Winning Super Bowl Recipes

Winning Super Bowl Recipes

Seven fan-friendly snacks for the big game

For us, the Super Bowl is an excuse to snack excessively. This year, we scoured Pinterest for ideas (as good party hosts do) and discovered some enviable creations: stadiums made of meat and deviled eggs crafted like footballs, among other things. Sadly, we don’t have the patience for such artistry. So we cheated (sorry) and rounded up seven easy stand-ins. Food coma FTW.

Fromage Fort

We love a red velvet cake situation. If cheese is involved? Even better. Smitten Kitchen’s simple fromage fort — essentially a kitchen sink recipe — is a pleasing substitute. It may not be red, but you won’t care after you taste it.

Get the recipe.

Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers and Nutty Guacamole

In lieu of a seven-layer dip, steer a wee bit healthier with Healthy Green Kitchen’s protein-packed guacamole smeared on Sunday Suppers’s rosemary black sea salt crackers. (And make room on your bookshelf for HGK’s new book.)

Get the dip recipe; buy One Simple Change, $12. Get the crackers recipe; buy the black sea salt.

Potato Skins

If only you had the hand-eye coordination to make tiny potato footballs (let alone throw a football). We’re partial to Lottie + Doof’s potato skins — and not just because they require zero athleticism.

Get the recipe.

The Best Brownies

You’ve got every ingredient for a fondant fest — save for patience. Guests forget about looks when you serve A Sweet Spoonful’s brownies (adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home). Grab a copy of Megan Gordon’s new book for whole grain takes on breakfast.

Get the recipe; buy Whole-Grain

Curried Egg Salad

101 Cookbooks never steers us wrong. Case in point: a creamy, still-good-for-you take on egg salad. Smear it on crackers or toast for a touchdown.

Get the recipe.

Pickled Melon Spring Rolls

Nutrition coach Ashley Neese’s snacks may be a bit more labor intensive than we’re used to. But the result — crunchy, portable, veggie packed — could cause dancing in the end zone.

Get the recipe.


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Sales Climb as U.S. Housing Market Adjusts to Rates

Sales Climb as U.S. Housing Market Adjusts to Rates

Sales of previously owned homes climbed in December for the first time in five months, capping the best year since 2006 and indicating the real-estate market is starting to adjust to higher borrowing costs.

Purchases rose 1 percent to a 4.87 million annual pace, the National Association of Realtors reported today in Washington. Other reports showed claims for jobless benefits held last week near the lowest level in more than a month and the index of leading indicators climbed in December.

Faster employment growth, rising property values and a decline in consumer debt are giving would-be buyers the confidence to take the plunge into homeownership. Growing demand will also spur new construction and home improvements that will boost gross domestic product in 2014.

“We’ll see better job growth, a better housing market and better overall GDP growth throughout 2014,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc., among the biggest mortgage lenders in the U.S. It “will be another year of recovery for the housing market with more sales, more homes constructed and prices up.”

Stocks dropped, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling to a one-month low, after a report showed manufacturing in China unexpectedly contracted in January. The Dow lost 175.99 points, or 1.1 percent to 16,197.35 at the close in New York. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.9 percent to 1,828.46.

While investors focused on China, data today showed the global recovery is uneven. Euro-area factory output expanded faster than economists forecast in January, according to figures from Markit Economics.

Better Year

A total of 5.09 million U.S. previously owned houses were sold in 2013 compared with 4.66 million the prior year and the most since 2006, today’s report from the real-estate agents’ group showed.

Purchases reached a 5.39 million annualized pace in July and August, a four-year high, before a jump in mortgage rates hurt demand.

The median forecast of 76 economists in a Bloomberg survey projected sales would reach a 4.93 million rate last month. Estimates ranged from 4.8 million to 5.1 million. November’s figure was revised to 4.82 million from a previously reported 4.9 million.

Another report today showed applications for unemployment benefits held near a six-week low, showing firings remain muted following the holidays. Jobless claims rose by 1,000 to 326,000 in the period ended Jan. 18, the Labor Department said in Washington.

Fewer Firings

Rising optimism about the growth outlook in the world’s largest economy is buoying business and consumer spending and keeping dismissals subdued. Further hiring gains and a pickup in wages — following a smaller-than-projected increase in December payrolls that some blamed on bad weather — would help households sustain demand in the first quarter.

“It’s reassuring,” said William Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services Inc. in Boston. “After the December jobs report everybody was pretty nervous. This is a number that makes it more likely December was a fluke.”

Also today, figures from the New York-based Conference Board showed the index of leading indicators rose 0.1 percent in December after a revised 1 percent gain the prior month that was larger than previously estimated. The gauge is designed to predict the outlook for growth in the next three to six months.

“We are headed in a positive direction,” said Robert Rosener, an economist at Credit Agricole CIB in New York. “As the labor market continues to improve, and we have more job gains and fewer layoffs, that would be very positive for consumer spending.”

Higher Prices

The median price of an existing home rose 9.9 percent to $198,000 in December from $189,200 a year earlier, today’s report showed. For all of 2013, the median price climbed 11.5 percent, the most in eight years, to $197,100.

The data doesn’t track the same house over time, which means the figures could be influenced by improving demand in parts of the country where homes are more expensive.

Other figures today indicated the jump in real-estate values may be losing momentum. Prices climbed 0.1 percent in November from October, the smallest monthly gain in almost two years, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The index measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Bad Weather

The Realtors’ group said bad weather may have restrained demand last month as sales fell in the Northeast and Midwest. The median time a home was on the market jumped in December to 72 days from 56 days a month earlier as “adverse weather reportedly delayed closings in many areas,” the group said in a statement.

Supply restraints probably also held the market back. The number of existing properties for sale fell 9.3 percent to 1.86 million from a month earlier. At the current pace, it would take 4.6 months to sell those houses, the lowest since February, compared with 5.1 months at the end of November. Inventory was up from 1.83 million a year earlier.

Purchases of single-family homes increased 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.3 million. The sales pace of multifamily properties including condominiums fell 5 percent to 570,000.

First-time buyers accounted for 27 percent of all purchases in December, the lowest since at least 2008.

“Normal would be closer to 40 percent,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said at a news conference as the figures were released. “Two opposing forces are at work. One is job creation which is a positive factor for housing. But the negative is fast-declining affordability,” due in part to higher prices and mortgage rates.

Mortgage Rates

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.39 percent this week, up from 3.35 percent in early May, according to Freddie Mac data released today.

Existing-home sales, which are tabulated when a purchase contract closes, are recovering from a 13-year low of 4.11 million in 2008 after reaching a record 7.08 million in 2005.

The housing rebound last year gained traction amid job gains and rising stock values. Residential construction starts soared in November to a five-year high. Sustained demand and a shortage of properties for sale have prompted builders to break ground on more dwellings, and mortgage lenders are reporting fewer delinquencies and healthier portfolios.

At Regions Financial Corp. in Birmingham, Alabama, mortgage production fell last year even as overall lending increased $4.5 billion, about 8 percent, as people took advantage of low interest rates earlier in 2013.

“Consumer balance sheets are healthier than they’ve been in some time, corporate balance sheets are in solid condition and the housing market in our communities continues to improve,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Grayson Hall said on a Jan. 21 earnings call. “These factors, along with an improving global outlook, should contribute to moderate to improving GDP growth in 2014.”

By Lorraine Woellert and Victoria Stilwell – Jan 23, 2014

To contact the reporters on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at; Victoria Stilwell in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Carlos Torres at

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Dresden Creek – 2674 Derby Walk, Atlanta, GA 30319

Call Tara Winslow at 678-576-0213 to schedule a showing time to view this well-maintained, like-new intown townhome!

updated 2674 Derby Walk flyer

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Special Kitchen Cleaning Challenges

Special Kitchen Cleaning Challenges

Rout the dirt and bring sparkle to the kitchen with these cleaning tips for ovens, stove tops and sink and counter areas.

Use a baking soda paste to clean spots off of stainless steel fixtures.

Food Preparation Surfaces

Public health officials recommend sanitizing food preparation surfaces by washing with hot, soapy water. Rinse with clear water, and then sanitize the cleaned surfaces with a solution of 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach to 1 liter of water. Use this method on counters, in sinks and for cutting boards, wherever food may be placed during preparation.


Heat plus grease plus food spills equal a tough cleaning chore: the oven. Baked-on food and spattered grease require additional firepower in the form of specialty cleaners. Commercial oven cleaners do the job well, but are formulated with corrosive products such as sodium hydroxide (lye), and should be handled with extreme care. Safety First: Whatever the cleaning method, protect eyes, skin and clothing while cleaning the oven. Wear long sleeves and rubber gloves to protect arms and hands; safety goggles or glasses prevent injury to the eyes. A painter’s mask guards against corrosive fumes, particularly when using spray oven cleaner products. Where possible, use a liquid formulation.

Follow Directions: If using commercial oven cleaners, read the directions first, and then follow them. Oven cleaners may be formulated to work on warm ovens or cold ones, so get the method straight before you begin. Newer versions offer fume-free cleaning for a healthier home.

Rinse Clean: After cleaning, use a spray bottle filled with water to rinse the oven walls, and then wipe them dry with a cleaning cloth. This process removes the last traces of oven cleaner, and prevents your next meal from tasting like cleaning chemicals! Similarly, be careful to remove all traces of oven cleaner from around the oven door gasket and seal.

Try Green Alternatives: If you don’t like the idea of corrosive commercial oven cleaners, there is a greener option: baking soda. Sprinkle an even 1/4-inch layer of baking soda in the bottom of a cold oven, and then lightly dampen the soda with water; it should be moist, but not wet. Spread the paste over the walls and ceiling.

Let the soda paste stand for 12-24 hours, re-wetting if it dries out. The paste dissolves grease and softens burned-on food, and makes it easier to remove next day. You will need to apply some elbow grease to the job, but you’ll avoid working with corrosive cleaners.

To clean oven racks and drip pan the green way, soften them up with an ammonia bath. Place the racks and pan in a large, leak-proof black garbage bag, and add 1/4 cup nonsudsy ammonia. Seal the garbage bag, and place it outdoors or in a garage overnight. The ammonia will soften baked-on food and make for easy cleaning the next morning. Rinse thoroughly and remove any remaining food, and then dry the racks and drip pan before replacing them in the oven.

Sink and Under-Sink Area
Sanitation is the name of the game when it comes to cleaning sinks and the areas beneath them. Moisture, food waste and the hygiene challenges of meat and poultry preparation mean that the wet area of the kitchen can become a happy breeding ground for bacteria. Under the sink, drainpipes and garbage disposal units harbor germs and odors. The presence of moisture combined with holes necessary for plumbing fixtures creates an attractive home for insects, mold and mildew.

Spray and Wipe: Use a disinfecting all-purpose cleaner in a spray bottle to clean sink surfaces, fixtures and rim. Rout dirt from the base of the faucet or around the rim, with a cleaning toothbrush and then wipe dry with a cleaning cloth.

Get Tough: If stubborn deposits or stains require an abrasive cleaner, use powdered cleanser on ceramic sinks but only inside the sink. It’s too hard to rinse powdered cleanser from sink rims or countertops.

Keep the Shine: For stainless-steel sinks, use a paste of baking soda and water applied with a cotton cleaning cloth, or use a commercial product specially formulated for cleaning these sinks. Avoid powdered cleanser; its abrasive qualities can scratch the surface of the steel.

Out Stubborn Spot: Use full-strength white vinegar to tackle water spots in the sink. Spray or pour it on generously, let stand and then rub the spots with a scrubbing pad.

Clean and Fresh: Under the sink, clean the cabinet walls, doors and the cabinet floor with a disinfecting all-purpose cleaner. Wipe them dry with cleaning cloths, and then leave the cabinet doors open for at least two hours, to permit the area to dry completely.

Microwave Oven

Because microwaves cook food from the inside out, there’s less heat buildup to harden foods inside the oven. Take a gradual approach to microwave cleaning.

“As in the game of life, the best defense against stove-top dirt is offense. Wipe up stove spills immediately.”

Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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Simple (and Green!) Pest Control Tips

Simple (and Green!) Pest Control Tips

Did you know that mice turn up their noses at peppermint? Or that ants and roaches hate Tex-Mex? Some easy tricks and common household ingredients can help keep nature’s nuisances at bay, without harming kids, pets or other wildlife.

