Friday, April 29, 2011

Will & Kate...Don't Need Real Estate

Here is one newlywed couple that doesn't need real estate advice! I'm pretty sure living in a palace will suit them just fine.

On a more serious note, the wedding was absolutely breath taking and the newly dubbed HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was stunning in her Alexander McQueen ball gown. I think I hear the pitter patter of brides-to-be, running to the nearest dress shop to get in line for their very own ''Kate" inspired dress.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Magic of Eastover: Tales of an Inter-Religious Marriage

Hey, Anne here!

What is Eastover you ask? Well, simply put, it's Easter & Passover. It's the one week a year where Nick and I come together with our families to celebrate both of our holidays. You see, we are an interfaith couple. I'm a Catholic and Nick is Jewish. While many couples bicker over who's family to spend which holidays with, we luckily don't have to worry about the headache of making that decision. We spend the first night of Passover with Nick's family and Easter day with mine. Being able to celebrate both of our faiths together is something very important to each of us. We try, at each holiday, to not only focus on the meaning of the day but also on how we can teach each other more about our own religions and beliefs. But it's not all seriousness in our family - we also really enjoy the more superficial aspects of both holidays as well. Being able to celebrate both sets of holidays is also very fun for both of us. I mean, who wouldn't want double the excuse to hangout with family, eat massive amounts of delicious food, drink a little too much Manischewitz wine, and even sometimes get a day off of work!?!

This year Passover was on a Monday night. Like every year, I got to leave work early and we drove up to Rye, NY to the house of Nick's aunt and uncle. They live on an amazing estate on the banks of the Long Island Sound. The view is to die for and they always have a very large and lively group of people on all of the holidays. This year there were about 50 people at the Seder, ranging in age from 2 years old to 92! When we got there, we hung out with Nick's family and I made my traditional Passover Margaritas, because nothing says, "Gut Yontiff," like a frozen margarita...errr right? (Gut Yontiff means "Good Holiday" in Yiddish, by the way.) Don't worry, the tequila was Kosher ;) The Seder started at 8pm, right after sundown, with Nick's uncle leading us. After dinner and remembering why we dip the bitter herbs and drink unleavened bread, we had desserts and then said our goodbyes.

Our Easter Sunday was a bit more laid back. We didn't head back to Michigan to spend the holiday with my parents so we stayed in town and spent it with my grandma, uncle, cousin and his wife, and his in-laws. I didn't have Good Friday off so on Saturday, after working out, I helped my grandma make 50 meatballs, sausages, and ricotta chessecakes (yes, there was more than one cheesecake. We're Italian!) for our Easter Dinner. Easter Sunday, we went to church and then headed to my cousin's house for food...lots, and lots of food! It was a gorgeous day out so we spent the afternoon on the patio. My cousin's wife is an amazing hostess and always has the best munchies. I, of course, ignore the huge Italian spread and bee-lined straight for the candy. I maaay have eaten way too many Reese's peanut butter eggs and drank a wee bit too much wine. Then again, Easter is a celebration, and what is a celebration without a little wine? (or at least, that's what I tell myself). It was nice to have such a relaxing holiday. I love holidays, but sometimes they can be exhausting with preparations, dressing up, and dealing with lots of family and friends.

I hope that your Passover, Easter, or Eastover was as joyous and as happy as ours was!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our Weekend Getaway

Hi, Anne here!

This past weekend, Nick and I took a much-needed mini-vacation to Long Island wine country. "Long Island makes wine," you ask? Oh, it does indeed! Nick has been so busy lately that I have rearely seen him, and he usually shows houses on the weekends so it's been a while since we've spent an entire, uninterrupted, weekend together. We made a deal that this mini-trip would be for rest and relaxation and that he wasn't allowed to do any work. I was skeptical as to whether he would be able to surrender his BlackBerry for an entire 48 hours, but much to my surprise, he managed to get through the withdrawl. Spending time together as a couple and enjoying each other's company was #1 on the list.

The two of us are obsessed with all the coupon sites like Groupon and Living Social, and we happened to come across a great deal for a one-night stay at the Hyatt in Hauppauge, LI. $85 for the night, including breakfast for two. Rooms booked up very quickly and the only night we could get a room was on a Friday, so we decided to make a whole weekend out of it and book a second night somewhere further out on The North Fork of the island. We decided on the beach town of Greenport. Greenport may only be 2 & 1/2 hours from Mid-town Manhattan, but let me tell you, it felt like we were thousands of miles away from the hustle and bustle.

Nick picked me up at my office and we drove out to Hauppauge. The Hyatt is beautiful, and we had a view over looking the golf course from the 10th floor. We had a few drinks in the room and then headed down for a nice dinner. The hotel was packed full of young couples who had booked through Living Social as well. The next morning we headed out to the wineries after having breakfast.

Because we were driving, we only stopped at two vineyards. Although you only get a couple ounces of wine to taste per glass, it adds up quickly. However, you can taste it and then spit it out (but seriously, who does that?). The first vineyard stop was Borghese Vineyards. This is the oldest vineyard on Long Island, and they have some amazing wines.

What stood out to us was a 2001 Cabenet Franc - $85 a bottle. Cab Franc is now one of our new faves. It's a Cabenet Sauvignon grape with a hint of merlot (I'm so fancy when I talk about wine). We ended up leaving with a bottle of a less expensive Cab Franc and a Pinot Grigio.

Next was The Old Field Winery. This was by far our favorite out of the two vineyards. It was so cozy, and situated on an old farm in a big empty field (hence the name), and the tasting room was in a barn. We walked in to find a fire burning and live music, and the cutest old dog was alseep on the floor curled up in his bed by the fire (well, the cutest next to our pooch, Barney).

This winery doesn't date back as far as Borghese, so their vintage is around 2004. None-the-less, we loved it. We left Old Field with a bottle of their table red, Rooster Tail. At this point, I was starting to feel the wine a bit (oopsie, I was a lil' tipsy. Nick was driving, so don't worry). We headed to our next hotel destination, The Sound View Inn, in Greenport, LI.

I'll be honest, I was a bit worried about staying at The Sound View. The reviews on Trip Advisor were great, but it's more of a motel than a hotel. It's less expensive than most of the lodging in Greenport and they don't have a two-night minimum, so we gave it a shot. We had the most amazing view of the ocean from our balcony because Sound View is on a private beach. The room was a little dated, but that doesn't bother us. As long as it's clean, we're good. When we arrived it was cold and windy, but the next morning was sunny and beautiful.

We had dinner that night at a restaurant called Noah's. We had heard this was a must-try in Greenport. Let me tell you, it was fantastic! We made a reservation, but it's such a popular place that we still had to wait 45 minutes for our table. No problem, because we waited at the bar. It's primarily Tapas style, so we ordered six plates to share. The beer and bacon glazed almonds appetizer, and the jumbo lump crab cake were two dishes we will never forget.

Sunday was warm and sunny, and perfect for walking around town. We took tons of photos and ended up at the local brewery - The Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. For just $6 you get a keep-sake pint glass, and samples of seven of their signature brews. Nick's favorite was the Black Duck Porter. Similar to Guinness, but it balances cocoa and coffee flavors. After that we decided to wait a few hours before making the treck back to the City. A greasy lunch was definitely in order.

This trip was such a blast that we've already decided to gather up some friends and head back out to enjoy the Greenport beaches during the Summer, and everything else this lovely town has to offer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The New House Compromise

Hey, Nick here, with just a quick thought for the day.

There is something very important to remember when buying your first home together. Marriage and a new home are very similar. No marriage or house will ever be perfect, and that is why there will always be a give and take for both. I have worked with many couples purchasing their first home, not only together, but the first home ever for each of them. Neither one of them is exactly sure what to expect from this experience, and It's during this process that disagreements may arise. It's totally alright if they do. It's very therapeutic in a way, because you are given the opportunity to learn a lot more about one another as a couple. Plus, it gives me a chance to not only be a real estate agent, but to play therapist as well ;-)

What I find helpful when newlywed buyers come to my office, is to present them with a check list of items that each of them might want in a new house. This list contains popular features you'd find in a home that most people look for. Like, central A/C for example. They fill out the list in separate rooms and put numbers 1-15 next to the items of most to least importance. Then we all reconvene to look it over. Sometimes their lists are very similar and sometimes the complete opposite, but this helps get them in the new house mind set and allows them to start thinking about compromising with each other. She might want the country style kitchen, and he might prefer the granite and stainless steel appliances. She might be leaning towards the move-in-ready Colonial, and he may want to play handyman and get his hands on the fixer-upper (In our marriage, my wife plays handyman. I can't even be trusted with a hammer). She may be leaning more towards a finished basement as a play room for future rug rats, and he may want the man-cave of his dreams down there. No matter what the preference, there is always a way to come to a common ground. That common ground is: whatever she wants! Of course, I kid. You have already vowed to stick by each other 'til death do you part. You can certainly vow to agree on the house of your dreams.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Decorate 4 Less: The Ugly Old Lamp

Hi, Anne here!

One of the most exciting parts of being a newlywed is turning "your place" into ''our place". Gone are the days of beanbag chairs and milk crates or zebra print and lace, and in are the days of meshing both of your personalities together. While this can be a daunting and expensive process it doesn't always have to be!

Luckily, when Nick and I moved into a new apartment together we didn't disagree that much on what to keep and what to get rid of (who am I kidding? I made him get rid of his gross old comforter, cracked coffee table, and life size cardboard cut-out of Superman). We also didn't disagree much on how to decorate.The only problem was we didn't have enough ''stuff'' to work with. The last thing I wanted to do was spend hundreds of dollars on new decor, so we found easy DIY projects to spruce up our new home.

Here is an easy lamp project that took about 2 garage sales, 1 can of spray paint, $13 and 1 hour to complete.

Step 1
Hit up garage sales/yard sales/estate sales and see what there is to offer. We like to go to at least one a weekend to see what we can find. Look for the shape of an object and not the actual color/pattern. Keep in mind that metal, wood, and glass are the best to work with if refinishing. Plastics don't take to
these projects very well.

This weekends find, a $5.00 lamp from a local garage sale

Step 2
I taped over the light socket and the top of the cord so they were safe from the paint. Then I used all-purpose sandpaper and sanded the whole lamp lightly. Sanding is an important part of the process because it helps the spray paint stick.

Step 3
Using Krylon Satin Finish spray paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze, I sprayed about 5 light and even coats all over including the metal base. Light coats are better than thick because it stops drips from occurring.

Step 4
Let the lamp dry for 30 minutes and viola, a lamp that looks brand new and only cost $13 total.

The breakdown was $5 for the lamp and $7.50 for the spray paint.
We used a lampshade that we had already from Target (original price, $12.99).

Look out next week for another easy, DIY decor idea!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's NOT All About the Benjamin's, Baby

Hi! Nick here, with a few tips to remember before and after the home buying process. Buying your first home together can be a very exciting time, but it can also be a time where mistakes are made that can become road blocks to your dream home. When the two of you sit down after the wedding and start to open all those little envelopes filled with moolah, you usually start to think about all the fancy presents you want to buy for yourselves. Well, if you plan on buying the fanciest present of them all, a house...then you better put dreams of financing a new car on hold until after you close on the new digs. When you go to apply for that mortgage and a bank sees a brand new BMW on the credit report, they are going to slam the door right in your face. Yes, a car loan is considered a normal type of debt, but they like to see that it's debt that you've been paying down for a couple years. If you can hold off on the new Roadster for just a bit longer, you'll be all the better for it. In a nutshell: hold off on those big-ticket items until after moving day.

One of the most common situations I find myself in with newlyweds who are first-time buyers is, they tend to look in price ranges that might be a a little over their heads. You don't want to be caught in that "I told you so" moment with your real estate agent. The way to avoid that is to get pre-approved for a loan before you look for a house. You can break out the calculator yourself and add up your Benjamin's, but you'll find out soon that it's not all about those. The bank might disagree with you when it comes to your buying power. The moral of this story is: don't fall for a over-priced property to find out that you can't afford it. It's much more comforting to look for a house in the best, and most comfortable price range for you.