Consumer Real Estate News

    • Sweet Ideas for Easy Back-to-School Breakfasts

      4 August 2021

      (Family Features) A healthy breakfast can give your student a boost that lasts all day long. Mornings tend to be rushed, but it’s still possible to prepare easy breakfasts that power little learners throughout the school day.

      Fresh fruit is a breakfast staple, and a nutritious option like watermelon is a sweet way to satisfy hunger (and thirst). As a refreshing ingredient or standalone treat, watermelon includes just 80 calories and no fat. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C (25%) and because it’s made of 92% water, it’s a flavorful way to encourage kids to start a busy day well hydrated.

      A bowl of watermelon cut into cubes, balls or fun shapes is a winning idea, but you can also think outside the rind with these ways to give watermelon a place at your breakfast table: 

      • Top a grain-based cereal like corn flakes or oatmeal with bite-size bits.
      • Make Watermelon Donuts for a grab-and-go delight, perfect on hectic mornings.
      • Freeze cubes overnight and use them in place of ice with your favorite smoothie ingredients.
      • Put a twist on a breakfast favorite with these Watermelon Oat Flour Waffles.
      • Add a layer of oat crumble to a bowl of watermelon balls for a savory, satisfying treat.

      Get in a school morning groove with more easy breakfast ideas at

      Kid-Friendly Cuts
      It’s no secret that kids gravitate toward fun foods. Watermelon is a versatile fruit that offers plenty of serving options that let kids get hands-on and creative.

      A classic watermelon slice may be basic, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. With the rind on, it’s an instant finger food with a built-in “handle.” Add a wooden stick for watermelon you can eat like a sucker or pop it in the freezer for a cool way to start the day.

      Simple and versatile cubes are a solution for banishing breakfast boredom. You can cube a melon and use them differently every day of the week by eating them on their own, mixing in a fruit salad, layering with other ingredients, blending in a smoothie and more.

      There’s nothing like a dipper to get kids’ attention. A watermelon stick offers a bit of rind to hold onto and a juicy strip of sweet melon that’s perfect for dunking in a cup of yogurt or fruit dip.
      Cut watermelon into thin slices and use cookie cutters to create a treat that shows off creativity.

      Watermelon Oat Flour Waffles
      Yield: 8 waffles

      1 cup old-fashioned or regular oats
      3/4 cup all-purpose flour
      1 tablespoon baking powder
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 cup watermelon juice
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      4 egg whites
      nonstick cooking spray

      2 cups plain Greek yogurt
      3 cups watermelon, diced 1/2 inch
      fresh mint leaves
      powdered sugar (optional)
      honey (optional)

      Preheat Belgian or regular waffle iron.

      In a blender, process oat flakes into flour.

      In a bowl, mix oat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in watermelon juice and oil.

      Whip egg whites into stiff peaks and fold into batter.

      Spray hot waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into waffle iron and bake 3-4 minutes, or according to waffle iron instructions. Repeat with remaining batter.

      Garnish waffles with yogurt; watermelon cubes; mint sprigs; powdered sugar, if desired; and honey, if desired.

      Watermelon Donuts
      Servings: 1

      2 slices seedless watermelon, 1 1/2 inches thick
      2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
      1 pinch sugar
      vanilla, to taste
      9 slivered almonds

      Cut out donut shapes from watermelon slices.

      Sweeten Greek yogurt with sugar and vanilla, to taste, to create frosting.

      Frost half of watermelon donuts with half of frosting. Add a layer of remaining watermelon donuts and top with remaining frosting.

      Sprinkle toasted almonds over top and serve.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Eat Healthy When You're Busy

      4 August 2021

      Work, errands, chores and family duties can have you running from place to place, making it feel like you barely have time to breathe. When you’re busy, you may grab unhealthy snacks or eat out often. Consuming unhealthy foods can leave you feeling tired and run down and can lead to medical problems.

