Winter’s chill is in the air and spring is still several weeks away, but there’s plenty to do in your hometown during the colder months including checking out a winter farmer’s market.
Traditional farmer’s markets usually run from early spring to late fall, but there’s a growing trend popping up in cities across the country: the winter farmer’s market.
Typically your local winter farmer’s market is held indoors, which means no matter the weather, you can still shop in comfort for your favorite offerings of the earth’s bounty.
Want to make the most of your next visit to a winter farmer’s market? Here’s what you need to know:
Manage Your Expectations
When strolling around your favorite farmer’s market during warmer months, you’re likely to find all sorts of bright, juicy fruits and beautiful growing plants. The purpose of a farmer’s market is to help connect local farmers and producers with the community, as a source of great seasonal offerings.
Your winter farmer’s market likely won’t have the same options as the markets held in spring and summer. This is mainly because those fruits and vegetables aren’t being grown or harvested during colder months.
Depending on the size of your market and where you live, it might not be possible to do all your grocery shopping at your neighborhood winter farmer’s market, but you should be able to check several items off your shopping list.
Think Outside the Box
Winter farmer’s markets are a great opportunity think outside the box, with regard to the produce you buy. There you may come across different varieties of your favorite fruits and vegetables, or different options altogether.
Take this as a chance to try something new! Never cooked with baby bok choy or purple potatoes? These are some delicious choices, and likely to be spotted at a winter farmer’s market.
And make sure you talk to the farmers or sellers about their wares. They are likely to be a wealth of free information for you. For example, if you usually cook with cilantro in the spring and summer, ask the farmer to recommend another herb you might try when it isn’t available.
Ask the farmer if he or she has a favorite way of preparing the veggies or a tip for making fruit last longer. This is your chance to talk directly with the expert about his or her produce.
Stock Up on Essentials
Whether you are a dedicated home cook or someone who just enjoys trying a new recipe every now and again, there are certain essentials that a well-stocked kitchen must have.
Often a winter farmer’s market is a great place to find things like local honey, spices and jams or preserves. It never hurts to have these pantry staples on hand. Plus, you’ll feel great knowing you are supporting the livelihood of local growers and producers.
Since these types of items are usually canned or dried, they have a longer shelf-life and will serve to be very useful for all your culinary creations until spring arrives.
You might also see cut flowers or winter plants. Depending on the type, winter is often a good time for planting. Some farmers also sell or swap their seeds, especially heirloom varieties, so make the most of this opportunity to stock up for your spring and summer garden.
Give the Gift of Local Made with Love
Winter farmer’s markets are often more than just farm fresh produce and things grown in the ground. There will likely be offerings and wares for sale by local artisans and makers.
From handcrafted jewelry and pottery to unique and one-of-a-kind art or woodworking, these selections make wonderful gifts for friends. Other items you might find include essential oils, handmade soaps and lotions, and natural cosmetics. Sellers will often allow you to sample their wares in order to see what you might like.
These are just a few ways you can enjoy a winter farmer’s market in your neighborhood. Before too long, spring will arrive with all its blooming beauty. But until then, it’s nice to know there are still some fun things to do to make the most of winter.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
The start of a new year brings the same old resolutions: get organized, get in shape and eat healthier. What if we all look beyond ourselves and add find new ways to be kinder to Mother Earth to our list? The impact would be pretty fantastic, a re-energized movement to preserve our one and only beautiful earth.
One simple way to fulfill that resolution is to be eco-conscious on moving day. Moving is one of the most wasteful times in a household. We finally get around to cleaning out those over stuffed closets, basements and garages. It’s the time we toss out those old clothes, electronics, magazines, bikes, etc. On top of the major weeding out of our belongings, we use tons of boxes and packing materials; and create piles and piles of waste that contribute to our landfills. Let’s just face the fact: moving time equals major trash time.
The great green news is there are simple steps you can take during a move to reduce your waste. Being eco-conscious on moving day will save you some green in your wallet too!
Follow these 5 steps to make Mother Nature & your wallet proud:
Use Eco-Friendly Moving Supplies
From boxes, packing paper to bubble, there are now green 100% recyclable materials to keep our neighborhoods cleaner and greener. Yep, there is even biodegradable eco-bubble, pop away guilt free.
ECO-BONUS: Save money by asking your moving company for used boxes made of recyclable materials. You can get used boxes at a discount and some moving companies will even give you a refund for returning your used boxes at the end of your move. Pop! Pop! Cha-ching!
It’s Not Just for the Movies
Instead of the foam popcorn and peanuts, use real popcorn to pack fragile items! Just pop and fill the gaps in your boxes to secure and pad fragile items. Cheap and earth friendly!
Finally, the garage and closets actually are getting cleaned out. Hurray! Now is the time to get rid of what you don’t really need: the growing collection of tuna and soup cans in the pantry; the many, many sport teams t-shirts; go-go boots; your 10 year old’s toddler clothing, etc. But, don’t just toss them out. Donate unwanted furniture to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and clothing and household items to your local favorite charity such as Goodwill for someone else to enjoy.
ECO-BONUS: Reuse your moving boxes to donate your items. Simply visit GiveBackBox.com to learn how to use your used boxes to ship your donations off to a charity. Lastly, if you have any unopened leftover food on moving day, donate it to Move For Hunger. Don’t forget to keep your moving and donation receipts to save green on your taxes next year!
Be Kind to Your Electronics
You may no longer want your lemon-yellow microwave, but don’t just put it on the curb or throw it in a dump. If you do, it will likely be shipped off to unregulated third world environmental disaster dumping grounds instead of being recycled in facilities that follow U.S. environmental regulations. Contact a domestic e-waste recycler so your old computers, microwaves and other electronics are recycled domestically, under environmental laws, rather than being shipped off to be processed by highly toxic and polluting techniques.
Hire an Eco-Conscious Moving Company
Use your “green” to influence and encourage green habits by hiring companies that use environmental-friendly practices. Make sure your moving company is bright green by asking: Does the staff recycle? Are the offices and warehouse designed to be energy efficient? Do they use biodiesel to run their trucks? Do they use 100 % recyclable materials? Do they sell used boxes? Do they buy them back at the end of the move? Chances are if they care about the earth, they care about their customers too! It’s a great big green win – win!
Pat yourself on the back; you’re making Mother Earth smile and future generations will thank you!
Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.
Source: CB Blue Matter
Getting a furry friend is always an exciting time, however, it’s definitely a good idea to make a few tweaks to your home and take some precautions to ensure a happy, healthy life for the newest member of your family. Here are a few starter tips whether you’re getting a cat or dog.
In the kitchen. The biggest danger in the kitchen is when pets help themselves to toxic foods left out on the counter, or worse, from the trash. Just like humans, raw meat of any kind can be dangerous for them to ingest, as well as chocolate, onions and grapes. Some of the best ways to prevent them from eating human food are to keep counters clear, store food in hard-to-reach upper cabinets, use a pet-proof trash can and put up a pet gate during food prep and mealtime.
In the bathroom. Toilet bowl water is commonly contaminated with chemical cleaners, so you probably don’t want your pet drinking or falling into it. You can use the same toilet locks used with young children to prevent this. It’s also smart to keep bathroom counters clear of small accessories, such as hair ties, bobby pins, jewelry and makeup. Keep cleaning solutions, both here, in the kitchen and the laundry room, out of reach too. If you’re prone to keeping a dirty laundry pile in the bathroom, be sure to keep loose clothes off the floor so they don’t get torn or chewed up.
Lastly, especially for big dogs, you may want to consider integrating a pet washing station into the bathroom, mudroom or laundry room. This can be done by building out an entirely new setup or installing an extra ledge in an existing, spacious shower. Smaller dogs and cats can be easily washed in oversized utility or even kitchen sinks.
In the living room. One of the biggest concerns here is ensuring your pet doesn’t claw up your furniture. Leather and synthetic fibers are great options for sofas since they can easily be wiped clean, and carpet tiles are great alternatives to regular carpets and area rugs because you can replace any tile individually for a small price if it gets damaged.
Many pets love having a great view of the outdoors. If you have expansive windows nearby, set up a nice lounging area for them by putting a pet bed or cushion along a window seat. In addition to that, many pets also love cozying up by the fire. Be sure to protect them from getting hurt or burned by an open fire with a simple screen.
In the home office. Protect yourself against having to use the age-old excuse of “my dog ate my homework” by filing loose papers away in a cabinet or binder and away from pesky paws. Another concern here is exposed bundles of cords, which can electrocute your furry friend if they chew on them. Tuck them away or cover them with concealer cables, which have the added benefit of helping declutter your workspace.
