Most Googled Thanksgiving Recipes

happy-thanksgiving-2Tomorrow is Thanksgiving…can you give me a “whoop whoop?”  I am not hosting and am feeling quite relaxed.  So relaxed that I spent part of yesterday putting up Christmas lights.  It was 60 degrees, it seemed like the smart thing to do.

I found this interesting article, “The Thanksgiving Recipes Googled in Every State,” in the New York Times that I thought I would share with you. It lists the top ten most googled Thanksgiving recipes in every state (that’s the easy explanation of the results, read the article for a more detailed explanation).  I am going to say up-front, there were some weird entries.  Let’s go through it, state-by-state:

Alabama: Sweet potato dumplings.  Right now I am just waiting (fingers-crossed) logo-tcu-horned-frogs-575x575.s600x600for Alabama to lose a football game and tumble out of the top 4 college football playoff teams.  I could care less what they are having for Thanksgiving.  Go Frogs!

Alaska: Cranberry Relish.  Thanksgiving 101.  It’s a state full of men who probably don’t know how to cook.

Arizona: Turkey Enchiladas.  Sounds good to me.  But more interesting is that the 2nd most googled Thanksgiving recipe is Rice Krispie treats.  Rice Krispie treats for Thanksgiving?  That just makes me laugh.

Arkansas: Four Layer Delight.  This is the first of many dessert-like entries on the 50 states’ list.  At least this one doesn’t pretend to be a salad (see Colorado, Delaware, Illinois and others).  Apparently Four Layer Delight involves cookies, Cool-Whip, chocolate pudding (and then more Cool-Whip).  Can you say diabetic coma?

persimmon-tree-1California: Persimmon Bread.  I find it interesting that in the NY Times article the California entry is followed by a discussion of yams and how California is a big producer of them.  That’s great, but what does that have to do with persimmon bread?  A persimmon is a fruit, it is not a yam.  I have never had a persimmon and have certainly never cooked with one.

Colorado: Frog Eye Salad.  No, I did not make that up.  The name sounds disgusting.  The recipe sounds even worse…pasta, fruit, eggs, whipped cream and marshmallows.  And Colorado isn’t the only one googling frog eye salad, see below.

Connecticut: Butternut Squash Casserole.  Sounds boring until I googled it and found a recipe that includes leeks, thyme, bread, parmesan and prosciutto.  Now I’m paying attention.

Delaware: Pretzel Salad.  Dessert disguised as “salad.”  Involves a pretzel crust, strawberries, jello and the ubiquitous (or so it seems at Thanksgiving) Cool-Whip.

Florida: flan de calabaza.  Runner up is flan de queso.  A reflection of the large Latino population.  Calabaza is a type of squash that looks a lot like a pumpkin.  Personally, I hate flan…sue me.

Georgia: Key Lime Cake.  Whoa!  Now I’m paying attention.  Key lime pie is divine, IMG_6356key lime cake is a must try.  Thank you, Georgia.

Hawaii: Pumpkin Crunch.  Definitely surprised by how un-Hawaiian this sounds ~ every other state is googling things that involve pineapple & coconut.  Must have some “sister-state” Thanksgiving-recipe-swap-thing going on with Illinois.

Idaho: Frog Eye Salad.  Yes, again.  Unbelievable.  Everything else on their top ten most searched recipes sounds remarkably normal (dutch apple pie, turkey pot pie, pumpkin bars, turkey brine, lemon meringue pie, pumpkin pie, spinach dip, pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin roll).

Illinois: Hawaiian Salad.  See Hawaii.

Indiana: Persimmon Pudding.   Okay, second entry involving persimmons.  Am I the only one who has not only never had persimmon anything, but has never even considered using a persimmon?  Who knew they were so popular?  The recipe I linked to is called “boozy persimmon pudding.”  If I’m going to try persimmons, that seems like a good place to start.

Snickers-Caramel-Apple-SaladIowa: Snicker Apple Salad.  Okay, the whole salad thing is just getting completely bastardized.  Pudding, apples, snickers bars and…you guessed it, Cool-Whip.

Kansas: Cream Cheese Corn.  When I looked this up it was basically corn and cream cheese mixed together with a little butter thrown in for some “healthy fats.”  :D

Kentucky: Chess Bars.   I think this is a Southern thing.  Seems to involve cake mix, cream cheese, eggs and confectioner’s sugar.  Oh, and some butter.

Louisiana: Mirliton Casserole.  Kudos to Louisiana for topping their search with something that doesn’t involve Cool-Whip.  What it does involve is shrimp, mirlitons (a kind of squash, often called chayote) and some cajun spices.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Maine: Pumpkin Whoopie Pie.  I have to admit to having made these before.  OnePumpkinWhoopie word.  Yum.  The whoopie pie is a New England thing, a bandwagon I am happy to jump on.

Maryland: Sauerkraut.  I am nominating Maryland for worst “most searched Thanksgiving recipe.”  Seriously, sauerkraut?

Massachusetts: Mashed Butternut Squash.  Yes, we are home to Harvard, MIT, Williams College, Amherst, Wellesley and on and on…yet we google “mashed butternut squash.”  Do we really need a “recipe” for it?

Michigan: Cheesy Potatoes.  I am from Michigan.  I can say I have never had cheesy potatoes at Thanksgiving (and if I did, I would have called them au gratin potatoes, but whatever).

Kale-and-Wild-Rice-Casserole-1Minnesota: Wild Rice Casserole.  Makes sense I guess as I think most of the wild rice (which we do all know isn’t really “rice,” right?) is grown in Minnesota.  I am linking to a recipe that adds kale, mushrooms, onions and Gruyère cheese.   I am adding this to my Pinterest page.

Mississippi: Asparagus Casserole.  Seems to be green bean casserole, substituting asparagus (and adding some cheese, because you know, vegetables without cheese just doesn’t cut it).

Missouri: Green Rice Casserole.  The NY Times says this involves rice, cheese, parsley & pepper.  The recipe I found when I googled it called for broccoli, rice, cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta (do they still make Velveeta?), which isn’t really cheese.

Montana: Fruit Salad.  This falls in the same category as Massachusetts.  Really, who needs to google how to make fruit salad? I’m not even providing a link it is thatFruit-Salad-Recipes ridiculous.  At least it doesn’t involve Cool-Whip. Or Velveeta.

Nebraska: Snicker Salad.  Nebraska, Iowa beat you to it.

Nevada: Frog Eye Salad.  The third most searched recipe was “vegetarian gravy.”  Which just seems to be the opposite of frog eye salad.  Will they be at the same table?

New Hampshire: Pumpkin Whoopie Pie.  New Hampshire must love pie.  Of the top ten most searched recipes in New Hampshire, 5 were for pies.  And that doesn’t include whoopie pies and turkey pot pie.

New Jersey: Stuffed Artichokes.  New Jersey, I commend you on your entry.  But personally I think artichokes are better ordered at a restaurant.  They just seem very high maintenance to me.  Who really has the time at Thanksgiving to make stuffed artichokes?  Much easier to throw together some candy bars, Cool-Whip and pudding and call it a salad.  

131090lrgNew Mexico: Pumpkin Roll.  No snarky comments here.  Roll pumpkin cake around a cream cheese frosting?  Yes please.

New York: Stuffed Artichokes.  So New Jersey.  More interesting is the 3rd entry, “coquito” a version of eggnog that includes cream of coconut.

North Carolina: Pig Pickin’ Cake.  I have no idea where the name comes from but it does sound very southern (and not particularly appetizing).  Basically cake with mandarin oranges, pineapple and Cool-Whip.  Thanksgiving is apparently not Thanksgiving without Cool-Whip.  The second most googled recipe in North Caroline is “cherry yum yum.”  Where do they get these names?

North Dakota: Cookie Salad.  I am going to let you guess what is in this.  Just make sure nothing even remotely healthy is in it or you would be wrong.  And yes, Cool-Whip is involved.

Ohio: Dirt Pudding.  Same thing, called by another name…pudding, cookies and Cool-Dirt+pudding+1Whip.  So unimaginative.  Except for the gummy worms some versions add.  So Thanksgiving.

Oklahoma: Sopapilla Cheesecake.  Just when I was about to fall asleep, Oklahoma shows up with sopapilla cheesecake.  Except that it isn’t cheesecake, not even close.  It looks more like bread and involves crescent rolls and lots of sugar.  Maybe Oklahoma should google “cheesecake.”

