Blog :: 2013

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

Broker's Open House in Southampton

Attention Maple and Main friends.  The illustrious, industrious and creative Lisa Darragh, along with her charming and talented partner, Ozzie Ercan, have put together a broker's open house of 3 different Southampton listings this coming Monday, December 16th from 11-1 pm.  There will be a prize of $300 awarded to one lucky attendee.  Hot mulled cider and holiday treats to be served.  Come one, come all!

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Shut Your Pie-Hole!

I love that line.  I love Robert DeNiro, and even though I hated his character in 'This Boy's Life', that line has stuck in my brain for many years and won't go away.  Anyhoo, as I was elipting* at the Y the other day, it came to me that what I want to write about this week is how to get through the holiday season without overdoing it.  I realize that this topic has little, if anything, to do with real estate in Northampton MA.  But it does relate to entertaining and to the holidays.  So let me put my nutritionist hat back on for a second and say a little something about moderation.

Before I was a realtor, I was a nutritionist in private practice for 10 years.  Even though I have switched gears, professionally speaking, I still believe in, and try to live by, the notion of "everything in moderation".  With Thanksgiving/Chanukah behind us, and Christmas, Kwanzaa, Solstice, New Year's Eve, Boxing Day (and other other important holidays that I might not be remembering) before us - many of us have at least a couple of holiday functions to attend in the coming weeks.  Aside from that, anyone who works in an office generally has to navigate the mounds of chocolates, cookies, cakes and candy that tend to show up this time of year.  In addition, it's getting colder outside, so we New Englanders tend to spend a lot of time inside vs. outside, and inert vs. active.  With all of these factors in mind, here is my list of suggestions to enjoy the holidays without overdoing it.

1.  Plan Ahead!  Have an idea of how many nibbles and drinks you are going to allow yourself before you get to a party.  2 pigs in a blanket, 2 crackers with cheese, 1 small slice of pie, 2 glasses of wine, etc.  The same can be said for the office - if you really want a chocolate, have one... just don't have 3.

2.  Never show up excessively hungry!!  If your event is in the evening, make sure to eat a sensible lunch and breakfast that day.  Even a late afternoon snack will help stave off the desire to scarf down everything in sight upon arrival.  Again, the same applies to the office.  Make sure to eat real meals so that you aren't scavenging for cookies and chocolate in place of food.

3.  Always put your food on a plate!  This will both give you context about how much you are eating, may allow you to eat slower, and help discourage you from filling your plate multiple times.  If you find yourself doing so, refer back to item #1.

4.  Plant yourself far away from the food table.  If the party is crowded, it will be harder to get there (once you have had something to eat, of course)

5.  Try to stay away from the "all or nothing" mind set.  "Well, I really screwed up already so I might as well have at it.  I'll pull things together after the holidays".  This type of thinking is what leads to unwanted weight gain.  Even if you overdo it on one occasion, that does not negate more positive eating behavior before and after the event.

6.  Don't drink *too* much (again, refer back to #1).  Drinking lowers inhibitions and will make it harder to makes good choices.

7.  Try to stick to your exercise regimen (if you have one) during the holidays.  Hiking, skiing, sledding (if there is snow), even walking can take the place of the gym if you can't get there.

Those are my words of wisdom for the day.  Happy Holidays!

*I must give credit to the creation of this semi-newly minted verb to my dear friend Katy Schneider - artist, musician, chef and humorist.

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas...

Ok, not really.  But a thought had occurred to me.  Having grown up with a mish-mosh of holiday celebrations around this time of year, when November rolls around I do tend to start thinking about how to balance my husband's discomfort with decorating the house for the holidays with my children's deep desire to do so.  It's not that he's a scrooge - it's just that he was raised in an observant Jewish household wherein Christmas was just another day.  I was raised by atheists who embraced the spirit of the holiday, if not the religious messages that are supposed to go along with it.  My father's family always has a giant, decorated Christmas tree, stockings on the mantle, etc.  My mother and stepfather ran a school that we all attended, and every year "Santa" would come to the school for the holiday party to give out presents and sing holiday songs with us.  I'm pretty sure that my nuclear family (Mom, Stepdad, sibs) exchanged gifts on Chanukah, vs. Christmas - but I faithfully traveled to see my father and his family every Christmas.  And every Christmas eve, my small home town would welcome "Santa" on a different mode of transport to the village green (horse, fire truck, space ship, etc) - where he would disburse stockings filled with fruit and candy to all of the children who awaited his arrival.  It is still an event that the kids and I look forward to each year.