Give them their own space. Although you’ll probably want to spend most of your day snuggling your pet, it’s also important to give them a space of their own. Their cozy corner can easily be integrated into any low-traffic zone such as the laundry room or garage where you can arrange their bed, favorite toys and food and water bowls. Crates and litter boxes have come a long way from their traditional bulky look and can now be hidden under a desk, integrated under the staircase or custom made to match your room design.
The great outdoors. Just like many of us, dogs and cats love basking in the sun and exploring nature. Consider installing a pet door so they can go in and out as they please. Add a fence or gate around your yard so they don’t run off and get lost. It’s also a good idea to have a boundary or cover for outdoor features, such as pools, ponds and fire pits, so they don’t fall in and injure themselves. Finally, exercise caution when planting garden favorites, such as daffodils, tulips and hydrangeas, since they can be toxic to dogs and cats if ingested.
Integrating technology. It’s always important to show your furry friend some love. If your budget allows, invest in one of these new technologies to keep your pet happy and healthy. Automatic pet doors that are linked to a device on your pet’s collar beat traditional versions by blocking wildlife, rodents and even snow or rain from coming in too. GPS smart collars also help keep your pet safe and able to locate in worst case scenarios. Lastly, automated water and food feeders are great alternatives to manual feedings, especially for people with busy lifestyles, and can even help your pet diet and lose weight.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
With the early spring selling season kicking off shortly after the new year, it’s time to give your home the boost it needs to meet today’s buyers’ expectations. Take advantage of being inside during the cold winter months with these quick fixes that will help your property stand out from the competition, boost its value and sell quickly.
Declutter & Organize
Start tackling one room at a time by packing up anything that will distract buyers from seeing the unique features of your property such as personal collections, family photos, newspapers, books and magazines. Rearrange and remove excessive furniture to simplify and make the room appear larger.
Make Basic Repairs & Updates
Make sure everything is in good working condition. Repair and replace broken light switches, bulbs, ceiling fans, door knobs, leaky faucets, shower heads, windows, thermostats, etc. Update lighting fixtures with contemporary styles and consider replacing older kitchen appliances with sleek, eco-friendly models to capture young buyer interest.
Refresh and Brighten With Paint
Remove wallpaper and cover bold wall colors with a fresh coat of neutral paint to set the perfect backdrop for simple, updated styling. Give older style kitchen cabinets or wood vanities an instant facelift by covering with bright white or dark espresso paint. Then pair with knobs and drawer handles in brushed nickel or satin brass for an elegant finishing touch.
There is nothing that dates a room more that worn, soiled carpeting. Remove and/or replace carpeting to reveal hardwood flooring underneath to instantly brighten and make the room feel more spacious. There are also many budget-friendly, easy to install options on the market now for replacing damaged flooring such as laminate and vinyl that look and feel just like wood.
Add Storage Options
Today’s buyers are looking for plenty of storage. Added storage solutions such as built-in bookshelves, window seats with storage underneath, entry storage units, and extra closet hooks and rods are a practical way to attract immediate buyer attention.
Partner With a Pro
Consult with a professional stager who will have an objective eye and knowledge of what appeals to today’s sophisticated buyers. They will provide a range of solutions for enhancing your home showings by recommending everything from furniture placement to wall color to complementary modern accessories to add clean, welcoming style.
For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.
Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Her company has received Houzz 2015, 2016 and 2017 Awards for Customer Service.
Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”
For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you’re buying, selling or staging a home, popular architectural styles and buzz-words can help you get the most out of your investment. Current and upcoming homebuyers have an “instant” mindset, are debt-savvy, and want all the luxuries of rural living in growing cities. Trending architectural styles, like shipping container and tiny homes, reflect the budget-friendliness and fast construction new homeowners want. Contemporary glass structures, modern farmhouse, and a Spanish-colonial revival make way for bigger homes and budgets.
These days, building your own home is as easy as clicking around on a website or flipping through a catalog, mixing materials and adding desired features. The architecture that results is a Lego-like, innovative blend of textures and shapes that is “unique” to the homeowner’s preferences and taste. These styles are known as shipping container style homes. Some simulate the appearance of or incorporate actual shipping container material in their textures. By selecting from pre-fab, mix and match elements, homeowners can be sure that these features are ready-to-go. They can get exactly what they want without wasting time or resources.