Be a Menace to Mice

  • Peppermint has been an anti-mouse strategy for centuries. Some swear the strong smell keeps mice from being able to find food. Soak cotton balls in pure peppermint oil (found in health-food stores) and place in small cups near their entry points. Planting peppermint in your yard may help too.

Did You Know?

Nature’s Houdini: A house mouse can squeeze through a hole the diameter of a dime.

  • No cat? Borrow some cat hair from a friend or a groomer, and place it around holes.
  • Better yet, block those holes altogether. Stuff them with copper mesh, which won’t rust like steel wool. Cover larger openings and the space behind air vents with hardware cloth that has a mesh size less than a quarter-inch.

Keep Ants Far Away

  • Ants depend on their scent trail: Wipe it out with undiluted white vinegar.
  • They also avoid cayenne pepper. Other pests, including cockroaches and squirrels, avoid it too.
  • Ants can’t digest cornmeal, but they don’t know that. Put piles of it near a problem anthill, and ants will eat it and slowly starve. This solution takes some time, but it’s safe for kids and pets.

Banish Biting Bugs

  • Mosquitoes track you by the carbon dioxide you exhale. Mask it with citronella. Lemongrass (not the citronella plant) is the source of this oil. Plant this lovely ornamental around your patio or in portable pots
  • Bedbugs don’t like extremes. Chill a room at 32°F or below for several days to stop these pests cold. And wash and dry bedding at the hottest settings for at least 15 minutes. You can also set the legs of your bed in plastic cups filled with a little mineral oil, to keep bugs from climbing up.
  • Many insects go toward the light. But bugs avoid yellow bug lights—use them near doorways, driveways and sidewalks. Place mercury vapor or incandescent lights around the perimeter of the property to lure insects away.

Article was reprinted from

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Five Predictions for the 2014 Real Estate Market

5 Predictions for the 2014 Real Estate Market

This article is re-posted from Decatur-Avondale Estates Patch

What real estate experts expect to see in 2014.

Posted by Catherine Crawford , January 18, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Credit: Verona-Cedar Grove Patch
Credit: Verona-Cedar Grove Patch

We are already two weeks into 2014. So, now’s a prime time to take a look at what’s in store for us this year in the world of real estate.

Signs point to another good year for the housing market, although the recovery most likely won’t clock the same breakneck speed as last year.

Here are 5 predictions, made by experts in the field, to help prepare you for any home-selling or buying activities this year:

1) Home prices will continue to rise: The chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, foresees home prices rising by 6 percent. This is about half of the increase in home values seen in 2013, indicative of 2014’s reduced pace.

2) So will mortgage rates: I’m sorry home-buyers, but the low interest rates of 2013 are not going to stick around.  We go again to Lawrence Yun, who predicts that the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will climb to 5.5 percent before the year is over.

3) Fewer foreclosures on the horizon: Thankfully, the worst of the foreclosure catastrophe that devastated so many Americans appears to be history.  According to Daren Blomquist, who monitors the foreclosure market at RealtyTrac,  “We’re in the home stretch of getting through the foreclosure crisis, but we won’t cross the finish line, with filings back to pre-crisis level, until early 2015.”

4) Borrowers can expect more ease in securing a mortgage: Although interest rates are expected to rise, Erin Lantz, director of mortgages with Zillow, points to a “silver lining.” Lantz says that “rising rates means lenders’ refinance business will dwindle, forcing them to compete for buyers by potentially loosening their lending standards.”   That’s encouraging.

5) Rental market to stay strong: Because of items 1 and 2 above, along with other factors such as a decline in home-ownership and a surge in Americans on the move, forecasters at Zillow envision a robust rental market in 2014.

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Think about beating the punch to the spring selling season which starts March 1st!

Think about beating the punch to the spring selling season which starts March 1st!  Less competition nets you more money.   Contact me for a free listing consult.

Read below for for the article printed in The Globe and Mail:

January 9, 2014

Sellers to benefit in strong spring housing market: report

Royal LePage expects Canada’s market to shift in favour of sellers in the first half of this year, sees prices maintaining their momentum

Real estate agency Royal LePage is expecting Canada’s housing market to shift in favour of sellers in the first half of this year, and is forecasting a strong spring.

The agency, which represents more than 15,000 Canadian real estate agents and is part of Brookfield Real Estate Services Inc., is also predicting that house prices will maintain their momentum.

“We predict continued upward pressure on home prices as we move towards the all-important spring market,” Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper stated in a press release.

“In addition to normal demand, housing prices in Canada this year will be influenced by buyers who put off purchase plans in the very soft spring of 2013. Talk of a ‘soft landing’ for Canada’s real estate market in the new year is misguided. We expect no landing, no slowdown, and no correction in the near-term. Conditions are ripe for as strong a market as we saw in the post-recessionary rebound of the last decade.”

Canada’s housing market never officially tipped into buyer’s market territory during the correction that ensued beginning in the summer of 2012, but it was fairly close, hovering on the edge between a balanced market and a buyer’s market as determined by the ratio between sales and new listings, Mr. Soper said in an interview. During the latter half of last year sales volumes increased faster than new listings, and the market remained in balanced territory but tipped towards becoming a seller’s market.

“This is the most optimistic view of the housing market since the recession, that’s in half a decade,” he said.

Many economists have been surprised by the buoyancy of home prices in the wake of the lengthy sales slump that persisted in the market from the summer of 2012 to this past spring.

Economists both in Canada and abroad are keeping a close eye on Canadian home prices as they debate just how overvalued the market is. While many Canadian economists estimate that home prices here are in the neighbourhood of 10 to 20 per cent too high, economists at Deutsche Bank recently said they believe prices are 60 per cent too high.

The Calgary Real Estate Board recently said that the benchmark price of a single family home in the Calgary area is now $472,200, up 8.6 per cent from a year earlier. The benchmark in Vancouver is $603,400, up 2.1 per cent from a year earlier despite that city registering the steepest market correction in the past two years.

The average price of homes that sold over the Multiple Listing Service in the Toronto area last month was $520,398, up by 8.9 per cent from the average selling price in December, 2012. The average selling price in Toronto for all of 2013 was $523,036, up 5.2 per cent from the average in 2012.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which represents the bulk of real estate agents in Canada, said in December that it is now expecting the average price of homes sold over the Multiple Listing Service to have risen by 5.2 per cent in 2013, to $382,200 (the final numbers will come out later this month). Heading into 2013 it had been expecting the average price to rise by just 0.3 per cent.

CREA is now expecting average prices to rise by 2.3 per cent this year, while Royal LePage is calling for a 3.7 per cent increase.

Royal LePage says that, based on a survey it conducts, the average price of a standard two-storey home rose 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $418,282, the average price of a detached bungalow rose 3.8 per cent to $380,710, and the average price of a standard condominium rose 1.2 per cent to $246,530.

The numbers vary widely across the country, for instance Royal LePage says condo prices in Calgary rose 7 per cent while those in Montreal fell by 0.4 per cent.

A number of economists expected that the large number of condos coming on stream in major cities would take more of a bite out of home price momentum than it has so far.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Thursday that the number of new homes that began construction in December was 189,672 on a seasonally-adjusted and annualized basis, down from 197,797 in November. Starts of urban projects with multiple units, namely condos, fell by 4.1 per cent to 108,910 units, while starts of single-detached homes in urban areas fell by 6.7 per cent to 59,304 units.

Starts rose in British Columbia and Quebec, but fell in the Prairies, Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

Housing starts have proven difficult to forecast for a couple of years now, and CMHC has been warning that they will be volatile from month to month because many markets are being largely driven by the multiples, or condo, segment. This month’s showing was largely in line with the consensus forecast among economists.

“Starts are well below their 2012 peaks, but have trended somewhat higher from the lows set early last year,” Scotiabank’s economists noted Thursday.

While construction has cooled from its blistering pace in 2012, many economists say we are still building more homes than demographic fundamentals would suggest we need right now.

Toronto-Dominion Bank’s economics department has estimated that the fundamentals call for about 175,000 new homes a year. “A softening over the longer term will be necessary as the Canadian new housing market is overbuilt in many large urban centres,” it said in a research note in December.

Housing starts in the full fourth quarter of 2013 were up four per cent from the third quarter, which suggests housing could have been a modest contributor to economic growth for Canada towards the end of the year, economists at Scotiabank said.

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