Oregon: Vegan Mushroom Gravy.  Leave it to Oregon to switch things up.  In their top ten most googled recipes, four involve “vegan.”  And none of their top ten involves Cool-Whip.

Pennsylvania: Potato Filling.  Or for those not from Pennsylvania, “potato stuffing.”  Personally I prefer my potatoes mashed.

Puerto Rico: Tembleque.  Yeah, I know Puerto Rico isn’t one of the 50 states, but it’s on the NY Times list, so here it is.  Plus their entry is unique.  Tembleque is apparently a kind of coconut pudding.  Kudos to Puerto Rico for also having sangria make their top ten most googled recipes.

choc-cream-pie-1Rhode Island: Chocolate Cream Pie.  Chocolate overload.  The linked recipe calls for  whipping cream but I am sure many (most?) substitute Cool-Whip (personally, I hate Cool-Whip…much prefer real whipped cream).

South Carolina: Pineapple Casserole.  We sure seem to have an obsession with pineapple and mandarin oranges at Thanksgiving…you know, just like the Pilgrims & Indians, don’t you think?  This recipe calls for pineapple and cheese…sounds like a weird combo to me.

South Dakota: Snicker Salad.  Another state obsessed with candy bars in their “salad.”

Tennessee: Spinach Maria.  Basically spinach with lots and lots of cheese.  The photo 4 (1)American obsession with taking something healthy and doing their best to make it not so healthy.

Texas: Sopapilla Cheesecake.  See Oklahoma.  Personally I was more intrigued with the “green bean bundles” further down on their list, which seems to be green beans wrapped with a bit of bacon.  Yum.

Utah: Funeral Potatoes.  I got a recipe for this a long time ago from a friend who called it “party potatoes.”  So much happier than “funeral” potatoes.  I don’t make these at Thanksgiving, but they are good and they can feed a crowd.

maple-walnut-2Vermont: Maple Walnut Pie.    It’s Vermont, what did you expect?  They also google “maple glazed carrots” and “maple pecan pie.”

Virginia: Collard Greens.    Greens with a bit of ham and some spices.  Sounds good to me.

Washington: Smoked Salmon Dip.  I was more intrigued with the “lefse” further down their list.  Turns out it is a kind of Norwegian potato pancake.    

Washington D.C.: Corn Pudding.  (Washington D.C. is also technically not a state, but whatever, we will let them play).  Cornbread, whole kernel corn and creamed corn all in one dish.

West Virgina: Deer Jerky.  Most unexpected “Thanksgiving” recipe entry.  I am sureResizedKhoNai my brother is making some of this right about now (even though he doesn’t live in West Virginia).

Wisconsin: Brownberry Stuffing.    I was disappointed to learn that Brownberry is a brand.  So “Brownberry stuffing” could also be “Pepperidge Farm stuffing.”  It’s your basic stuffing as far as I can tell.

Wyoming: Frog Eye Salad.  Yes, we finish up the list with another frog eye salad entry.  Apparently the most googled recipe in the United States as it tops the list for four states.  Gross.

So there you have it…just a bit of fun diversion from the tasks associated with Thanksgiving preparation.  Maybe a few new recipes to try, if not tomorrow, then sometime in the future.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday, see you next week!

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Is the Massachusetts Real Estate Market “Schizophrenic?”

page1_img1Being new to the real estate business I have been doing my best to read, learn and understand the current market.  But how can I expect to understand the real estate market when experienced agents are being quoted in the Boston Globe as saying the market is “schizophrenic,” “weird,” and “baffling.”  I guess it isn’t behaving the way it is supposed to?  Maybe I am naive, but when has the market behaved the way it is “supposed to?”

