Fall Planting

Fall has arrived.  Many people are busy with fall festivals and preparing their home for the winter months.  I’m sharing some of my top tips for fall planting to get those gardens ready. 

Reason to plant in fall

  • The soil is still warm and promotes good root growth
  • The cooler weather can be less stressful for the plants
  • There are less pest and disease issues in the cooler months

Timing: It’s important to remember that new plants are tender and harsh weather can kill them so be sure to plan ahead and make sure to plant at least 6 weeks prior to ground freeze. 

Watering: You want to water the plant prior to planting soaking the roots.  Once in the ground, you should only need to water once a week due to the cooler temperatures. 

Mulching: Mulch when the weather dips down to 32 degrees or less.  This is to protect the plants during the ground freezing. 

What to Plant

  • Pansies are a great option because there is a good chance that if planted in the fall you could get two seasons out of them. They typically can survive the winter months so that you can enjoy them in the spring as well 
  • Trees and Shrubs are often planted in the fall with the cooler temperatures and the warm soil being great rooting conditions
  • Perennials like Hostas, Daylilies, Lavender, Black-eyed Susans and Peonies are some favorites 
  • Edibles like Asparagus, Rhubarb and Artichokes do well planted in the fall for a spring harvest 

Whether you already have a green thumb or maybe you are considering some gardening, I hope this information is helpful.  As always I love to hear from everyone so if you have some additional tips you think should have made the list or maybe you want to share some pictures of your beautiful gardens, reach out to me. 

If you want to plan some gardening at a home of your own, let us help you find your home for your future gardening plot. 

Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

Fire Safety

Each October, the National Fire Protection Association celebrates Fire Safety Month.  I thought I’d share my top five tips with you.  Raising awareness of simple fire safety tips ensures safety for you and your home.   

My Top Five Fire Safety Tips: 

  1. Smoke Detectors – You should consider having one on each level of your home at minimum.  It is also a great idea to have them in each bedroom.  I recommend replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors at least twice a year.  Choose a time of the year and stick to that same time each year.  I use the time change – each Spring and Fall, I not only change my clocks but I also change my batteries. Having a working smoke detector in a home reduces the chance of death by fire by 50%. 
  2. Fire Extinguishers – It is suggested to have one of these on each level of your home as well because a fire can start in any part of a home.  I recommend having one located in your kitchen for sure as 44% of home fires begin in the kitchen.  Not only are they common, but they can be deadly.  Making sure you know how to use it is just as important. We practiced using a fire extinguisher when my son was in cub scouts and I felt it was important for adults and children to learn about fire safety and to know how to use this important tool. 
  3. Fire Escape Plan – Make sure you and your family have developed a fire escape plan.  Have fire ladders conveniently located in second floor bedrooms, so that if needed, there is a secondary exit other than the first floor entryway.  Have a meet up spot outside where the family will gather.  Make sure the younger kids know to call 911 in an emergency.
  4. Heating – Having your furnace checked and maintained each year to ensure that it is in working condition is a fantastic habit to have.  On average heating fires jump to 27% during the colder months.  Faulty furnaces and heating with portable sources (ie. kerosene, electric, propane) can cause a fire.  Make sure if you do utilize a portable heating source that it is clear of anything flammable, curtains, blankets, etc. 
  5. Maintenance – There are a couple maintenance items.  
    1. Keeping your stove/oven clean and free of debri 
    2. Keeping your dryer clean of lint and checking the hose to ensure you don’t have anything caught behind the dryer that could catch fire 
    3. Checking your electric cords to make sure that pets haven’t chewed on them and that you don’t have any exposed wires
    4. If you have a fireplace, be sure to have your chimney cleaned and inspected on a regular basis and that you dispose of your ashes in a proper metal container

If you have young children, make sure that you are talking to them about fire safety.  You can be the biggest fire safety tool and spreading the knowledge of fire safety can be your best defense.  Check with your local fire department: many offer free smoke detectors to keep the communities safe and many will also offer free tours to groups.  If your neighborhood or local organization would be interested in learning more about fire safety and taking a tour of your local fire station, I highly recommend reaching out to them today. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In The Kitchen: Chicken Noodle Casserole

Let’s get cooking.  I found this recipe to be a great comfort food.  How many of you think about your childhood when you have a plate of chicken noodle casserole in front of you?  I found this recipe recently and I feel like it’s a kicked up version to the one I had as a kid growing up.  It is full of flavor. 

