Not Your Average Pumpkins


It’s the time of year when pumpkin-filled porches are seen in every neighborhood anticipating the welcome of trick-or-treaters. Adorn your stoop with something different this Halloween and draw inspiration from these unique pumpkin decorating ideas.

 

Craft pumpkin painted white and decorated with pink flowers

Unicorn Dreams

Using a few basic craft supplies (think acrylic paint, clay, a hot glue gun), customize any pumpkin into the dreamy-eyed face of a sweet mystical creature or your favorite  pet.

 

beautiful painted pumpkins of white and gold color on halloween

Glitz & Glam

With a little glue or paint and a lot of glitter, have fun mixing designs and colors for pumpkins that sparkle.

 

Pumpkin with a beautiful autumn flower composition

Autumnal Bouquet

The easiest pumpkin you’ll ever carve requires slicing off the top, clearing the insides, inserting flowers and you have a pretty pumpkin bouquet — it even makes for the perfect centerpiece well into November.

 

Happy halloween! Pumpkins on white background.

Chalk It Up

With a coat or two of chalk paint, you can swap out Halloween messages and spooky silhouettes for days.

 

Halloween autumn display

Spray It Gold

A can of spray paint and a cardboard box are all you need to make simple, chic pumpkins in any color scheme — but isn’t everything prettier in gold?

 

Colorful pumpkin.Art background for Halloween concept,

Melted Magic

Just as it sounds, melt wax (or crayons) in your favorite color combinations for a unique work of art. A bit trickier than the rest, but worth the extra effort.

 

Black and rose cold colored pumpkins

Constellation Creation

Get creative with paint designs by doodling your favorite constellations and add a ribbon or two for good measure.

 

beautiful painted pumpkins of white and gold color on halloween

Gorgeous Gourds

Mix and match your favorite glitter and metallic paints for stylish, hand-crafted cuteness.

Liven Up Your Living Room


Wooden cupboard and white sofa in a living room interior with heather

A little refresh goes a long way in any room, but there’s definitely an art to a living room redesign. Follow these simple steps for a well-designed living room.

 

Beautiful living room interior with hardwood floors and fireplace in new luxury home.

Furniture

Determine the best furniture placement based on room traffic, taking into consideration fireplaces, TVs and outdoor views. Start with upholstered pieces like a sofa or sectional, followed by chairs, ottomans and benches.

 

Blue Suede Mid Century Modern Couch in Minimalist Apartment Setting

Rugs

Based on furniture and upholstery, select a rug to serve as a foundation for the space. Consider rug-to-room size ratios, and that upholstered items should sit on the front of the rug.

 

Table lamp next to comfy sofa in modern style living room

Tables

Now that seating and rugs are placed, it’s time for tables. Most rooms require end tables and a cocktail table, while a credenza is perfect for below the TV.

 

Modern scandinavian living room interior - 3d render

Lighting

When tables are situated, good lighting comes into play. Choose the scale and style of lamps based on both natural and necessary light.

 

Living room with metal chair

Décor

Complete your room with art and décor. Add color and character with glassware, trays, books, candles and art of all forms.

Prepare Your Home for a Storm


Prepare Your Home for a Disaster

 

With the news of Hurricane Florence approaching the East Coast, we are reminded that even though we are far from the coast, North Texas is still susceptible to natural disasters. It’s important to take necessary precautions to prepare your home. Read below to find out what you should do before a storm, and be sure to share this disaster preparedness information with friends and family.


Gather disaster supplies
* water: One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days (drinking and sanitation)
* food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (canned meat, milk, fish, fruit and vegetables)
* battery-powered or hand-crank radio
* flashlight
* extra batteries
* cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
* cash
* first aid supplies
* medications (both prescription and non-prescription)
* personal identification
* non-electric can opener and utility knife (like a Swiss Army knife)
* local maps
* moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties (for sanitation)
* bar soap/toiletries
* blankets or sleeping bags
* change of clothes for each family member (rain gear, sturdy shoes)
* paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
* wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
* whistle (to signal for help)
* special items for babies/young children/elderly
* copies of your critical information:
– wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, and investment information
– passports, social security cards, immunization records, and medical/emergency information
– bank account numbers, credit card account numbers
– list of valuable household goods
– family records and photos (e.g., birth, adoption, and marriage certificates)
– pet records (vaccination records and medical information)
– list of accounts with log-in information and passwords

Click here to download an Emergency Supply List from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


Stay updated

Pay attention to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, a smart phone, or a portable radio for updates and weather information. Staying in-the-know will allow you to be proactive if a storm suddenly changes direction, speed, or intensity.


Protect important documents

Valuables and important documents should be stored in a safe deposit box on the highest level of your home.

Prepare your refrigerator/freezer
Turn your unit to the coldest setting, and only open it when absolutely necessary. Fill plastic Ziploc bags with water and stick the bags between items and in open spaces in your freezer.


Store drinking water

Use clean bathtubs, sinks, and plastic bottles to store drinking water.


Unplug major appliances

This will help reduce the power surge when electricity is restored.

Fill cars up with gas


Bring outdoor objects inside (i.e. lawn furniture, hanging plants, etc.)


Trim or remove limbs from trees


Prepare your doors/windows

Close all interior doors; secure and brace external doors.

 

Go over evacuation plan
– Select a place to meet if your family becomes separated
– Decide what route you would take to get there
– Bring your disaster supplies
– Keep a list of emergency contacts
– Plan ahead for pets

Evacuate if advised
Make sure to bring your disaster supplies and let an out-of-town contact know where you are going.

 

For more information, visit:

American Red Cross
Ready.Gov (Official website of the Department of Homeland Security)
HealthyChildren.org

Trees Add Beauty, Value to Your Home


Trees Add Value, Beauty to Your Home

 3625 Ranchero | $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, provide a home to wildlife, and improve the air you breathe.

 

Trees Add Beauty, Value to Your Home

5323 Swiss Ave. | $3,700,000 | Kay Weeks

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.

 

Trees Add Beauty, Value to Your Home

9505 Inwood Road | $3,100,000 | Cindy Solice

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.

 

Trees Add Beauty, Value to Your Home

6634 Aberdeen | $2,100,000 | Paulette Greene Group

To learn more about trees and how you can improve the environment while improving your property value, visit arbordayfoundation.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.

 

 

 

Maximize Your Tax-Free Weekend


Apple, pile of books and pencils

 

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 10, through midnight Sunday, August 12. But remember, the tax exemption is only available on certain items under $100.

 

Office and school supplies arranged on wooden table - Knolling

 

Tax-free items include: 

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

Keep in mind that computers and software are not exempt.

 

Asian hipster woman shopping for clothes inside a clothing store

 

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 matching if a store offers that.

 

Good luck and happy shopping!

Quick and Easy Homemade Dog Treats


 

Quick and Easy Homemade Dog Treats

 

Home is where the heart is, and for many of us, our hearts are also shared with our furry best friends.

 

Sometimes, we want to spoil our pets. Making dog treats at home is a great way to reward your dog and keep an eye on what he or she eats. Here are some quick and easy recipes that are safe for your pooch to snack on.

 

Quick and Easy Homemade Dog Treats

 

Dog Biscuits
*2½ cups whole wheat flour (substitute regular flour or oats if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
*1 teaspoon salt (or less)
*1 egg
*1 teaspoon beef or chicken bouillon granules (can substitute beef or chicken broth/stock)
*½ cup hot water
*Optional: Bacon bits, eggs, oats, liver powder, wheat germ, shredded cheese

Directions:
• Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit
• Dissolve bouillon in hot water, add the rest of the ingredients
• Knead dough until it forms a ball
• Roll out dough until ½ inch thick
• Slice pieces with a bone-shaped cookie cutter (purchase one here!) and place on a lightly-greased cookie sheet
• Bake for 30 minutes


Recipe courtesy of Cesar’s Way.


Pumpkin Balls
*½ cup canned pumpkin
*4 tablespoons molasses
*4 tablespoons water
*2 tablespoons vegetable oil
*2 cups whole wheat flour
*¼ teaspoon baking soda
*¼ teaspoon baking powder
*1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Directions:
• Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit
• Mix pumpkin, molasses, vegetable oil, and water in a bowl
• Add whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon to the mixture, stir until dough softens
• Roll smalls scoops of dough into balls
• Set the balls onto a lightly-greased cookie sheet, flatten with a fork
• Bake for 25 minutes, until dough is firm

Recipe courtesy of Cesar’s Way.


Frozen Yogurt Peanut Butter Cups

*32 ounces plain or vanilla yogurt
*1 cup peanut butter (preferably unsalted and unsweetened)

Note: Check your peanut butter’s label to make certain it doesn’t contain xylitol, an ingredient which is toxic to dogs.

Directions:
• Melt peanut butter, combine with yogurt
• Pour mixture into ice cube trays
• Freeze mixture until firm (about a few hours)

Recipe courtesy of Cesar’s Way.


Frozen PB&J Ice Cubes

*About 12 strawberries, washed and rinsed
*3 tablespoons peanut butter (preferably unsalted and unsweetened)
*¼ cup cold water

Note: Check your peanut butter’s label to make certain it doesn’t contain xylitol, an ingredient which is toxic to dogs.

Directions:
• Mix ingredients together, scoop into balls
• Freeze mixture until firm (about a few hours)

Recipe courtesy of Pawsh Magazine.

 

Summer Sips & Bites


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

 

Lemonade with lemon, mint and ice

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.

 

Cold black tea with berries and ice

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.

 

Watermelon lemonade with ice and mint leaves. Homemade lemonade of ripe berry with red and green ripes. Glass of cold watermelon tea. Refreshing summer drink. Cocktail on a wooden background

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.

 

pita

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.

 

A set of ingredients for cooking Nam neung , Viatnam food on wooden table

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.

 

Homemade natural yogurt with strawberries and mint.

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.

Top Tips for North Texas Home Buyers and Sellers


Top Tips for North Texas Home Buyers and Sellers

 

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, 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’s North Texas offices and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.

 

Get Your Home in Shape


960 shay thumbnail

 

Now is the perfect time of year to get your home in shape. See IBB Design Fine Furnishings owner and designer Shay Geyer’s helpful tips to ensure it’s well-designed in the process.

 

Laundry Room

Let’s face it, no one likes to do laundry. However, if you had a fabulous space in which to tackle this chore, life would be much easier.

 

wallpaper

Fun, bold color

Wallpaper in a large-scale or graphic pattern and bold color really transforms a space. The wallpaper I selected for my laundry room makes it so cheerful. A happy color palette also helps make the chore of doing laundry a bit less mundane.

 

boxes2

Accessorize

Utilize accessories for storage and to add style to a space. I use a blue lacquered tray to organize containers holding detergent pods and clothespins. A blue lacquered box hides essentials like Tide pens, scissors, safety pins, a sewing kit and lint brush. I keep my dryer sheets in a yellow lacquered box.

 

rug

Think durability

I opted for an outdoor rug to bring in a touch of pink. It can be hosed off any time, which is great because this room gets a lot of use.

 

chandy

Lighting

If you don’t have a lot of natural light, make sure the room is well-lit. I added a chandelier as another source of light and a beautiful design element. While a chandelier is certainly not necessary in a laundry room, it definitely adds a wow-factor to the space.

For more luxury design and décor content , visit grandviemagazine.com.

 

In addition to showcasing the luxury listings of Ebby Halliday Realtors, the spring/summer 2018 issue of Grand Vie: Luxury in Living magazine offers a plethora of interesting editorial content, including the full story with more tips from Shay to get your home in shape.

 

Summer Bug Solutions


Close up of bumble bee pollinating wildflowers in the meadow

Recent showers and 100-degree days have created the perfect habitat for pesky summer bugs. Here are some effective ways to prevent the common bites, stings and nuisances.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.