General News

Window Boxes to Boost Curb Appeal

With beautiful weather forecasted into the summer and the housing market hot, flowers have the power of ‘curb appeal’! Outdoor flowers are a plus in any common areas, but window boxes make a statement. Eye-level, window boxes bring a charm and a delight to both owner/viewers.

Window box ideas include:

1.  A window box with pansies. Pansies are easy maintenance flowers with a tolerance that can last most seasons. Easy to plant and bringing a wide range of colors that brighten any area, no matter the exterior color. When pansies need water, you can typically tell by the way they look (almost wilting). Also mix well with other flowers such as violas, coleus and alyssum. 

2.  A window box with geraniums. Geraniums are another easy, low maintenance plant, that give off vibrant colors and a pleasant scent. When planting geraniums, plant just under where the stem meets the root. Make sure the window box has good drainage to avoid root rot. These plants will need little to no water - some deadheading is helpful - April/May showers may be enough!

3.  A window box for petunias. Petunias are the summer plant. Something so simple to take care of, yet so beautiful. Water twice a week, petunias will grow luxuriously over your window box and have a vine effect. They will catch any viewers' eyes and add to the aesthetics of any space.

4.  A window box for vegetables. To add to your garden space and ‘fresh produce’, a window box for vegetables is a great idea for condos/apartments or any dwelling lacking land space. Cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce are all plants that benefit in a window box. What better than fresh produce straight from your window? These plants take water two/three times a week and grow great organically.

 

Re-Setting the Table

Spring is upon us! Hibernation is over and Boston & Cambridge restaurants are waking up from a lengthy period of deep sleep and take-out. This is great news for restaurateurs, diners, tourists and landlords alike!
 

Here are some restaurants Boston.com highlighted as re-opening in March:

Burro Bar     -     Brookline & South End

City Bar     -     Back Bay

Coppersmiths     -     Southie

Dorchester Brewing Co.     -     Dorchester

Galway House     -     Jamaica Plain

Oak & Rowan     -     Fort Point
 


In a recent article, Terrence Doyle of bostoneater.com recommended these new eateries debuting this Spring:

Cicada Coffee Bar - Vietnamese coffee shop with zen garden.  Cambridge

Cloud & Spirits - Koren-inspired New American.  Cambridge

Mida - house made pasta.  South End & Newton

Wood Fired Love - wood-fired pizza.  Mission Hill

Punch Bowl - contemporary New England fare.  Brookline
 

In anticipation of Summer, I suggest:

Jaho Ice Creme - Japanese style soft serve.  Back Bay, Chinatown & South End

New City Microcreamery - unique flavors made with liquid nitrogen.  Cambridge 

Taiyaki - Japanese waffle treat.  Seaport

Honeycomb Creamery - ice creme tacos.  Cambridge

Milk Bar - signature cereal milk soft serve.  Cambridge

 

 

Staying on Par Through the Winter

It’s one of the saddest days on the calendar, the day you have to put away the golf clubs.  It’s something our friends in warm-weather climates don’t understand, but those of us who call the northeast home feel the pain every year. Here in Boston, it can be tough to practice and keep from getting too rusty in the winter.  Golf is a feel game and it is important to keep the momentum going from season to season. You don’t want to lose your touch, right? So where can you go to stay sharp when you’re swinging a shovel instead of a seven-iron? Check out these local spots to keep your game up to par year round. 

 

 

City Golf Boston 
167 Milk St, Boston, MA 02109
https://citygolfboston.com

*Offering golf lesson for individuals or groups

*Golf Memberships - Includes unlimited golf lessons and unlimited use of simulator

 *Custom club fitting
 

Lynx Fitness Center 
64 Arlington St.  Boston, MA 02116
https://lynxfitnessclub.com/lynx-indoor-golf

*Boston’s first Top Golf suites

*Members and Non Members can reserve simulator for practice

*Lessons with PGA Professionals

*Private suite booking for events

 

McGolf
150 Bridge St, Dedham, MA 02026
https://www.mcgolfonline.com

*Radiant heated outdoor golf bays year round

*Fittings and lessons

*Members putting and chipping area

*Reserve golf simulator

 

Giving this Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time to spend with family and friends.  It is also a time to reflect, assist those in need, and try to bring a joyous holiday to those that are less fortunate and are struggling during these hard times.  Here are a number of local organizations that are accepting donations for families, children, and men and women:
 

Greater Boston Food Bank: https://www.gbfb.org/

Cradles to Crayonshttps://www.cradlestocrayons.org/boston/

Boston ABCD: https://bostonabcd.org/service/adopt-a-family/

FamilyAid Boston: https://familyaidboston.org/donate-items/

Women's Lunch Placehttps://womenslunchplace.org

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in the Time of COVID, 2020

It’s been too many months since we have been able to see extended family and friends. The holidays bring back nostalgic memories of past gatherings, and lure us to think of throwing caution to the wind, and forge ahead with our traditional feast and get together.

Given the current surge in coronavirus infections, health experts and the CDC are advising all of us to avoid our traditional gatherings around Thanksgiving. So what can we do to still celebrate, and keep everyone safe and healthy?

1. Arrange a Zoom family gathering. The video conferencing tech company is giving a gift to everyone, by eliminating the pesky time limit of 40 minutes for its non-paying subscribers. So, your family gathering on Zoom doesn’t have to get cut short. #ZoomTogether this Thanksgiving.

2. At every Thanksgiving, certain friends and family are known for a specialty dish. It could be Mom’s best stuffing, or Dad’s fried turkey, or Grandma’s pumpkin pie. Arrange for everyone to make their specialty dishes ahead of time, portion them out to deliver and share on your Zoom.

3. Dine al fresco if possible if you insist on getting together. You can use outdoor portable heaters, and leave some blankets out.

Finally, here’s a link to my hands down, best ever, Thanksgiving Turkey recipe. It’s courtesy of Melissa Clark of the NY Times. It’s so easy, and comes out perfect every time. FYI, I’ve tried all the fancy organic, farm raised, heritage, you name it turkeys, but have decided that a Butterball is still the best! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Positive ways COVID 19 will change our lives

- Drive in movies are back    

- Family board games are back

- People are getting back to nature

- Timed entry at museums, aquariums, etc makes for less crowds

- No stigma associated with working from home

- People won’t feel forced to go to work when sick

- People will never stand so close while waiting in line

- People with colds will wear a mask in public and prevent the spread of colds

- Public places like airplanes, bathrooms, restaurants, etc... will always be cleaner

- Ability to be part of family events and be in touch with distant family and friends via Zoom

- Doctors will continue to do some appointments via Zoom or phone

- Al fresco dining is so popular; Boston neighborhoods look like you are in Europe

- Most importantly second homes real estate is booming

 

COVID-19 Update: Boston's Largest Employers

There is still a lot of economic uncertainty across the country, and the globe, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Every day seems to bring new bankruptcy and business closure announcements.  Even if there were a miraculous turn-around in the second half of this year, our economy in Massachusetts has already lost a lot in 2020.

But how do things look in the long-term? 

The chart below was compiled from Boston Business Journal data, identifying the 20 largest employers in Massachusetts.  While this is just a snippet of the overall picture, it shows the diversity of our economy – a mix of health care, higher education, technology and other industries.  


 

To be sure, some of the businesses on this list are facing challenges and others may join them as the pandemic wears on.  

Some of the hardest hit industries nationwide have been the Accommodation and Food Services industry and the Retail Trade industry.  According to a recent report by the Boston Planning & Development Agency, those industries made up only 8.0% and 4.6%, respectively, of the State’s total jobs.  Here, as elsewhere, those industries will continue to face headwinds in the coming months.  However, Boston – and Massachusetts – seem well-positioned to persevere. 

From a real estate perspective, it is important to understand who these large employers are and how they are faring. News from these companies can impact the real estate market positively (growth/expansion means more jobs, commercial space occupied and generally more demand for housing) or negatively (layoffs/closures lead to fewer jobs, commercial space vacancy and negative pressure on the housing market).

 

 

Home Renovations in the Pandemic

I started a “small” decorating and renovation product at my home back in October 2019. The initial plan was to redo my dining room, and I hired an interior designer. What was originally just one room, morphed into the entire first floor, including the kitchen, living room, den, and front hall. What I found is that when you do one room over, it makes all the adjacent spaces look old and tired.


During

When I started this project, coronavirus wasn’t even a figment of my imagination, it was all but inconceivable. Fast forward to February 2020, and the pandemic began to wreak havoc on the construction process. My kitchen cabinet doors and drawers had all been removed to be sprayed (painted) off site when the painting contractor informed me that his painters no longer felt comfortable working at my house with the virus spreading. So I lived with my new “open concept” kitchen for several months, until they felt comfortable enough to return, wearing masks and socially distanced.

 
Almost all of the vendors we’d placed orders from were suddenly shut down, from fabric mills to cabinet makers and beyond. I started to wonder if my house would ever be put back together again. Finally, beginning in June when the statistics started looking better in Massachusetts, the vendors and contractors started opening up and coming back to work. 

After
 
Everything takes a little longer during the pandemic. The silver lining is that I’ve been working from home mostly, and therefore able to accommodate all of the various tradespeople working at my house. It’s just one trade at a time, painters, carpenters, electrician, and designers, all wearing masks and practicing Covid guidelines to stay safe and healthy. My house is finally starting to come together, and I’m very grateful for my home, now more than ever.
 
 

Home Security Systems for Boston Condos and Apartments

In these uncertain times, a home security system can enhance safety and peace of mind for urban residents. Since COVID-19, many city-dwellers are working from home and have groceries and packages delivered. A personalized security system enables residents to check what’s taking place in and around their property through surveillance cameras and smart phone communication, whether they are staying at home or monitoring from afar.

There are 2 general types of security systems for condos and apartments: wireless systems (DIY & unmonitored) and traditional (professionally monitored and hardwired).  Here are some pros and cons of each:
 

WIRELESS SYSTEMS

PROS:
1. Easy and fast install
2. Hooks up to smart phones for increased access and control
3. Portable security cameras and ability to see activity in your home from smart phone or tablet
4. Minimal equipment
5. Short contracts

CONS:
1. Electro-magnetic interference from other devices make these systems less reliable and easier to get hacked
2. Battery operated
3. You’re on call
 

HARDWIRED SYSTEMS

PROS: 
1. More reliable
2. Can be hidden in walls, ceilings and floors
3. Service company on call

CONS:
1. Installation done by professional
2. More expensive
3. Long-term contracts, less flexibility
4. May require approval of condo association or landlord


This NBC News article gives a nice overview and review of some home security system options.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Making a Home Office in Boston More “Workable”

As many offices have been closed for several months – and some expected to remain that way for the next several months – many workers have had to scramble to set up home offices.  For many in Boston, where space is at a premium, that wasn’t part of the plan when they were searching for their homes.  Here are a few useful tips we have seen/heard/implemented:

1.  Find the Best Spot in Your Home
If you live in a “cozy” apartment, this can be a challenge.  Sitting on your bed or on your couch is not ideal if you’re going to be working for an extended period.  If you don’t have any room to spare, the dining table or breakfast bar may be best.  Another good option can be a “corner desk”, which can work well in tight spaces.

2.  Comfortable Seating
Unless you have a standing desk, we spend a lot of time sitting.  Chairs in the office sometimes get a bad rap, but they tend to be relatively ergonomic.  A good chair can be a solid investment.

3.  Increase Internet Speed
Most of us weren’t planning to work from home full-time for an extended period.  Especially if you share your home with others, there may not be enough bandwidth for everyone’s phones, tablets, laptops and TVs to all be running simultaneously – especially if people are streaming music or videos or videoconferencing.

4.  Improve Lighting
Speaking of videoconferencing, lighting is an important consideration.  Working in a dark corner might make the most sense space-wise, but if you’re going to be videoconferencing, then a small lamp should help ensure your colleagues and clients can see you.  Unless you’re going for that doom-and-gloom vibe.

5.  Set Up Your Workstation like Your Office
You’re at home… it doesn’t “feel” like the office.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can impact your ability to get into the type of rhythm that you can have while at your office.  Organizing your work area with all of your necessary supplies nearby – and eliminating distractions (give Netflix the pleasure of being right that you are NOT still watching) – can help.

BONUS TIP: FIND A NEW HOME WITH YOUR IDEAL HOME-OFFICE SET-UP
It is looking increasingly likely that working from home will be part of the “new normal” for some time.  More and more companies seem to be looking for ways to let employees work remotely.  If the past few months have been a struggle to find space in your home to squeeze in a workspace, or perhaps your roommates are on different schedules which is creating other challenges, then maybe it’s time to explore options.  

Whether you want to search for a new home to rent or search for a home to purchase with room for an office, we can help!  Feel free to dive right in and look around.  But you can also contact us and one of our experienced agents can help serve as your guide.