How to Pick Produce

Fruits and vegetables overhead assortment colorful background green, yellow to red

If you have ever purchased produce only to have it in turn moldy or mushy a few days later, the fruits or vegetables you selected may not have been in the best shape to begin with.


By selecting the right produce at the grocery store, you avoid wasting money while also maximizing the shelf life of your food.


As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to stay away from pre-bagged or pre-cut produce. Pre-bagged produce is often smaller, and pre-cut produce simply won’t last as long. Picking out your produce item-by-item will result in better flavors and textures.


Below is a guide on how to pick your fruits and vegetables.


*While avocados, tomatoes, and the like are technically fruits, we divided them by the categories under which they are typically considered.


Apples: Fruits should be firm, colorful, shiny, and free of bruises or punctures.
Apricots: Select aromatic fruits with no green spots and a slight give with gentle pressure.

Select fruit that is yellow all over with no green or brown spots.

Look out for mold and mushy berries.
     *Blackberries & Raspberries: Full and juicy, but not leaking.
     *Blueberries: Avoid berries with red or green areas. Select firm ones.
     *Strawberries: Select colorful strawberries with green stems. Fruit should be fragrant and shiny, as well.

Select aromatic fruit that is heavy for its size.

Select plump, firm cherries that look dark and glossy and have green stems.

Avoid selecting dirty, bumpy, or broken fruits.

Select a deeply colored fruit with a slightly reddish hue and a heavy, plump feel.

Search for grapes that are firmly attached to flexible stems. Grapes should be deeply colored, firm, and plump.

Select fragrant, plump fruit. If you want ripe fruit, select the ones that yield to gentle pressure, or pick firm ones and ripen them at home for a few days.

Lemons and Limes:
The best citrus will be bright and feel heavy for their size. Avoid discoloration and overly thick peels.

Selecting mangoes is best done by feel rather than color. The softer the mango, the riper it is. The stem end should be lightly scented.

Fruit should be heavy for its size. Also look for smooth, firm, and thin peels.

Select aromatic fruit that is soft, but not mushy.

Ripe pears should give a little when pressed gently at the top.

Select smooth and plump fruit. The skin should be bright and glossy.

 Search for large fruit with bright green leaves. The outside should be firm.

Select plums that are firm and heavy for their size.

Darker colored pomegranates will be sweeter than those that are pink, which will taste tart. Fruit should be heavy and firm.

Select heavy, firm watermelon. When tapped, the inside should sound hollow.
Asparagus: Choose asparagus with firm, green stalks, and tightly closed tips with no signs of flowering.

If you’re looking for an unripe avocado, select a firm one that doesn’t give to gentle pressure. If you want to purchase a ripe avocado, pick out a bumpy dark-green one.

Keep an eye out for plump corn with sticky, brown tassels.

Bright, firm cucumbers with even color are the best to take home. Keep an eye out for dullness, soft spots, and bruises.

Select smooth, shiny eggplants with deep, uniform color. The vegetables should be heavy for their size, and the smaller eggplants are generally sweeter.

Choose garlic that is plump and heavy without broken skin or soft spots.

Select fresh herbs that are fragrant and do not appear wilted.

The outer leaves of a lettuce head should be intact and firm, and the whole head should be somewhat heavy.
Okra: The best okra will be bright green with no bruises or dark spots.

Select firm onions with papery skins that are still intact. Store at room temperature.

Select shiny, wrinkle-free, firm peppers.

Select firm potatoes with no sprouts, slits, green tinge, or wrinkles. Store at room temperature.

The stalks of the rhubarb should be stiff and not limp. There should be no cracks or blemishes, and leaves should be small. Be sure to remove the leaves before you store rhubarb, as they are toxic.

Sugar Snap Peas:
The pods of sugar snap peas should be medium to dark green in color and feel firm and plump.

Avoid fruit that is bruised, cracked, or wrinkled. The leaves should be bright green, and the tomatoes should be heavy and smooth.

Yellow Squash:
Select firm, small to medium squash, as the large ones contain too much water or fiber.

Be on the lookout for firm, shiny vegetables free of cuts and bruises. Pick out the ones that aren’t too big.

Fresh Listing Friday: Scenic Contemporary

Fresh Listing Friday 960
Happy Friday y’all! This week’s Fresh Listing Friday is a stylish contemporary estate in Arlington situated on 2.5 acres with endless views. 2906 Shadow Drive is nestled behind a private gated entrance and offers professional landscaping, a fitness studio and a media room. Take a virtual tour below to see all the beautiful amenities throughout.

Need-to-know Details:

• Priced at $3,950,000
• 10,076 square feet: 4 bedrooms, 6.1 baths
• Island kitchen with quartz countertops and a climate-controlled wine cellar
• Master suite with custom closets, dual vanities, a walk-in shower, and fireplace
• Outdoor living area with a kitchen, fireplace, pool, spa, a steam shower, and pond

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To view this listing, contact the Magazzine Cunningham Group at 817.654.8589 or

7 Must-See Open Houses This Weekend

If you’re looking for a home in North Texas, you’ve come to the right place! Even if you’re not, these properties are all open to visitors this weekend and may serve as the perfect inspiration for your next home search.
6631 LAKEHURST AVENUE6631 Lakehurst Avenue | Dallas – Preston Hollow | $2,295,000 horseshoe trail5003 Horseshoe Trail | Dallas – Bluffview | $1,899,999 1812 MACGREGOR DRIVE1812 MacGregor Drive | Plano | $1,249,000839 SHARON ROAD839 Sharon Road | Fairview | $995,0006641 LAKESHORE DRIVE6641 Lakeshore Drive | Dallas – Lakewood | $899,0004014 COBBLERS LANE4014 Cobblers Lane | North Dallas | $430,0003101mosswood drive13101 Mosswood Drive | McKinney | $365,000
To see all the wonderful homes open this weekend, visit

Easy Summer Refreshments


Lemonade pitcher with lemon, mint and ice on garden table. View with copy space
It can be tough to stay hydrated in the Texas heat, but we’re here to help. These easy and refreshing drink recipes are perfect for pool parties, relaxing on the patio, or enjoying with some barbecue.

A pitcher of blackberry iced tea and two glasses sit on a wooden table in the garden. Lemon wedges and fresh blackberries are on the side.
Blackberry Sweet Tea
*1 pinch of baking soda
*4 cups boiling water
*4 tea bags
*2 1/2 cups cold water
*3 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen/thawed
*1 1/4 cups sugar
*1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1. Crush blackberries and sugar together in a large container.
2. Add mint and baking soda; set aside.
3. Drape tea bags over the side of a pitcher; pour boiling water into the pitcher.
4. Steep for 3 minutes; remove and discard tea bags.
5. Combine tea and blackberry mixture; rest for 1 hour.
6. Strain through a mesh sieve.
7. Add cold water and stir.
8. Refrigerate before serving.
Orange iced tea in a glass jar with paper straws on a rustic wooden background.
Citrus Mint Tea

*1 cup white sugar
*1 cup water
*4 black tea bags
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
*2 quarts cold water
*1 cup orange juice
* 6 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Dissolve sugar in boiling water.
2. Add tea bags and mint; steep for 10 minutes.
3. Strain mixture; discard tea bags and wilted mint.
4. Combine tea mixture with cold water, orange juice, and lemon juice.
5. Refrigerate before serving.
Lemonade glass jars with lemon wedges and straws sitting on a wood tabletop
Classic Lemonade
*6 lemons, enough to make 1 cup of juice
*1 cup white sugar
*6 cups cold water
1. Juice the lemons via your preferred method of juicing.
2. Stir together lemon juice, sugar, and water.
3. Serve over ice.
"Closeup and selective focus on a clear mug of ice tea infused with honey, fresh lemon and mint. A small jar of honey and a plate of sliced lemon and mint sit nearby on a lace tablecloth.More tea and lemonade photos:"
Ginger Honey Lemon Iced Tea
*1 4-inch piece of ginger, washed, peeled, and sliced
*1 lemon, juiced and zested
*1/2 cup honey
*6 cups water
*Springs of mint, for garnish
1. Combine ginger, water, and lemon zest in water; bring to a boil.
2. Steep for 30-45 minutes.
3. Strain through a mesh sieve.
4. Add remaining ingredients.
5. Refrigerate before serving.
Two glasses of iced tea with pitcher. Selective focus.

Old Fashioned Sweet Tea

*1 pinch baking soda
*2 cups boiling water
*6 black tea bags
*3/4 cup white sugar
*6 cups cool water
1. Add baking soda to the bottom of a glass pitcher.
2. Place tea bags over the edge, pour boiling water into the pitcher.
3. Steep for 15 minutes; remove and discard tea bags.
4. Add sugar and cool water to the rest of the mixture.
5. Refrigerate before serving.
Fresh Homemade Peach Sweet Tea with Mint
Peach Iced Tea
*1 cup sugar
*9 cup hot water
*2 peaches, sliced
*4 black tea bags
1. Combine, peaches, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan; bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Crush peaches.
2. Remove from heat; steep for 30 minutes.
3. Brew tea according to directions; remove tea bags and discard.
4. Strain syrup through a mesh sieve.
5. Combine syrup and tea mixture in a large pitcher.
6. Refrigerate before serving.
Summer cool drink, juice of watermelon with space for text
Rosemary Watermelon Lemonade
*2 cups water
*3/4 cups white sugar
*1 sprig rosemary, stripped and chopped
*2 cups lemon juice
*12 cups watermelon
*8 cups ice cubes
*Springs of rosemary, for garnish
1. Dissolve sugar in boiling water; add rosemary, steep for 1 hour.
2. Combine watermelon and lemon juice in a blender; blend until smooth.
3. Strain through a mesh sieve.
4. Refrigerate before serving.
Asian inspired healthy, cold drinks. Iced chai tea with herbs, lime and mint on the left and iced watermelon juice mocktail on the right, garnished with mint and watermelon wedge, served in cocktail glasses with straws.
Watermelon Green Tea
*3 cups green tea
*8 cups watermelon, cubed
*1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1/2 cups seltzer
*Springs of mint, for garnish
1. Combine green tea, watermelon, and lemon juice in a blender; blend until smooth.
2. Strain through a mesh sieve.
3. Refrigerate until cool.
3. Add seltzer 

How to Work With a Professional Organizer

By: Alison Hogdson
My friend Jane is one of those peculiar people who gets energy from pulling order out of chaos. She owns and runs a bed-and-breakfast in her home, a hundred-year-old Georgian mansion. Her kitchen is a wonder of organization; even her label maker is labeled. After we completely remodeled our kitchen, I told her I would love her expert help in organizing it, but it was only years later, after my epiphany about decluttering, that we actually made it happen.
My kitchen wasn’t even in terrible shape. The counters were clear, there wasn’t a ton of clutter, and I actually had some systems in place, but I knew Jane would help me maximize the space. Eleven hours later, the kitchen was completely reorganized, as was the tiny pantry and small linen closet down the hall as well as my bathroom vanity, because this led to that and that and that.
At the end of the day, I was exhausted, but I knew I never wanted to even consider organizing a room without Jane leading the charge. She was a force of nature, but effective. After that we went room by room, every few weeks or so, decluttering and reorganizing until the day my house burned down.
Jane and I couldn’t be any different if we tried, but we worked well together for a variety of reasons. Here are the qualities I recommend looking for in a gifted friend or professional organizer.

The organizer “gets” you. Jane is a reader and has a huge personal library, so I knew she wouldn’t fight me about my books. Her butler’s pantry is larger than many kitchens and is filled with crystal, glass and china. She loves antiques and understands sentimental attachment to things, so there again I knew she wouldn’t pressure me to get rid of everything, but help me to prioritize and organize.
Indefatigable energy. Decluttering is exhausting work, physically and mentally. As I said before, some people get energy from pulling order out of chaos, and this is a nonnegotiable. There will be moments (hours!) when you want to crawl into the fetal position because the job is so overwhelming, but this is just when a naturally organized person is getting fired up and gaining momentum.
A sense of humor. This is for all parties involved. If there is ever a time you need to be able to laugh, it’s when you are knee deep in bags and boxes and the end of it all is nowhere in sight.
Creativity and flexibility. Jane’s passion is “systems,” which are personal routines that establish and maintain order. We had to find compromises between her suggestions for an ideal world and our day-to-day living as a family with several members not naturally organized — one of whom is me!
Basic respect and kindness. To put it delicately, Jane is not a social worker, and her attitude is often, “What is wrong with you?” — which isn’t always helpful. I came into decluttering with a healthy self image; I knew I was bringing many things to the table, but organizing was not one of them. I also knew that Jane cared about me and thought a lot of me in general. Mutual respect overall is imperative.

Just as important as finding a good fit with a friend or professional is making sure you’re ready. Ask yourself a couple of questions:
Am I willing to try something new? If you meet every suggestion with, “That won’t work,” you aren’t going to benefit from the other person’s wisdom. You may think you’re being practical, but it’s really a form of defensiveness. “Try it on,” as the life coaches say. Before you reject a new way of doing something, try to imagine how it could work and then refine it for you and your family if necessary.
Am I willing to get rid of a lot of stuff? Of course there are exceptions to this; you know who you are, and please carry on. But by and large, most of us have too much junk. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it or how priceless it is, sentimentally speaking. If it’s covered with dust and stacked in a pile — and you are overwhelmed — you need to get rid of it or a lot of other things to create adequate space.
If you can’t emphatically answer yes to both these questions, it’s a sign you aren’t quite ready to get outside help. It is what it is; just don’t expect someone to help you rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s OK to be nervous and not quite sure you’re going to be able to get it all done. That’s normal. Recognizing you need help and being willing to ask for it is an enormous step.
In the beginning it may be stressful. You’ll be making a lot of decisions and may be feeling ashamed of the condition of things. This should pass. As you gain momentum you should feel hopeful, more confident and even excited. If the tension is only increasing, this is a sign that the person helping you isn’t a good fit or, again, you just aren’t ready yet.

Special tip: if you can possibly avoid it, pick a helper other than a person to whom you gave birth or who gave birth to you. The dynamic between parent and child when one is neat and organized and one is … not can be very trying.
Hire a professional or call on a friend and, unless it’s a dire emergency, leave your parents or your children out of it, other than to put dibs on family heirlooms.
Related Links:
Organize the Clutter With New Storage Cabinets

Don’t Forget to Clear the Pantry
Get Started With Professional Organizers Today

Nwachukwu Named Sales Manager of Ebby’s Irving/Las Colinas/Coppell Office

Kim Nwachukwu Named Sales Manager of Ebby’s Irving/Las Colinas/Coppell Office


Ebby Halliday Realtors has appointed Kim Nwachukwu sales manager of its Irving/Las Colinas/Coppell Office. Mary Frances Burleson, president and chief executive officer of the Ebby Halliday Companies, made the announcement.
“Kim brings with her a deep understanding of all aspects of real estate, and will be a great leader for our team of agents in the Irving/Las Colinas/Coppell Office,” Burleson says. “She is focused on helping agents take their careers to the next level, and understands the importance of education, marketing, and exemplary service to clients.”
Nwachukwu will report to Betty Misko, executive vice president and director of sales offices for the Ebby Halliday Companies.
“Kim joined Ebby in 2004 as an agent because of the company’s distinguished reputation,” Misko says. “She knew Ebby offered exceptional training opportunities and a place to grow professionally. Kim has certainly done that, and I’m confident her leadership skills will benefit our Irving/Las Colinas/Coppell Office in countless ways.”


A native Texan, Nwachukwu has been a resident of North Texas for 26 years. She has spent her entire residential real estate career in Ebby’s Irving office.


“I am passionate about properly managed real estate transactions – from inception to closing,” Nwachukwu says. “I have a knack for anticipating where things may go wrong in transactions, and I look forward to assisting our agents to ensure smooth sales experiences for our valued clients.”


A motivated, natural leader who holds the Graduate, REALTOR® Institute designation, Nwachukwu is respected for her professional insight and focus on community. She is dedicated to supporting Ebby’s Irving/Las Colinas/Coppell agents by providing positive leadership and personal mentoring.


“I like to listen,” Nwachukwu says. “I want to hear what people have to say. Listening provides invaluable insight into how to best serve our agents and valued clients.”
Nwachukwu is passionate about her community, neighborhood and neighbors, and enjoys reading, art and American Kenpo Karate. She lives in Las Colinas with her family.
“I am thrilled to be the new manager of Ebby’s Irving/Las Colinas/Coppell Office,” Nwachukwu says. “We have a strong roster of agents, and it is our privilege to serve our wonderful community.”
For more information on Ebby’s Irving/Las Colinas/Coppell Office, visit

Fresh Listing Friday: Modern Simplicity

Fresh Listing Friday 960

Happy Friday y’all! This week’s Fresh Listing Friday is modern home in Dallas’ sought-after Urban Reserve community, adjacent to White Rock Creek Trail. Cantilevered over a cliff, 33 Vanguard Way offers natural lighting, a quiet study and a kitchen with an abundance of storage. Take a virtual tour below to see all the beautiful upgrades throughout.

Need-to-know Details:

• Priced at $710,000
• 2,009 square feet: 3 bedrooms, 2.1 baths
• 1.5 stories
• Master suite downstairs
• A glass wall the length of the house separating the garden and living spaces
• A guest suite on the second floor

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To view this listing, contact Hector Sanchez at 469-955-0255 or

Luxury Uptown Living: The Residences at the Stoneleigh


Situated in the heart of Uptown Dallas, the Residences at the Stoneleigh offers the best of luxury living.

Photo courtesy of Paula Bosse,

Originally known as the Stoneleigh Court Apartment Hotel, the building first opened in 1923 on the corner of Maple Avenue and Wolf Street and has been a luxury landmark ever since, according to
Today, the Residences at the Stoneleigh are adjacent to the hotel and offer the same, luxurious high-rise living with five-star amenities.
The website describes the decor as a blend of “19th-century French, Greek and Modernist touches” with a “Hollywood Glamour meets Art Deco” feel. Think: a chic blend of colors and patterns that create an air of elegance and sophistication.
Reaching an inspiring 22 stories, the properties offer customizable floor plans, spacious balconies, and panoramic skyline views.
Amenities include private elevators, covered balconies, and 24-hour concierge, valet parking, a banquet room with a full kitchen and bar, a 20-seat media room, a heated pool with a spa, an outdoor living area with a fireplace, a dog park, conference rooms and a fitness center with steam rooms.
“Our Ebby team is thrilled to be associated with this magnificent property,” said Ebby agent Linda Jordan Hobbs. “The most discerning buyers will appreciate the five-star amenities and gorgeous, quality finishes at Residences at the Stoneleigh. A true gem in the heart of Dallas.”
Need more convincing? Take a look below at all the beautiful photos. Unit 12D is shown.
For more information on the available units at the Residences at the Stoneleigh, contact the members of Ebby’s Stoneleigh team:
Linda Jordan Hobbs: 214-535-3732 or
Stacey Beckham Lake: 214-908-2477 or
Joe Gall: 214-957-5383 or
Susan Gamso: 214-906-0355 or


7 Must-See Open Houses This Weekend


If you’re looking for a home in North Texas, you’ve come to the right place! Even if you’re not, these properties are all open to visitors this weekend and may serve as the perfect inspiration for your next home search.


4430 TAOS ROAD_OpenHouse4430 Taos Road | Dallas – Bluffview Estates | $3,289,00011133 EASTVIEW CIRCLE_OpenHouse11133 Eastview Circle | North Dallas | $2,695,00031 WINDSOR RIDGE_OpenHouse31 Windsor Ridge | Frisco | $959,0002811 HOOD STREET G_OpenHouse2811 Hood Street G | Dallas – Turtle Creek | $569,00010010 HARWICH DRIVE_OpenHouse10010 Harwich Drive | Dallas – University Park | $529,000 4104 VISTAVIEW COURT_OpenHouse4104 Vistaview Court | Arlington | $525,0002611 LEXINGTON PLACE_OpenHouse2611 Lexington Place | McKinney – Village Creek | $515,000


To see all the wonderful homes open this weekend, visit

Garrison Named Sales Manager of Ebby’s Flower Mound/Lewisville Office

Becky Garrison Named Manager of Flower Mound/Lewisville Office


Ebby Halliday Realtors has appointed Becky Garrison sales manager of its Flower Mound/Lewisville Office. Mary Frances Burleson, president and chief executive officer of the Ebby Halliday Companies, made the announcement.

“Becky brings extensive customer service and sales experience, and will be a great mentor to our agents in the Flower Mound/Lewisville Office,” Burleson says. “A two-time recipient of the Greater Lewisville Association of Realtors’ Realtor of the Year Award, Becky offers a long history of distinguished service to our industry and community.”

Says Betty Misko, executive vice president and director of sales offices for the Ebby Halliday Companies, “I am confident Becky’s background in interior design and real estate will serve her well in our Flower Mound/Lewisville Office. She has an innate understanding of how to prepare homes for sale, and her high energy and engaging personality make her wonderful with both agents and clients.”


A longtime resident of North Texas, Garrison has been in real estate since 2005. Having an additional 10 years of design experience with architectural and engineering firms further amplifies her ability to understand clients’ needs and the importance of professionalism.

“I am looking forward to empowering our Flower Mound/Lewisville agents to be the best they can be,” Garrison says. “I have always enjoyed mentoring and collaborating with people.”


An enthusiastic, personable leader who holds professional designations as a Certified Negotiation Expert, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, a Certified Military Residential Specialist, and a Residential Finance Consultant, Garrison is widely admired for her positive attitude and continued interest in learning. She is dedicated to supporting the office’s agents by providing professional development, the cutting-edge tools Ebby is known for, and one-on-one coaching.


Garrison is actively involved in the community, including being a Boy Scout Merit Badge Counselor and serving on several boards as a director. In her spare time, she enjoys motorcycle rides with her husband, leading her book club, yoga, gardening, live music and dancing.

“I’m excited about the challenge this new position as sales manager of Ebby’s Flower Mound/Lewisville Office brings,” Garrison says. “We are a close-knit group where agents of all experience levels help each other. We strive to be the most educated and professionally prepared agents for our clients. We are proud to be Ebby agents.”

For more information on Ebby’s Flower Mound/Lewisville Office, visit