Three Healthy Holiday Meal Cleanup Tips

I was very thankful this holiday for the new Whole Foods in my town that enabled me for the first time to have a completely organic Thanksgiving meal. However, a few days before our turkey day celebration, I realized that I had forgotten some critical recipes that I felt would make all my good intentions for naught – especially the one that involved cleaning my oven in preparation for cooking all of this yummy and nourishing food.

I’ve wanted to ditch my cabinet full of toxic cleaning supplies forever and replace with green eco-friendly products. So instead of picking up some ready-made cleaning supplies, I decided in the spirit of the holiday to brew up some batches of natural cleaning solutions. The most important of these would help me tackle that one space in my home that often gets neglected in my cleaning routine.

I was surprised to find when I did a search that I didn’t need to make another run to the store and had everything necessary at home – just water and baking soda. I’m a self-professed cleaning nut so it pains me to show you how grotesque my oven has gotten since the last time I cleaned it (can’t remember when that was and I’m sure after you look at the picture you’ll wonder what the rest of my house looks like), but I felt before-and-after photos were necessary to show you this really works! No more scrubbing than when I used Easy Off, and I had the peace of mind as we ate our meal that all those harmful toxins weren’t ending up in our bodies.

A few other cleaning recipes that I added to mix of that dreadful post-Thanksgiving meal cleanup:

The Hippy Homemakers Recipe for Dish Soap – I did include the lavender and lemon essential oils since I had them around. Worked just like Hippy Homemakers professed. I’ll definitely be using this dish soap recipe from now on!

Earth Easy’s All Purpose Cleaner Recipe – In addition to the vinegar, baking soda and water solution, I made a batch of Thieves Oil and added to my concoction. 1) I’m not that fond of the smell of vinegar; 2) there are so many health benefits. I added 32 drops since my container was 32 ounces (1 drop per ounce).

Image via

BeforeCleaningOven 300x225 Three Healthy Holiday Meal Cleanup Tips

My gross oven before cleaning

AfterCleaningOven 240x300 Three Healthy Holiday Meal Cleanup Tips

My oven after cleaning with eco-friendly solution

The post Three Healthy Holiday Meal Cleanup Tips appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

What’s the New Green?

In a conversation the other day, a group of us started talking about how the term ‘green’ is so dated. I never thought about it until that moment but had to agree that the term hasn’t evolved much. Inevitably, we all started brainstorming what new term should replace “green” but never found that perfect word or phrase.

The conversation did get me wondering what groundbreaking innovations are taking place in the green space and how they will impact our homes in the future.

Now I’m an ideas person – not an implementer – just the ideas.  I love a sitting around trying to unearth a solution to a problem. I also have an appreciation for those minds that go beyond the idea and actually bring it to life.

When I heard about this one new development, it was one of those moments that you say to yourself – how did I not think of that?! But thankfully a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame did and not me (otherwise it would still be mulling around in my head). This team is taking solar to a mind-blowing level and doing it in such a simple way… paint! Solar paint, to be more precise.

Imagine, when this material is fully developed and ready for mass consumption, how many homes and fences in our neighborhoods are going to get a new paint job! And that paint is going to produce solar energy to power those homes – so cool!

Until that day does come, here’s an article about the difference of eco-friendly paints and traditional paint and a list of eco-friendly paints.

The post What’s the New Green? appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

A vacation home that has it all

Packing up the car to head to the lake was our family tradition every Memorial Day weekend. It was a holiday spent with my very large extended family members. We were a large crew that never had enough house to accommodate all of us so when I came across this new listing of Christy Curtis and Dwight McCarthy of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage I started daydreaming about how amazing it would have been to hang out under the Lake Tahoe stars enjoying the view from this patio with my family.

Check out more of this exceptional listing, which by the way was designed by legendary Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan. The estate is also known as “Bow Bay” on Tahoe’s Gold Coast.

Seven Staging Secrets From a Pro

I recently heard some great tips from Susanita de Diego, broker/owner with Coldwell Banker Your Calgary Home Selling Team; about simple staging tips that could help boost a home’s appeal and give homeowners a competitive edge when selling their home. Your own agent will likely suggest a lot of similar things, so I wanted to share so you would gain some insight into why these ideas make sense.

  • Stage rooms with one purpose.  Rooms that have many uses can confuse or even deter homebuyers, so staging rooms with one purpose is vital.  Determine who your most likely target market will be, whether it’s young professionals with no kids, families, or even empty nesters.  Then present your areas to fit their needs.  If you’ve been using a room as a guest room/kids playroom/home office, pick the one use that best suits your buyers. 
  • Tackle the easy “do-it-yourself” projects. Spruce up your home by updating kitchen and bathroom fixtures and updating cabinet hardware.  Add a fresh coat of paint in a neutral palate that won’t distract from your home’s features.

    A fresh coat of neutral paint goes a long way

  • Focus on the living areas.  Potential buyers should envision themselves entertaining friends and family in the living areas of the home.  Make sure those areas feel as spacious as possible by removing any unnecessary furniture to allow for easy traffic flow.  
  • Make sure the master bedroom appeals to both sexes.  Remember that the master bedroom is a room that a couple will be sharing, so the décor should appeal to both sexes.  It should feel like a calm and peaceful refuge, not a frilly boudoir.  Remove any feature that seems too gender-specific and paint the walls a neutral colour.
  • De-clutter & depersonalize. Buyers want to picture their family living in a home, not the previous owners.  You’re going to be moving anyway, so start now by packing away family photos, personal mementos knickknacks. Store away valuables under lock and key. Some property owners find they need to store some of their belongings off premises to create an open feel.
  • Furnish the home, but don’t overdo it.  While an empty house may look spacious, it’s often hard for buyers to visualize their belongings in a home if they’re just looking at bare walls and floors. Leave the basic components that allow the viewer to define each room.
  • Don’t forget the outside spaces.  First impressions can play a key role in a consumer’s decision-making process, so don’t neglect your home’s curb appeal.  Make sure the home’s exterior is inviting by trimming the bushes, mowing the lawn and painting faded window trim.  Buyers will appreciate the seller’s efforts with the yard work, and will tend to assume that the same attention to detail has been devoted throughout the property.  

 Photo provided by sarae.

Technorati Tags:

Coldwell Banker Listing for Tennis Pro, Mats Wilander, Featured in Wall Street Journal

Todd P. Conklin and Stephanie Reed of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties recently landed a listing that has every ski and wildlife fanatic drooling: the 80-acre Sun Valley, Idaho estate and ranch home to former World No. 1 Swedish tennis player, Mats Wilander.

Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties Listing in Sun Valley, Idaho

The Wall Street Journal took notice today, and featured the truly spectacular home in its Private Properties section, among an exclusive collection of the nation’s top listings.

Wilander says that both the home and its surroundings are breathtaking and while he is sad to bid the home goodbye, he knows that someone else will fall in love with the estate and much as he and his family has.

With nearly every luxury amenity available, the home is also perfect for those seeking the simple things like enjoying a cup of hot cocoa by the fire. The 10,000 square-foot main house has seven bedrooms and eight and half baths, as well as endless features including a chef’s kitchen, multiple fireplaces, sauna, billiards room, gym, music room and a wine cellar. Outside facilities include a pond, ice rink, lap pool, hot tub, patios and a guest house.

To take a tour of the Mats Wilander Listing in Sun Valley.


Technorati Tags: , ,

Taking a tour of some famous homes

I don’t know about you, but I love to take home tours when I’m on vacation or even in my hometown of Savannah, Ga., when I have visitors from out of town. Related side bar: For those of you who have never visited Savannah, it should definitely be on your weekend getaway list. Be sure to check out the home tour at the Owens-Thomas House, the tour guides that I’ve had are hysterical and provide fascinating details about the Hostess City’s historic district.

Here are four of my favorite homes that I’ve had the opportunity to visit and tour while traveling:

The Grand Trianon at Versailles. Less grand than The Palace but not as modest as the Petit Trianon, where Marie Antoinette preferred to stay, I found this place magical. Everything had this amazing tone of rusty pink, whether inside or outside. And when the wind blew while walking on the breezeway you could smell the fragrant lavender growing abundantly in the surrounding landscape. 

Breezeway at The Grand Trianon


Magnificent Room in The Grand Trianon

Rembrandt’s home in Amsterdam. Not only was this where a legend lived, but where some of the world’s greatest pieces of art were brought to life. The live demonstrations at the home didn’t disappoint; it felt as if I had stepped back in time and could smell the paint drying on canvas.

Front view of Rembrandt's home


The live demonstrations were wonderful at the Rembrandt home

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Imagine being the only child to George and Edith Vanderbilt and growing up in America’s largest home? Talk about having to set some rules for an afternoon game of hide-and-seek: “OK kids, you can only go into half of the rooms in the house today” (which would be mere 125 rooms).
A grand entrance at the Biltmore


Getting up close and personal with the home's architecture












Hemingway’s home in Key West. Crazy to think he bought this amazing home in Old Town Key West for a mere $8,000 but then went on to spend $20,000 on an in-ground swimming pool when running water wasn’t even available in Key West at the time.

Key West home of Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway


Next city up on the travel docket is New Orleans, where I’ll be traveling to the Coldwell Banker Generation Blue Experience. Anyone have recommendations for fabulous homes to tour?




Technorati Tags:

U.S. News and World Report Ranks Best Places to Retire

For many of us, starting the New Year means getting back to the grind as we put away our party shoes and head back to work. However, some lucky retirees are hanging up their working hats for good, and thanks to U.S. News and World Report  (as featured on Yahoo!) they now have a list of the ideal spots to spend their golden years.

Ranking the 10 best places to retire in 2012, U.S. News factored in weather, affordable housing and nearby recreational activities in choosing the best spots for every kind of retiree – from those who care most about pleasant, seasonal weather (head to Flagstaff, Ariz.) to those who strive to be environmentally friendly (how about Walnut Creek, Calif.)?

We spoke with Michael Schmidt of Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies in Traverse City, Mich., which was awarded the best retiree haven for water views on a budget, to find out what makes this town special.

“Traverse City is somewhat of a hidden gem with some of the nicest freshwater lakes and beaches in the world, fantastic wineries and most importantly such a great mix of people,” he said. “It offers a diverse group of people congregating together all year long with many celebrations of food, music, and our beautiful areas.  If you love the outdoors, you will love Traverse City; we have 10 golf courses within an hour distance and at least five different ski resorts to choose from during the winter time.  Additionally, we have one of the most accessible airports in the country that can get you to Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit or New York in little over an hour’s time if you desire to hit the big city.”

So what can you find in Traverse?  This lovely three-bedroom home sitting on a beautiful shared beach is less than $300,000, featuring two fireplaces, a neighborhood park and a tennis court.

Traverse City, Mich.  – Voted Best Water Views on a Budget:

  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
  • 2,684 Square Feet
  • $299,000


Below are few more retiree-worthy listings in some of the top ranked cities. Where is your dream place to retire?

Port Charlotte, Fla. – Voted Best Place for Affordable Housing: 

Heritage Oak Park Villa in Port Charlotte, FL

  • 2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
  • 1,364 Square Feet
  • $133,900

Santa Fe, N.M. – Voted Best Place for Recreation and Culture:

  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
  • 1,185 Square Feet
  • $199,500

    Property for sale with southwestern charm in Santa Fe, NM

Technorati Tags: