Consumer Real Estate News

    • Top 10 Flooring Options: Which Is Right for You?

      3 August 2020

      Homeowners today have a seemingly endless array of options when it comes to selecting what kind of floor they’d like in their homes. So, how do you know which is right for you? HGTV has the scoop on the top 10 flooring choices and what you need to know about each:

      1. Wood. Solid wood is a popular option for many because it can be refinished over and over and lasts a lifetime. However, in order to be installed properly, it needs to be nailed to a sub-floor, and it’s important to check that the wood is harvested responsibly–look for an FSC or SFI certification to be sure.

      2. Engineered Wood. The difference between this and solid wood is how it’s constructed: The top layer of engineered wood is a veneer of the real thing, supported by plywood underneath. It’s about the same cost and boasts a similar durability to actual wood, but installation is much easier, especially with certain “clickable” varieties.

      3. Laminate. Laminate floors give you the freedom to choose any number of patterns and colors to complement your home’s architecture and decor. Manufacturers use photo technology to create a plastic coating that mimics whatever style you’re after. Another perk: It can be placed directly on top of an existing floor. No tear-outs!

      4. Linoleum. An environmentally safe option, linoleum is made with renewable, biodegradable resources. Special coatings resist stains and heavy traffic, but the floor itself is high maintenance, needing refinishing every two years.

      5. Ceramic Tile. Tile is another popular choice for flooring because it can be customized easily. There are four main types: glazed, quarry, porcelain (the most resilient) and terracotta. Installation isn’t cheap, especially if you add decorative trim pieces or mosaic inlays.

      6. Carpet. The most versatile flooring is carpeting, which features more colors and textures than any other kind. A good quality indicator is the fiber density; wool is the standard, but other common materials include nylon, acrylic, polyester and polypropylene.

      7. Stone. Stone floor tiles are also popular, if you’re willing to splurge. Costing anywhere from $2 to $100 per square foot, they add a touch of luxury to any home. Harder stones (think granite and marble) only need to be sealed every five years; softer stones, such as limestone, must be refinished more frequently. A word of caution if you want stone in your bathroom: It’s wise to invest in skid-resistant surfaces, as stones become slippery when wet.

      8. Vinyl. Vinyl flooring, whether in sheets or tile squares, requires almost no maintenance. There are many colors and styles to choose from, with very little cost associated with customization. Backed by felt, they have an upper layer designed to resist scratches for 15 years.

      9. Bamboo. All the rage with green living enthusiasts, bamboo flooring is an eco-friendly option made from the plant’s fibers held together by glue. It can also stand up to wear and tear, which makes it comparable to stronger flooring, like wood.

      10. Cork. Cork is an alternative trend that’s gaining traction in newer homes. It’s comfortable to walk on and comes prefinished, so you don’t have to reseal within a year. Another plus is that it comes from the bark (rather than the core) of a tree, so forests remained unharmed during the harvesting process.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Quick, Easy and Delicious School Night Meals

      3 August 2020

      (Family Features) When it comes to back-to-school season, whether students are heading back to the classroom or learning from home, one of the biggest challenges for busy parents remains the same: how to serve up delicious homemade meals the whole family will love. With the right preparation and ingredients on-hand, parents can easily pass the test.

      One ingredient to consider adding to your shopping list is Mrs. T’s Pierogies. Found in the frozen food aisle, they are stuffed with creamy mashed potatoes, cheesy goodness and other big, bold flavors. Available in 14 varieties, including mini and full size, they can be boiled, baked, sauteed and even grilled, making them a versatile addition to your favorite everyday meals, apps, sides and snacks. 

      If you’re looking for fun ways to spend more quality time with your family this back-to-school season, try getting everyone involved in the kitchen while preparing tasty recipes like Pierogi Taco Casserole or Mini Pierogi Mac ’n’ Cheese Skillet.

      Visit mrstspierogies.com to find more back-to-school recipes.

      Pierogi Taco Casserole
      Prep time: 10 minutes
      Total time: 35 minutes
      Servings: 4

      • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
      • 1 box Mrs. T’s Classic Onion Pierogies
      • 1 red pepper, diced
      • 1 cup corn, drained and rinsed
      • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
      • 1 teaspoon cumin
      • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
      • 1/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
      • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
      • 1/4 cup diced red onions
      • 1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped

      Preheat broiler to high heat.

      In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and saute pierogies until golden brown, about 8 minutes per side.

      Remove pierogies and add remaining olive oil. Saute red peppers, corn, black beans, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.

      Spread red peppers, corn and beans into a square baking dish. Nestle in pierogies. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

      Melt cheese under a broiler for about 2 minutes.

      Top with tomatoes, onions and cilantro before serving.

      Mini Pierogi Mac ’n’ Cheese Skillet
      Prep time: 10 minutes
      Total time: 35 minutes
      Servings: 4 
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
      • 1 box Mrs. T’s Mini 4 Cheese Medley Pierogies 
      • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
      • 1 cup broccoli florets
      • 1 small red pepper, diced
      • 1 small yellow squash, diced
      • 1 tablespoon flour
      • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
      • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
      • 1 ounce cream cheese, cubed
      • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

      In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute pierogies until golden brown, about 6 minutes per side. Remove pierogies from the pan.

      Add remaining olive oil to the skillet. Saute white parts of scallions over medium-high heat until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. 

      Add broccoli, peppers and squash. Cook for 5-8 minutes until tender but still crisp.

      Remove veggies from the pan. 

      In the same skillet, whisk flour, salt, pepper and heavy cream. Simmer until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Add cream cheese, stirring until melted.

      Remove skillet from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until the sauce is melted and smooth. Add pierogies and veggies back to the pan, gently stirring until coated. 

      Top with green scallions before serving.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Healthy Food Substitutions for Your Home Baking

      3 August 2020

      Anytime is the perfect time to enjoy a warm home baked dessert. Between birthdays, holidays and the days in between, there is little doubt you will find yourself indulging throughout the year. If you want to make more healthy choices without sacrificing your baked goods, try these helpful substitutions.

      Applesauce for Oil or Butter
      This may come as a surprise, but many treats can easily be low fat if you opt to use applesauce in place of oil or butter. This works very well in sweet breads or muffins. Applesauce adds moisture and gives the right consistency without all the fat of oil or butter. This swap is ideal for zucchini bread, banana breads and the like, but can still work well with boxed cakes or brownies.

      Pure Maple Syrup for Sugar
      Pure maple syrup may still be calorically dense like its traditional baking counterpart, but it comes with a host of benefits that refined sugar can’t match. Maple syrup is high in antioxidants and contains nutrients like riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. It can be used as a 1:1 replacement for liquid sweeteners like honey, corn syrup and molasses. This is also true for sugar, but you will need to reduce your liquids throughout the rest of your recipe since you are replacing a dry ingredient.

      Avocado for Butter
      If you would like to replace butter for a vegan option, avocado is an excellent choice. Full of healthy fats and a creamy flavor, avocado works perfectly in chocolate puddings or fudgy brownies. You may detect a mild avocado flavor that works well with a chocolate base. Avocado is an excellent way to elevate your dessert’s flavor profile while giving you some amazing health benefits.

      Prunes for Sugar
      Sweet baked goods are a family favorite. But if you are hoping to lower your sugar intake this season, consider ditching the sugar and opting for prunes. A surprisingly tasty option, prunes’ sugar content is mitigated by naturally occurring fiber, making it a better choice for your overall health. Pureed prunes serve as an excellent sugar replacement in fruit pies, energy bars and muffins or breads. Just remember that their naturally sweet flavor can be overpowering if mixed with too many sweet items.

      Keep your health a priority while still satisfying your affinity for baking this year. With these substitutions, your baking will be healthier than ever and your taste buds none-the-wiser.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Care for Soapstone Countertops

      31 July 2020

      In today’s luxury kitchens, the countertops take center stage. Whether you’re redesigning your cooking space before putting your home on the market or trying to find the perfect surface for your new kitchen, the classic look of dark soapstone counters is always a stylish choice. Before making any decisions, however, here’s everything you need to know about maintaining this timeless material.

      Apply Mineral Oil
      Soapstone is prized for the beautiful patina that it develops in under a year. If you want to speed up the process and ensure that it appears evenly, the best way to do so is by applying a thin coat of mineral oil across the surface once a week for the first couple of months. After the patina has developed, you’ll only have to reapply the oil about once a year.

      Use Cutting Boards
      While soapstone is particularly hardwearing, it’s one weakness is that this surface is prone to scratching. For this reason, you should never chop food directly on it and be sure to always use a cutting board. If you do notice any light scratches, it’s possible to remove them using a fine sandpaper or you can hire a professional if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

      Easy cleaning
      Unlike many other surfaces that are prone to staining and etching, soapstone is a nonporous material that can stand up to acidic substances. For this reason, you don’t have to worry about applying a sealant and can regularly wash it with regular soapy water or an all-purpose cleaner without causing any damage.

      Heat Resistant
      If you’re not sold on soapstone already, another major benefit that this surface has going for it is that it’s heat-resistant. That means you can place a hot pan directly on your counter rather than scrambling for a trivet when it’s time to take the food off the stove.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Keep Your House Clean If You Have Young Kids

      31 July 2020

      If you have small children, you know how hard it can be to keep your house clean. Here are some strategies to help you avoid getting stressed out and make your home presentable in case you have unexpected guests.

      Set Realistic Expectations and Communicate Them
      If you had high standards for cleanliness before you had kids, holding yourself and your young children to those same expectations will only leave you frustrated. Make keeping the house clean a priority but be realistic. Focus first and foremost on preventing chaos and accidents.

      Have your kids play in designated areas and don’t let them take out too many toys or books at once. Teach your children to clean up after themselves when they’re young. Even babies can be taught to put blocks and other toys in baskets. Once kids are mobile, they can return toys to the places where they belong on their own.

      Have your children eat at a table or in a highchair, not on the couch, on the floor, or in bed. Teach them to put their dishes in the sink or dishwasher and to wash their hands after they finish eating so whatever they have on their hands doesn’t get smeared on other surfaces. Sweep, vacuum or mop up messes quickly so they don’t cause accidents or attract insects.

      Teach Your Kids to Pitch in
      Have separate areas for dolls, trucks, stuffed animals and other types of toys. If your kids play a game with multiple pieces, teach them to clean up before they begin playing with something else. When they finish using crayons or markers, remind your children to check to make sure they are all in the box. Teach your kids to put their jackets, shoes, backpacks and lunchboxes in designated areas when they come home from school. If you enforce these rules consistently, your kids will put their things away without being told.

      If possible, do some cleaning when your kids are napping, watching TV, playing outside or participating in other activities. Set aside some time (10-15 minutes should be enough) for everyone to walk around the house and look for any toys, shoes or other items that need to be put away. Play cheerful music and make this a fun part of your family’s daily routine. Going to bed with the house in order and not having to worry about picking up the previous day’s mess in the morning can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

      If you have young children and struggle to keep your house clean, you’re not alone. Setting realistic expectations, enforcing rules and praising your kids when they do a good job can go a long way. Be clear and consistent so your children can develop positive habits. Tell them that the less time you have to spend cleaning, the more time you will have to spend with them.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.