Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

Thanksgiving is an annual national holiday commemorating a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621.  This day, which is used to express gratitude, is observed in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November.  One of the greatest traditions of Thanksgiving is that of a family dinner, which means menu planning is a must.  Here are some Thanksgiving menu ideas that will fill your table and the appetite of your guests:

Main Course

The traditional main entré for Thanksgiving is, of course, turkey.  If this isn’t quite your taste, you may want to consider serving ham instead.   This is a popular alternative and is a pleasing main course for your dinner guests.

Side Dishes

When it comes to serving a meal, the side dishes are almost as important as the entree.  Popular Thanksgiving side dishes include mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rolls and cranberries served with cranberry sauce.  If you have a large family, it may be a good idea to prepare several side dishes so that everyone will be able to find something that they like.

Dessert

What meal would be complete without the perfect dessert?  Whether it’s a pumpkin pie, chocolate pie or other favorite flavor, this traditional treat is common at the conclusion of a Thanksgiving dinner.  If you are planning for a large gathering, consider serving several different pies in an effort to accommodate a variety of taste buds.

The Benefits Of A Homemade Meal

Believe it or not, some may choose to dine at a restaurant on Thanksgiving instead of preparing a homemade meal.  Although dining out may be easier, it cannot replace the taste and camaraderie of a family dinner at home.  Many may shy away from preparing a large Thanksgiving meal because it seems intimidating to cook for so many people.  However, with the right recipe, cookware and a little know how, your next holiday meal can be a breeze.

Rounding Up The Perfect Recipes

If you know what to cook, but still need a little help with the details, consider looking for the perfect recipes to turn your meal into a masterpiece.  While many recipes are available online, many turn to cookbooks and/or women’s specialty magazines for popular recipe and preparation ideas.  As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, there is no shortage of publications containing ideas for creating the perfect meal.  Now that you have the perfect menu idea, it’s time to start putting your plan into motion.  By planning ahead, your Thanksgiving meal can be stress free and enjoyable for you as well as for everyone who joins you.  And don’t lose sight of the reason for your efforts – a time for family and friends to celebrate and give thanks.

 

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Selling Your Home During The Holidays

The process of selling your home at any time of the year can be a stressful experience, but if you are trying to sell your home during the busy holiday season it may seem to be almost impossible.  The battle to keep your home in model condition and host open houses while at the same time entertaining friends and family—all the work can seem like a difficult task.  So what can you do to make selling your home at this time of year less stressful while still keeping your property in salable condition?  Here are a few tips to make it easier!

Keep The Decorations To A Minimum

Even if your home is usually the brightest on the block, you will definitely want to tone down the seasonal decorations on both the interior and exterior of your home.  You still want to make it easy for potential home buyers to see themselves in your home, and decorations can be a huge distraction from the features of your home, especially if the potential buyers are not of the same religious and cultural background as you.  If you do decorate, keep the decorations tasteful and modern.  Think of how a model home would be decorated for the season, rather than your own personal taste.

Remember The Basics Of Home Sales

When selling your home, the advice you receive from your REALTOR® includes tips such as keeping your home clean and clutter free, and this should not be forgotten just because of the holidays.  Keep personal items such as gifts and homemade crafts out of sight, and be sure to tidy up promptly after parties and events.   When hosting an open house, using the sense of smell can always be an effective strategy, and by giving it a holiday twist you can really give the effect of a cozy family home.  Bake some holiday cookies and throw on a pot of mulled wine before the potential buyers show up.

Overall, selling your home during the holiday season can present you with considerable challenges, but by trying to balance the needs of both your family and your potential buyers you can make this period as stress free as possible.

 

Choosing A REALTOR® You Can Trust

When it comes to shopping for a home, especially if you are buying for the first time, having an agent on your side is extremely helpful.  But if you have never bought a house before, you may have no idea where to begin finding a REALTOR® that you can really trust to help you with this important decision.

If you open the phone book you will see a long list of names, and very little help to figure out which one to call.  There are a few ways you can narrow down the field of real estate agents to find someone you can trust.

