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Blog Archive for June, 2015

What’s cooking in kitchen appliance trends for 2015?

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 26, 2015

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The kitchen is one of the most important features of a home. You spend a large portion of time in the kitchen, so you want a functional workspace that is also a pleasing place to gather, relax, and enjoy the latest culinary inspiration. Kitchen appliance manufacturers are helping to reshape the way your kitchen works and look. With the latest shifts in kitchen design happening, we thought we should serve up some ideas on what’s cooking in kitchen appliance trends for 2015.

Color. You’ve probably noticed that small appliances are now available in a spectrum of colors. Toasters, stand mixers, blenders, food processors, coffee makers, and just about anything you need to plug in to a kitchen outlet can be found in shades from subtle to bold. But we’re also seeing major appliances, like ranges, in more than black, white, or stainless steel. Viking offers buyers a choice of 24 colors in ranges and hoods, and Aga gives 15 color choices in their ranges. GE’s Artistry Series of refrigerators now includes Cupcake Blue and Bell Pepper Red. You can have your appliances professionally painted in the color of your choice, but it you’re hesitant to commit to a hue, you might consider magnetic graphics to recover the surface at your whim.

The GE Café Series refrigerator actually brews Keurig coffee, with the in-door coffeemaker. The operation can control the operation from your smartphone so your coffee can be ready when you walk in the room. Other refrigerators dispense your choice of fresh water and sparkling water—a refreshing feature!

Professional-grade range. If you love to cook and have the desire (and the room) for a beefed-up range, you can install a professional-grade range, like the ones found in commercial kitchens. The luxury ranges offer a long menu of features, like a hibachi griddle and high-powered burners. While those units can vary from 36 to 48 inches and use three to four times the energy of a standard model, manufacturers are offering a home-sized version of a luxury range that fits into the 30-inch standard.

Double ovens. Separate from your cooktop and take advantage of twice the oven space. The double wall oven gives a full-sized oven for your main cooking needs, and a slightly smaller oven below, perfect for side dishes and warming.

Hooded cooktop. The perfect complement to the double oven, the hooded cooktop offers a sleek design with full functionality of a cooktop. Some homeowners prefer their cooktop on an island, which provides a convenient workspace.

Convection oven. This type of oven circulates the heat more evenly than a conventional oven. As a result, food cooks faster. Today’s ovens often offer the choice of turning the convection feature on or off, so you don’t need to use it for everything.

Steam oven. Cooking with steam is the best choice for preserving flavor, nutrition, and moisture. These units are about the size of a microwave and use a reservoir to hold water, so you don’t have to hook it up to a water source, like your refrigerator’s water dispenser. A steam oven is also ideal for sterilizing baby bottles. If you want more functionality, look for a combination convention-steam oven.

Warming drawer. Whether you’re feeding a big crowd or just need to keep your warm dishes at the right temperature while the rest is cooking, the warming drawer is one of those features that you don’t truly appreciate until you have it. Then, you’ll be telling all your friends they have to get one!

Drawer dishwasher. And speaking of drawers, did you know your dishwasher can fit in one? Choose from a single- or double-drawer style, depending on the amount of dirty dishes you expect to generate. When you fill a drawer, run the dishwasher. They can blend into your existing cabinetry, too Best of all, you don’t have to sacrifice capacity to enjoy the style and convenience.

What’s cooking in your kitchen? Have you incorporated any of these kitchen appliances into your home? Let us know what you love, and what you haven’t warmed up to yet.

Creative entertaining ideas for a July 4th party

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 18, 2015

4th of July Party Ideas!

It’s just around the corner. The 4th of July is a banner holiday for Americans. We celebrate our freedom and the people who have dedicated their lives to preserving it for us. While it is traditional to have a July 4th cookout, why not try a different twist on this year’s Independence Day celebration?

Family Friendly FunFest

If you’re going to have kids (of all ages) at your gathering, release your inner child. Plan some outdoor games, like cornhole with one set of striped bags and one set of starry bags. And there’s game as American as baseball, so get a whiffle ball and bat, and set out the bases before your guests arrive for a Red versus Blue battle. Check out Surfnetkids for more 4th of July games.

The family friendly menu can be just as fun. Add some healthy flavor to your red, white, and blue theme by making skewers of strawberries, blueberries, and marshmallows. Or hollow out a watermelon and use a star-shaped cookie cutter to make your melon pieces more festive.

Set up a lemonade stand with a variety of flavored lemonades, like strawberry, raspberry, and peach. Can’t find them already mixed? Just puree the fruit in a blender and stir it in.

Place coloring stations with poster board and crayons, where the children can draw pictures of what freedom means to them.

Hang a red, white, and blue piñata and have a red or blue bandanna ready to blindfold the players.

And what’s more kid-friendly than bubbles? Set out trays of the liquid (away from the food) with wands that have stars-and-stripes ribbons attached.

Stars & Stripes

There’s nothing more festive than the red, white, and blue of our stars and stripes. Encourage guests to dress in the theme, and offer a prize for the best costume.

For decorations, string white lights around the party area and hang red and blue stars from them. Decorate your great outdoors with streamers, ribbons, star covered balloons, and flags.

Lay out the food in striped patterns. Set out bottled drinks in the shape of star. Layer a parfait with strawberries, blueberries, and marshmallows at the center of your buffet—or just used colored glass pebbles. Use small flag food picks to label everything on your serving table.

Patriotic and Simply Chic

If your tastes trend a bit more upscale, you can take a simply chic approach to your July 4th party. Put star-shaped white lights in large, clear glass vases. Wrap red and blue balloons in white tulle and tie with shimmery white star garlands.

Set your table with a red and white floral arrangement, accented with sheer blue ribbon, sparklers, or a softly draping flag. For your bar, blue glassware and red linens. Accent with empty wine bottles filled with white lights. Use all white place settings for a classic style. For an eclectic chic look, blend mismatched white dishes (spend a little time treasure hunting at thrift shops first).

If your party is outdoors, place oversized pinwheels around the area, with solar lights to brighten them up as the sun goes down. Set up a croquet set for some garden party activity. Plan a patriotic trivia game with questions about American history, U.S. Presidents, and the fifty states.

No matter what theme you choose, be sure you plan ahead and create a music playlist. Here are some song suggestions:

“4th of July” (Shooter Jennings)

“All American Girl” (Carrie Underwood)

“America” (Neil Diamond)

“America” (Simon and Garfunkel)

“America the Beautiful” (Ray Charles and Alicia Keyes)

“American Girl” (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

“American Pie” (Don McLean)

“American Soldier” (Toby Keith)

“Born in the USA” (Bruce Springsteen)

“Coming to America” (Neil Diamond)

“Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” (Toby Keith)

“God Bless America”

“God Bless the USA” (Lee Greenwood)

“Independence Day” (Bruce Springsteen)

“I’ve Been Everywhere” (Johnny Cash)

“Living in America” (James Brown)

“Living in the USA” (Linda Ronstadt)

“My Country ‘Tis of Thee” (Aretha Franklin)

“Philadelphia Freedom” (Elton John)

“Proud to Be an American” (Lee Greenwood)

“R.O.C.K. in the USA” (John Mellencamp)

“Star Spangled Banner” (Whitney Houston does a wonderful version)

“Surfin’ USA” (The Beach Boys)

“This Land is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie)

“Yankee Doodle Dandy”

Kid-Friendly Design: The Dining Room

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 11, 2015

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So many things change when you become a parent. You trade in your two-door car for something more “practical” and go around the house installing cabinet locks, removing fragile items, and looking for those places that could pose a risk to a curious youngster.

The family home certainly needs to be a safe haven, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your design preferences. The dining room, for example, is often the last room in the house to create the divide between the style you love and the practicality you need.

You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Instead, follow some guidelines for adding kid-friendly design in the family dining room.

First of all, recognize that kids see the dining room as a place to eat. Period. They don’t care about the quality of the furniture, the style of the lighting, or the art on the wall. They want to sit down, eat, and go. They won’t linger over a glass of milk after a nice dinner. They will put their feet on the rungs of your chairs, push back the chairs into whatever is behind them, and likely drop food and drinks on the floor. When you keep that in mind, you can easily address these challenges and still maintain your style preferences.

Look for sturdy furniture that will withstand the kicking feet, the silverware banging on the table, and the chairs being tilted backward on two legs. Choose a table with a solid finish. Use placemats to reflect your style and a runner in the middle—maybe one or two sets for family meals, and something finer for guests and special occasions. If you want upholstered chairs, be sure the fabric is treated to resist dirt and stains.

