Tina McManus | Beverly Real Estate, Salem Real Estate, Hamilton Real Estate, Danvers Real Estate


Photo by: Sebastien Gabriel via Unsplash

You have a great trip planned, but you want to bring all your friends and family along with you. Well, let technology help. You don’t have to be a celebrity or a tech genius to enjoy documenting your travels. You can preserve your travel memories as they happen and keep everyone up-to-date back at home with videos, pictures and journal entries. Utilize your social media accounts or keep it a private, closed group. No matter the destination or mode of transportation, applications on your cell phone make sharing and saving your travel experiences simple.


Choose the One for You

How do you choose which app is right for you? Do you know anyone who has experience documenting their travels? Ask around and see who in your circle of influence can make recommendations. Get online and do some research of your own. Your phone app store is a great place to start. Be sure to read the reviews that pertain to each particular app. When traveling internationally, make sure that you will have access to the internet to post anything you want to share. Also, watch for ease-of-use from the reviewers.

Take it for a Spin

Once you have decided which application you are going to use, download it and give it a test run. Before you travel, recruit a few friends or family members to help you out as a test audience. Now, document your daily routine for a few days and see if you like how this app displays or functions, and determine its ease of use.
Does it have all the features that you would like? For example, do you want to live-stream some of your trip? Do you want to upload several pictures at once? Does it have a journaling area where you can document your thoughts and feelings about your trip? Then as you use it, ask your friends and family to give you feedback. Do they find it easy to get the updates and see your pictures and comments? Or do they find that they get too many notices when you post? This allows you to see whether the app is a good fit.
Sharing your travels with those back at home is a wonderful way to bring them along on the adventure.

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Looking for a soup for all seasons? Let Zucchini Potato Soup fill the bill. It's low-fat and light yet filling. It's power-packed with nutritious goodness, and enhanced with the perfect blend of spices and herbs.

This recipe serves a party of 6 or more. If you have a food processor or a blender, you can make it. Here's how.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

To create a robust soup base, you will need:

  • 5 medium-sized zucchini squashes
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 white or yellow onions
  • 5 medium-sized potatoes
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil, torn or chopped 
  • 2 Tbsp. tarragon and a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Organic, cold-pressed olive oil
  • A clove of garlic, chopped
  • Pepper and salt
  • Step 2. Prepare the Vegetable Broth 

    Wash and coarsely chop your zucchini squashes, potatoes, carrots and onions. There is no need to peel the potatoes unless you prefer doing so. Sauté these vegetables together with a generous dash of your best olive oil, or heat them up in a non-stick pot if you'd prefer to go oil-free. As your vegetables become just slightly browned, add the parsley, pepper and salt.

    Add enough water to cover these ingredients and create a savory broth.

    Cover the pot.

    Allow broth to simmer for 25 minutes. 

    Drain, while reserving the broth.

    Step 3. Prepare the Hearty Soup

    Sauté the chopped clove of garlic in a pan lightly lined with olive oil until the garlic is golden brown. Add the zucchini-carrot-potato mix. Toss in the chopped basil and tarragon.

    Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. 

    Stir well.

    Blend reserved vegetable broth into the soup.

    Step 3. Simmer and Cool

    Allow soup to simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. 

    Let the soup cool down. Pour just over half of the cooled soup into a food processor and purée the mix.

    Pro tip: Why cool the soup before pouring it into a food processor or blender? Steam can quickly rise out of hot mixes and fill up the machine, splatter out and cause burns. Plus, pouring anything super hot into machines with plastic parts just isn't an appealing idea, even if the machine parts are all food-safe. So, if you want to speed the cooling process, use ice and a large spaghetti strainer and pour the mix through it.

    Step 4. Heat and Serve

    Add the puréed part of the mix back into the pot with the rest of the soup.

    Heat and stir for 3 minutes.

    Serve hot. This soup goes well with a fluffy bowl of couscous, rustic rolls or homemade bread.


    Photo by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels

    Whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist, you need storage. Designing your home with spectacular, well-designed storage nooks in mind can make your life so much easier. Consider building these storage solutions into your new home. 

    1. In-Wall Storage Solutions

    Utilizing the space between studs to create built-in shelves or storage nooks is a brilliant option. 

    • In-wall nooks beside a sitting area may eliminate the need for an end table.

    • In-wall niche shelves in a kitchen can offer a lovely way to display organized canisters, spices and other sundries worthy of keeping out in the open. 

    • In-wall medicine cabinets and/or cleaning supply nooks in the bathroom take up less space, blend seamlessly into your decor and offer just that little extra space for necessities.

    2. Under-Stair Storage 

    If you have a traditional staircase, you might just have plenty of space for storage underneath. This type of storage is perfect for larger bins of seasonal items you want tucked away, but easier to access and better-protected than the basement or attic. 

    3. Dormer/Attic Space Storage

    In an attic space with steeply pitched walls, cabinets built along the lower edges of the room make it possible to capitalize on what would otherwise be awkward, unused space. And homes with architectural features like dormers offer another tremendous opportunity. Drawers can be built into the insides of many dormers, and window seats offer an aesthetically pleasing, cozy spot to relax with a generous amount of storage space underneath. 

    4. Harness the Power of the Built-In 

    Built-in shelves surrounding a fireplace, adorning a living area wall or encapsulating a TV/entertainment area can add incredible versatility. Consider cabinets across the bottom and open shelving at higher levels. The downside? You’ll need a fairly good idea of your furniture arrangement options before settling on a built-in design. But built-ins tend to add value and style to a home, whether they’re built into a sleek contemporary space or a more traditional one. 

    5. Pay Attention to Your Closets

    Take the time to look up closet design and storage ideas. This will help you determine what type of storage solution would work best for your wardrobe and storage needs. Building shelving, appropriate-height rods and other storage features into your closets greatly increases your storage efficiency. 

    6. Make the Most of Your Garage/Outdoor Storage Space 

    Think beyond the vehicles you’ll need to park as you plan your outdoor storage space. An attached shed, built-in garage shelving and cabinets might be the solution for storing your yard tools and outdoor recreational supplies. Look into slat-wall garage storage options or ceiling-mounted storage accessories to make the most of your garage space. 

    7. Consider Fold-Up Furniture 

    In some homes, a fold-down desk or work surface can transform a space into a multi-use area that eliminates the need for extra furniture and streamlining storage needs. Many Murphy beds and folding desks incorporate attractive shelves on either side for storage. It might be nontraditional, but it’s a solid option when you’re trying to capitalize on space.


    “Short sales” may have one of the most deceiving names in real estate. Any client who is undertaking the purchase of a short sale property will ask, “Why is this taking so long?” Short sales generally happen due to lapsed payments on a mortgage. In the short sale, the owners take a loss on the property, but it saves them from being foreclosed on by the bank. Many of these sales are circumstantial by divorce, or a sudden change in job. The seller asks the bank to take less money than the amount owed on the house in a short sale transaction. 


    If You’re Buying A Short Sale Property


    If you have made an offer and the seller accepts it, your dealings are far from over in a short sale. The seller’s bank needs to approve the sale. Since the bank is losing money in the deal, this is where the hold up can be in the entire transaction.


    The First Step


    The seller’s bank must review the short sale package first. The seller needs to submit a complete picture of their finances to the lender. The seller’s credit score will also be reviewed. A bank would not approve a short sale if, let’s say, the seller happened to have a lot of extra cash just sitting in a bank account. The lender needs to protect themselves.


    The listing agent should be on top of all of the paperwork that should be done in order to have the transaction approved. As a buyer, you’ll appreciate a good short sale listing agent. 


    Make Sure Everything Is In Order


    There’s a lot of paperwork to sign in order to get a house. There’s even more paperwork to sign in order to secure the purchase of a short sale. If just one page of the documents are missing or one signature is left unsigned, the entire process can be slowed down even more. As a buyer, you should confirm that all the required documents have been signed and received. 


    Another problem that can occur is that documents quickly become outdated. Bank and other financial statements are a good example of this. By the time paperwork is ready to go through the lender, last month’s bank statement could be completely outdated. The lender will then need an updated statement, holding up the process even more. The seller and agent need to be ready for these circumstances. The faster the lender is responded to, the smoother the process will go.          

     

    Remember You’re Working With Two Banks


    When you’re purchasing a home that’s a short sale, you’ll need to deal with two banks- your lender and the bank handling the short sale. Be mindful of the timelines that each bank has. If you aren’t, you could be approved hours too late to buy the property, leaving you and the seller to start from scratch. 


    Buying a short sale is risky because there is always a greater chance the sale will fall through or succumb to foreclosure due to some kind of circumstances beyond the buyer or the seller’s control. If you have the right realtors on both sides of the table, the process of buying a short sale should go as smoothly as can be expected.      


    Are you planning on moving in the next 6-8 months? Don’t let your belongings take ownership of you. As consumers, we tend to accumulate a lot of “stuff” over the years. After spending 5, 10, or 20-plus years in one home, this can amount to more than some of us can handle. Do you have more than 4 sets of dishes? How about piles of toys & board games from when your kids were younger? And then there are those passed-down antiques that no one in the family seems to have use for, yet no one wants to throw away.

     

    Rather than rush while packing and having to take the whole mess with you to your next home, consider starting the process early! You can categorize your belongings into the following groups:

     

    • Keep
    • Sell
    • Donate
    • Throw it away


    It may be hard to discern which category an item goes in. This is why it’s a great idea to solicit help when you’re moving and downsizing your piles of stuff. An outsider can be a bit more objective to help you see what’s useful and what isn’t. 


    The Keep Pile


    The items you want to keep through your move are those that you use every single day. There’s no question in your mind that you’ll need these things at your next residence. Think of the items that are either irreplaceable or still in good working condition like bedding, the coffee pot, furniture, and personal items like books, DVDs, and electronics. 


    Sell For Profit


    If you have a question about any of the items that you’re going through, you may want to consider selling them. Is your sofa still in good condition, but won’t fit well into your new place? It’s time to get that piece of furniture to another good home and make a bit of cash while you’re at it. There are tons of websites, apps, and other resources that connect you with people who are looking for the items that you want to get rid of.


    Donate


    Some items may not be an easy sell. You may not even have the time to sell them. This is where donation centers allow you to do some good while you’re cleaning out your things. As you’re packing for the move go through things like clothes, books, DVDs, games, toys, and other knickknacks. Those figurines that have been sitting on the shelf may not be ideal for your new house. 

    It’s also a good idea to keep the amount of space that you’re dealing with in mind. If you have less space, downsizing will be ever important. On the flip side, if you’re moving into a bigger house, you don’t necessarily need to fill it up!


    Trash Pile


    Unfortunately, we’ll always have a few things that need to be thrown out. Items that are ripped, stained, worn, broken, or plain useless must face the fate of the dumpster. 


    No matter how you go about cleaning out your home before a move, you should know that it will feel amazing to have a lighter load to move as the clutter is cleaned out.             





    Loading