The year after I graduated college, my best friend and moved to Vail, Colorado for the year.  It was a stupendous experience in many ways.  We were living in crappy Vail Employee Housing, selling lift tickets and such, working in restaurants, skiing on our days off, etc.  It was super fun and one of the most beautiful parts of the world in which I've ever had the pleasure to spend time.  Just in time for Christmas that year, some friends and I went 4-wheeling into the woods to chop down a pine tree (if memory serves, this was actually legal.  I think we paid a small fee to do this and were sent to some specific wooded area to find our Christmas tree).  It was such a wintry, snowy, Colorado adventure!  However, I now live with a staunch environmentalist, so even if Christmas were a holiday that we celebrated as a family, I'm sure I'd have to come up with a green alternative to chopping down a tree every year.  We make do with a string or two of blue and white Chanukah lights on the mantle as it is -- but this has got me thinking!

Back when I was a kid it was certainly frowned upon to have a fake tree vs. a real tree.  I guess it seemed tacky to me at the time.  Here in Northampton, a friend of mine who is a fantastic craftsperson and graphic designer hauls out a sparkly white reusable Christmas tree every year - and decorates it tastefully and beautifully.  No mess, no hassle of hauling a big tree home, and no concern over how to dispose of it after the fact.  It turns out, there are many interesting and beautiful alternatives available out there, thanks to sites like Etsy - and to the internet in general.  Feast your eyes:

 

 

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This is only a small sampling of the many interesting options available out there in cyberspace.  Ok, so they aren't green and they don't have that lovely pine needle smell -- but you have to admit they are cool looking!

Happy tree shopping and decorating everybody!

 

 

Comments

  1. Peggy on

    I loved this blog. Thank you for sharing such fond memories. It's OK to dream of a green Christmas. We have had them before. I know mine will be green as I will be in MS! Peggy

    Out with the Old, and in with the....Old!

    I attended a fantastic clothing swap at a friend's house the other night.  If you have never been to, or organized, a clothing swap, you really must!  It's an excuse to get out of the house for the evening, to guiltlessly rid yourself of clothing that you never wear, and, occasionally, find some real gems to beef up your wardrobe, all while sipping a glass of wine and hanging around in your skivvies with your girlfriends - trying on clothes.  There is also something to the timing of a pre-holiday swap - it's fun to obtain some new threads (for free) during the holiday season when you are generally shopping for everyone else.  Of course, there's also the whole reduce, reuse, recycle angle which feels so much better than the post-mall vaguely guilty and empty feeling many of us have experienced.

    From what I understand, there are many ways to orchestrate a clothing swap, but the ones I have been to are generally the same format.  Everyone brings a large bag of clothing along to the event, as well as food or drink to share.  We spend some time sorting clothing into categories (not by size, just by type of clothing).  Then we have at it!  The host generally has a couple of full length mirrors hanging around to allow you to make informed decisions; not to mention that you are surrounded by people who can give you an honest opinion about whether or not to toss the item in question back in the pile.  Hopefully, you have a friend with you who knows what you like and sends things your way if they happen upon them.  At the end of the night, whatever hasn't been claimed is brought by some lovely volunteer to an organization of their choosing who would benefit from nice clothes in good condition

    Generally, 50-70% of what you take home, you actually make good use of! (Insert headless selfie to show the adorbs scarf and J.Jill sweater I scored on Tuesday night!)

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    However, certain items tend to make the swap circuit.  I did happen to notice that a skirt I had brought to an earlier clothing swap had resurfaced this past Tuesday.  It's always funny when that happens!

    I think the next great idea should involve swapping tchotchkes and other home-related items!  Stay tuned for more on that topic.  Or, invite me if you have one!

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    Get Organized!

    Throughout my childhood, and especially in high school, my mother referred to my bedroom as a "pig sty".  My parents bought and sold real estate as a side business with some frequency - we moved every 2-3 years.  This included fixing up older homes, living in them and then selling them, as well as buying land and building houses to suit our needs (and then selling them).  My family got into the groove of moving, which was actually fun since we didn't have to change school systems.  The last house we lived in before I went off to college was one that we had built.  My parents let us each choose our bedroom colors, so of course I chose purple, my sister pink and my brother light blue (I walked in when it was under construction and overheard the contractors describing our combined color choices as "vomitous")... but I digress.  The state of my bedroom was a source of ongoing frustration for my mother, though it didn't bother me one bit to live amongst the disarray.  She must have asked me to clean my room at least 10 times per week.  One time, in exasperation she said to me "your room is a reflection on how you live your life!!"  I poo-pooed this notion at the time, but it must have made an impression because I haven't forgotten it.

    I have slowly, over the years, come to the realization that keeping ones' belongings and household organized is extremely important.  This becomes more challenging when you combine your household with a partner and/or children.  It is incumbent upon us as parent's to teach our children to be organized as well.  Knowing where things are, and where they belong, cuts down on chaos and and allows the day to go by more smoothly.  Since I am clearly challenged in the area of home organization, I decided to interview the expert.  Local Renaissance woman Heidi Robinson is my go-to home home organization guru.

    Heidi maintains that the key to success with organizing is to have systems in place that are customized for you.  Many of the clients she works with run into the same challenges: they feel guilty about getting rid of things, they purchase bins and folders in an effort to become more organized, but this often leads to people having a large collection of nice containers, but they are no more organized for having purchased them.  Her clients inevitably feel "overwhelmed by stuff".  Heidi works with people to help them meet their goals, whatever those may be - downsizing, de-cluttering, reorganizing or even preparing for a move.  She helps them create simple systems.  These systems allow them to be able to put their fingers on things they need at a moment's notice, have permission to get rid of things that they don't need, and manage the flow of "stuff" into their lives/homes.  She encourages people to remember that upkeep is important!  Files must be gone through 1-2 times per year in order to purge the items that are superfluous.  Heidi is a great resource, and well worth the investment in her fees (which are tailored to fit the job).    Heidi can be reached at 413-219-7433 or heidilisa43@yahoo.com.

     

     

     

    You are Really Starting to BUG Me!!

    We live in Northampton for many reasons, one of which is that we love to experience the changes in season.  Every year, when I pull out my Winter clothes, for awhile I feel as if I have a whole new wardrobe that I had forgotten about.  It's very exciting, especially when I pull out the forgotten items that I had purchased or obtained at a clothing swap the year before.  I was not so thrilled, however, to find that a number of favorite clothes from my closet and cedar chest had gaping moth holes in them!

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    Adding insult to injury, I then took one of my favorite merino wool wrap sweaters to Main Street Cleaners in Northampton to have it cleaned.  I was informed that cleaning the item (for $11.75!!) would likely turn up underlying holes because what I thought was a bit of lint on the sleeves was not lint but was, in fact, moth webs!  Eeeeek!

    Last Winter, I did notice that we had an infestation of closet moths.  After doing some online research, I froze all of our sweaters, and then cleaned them.  I nestled cedar blocks inside of all my sweaters, and stored the ones that I rarely wear in my cedar chest.  I thought we were in the clear.... Apparently I was wrong.  It turns out that I was missing a few steps.  According to the owners of Main St Cleaners, the best defense is to clean (dry clean) your wool, linen and silk items when you are done using them for the season, and to store them in airtight containers in between seasons.  According to a more recent online search, even that protocol is a bit *lite*... It seems that in order to get rid of closet moths, you need to clear your calendar for a few days and put all else on hold.  Sort of like trying to rid your family of lice.  See the recommended steps below...