Ask Your Friends And Family

To find a real estate agent you can trust, start with the people you trust—your family and friends.  Of course, the best people to ask are those who have bought a home recently, as the experience they had will still be fresh in their memory.  Ask them how happy they were with the service they received, and if they would recommend you hire the same agent.

Ask Others In The Field

Another source of good referrals is through some of the people you may know who work in related fields, such as mortgage brokers and insurance agents.  They often know many different agents and work with them regularly.  Ask them to provide you with a few names of the people they would trust most with their own home-buying process.

Meet With The Possible Agents

When you have created a short list of possible agents to hire, call a few of them and make an appointment.  Sit down and discuss your home buying plans with them.  Ask them about what sort of services they provide as well as things like their commission structure.  Treat this interview the same way you would in hiring any other professional to handle important business for you.  A good REALTOR® will be happy to answer your questions openly and honestly.

Take the time to meet with several agents before you decide who you would like to represent your interests.  That way you can compare the different experiences and see who you feel most comfortable with.  The agent’s experiences in real estate, their dedication to their clients and, of course, the rapport you develop with them are all important considerations.  Remember, you are looking for someone you can really trust.

Your REALTOR® is your home-buying partner and needs to be someone who is there for you and knows all the ins and outs of home buying.  Take your time and choose the right person for the job.

 

Finding A Neighborhood With Great Schools

If you have children, or even if you don’t yet but plan to in the future, schools are something you will need to take into consideration when you search for a new home.  In most areas, certain boundaries define which schools your children will go to, and switching to a different school can be complicated and expensive in many cases.

Fortunately, finding a great neighborhood with good quality schools is not difficult, thanks to the internet.  Online ratings and reviews of schools can help you to make the right call when it comes to finding a home that will offer your children a quality education.

Start With The District

The first thing you should look into is which school district you are considering moving into.  Find out if the schools in that district tend to be highly rated, and what kind of test scores are generally seen among students in the district schools.  All of this information is readily available online.

The school district Web site will be able to tell you which school your children would go to if you were to buy a particular house.  There is usually a boundary map you can check, or you can enter your address and search to find out which school is the right one.

Check The Reviews

The internet allows people to review everything from appliances to doctors—and schools are no exception.  Search for your school of choice online and you will find plenty of reviews from parents whose children have attended the school.  Getting an unbiased opinion of the school will help you to get an idea of what you can expect.

When You Love The Neighborhood, But Not The School

If you really want a particular house in a particular neighborhood, but aren’t too happy with the schools, you can look into your other options.  Most school districts have a system by which you can choose to send your child to a different school.  This usually involves either particular needs that can’t be met by the in-area school, or a fee or lottery system to allow your child to attend the school of your choice.  Find out what the rules are in your school district.

Your other option is to look into private schools.  This is, of course, the more expensive choice, but should you select a private school you will have the freedom to live wherever you like, without worrying about what school your child will be slotted to attend.

 

Five Things You Should Put In Storage While Selling Your Home

When your home is on the market but you are still living there, you can’t very well make it a model show home.  Still, there are a few things you should think about putting in storage while your home is for sale in order to make it as appealing as possible to buyers.  Here are the top five things you should consider putting out of sight.

Excess Family Photos

Buyers want to picture themselves in the house, and a slew of family photos hung all over the place can make that difficult.  If all they can see is you and your family, they won’t be able to easily envision their own family there.

Your Liquor Cabinet

A nice wine rack or a few bottles displayed near the wet bar are fine, but if you keep a lot of liquor in the house put it somewhere out of sight.  While it may seem illogical, buyers who share different lifestyle views might be put off by it.

Your Pet’s Toys

Chewed up tennis balls, smelly stuffed animals, and half-digested bones are part of life with a dog, but people coming to see your house will find it unattractive.  It will also tell them your pet has the run of the house, and they will wonder what damage might have been done.

