Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals weigh in on what you need to know when navigating the real estate process.
Get your game on with a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner! Thanksgiving dinner in Northern California can be more traditional than typical, as many locals will have wild game on their tables on November 23.
Target Your Turkey
Turkey hunting is not just a sport for people who live in the great Nor-Cal area. Once turkey season is open, the forests and ranges are alive with hunters looking for their Thanksgiving turkey. Turkey season is open November 11 to December 10.
Open Range to the Oven Range
Wild turkey is very different from a bird purchased at the grocery store. The breast is much smaller and the legs are longer. The taste is much the same, but if the turkey is old, it can be tough and gamy. Picking the right bird for your traditional Thanksgiving dinner is determined by your experience. Recognizing the difference between a young turkey and an old one is learned from trying to chew the wrong choice a few seasons. Hunters who are true sportsmen always eat the game they take; this is a standing rule here in the North State.
The Call of the Wild
Turkey hunters all have their favorite “call.” Some hunters can imitate a turkey with a certain whistle they do with their tongue. Most hunters prefer a store-bought turkey call. Once tested and found to be irresistible to turkeys, the call goes into the hunters gear and used for years after.
A Healthy Experience
Hunting for a turkey for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner table is for many people preferable to choosing one in the grocery store meat department. Wild turkeys have free range, they have had no hormones to plump them up, and unlike store bought turkeys, there are no additives. Yes, the ones at the store are guaranteed and there are hundreds to choose from. There’s no need to go out in the cold, sitting and calling for hours unless you truly do want a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
This year, it is estimated that over 20,000 hunters will try to bag their bird, but only 10,000 will be successful. There will still be lots of sales at the super market.
If you think you’d like the experience of going out in the woods, trying your talents on a turkey call, and choosing the right bird, make sure to get your hunting license first. You will also need an upland game bird stamp. Both can be purchased from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Save time, energy and frustration by using smart home tech the next time you host family and friends for a holiday meal!
Guest post by June Lawrence
Whether your holiday entertaining features casual cocktail parties, full-fare, sit-down meals, or an open house for friends and neighbors – you can save time, energy and frustration with the latest home tech solutions that make holiday hosting easy. Smart home automation trends have made steady inroads in domestic consumer goods, home automation, and wireless entertainment market sectors, with expectations to surge beyond $3 billion in 2017.
Basic smart home tech starts with voice-controlled devices, wireless sensors, and semi-artificial intelligence platforms changing the way we entertain, work, and interact. These can reduce and help with chores that eat up your time and energy when hosting during the holidays. Whether you are menu planning, grocery shopping, stocking the bar, notifying attendees, or cleaning, there’s an app – or smart gadget to the rescue.
Holiday Shopping Helpers
Holiday menu shopping has never been simpler with The Shopping Button. As you scrutinize the pantry, use the voice recognition and recording features to create your holiday grocery list on-the-go. If this year’s holiday feast and lavish delicacies are a budget-buster, use this gadget to save money by scanning barcodes at your local, premium marketplace. Then connect and download your selections online for price comparisons and fast order placement.
New low-profile robotic vacuum cleaners include many updated features. Precise control directly from your smartphone takes care of last-minute clean-up or tidying between guest functions. Not only can you clean low-pile carpet or hardwood floors with a preprogrammed, recurring schedule, these labor-saving vacuums also dock and clean themselves.
Preparing the Kitchen
Smart home and kitchen automation systems are possibly the greatest application of smart technology for worry-free holiday hosting. Kitchen appliances that mate with a wide array of on-demand applications monitor and provide continuous feedback while preparing holiday dishes and desserts.
Smart kitchen appliances equipped with on-board intelligence, high-powered thermometers, and digital sensors tell you when to stir, flip, or add ingredients – like the pantelligent. Cook fast or slow, but cook smart with pressure cookers and crock pots monitored and controlled via smartphone.
For those with a bigger budget, consider swapping outdated kitchen appliances for new, connected cooking versions. A smart home hub provides seamless connectivity for multiple appliances; such as refrigerators that automatically send restock messages and smart ovens for perfect holiday pies. According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost for a home automation system is about $1,200.
