Green. Have you ever met someone that doesn’t like the color green? It might not be their first choice in wall paint, but years of research has primarily confirmed our brain’s naturally positive reaction to just about every shade of green. Be it the calm of a dark forest or emerald green, or the stimulation that comes with a bright lime green or chartreuse; the color carries very few negative connotations. Hold the paint brush though. An even better way to surround yourself with green without painting the walls is keeping a few house plants.
Your Brain on Plants
Many studies have been done on the way nature affects the brain and not a single one had anything bad to say. Most people are aware that nature makes us happy and much of that has to do with being surrounded by so much green. Bringing nature into your home or office is a great way to enjoy those benefits without having to go outside.
No green thumb? Fear not! Turns out placebos work almost as well in this regard. A highly realistic artificial plant in your line of vision will actually do the trick. Just don't forget to pretend to water it.
“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them” - Mitch Hedburg
Your Body on Plants
Those positive effects on your brain will trickle down to your body. In hospitals that had real or artificial plants in the rooms of patients saw that those patients had lower blood pressure, asked for less pain medication, and were often released sooner.
Unfortunately, to feel the full benefits of your body on plants the fake ones won’t do the trick since plastic doesn’t photosynthesize. Though photosynthesis on the scale of a house plant only produces trace amounts of oxygen, that isn't the only thing plants do for the air we breathe in our homes or offices. Although studies have shown that some plants can remove volatile organic compounds from the air, the jury is still out on how much of an impact they actually make on indoor air pollution. We do know, however, that plants increase humidity in the home. When you water your plants, they return the favor. Plants release up to 97% of the moisture they take in. A study by Washing State University saw a reduction in dust by about 20%, which is especially great if you don't like dusting. Increased humidity is also good for your skin and your lungs. It reduces the likelihood of catching the common cold and other respiratory diseases. It is recommended to have one medium to large plant for every 100 square feet to feel the effects.
Plant Killer, Qu'est-ce Que C'est?
It is possible to keep house plants even if you are forgetful and don't have much time, you just have to choose the right ones. To get the most out of the mental and physical benefits, plants with large green leaves are recommended. Here are a few to get you started.
Now go forth, give your brain a boost, and create a living room or office jungle!
Article Written and Researched by Victoria Buckwash
We talk with Chris on the benefits of pricing below market value in a hot market.
"We should talk about is the strategy of pricing your home when you're going to list it.
One of the things that a good agent's going to do is they're going to run a comparative market analysis. This will determine the value of your home based on how other similar homes have sold.
Most people obviously want the most money as possible for their home and as you've heard that this is a sellers market. It really is for the first time home buyer price range- between 100k-150k on up to even 250,000 that they're going pretty quick.
Say you're at market value, your house is worth $240,000 market value. 60% of the buyers out there in that price range are probably going to come take a look at it. If you move it up 10% you're down to 30 if you're 15% above purchase price, you're down to 10%. Which is really nothing and there is going to sit. If you're 10% below values, I said 240 so that's $2,400 it's really not a lot of money. Right? 75% of the buyers taking a look at it. Go even lower and then suddenly everyone that's in the market for a home in that price range is looking at your property. You're going to end up with multiple offers and this is considering we have priced it correctly.
What I have seen with multiple offers happening, you get numerous benefits. Personally right now in this market, in the first time home buyer range, I think under pricing a property is much more valuable tool than pricing it right at value.
Pricing a 10% below value you're going to have 75% of the buyers actually taking a look at it.
Now on a $240,000 home, marking it off $24,000 seems stupid and I would never recommend that
However, marketing it a few percentile under value, say 2% on $240,000 home, which would be $4,800. That doesn't seem like a lot of money now. . And you're going to end up with more than likely multiple offers.
I wrote an offer last week and we chose this strategy. The property was marked about $10,000 under market value. There were showings all day long. They had over 10 offers within 24 hours My folks were willing to write $15,000 over asking price with no inspections and still did not get it. Spoke to another agent we ran into at during our showing, they actually started offering where my folks ended and no inspections and they didn't get it either. In a hot seller's market, under pricing strategically can result in a bidding war amongst buyers.
Any time you have people competing for your product, you're in a better position than if it's just a one-on-one. "
Open houses were seen as one of the main pillars of advertising homes decades ago. With consumers more sophisticated and all the information about a home readily available online, open houses now tend to be informal showings. Here are three ways to make the most of your open house
Be sure to allow ample time to get the word out. Plan your open house two weeks out. Have your Realtor create a Facebook event and share the link on your on social media accounts. People need enough time to keep their calendar open, but not have to wait so long they forget about it. The added bonus to advertising two weeks out is you may get someone interested before then!
2. Tell the Neighbors
Our favorite line when reaching out to the neighborhood is "Now is the perfect time to pick your neighbor!" Nosy neighbors are notorious visitors to open houses. Usually they 'just want to see the inside'. You'll have them visiting anyway, you might as well invite them with open arms and ask for them to find the buyer!
3. Pick a Different Day
It may have made sense to have open houses all day on Sunday 40 years ago-but times have changed, and so have work schedules. You know the beat of your neighborhood-when are most people about? Is it Sunday morning, or perhaps Friday afternoon as people get off work. We're a big fan of Saturday open houses to be different from the crowd. Sunday isn't set in stone, try a different day and see how it works!
No matter what, it's important to remember even the best planned open house can have low traffic. If you don't succeed the first time try again!
Do you have a preferred tip for Open Houses? Tell us in the comments!
It's February and hearts are abound. They have been hung in windows, on walls and plastered on bags of candy. Not real ones though, that would be gross and messy, just imagine the liability. As we well know, the hearts that seem persistently in our line of vision this time of year bear very little resemblance to our actual hearts. So, why has the ubiquitous “heart shape” become the symbol of Valentine’s Day and our preferred representation of love itself? Turns out we’re as unsure about the origins of the ideograph as you are about your upcoming blind date.
Sultry Sex Symbol?
This plant was mostly used as a seasoning but was reputed to have another use as a contraceptive. Yep, ancient Greeks and Romans seasoned their food with birth control, but don’t go looking for it to sprinkle on your Valentine’s Day surf and turf. This plant was so popular that it is now extinct.
Expression of Religious Love?
The origin story that really takes the cake (or chocolates if you will) by way of likelihood is that the heart shape we hold so close to our, uh, hearts exists solely because some medieval scientist or philosopher guessed wrong. Our ancient ancestors started performing autopsies as far back as 367 BC and scientific research of the human anatomy continued for a few hundred years. However, research stopped around 200 AD and didn't start again until 1091, leaving a gap of about a thousand years in our knowledge of the human body.
Sex symbol? Expression of religious love? Debunked science? When we get to the heart of it, does it really matter? Let’s just be glad that we have love to express and a universal method of expressing it. Happy Valentines Day!
Researched and written by Victoria Buckwash
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Ah, winter! There is an undeniable charm to be found in the beauty of ice. Icicles hanging from trees, frosted grass in the morning sun, frozen ponds, lakes, and waterfalls, even frozen castles. Ice in your pipes, however, is the antithesis of charming.
The most noticeable sign of a frozen pipe is a lack of water flow. You turn on the faucet or flush the toilet and it becomes immediately clear that something is missing. Other signs include bulging of the pipe, frost on the pipe, or even an odor coming from the faucet.
What to do About It
First thing to do is find the freeze; use the signs above to locate the culprit. If you notice evidence of damage to the pipe proceed no further without shutting off the water supply to that pipe or the entire house, you might even want to just give your plumber a call at this point. If there is damage, most of the mess is going to be the result of the thawing process. If there is no damage to the pipes, leaving the water on while you thaw can actually help move things along.
Next you’ll want to open the faucet before you start. Thawing the freeze is going to result in steam and water, meaning more pressure. Leaving the faucet opens gives this pressure an outlet and prevents a potential burst.
Now you can start thawing your pipes. Always work your way from the open faucet down to prevent a buildup of pressure. Failing to start from the faucet can lead to a burst pipe! The method you use is mostly going to be decided by where the freeze is located and how accessible it is. An exposed pipe can be pretty easy to tend to. Firstly, NEVER use an open flame to thaw your pipes, this is a fire hazard that can lead to more damage than it’s worth.
One of the easiest ways to solve your problem is a hair dryer, simply point it at the freeze and wait. A portable space heater or heating lamp will also do the trick in most instances. Same concept as the hair dryer, point it in the direction of the freeze and wait for the magic to happen. Wrapping the frozen pipe in hot towels is a slower method but can also be effective. Lastly, for accessible pipes, you can wrap them in electrical heating tape. The most convenient part of heating tape is that it can be left on the pipes and plugged in as needed, making it not only an effective way to thaw your pipes, but also an effective way to prevent a future freeze.
What if the Frozen Pipe is not Accessible?
If you cannot physically access your frozen pipe, not all hope is lost, but it does prevent you from seeing if the pipes have sustained any damage prior to starting the thawing process. What you do next is going to be determined by your comfort level. One thing you can do to thaw a pipe you can't get to is crank up the heat. If you know the location of the freeze, you can also try directing an infrared lamp at the wall behind which the pipe is located. Another DIY option for an inaccessible pipe is to make it accessible. If you have the know how, cut out the section of drywall between you and the freeze then use your desired method. Of course, never do something outside of your comfort zone and call a plumber instead.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” - Ben Franklin
If you would simply prefer to circumvent the entire thawing process your best bet is to do everything you can to prevent your pipes from catching a chill in the first place. If you have exposed, uninsulated pipes the temperature only needs to drop to 20 degrees Fahrenheit to run the risk of freezing. Keep your garage door closed and your cabinets open. If your garage houses water lines it is best to keep the door closed as often as possible. Conversely, leaving open the cabinets inside your home that house pipes will help keep them warm. Make sure your home is properly insulated, especially the basement, the attic, and crawl spaces. You can also insulate the pipes themselves. Check for cracks in the walls where pipes live and repair them right away. On the coldest nights, allow your faucets to drip cold water. Just the tiniest bit of water flow will do volumes to keep everything from freezing over. If you’re concerned about your water bill, bear in mind that the damage caused by a burst pipe can easily surpass $5,000 dollars, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. As warm weather comes to a close, be sure to drain and shut off outdoor water lines as well.
In most aspects of home ownership prevention is your best measure. It also wouldn't hurt to check with your insurance company to verify what your policy covers. Some policies will only cover the damage to the pipes and not the water damage cause by the resulting leak. Often times you will find that you are only covered if it is clear you did everything in your power to prevent the catastrophe in the first place.
Protect your pipes, protect your home, and try to stay warm this winter!
Written and Researched by Victoria Buckwash
We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth. It was told to us countless times in grade school as we sat at our desks and drew hand turkeys with crayons, and topped them with little pilgrim hats and feathers. However, what's more interesting than Thanksgiving’s sordid past is the history surrounding the dishes that make up our November feast. This post-harvest celebration is stuffed with more traditions than the turkey itself. Did you ever stop to ask yourself where all these delectable dishes came from, aside from the oven? Have you pondered the origin of your pumpkin pie as you piled it high with whipped cream? Well, even if you didn’t you’re going to know by the end of this article. Come the holiday you can be the savviest person at the table as you drizzle information over everyone’s meal in lieu of gravy. Just kidding, don’t skip the gravy.
These Turkeys Were Made for Walking
If we are going to expound upon the origins of some of Thanksgivings most popular dishes we may as well start with the main course; the turkey. Brined, fried, baked, or tofu, just about everyone has this 11 million year old bird at the center of their Thanksgiving table. It is Turkey Day after all. But, why is it the main course you ask? The answer is simpler than you would expect. Essentially it bakes down to convenience. Wild turkeys are native to North America. When Europeans first made contact with the Americas it is estimated that some 10 million turkeys were roaming the land. As settlers began raising their own livestock, cows and goats were kept for their milk and not often eaten. Chickens were kept for their eggs and also not often eaten. Pigs were the primary meat source of colonial Americans but if you’re throwing a party you don’t want to eat what you already eat on a regular basis. Enter the turkey, delicious and not really good for much else than eating, and one bird could easily feed an entire family.