    1.  Set out moth traps in your closet.

    2.  Wash your clothes (someone in the garment industry once told me that many items marked "dry clean only" do not, in fact, need to be dry cleaned... use your discretion.  Merino wool does, cashmere does not.  Some silk and linen does not.  Use a gentle detergent on the gentle cycle or hand wash).  ALSO wash everything else in your closets to be be thorough (linens, towels, etc)...  because you have nothing better to do with your time, of course : ).  Food on clothes attracts moths.

    3.  Empty and clean out your closets.  Use vinegar and water and soapy water to wipe down all surfaces, then vacuum well.

    4.  Brush clothing made from wool, fur or feathers after each use to loosen any food residue that may attract moths.

    5.  A source I read online suggests dry cleaning before storing for the season.  This is an expensive proposition and I, personally, might skip it.  But I'm the one with the giant moth holes in my clothes so you might want to think twice before doing as I do.

    6.  Store your clothes in an airtight container.  Hang wool coats in garment bags.

    7.  Here's a good one -- keep your closet well ventilated and cool!

    8.  Air out your clothing frequently.

    Good luck everyone!  I hope your clothes fare better than mine have.

     

     

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    Location, Location, Location

    The minute we walked into our space at 28 North Maple Street in Florence, MA - we were smitten.  15 foot (give or take) ceilings, exposed bricks and beams, huge windows, charm and space galore!  We immediately started to envision the events we would host, the art we would hang, and the furniture we would buy to compliment the space.  We loved that the space was adjacent to two fabulous antique stores, Artifacts 20th Century and John Hunt Marshall III Antiques.  Who better to share a space with our real estate agency than 2 stores that sell fabulous furniture and antiques?  We knew we had found our home!

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    We were so excited when Donnabelle Casis asked us to be a part of (First) Florence (Arts) Night Out last month.  Right away we reached out to some of our favorite local artists to see about hanging their artwork here for our artist's reception and open house.  Katy Schneider, Dave Gloman, Tom Martin, Barbara Neulinger, Robbie Heidinger, Robert Young and Ann Lewis were all generous enough to grace our white walls with their beautiful artwork.  Florence had a huge turn out, and our space was packed!

    We realize that this can be a win-win situation for all involved.  Artists have a non-galleryesque relationship with us, we get to hang beautiful artwork on our walls (which just adds to the ambience of our space, making it a place where we want to be), clients who are looking to buy or sell houses in the Northampton MA area have the benefit of seeing artwork that they might want to purchase and hang on their own walls.  To this end, we are committed to keeping a rotation of local artwork on display at Maple and Main Realty.

    This week, we have added the artwork of Ashfield MA artist, Marcine Appel.  These mixed media works  (collage and oil paint) were inspired by some time she spent in Spain recently.  I love sitting at my desk and admiring them.

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    We look forward to the next Florence Night Out in May 2014!  Stay tuned.

     

    We Are Growing!

    Last week, we added a new member to our team of realtors here at Maple and Main Realty.  We are so excited to welcome Karen Van Treese McAmis!  Karen is an active member of the community in Northampton.  She volunteers at the Survival Center, she is deeply involved at her children's school - with the PTO, the annual book fair, and many other causes of interest that come across her path.  Karen grew up in Amherst, MA - attending Amherst High School.  She is a graduate of Hampshire College, and she currently lives in Northampton with her husband, three children and many pets.

    Karen pursued her Realtor salesperson license with determination that we have come to recognize in all that she takes on.  From the time we first discussed it, until the moment she joined us, only 6 months had passed.  That includes taking the 40 hour course, studying and sitting for the exam!  All this during the summer while juggling her children's schedules.  Karen is smart, energetic, knowledgeable and would be a wonderful choice for anyone looking to buy or sell real estate in the Pioneer Valley.

