Making Your Real Estate Dreams Come True

Archive for November, 2011

Is it a Good Idea to Sell your Home during the Holidays?

Conventional wisdom may sound something like this – don’t bother putting your home on the market in the winter because it’s the slowest time of the year in the real estate market.

That may be true.


Why wouldn’t you want to put your home on the market when the competition is few and far between?

Think about it – most people take their homes off the market because they believe that winter is the slowest month. And, therefore, their house doesn’t sell in the winter, perpetuating the myth!

The truth is – home buyers who are looking in December are typically more serious buyers. They know what they want and they’re ready to act. Putting your home on the market in December practically guarantees that you won’t have curious neighbors just stopping by without any serious intention of making an offer. You might not get as many showings in December, but the ones you get will be more serious!

Here’s another reason to consider putting your home on the market in December – your home is probably at its most beautiful when the holiday decorations are up! Imagine the photographs that will go on the MLS!  Of course, if you decide to sell in the winter, you’ll have to make sure that your porches, sidewalks, decks, and driveway are clear of snow and ice. It’s also a bit harder to keep the floors of the house clean with snow and mud being tracked in. But on the plus side, your holiday decorations are a great way to add some extra lighting to your home and show it at its best.

A third reason you might want to put your home on the market now is because you could tap into an emotional market – buyers are less likely to make low offers. A buyer who’s looking at your house in December and decides it’s the house for them is probably going to make a good offer because there are fewer houses to choose from and they don’t want to risk losing the one that they found!

Here’s a fourth reason – buyers on holiday vacation have more time to look at houses!

Do you need a fifth reason to sell during the holidays? Your buyers who may have tax reasons to buy before the end of the year and are therefore in some kind of rush.

Reason six – The biggest month of the year for job transfers is January and someone who needs to move in January may be knocking on your door this month!

Seven – If you sell now, you’ll be able to buy without a contingency in the spring when there are more houses to choose from (and therefore lower prices).

Turkey Soup and Dumplings

Here’s my favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipe!

Turkey Soup:

1 turkey carcass

10-12 cups water

2 large onion, diced fine

12 ribs celery, diced fine

8 carrots, diced fine

4 Tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup flour

1 tsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. ice cold margarine

1/2 cup ice cold milk


1.  Heat half of  the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add half of the vegetables, salt, pepper,  and saute until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the turkey carcass and cover with water.

3. Don’t let the water boil – allow it to simmer for at least an hour, but I usually let it go for 2-3 hours.

4. Strain, discarding the vegetables and carcass and saving the broth.

5. Heat the remainder of the olive oil. Add the remainder of the vegetables, salt, pepper, and saute until the onions are translucent.

6. Add the turkey stock.  Allow to simmer, adding whatever vegetables you want (I like zucchini, yellow squash, larger chunks of carrots) and all of your leftover turkey.

7.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt to taste.

8. Add the margarine and mix it into the flour with your fingers, breaking up the margarine by coating it with flour.

9. Add the milk and lightly stir to absorb the milk.

1o. Using a teaspoon, scoop some of the dumpling mixture  and drop it into the soup. Continue until all of the dumpling mixture is used.

11. Cover the soup. Allow it to simmer (don’t boil, or your soup will be cloudy!) for about 20 minutes.

12. Serve and enjoy!

50 things to be thankful for

  1. The armed forces
  2. kittens
  3. friends who don’t let your failures bring you down
  4. friends who don’t let your successes get to your head
  5. volunteer first aid and firemen
  6. fireflies on freshly a cut lawn
  7. parents
  8. freedom of religion
  9. hot tea with lemon
  10. poetry and music that speaks to your soul
  11. cold medicine
  12. daffodils
  13. a boss who inspires you
  14. fluffy down comforters
  15. Grandmothers
  16. faith
  17. a full moon
  18. vitamins
  19. cloth napkins
  20. pine needles under giant forests of trees
  21. hammocks
  22. coaches
  23. the giggle of a baby
  24. a snow day
  25. teachers who care
  26. puppies
  27. a rainbow after a drizzle
  28. antibiotics
  29. brothers and sisters
  30. the sweetness of strawberries
  31. the Macy’s Parade
  32. coupons
  33. seeing eye dogs
  34. lazy Sundays
  35. kind strangers
  36. good doctors and nurses
  37. a spouse that totally gets you
  38. peanut butter
  39. ice cold lemonade
  40. sunsets
  41. memories
  42. a night out under the stars
  43. free public libraries
  44. ice cream
  45. soft breeze through a window at night
  46. salt water taffy
  47. freedom of speech
  48. red wine
  49. barbecues
  50. the right to vote

Thanksgiving Food Safety

What’s on the menu? Turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes? Or a side dish of food borne illness?

When preparing your family’s Thanksgiving feast this year, make sure to avoid possible food contamination issues, which could lead to serious food borne illnesses. One of the most overlooked occurrences of food contamination occurs within the turkey itself.

Alton Brown, host of Food Network’s Good Eats and Iron Chef America, has this to say about stuffing.

Be sure to cook your stuffing this Thanksgiving outside of your turkey. You may have heard that cooking the stuffing inside the turkey may create a risk of food poisoning.

Because you take the temperature of your turkey in the thigh, the inside of the bird is still not at the USDA suggested 165 degrees. The stuffing has been sitting in an uncooked (or cooking) turkey, exposed to whatever food borne illnesses the turkey may contain. While cooking a turkey to 165 degrees will kill most safety hazards, the stuffing still hasn’t reached that optimal temperature. This allows food borne illnesses to grow rapidly within the turkey, which otherwise would have been killed in the turkey itself.

Stuffing cooked outside the bird (technically called “dressing”) can still be just as delicious, if prepared with turkey or chicken stock. If you were to attempt to cook the stuffing inside the bird, it would require much more time to reach 165 degrees than the turkey, leading to an extremely dry turkey. You can still prepare the stuffing separately, and stuff the turkey once both are finished cooking, if your family prefers this presentation.

The USDA’s turkey safety website is here.  Image

Macy’s 85th Thanksgiving Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924 and is tied with Detroit’s Thanksgiving Parade for the second oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States. The oldest parade is four years older and is held in Philadelphia. The Macy’s parade was suspended 1942–1944 during World War II, owing to the need for rubber and helium in the war effort.

In the early years, the Macy’s Parade featured Macy’s employees and animals from the Central Park Zoo. At the end of that first parade, as has been the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square, kicking off the holiday season.

An air filled Felix the Cat balloon replaced the live animals in 1927. By the next year, helium was used to fill the expanding cast of balloons. The first Mickey Mouse balloon entered the parade in 1934, and the Marx Brothers balloon was debuted in 1935. The Uncle Sam balloon in 1938 was followed by the 1939 arrival of the first version of the Super Man balloon.1972 saw the arrival of Astronaut Snoopy, a tribute to Apollo 11, and Garfield arrived in 1984. Bugs Bunny arrived in 1989 and Barney the Dinosaur arrived in 1994. 2004 brought SpongBob SquarePants and 2007 brought Shrek. New arrivals for 2011 are a new version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Julius, and Tim Burton’s B.

The Parade features live performances as well as the balloons and floats that are so famous. The Radio City Rockettes are a classic performance, as are high school marching bands, cheerleaders, and dancers from all over the country. This year’s performances include Rodney Atkins, the Big Apple Circus, Mary J. Blige, Neil Diamond, and the Sesame Street cast.

Broadway show performers also appear in the Parade every year. This year, you can expect performances from Spider Man: Turn off the Dark, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Sister Act.

The 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street, features footage from the 1946 parade and helped make the parade a permanent part of American culture.

More than 3 million people watch the parade in person and another 50 million watch it on NBC. The three-hour event starts at 9:00 a.m. To watch it in person,  there are 2 miles of curbside  viewing along Central Park West, Central Park South, 7th Avenue between 59th and 48th Streets, and 6th Avenue  between 42nd and 34th streets.

For some people, the day before the parade is just as much fun. Balloons are inflated the day before the parade on 77th and 81st Streets between Central park West and Columbus Avenue. Public viewing is from 3pm-10 pm.

Tips for seeing the parade can be found here.

Talking Turkey

Here are 14 turkey facts you might not have known:

  1.  In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations.  Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16 – 18 pounds of turkey.  Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.  97% of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
  2. The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds. The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.thanks giving closeup turkey
  3. Turkeys have about 3,500 feathers at maturity. Most turkey feathers are composted. The costume that “Big Bird” wears on Sesame Street is rumored to be made of turkey feathers. Turkeys have been bred to have white feathers because white feathers have no spots under the skin when plucked.
  4. Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly but wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour. . Turkeys will swim and can run 20 miles per hour.
  5. A large group of turkeys is called a flock. The male turkey is called a tom. The female turkey is called a hen. Baby turkeys are called poults.
  6. Male turkeys gobble. Hens make a clucking noise. Tom turkeys have beards which is a black clump of hairlike feathers on their breast. Hens sometimes have beards, too. The fleshy growth under a turkey’s throat is called a wattle and the long, red, fleshy area that grows from the forehead over the bill is called a snood.
  7. Turkeys can have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attacks.
  8. Turkeys have poor night vision but very good full-color vision and make direct eye-contact as soon as they hatch.
  9. Turkey hens normally sit on a clutch of about 12 eggs which are tan with brown specks and larger than chicken eggs.  Turkeys inside the egg communicate with the mother hen long before they are born. Turkey eggs hatch after 28 days.

10. Ben Franklin, in a letter to his daughter, proposed the turkey as the official United States bird. 

11.  Turkeys’ heads change colors when they become excited.

12. The ballroom dance the “turkey trot” was named for the short, jerky steps that turkeys take.

13. For their first meal on the moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roasted turkey in foil packets.

14. Contrary to popular myth, eating turkey does not cause you to feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. Carbohydrates in your Thanksgiving dinner are the likely cause of your sleepiness.

Getting by with a little help…

For so many of us Thanksgiving is a time when we gather with our families and friends and in many cases overindulge on a wonderfully prepared meal.  But not everyone is able to do that.  Several years ago while helping our son with a scouting project we volunteered at a Soup Kitchen.  The experience was very different than I had imagined.  While it felt good knowing that we were feeding people who were less fortunate, for many of them their plights have remained unchanged.

Soup Kitchens first began appearing in the US during the Great Depression and they are still abundant today.  I’d urge you to get involved.  Make a donation, volunteer to work a shift serving and cleaning.  Do something.  You won’t regret it.

There are a multitude of Soup Kitchens throughout Union County.  You can click here to find out where they are and more information about them. This site will tell you where you can find a local kitchen, what they require as far as donations and volunteering.

So this year think about being thankful for having the opportunity to help someone less fortunate than yourself and giving something back.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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