In 1863 Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. By this time novelized images of the turkey as the main course had spread nationwide. The toughest part of meeting the growing demand for turkeys on this day was getting the turkeys to the people. Before refrigerated trains and trucks the only way to get them there was to take them for a walk. A very slow, long walk over several hundred miles. Vermont turkeys were marched to Boston, Kentucky and Tennessee turkeys were marked to Richmond. Turkeys dont really have a driving sense of urgency by nature, or maybe they knew they were on their death march, whatever the case, the average pace of a turkey walk was about one mile per hour. To make matters worse turkeys aren't very bright. As the sun sets, they will roost for the night in bushes and trees. The problem with this is that often times the turkeys would confuse an overcast sky, or especially shady woods with night fall and would prematurely settle down to roost. Once they decided they were done for the day “nothing would induce them to continue the march to the slaughtering pens.” Drovers would often travel miles out of their way to avoid densely shaded woods in hopes of keeping their turkeys moving. “Turkey Trots”, as they were called in Texas, remained the norm up until the 1930’s when commercialized farming and more efficient means of transportation arose.
Pumpion to Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkins have been cultivated in Central America since 5500 BC. The first known mention of Pumpkins in Europe dates back to 1536. The squash quickly took its place in English baking culture, but you're not very likely to find the custard based pumpkin pie we serve at Thanksgiving on an English dinner table. Pumpion pie, was made with pumpkins and apples, baked with rosemary, thyme, marjoram ( a type of mint), cinnamon, cloves and other spices. Early colonists brought pumpkins back with them on the Mayflower, but a lack of ovens and flower meant that it would still be some time until pumpkin pie as we know it became a popular dish. In 1796 American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons, was published. It was the first cookbook to be published here and it contains two recipes for pumpkin pie, one very similar to what we serve up today.
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Tex or Mex? How did it get here?
Trying to glean the origins of one of America’s favorite dishes mostly felt like swimming circles in a bowl of spices, meat, tomatoes, and obscure history. Though written record of the phrase “chile con carne” doesn't actually crop up until the early 1800’s, it is popularly believed that chili has been served in what is now Texas for a few hundred years before that time. But where did it come from? One thing we can be sure of is that it didn't come from Mexico. In the search for chili’s origins an account from a Spanish Conquistador in 1568 was suspected to be a potential source of chili. He wrote that unlucky Spaniards who were caught by the Aztecs ended up sacrificed, butchered and stewed along with tomatoes and chilies. It is unlikely however, that this dish resembles what we know as chili.
We do know that chili is not Tex-Mex, it's mostly just Tex and, actually, not at all Mex.
Most of us here in the North East think of chili as a cold weather dish, warm and spicy, the perfect pick me up for our winter blues; the weather turns and one of the first things we do is make an enormous pot of chili which we freeze and use to sustain ourselves for much of the cold season. However, the common consensus is that the foundations for chili as we know it were brought over from The Canary Islands, a subtropical chain of islands that rarely sees temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Under the control of Spain in the 1700’s, people of the Canary Islands were recruited to move to the part of New Spain that is now San Antonio, Texas bringing this spicy, cumin filled dish with them.
Divine Intervention? Or Chili Queens?
As far as written documentation of chili goes, the most reliable accounts of chili being served speaks of the “Chili Queens” of the Military Plaza Mercado. They made their stew at home and sold it out of colorful carts to everyone from soldiers to tourists in the 1800’s. They became a staple of the Alamo City. It was considered the end of an era when most of the “Chili Queens” were put out of business in 1937 due to their inability to keep up with new sanitary standards enforced in restaurants.