The Boston Globe discussed the market and recovery in Massachusetts this week in “A Very Strange Housing Recovery in Massachusetts.”  The second paragraph says:

Sales are down, foreclosures are up, and buyers are walking away from pending deals. Construction of new housing is falling again. To top it off: Single-family home prices in September fell compared with the same month in 2013, the first such price decline in two years…

OMG, the sky is falling!  And yet, the article also points out that:

…the state’s median home price, adjusted for inflation, has climbed back to within 15 percent of pre-recession highs; nationally, prices are still down 30 percent…

The media always likes to focus on the gloom and doom.  dgloomIn my area, what I would call “greater metro-west Boston,” we are generally seeing an increase in inventory (with some exceptions), a decrease in units sold and an increase in sales price.  Here are some real numbers for select communities (source: Century 21 Commonwealth):

Single-family Inventory, 10/21/13 vs 10/21/14:

  • Brookline                    -15.3%
  • Dover                              1.6%
  • Framingham                25.5%
  • Holliston                      57.1%
  • Hopkinton                   28.3%
  • Medfield                         8.5%
  • Natick                            15.0%
  • Needham                       58.1%
  • Newton                          22.9%
  • Sherborn                      -27.9%
  • Wellesley                       47.6%

Median Price Change, first 3 quarters 2013 vs 2104:

  • Brookline                       16.0%
  • Dover                                3.8%  Home-Prices-Going-Up
  • Framingham                    2.9%
  • Holliston                         14.1%
  • Hopkinton                       3.8%
  • Medfield                           9.2%
  • Natick                               7.5%
  • Needham                          2.9%
  • Newton                             8.3%
  • Sherborn                          2.4%
  • Wellesley                         8.7%

You could make a case that it is a good time for buyers (as inventory levels are up) or sellers (as selling prices are up).  Maybe I am really, really naive, but I think if you are looking to buy, there is always a house out there for you, and if you are looking to sell, a home priced right will always sell.  If you are interested in a market analysis of your home, or if you are interested in seeing what is out there in the market to buy, contact me…I will try to help you wade through this “schizophrenic, weird and baffling” market.


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How to Have “House Beautiful” Bookshelves

f731b6ad2f5938bcdc6c6ac3ecbe430aI’m laughing at the title of my blog post.  As if I know how to have “House Beautiful bookshelves.  The truth is, I’m a shelf-styling neophyte.  But having recently moved I found myself staring at 6 beautiful white shelves…which were completely bare.   I decided to get some assistance from my decorating friend Linda and my other decorating friend, Pinterest.  If you are looking at shelves in your own home that don’t look like they stepped out of House Beautiful, read on and learn along with me.

IS9x3idz8c2dlb1000000000When I bought my house these bookshelves didn’t even exist.  Instead there was this weird space between the fireplace and the wall (see it to the right of the fireplace…  note that these are pics of the home before I bought it…it looks a lot different now).  Not the first time I have shaken my head wondering what the heck the builder was thinking.  Really, what do you put in that space?  I was at a loss.  Then my friend Pat, who is a carpenter, suggested that he build some bookshelves in there and it made perfect sense.  It was like the space was meant for bookshelves all along.

Back to those six beautiful white shelves…what to do with them?  I started by pulling things from my house that I thought might work on the shelves…photos of my kids, a fake plant (I love fake plants, so low maintenance), a few candles, and an ampersand I bought at Pottery Barn for way too much money, especially considering what it is…a metal ampersand (don’t you like it though?).  I threw some things on the shelves, but nothing really happened until my friend Linda showed up.

The current iteration of the shelves.  A work-in-progress.

The current iteration of the shelves. A work-in-progress.

Linda scours HomeGoods, Marshalls and Target for all kinds of great decorative stuff that isn’t Pottery Barn expensive (she is a much smarter person than I am).  Linda came to my house last week with a car full of tchotchkes and proceeded to start putting things on the shelves.   She added a couple of round metal things (I have no idea what else to call them…see them on the top shelf?), a cool wooden box, some books, and a bowl of (fake) lemons for a splash of color.  It was fun to watch the shelves come together.  You need to play around with this a lot, it’s kind of like a puzzle.  The box started on the bottom shelf,  but later got moved to a top shelf…we kept shuffling things, standing back to look, shuffle again…I don’t think you should expect to do this on one go or even in one day.

After Linda left I moved some things around again…it’s kind of fun…change it up, step back, take a look, yes or no?  Move something else.  It is getting there, but I still consider it a work in progress.  I actually even went to my bedroom and swiped a print off the wall and added it to the shelves.  IMG_1797I like it there, but now instead of three coordinating prints above the bed I have two…another decorating dilemma that will have to wait until later.  Linda also showed me how easy it is to wrap books in paper.  I know, I know, some of you might think this is overkill, and that’s okay.  I am going to give you a couple of links to other blog posts that talk about the whole shelf arranging process, and one is definitely anti-covering books.  So if that just seems silly to you, and if you actually have a lot of books that you want to keep on your shelves and you actually want to be able to read the spines…I have some help for you too.  There is no one way to do this.

My takeaways from all of this:

  • think about “layering” your shelves…I realized my shelves were looking a bit too uniform…something on the left, something on the right…turns out I needed some things in the back and some things in the front too…layers.
  • change-up the heights…I’m not sure if either of the posts mention this specifically, but it is kind of a no-brainer, even for a decorating-challenged individual such as I…you do not want everything to be the same height.  Which leads me to my next point…
  • Mix up the books that you use on the shelves (whether you choose to cover themhow_to_arrange_books_on_shelves_like_a_decorator or not)…some should be vertical and some should be horizontal.  The horizontal ones can be used to elevate things that need more height (note the lemons on my shelves). 
  • You need to have some uniformity of color.  One way to do this is to just work with a limited range of colors (my shelves are primarily the blue/green of the walls, silver & white with a splash of yellow for interest).  If you are really trying to use your shelves for actual books, then at least group your books by color (see the pic to the left and blog post link below).  There needs to be some uniformity…it helps eliminate chaos and busyness…it makes it more pleasing to the eye if everything isn’t “all over the place” decoratively speaking.

So…there you have it.  Gather, layer, mix up heights, and have some kind of “plan” for the color.  I am not done with my shelves yet.  I even have an empty bottom shelf that I am unsure what to do with.  I would encourage you not to rush it and not to be overly wedded to any one piece…it may be better somewhere else in your house.  I had a really pretty silver candle from…yes, Pottery Barn, yes, too expensive, but it does smell divine…color-wise it was perfect, but no matter where I put it, I didn’t like it.  I finally took it off the shelves and moved it to the powder room.  Now the powder room smells divine and the shelves just look better without it.  I don’t know why, it just didn’t work.

sitting area

I’m sure someone loves this room, but I don’t.


One last word from someone who does not consider herself a “decorator” by any means (that’s why my friend Linda is helping me)…I think decorating is, first and foremost, about pleasing yourself.   There are no real rules (I am sure we have all seen rooms done by professional decorators that we absolutely hate…I know I have).  Do what pleases YOU.  If you like it, then that is what it is all about.

Do you have open shelves in your house?  Have you “styled” them, or are they functionally crammed with books?  What do you think about shelves with more tchotchkes than books?  Do you like my ampersand?  Any tips you would like to share?

More tips:  How to Style a Shelf Like a Boss

Save the Books: How to Style a Bookshelf for Actual Book Storage


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Decorating Ideas for Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-westmont-ilThanksgiving will be here in just two weeks.  I am not hosting Thanksgiving, so right now I am not freaked out about preparing for it.  What does freak me out is that the Christmas season “officially” begins the day after Thanksgiving (or in mid-September if you are a retailer) and despite retailers attempts, I have not even thought about shopping, decorating or baking yet (I have even been in the Container Store twice without so much as looking at the wrapping paper).

But…before we get ahead of ourselves I wanted to focus a bit on Thanksgiving.  I like the holiday because

  • there are no gifts involved,
  • everyone in the US celebrates it so you don’t have to worry about whether you should wish someone a happy Thanksgiving, and
  • it’s about food and family and giving thanks for what we have.

Where’s the stuffing?

Thanksgiving is a day where there are no rules, diets are set aside and we are allowed to just enjoy a bit of overindulgence.  I tend to be a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving food and there are certain things I must have (even though I rarely host, I do make a “Thanksgiving” meal at some point over the long weekend)…mashed potatoes with gravy and green bean casserole top the list for me.  Oh, and stuffing.  It’s not Thanksgiving without stuffing.

As much as I love decorating my house for Christmas (my tree goes up right after Thanksgiving and comes down Jan 1), I have never been one for decorating for Thanksgiving…I guess if you aren’t hosting it seems like a lot of effort for nothing.  But if you are hosting,  decorating is all about the table.  And I found some beautiful ideas on Pinterest (almost makes me wish I was hosting).