      Make Sure Healthy Foods are Available
      Not all processed foods are bad for you, but many are filled with sugar, fat and ingredients that you can’t pronounce. It’s important to read labels and look for the healthiest options.

      Preparing your own meals and snacks can be a better strategy because you’ll have complete control over what you’re eating and will be able to avoid unhealthy ingredients. If nutritious foods are always available, you won’t have an excuse to eat things that you know aren’t good for you.

      Meal Prep
      The thought of making a sandwich each morning before work or cooking dinner after a long workday can feel overwhelming. You don’t have to do those things to eat healthy. 

      Instead, you can prepare nutritious meals and snacks in large quantities so you have enough for several days, or even for an entire week. Simply make more than you ordinarily would, then pack up the leftovers in individual containers that you can store in the refrigerator or freezer until you need them. Meal prepping can save you a lot of time and help you avoid unplanned purchases from restaurants and convenience stores, which will save you money.

      Prepare Ingredients Ahead of Time
      Chopping vegetables can be time consuming and can lengthen the amount of time needed to prepare a meal. Instead of cutting vegetables every time you cook, set aside some time to cut them up all at once. It will save you time later and keep you from getting too stressed out. If you don’t have time to cut lots of veggies, you can pay a little more to buy ones that are already chopped. 

      You can prepare other ingredients, such as various types of protein, in advance. Then, when you’re pressed for time, you can combine them in a variety of ways to whip up a quick and nutritious meal.

      Choose Restaurant Meals Wisely
      There will be times when you decide to eat out with relatives, friends or colleagues. When you look at a menu, focus on healthy options with lots of vegetables and lean protein and minimal amounts of sugar and fat. 

      Restaurants often serve portions that are much too large for the average person to eat in one sitting. Split a meal with someone else or have half of your portion wrapped so you can take it home and eat it at another time.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Would Installing a Pool Increase Your Property Taxes?

      4 August 2021

      A pool can make your backyard more inviting and give family members a place to relax, socialize and get some exercise. A pool can also be expensive, even after the installation process is complete, since it can increase the amount you’ll have to pay in property taxes.

      A Pool Can Increase Your Home’s Value
      Property taxes are based on a home's assessed value, which is based on its size, condition, amenities and location. If you add an in-ground pool to your property, it will increase your home’s value because it’s a permanent structure. The same is not true of an above-ground pool.

      The tax assessor may estimate your home’s value based on how much it would be likely to sell for in the current market, how much it would cost to rebuild it if it were destroyed or how much you could earn by renting it out. Sometimes tax assessors use a combination of two or more of these methods. 

      If you install a pool in your yard and most other homes don’t have one, the pool may raise your home’s value more than it would raise the value of a house in a neighborhood where most other homes have pools. If you live in a place where pools are in high demand, installing one will raise your property’s value, and your tax bill, more than installing a pool in a place where it will be less appealing to potential buyers or renters.

      The size of the pool can also influence the amount of the change in your tax bill. A larger pool will increase your home’s value and property taxes more than a smaller one.

      Your Local Tax Rate Will Determine How Much You’ll Pay
      Property taxes are assessed on a local basis, and the methods used to calculate tax bills vary from one jurisdiction to another. That means that installing a pool in one town may cause the property owner’s taxes to increase by a modest amount, while adding a pool to a property in a different locale may cause the owner’s tax bill to skyrocket.

      Contact Your Tax Assessor’s Office to Find Out How a Pool Could Affect Your Bill
      Several factors go into determining property tax bills, and policies vary widely from one municipality to another. You can contact your local tax assessor’s office to inquire about how property values are estimated and how a pool could impact your tax liability. 

      Specific factors such as the size of a pool and the values of similar properties would be relevant, and that information may not be readily available. You won’t get an exact figure for how much your tax bill would increase, but an employee at the tax assessor’s office should be able to provide general information that can help you decide if a pool would be worth it. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • American Destinations That Feel Like Europe

      3 August 2021

      If you’re not yet ready to travel abroad, but a staycation doesn’t thrill you, consider a road trip to a cultural destination that may feel as though it is a world away, even though it’s not that far from your doorstep.