    Musings on a Mini-Renovation

    This morning at the Hampshire Regional Y, whilst ellipting next to a friend, our conversation turned to the ever-popular topic of  renovations - in this case, our mutual bathroom renovations.  We own a 1926 Colonial Revival in the Smith College neighborhood in downtown Northampton, MA.  Great bones, as they say, beautiful moldings, solid and stately - with original 12 over 12 windows, a lovely screened-in porch, many bedrooms and three full baths (all oddly located on the second floor).  This is not something that has been an issue for our family - but we realize that the general public prefers not to walk up a flight of stairs in order to use the bathroom.  To that end, we have decided to convert a large closet on the first floor into a half bathroom.

    I love renovations!  It's so much fun to pick out the fixtures, the paint color, the tile (when appropriate) and to see your vision come to life as the project progresses.  This is, assuming your plumber, electrician and carpenter show up to do the work, but that's another story.  In my case, I don't have much pre-planning to do with regard to architecture, flooring, backsplashes, etc.  We have a finite space, in which we need to fit a toilet, a sink and one new light fixture.  The floors are oak, the walls are plaster, the moldings are in good shape.  Happily, the space this 1/2 bath will inhabit seems as if it was made for the purpose.  I went to Home Depot, found a perfectly suitable toilet and sink, and I have a nice Ikea light fixture left over from one of my many trips to that dreamy blue and yellow toy store for grown ups (bonus that this item, which has been hiding in my basement, now has a purpose!  See, I did have to buy it).

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    This image from Apartment Therapy closely mimics our new 1/2 bath (minus the window).

    My friend has a different type of renovation to consider.  She lives in a smokin' mid-century split level ranch.  It's a great house, with fantastic outdoor space.  They have lived with the house "as is" for awhile now, and have decided that it's time to update one of the 3 well-placed full baths in her house.  The idea is to strip away some of the less attractive 1970's style design choices that were made before she owned the home.  Dropped ceiling, dated wallpaper, taupe tub and surround, shiny (not in a good way) tile, and bad lighting.  They are raising the ceiling, putting in a window to add more light, purchasing a supremely attractive and efficient toilet, and investing in a deeper tub.  She also gets to update her tile and paint color choices, allowing her to do something fun, like this....

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    Ahhh, white subway tile, how do I love thee...

    So, while trends can change more quickly than the seasons.  Let's hope that both of us are making value added updates to our beloved homes.  It's hard to imagine that anyone, in 20 years, would look at either of these two bathrooms as gaudy, dated or otherwise unappealing.  But, hey, you never know.

    We Love Florence!

    When my business partners and I decided to open up our  real estate agency this past winter, two of the most challenging aspects of that decision were coming up with a name, and finding a suitable location.  After many sleepless nights, and roughly 5,000 brainstorming sessions - we finally settled on "Maple and Main Realty" as our name.  This decision was precipitated by our great fortune at having found a beautiful home here in Bob Lawton's Artifacts 20th Century building in Florence, MA (we owe this turn of events to our partner in crime, Julie Held :)) -- which happens to be near the intersection of (North) Maple and Main Streets!  We took it as a sign that this was meant to be.

     

    Maple and Main Realty Florence Office

    We love Florence!  We love our space (thank you John Iles - maker of our beautiful desks and overall build out of our space)!  We envisioned having fabulous events here, with artwork from local artists gracing our white walls...

     

    We were thrilled when local artist and neighbor Donnabelle Casis invited us to be a part of (First) Florence Night Out - the first of hopefully many Arts Night Out in our neck of the woods.  This event turned out to be a smashing success!

     

    We put our  heads together and invited local artists, including Dave Gloman, Robbie Heidinger, Ann Lewis, Tom Martin, Barbara Neulinger, Katy Schneider and Robert Young to show there work here.

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    We burned through a case of wine in 2 short hours - as well as numerous "Maple and Main" M&M party favors...

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    And the town of Florence was rockin' - literally!  There was live music next door, artist's open houses, a film by local filmmaker Tom Greto looping in the Artifacts 20th Century Space, a balloon artist down the street, and our space was packed with revelers until the bitter end!

    We love Florence!  And we are so happy to be a part of the community here.

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