season. Whether you prefer white lights or bright colors, they’re a must-have when it comes to this time of year. However, many people limit their use of these to their tree or outdoor area but this means missing out on many alluring decor ideas that jive with the holiday spirit and beyond. Learn more below about how to creatively decorate with holiday lights in ways you might not have thought of.

Spell It Out

Since holiday lights are so easily flexible, you can easily shape them into actual words. Spelling out holiday sentiments such as “joy”, “jolly”, “peace” or any other festive word makes for a nice display. This can be done easily with colored and white lights alike, and especially with white lights, this decor idea can be used even outside of the holiday season with a word of your choosing.

Light Up Your Plant

String lights on a houseplant

Don’t have the space for a full on Christmas tree? You can still use festive lights to give your home that warm glow! Instead of stringing lights around a tree, string a smaller strand around house plants to really get in the spirit.

Highlight Holiday Cards

Most people receive an abundance of holiday cards this time of year, so use lights to add to their display! Use a cork board to hang cards and drape lights over them, drawing attention to the display and making it beautiful.

 

Make a Holiday Backdrop

Hosting for the holidays? Using lights to create a festive backdrop for photos is simple and fun. Use a plain colored sheet against a wall then string lights along it to make this DIY photo booth really pop. You can even make some of your own holiday-themed props for guests to use in their photos to be even more festive and fun.

Create a Photo Garland

The holidays are the perfect time to remember past holiday memories. Use lights, string, and mini clothespins to create a garland that highlights those treasured memories by hanging past holiday photos and displaying them to enjoy all season long.

Line Your Banister

Christmas lights and garland on a stair banister

Your stairway banister is the perfect place to wrap holiday lights to add some extra glow to your home during this time of year. It’s easy to do and will make a big difference in your decor.

Line an Accent with Lights

Take holiday lights and use it to emphasize a holiday decor accent that might otherwise be drab. For instance, take an antique sled and use vintage-style, big-bulb holiday lights to really make it pop, either inside or outside your home.

 

Fill an Outdoor Lantern

Many of us love using lanterns in our outdoor space to provide additional light or a more pleasing aesthetic. During the holiday time, trade in the lights or candles that usually sit in these glass orbs and fill them with holiday lights for a fun and festive appearance.

Do Something Rustic

If the vibe of your home is more rustic, you can easily incorporate holiday lights into that theme. Start by grabbing a large basket or hurricane vase. Next, gather enough pine cones to just about fill the vase. Then, take holiday lights - white lights look best for this idea - and weave them randomly into the pine cones. This looks great on the hearth of a fireplace or surrounding a beautiful Christmas tree as an added accent. Best of all, this is festive for the holiday, yet is neutral enough to stay out all winter long. If your home decor isn’t so rustic, consider applying the same idea but instead filling a vase with dollar store bulb ornaments with lights weaved in for a cheap yet pretty decoration.

These ideas are easy to execute and all contribute to a picture perfect home during the happiest time of the year!

Winter Lawn Care

by Scott Zeller
 

411

 

Winter Lawn Care Tips

 

Check out these winter lawn care tips to keep your lawn healthy in the cold.

Guest post by Henry Walsh

Caring for your lawn during the winter can look different from other homeowners depending on your location. Unless you live in the extreme Southern areas of the country, most grass types will go dormant during the cold winter months. However, just because winter isn’t the primary growing season doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to still do. Check out these winter lawn care tips to keep your lawn healthy.

Apply Fertilizer

Choosing to add fertilizer to your lawn before the snow falls is a great way to give your grass a boost of energy to stay alive during the winter months. Use a slow-release fertilizer when you want to give your lawn root systems a slow and steady stream of energy over a more extended period. Make sure to follow directions and refrain from applying too much fertilizer in one area of the lawn which could cause burning due to too much nitrogen.

Let It Breathe

Aerating your lawn once every couple of years is a great way to make sure that your lawn is receiving essential nutrients at a deeper level. Aerating will allow sunshine, water, and energy to penetrate deep into the soil which will make the lawn healthier and stronger come spring. Renting an aerator is an excellent choice for many homeowners or consider your local winter lawn care professional that can do the job for you. Aerate your lawn before any winter weather, like snow or ice, fall on the grass this winter.

Consider Overseeding

For those homeowners in the South looking for a way to keep their warm-season grass lawns green all year, consider overseeding with the opposing season grass type as part of your winter lawn care, once the lawn goes dormant. The cool-season grass will love the colder temperatures that winter brings while the warm-season grasses take a much-deserved nap. Unfortunately, homeowners in the northern parts of the country will have to accept dormant lawns in frigid temperatures or snow-covered lawns in other winter areas.

Mulch Fallen Leaves

Many parts of the country will see the addition of fallen leaves onto lawns in the early parts of winter. Instead of raking up the leaves and bagging them up for removal, consider using this free source of energy to create a stronger lawn. Mulch the leaves with a leaf mulcher, or by merely using your lawn mower, to cut the leaves into smaller more manageable parts. Dead leaves provide a natural source of nitrogen to the lawn making it a welcome addition for future growth.

Apply Compost

Compost is one of those items that every homeowner needs to keep a healthy lawn. Compost can be created at home in a compost pile or is available for purchase from a local garden center. Compost is helpful to add to a lawn before winter arrives to provide a natural energy source for underlying roots. The compost will be gradually worked into the soil by microorganisms making it a great option to cure many lawn issues.

There are plenty of ways to care for your lawn even if winter temperatures have already arrived in your area. Race against Mother Nature before the arrival of snow and ice to provide your yard with essential added nutrients like compost, fertilizer, and fallen leaves. Aerating and overseeding your lawn are other ways to make sure that your lawn looks great year round. Consider all of these winter lawn care tips this year for a beautiful lawn.

 

Henry Walsh is a gardening writer and eco-conscious living advocate. He recently began his homesteading journey after many years of incorporating the principles into his urban lifestyle.

 

 

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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Growing by saying "YES".

by Scott Zeller
 

338

 

Learn To Say YES

 

This post is part of Coldwell Banker’s Women in Leadership Series. We’ve been sharing the unique, uplifting and trailblazing stories of women leaders throughout the Coldwell Banker Network, and larger family.

This is a contributor post by Lori Arnold, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Apex, Realtors

A few months ago, I had the privilege of speaking to the latest class of Ascend Leadership Summit participants at the Realogy headquarters in New Jersey. It’s always an inspirational opportunity for me as the new leaders are so excited about their careers and what the future holds for each of them. As much as I love my home state of Texas, I also LOVE New York City.  Anytime I can get close to NYC, I am going to find an excuse to spend a few days there. I arranged a long weekend in NYC before going to the Realogy headquarters with my daughter-in-law, who happens to be our Marketing Director, and my sister-in-law, who happens to be a mortgage superstar.  

To add a bit of context, I have to share a few things that led up to the Ascend Leadership Summit. About a year, some of my fellow CB owners pointed out that my company was the largest woman owned and operated Coldwell Banker affiliate in the US based on closed sales. And for the record, they were all guys. Frankly, I had never given much thought to that fact before that day.  To say I am passionate about my business and leading my agents is a bit of an understatement for anyone who knows me. I am busy each day building something that I hope matters to those around me and contributing in a way that leaves a legacy. I am highly competitive and want to win in my market simply because I know we are the best so thinking from only a “women’s perspective” never occurred to me. Once we began sharing the fact that Coldwell Banker Apex is the #1 woman owned and operated CB in the US, I felt a calling to do more for women in our community to hopefully inspire and motivate them in their own personal journey. A quarterly meeting for area real estate professionals called “Listings & Life With Lori” was born from that idea. For the first time in my career, the idea of women leading and supporting each other was really on my mind.

On our NYC girls’ trip, we were shopping in a stationery shop in Grand Central Station when I saw a “big green button” novelty item that had the word “YES” written on it.  You pressed the YES button, and it audibly shouted “YES!”. I began chatting with a sales person about the YES button, and she went on to tell me that they had NO buttons too, but those sold out immediately, while the YES buttons were slow sellers.

Oh my. My mind immediately went to the true-life application of that lesson. Why would the NO buttons sell out fast while the YES buttons lingered on the shelf? One of the principles of the Coldwell Banker Apex leadership staff is that we try to say YES! as often as we can.  Can I market my team this way? YES! Can you assist me in getting this tool set up? YES! I want to think a little outside the box and implement this new marketing idea. Can I do it? YES!  I know I did not follow the process, but I need this today, can you help me? YES! Although it sounds intuitive, it really is not. It’s much easier to say “No, you can only do it this way” or “No, you need to follow the system.”  No stifles originality, new thinking and progress towards goals we have not yet set!

As I reflected on YES, I realized how important that one little word has been in my real estate journey.  I got my license at 19 years old. Often people thought my clients were the Realtor instead of me! I could have said, “No, I am too young to succeed in real estate.” In 1993, when we joined Coldwell Banker, I did not have the funds to purchase the franchise without borrowing it. I could have said, “No, it’s just too much risk to commit to a franchise when I don’t even have the money to get started,” but instead I said YES! When Coldwell Banker assigned me an incredible mentor to guide me and he shared ideas of what I needed to do, I could have said “No, I can’t do that idea.” Honestly, I was so afraid to implement many of the ideas he suggested. At that time, I truly loved and excelled at selling real estate, but only in a one-on-one setting. The idea of speaking up in public was way out of my comfort zone. I was so timid that I would not even share about my new listings at the local MLS meetings. Those that know me now do not believe that story, but it is the truth. I ignored my fears and just did what my mentor told me to do. I said YES! When we wanted to grow, and it was time to open another office from scratch, as a start up, I said YES! I had no idea how to open a successful office and really didn’t even realize how risky start up offices were and how many start up offices fail to launch. I said, “Yes, let’s do it!”  We’ve now opened 11 start up offices, with plans of opening more in the future.

We often say NO to the things we should say YES to while saying YES to things we should say NO. We say YES to things we feel obligated to do and NO to the things that would drive our goals forward. The question becomes, what should we say YES to?

  1. Say YES to things that you fear but you believe are important for your growth. You don’t know what you can accomplish until you say YES. You have no idea how much capability you have until you say YES.
  2. Say YES to mentors. Mentors are a HUGE component in growth. A good mentor will challenge you and hold you accountable. They will inspire you. Find a mentor and say YES to what they tell you to do.
  3. Say YES to learning from others. Anyone. Not just those you feel are ahead of you in the journey but anyone. Being open to learning exposes you to growth you don’t even know is possible, while learning from those who are behind you on the journey keeps your ego in check. They do know more than you in lots of areas that matter.
  4. Say YES to a big dream. Chances are, you are not dreaming NEARLY big enough. I know I didn’t. But if you say YES when you are scared (revisit #1 if you need to!), your dreams will grow as fast as you grow. 
  5. Say YES to giving back. That is why I went to New York City in the first place. So many people in the Coldwell Banker system have given to me. They have invested in my life and my company. I need to say YES to giving back every time I can.

Today, we have 15 offices with 650 of the most talented, successful, kind, warm human beings that work together as a team at Coldwell Banker Apex.  Truly remarkable, inspirational people who work collaboratively in an industry that sometimes is filled with ego and drama instead of collaboration. I look around at this group, and I am truly amazed at the blessings that have come my way through these people. As I look back from where I am at today, I wonder what would have happened if I said NO, and I am so grateful I said YES. Now, I need to buy that YES button!

If you’re a part of the Coldwell Banker network and interested in listening to the next Women in Leadership call, be sure to visit CB Exchange and search “Women in leadership” to find out the details.

Senior Manager, Public Relations for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. Grew up in south Florida as an avid Seminole fan and attended college in the mountains of North Carolina. Athena wanted to wake up in that city that doesn’t sleep so headed to Madison Avenue to start her marketing career. Athena has worked for Coldwell Banker for 15 years where she can be found generating buzz about this awesome brand in every way possible. On any given day, she can be found crunching numbers to searching for amazing Coldwell Banker properties to serve up to the media for features. In her spare time, you can find her either digging up a new area in her yard for another flower bed or scouring Etsy for that next amazing handcrafted gem. She resides with the Bukowski of our generation (AKA her husband) and her cat (Jolene) in Atlanta, Ga.

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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

Subscribe to Blue Matter and get the latest updates

 
 

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

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Murfreesboro TN 37129
Mobile: 615-479-4776
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Fax: 615-893-3246

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