Signs Of Repairs

Put away the plunger and similar items when you are selling.  It will prevent buyers from wondering if something is wrong with the plumbing, even if you only keep it around as a precaution.

Anything That Clutters A Room

So the extra bedroom is used as an office/exercise room/guest bedroom?  Versatility is great, but all that stuff in there will just look like there isn’t enough space in the house for everything you—or a buyer—needs.  Get rid of the exercise equipment and the desk, and leave the guest bed.  Extra bedrooms are more of a selling point than an office or exercise room.

It might be annoying to have to put some of your personal items away while you sell your home, but it can mean a faster sale and a larger profit.  Buyers need to see a home as a place where they can live, not the place where you live.

 

Ways To Reduce Your Heating Bill

When the temperature outside begins to fall, our heating bills quickly start to rise.  For many homeowners, keeping their house warm in the winter means paying a hefty heating bill.  Luckily, there are some ways to help reduce those costs and keep a little extra cash in your pocket for a rainy (and warmer) day.

Don’t Be Shade-y

Even though it may be cold outside, the sun still tries to peak through on occasion.  When it does, make sure to open your curtains and/or blinds in order to welcome the sun’s heat into your home.  This will help to add a touch of warmth to help keep your heating costs down.  After all, the time for seeking shade from the sunlight is in the summer.

Cool It

Did you know that the settings on your water heater could be affecting your heating bill?  It’s true.  Check your owner’s manual or ask a local expert about the ideal settings for your water heater which, if turned down, may still be able to heat your water adequately while reducing your heating bill.

Insulation Information

Insulation is used to maintain your home’s temperature.  Some houses, especially older ones, may require additional insulation to keep the cold air out during the winter and the warm air in.  The latter is especially important if your goal is to lower your heating bills.  Check with a local insulation professional about upgrading or replacing your outdated insulation.

Temperature Control

Turning the thermostat down when the house is empty or at night (when you can snuggle up under the covers) will help to reduce your heating costs.

Window Woes

If you feel a cold draft near your windows, chances are good that it isn’t the only direction that the air is flowing.  Specifically, air leaks or gaps in your window can cause the warm air to leave your home, which can result in a rising heat bill.  If you notice a draft, use caulk to seal the area or hire a professional to repair any cracks or imperfections that may be causing an airflow problem.

Now that you know how to keep your heating costs down, it’s important to note a certain amount of fresh air must be able to enter the home in order to prevent a buildup of moisture, which could lead to mold during the winter.  In other words, don’t prevent a natural airflow by making your home excessively airtight.

 

What Season Is Best To Sell?

So you are ready to sell your house, but you look out the window and see several feet of snow on the ground.  Should you bother putting your house on the market in the winter, or should you wait until spring?  Is there a better season in which to sell your home?  The answers to these questions depend on a few basic factors.

Where You Live

In a place where the climate is very cold in the winter, it can be wise to wait until spring to sell, because fewer buyers will be venturing out to look at homes.  In an area where the sun shines year round, weather is not a concern, and people will have no trouble coming out to see your house.  This doesn’t mean, however, that season doesn’t matter in a warm climate!  It can still affect how many potential buyers will come out and the odds of selling.

Watch Out For The Holiday Slump

People are usually too busy from Thanksgiving through Christmas to spend much time house hunting, and in January they are often recovering financially from holiday over-spending.  Most experts will recommend that you avoid listing your home until after the worst of the holiday slump in the market is over and people are looking to buy again.  This is true no matter what the climate!

Particulars Of Your Home

If your home is near a high school, you might want to consider selling in the summer when things nearby are a bit quieter.  The noise and traffic of the school year might put some buyers off.  If your home is near a lot of fun winter activities, this might actually be a selling point that will be highlighted better in the winter months.  Looking for these details of your area and capitalizing on them will help you to get your home sold.

The season does matter when it comes to home buying, and spring is usually a good time to list.  Your REALTOR® can help you to determine what season makes the most sense for listing in your particular case, providing you with market information in your area and helping you pinpoint the particulars of your home that make it appealing in a specific season.