Place an outdoor rug on the floor to add color while also catching the inevitable spills. You can choose from a wide array of colors and designs, because people are using area rugs more frequently in their outdoor living spaces. Most outdoor rugs are easy care—just hose them down in the driveway!

Turn your kid’s art into fine art. Frame a few of your favorite pieces and hang them on the dining room walls to add color and family-friendly style, along with the personal touch.

If you want a hutch or buffet, place it far enough away from the dining room chairs so that the kids won’t bang into it when sitting down or getting up—which they rarely do with ease and grace.

Install a dimmer switch for the lighting so that you can change the mood to fit the dining experience—bright enough for a family dinner or softer for romantic evenings when the kids are elsewhere.

Your home’s dining room can blend function with flair—whether you’re serving up an epicurean delight or a plate of macaroni and cheese. Like any room in your house, it’s the people who make it a home, not the things surrounding them.

Lehigh Valley Realtors | RSVP Today for Your Free Lunch!

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 5, 2015

Saucon8Calling all Lehigh Valley Realtors!  Yes, there is such a thing as a FREE lunch!  Join us for a luncheon event at The Reserve at Saucon Valley on June 11th from 12-2 pm!  The Reserve at Saucon is a private and serene single family home enclave located in the heart of prestigious Saucon Valley.  This community features six homes on one acre home sites with sweeping views – all with in the highly acclaimed Saucon Valley School District.  Come and take a guided tour of our Heritage Tuscan Quick Delivery home that is priced to sell and best of all, enjoy lunch on us!  Tuskes Homes New Home Specialist will be on the scene and happy to answer any questions regarding this Ready Now home and other building opportunities at this community.

Reserve your spot now!  Contact Martha Clifford at marthac@tuskeshomes.com OR by calling / texting 484-515-5126!

 

Your New Community: Tips to Get Involved!

Categories: Blog | Posted: June 4, 2015

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Moving to a new home is an exciting time. It’s a fresh start. Once the boxes are unpacked, the pictures hung on the wall, and you feel settled in, how do you take the next step in making yourself feel right at home?

You meet people in your area. Making new acquaintances is the start to new friendships. For some people, getting out and socializing is second nature. But if you’re not one of them, here are a few suggestions on how to go to know your new neighborhood.

  • Get outside. Be visible. Wash your car in the driveway, work in the garden, walk the dog, play with your kids in the front yard, sit on the porch, or just stand at your mailbox while slowly sifting through your mail. Then, as people wander by, say “hi” and introduce yourself. They’re probably curious about the new folks on the block, too.
  • Host a gathering. You don’t have to wait for invitations to meet other people. Plan an open house or casual get-together and invite your neighbors. When guests arrive, be sure you have some personal items on display so they can get a glimpse of who you are—like family photos and items that show a little about you—to spark conversation starters. “Oh, you play the piano?” “”My kids are into soccer, too.”
  • Join a local club. Find an organization that reflects your interests, and you’ll meet people who share that passion—like the school’s PTA, church, art guild, golf club, book club, theater group, or fitness center. Check out meetup.com to find groups in your area that cultivate the same interests and learn about their upcoming meetings and plans.
  • Volunteer. No matter where you are, there are plenty of organizations that rely on volunteers—the local animal shelter, senior center, library, hospital, school, church, or non-profit organizations like the United Way. Contact them and offer your help.
  • Explore the area. Plan to check out a new place at least once a week. Try a restaurant or café, and let the server know you’re new to the area. Take your child or dog to a local park. They’ll provide an opening for you to talk to other parents (of the two- and four-legged kids). Ask questions wherever you go, about the area, things to do, places to visit, and reliable service providers (doctors, groomers, plumbers, hair stylists).
  • Take your search online. You can find local events on websites like eventful.com and your area’s Chamber of Commerce. And don’t forget to use Facebook! When you meet a new person, ask if they’re on Facebook. Then “Friend” them so you can build a local network.

The best way to feel at home in a new neighborhood is by knowing the people and places around you. Strike up a conversation wherever you meet people—in line at the grocery store or post office, with a local shop proprietor, or while enjoying a cup of coffee. Before long, you’ll be the savvy resident who is guiding the newcomers to the neighborhood.

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