Cooking the Main Dish
Presenting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey or a succulent Christmas ham can be worrisome. Consider a smart thermometer with presets for all types of meats and weights to take the anxiety out of over or undercooking the holiday bird. You’ll always know the temperature of your food and exactly when it’s done. The key is a Bluetooth connection to your phone and easy-to-use, icon-based apps.
Large parties, especially those held at an off-site venue, often require the same planning and coordination as small corporate events. Consider party planning appsthat feature automated email invitations; interactive, step-by-step mixology videos, and helpful reminders at every stage of your event planning timeline.
And not to worry, you can always keep the holiday cheer pouring with an Internet-connected wine cooler. Within 30 seconds, internal cameras will scan wine labels to correctly identify and chill each bottle independently and at the perfect temperature.
Even sensor-driven kitchen fixtures lend a helping hand with liquid refreshments. Taps that deliver steaming hot water on command or touchless faucets that turn off and on with hand gestures are quick plumbing installations that cost between $90 – $500.
For the perfect finishing touch to a great holiday party complete the holiday ambiance with lighting. Consider installing the Phillips Smart Hue line of wireless and smart lightbulbs. Go from warm white exposure for casual conversation to a holiday-inspired scene for singing, dancing, and drinks. Smart lighting is also a great way to establish different moods throughout the home for an array of holiday entertaining or age groups.
Why spend the holidays frantically keeping up with all there is to do when smart home tech can lend an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands for trouble-free holiday hosting!
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Planning and cooking everything for Thanksgiving can be very stressful. But, who says you have to do it all? Follow this guide to Thanksgiving meal planning to lighten the load this year. As with most things in life, it’s all in the preparation.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
There is more to mowing grass than just pushing the mower back and forth. Did you know there are correct ways to mow your grass? Plus, knowing what the proper cutting length is and what to do about lawn clippings are important in keeping a healthy lawn.
Mow at the Right Frequency
There is a correct way to mow a lawn to get the cleanest, well-kept look. By keeping the grass at the right length, it keeps your grass stress-free and healthy. Grass should be a little longer during the hot summer months, especially in places that are in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9b like Houston, Phoenix, New Orleans, and Tampa. When grass is permitted to grow a little longer, the roots grow deeper, and the grass gives the soil cover from the hot sun. It forms an insulation that lets the soil better maintain its moisture.
Mowing at the right frequency is key. During fall, the most common lawn mowing frequency in Houston is bi-weekly, or every two weeks, with 83 percent of Houstoniteschoosing this option. However, if you get lawn treatment and water more frequently, you may want to consider weekly.
Plus, the blade of the mower needs to be sharp. If the blade is dull, then it will shred the tops of the grass. Shredded grass tips can leave grass susceptible to diseases.
The Correct Way to Mow Your Grass
The first thing to do is to adjust the height of the mower so that the mower doesn’t butcher the grass. Also, if the lawn is shady, then it will benefit from setting the mower blades at a higher height. Because photosynthesis helps grass grow, a longer blade of grass has more surface for conducting photosynthesis. This is one secret to developing a healthy lawn when parts or all of it stay in the shade.
Also, don’t scalp the grass by cutting it too short. When a lawn is scalped, it becomes vulnerable to disease and invites weeds. By scalping a lawn, it exposes the soil, and the grass becomes sparse and weak. Plus, this gives the sun an opportunity to feed the weed seeds in the soil so that they start to grow. A lawn that is cut too short will have a system of poorly developed roots and this will cause damage to a lawn from hot days or drought.
The best rule of thumb is to follow the one-third rule: If more than a one-third of the grass blade is cut off, it can damage the grass.
Another tip is to mow when the grass is dry. When grass is mowed when wet, it’s not harmful to the lawn, but the results can look mediocre. This is because grass that’s wet will clog the mower and this makes it more difficult to mow. The grass also clumps and causes an uneven cutting pattern. In addition, if clumps of wet grass are left on the lawn, then it can kill the grass under the clumps.
When you mow in the middle of the day in the sun, it causes the lawn stress. The individual blades of grass will lose water quickly and recover more slowly. You can either mow in the cooler part of the day or mow the area when it’s covered in shade. This will let the grass rebound quicker. Also, when mowing, don’t always follow the same pattern. This can create ruts and compacts the soil. Compacted soil and ruts can cause unhealthy grass, which can provide places for weeds to start growing.
What to Do With Grass Clippings?
One problem that crops up is what do you do with the grass clippings when finished? A solution to that is called “grasscycling.” This is when you let the grass clippings lay on the lawn after it’s cut. When this is done, it can provide up to 25 percent of what the lawn needs as fertilizer. It also saves money on fees and yard waste bags. A specialized mulching mower isn’t necessarily required, but you can put a mulching blade on the mower that you already have. Grasscycling works well if your grass is mowed often. It can be done on grass that is cut when it’s longer — if you don’t have a mulcher, rake the piles of clippings flat after mowing and then run the mower back over them.
As you can see, there is more to mowing grass than just pushing the mower around the yard. If done correctly, it can revitalize your lawn.
Katie Kuchta is a marketing guru, gardening and outdoor living expert, and self-proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos. Follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Here are a few big-picture renovations you can make in surprisingly little time, whether you do it yourself or hire help.
Guest Post by Lauren White
Remodeling projects can seem like a distant fantasy when days off are usually consumed by errands and chores. What can you accomplish with the slim hours you have to spare? Here are a few big-picture renovations you can make in surprisingly little time, whether you do it yourself or hire help.
Time: 4-6 hours
Outdoor spaces are deceptively quick and affordable to make. If you have a half-day to spare, you can turn a patch of yard into a gorgeous patio before sundown. The processwill involve digging and leveling the area you need, preparing a base for proper drainage and laying your stones. Once the project is complete, you will have a relaxing outdoor living space to enjoy.
Keep your time down by choosing pavers or bricks that don’t need to be cut. Interlocking patio pavers come in many variations and they eliminate the dilemma of fitting awkward pieces together.
Time: 2-8 hours
It only takes a few hours to install a new kitchen backsplash, but it could take less time depending on the material you choose. If you paint the backsplash, it will take mere hours of preparation and application. Painting costs as little as $30. If you use peel-and-stick ceramic tiles or rolls of faux metal, it will take roughly the same amount of time.
If you have more than a few hours, make a stand-out backsplash using an adhesive tile mat and individual tiles. The adhesive mat will ensure that heavy tile materials don’t fall off, and requires less curing time than traditional, wet adhesive. Explore your tile options in HomeAdvisor’s resource center.
Weekend Window Replacement
Time: 2-3 days
High-efficiency windows are a strong investment, whether you are planning to sell or stay. These windows save homeowners anywhere from 10% to 30% in home energy costs. Efficiency is a top priority for today’s buyers, and this project has over 70% return on investment.
Removing old windows, installing heavy panes and finishing up with framing is a complex process. Professionals can do it in a matter of days, where it might take you much longer. Hiring a pro is worth it, because this renovation will put money back in your pocket when it is done right.
Time: 1-3 days
In most cases, you’ll want to hire a professional to replace your countertops. Installation and cutting needs to be very precise, and most counter slabs weigh up to and over 400 lbs! With the right amount of muscle, you can finish this job in 1-3 days. Some materials and pre-fabricated pieces can even be installed in 3-7 hours.
Upgrading your countertops can do wonders to improve your kitchen and raise your home value. Granite, for example, can handle a lot of wear-and-tear. If your kitchen is like the Union Station of your house, this low-maintenance, high-resistance material is perfect for your counters.
For the adventurous weekend warrior, check out these countertops you can make yourself.
Two-Week Hardwood Floor Refinishing
Time: 2-14 days
Flooring has a big impact on the appearance and value of your home. If your hardwood floors are in bad shape, you’ve probably already thought of refinishing them. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, you’re going to need at least two days.In fact, you may need as many as fourteen.
You will need one day for sanding and one day per layer of polyurethane finish. Each layer will need 24 hours to dry. Two to three layers of finish are recommended. If you’re going to stain the wood, add another day for that between sanding and finishing.
This project may take longer, but the results are worth it. Refinishing seals the wood against rot and moisture, and adds appeal for homebuyers. They will be more impressed by a glossy shine than rough, exposed wood. If you’re not sure it’s the right time for your floors, check out these answers to common questions to help you decide.
Investing in your property can mean a faster sale, or will at least give you a few extra luxuries to enjoy. See what you can accomplish with an afternoon or your next three-day weekend, and format your budget using these helpful cost guides.
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.