Do you all like Pinterest?  I LOVE Pinterest.  I got hooked when I bought my new house and began working on buying some new furniture for it.  Pinterest was a great way to collect ideas in folders, and to share those ideas with my friend Linda, who was working with me on the decorating.  It is also a great place to collect recipes…I used to find recipes and print each one out…now I can stick them in a folder on Pinterest…much much better.  I love wasting large amounts of time finding inspiration on Pinterest, and I have found some beautiful holiday decorating ideas.  I tend to be only marginally creative…so my focus was on finding ideas that seemed relatively simple for those of us who are creatively challenged, or who just don’t have a lot of Martha Stewart time on our hands.

pumpkins and candles centerpiece 3The first one looks really easy….I think the hardest part might be finding a board or tray to assemble this on.  The creator said she used a “baguette board”…like I would have one of those…but I suppose this combination of candles and mini-pumpkins could be used in any kind of arrangement.  Anyway, it seems simple and yet pretty.


pumpkins and candle centerpiece 2

Continuing with the “pumpkin as centerpiece” theme, this too looks pretty simple.  White pumpkins seem to be the decorating rage this year.  They aren’t painted, they are actually naturally white.  I haven’t actually seen any for sale, but I haven’t looked…I am sure they are out there.  Wrap a bit of bittersweet amongst the pumpkins and viola, instant table decoration!


I am a sucker for all things glitzy when it comes to the holidays, so this next one spoke to me.  Of course, this one will require some basic crafting skills…namely an ability to use a can of spray paint (start and stop the spraying off the object you are painting for best results…I learn that on a DIY show).  Pumpkins, some pinecones and some glass votives and you have an eye-catching centerpiece (I am ignoring that cut piece of log the middle pumpkin is resting on…seriously, where am I going to find that?).


Here are a few more ideas, using simple things from the supermarket and some candles (yes, the raffia might require a trip to the craft store).  Cinnamon sticks wrapped around a candle…easy peasy.


And this one takes even less effort…do they still sell popcorn in a bag?  The blog poster says she bought popcorn at Walmart and the glass candle jars at the Dollar Store…I’m sure HomeGoods and The Christmas Tree Shop would also be good bets (for the jars, not the popcorn).


So, are you feeling inspired?  I know I am…I might decorate my table even though I’m not hosting Thanksgiving!  If you like these ideas, why don’t you check out my Pinterest page and follow me?  I have an entire folder of “Thanksgiving Decorating” ideas that I have already collected for you.  You’re welcome.

I am going to wrap up this post with a few bits of decorating inspiration that remind us what Thanksgiving is really all about…giving thanks.  I’m not sure I could pull off the fancy handwriting, I might have to type mine in some flowery font.  But I like the simplicity and gentle reminder.


And this one would be fun to do with children (I told you those white pumpkins are everywhere!).


Happy decorating!

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Is Winter the Right Time to Sell Your House?

ar134736418142269When is the best time to sell your home?  If I ask ten people, odds are nine of them would say “spring.”  But do the facts support that?  Spring may be the busiest time, but busy doesn’t necessarily translate to “best.”  By best, I am referring to time on the market and selling price, the things that should matter to a seller.  Redfin did an analysis looking at 19 different markets on both coasts.  They crunched the numbers for the time period from March, 2011 to March, 2013 and looked at the percentage of homes sold within six months of listing, by season.  The numbers for Boston were as follows:

Winter: 62% (sold within 6 months)

Spring: 51%

Summer: 48%

Fall: 50%

Winter outpaced every other season by more than 10%.  And for all the markets Redfin looked at, homes listed in winter sold for 1.2% more (relative to list price) than the rest of the year.

Now what is true about winter is that fewer homes sell…the National Association of Realtors statistics show that in November home sales drop by 8% and in January they drop by 27%.  But think about it…in general there are fewer homes listed for sale in November and January, so of course home sales stats are going to show a drop.

Why shouldn’t I wait for the spring market?

While there may be fewer people looking to buy a home in the winter, the buyers out

Winter may be the best time to see a "sold" sign on your house.

Winter may be the best time to see a “sold” sign on your house.

there tend to be more serious.  Most people, given a choice, would not choose to look at houses in the middle of winter.    Negotiating icy sidewalks and combating blasts of cold air every time one gets out of the car to see a house isn’t always fun.  But the reality is, people still get relocated in the winter, people have babies and need a bigger house…people still move, no matter what time of year it is.  And with reduced inventory levels in the winter, there is less competition for those whose houses are on the market.  You wait until spring and there may be more buyers, but there are also many more houses for those buyers to choose from.  Just something to think about.

If you are thinking about selling your house, or are just interested to know how much your home may be worth, please contact me by clicking the link or completing the form below. I would love to help you.

For more information see The Truth About Selling During Winter.

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My First Home

buy-sell-exchange-photo1Buying and selling homes has been on my mind of late…having started my real estate career only two weeks ago, you can understand why…and having just closed on a house myself in June, it got me thinking about the very first house my (now ex) husband and I bought.  It was 1988 and we had just gotten married in late September.  A colleague and his wife had invited us to dinner in early December…they wanted to give us our wedding gift, which turned out to be one of those Snow Village sets (I still have it and set it up every Christmas).  As we were talking, they mentioned that they were selling their house and we should come by and take a look.

At the time we were living in a one bedroom apartment in downtown Chicago and the thought of buying a house in the suburbs hadn’t crossed our mind at all…we had just gotten married, one thing at a time!  But on our way home after dinner we started talking about it.  My husband had been to the house before and said it was a really nice house in a nice location (location, location, location).   3a950e9So on a whim, we contacted the listing broker and went to go take a look.  Because we were both working, we went in the evening, and I still remember walking through the house with all the lights on, and a beautiful Christmas tree all lit up in the living room.  It seemed magical and homey, all at once.


We wound up sitting in the real estate agent’s office discussing pricing with her and an offer.  It happened so fast…we weren’t even looking for a house!  I remember the agent giving us some time to discuss it with each other without her presence.  I called my mother, just to talk it over with her.  I expected her to caution us to not rush into anything, to do some more looking…but instead what I remember is her telling me that sometimes you just know…that a house can speak to you, and it shouldn’t be ignored…she told me that it isn’t always easy to find the “right house” and that we should really consider this.

Long story short, we bought it and moved in in mid-February…”busy season” for us as we were both CPAs.  We rented a U-Haul and had some friends help us move (that was the last of the “friends helping us move” moves).  I remember having so little furniture to fill the space…we went from an average one bedroom apartment to a three bedroom house…with a garage and a yard!

London Calling…     london-calling-570x3511

I still look back on that house with fond memories.  It was built in the 1930s and had so much character with arched doorways, wainscoting and a beautiful two-story bow window (which had a flat roof over it that leaked), along with the old leaded windows that were frozen to the touch in the winter and were “slightly” drafty.  Both of my kids came home from the hospital to that house.  I really did love it.  But after 5 1/2 years we were called to move to London for three years, and we knew when we came back we would be ready for a new (larger) home.  So we sold it.  :(

A satellite view of my first house…

It's almost time for my annual viewing of "Home Alone."

It’s almost time for my annual viewing of “Home Alone.”

A few months ago I was thinking about that house and decided to look it up on google…the satellite street view (do you remember the address of your first house?).  Remember the “location, location, location?”  Already back in the early 1990’s we were seeing tear downs in our neighborhood ~ we had easy access to the highway and while the schools in our town were very good, our neighborhood actually fed into the New Trier school district, which was even better (Fun Facts: New Trier High School (West) has appeared in Home Alone, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Uncle Buck and New Trier (East) was in Sixteen Candles…also The Breakfast Club, while filmed at another nearby high school, got it’s name from the nickname the New Trier students gave to morning detention).

Our house was on a lot and a half…you can guess what happened…not a tear down, but an addition.  While I am glad they didn’t tear the house down, they really changed the outside look of it, made it more “grand” in my opinion…and while the beautiful two-story bow window is still there, the house is significantly bigger than when I lived there.  It’s not a surprise that it happened…and whether I like it or not is irrelevant…it’s not my house anymore.  I’m not sure when the addition was done, but if you trust Zillow (which actually still lists the house as 1761 square feet with  1.5 baths), it was last sold in 1996…which would mean that the people we sold to are still living there…I don’t blame them, it was a great house & a great neighborhood.  :)

I’m now on my fourth house.

Since that first house I have gone on to buy three more houses, one in Michigan and two in the greater Boston area (we rented in London).  My recent purchase I did solo…which was full of second guessing, stress and sleepless nights (having nothing to do with the house itself).   Buying a house is a big deal, no matter how many times you have done it.  A little anxiety, a few doubts, it’s all normal.  But I have no regrets now…I love my new house.  And I will share more about it in some upcoming posts.

Do you remember buying your first house?  Was it stressful, did you search a long time, did you know it when you found it?  I would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

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Most Expensive Zip Codes and a Little Workout

Recently sold in Atherton, CA with a list price of just under $14M. Listing broker: DeLeon Realty.

Today I want to share an article that ran in Forbes a few weeks ago, America’s 500 Most Expensive Zip Codes in 2014.   Probably not a lot of surprises inside…California topped the list with Atherton, CA, zip code 94027 where the median home price came in at just over $9M.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A 2 bed/2 bath home with a mere 1370 square feet in Atherton was listed at just under $1.5M.  Lots of Silicon Valley money there.  And while California took 196 of the top 500 spots, New York took 6 of the top 10 spots.  Beverly Hills 90210 missed the top 10, coming in at number 11.

Not every state made an appearance on the list.   Only 28 states claimed one or more of the most expensive zip codes.  Behind California with 196 spots came, naturally, New York, with 94.  In a distant third place was Massachusetts with 45, followed by New Jersey with 25 and Florida with 23.  Massachusetts, as many of us know, is not an inexpensive place to live.

The top 10 most expensive zip codes in Massachusetts were as follows:

  • Boston, 02108, at number 40

5 Concord Rd, Weston, MA;
on the market for $18M. Listing Broker: Coldwell Banker.

  • Brookline 02445, placing 77
  • Weston 02493, placing 85
  • Nantucket 02554, coming in at 94
  • Wellesley Hills 02481, placing 95
  • Chestnut Hill 02467, placing 122
  • Waban 02468, at number 124
  • West Tisbury 02575, placing 130 (for those who aren’t from Massachusetts, West Tisbury is on Martha’s Vineyard)
  • Dover 02030, placing 157
  • Newton Center 02459, placing 158

I don’t know what all this really means other than some people are paying a lot of money for their homes!  Although maybe still not as much as those living in London.  I read an article last week that said it is not uncommon in London to pay 60% of  income for housing.  Unbelievable.  I lived in London back in 1995-1998 and even then it was expensive…I was living there with a company subsidy, and I always wondered how the average Brit managed to afford London.

Let’s talk Workout now, not Real Estate

So enough with the pricey zip codes.  A bit of “non-real estate” for you.  I am just getting back into strength training again after a long hiatus which started with focusing on my half marathon training and then just devolved into a lot of excuses (guilty).  But yesterday I did a short bodyweight workout that took all of 45 minutes, including 15 minutes of foam

I buy my foam rollers from Perform Better.

rolling, flexibility and mobility work (see here and here for more on mobility work).  When I have been away from something for awhile, whether it’s running, strength training, swimming, whatever, I like to start off with something not too crazy that is interval based…meaning I work, then I rest.  I like knowing I am going to get some rest, it helps me mentally, as well as physically.  So today while I was walking the dog I came up with this workout:

  5 TRX pushups, 10 squats, 30 second plank, 8 TRX rows, 10 walking lunges, 30 second plank

(For more on the TRX see here.)  I took my time with each exercise, it wasn’t meant to be a race.  I moved from one exercise to the other without rushing but without wasting time.  The set ended up taking me just about 3 1/2 minutes to complete.  Then I would rest a full minute, then do it again…I did 5 sets total.  A workout like this is easy to modify…you can do more or fewer of each exercise, you can add some weights to the squats and lunges, you can make the planks longer or more challenging, and you can lengthen or shorten the rest interval.  I was breathing hard.  And let’s just say by the last 2 or 3 planks I was really ready to be done with them!

How about a Finisher?

That’s “Hurricane Ingrid.” You can buy her battling ropes DVD at Perform Better.

After I finished all 5 rounds I took a few extra minutes rest, then I did a short “finisher”…something to just get your heart rate going and finish you off.  :)  Today I did 20 seconds of the battling ropes, 20 sec rest, 30 seconds of jump rope, 15 seconds rest…I did this 4 times continuous.  Then I was done.  Entire workout, including finisher was about 30 minutes.  And I was tired.  Yeah!   Give it a try and let me know what you think.


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