Posts Tagged ‘boston’

It’s Almost Halloween – Carve A Pumpkin!

Scary jack-o-lantern with frowny face

Spook up a new craft project!

Fall is officially here and with it comes the changing of the leaves, sunny autumn days, and most importantly Halloween! Below are some tips for fun and safe pumpkin carving.

  • Draw your design on the pumpkin with a water-based marker beforehand. Mistakes are easily erased with a damp sponge.
  • Cut the top and any large areas with a sharp, straight-edged knife. A dull blade is not a safe alternative.
  • Carve away from yourself and remember – children should carve only under adult supervision.
  • Cut the lid at an angle so the outside diameter is larger than the inside. This prevents the top from falling into the pumpkin when it shrinks.
  • Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh with a large spoon or ice cream scooper. Remember to save the seeds! Wash them, then toast them in the oven for a delicious, healthy snack!
  • Carve the facial features closest to the center first and work outward. Cut out the larger features in sections.
  • Use an X-Acto knife for details and utilize the tip of a potato peeler to make small circles and curves.
  • Reattach a section that is accidentally removed by using a toothpick to pin it back in place.
  • Flatten a spot in the base of the pumpkin for the candle but avoid digging too deep because the pumpkin becomes prone to rot.
  • To prolong the life of your new Jack-O-Lantern, seal in moisture by coating all the surfaces with a petroleum jelly or vegetable oil, or cover it with a damp towel when not on display.

You can find more fun craft-type ideas and tips at Disney’s Family Fun web site, including some great design ideas for your next Jack-O-Latern project.

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

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Seven Tips for Improving (or Creating) Your Organic Garden

Whether you have a large vegetable garden, border flower beds, or a small herb garden, you can easily introduce organic gardening techniques into your current gardening maintenance routine. Here are some easy tips on improving your organic garden:

1. Develop Quality Garden Soil – Amend the soil generously with organic compost and use other organic fertilizers as necessary to increase specific nutrient levels.
2. Buy Plants for the Site – Gardeners who buy plants well-suited to their garden conditions increase their chances for success.
3. Choose Healthy Plants – A cheap plant isn’t a bargain if it’s baked in the hot sun in a pot it outgrew three months ago. Also check all plant purchases for pest hitchhikers and stress before bringing them home.
4. Care for Plants – The maintenance free garden is a myth. All gardens need some degree of maintenance, so make time to tend your garden.
5. Keep a Garden Journal – Record keeping is informative and motivational. Write down how long seeds take to germinate, when pests appear, the dates of the first and last frosts, and favorite flower and vegetable varieties.
6. Monitor for Garden Pests Regularly – It’s easier to control a few harmful beetles with handpicking than it is to stem the tide of the third generation of pests laying eggs. Control problems early and often.
7. Relax and enjoy your garden – Don’t stress over a few pests. It’s OK to allow a minimal threshold of pest damage in the garden. If all the pests are gone, the ladybugs won’t have a reason to set up house in the garden.

You can read more green living tips at my Home Green Home blog: https://cybergreenrealty.wordpress.com

Enjoy your garden!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

Tim Cahill
MBA, Certified EcoBroker, Realtor
Web site: CyberGreenRealty | Blog: Home Green Home
T: 617.599.2775
E: timcahill@avenue3re.com

Five FREE Things (or almost free) To Do After an Open House

Summer is a great time to consider buying a home or condo in the greater Arlington MA area, and an Open House is the perfect way to view a home without any pressure from either your Buyer Agent or the Listing Agent. And since it is summer, why not make it even more fun by doing something FREE (or almost free) in the city after the open house?  Who knows, you might just find the house of your dreams AND learn something new about the Boston, MA area.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Tour the State House: Tours last approximately 30-45 minutes and include an overview of the history and architecture of the State Capitol.  Weekdays from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.  Closed on weekends and holidays. Admission:  FREE
  2. Climb Bunker Hill Monument: Climb the 294 steps to the top of the Monument for great views of Boston.  Daily:  9 am – 5 pm.  Monument closes to climbing at 4:30pm. Admission:  FREE
  3. Visit The Museum of Fine Arts: With approximately 450,000 objects in the collection, there’s always something new on view.  No general admission fee required every WEDNESDAY, 4 pm – 9:45 pm. Admission: Variable
  4. Visit The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston:  Enjoy the stimulation of contemporary culture at their new waterfront location.  No general admission fee required every THURSDAY, 5 pm – 9:00 pm.  Every THURSDAY night
  5. Ride the Ferry: Take the ferry from Long Wharf to the Charlestown Navy Yard to visit the USS Constitution $.70 each way.  Free guided tours of the USS Constitution.

Do you have suggestions of your own for free, or low-cost, things to do in the Boston area?  If so, why not share them here?

To view of a listing of open houses in the Arlington, Cambridge and Boston, MA areas, check out my Trulia.com Open House search and then visit my CyberGreenRealty.com web site for more details on each listing.  Finally, don’t forget to check the latest weather forecast for the area before heading out.

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

Arlington MA Farmer’s Market Update – July 2010

Picture of Farm Fresh Produce in Arlington, MA

Can you say "healthy"? Picture courtesy Arlington Farmer's Market web site

The Arlington MA Farmer’s Market opened its 2010 season on June 9th and it’s been a heck of a great month! I’ve had the opportunity to visit every week, picking up something fresh, succulent, and locally-grown each time. My best purchase to date, I have to say, was the tomato plant I purchased on the first day for $1.50. And yes I’ll admit it, I planted it in one of those “Topsy Turvy” upside-down planters. But I’m not ashamed to brag about how it’s tripled in size in just three weeks and it’s already starting to produce some big tomato blossoms. I can’t wait to taste that first home-grown tomato of the season!

If you haven’t yet visited the Arlington Farmer’s Market web site, I highly suggest you do and while you’re there, sign up for the weekly email update newsletter. Karen Blair, the newsletter editor, sends out a great weekly update on what to expect that week. But not only does she let you know about some of the new produce coming in, she includes some great recipes you’ll be tempted to make.

Here’s a preview of what she has to say in this week’s letter:

The market is filled with summer fruits and veggies so stop in to say hello to our farmers and Buy Local!

Bounty of the Season: Cherries, blueberries, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, squash, radishes, kolrabi, garlic, onions, greens, kale, chard, herbs, summer squashes & beets…and be on the lookout for corn & peaches coming very soon…The market also features meat, cheese, fish, eggs, pasta, maple products, baked goods and local prepared foods….

The Farmer’s Market runs from now through mid-October every Wednesday, 2:00 pm – 6:30 pm, rain or shine.  Conveniently located in Arlington Center, just of Route 60, the market is located in the Russell Common (public) parking lot.  If you have any questions about the market or are looking to share ideas with the organizers, send them in an email to Patsy at manager@farmersmarketarlington.org.

If you don’t happen to live in the Arlington MA or surrounding areas, but you live in Massachusetts, check out the Massachusetts Grown…and Fresher web site for a listing of all Farmer’s Markets in MA.

Before heading out to the market, though, be sure to check the weather forecast on my About Arlington page of my CyberGreenRealty web site.  You never know when a surprise thunderstorm might pass by and the one thing I haven’t seen at the market (yet!) is an umbrella vendor. So be prepared!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

10 Timely Tips for Saving Water in Your Garden

Daylilies and other flowers blooiming in summer sun

With only a little water, your garden will grow!

Even if you live in a climate such as we do here in Arlington, MA, fresh water may be an increasingly scarce and expensive commodity. One way to conserve water is to design a landscape plan that cuts down on the need for irrigation.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, converting to a water-efficient landscape can reduce your outdoor water use by 20% to 50%, or as much as 10,000 gallons a year. That saves money, too, shaving between $30 and $70 off the average annual household water bill.

Often called xeriscaping or drought-tolerant landscaping, low-water landscaping also makes yard maintenance easier. Here are 10 strategies that will save water and still let you enjoy a beautiful, healthy garden.

  1. Choose native plants – Plants that originated in a particular part of the country have had eons to get used to that area’s normal rainfall, soil, and climate. That means they require less maintenance and little or no watering once established. Sites like eNature.com or H2ouse can help you find the best species for your area. Note: Just because you see a plant in your neighbor’s yard doesn’t meant it’s a native!
  2. Skip the super-sizing – “Pick plants that grow only to the size you want them,” advises Margaret Grace, principal of Grace Design Associates in Santa Barbara, Calif. “If you need five-foot-high screening between you and a neighbor, don’t put in something that grows nine feet high. You’ll have to chop it back all the time.” That’s a huge waste of water, not to mention extra work.
  3. Mulch to reduce evaporation – Putting two or three inches of mulch on top of the soil around your plants is a great way to reduce water loss. Mulch also cuts down on water-stealing weeds. The best mulch options are natural ones like compost, bark chips, and pine needles. These organic mulches gradually break down and add nutrients to the soil. Inorganic materials like rocks and pebbles are a more permanent option, although in some climates they can hold too much heat. A quick tip: Don’t pile mulch up in huge cones against a plant’s stem or it will trap too much moisture, which leads to fungus and rot.
  4. Make paths porous – Paths made of pebbles, gravel, or non-mortared concrete pavers or brick allow water to percolate down to your plants’ roots instead of running off into a storm drain. No mortar does mean more room for weeds to grow, though.
  5. Lose the lawn – The average American family uses more than 20,000 gallons a year watering the lawn. If you need grass for a play area or just like to feel the blades between your toes, you can still cut water use by replacing some of that conventional grass with varieties that need less water. Bermuda or buffalo grass can use 20% less water than fescue or bluegrass, according to the University of California Cooperative Extension. Keep it long, too. Raising your mower blade to three inches helps shade grass roots so they lose less water through evaporation.
  6. Put thirsty plants together – Grouping plants with the same water needs means you don’t waste water where it’s not necessary. Create a “mini-oasis” near the house, where thirsty plants can benefit from roof runoff. Farther out, make a “transition zone” for plants that need supplemental drip irrigation. Farther still is a “natural zone” for native plants that can survive on rainfall alone.

    Mixture of summer flowers in bloom with purples and yellows prominent

    Smart gardening saves water

  7. Plant and water when it’s cool – New plants and transplants need far less water if you put them in the ground in early fall or early spring, when it’s cooler. Similarly, water in the morning so you’ll lose less to evaporation in the heat of the day.
  8. Do donuts – Trees and shrubs need extra water the first couple of years to help their roots take hold. An efficient way to keep them moist is to mound several inches of soil into a donut-shaped berm out about as far as the branches reach. Use a hose or bucket to fill the donut dam to the top. Water will absorb slowly instead of running off. Another option: Attach a $25 – $30 drip irrigator bag to the tree.
  9. Follow the sun – Use dry-soil plants in sunny areas, and plants that require more water in shady areas where evaporation is slower.
  10. Create the illusion of water – Yes, you can have a water feature in a low-water garden. In fact, a small pond or fountain with a recirculating pump uses very little water. Pumps start as low as $10. Bonus: Water features attract birds and butterflies.

If you live in or around Arlington, MA, check out the listing of green, sustainable landscapers on the Eco-Friendly Partners page of my CyberGreenRealty web site.

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

April 2010 Housing Trends

APRIL-2010 Newsletter Housing Trends eNewsletter


Welcome to the most current Housing Trends eNewsletter. This eNewsletter is specially designed for you, with national and local housing information that you may find useful whether you’re in the market for a home, thinking about selling your home, or just interested in homeowner issues in general.

The Housing Trends eNewsletter contains the latest information from the National Association of REALTORS®, the U.S. Census Bureau and Realtor.org reports, videos, key market indicators and real estate sales statistics, a video message by a nationally recognized economist, maps, mortgage rates and calculators, consumer articles, plus local neighborhood information and more.

Please click here to view the APRIL-2010 Newsletter Housing Trends eNewsletter.

If you are interested in determining the value of your home, click the Home Evaluator link for a free evaluation report.

Rent Some Sun and Save Money

In your mind’s eye, what do you envision a solar panel to look like? Do you think they’re still big, white and boxy? Maybe you think of some ugly black strips across your roof, which look more like a shredded tire laid out flat than a solar panel. Then again, you might be “hip” with the latest PV styles (like these PV panels that look like clay tiles) but you think it’s still too expensive. Fret no more!

Many companies, including two here in Massachusetts (SunRun’s MA partners – Alteris, Inc. and groSolar, Inc), offer you a chance to rent solar panels, effectively locking in your electric rate for up to 25 years (the average lifespan of a solar panel). Moreover, you are relieved of any of the hassles involved with purchasing the panels outright (such as obtaining the proper permits, filing for the appropriate rebates, etc.). Some providers may require a “security deposit,” which may be up to $1,000 at the most.

How does it work? The concept is simple – your solar power company purchases and installs the appropriate equipment based on your historical electric usage. You then pay a monthly rental fee to the solar company, which becomes your new “electric” bill. This monthly fee will be equal to, or lower than, your current bill AND will never rise – sun power is free power! Perhaps best of all, you don’t have to worry about maintenance and repairs – the panels are owned and maintained by the solar company, so they have a vested interest in keeping the equipment in top working order.

In addition to the money saved on your electric bill by switching to solar power, you may also be eligible for one or more of the many current state and federal incentives. Find out if your state offers incentives at SunRun’s Solar State Rebate page. If you purchase locally-made equipment, the incentives and rebates get even bigger!

For further information, check out these helpful resources:

Do you know anyone who’s currently renting solar panels? Ask them to share their story here.

Visit CyberGreenRealty.com for a list of some solar vendors in the greater Boston area. If you happen to be in the market for a new home or condo, you may also wish to visit Avenue 3 Real Estate for a listing of current homes and condos for sale in Arlington, Cambridge, and Somerville, MA. While there, search for homes already equipped with solar equipment and start saving money from Day One!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC