Blog

Welcome to our blog! Here you will find posts about can't miss properties, local events, and more! Here at Maple and Main Realty we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the Northampton area. Feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us

The Oldest House in Conway, 53 Main Street, Now For Sale!

 

You're driving through Conway, MA and you notice a charming cottage farmhouse with a chartreuse front door and cozy front porch, tucked next to the South River. A plaque near the front door reads "Oldest Home on Main Street", built in 1830. You may feel compelled to honk the bike horn-cum-doorbell announcing your arrival. You will be intrigued by the exterior charm and whimsy - what does the inside look like? Welcome to this incredibly adorable home in Conway. The oldest home, yes, but also fantastically maintained and updated. The current owner has painstakingly cared for this piece of history...Pella windows, kitchen & bath remodeled, Quadra-Fire wood stove (and forced air heat too), metal roof and a new 300 foot well are just some of the updates that have been integrated into this home, while keeping the wide plank wood floors on the main floor and chestnut beams in the second floor family room. A fantastic wood deck overlooks the 1/4 acre lot. This is perfect spot to enjoy the bounty of the gardens, pollinator friendly flower beds and relax to the sounds of the South River. Welcome to 53 Main Street in Conway, Massachusetts. Offered at $275,000. Contact Scott Rebmann or Lisa Darragh for a private showing of this unique and wonderful home

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Cleaning Your Home

I've always thought it interesting that even once I had graduated from college, I was still attuned to the school calendar, combined with the seasons, in informing my perspective on the day to day. For those of us with school-aged children -- having the house back to ourselves when the kids are off certainly has it's benefits. For those of us who don't, even the change of season leads us to start focusing more on the interior vs. exterior of our homes, I would venture to say. Homeowners (and residents alike) in Northampton who prefer to use clean, green, non-toxic products in our homes are in good company! To that end, I was recently perusing my daily Apartment Therapy email and came upon this article about cleaning your washer with vinegar. Let's not focus on the fact that I am at a point in my life where this information is EXCITING to me! Instead, let me say that I followed the steps below and my Energy Star, front-loading workhorse of a washing machine was gleaming and odor free after doing so. The moral of the story is, keep a large container of white vinegar, and some clean household rags on each floor of your home to keep things clean and sparkly!

You Should Pour Vinegar into Your Washing Machine—Here’s Why

by DANA MCMAHAN

(Image Credit: Brittany Purlee)

Is there anything you can’t handle with vinegar? Really, I wonder why I bother buying so many assorted cleaners when vinegar is basically the magic sauce that does everything. (Have you tried the trick with setting a saucer full of vinegar out to get rid of stink in a room? It totally works!) Here’s another fun thing is does: It cleans your washing machine.

Yes, your washing machine needs cleaning. Out of sight, out of mind, maybe, and it’s getting cleaned every time you use it, right? Well, no. Just like your sink and shower need cleaning, so too does the hard-working washing machine. 

And it turns out you don’t need any fancy, special “washing machine cleaner” (seriously, that’s up there with an avocado slicer as a uni-tasker). My Maytag wants me to use a branded products so badly it slaps the brand name of the recommended cleaner right on the dial! The cleaner is two bucks a pop (not a box, each!). No thanks. According to the internet, all you need is good ol’ vinegar. 

But just because you read something on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true, so I checked with an expert. And Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company, gave me the lowdown. 

“It might seem counter-intuitive to have to clean a machine that does the cleaning, but over time soap scum and detergent buildup can start causing problems,” he says. “Your washing machine—and your clothing—will benefit from a periodic cleaning.”

So why should vinegar be your go-to? Well for starters, we all probably have a jug of it in the kitchen anyway. And “instead of using a bunch of harsh chemicals to force your washing machine into cleanliness, vinegar is recommended as a more natural and inexpensive way to clean your appliances,” Shimek said. 

Here’s his step-by-step guide to cleaning your washer with vinegar. 

First, spray vinegar around the rubber gasket and use a rag or toothbrush to remove soap scum, mildew, and detergent buildup. Make sure to scrub all the nooks and crannies, and take out and soak any removable parts such as soap and fabric softener dispensers. 

Next, start an empty wash cycle using the largest load size and hottest water. Add two cups of white vinegar and let the cycle run. (If you have a front load washer, pour the vinegar into the detergent dispenser.) For an extra-clean washing machine, repeat the cycle with a half-cup of baking soda. You’ll also need to hand-wash the top portion of the agitator and basin above the water line.

Finally, spray the front or top with vinegar and wipe it down. 

Confession: I only did the second step, and my very heavily used washing machine (you do a LOT of laundry when you run a full time Airbnb) looked brand new and shiny inside when the wash cycle finished, so I didn’t do the rest. But when I’m in a real cleaning fever kind of mood, I’ll come back to it. Shimek said this is something you should do every six months to keep things clean and running smoothly, which is totally manageable.

Great New Downtown Northampton Listing!

Come check out 21 Hooker Avenue in downtown Northampton, MA! This beautifully updated, move-in ready home with historic charm and modern amenities is set on a quiet cul-de-sac within walking distance to downtown Northampton and one block from the bike trail. The house features a brand-new custom kitchen with energy efficient stainless-steel appliances and large island; a remodeled upstairs bathroom with clawfoot tub and heated tile floor; a first-floor half-bath with laundry; three-season enclosed sun porch; and hardwood floors throughout. The private backyard with brick patio backs up to a city park and features a detached 1-car garage and a bonus space that can be used as a studio, workshop or fitness room. Other updates include insulation, 200 amp electrical, boiler and hot water heater. Zoned for Jackson St. School.

Offered at $399,000. Contact Julie Starr for a private showing, or come to the open house this Saturday, August 24th, from 11-1 pm!

 

\

Is An Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) Right For You?

Are you seeking a mortgage and wondering whether an Adjustable Rate Mortage (ARM) might be right for you? The following article from Apartment Therapy outlines three cases wherein an ARM might just make sense, and save you money. If you are seeking a mortgage, that likely means you are working with a local realtor. Any good realtor, such as our group at Maple and Main Realty in Northampton, MA, will be able to direct you to local banks and/or mortgage brokers. A lender or mortgage broker will be able to speak to about which products are best for you, given your particular situation - both financial and otherwise. Read on to see if, perhaps, an ARM might be right for you. However, please be sure to speak with an expert who knows your local market before making any decisions to do so!

3 Times Experts Say Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Make Financial Sense

by BRITTANY ANAS

An overwhelming majority of homebuyers opt for fixed-rate mortgages. The terms of these loans offer all the warm and fuzzy feelings that come with a long-term, stable relationship. Go with a 30-year fixed rate and your mortgage payment next month will be the same as it will be in 2049, which makes budgeting super-duper predictable.

Already popular with many first-time homebuyers, fixed-rate mortgages solidified themselves as the darling of the mortgage industry following the housing crisis. Most people thought adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were just a bad idea. Borrowers turned away from ARMs, fearing that once the rates reset, it could be difficult to keep up with housing payments, and thus put them at risk of foreclosures.

But adjustable-rate mortgages seem to be making a comeback. While they still are risky for a long-term investment, they have more safeguards in place than they did prior to the housing market crash, like how much and how fast a mortgage rate can adjust.

Here’s what the numbers tell us: In May 2019, adjustable-rate mortgages only made up 6.7 percent of new home loans, according to Ellie Mae, a software company that processes more than a third of the mortgages in the United States. But in December 2018, ARMs seemed to be mounting a comeback, making up 9.2 percent of new mortgages—the highest since Ellie Mae began tracking the data in 2011.

The biggest misconception about ARMs? That they should never, ever be used. In fact, there are circumstances when finance and mortgage experts say adjustable-rate mortgages actually make more sense a fixed-rate. 

“People should not be afraid of an adjustable-rate loan,” says Melissa Cohn, executive vice president at Family First Funding LLC, based in New York City, who favors seven-year ARMs and has one on her own home. “Historically adjustable rates have always been lower than a 30-year fixed rate and can be a great money saver.”

Recognizing that homebuyers have unique financial situations, we asked mortgage lenders when it makes sense to go with an adjustable-rate mortgage. Here, three situations in which they’d recommend an ARM. 

But just a reminder before we delve into the scenarios : It’s a good idea to talk all this over with a home lending advisor, says Shelby McDaniels, channel director for corporate home lending with Chase Home Lending.

“Everyone’s situation is different and there is not a one-size-fits-all loan,” McDaniels says.

1. You’ll move soon 

First, an explainer on how ARMs work: The title of the loan lets you know when the interest rate can reset. So, if you get a 5/1 ARM, that 5/1 means the loan’s lower introductory rate will last for five years, and, after that, it’s subject to adjusting on an annual basis, Holden Lewis, NerdWallet‘s home expert explains. 

It’s best to get an adjustable-rate mortgage when you feel confident that you will sell the home during the introductory period, or within a year or two of the end of the introductory period, Lewis says. 

“So if you get a 5/1 ARM, the safest course is to do so if you expect to sell the home within seven years or so.” 

If you’re buying your forever home, you could be subject to ever-increasing interest rates after the introductory period ends—unless you refinance, Lewis says.

Piggybacking on this, if you are buying a starter home and will want to upgrade within five years, an ARM may be a good fit. 

Ad by Capital One

Sponsored Video

Watch to learn more

SEE MORE

Many people don’t consider their actual circumstances and take a fixed rate without giving thought to an ARM, Cohn says. “If you are a first-time homebuyer, newly married, growing a family—those are all reasons in my eyes to take an ARM as your housing needs will change as you go through life.”

Another great reason? You’re starting your career in an expensive city where rent is consistently going up, but you don’t plan on living there in your next chapter of life. In fact, the mortgage are more popular in high cost metro areas like San Jose, California.

“An interest-only option can make ARMs even more attractive for those who are in higher cost-of-living cities on a temporary basis,” says Lauren Anastasio, Certified Financial Planner at SoFi, a personal finance company. “An interest-only ARM typically results in the lowest possible monthly payment during the fixed-rate period and can be a great way for someone to lock-in their monthly housing cost in a location where rental costs tend to increase each year.”

2. Interest rates are low

Adjustable-rate mortgages are a great option in a low or declining interest rate environment, explains Riley Adams, a CPA and senior financial analyst who runs the personal finance blog Young and the Invested. Typically, ARMs anchor to some publicly-available interest rate benchmark (such as LIBOR, Fed Funds rate, prime rate, etc.) and add a defined number of basis points to the overall rate offered to you under the ARM. If your ARM adjusts way higher than what you were paying, you can refinance to another ARM or a fixed-rate mortgage—whichever option saves you the most money. (Though sometimes refinancing can be out of the question if housing prices drop greatly—one of the problems that happened during the 2008 housing crisis) 

“Because we have been in a low-rate environment for an extended period of time and this looks likely to continue, going after this lower interest rate would make economic sense due to the interest cost savings,” Adams says. 

On his previous mortgage, which he took out in July 2011, he went with a 30-year fixed rate and regrets the decision. 

“Had I opted for the 5/1 ARM, I would have paid considerably less in interest and ended up with a lower rate were I to refinance,” he says.

3. You plan on paying off your mortgage quickly

An ARM could be a good fit if you plan on paying off the mortgage before the rate adjusts, says Kristopher Barros, marketing strategist at Embrace Home Loans in Middleton, Rhode Island. 

“That is a less common scenario for a typical homeowner, but still a good reason to take advantage of the lower rates typically associated with an ARM,” Barros says.

A final note: If you are considering an ARM, be sure to comb over the terms of the fixed period. Most common are 3, 5, 7, and 10 year fixed-period ARMs, says Andy Harris, president of Vantage Mortgage Group, Inc. and member of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME). Three-year ARMs are less common and more risky with the unknowns, making the longer-term initial fixed-rate period more attractive, he explains. But, the longer the fixed period, the higher the interest rate generally. 

Decisions, decisions! (But, again, before deciding, talk to a home lending advisor about your situation, as McDaniels recommends.)

Workroom Design Studio Comes to Town!

Just a wee plug for this wonderful local interior design business, Workroom Design Studio. Full disclosure, we (my husband and I) hired these talented women to help us design our remodeled 1890's farmhouse in Florence Center, and we couldn't be happier with the results. Thanks to them, the star and pineapple wallpapers below, grace our walls. Local interior designer and upholsterers of Workroom Design Studio, Sally Staub and Hannah Ray, were featured in the Daily Hampshire Gazette this week. Read on for more information.

This is not your mother’s wallpaper

A new business in Florence is helping people design happy homes — with color, pattern and ridiculously great wallpaper

  •  

For the Gazette
Published: 6/28/2019 10:15:22 AM
Modified: 6/28/2019 10:15:11 AM

If you’re looking for a dose of happy, just open the door to Workroom Design Studio, a new interior design studio in Florence. If the wallpaper with monkeys holding fuchsia pomegranates doesn’t make you smile, then step into the gallery with cherry red walls and explosively colorful art — and if you still haven’t felt a gentle lift of spirits (are you even awake?!), then amble over to the long table with a giant, 42-inch-wide, red pendant work light above it. That should do it! And that’s the idea — the studio’s owners, Sally Staub and Hannah Ray, are preachers and practitioners of creating joyful spaces. “If people walk in and say, ‘Oh, this feels good, this is a happy space,’ then it’s a happy thing,” said Staub.Joining design dreams 

For nearly a decade both women chugged along with their own businesses — Staub ran her interior design company, Sally Staub Design, from her home, and Ray ran Tack Upholstery Studio, often giving interior design advice with her furniture.

But they itched to do more — yet had no employees or extra time. “We were both working our tails off on our own,” said Staub, “and we both had larger visions of what we wanted to be doing.” A mutual friend had introduced them seven years before and they had a friendly relationship, sending each other clients. Then one day last summer they started talking more, and over some margaritas at Homestead in Northampton, they had a “what if we had a design studio?” conversation. “Our aesthetics were lined up, our vision lined up, our energy too,” said Staub. “It was like falling in love — OK, let’s do this!” And, added Ray, “The impressive part was we did it!”

They started looking for a space. They also began merging companies. “We asked each other, ‘How do you spend your days?’ We made lists: ‘When you meet a client what do you do?” said Ray. They also got invaluable help from a local management consultant, Karen Carswell, who said that these days a business plan was less important than a website, which they got in the works. “When you’re working on that one paragraph about who you are — it’s really informative,” said Ray. 

Carswell also told them communication was key. “Call each other every single day,” Staub recalls hearing. “Ask: What are your stumbling blocks? Tell each other.”

At first, all this communication was awkward, but: “Now you should see how many times a day we talk,” said Ray. “Our husbands keep asking if we’re leaving them.”

Finally, they found a dreamy space in Florence, entering into an agreement with the landlord. For nine weeks they stockpiled stuff in Staub’s garage: furniture, wallpaper, and art, collaborating on their first big project together—the showroom that would feature Ray’s custom upholstery, the art of local creators, and one of their shared loves: incredible wallpaper. “Wallpaper elevates walls into visually charged places,” said Staub. They had palm paper planned for their space. Then, just before the 2018 holiday season, the landlord bailed, deciding a design shop wasn’t for him. Staub and Ray were devastated. “It was a financial blow and a time blow,” said Staub.

“We were so keyed up and working so hard,” said Ray. They scrambled to return and cancel all the items they could.

But the loss ended up revealing that they could rely on each other in rougher times: “It was great because we held each other up,” said Staub. “When one of us was feeling down emotionally, the other one would rise up.”

 

A launch pad for interior joy 

Then, on January 1st, 2019, a painter friend alerted them to a space in his studio’s building — a full floor across the parking lot from Café Evolution. They started from scratch — scrapping every design idea from the previous space — and got to work, adding drywall, fixing brick walls, re-doing the floors, painting the walls. And of course, they added carefully selected wallpaper — the monkey and more. The studio opened in April. “What’s nice about having the studio is that people can see it in place,” said Staub. “If a client had just seen a sample of the monkeys, they might be like, What is this and why would you put in on a wall? But here they can see impact.” They can also see (and buy) Ray’s upholstered furniture, flip through sample books of fabric and wallpaper, and peruse and purchase art in their Red Light Gallery.

Now they have one employee who helps with the upholsery, and they meet with clients under the giant red light fixture — which matches their company logo. A demi-wall on casters has a presentation board on one side and blue, white-patterned wallpaper on the other — meant to be spun around for a dramatic mood board reveal for clients. They’re working with homeowners locally, in Boston and as far as Washington D.C. using FaceTime to assess faraway spaces. When working with clients, they try to strike a balance between respecting their comfort zones and nudging them into new, more colorful pastures. “I like to push people a little bit, but be respectful. If someone is all neutral and they want to stay all neutral, OK, we’ll do that, of course,” Staub said. “But sometimes we’ll push a little bit and they’ll push back a little bit. And they’ll come back and say — it’s OK to push me.”

 

Offering a design education 

They presented one such client with the idea of adding wallpaper with a pattern of silkscreened clouds to a vaulted stairwell. “Our pitch was: Look, here’s a rather unnoticed, mundane space that you can elevate to a beautiful focal point,” Staub said. But the client said no. “We don’t often pout over things,” said Ray, “but on that one, we were pouting.” Yet a few days later, the client told them, “’I can’t get the clouds out of my head,” said Ray. The client was so gung-ho she asked if they could extend the paper to the ceiling. “That’s exciting for us when we see the happiness,” said Staub.

The designers also feel that they’re educators — a bridge between the sometimes obscure world of design and people who don’t spend their time flipping through wallpaper samples for fun. “A lot of clients will come back and say, ‘Now that we’ve talked about the lights, I went down this road and suddenly see all these beautiful lamps that have those arcs that you showed me that I’d never noticed,’” said Ray. “Our job is to introduce concepts.” They do this in every décor style — from modern to French Country and everything in between.

They design rooms or whole houses or offices. And what they aim to offer is the same dose of happiness that’s in their studio. “It’s good for your emotional wellbeing to be happy in your surroundings. There’s lots of research on that,” Staub said. “We think that color and pattern and contrasting elements create energy, happiness, and all those things are important for our emotional existence.”

 

Laundry Hacks, Whoop!

I don't know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with laundry. I love when it's clean, and I don't actually mind "doing" it. But I hate folding it and putting it away. With a household of 4 people and one dog - there is always laundry to be done. This time of year, I like to take advantage of the sunny Northampton skies (when they comply) and air dry most of our clothes on drying racks outside. I'm also a sucker for home remedies for stain removal, wrinkle reduction, whitening whites, etc. I found this Laundry Hack "fun fact" list on Apartment Therapy to share. Read on if you are so inclined!

The 27 Greatest Laundry Hacks of All Time

by TARYN WILLIFORD

There’s really something for everyone to hate about laundry. Impatient people hate the waiting. Easily-distracted people hate the folding. And there’s not a soul on Earth that enjoys the part where you leave piles of folded clothes in your living room for five to seven business days before reluctantly carrying them upstairs.

While we can’t come do your laundry for you, we can try to make it easier by rounding up a big list of our very favorite hacks, tricks, and techniques for making laundry day go a little bit easier. 

1. Soften Sheets with Vinegar

Run a cycle with your bed sheets and a half-cup of distilled white vinegar to give them a quick boost of softness and brightness, and to remove lingering odors.

2. Sort unconventionally, like by soil level or details.

There’s no laundry police to tell you you must sort your laundry by color. If a different sorting solution works better for your family, try it instead. For instance, large families might like to sort their laundry by person, or you can save detergent and energy by sorting by soil level—keeping filthy gym clothes or diapers separate from once-worn tee shirts and optimizing each load.

3. Throw your detergent cap in with the laundry to wash it.

You know those messy drips and sticky spots that decorate the lid of your laundry detergent bottle before too long? Don’t waste time wiping them away. Just toss the detergent lid right into the wash with your clothes (avoid delicates) to get it clean. Just make sure you remove it before it enters the heat of the dryer.

 
 

4. Keep chalk in the kitchen to treat grease stains.

Grease stains be gone! Because chalk is ultra-absorbent, you can rub a bit on any oily kitchen stains as they happen, to absorb grease and hold you over until you can throw the garment in the wash.

5. Dry clothes fast with a clean towel in the dryer.

You can speed up the machine-dry process by adding a clean, dry towel to the mix. Toss it into the dryer with your wet clothes to dry everything faster.

6. Make your own wrinkle releaser in a pinch.

Wrinkled clothes? No time to wash or iron? You probably have everything you need to make a DIY wrinkle releaser in your bathroom and kitchen cabinets. Take a spray bottle and fill it with 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of hair conditioner and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Spray the mist onto your wrinkled clothes until they’re lightly damp, then stretch and pull the fabric until the wrinkles release.

7. Fake-iron your clothes with ice cubes.

If you have a dryer in your apartment, you can quickly “iron” your clothes with an ice cube. Just toss the wrinkled clothes in the dryer with an ice cube or two, on the warmest possible setting, and let the ice cube create steam in the dryer to leave your clothes looking smooth.

 
(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

8. Collect dryer lint in a tissue box.

If you don’t have room for a trash can in your laundry room, try repurposing a tissue box to collect your dryer lint. When the box is full, you can toss the entire thing out or — even better — compost it! Both the cardboard tissue box and the dryer lint itself is likely compostable.

9. Use shaving cream as a stain remover on the go.

Shaving cream contains similar active ingredients to many household soaps, and the foamy nature works great at lifting stains, especially in a pinch or on the go. Work some cream into the stain, let it sit, then blot it up.

10. Spray clothes with vodka.

Vodka is a natural deodorizer. Keep a spray bottle full of cheap vodka on hand and use it to freshen up your smelly clothes for a re-wear before washing.

11. Master a laundry folder.

One quick upgrade to your laundry routine is getting yourself a laundry folder. It’ll turn folding into somewhat of a game—and you’ll get through that pile of clothes faster than ever. Plus the uniformity of your folded clothes is enough to put a forever-pep in your step.

(Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

12. Lift sticky stains with ice cubes.

If you notice a stubborn, sticky mess on your clothes (like gum!) try this: Leave some ice cubes on top of the mess for a few minutes, then easily peel the gunk away once it feels like it’s hardened.

13. Put your clothes in the freezer.

It won’t kill bacteria, but an overnight stay in the freezer will help to de-stink your clothes enough to, say, wear that smokey top or pair of jeans one more time before washing them.

14. Keep socks paired in a mesh laundry bag.

Those mesh bags meant for delicates? They’re also great at keeping small items from getting lost to… wherever it is all those odd socks go. Get a big one (like one from this set), hang it near your hamper, and toss pairs of socks in there as you take them off. When it’s laundry day, zip it up and throw the whole bag in the wash. 

15. Trade your dryer sheets for dryer balls.

ICYMI, dryer sheets are not that great. Instead, opt for a set of wool dryer balls. They’ll keep air moving, smoothing out wrinkles and speeding up your drying time. And if you like to scent your laundry, you can drip a few drops of essential oils onto your dryer balls every 10 or so loads.

16. Hang your dirty clothes back up—but mark them.

Instead of piling your still-sorta-clean, wear-again clothes in a pile on the bedroom chair (where you can assure yourself they’ll be too wrinkled to actually wear again), hang them back up. If they’re clean enough to wear again, they’re clean enough to go back in the closet. To make sure you know which clothes to grab from the closet next time it’s laundry day, mark already-worn clothes with a special signifier. Some ideas? A special-colored hanger, a bread tag, safety pins, or just turn the hangers around to face the other way.

17. Hand-wash your clothes in a salad spinner.

Those hand-wash-only items can be a chore to clean. Throw them into an inexpensive salad spinner with a bit of soap (laundry detergent, baby shampoo, castile soap—whatever you prefer) to give them a wash that’ll be more powerful than hand-massaging but gentler than the laundry machine. You can also use the spinner to dry them off afterwards!

18. Use a dry erase marker to keep track of items between the washer and dryer.

There’s a simple answer to your “line dry only” forgetfulness: A dry erase marker. When you put a load of clothes in the washer, keep track of which items should be sorted out before the dryer, and write them down right on the metal surface of your machine with a dry erase marker.

19. Use a pool noodle to keep from creasing while drying.

If you’ve ever draped your freshly washed clothes over a drying rack only to have them come up with a big crease, try this: Cut a pool noodle to the length of your drying rack rods, then cut along one side lengthways to open up the noodle to the center. You’ll be able to slip the noodle around the rod of your drying rack and avoid any harsh lines on your clothes.

(Image Credit: Joe Lingema

20. Make a mega lint roller.

If you have large areas that need de-linting, or just have misplaced your lint roller, you can hack one together with duct tape and a paint roller. Just wrap the tape sticky-side out around the roller and start spinning it over your clothes or furniture.

21. Pre-soak your gym clothes in vinegar.

For an especially foul-smelling load of gym clothes, soak your clothes in a half a cup of white vinegar mixed with cold water for at least an hour before washing. This will help remove unpleasant odors and break down sweat stains and buildup. And don’t machine dry them.

22. Iron clothes with a hair flat iron.

A hair straightener is great for getting in between buttons on a shirt or straightening out a bendy hem. Just make sure the hair iron is totally clean and dry (and not caked with product) before you clamp it down on your clothes.

23. Use white bread on stains, in a pinch.

If you’re, say, out to lunch and get a big ol’ barbecue sauce stain on your shirt, reach for a slice of plain white bread and use it to gently blot up as much of the stain as you can from the fabric to tide you over until you can get to the Tide. 

 

24. Pre-treat sweat stains with baby shampoo.

Dab a bit of baby shampoo on your sweat-soiled shirt collars and underarm areas and let it soak in for half an hour before throwing them in the washer to say goodbye to those unsightly pit stains once and for all.

25. You can un-shrink sweaters with baby shampoo, too.

Fill up a bucket with lukewarm water and two tablespoons of baby shampoo, then let your shrunken sweater soak for twenty minutes. When time’s up, drain, flatten, and lay it out as taut as possible to dry to stretch your shrunken sweater back to its original shape.

26. Try “bluing solution” to battle yellowing.

If you notice your whites growing a little warmer (a.k.a. they’re looking more “buttercream” than “icy white”), you can add something called liquid bluing solution to your wash to impart a subtle blue tint to bring your whites back into balance.

27. When you get back from vacation, dump the whole suitcase in the wash.

It seems dramatic, and there might be clean clothes in there, but dumping your vacation suitcase in the wash is a power move for anyone who struggles with their vacation re-entry moment (i.e. living out of a suitcase for a week or more).

 

Comments

  1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

The Ellery in Northampton

When we were planning our move to Northampton in 2006, hotel options included The Autumn Inn, The Hotel Northampton, or a chain hotel out on Route 9 in Hadley. The Hotel Northampton was expensive, the Autumn Inn was dark and depressing, and we didn't want to stay on Route 9. That was 13 years ago, and the options haven't increased by much. There are more chain hotels on Conz St, but, until now, there were no cozy, clean, attractive and affordable options right in Northampton. Enter The Ellery! The Autumn Inn has received a low key makeover, and the results are fantastic! Check out the following piece from the Daily Hampshire Gazette. 

A new season for the Autumn Inn: The Ellery

The owners, both preservationists, updated the lobby without touching the room’s massive hearth. 

By Valerie Reiss

For the Gazette
Published: 5/16/2019 2:58:25 PM

In recent years, the Autumn Inn on Elm Street, a Northampton visitor staple since it opened in 1967, had started to look its age. Online reviewers of the inn had noticed, saying things like “seen better days,” “sad,” and “tired,” and “smells of… feet.” 

Enter Bob Thomas and Dierdre Savage, owners of Saltaire Properties, who purchased the inn in 2018 from Atwood Drive LLC, an affiliate of the Hampshire Hospitality Group for $2.25 million. Atwood Drive had held the property since 2001. 

Developers of mid-sized, independent New England hotels and inns, the Saltaire team had wanted to buy a property in Northampton for a while, admiring its history and culture. The team’s tagline is “Bringing new life to forgotten hotels,” which means, essentially: keeping the good while updating the old — and making everything a bit more delightful and modern for guests. Thomas holds a master’s degree in historic preservation and Savage has one in architectural preservation. “We’re always interested in the ugly and the unloved buildings,” said Thomas. “The idea of historic preservation is, fundamentally: Don’t think it’s obsolete, there’s actually a use for that building. Save stuff. It’s not just an architecture thing, it’s also an environmental thing, not to throw a building away.”

Moderate makeover, hotel edition

This meant a deep, but not structural, makeover of the Dutch colonial hotel, which is now called The Ellery, named for William Ellery Channing, a transcendentalist poet who went to school in Northampton. The renovation spanned the 32 guest rooms, a lobby, lounge area, small commercial kitchen, and the exterior. “We always want the design to start with the architecture,” said Thomas. “It’s got to inhabit the building appropriately. This is a neo-colonial building. So it should be kind of colonial, but also modern.”

Interestingly, the original owners also intended a mix. A 1967 Gazette article stated, “…plans for the inn call for an exterior resembling a fine old residence, but the interior will be ultra-modern, including color television in every unit and wall-to-wall carpeting.” 

A different 1967 Gazette article, written after the opening, said the inn was “decorated throughout in tones of coppery orange, gold and leaf green.” Those hues had long since faded, though, so the Saltaire team replaced worn red carpeting with soft, mid-tone gray carpet; painted dingy walls with fresh grays and whites; transformed the lobby floor with durable, wood-look planks; swapped out lighting fixtures; and created a design scheme that carried through the rooms. 

Plus, the HVAC system was completely overhauled, which meant being able to remove bulky air conditioners from the windows and lowering astronomical heating bills generated by the old baseboard heaters. The building was brought up to current fire code, and the kitchen was brought up to code, too. 

This work was done with the help of their contractor, plus Carrie Thomas, an interior designer married to Bob Thomas, who designs for Saltaire projects and private clients. The aim was to have the rooms feel “serene, dignified, and peaceful,” said Bob Thomas. Each has a single, large piece of art — framed block prints by designer John Robshaw, Turkish throw pillows, crisp white bedding, and black wood beds. The mattresses have been selected for comfort. “We sell sleep, at the end of the day,” said Thomas. Two items salvaged from the past were the wood framed mirrors and cast iron tubs in each room. They also didn’t touch the massive, 1967 hearth in the lobby’s lounge area, which still exudes cozy warmth. 

Outside got plenty of sprucing too. Though they had planned to keep the pool, they soon learned it “leaked like a sieve,” and also haunted Thomas as a potential danger for neighborhood kids. They filled it in and now have a rolling lawn, perfect for special events and warm weather lounging. “I’m going to get the best croquet set I can find,” said Thomas. 

Connecting to the past and to place

Devoted to the original intention of the building, they replaced plastic shutters with “architecturally correct shutters,” said Thomas. Real gas lanterns will flicker outside. Copper gutters are soon to be installed. “The idea was to take what the building aspired to be originally and make it more authentically that,” said Thomas.

There was also a commitment to keeping the hotel firmly grounded in a sense of place. “We love giving people an experience that allows them to truly feel they’re in the community that they’re visiting,” said Savage. To that end, the first thing they wanted to add was a replica of Thomas Cole’s 1836 painting of the Connecticut River, called “View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm — The Oxbow.”

“It tells you about your surroundings,” said Thomas. There are also framed posters from shows at The Calvin, a photo gallery of famous Smith College alumna, and a bookshelf that Thomas stocked with books by Smith authors — think: “Orange is the New Black” and “Gifts from the Sea” — plus other writers who had a connection to Northampton.

The desire to connect the hotel to the city carried through to their business. “We really like community partnerships,” said Thomas. Woodstar’s bakery will provide the batter for their morning scones. And Florence Savings Bank helped fund the venture. “They’ve been awesome,” said Savage. “We work with community lenders so that we, hand-in-hand, are investing in the community. No Bank of America for me.” She also said that various city departments and boards in Northampton were notably supportive of the project. “It was actually a pleasant experience,” she said. “We are very grateful for that.”

Back in 1967, city board had, in fact, opposed the creation of an inn at 259 Elm Street in the first place — four years after striking down a bid to create an 80-unit high-rise on the lot. From a May 1967 Gazette: “The Northampton Board of Appeals will have a public hearing in the city council rooms tonight on the appeal of William H. Ormond Jr., objecting to construction of a 32-unit Autumn Inn on Elm St. Ormond contends the facility is a motel, not an inn, and that it would be in violation of the city’s Residence C zoning ordinance.” Regardless, the inn opened in October of that year. 

Building ahead

Savage and Thomas have been business partners for more than 10 years — starting their career in housing and then gravitating toward hotels because it was more about people and didn’t have a finite end. “It’s not like it’s just built and it’s over, said Thomas. “It kind of evolves over time.” Properties they’ve developed include The Shire Woodstock and The Stowehof, both in Vermont, and the Harbor Hotel in Provincetown. The two developers share all aspects of the business — though Savage, who has a background in commercial real estate finance, handles the banks. “I’m not just sitting there with a green visor on, though,” said Savage.

“We really both enjoy the design part, the relationship part and the operations part,” said Thomas. “What does it feel like to be a guest here? What’s the music? How are you greeted? We share those things.”

Savage lives in Gloucester and Thomas outside of Boston, but they plan to stay involved with the big picture. A management company hired by Saltaire will operate the hotel day-to-day, checking people in, hiring the employees, dealing with laundry, etc. The company also sets the rates — which vary by day and date. A quick search shows that a weekend in mid-June costs anywhere from $215-$279 a night, depending on the room.

As for the future, the team plans to thoughtfully buy and restore more hand-selected properties. “There’s no recipe for what we do, but we’re pretty good at identifying what we see as terrific opportunities,” said Savage. Their goals beyond The Ellery are twofold: “To put together a portfolio of properties that would offer people a tour of New England — and build a healthy business,” Savage said. “We’re in this for the long term.” Also, she adds, laughing: “I love new deals. It’s fun, it’s exciting.”

Visitors to The Ellery might say the same thing about that new croquet set, as they click balls across the hotel’s lawn in the New England sun.

 

 
 
 
 

Fantastic Building Lot Within Walking Distance to Downtown Northampton!

Have you been looking for the perfect spot to build a small footprint house within walking distance to downtown Northampton? If so, look no further! 0 Stoddard Street in Northampton is a unique infill lot. It has the required 50 feet of frontage but widens to 65 feet along the back lot line. In addition, the seller is willing to allow a "zero lot line" on the left hand border (from the street). The city's mandated 15 foot side setback would be *softened* up to 10 feet closer to the existing lot line - allowing for more space to build or add a garage. Stoddard Street abuts the bike path, it is steps away from the supermarket, and walking distance to town. While it's proximity to town/bike path allows for a "car lite" lifestyle, Stoddard Street is quiet, lined with quaint houses and lovely gardens. For more information, contact Julie Starr. Offered at $180,000

Plants and Antiques!

    

It's that time of year again, when the Brimfield Antiques Fair comes (close) to town! The annual fair, which takes places a number of times over the spring and summer, just down the road a piece in Brimfield, MA, opens for the first time this season starting on Tuesday, May 14th! The following article from Mass Live gives more information about the fair.

In the meanwhile, if you are looking for something fun and local to do this weekend - the 23rd Annual Plant and Garden Market, hosted by NEF and held at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton, will be held tomorrow, May 11th, from 9-12. It's a great place to pick up some Mother's Day gifts! The proceeds from the sale benefit Northampton public schools. What a great cause!

Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show begins 6-day run on Tuesday

; Posted May 8, 2019

The Brimfield Antiques & Collectibles Show returns Tuesday to Route 20 in Brimfield.

Staff-Shot

The Brimfield Antiques & Collectibles Show returns Tuesday to Route 20 in Brimfield. 

By Keith O'Connor | Special to The Republican

Lori Faxon of Dealer’s Choice Antique Shows met her husband, Tom, at the Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show some 35 years ago.

“I was 19 years old and really wasn’t into antiques at the time, but got into them because of Tom, who she began to help at his field named Midway Antique Shows,” said Faxon.

Love blossomed, along with marriage, and today the couple owns not only Midway Antiques, but Dealer’s Choice Antique Shows. The six-day show begins its run on Tuesday, May 14.

The “show” is actually made up of about 21 fields, stretching along Route 20 for about a mile, owned by promoters or operators such as Faxon and her husband, who lease spaces to dealers.

“We purchased the large property from the daughters of Gordon Reed, founder of the Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show,” Faxon said.

Reed, an auctioneer, began holding auctions outdoors on his large field, eventually growing into a popular flea market and leading the way for other field owners to do the same in the late ’70s.

According to the website brimfieldantiquefleamarket.com, “the May show is the first show of the Brimfield 2019 season, and is easiy the busiest show of the year. This is the time that you will find the freshest offers and merchandise from dealers in every field and shop.”

“Our Dealer’s Choice property is actually on the outskirts of all the fields, and people just don’t want to come out that far. Everyone is always busy on opening day, so our Dealer’s Choice field is open on just the first of the six days,” Faxon said.

“We have 400 dealers on our property, for us a mix of mid-century to modern vintage clothing, jewelry and furniture,” she added.

Most of the individual fields that make up the large antiques and collectible show sell a variety of items in addition to clothing, jewelry and furniture treasure hunters will find

fine art, glassware, toys, silver, antique farm implements and tools and much more with prices ranging from one dollar to thousands of dollars.

Although many field owners offer an array of food options to choose from, Faxon said the atmosphere is more business-like than that of a fair.

“Dealers come to buy as well as to sell. It’s serious business and for many it’s how they make a living. People come from far and wide from Japan, Germany, England and beyond. While you see a lot of buyers adding to their stock in the first part of the week, as the weekend approaches the focus is more on retail,” Faxon said.

Faxon offered some advice for attending the spring show.

“Expect the fields to be muddy and wear appropriate shoes. And, don’t expect to do the entire show in one day because it is so big. Hit one or two fields in the morning, then enjoy some lunch and then another couple in the afternoon,” she said.

Additional tips found on various Brimfield Flea Markets associated websites include:

  • Bring your umbrella and shop in the rain when attendance isn’t as heavy.
  • Cool hard cash speaks better to some dealers than a check.
  • Take a small memo pad with you so that you can write down the item that caught your eye, but weren’t ready to purchase, along with the name, booth number and field for that dealer. With so many fields, it’s easy to forget where you saw something you liked.
  • Begin your treasure hunting early to avoid the crowds and don’t wait until noon to eat lunch when everyone else is getting hungry at the same time.
  • Don’t see something that you might be looking for? Don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Check the temperature and weather for Brimfield before leaving home, and dress appropriately. Bring a water bottle with you to keep hydrated is the scorching summersun.

For those who can’t attend the May show, the next Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show is set for July 9-14.

Spring Garden Clean Up!

Can you feel it? Spring has sprung! There's no denying the feeling that a literal dark cloud has lifted, once the days get warmer, the nights get longer, and the beautiful spring flowers start to poke through the soil. Even on a rainy weekend such as this, the warmer temps and lighter skies help buoy the spirits of us Pioneer Valley dwellers. We are ready!

Each spring, I look forward to the gardening columns from The Daily Hampshire Gazette's Mickey Rathbun. She never fails to give sound advice. The following article will help you form your spring clean up to do list. And in the meanwhile, since you won't likely make it out to your garden in the rain, check out these Northampton area (and beyond) weekend open houses. Enjoy!

 Get Growing: Embracing spring garden chores

For the Gazette 
Published: 4/5/2019 11:23:43 AM

 

Dare I say it? It’s time to start spring clean-up in the garden. Although we had a typical April Fool’s Day on Monday — cold and windy — and I am dressed for the outdoors in the same winter clothes I wore three weeks ago when I headed to North Carolina, the season has progressed considerably. The peepers started their ecstatic racket this past weekend, crocuses are blooming in sunny places and robins have returned.

The most important caution when heading out to the garden is to avoid trampling on soggy or semi-frozen soil and compacting it. Compacting soil changes its structure by eliminating the air pockets between particles. Water has a harder time sinking into the earth and tends to puddle on top. Plant roots have a harder time growing in compacted soil — think brick instead of brown sugar — and can even expire. So be careful: test for moisture by taking a handful and squeezing it into a ball. If it crumbles after a few seconds, it’s dry enough to work. But if it holds its ball shape, wait a few days and try again. If you absolutely have to walk across a garden bed lay a couple of boards across that you can walk on to disperse your weight.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to cut things back or clear dead leaves. Beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies and moths that have nested in leaf litter need time to get moving. Wait until there have been a series of daytime temperatures of 50 degrees or higher to minimize the damage done to these precious critters.

One of my favorite spring chores is removing old patches of dead leaves and revealing tender shoots of spring bulbs and other early bloomers. This is slow, delicate work but it’s infinitely rewarding. This is also a good time to use gardening scissors or other small pruners to trim out dead leaves from epimedium and heuchera to expose new growth. A lot of epimediums’ magic happens under a tent of dead leaves; you will miss the lovely, pale green buds that unfurl into clouds of tiny flowers if you don’t clear out the debris. But take care not to cut the new growth underneath.

If you have a lawn, wait till it’s good and dry and then rake it briskly to remove thatch and give the new grass some space to emerge. April is the right time to plant and fertilize grass. Wait until the daytime temperatures are 65 degrees or higher. Seed will not germinate if the ground is too cold. UMass Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment has a lot of helpful information about lawn care; see ag.umass.edu/home-lawn-garden/ for detailed advice about growing a lush, healthy lawn.

If you grow vegetables, organize and stay on top of your planting schedule. Keep a calendar of what you plant when, and what should be reseeded when so that you have a steady supply of things like lettuce and other salad ingredients.

No matter what you grow, get your soil tested. UMass has an excellent soil-testing service. Preparing a good sample is the most important part of testing. It’s not difficult, but do it methodically for the best results. Take 12 or so samples of soil from an area that has similar soil characteristics. Dig 6 to 8 inches below the surface — a small spadeful from each site — and mix them in a clean bucket. Remove debris, stones, etc. Take a cupful of the soil and let it dry. If you have multiple areas of soil with different characteristics, make a test sample for each site. It’s a good idea to sketch a map of where you’ve taken your samples from. You can find all the necessary information and forms on their website. Paige Laboratory on campus even has short-term free parking for soil sample drop offs!

It’s not too late to straighten out your tools and clean them up for the season. Many of us are too busy in the fall to get this chore done before the snow flies. Then it’s winter, and who wants to be out in the garage or garden shed in the freezing cold scraping dried mud off trowels or scrubbing pruner blades with scouring powder?

Now that daylight savings time is here, most of us have time in the early evening to say hello to all our new arrivals. Spring happens fast once it starts. After surviving another cold, dismal winter, you don’t want to miss anything.

 

 Mickey Rathbun, an Amherst-based lawyer turned journalist, has written the Get Growing column since 2016.