Floor plans for both homes and apartments are getting smaller and smaller as the demand for land goes up and urban populations boom. Architects and builders are getting creative with their designs, finding new ways to make the most out of spaces as small as 300 square feet. This is “tiny home” size. These homes often sell at a lower price point than traditional-size homes, which makes the investment easier for modern homebuyers who are grappling with significant loan debt. These designs make the most out of every square inch with hidden storage, multi-use rooms and concepts like open space and indoor-outdoor living.
One of the most desired builds, right now, is the Santa Barbara style of architecture. This involves white stucco walls, wood beam ceilings and red tile roofs. It gets its name from the Spanish Colonial style that boomed in Santa Barbara in the early 1900s. The city set the trend for the rest of the country and homeowners are finding that the aesthetics of this style are a top choice for their dream homes.
Homeowners are knocking out walls and replacing them with glass doors and walls to see through to their back yards or patios. Incorporating the outdoors into indoor spaces is a top trend, right now. With the glass features, homeowners tend to blend sleek materials like concrete or wood. Modern glass style homes allow the outdoors to flow into the indoors and vice versa. This is a great trick to make the most of your property.
The farmhouse style has been a long-standing architectural icon. However, these days, the style is changing to incorporate more modern elements. The result is known as the modern farmhouse. In many builds, the design begins as a modern home outfitted with rural accents like barn doors and farmhouse siding. For builds that begin in the farmhouse style, modern colors and mixed industrial textures bring the old into the new.
If you are considering a new construction, an architect can help you to stay on top of the trends so that your home will be a success on the market well into the future. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to hire an architect is $5,000. They can guide you through the process to help maximize on your time and resources.
Lauren White is a freelance writer who enjoys reading, hiking and traveling. She can usually be found on an outdoor adventure with her boyfriend and little sister on the weekends.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
What color are first place ribbons? That’s right — they’re blue. That means blue is the official color of winning, and it also happens to be the official color of Coldwell Banker, the real estate brand who is #1 in dollar sales volume. Coincidence? We think not.
Ready to perform like a champion? Visit coldwellbanker.com/careers and see what it feels like to be on the winning team.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling
I love stories. Whether they are told over a meal, in the pages of a book, or on an 80 ft. movie screen makes no difference. Stories have the ability to make you experience every emotion available and can move you in unimaginable ways.
But the most important piece of any story is the characters. For a story to stand the test of time it has to have great characters. We need to be able to connect with them, feel for them, root for them — or against them. Everything they do drives the story forward, for better or worse. Without strong characters, the best stories crumble.
The same is true for brands.
In fact, having good characters – good people – is even more critical to creating and sustaining a strong brand. Because for a brand, its people are active participants in its creation. I truly believe a brand is a story that is told every single day, not just by its message, but by its people.
Every day, members of the brand help tell the story of Coldwell Banker through interactions with clients, the industry and each other. It’s a story of a brand that has been helping people find a place to call home for more than 111 years. It is a story founded by people who were passionate about creating change in the real estate industry and we continue doing so to this day.
This got me thinking: what is it about our story, our people, our brand that has allowed it – not just stand the test of time – but to continue to succeed?
Science gave me the answer. It comes down to our DNA. We may come from different backgrounds and upbringings. We reside in different corners of the world with differences in appearance, beliefs, and lifestyles, but studies have shown that who we surround ourselves and who we choose to associate with are often those who have similar genetic markers.
You’ve heard the phrase “birds of a feather flock together.” It’s an idiom based in truth. What draws people to Coldwell is beyond just the outward appearance of what we seem to be. While our chemical makeup sets us on a common path, the other side of this story is that each of us possess shared values that are core to our brand and THAT is what truly draws us together.
Coldwell Banker is a brand founded on trust, integrity and awesomeness, but at times we lose sight of this story because we get caught up in the day to day distractions of our work. What I see in our brand’s DNA is an opportunity for us to truly standout in this crowded and often crazy industry.
It’s almost as if we were born to be part of this story. In fact, we even have a name for the group of characters in this story of the Coldwell Banker brand: Generation Blue.
Blue has become a rallying cry for all that this brand is and stands for. We wear blue. We bleed blue, because we are GEN BLUE.
Blue represents the power of our company, the power of our people and the power of our team in so many different ways. And it’s time that we took a look at all that it truly means to be Coldwell Banker blue.
Blue is the color of winning. According to color psychology, blue is associated with intelligence, invokes trust and spurs creativity. Blue is cool under pressure and calming influence. Blue is the color of leaders and one that builds relationships.
We have a powerful, one of a kind brand; one that has the most advanced tools and the greatest reputation in the industry. A brand that is built on people who have exceptional integrity and are pillars of their communities.
There’s a reason Coldwell Banker has succeeded for over 111 years while countless other brands, both in our industry and outside it, have failed. Our success is built on the values that have stayed true to our brand and the fact that we continue to attract others who share those values and spirit.
As J.K. Rowling said, stories have the power to transport people to another place, and when you discover the story of who the Coldwell Banker brand truly is and what we have offer, it may just transport you to becoming a part of Gen Blue.
Come join the blue and see what makes Gen Blue truly the best path to success at coldwellbanker.com/careers.
When deciding on what to focus on at CES, I drew the “wildest smart home tech” straw among our home office team. True to my entrepreneurial/short attention span nature, I took a meandering path before I found anything that I considered “wild.” Here’s what distracted me along the way to the “wild” payoff at the end.
What’s old is new again?
One of my hobbies is finding old vinyl records at garage and estate sales. My sons are developing an affinity for this medium as well, and my middle son Jared has started his own collection of albums of his favorite movie soundtracks, such as Guardians of the Galaxy and La La Land (he has diverse tastes). It’s fun to hear him gush about the “warmth” of vinyl vs digital recordings, so while at CES, I was looking for tech that bridges the warmth of the old and the ease of the new.
There were plenty to be found, with Crosley and Victrola both displaying retro turntables, including systems that played analog off the needle and broadcast to Bluetooth speakers. Not all of them were retro either- for example, this Lexan-mounted set caught my eye.
I was interested to check out Sony’s PS-HX500 turntable which not only plays your vinyl, but also allows you to make a digital recording of it for easy access, portability, and archiving. Unfortunately, just as I put the headphones on the power went out to a large chunk of the show floor, so I didn’t get to hear the end product.
Regardless of the source of your audio, combine it with the Bang and Olufsen BeoSound Shape, where each “tile” is a wireless speaker, amplifier, or acoustic dampener, and you’ve got a sexy installation that sounds amazing.
One device that I saw in the Eureka Park startup marketplace at CES that made a bunch of sense for homeowners was the Iotobox Music Gateway. This device allows you to integrate existing home audio systems with Sonos or similar wireless speaker systems. This means that those speakers and wires that were carefully built in when that older home was constructed have new life, and new value as part of a smart home. I’m guessing there are other solutions that fill this need, as the one I found is a startup, and it’s not clear how viable the company or its products will be.
Giving new life to battery life
Setting aside my audiophile interests, one of the most impressive, brilliant pieces of smart home technology was truly minimalist and essentially invisible. Any parent who has dealt with the whining (or occasional meltdown) when all the batteries for the Wii remotes are dead will instantly see the beauty of this innovation. The Ossia Cota Forever Battery is a standard size AA battery which functions with wireless charging. This means if you put the charging unit within a couple of meters of the where the remotes are stored, they will charge wirelessly. No plugs, wires or charging pads or finding that one little screwdriver to get the battery door off. Not only will the battery issue go away, but it’s a powerful motivator for kids to PUT THEIR STUFF AWAY!
Wearing your smart home?
So that’s what I found cool for my own uses and interests, but what’s next in smart homes? Moving beyond the technology and the functions or services it provides, one of the next steps in the progression is for the home to anticipate the resident’s needs, desires, or requests and accommodate them without that person having to ask or take action. In other words, can our house know we’re cold and adjust automatically? Or sense your mood and shift the lighting and music accordingly? In order to do this, the home needs biometric data, but how can it get that? Enter smart textiles, and specifically…smart underwear.
That’s right. Smart skivvies. By actually wearing a base layer made of smart textiles on a daily basis, your body can communicate directly with your home, allowing it to adjust to suit you. Additional applications here include collecting physiologic data around activities like exercise or athletic training. When I brought up smart underwear like what was showcased by Skiin, the prevailing response was somewhere between “eww” and “no thanks”. Really though, in the progression of privacy tradeoffs we’ve already made, just how far out is it?
If you’re already affiliated with Coldwell Banker and want to learn more about our Smart Home initiative, visit CB Exchange and search “Smart Home.”
If you would like to know what Coldwell Banker agents have access to, head to coldwellbanker.com/join and explore the possibilities of moving your business to Coldwell Banker.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog