Tips for Enhancing Your Master Retreat


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6614 Brookshire Drive | Preston Hollow

 

A home is an ever-evolving project. As our styles change and years go by, it’s easy to get the itch to update your home. Buyers and sellers alike often pay more attention to kitchens, master bathrooms, closets and outdoor spaces than they do to the vital space where they will usually spend more than a third of their 24 hours each day. If you’re looking for a change or wanting to fall back in love with your master bedroom, follow these tips.

 

Choice Spot

The bed should be set away from the room’s entrance to keep it out of the main circulation path. Place it in a spot so occupants can enjoy the best view — whether that’s inside (maybe toward a fireplace or favorite piece of art) or outdoors (with views of trees or water where possible). Personalize it by pairing the bed with a headboard and dressing it up with decorative pillows, a duvet and a throw.

 

Window Treatments

Minimal is the design mantra when it comes to much of the standard room décor today. But while no coverings in some rooms, such as kitchens and living rooms, allows for more light and views, some amount of treatment in a bedroom is needed to block outside light and provide privacy – think shutters, electric shades or curtains.

 

Right Lighting

Installing recessed cans is discouraged. They tend to chop up a ceiling and aren’t too attractive to look at while in bed. Task lighting from lamps on night tables or wall-mounted sconces are preferred.

 

Conceal or Banish Electronics

For years, scientists and health professionals have known about the danger of the blue light that comes from certain electronic equipment and how it adversely affects melatonin production. Homeowners might consider making the master bedroom an electronics-free zone, without TVs and other technology to help train the brain that the bedroom is primarily a place to sleep rather than stay awake.

 

Soothing Palette

Colors that are less bold are more restful. A palette of pale blues, greens, beiges, grays and whites create a calming environment. In addition, bedding in white and light creams make for a soothing sight to the eye.

 

Creature Comforts

If the room’s size allows, consider adding a chaise, chair and ottoman, and night tables. Also, a large area rug or wall-to-wall carpeting can help deaden noise and provide warmth underfoot. If the room is located so it opens directly to the outdoors, play this up. Real access to idyllic scenery can contribute to a sense of tranquility.

Add Beauty & Value to Your Home


1_Braewood

25 Braewood Place | $6,750,000 | The O’Gorman Group

 

Trees don’t ask for much — dirt, water, sunlight. Yet they provide many benefits for you and your home: They add beauty and value to your property, cut your energy bills with the shade they provide, serve as a home to wildlife, and improve the air you breathe.

 

2_Waller

10121 Waller Drive | $5,950,000 | Mary Poss

 

To get the full benefits from your trees, choose the right one and plant it in the right location. Planting a tree that sheds its leaves annually on the west side of your house provides cooling shade in the summer. In winter, after it loses its leaves, the same tree will let in sunlight that cuts heating bills.

 

3_Point de Vue

1901 Point De Vue Drive | $2,900,000 | The O’Toole LeVan Group

 

If you’re planting a new tree, think about its fully grown size and shape before you dig. Roots too close to your home could damage the foundation or block sewer lines. The wrong tree in the wrong place could actually lower your home’s appraised value.

 

4_Valencia

2022 Valencia Cove | $2,695,000 | The Marcontell & Gilchrest Group

 

To learn more about trees and how you can improve the environment while improving your property value, visit arborday.org, where you’ll find a wealth of useful information about trees. To learn more about the beautiful homes featured in this post, as well as all of the homes currently available for purchase in North Texas, visit the award-winning ebby.com.

Plan Your Tax-Free Weekend Shopping


School backpack and school supplies with chalkboard background. Education or back to school concept.

 

Tax-free weekend is days away, and just in time for back-to-school shopping. Are you ready?

 

This year’s Sales Tax Holiday will happen Friday, August 9, through midnight Sunday, August 11. But remember, the tax exemption is only available on certain items under $100. Computers and software are not tax-exempt.

 

Tax-free items include: 

• School supplies
• Art supplies
• School instructional materials
• Clothing and footwear less than $100 per item
• Backpacks

 

Shopping with Mom

 

The best ways to save money on tax-free weekend:

• Planning ahead
• Making a list of items you need
• Looking for the best sales in your area
• Checking for coupons (printable or online)
• Maximizing price match programs where available.

 

Good luck and happy shopping!

Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal


Idyllic Home With Covered Porch

 

Although we’ve been told to do otherwise, people often judge homes based on curb appeal. Enhance your home’s exterior with these five tips.

 

Front Door

Wash your front door and polish hardware — replace if necessary. If the sun has faded the paint or you want a change, consider repainting with a bold new color that brings you joy.

 

Windows & Gutters

Remove debris from gutters and drain spouts before cleaning. Wash and repair windows or hire a professional. Clean or replace window treatments inside your home that are visible from the outside.

 

Landscaping

Mow, fertilize and water your lawn. Tidy up gardens; remove dead plants and branches; plant colorful flowers along any path or walkway; and add potted plants by the entry.

 

Porch

Sweep the porch; clear cobwebs from fixtures, railings and corners. Store toys, yard equipment and garbage cans. Clean patio furniture or consider updating worn pieces; add a swing or seating if space allows.

 

Exterior Touches

Check for missing or damaged shingles. Power wash and repair walkways and driveway. Clean or update light fixtures. Repaint shutters; repair, paint or replace mailbox. Check that house numbers are visible from the street; replace if needed.

3 Must-Have Home Amenities


modern kitchen

 

Some amenities that homebuyers once considered “nice-to-have” are moving into the “must-have” category. Below are three that experts say have grown in demand among home shoppers:

 

Smart Homes

More and more homes can be controlled via smart phone or tablet. Appliances and home systems can be turned on, off, or programmed via mobile devices. Some smart refrigerators have built-in apps that can create grocery shopping lists and smart ovens can be remotely controlled to start dinner or check on the status of what’s cooking.

 

Stainless-Steel Alternatives

Stainless-steel appliances have long dominated but some homebuyers are seeking alternatives. White ice and slate are increasingly growing as options to stainless-steel. Slate is being touted as an easy choice to blend in with other black, white or stainless-steel finishes. It can resist fingerprints and washes easily, too.

 

Energy Efficiency

Many homebuyers place a premium on finding a home with energy-efficient, cost-effective appliances. Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy than their older counterparts. Also gaining popularity are smarter appliances, including dishwashers with sensors that can determine the appropriate cycle length and water temperature and washers that can extract more water from laundry during the spin cycle so the dryer has less drying to do.

Tips for Selecting the Best Produce


Beautiful woman buying kale at a farmers market

 

If you have ever purchased produce only to have it 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 or farmers market, 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-packaged produce is often smaller and pre-cut varieties simply won’t last as long. Picking your produce individually will result in better flavors and textures.

 

Follow these tips for picking your fruits and vegetables.

 

Fruits

Apples: Fruits should be firm, colorful, shiny and free of bruises or punctures.

 

Apricots: Select aromatic fruits with no green spots and slight give with gentle pressure.


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

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

Cantaloupe:
 Select aromatic fruit that is heavy for its size.

Cherries:
 Select plump, firm cherries that look dark and glossy with green stems.

Figs:
 Avoid selecting dirty, bumpy or broken fruits.

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

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

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

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

Mangoes:
 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.

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

Peaches: 
Select aromatic fruit that is soft, but not mushy.

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

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

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

Plums: 
Select plums that are firm and heavy for their size.

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

Watermelon:
 Select heavy, firm watermelon. When tapped, the inside should sound hollow.

 

Vegetables

Asparagus: Choose asparagus with firm, green stalks and tightly closed tips with no signs of flowering.

Avocados:
 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, choose a bumpy dark-green one.

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

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

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

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

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

Lettuce: 
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.

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

Peppers: 
Select shiny, firm, wrinkle-free peppers.

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

Rhubarb: 
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.

Tomatoes: 
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.

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

 

For a list of North Texas farmers markets to shop fresh, local fruits and veggies, visit Farmers Markets Offer Fresh Local Fare.

6 Tips for North Texas Home Buyers and Sellers


Finally a home of our own!

 

Homes selling above asking price, numerous offers for the same property, hip-pocket listings shared only by word of mouth — it’s no secret that the North Texas housing market is booming.

 

To help you navigate these unprecedented home-buying and selling waters, we polled Ebby Halliday Associates and collected their top tips for today’s buyers and sellers.

 

Buyer’s Tips

Be qualified
Pre-plan financing by meeting with a mortgage lender ahead of time and receive a pre-approval letter that may be submitted when you make a written offer. “Less paperwork and more personal attention” is more than a saying at Home Team Mortgage Company, Ebby Halliday’s affiliated mortgage source. Contact Home Team Mortgage Company for a frustration-free experience from loan application to decision.

 

Act quickly
In a hot market, acting slowly or sleeping on it may cost you the opportunity to buy the home of your dreams. If you’ve found a home you’d be thrilled with, don’t wait to submit an offer — other buyers will likely be doing the same.

 

Offer a compelling price
Sellers often price their homes based on historical sold data or appraisals, and in a strong market where prices are rising rapidly, homes may sell for the listing price or higher. Study the sold comps, but also compare the house you want to other homes on the market, and ask yourself, “What price am I willing to pay, and at what price am I willing to lose this house?”

 

Seller’s Tips

Market to everyone near and far
You have the best chance of selling your home for the highest price by exposing it to the largest number of potential buyers. When you list your home with Ebby Halliday Realtors, it will enjoy worldwide exposure on ebby.com, the gold standard in residential real estate websites. Ebby.com is one of the most-visited residential real estate sites in the nation, far outpacing the competition.

 

Respond and keep momentum
There is an old adage that time kills deals. A buyer’s interest is at a peak level at the time he or she submits an offer, so keep the momentum going, choose the best offer, and respond promptly in writing.

 

Don’t be greedy
If a buyer offers an acceptable price and terms, sign the offer and your Ebby Halliday Associate will schedule a closing appointment and expertly guide you through the home-inspection and closing process.

 

Have a buying or selling question not addressed in this post? Contact one of Ebby Halliday Realtor’s North Texas offices and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.

Refreshing Summer Recipes


Water

 

It can be tough to beat the Texas heat, but ice-cold beverages and tasty treats definitely help. Here are some easy and delicious recipes perfect for relaxing on the patio or hanging by the pool.

 

Sips

Cold refreshing summer drink with lemon and mint on wooden background.

Classic Lemonade

Ingredients:
*6 lemons, enough to make 1 cup of juice
*1 cup white sugar
*6 cups cold water

Directions:
1. Juice the lemons via your preferred method of juicing.
2. Stir together lemon juice, sugar and water.
3. Serve over ice.

 

Watermelon Green Tea

Ingredients:
*3 cups green tea
*8 cups watermelon, cubed
*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
*1/2 cup seltzer
*Springs of mint, for garnish

Directions:
1. Combine green tea, watermelon and lemon juice in a blender; blend until smooth.
2. Strain through a mesh sieve.
3. Refrigerate until cool.
4. Add seltzer.

 

Blackberry Sweet Tea

Ingredients:
*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

Directions:
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.

 

Snacks

Delicious Italian dessert Panna Cotta

Sweet Ricotta and Strawberry Parfaits

Ingredients:
* 1 pound fresh strawberries, trimmed and halved or quartered
*1 teaspoon sugar
*1 tablespoon snipped fresh mint
* 1 15-ounce carton part-skim ricotta cheese
*3 tablespoons light agave nectar
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
* Fresh mint

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl combine strawberries, sugar and the 1 tablespoon snipped mint; gently stir to combine. Let stand about 10 minutes or until berries soften and start to release their juices.
2. In another medium bowl combine ricotta, agave nectar, vanilla and lemon peel. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.
3. To assemble, scoop 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture into each of six parfait glasses. Top ricotta mixture in each glass with a large spoonful of the strawberry mixture. Repeat layers with the remaining ricotta mixture and strawberry mixture. Garnish with additional fresh mint.
4. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 4 hours.

 

Caprese Salad Pita Pockets

Ingredients:
*1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
*4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
*1 cup coarsely chopped cucumber
*3/4 cup mixed spring salad greens
*1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
*2 tablespoons chopped green onion
*1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
*4 large whole wheat pita bread rounds, halved crosswise
* Large soft lettuce leaves (such as butterhead, Boston or Bibb)

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl toss together tomatoes, cheese cubes, cucumber, salad greens, basil, green onion, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
2. Line insides of pita halves with lettuce leaves.
3. Spoon tomato mixture into pitas.

 

No-Cook Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:
*3 green onions
*1/2 6-ounce package refrigerated cooked chicken breast strips
*1/2 of a medium green sweet pepper, seeded and cut up
*3 tablespoons rice vinegar
*1 teaspoon sesame oil or olive oil
*1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, as desired
*1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
*1 cup shredded cabbage
*2 tablespoons water
*2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
*8 leaves butterhead lettuce (Boston or Bibb), about 1 small head

Directions:
1. Trim and discard root ends of green onions. Cut off and slice green tops and set aside.
2. In a food processor combine white parts of the green onions, chicken breast, sweet pepper, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, oil, black pepper and, if desired, crushed red pepper. Cover and pulse until chicken mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl.
3. Add cabbage and toss to combine. Divide chicken mixture into four individual microwave safe containers; chill.
4. Spoon mixture into individual lettuce leaves and wrap.

For dipping sauce, in a small bowl combine sliced green onion tops, 2 tablespoons vinegar, water and soy sauce. Divide among 4 small containers.

Protect Your Yard From Pests


Honey bee flying away

Recent showers combined with warmer weather will create the perfect habitat for pesky summer bugs. Here are some effective ways to prevent the common bites, stings and nuisances.

 

Bees

To prevent bees from establishing a colony in or around your house, it’s important to remember these three things: food, water and shelter — bees’ keys to life.

As with any other summer bug, stagnant water must be kept to a minimum. Drain pots and repair any faulty irrigation systems. And if you have bird baths or pet bowls outside, mixing in 2 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water will discourage any bees from setting up shop near your house.

Plan an exterior inspection and eliminate any potential nesting sites. Cover holes, chimneys and animal burrows. Make sure windows and screens are tightly fitted and sealed. If you have any debris in your yard, such as old tires, cardboard boxes or old appliances, throw them out. Bees seek out such items for nesting sites.

Removing flowers as a source of food is not recommended. In fact, it’s very important for bees to pollinate many plants, including crops. If you have a colorful garden, not to worry. As long as you have their other two resources tamed to a minimum, you’re in tip-top shape for the summer.

 

Gnats

Although relatively harmless, these small creatures create quite the inconvenience with their constant swarming. Plus, you never know what germs they may be carrying as they travel from place to place.

If you garden, you want to make sure your fruits and veggies are staying fresh outside. If you happen to notice rotting or mold, act fast and pluck them out, then turn your soil or mulch to allow any moldy layers to dry out.

As with mosquitoes, be diligent in draining any standing water and drying out any moisture. With Texas humidity, the drying process may take a while. In this case, sprinkle a bit of sand on top of your soil, something very discouraging to gnats.

 

Mosquitoes

Unfortunately, Texas’ No. 1 culprit is here to stay. Aside from the traditional insect repellants and home remedies, it’s best to treat this problem at its source — water.

Turn over empty pottery to prevent from collecting water, drain plant saucers and fix any leaking outdoor faucets. Mosquitoes often lay their eggs in stagnant water, so the less the better.

 

Slugs

Like humans, slugs seek out shade on sunny days. And like many other bugs, they love moist areas.

To prevent slugs from damaging your plants and leaving their slimy evidence, get rid of any hiding places. Think cool, dark and moist. Try irrigating your lawn in the morning instead of the evening, allowing plenty of time for plants and soil to dry before the sun sets.

To protect plants, spray surrounding areas with soap and water. You can also create barriers around your plants, such as rocks, wire or anything rough and abrasive to slow them down.

Lastly, slugs have no bones. Therefore, they can fit in any crack or crevice they set their eyes on. Seal any cracks and cover any holes you notice throughout your house. By doing so, you not only eliminate the potential for slugs, but for other bugs as well.

 

If you’re experiencing bug problems not addressed here, contact your local nursery for expert advice.

Maximize the Joy of Fresh Flowers


Pastel cut flowers in a glass vase

 

Mother’s Day is this weekend, and that means flowers will be flying off the shelves.

 

In fact, “one-fourth of the flower and plant purchases made for holidays occur at Mother’s Day,” according to the Society of American Florists.

 

If you’re the lucky recipient of flowers, here are some tips on how to make your bouquet last longer.

 

Fresh blossoming flowers at at the florist shop (roses, ranunculus, tulips, carnations, mattiola,)

 

Clean vases are a must.

If whatever container you’re putting your stems in isn’t clean, bacteria will continue to grow and kill your flowers. Experts suggest scrubbing the vase with a mixture of 1-part bleach to 10-parts water before rinsing.

 

If a whole leaf is submerged underwater, tear it off.

When leaves remain underwater, they decompose and bacteria grows. You must keep bacteria at bay if you want your flowers to last.

 

The colder the water, the better.

When you want to cook vegetables, you steam them with warm water until they wilt and soften. Think about it like this, if you use room temperature or warm water, you’re causing the flowers to soften. The colder the water, the better your results.

 

Cut stems at a 45-degree angle.

When you cut flower stems with scissors, you are constricting the straw-like tube that allows nutrients to reach the top of the flower. Use a Swiss Army knife for soft stems and a pair of bypass cutters for woody stems. Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle.

 

Measure flower food precisely.

Avoid taking the easy route and dumping flower food into the vase with your flowers. Too much flower food will poison your flowers, and too little flower food is somewhat pointless. Use the directions on the packet of flower food to follow the correct food-to-water ratio.

 

Fresh water is key.

Every two days, or when the water gets cloudy, replace the water in the vase. With each water change, it’s recommended to clean the vase. Use the same recipe as above.

 

Source: ProFlowers