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups of diced chicken, about 2 small chicken breast (I have also used shredded chicken breast instead and works just as good) 
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp pepper 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (only used to cook your chicken so if you are using shredded chicken you have already, you will not need) 
  • 2 cups of frozen broccoli florets (here again, you can use any frozen veggie of your liking, play with it and see what you like the best) 
  • 3 cups of dry rotini 
  • 10.5 oz. cream of chicken soup 
  • 8 oz. of sour cream 
  • ½ cup of milk 
  • 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese shredded 
  • 1 cup of French’s crispy fried onions  

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees 
  • Season chicken with italian seasoning, garlic and pepper (if you are using already cooked shredded chicken – add the seasons to the shredded chicken when you mix all the casserole)
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes 
  • Toss the chicken and add the frozen veggies. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until your chicken is cooked.  Remove from heat
  • Cook your rotini per package instructions
  • Add the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, milk, and 2 cups of shredded cheese to the pan with your cooked chicken and veggies. Stir to combine
  • Drain pasta and add it to your pan and gently mix into the chicken mixture
  • Either place your oven safe pan into oven OR transfer your mixture to a slightly greased oven safe casserole dish
  • Top with remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes
  • Remove cover and top with the crispy fried onions. Bake for an additional 8 minutes. Serve 

I have made this many times now and I’ve gotten to the point of not even measuring my ingredients.  It is one of my favorites, I tend to always eat more than I need to of this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  

I am hoping that some of you try this recipe and let me know what you think.  I’d love to see pictures too. 

KITCHENS

Let’s talk about kitchens.  A kitchen is a key part of any home, think about how much time you spend in your kitchen.  I know I spend a good bit of time in my kitchen starting in the morning making my cup of coffee or a cool refreshing smoothie after my workout to wrapping up my day by making sure the dirty dishes are in the dishwasher. A kitchen can be a focal point in any home.  Some people will want specific features in their “dream” kitchen, whether that is a gourmet kitchen with a large island to a simple kitchen with the modern conveniences of a dishwasher.  As a realtor I get the opportunity to see a lot of kitchens, which can be a headache for my husband because I find new features I think I would like in my kitchen.  

Five items to consider when considering a kitchen remodel, small or big. 

  1. Counters – there are a number of options to choose from 
  • Granite
  • Corian 
  • Marble 
  • Formica 
  • Butcher block 
  • Ceramic tile 

Some are more common than others.  Some things to consider when making a choice are cost, maintenance, installation and availability.

  1. Sinks – once again you have options to choose from 
  • Double bowl 
  • Single bowl 
  • Stainless steel
  • Copper 
  • Enamel
  • Farmhouse or apron sinks
  • Undermount
  • Top mount or drop-in 

When choosing a sink the options seem endless.  Make sure to consider which options will suit your lifestyle the best.  A deep sink is nice when cleaning out a big pot for instance. 

  1. Cabinets – Do you want to reface your existing cabinets that may still have good “bones” or paint them for a different style/look or maybe replace them all together?  Your budget may play a big part in this decision.  With new cabinets you have stock, semi-custom and custom options to consider.  You could also consider something as simple as changing out the hardware if your cabinets are still in great shape.  The new hardware can give your cabinets the fresh new look you wanted.    
  1. Faucet – one of the most used items in the kitchen.  This is definitely a style preference with so many color and material options.  Functionality is a key part as well, like having a pull out faucet, which gives you all the convenience of the sprayer without taking the added space of a side sprayer.  A 2021 faucet trend is the touchless option and the 2021 color trends for faucets are the two tone and copper options. 
  1. Backsplash – once again the options are endless and you can get creative and do some outside the box DIY options as well as the more traditional. 
  • Brick
  • Subway tile 
  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Copper 
  • Glass or Ceramic tile in trendy colors and patterns 

Still in 2021 the top trend for backsplashes is tile.  This is mostly due to the durability, affordability and trendy color options.  

We recently completed a facelift on our kitchen.  We wanted to customize ours more to our style as well as update some dated features but stay with an affordable budget.  We opted to do new counters, sink, faucet, backsplash and hardware and keep our original cabinets that were still in great condition.  These changes made a world of a difference and made the kitchn look much more modern.  Are you considering a facelift or maybe an entirely new kitchen?  We would love to hear what you decided to go with when choosing your options to see if the 2021 trends are really what are being utilized. 

DIY Inspiration: TV Wall Mount

I am back with another DIY.  This time I am inside again.  

 I decided I wanted our television hung on the wall.  It is something I had thought about doing for some time but decided I had a little time and wanted to try this project.   

Unlike most of my projects, this one wasn’t from Pinterest. I did some searching online and on Youtube to get an idea of what I was getting involved with and to see if I thought I could manage this project.  I found a lot of useful videos that each had a good bit of information.  When hanging a television, you have the option of running all your cords down inside the wall or purchasing covers that can go over the cords on the outside of the wall.  Did you know that when running all cords down the inside of the wall, you should cover the cords to ensure that you avoid fire hazards? I did not know this.  I did know that I wanted to go this route and run our cords inside the wall.  

First Step: Prepare your wall.  I knew that I was considering painting the room so I decided to start my project with painting our wall.  

Second Step: Review your wall mount instructions.  I decided to purchase our mount on Amazon.  There are several types of mounts: flat, tilt and turn.  I opted for the tilt.  The mount I purchased can be found on Amazon    “place link to item here”.  I reviewed my instructions and gathered the tools I needed: power drill, level, pencil and stud finder.

Third Step: Mark your wall.  Using the template provided, I marked the wall where I was going to install the mount.  I found the studs and decided on the height of my television.  I drilled pilot holes to ensure I was in fact at the studs.  Because I was utilizing the studs, I did not have to use any drywall anchors.  

Fourth Step: Attach the wall mount.  Following the instructions provided, I assembled the wall mount and attached it to the wall and the back of the television.  I also at this time cut two small holes in the drywall where I was planning on running my wires, one located at my mount and the other further down the wall closer to the floor.  

Final Step: Hang your television.  I had help throughout this project and this final step really did require the both of us.  We carefully picked up the television and connected the mount together (the part that was installed on the rear of the television to the part that was installed to the wall).  As we did this we also fed the wires that I covered with the fire-rated tubing down through the wall.  We connected the wires to their coordinating accessories (gaming system, cable box, outlet, etc)

If you had a good experience with a recent DIY, I’d love to hear from our followers.  I’m looking for my next project, any suggestions? 

parealtor

Location, Location, Location

Where is your dream home?  Many people are drawn to a location, maybe the beach, big city or the suburbs.  I personally joke all of the time that if I ever won the lottery real big, I would just buy a small home in a bunch of different locations.  That way if I felt like the city one month and the beach the next, I could just go.  I must say though my favorite has to be the beach.  

Location does play a big part of price.  I am going to show you some examples of this.  I actually find it very interesting to pick up a local real estate flyer or magazine when I travel to see what the price of real estate is like in that area and this is why.  

We are going to use the scenario of a $300,000 home purchase and utilize a 20% down conventional mortgage for each monthly payment example 

  1. Let’s start in my local little suburb of York County. I live in the 17402 zip code and for the lovely price of $300,000, you could purchase a nice detached home with 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths with about 1,700 square feet on a half acre of land and a 2 car garage.  This home has real estate taxes of about $4,836 per year making your monthly payment about $1,330
  2. Now let’s travel together to the city of Washington, DC.  We are going to use a home in the 20001 zip code, downtown close to several metro stops.  At that same $300,000 sales price you could purchase a gorgeous 1 bedroom, 1 bath 400 square foot condo with a $306 condo fee per month and real estate taxes of $1,747 per year.  Your monthly payment would be about $1,460 when including that monthly condo fee noted previously.
  3. Now let’s go south to one of my favorite locations, the beach, and use a home located in Rehoboth Beach, DE zip code 19971.  This time you are purchasing a 3 bedroom, 3 full baths 1,460 square foot 3 story townhouse.  This home has real estate taxes of $683 per year and a quarterly homeowners association fee of $750.  Your monthly payment would be about $1,302 when including $250 towards your quarterly homeowner’s association fee.  

As you can see not only does the size of home differ from location to location but so does your monthly mortgage payment.  This has a lot to do with the home’s yearly real estate taxes.  I just find it so interesting to see how different the homes can be from location to location.  It is also very interesting to see the difference in the yearly real estate taxes from location to location.  So if money was not an object, where would your dream home be located?  

In the Kitchen: Quick and Easy Keto Pancake

Let’s get cooking.  I have recently tried a few Keto recipes.  I love my pastries and sweets so if I am able to cut back on some of my sugar and flour, why not try.  I am not on a strictly Keto diet.  I thought I would share this recipe because I was really amazed at how good these tasted and thought I would pass along this recipe as an option to those who would like to try something new.  

3 Ingredient Keto Pancakes 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup almond flour 
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 1 tsp baking powder (optional – but I did use it in mine) 
  • Butter (for frying) 

Instructions

  • Heat your skillet to medium and let the pan get hot while you make the batter
  • In a medium bowl, briskly whisk the eggs together.  The more air you whisk into them, the fluffier the pancakes will be
  • Add the cream cheese and almond flour to your beaten eggs; whisk together until well combined.
  • Ad a little butter to your hot skillet, pour batter into pan (to your desired size of pancake); cook until golden, flip and cook again until golden (about 2 minutes on each side)
  • Continue with the remainder of your batter
  • Serve with butter and sugar free syrup or fresh fruit

I tried these twice last week and it is true the more air you whisk into them the fluffier they turn out.  Also please note that baking powder is not truly considered keto since it has cornstarch in it but since I am not on a strict Keto diet I used the 1 tsp in my batter.  

I am hoping that some of you try this recipe and let me know what you think.  

Thirty Years in Real Estate

This week I’m going to focus a little on my husband.  I thought with his 32 years in real estate it’d be interesting to “interview” him.  Yes, I did say 32 years, isn’t that crazy.  In the real estate field, we see realtors get into the business and we see them leave for one reason or another so for him to still be thriving and enjoying a career in the business after 32 years, I can just say Wow! 

He does joke these days saying he is ready to retire and let me take over the business, that he would be very happy being my chauffeur driving me to meet buyers and sellers, I just don’t know if he will ever truly want to retire. 

I asked him in his career in the real estate business what is the biggest change he has seen from when he began to now.  He answered quickly, computers.  When he began his career, there were no computers in the industry. You found a home for sale by searching the large paper index of homes currently on the market, a big paper book. 

Where he sometimes feels like computers are the enemy taking away from that personal one- on- one experience, they have also helped. They give buyers the opportunity to educate themself on the real estate market and most buyers are coming to him with a good base understanding of the current market. This allows him to focus on their specific questions they may have after doing their research.

There have been many other changes like the contract itself. The contract used to be 1 page front and back and now you have 14 pages for just the main contract plus multiple pages of other disclosures.  

He indicated that the transactions have lost a big part of the personal experience.  You are no longer meeting with buyers at the office and driving them from home to home.  The contracts are all signed electronically on the computer.  It feels less personal now.  He tries his best to still bring that personal touch he has to each and every transaction in one way or another.   

Home prices have increased two and a half times what they were when he began.  He says that what balances that out is the interest rates.  He has seen them decrease significantly going from 10-15% down to current market rates of 2.5-3% making the buyers be able to still purchase homes. 

He originally chuckled when I said let me do an interview with you but I think he enjoyed reminiscing on when he began his journey and I know that I did. 

Larry has attained his Associate Brokers License and he has completed countless hours of continuing education that is required to keep your skills up to date.  He has received many awards over his many years.  

I asked him why he has stayed in the business so long.  In his 32 years, he has seen some tough times in the real estate market and a lot of people have jumped ship.  He indicated he stayed because of his love for people. He truly enjoys meeting the people, becoming lifelong friends with some of his clients.  He said he also has enjoyed teaching me the business.  He can smile when he sees me making accomplishments in the field as I trek through my own journey.  

DIY Inspiration: Board and Batten

I am back with another DIY.  This time I am inside because the heat and rain have been crazy lately. 

This was another one of my Pinterest pins that I had on my wish list.  Well I had a little time and I decided to try it out.  I enjoyed using the power tools and seeing the project transform in front of me.  

This time I did some Board and Batten.  I decided to do the hallway and the laundry room.  I decided to go higher with it in the laundry and create a very small lip on the top with hooks that I can utilize, since this laundry room is a walk-thru from the garage into the home. This should be a great location for my coat, hat, etc.  I used the following link from Pinterest that had great instructions.  They were very detailed which is helpful when you are doing a DIY project.  I felt it was one of the best instructions I have come across on Pinterest.  

And here are a few pictures of my project in progress as well as completed.   

If you had a good experience with a recent DIY or even if you had a horrible experience, I’d love to hear from our followers.  Who knows, I might end up trying your project next.  

Buying A Home With Zero Down Payment

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Are you on the fence about a home purchase?  Is one of your concerns the down payment? I am here to tell you that there are mortgage options that allow for zero down payment.  You have a few options: 

  1. VA Mortgage – yes if you served in the military you may qualify for a VA Mortgage that allows veterans to purchase a home with zero down payment.  The VA mortgage option is also nice because it allows for buyers to negotiate with the seller to pay all of their closing costs on top of the zero down payment.  This means that potential VA buyers could purchase a home with zero out of pocket.  
  2. PHFA Mortgage – this type of mortgage allows for buyers to obtain a first and second mortgage to purchase a home.  This second mortgage would cover the cost of your down payment.  This does mean you would have two mortgages on your newly purchased home.  This mortgage option does have some restrictions on income based on your household size.  This mortgage option also allows for the buyer to negotiate with the seller to pay up to 6% of their closing costs.  Where this may not allow the buyer to purchase a home with zero out of pocket it does allow a buyer to purchase with very little money out of pocket. 
  3. USDA Mortgage – this type of mortgage allows for a buyer to purchase a home with zero down payment.  This mortgage option has limitations on the location of the home and the buyers household income.  As a realtor we can check to see if a home you are interested in purchasing would fall in one of the allowable locations and qualify for this type of financing. This mortgage option also allows the buyer to negotiate with the seller to pay up to 6% of their closing cost just like the PHFA mortgage option.

I personally believe in having a good savings in the bank to allow you to cover the expenses of owning your own home as you want to be prepared for emergencies to arise but I felt it was important for buyers to know that they do have options to purchase a home even if you don’t have 20% down payment in the bank.  

There are other options that allow for smaller down payments as well and we can always put you in contact with a mortgage professional in our area that can discuss your personal situation and help you determine your best option.