      • Holland, Michigan - You'll feel whisked away to the Netherlands in this charming city where windmills, tulips and Dutch-style downtown architecture preserve the culture of the Dutch settlers who arrived here in the 1800s. Explore the Windmill Island Gardens, ride a Dutch carousel and stop in at Wooden Shoe and Delftware Factory for traditional Dutch pottery and more.
      • Helen, Georgia - Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this tiny city with 500 residents has all the charm of Bavaria with its gabled, half-timbered buildings and Bavarian taverns offering rousing Octoberfest celebrations. There are also hiking trails through woodland and mountains, and Nacoochee Adventures, an adventure park with zip lines, high ropes and giant swings.
      • Solvang, California - Visiting Solvang is like stepping into a storybook. Enjoy a stroll through this captivating little village, munch on Danish pastry or aebleskiver (a delicious Danish pancake) and hop aboard for a quaint horse-drawn carriage ride. Take pictures at the Little Mermaid Fountain and the giant Red Clog Round Tower before shopping for an exquisite selection of Danish lace, china, home décor and, of course, books by Hans Christian Andersen. 
      • Lindsborg, Kansas - Lindsborg, known as ‘Little Sweden,’ was settled by Swedish immigrants who created this city rich in their culture. You’ll see that in the many churches, shops and in the Dalarna horses in the streets. In October, they recreate the traditional Sweden Heritage Celebration.
      • Montpelier, Vermont - Just two hours away from Montreal, Canada, founded in 1781, Montpelier blends quintessential New England with vibrant French culture. Enjoy quaint shops, French-inspired architecture and plenty of traditional French cuisine. 
      • Tarpon Springs, Florida - This little Florida city has the highest concentration of Greek-Americans in the nation, since Greek immigrants built the city's signature sponge industry. Many people speak Greek in their homes and the Greek restaurants lining the docks will make you feel like you're in Athens or Santorini.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Items to Replace for Outdoor Summer Hosting

      3 August 2021

      When summer comes, all the fun (and stress) of hosting comes along with it. Whether you’re hosting a laid-back BBQ or a semi-formal backyard dinner party, there is a lot to think about when it comes to planning. Ensure you’re ready to get the parties going in full swing by replacing or upgrading these essential summer items.

      Your Seating Area
      A lawn chair or two will get the job done in a pinch, but to truly turn your outdoor area into a space ready for summer hosting, an upgrade to your seating arrangements can have a big impact. Opt for cushioned bench seating along with traditional chairs to ensure that intimate groups of guests can stretch out comfortably. For larger parties, like children’s birthdays, multiple kids and adults can fit on a bench or outdoor couch seating in a pinch.

      The Lighting
      A utilitarian porch light will do nothing to enhance your space’s mood. Opt to light up the night while boosting the ambiance by installing more lighting options in your gathering areas. String lights are an excellent option to create a more intimate and fun gathering area in your yard. For pathways and walkways, consider lining the area with solar lights to keep costs low while providing additional visibility.

      Any Outdoor Toys
      You don’t have to choose between a sophisticated outdoor space or a play area for children, but a few modifications to your setup can heighten the aesthetic while still providing plenty of fun for any mini-backyard goers. Vet outdoor toys, discard broken toys and donate regularly unused items. For the rest, designate a specific spot in your yard to contain them, consider repainting some outdoor items, such as playhouses and sheds, to a neutral palette or your home’s exterior. Kids will love having a tiny version of your house and a matching aesthetic will prevent visual clutter.

      Backyard Games
      A great host ensures that guests have fun activities to enjoy, and now is a great time to update your backyard game collection. If your outdoor games only include toys for children, it’s time to upgrade to games that adults and kids alike can enjoy. Games like cornhole, ladder ball, croquet all make ideal activities for any outdoor gathering.

      Keeping your outdoor areas guest-ready means more than updating your curb appeal through yard work. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.