Saturday, October 31, 2015

History of Halloween


Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

Did You Know?

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today onHalloween.
On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.
By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.
But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center  Guzanick@gmail.com,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

www.HomesWithStacey.com

See you at the closing!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Home Ownership Rate Finally Increases

Home Ownership Rate Finally Increases


The nation's home ownership rate posted its first increase – albeit a slight one – after seven quarterly declines. But the real news is demographic: The biggest gain between July and September was among those under 35 years old. According to the Commerce Department, that's the first time this group has seen an increase in more than a decade.
The home ownership rate rose to 63.7 percent in the third quarter, up from 63.4 percent in the second quarter. The rate remains well-below the high of 69.2 percent in the second quarter of 2004.
There are many factors at play. After the housing crisis, many Americans who were foreclosed upon were forced to become renters. Also as the nation’s population grows older, more Americans are being drawn to nursing or assisted-care living. Also, the millennial generation has been slow to embrace home ownership.
But that may be starting to change, as the home ownership rate for those under age 35 increased from 34.8 percent to 35.8 percent in the third quarter. That marks the largest gain for that population since the second quarter of 2004. Also, it was the only age cohort that posted a significant increase in the home ownership rate in the third quarter.

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center  Guzanick@gmail.com,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

www.HomesWithStacey.com

See you at the closing!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

National Cat Day






National Cat Day was founded by animal welfare advocates Colleen Paige and Adam Olis. It is a celebration that takes place on October 29, every year in the United States.[1] The National Cat Day website states that the holiday was first celebrated in 2005, "to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year and also to encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us." The day is supported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a nonprofit organization which also works to encourage pet adoption.[2]

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center  Guzanick@gmail.com,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

www.HomesWithStacey.com

See you at the closing!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Prepare for Weather Challenges

Help Clients Prepare for Weather Challenges

Will this winter pack a wallop? Help home buyers and sellers understand how to prepare for a variety of weather challenges.
Mother Nature often doesn’t provide advance warning that she’s about to unleash freezing cold temperatures and mountains of snow. Those living in colder climates are wise to prepare, whether they’re sellers needing to clear walkways and maintain a furnace in good condition or buyers eager to know that their future home will be well insulated and energy-efficient to avoid surprises after they move in. Knowing how to winterize a home is more than half the battle. Here are 10 challenges you can help your clients avert:

Ice dams

Accumulations of ice form at a roof’s edge and prevent melting snow from draining properly. Water backs up behind the ice and often leaks into the house, damaging walls, ceilings, insulation, floors, furniture, and more, according to Steve Kuhl, owner of The Ice Dam Company and Kuhl’s Contracting in Hopkins, Minn.
Why they happen: Kuhl says the dams result from multiple variables interacting: the home’s quality of insulation, amount of ventilation, and architectural design; the climate; and the home owners’ lifestyle. “We see more ice dams when home owners want their interiors warmer. Ice dams are primarily the result of heat escaping into areas of the roofline where it’s not supposed to be. The heat melts the snow on higher roof areas, and the melted water travels to areas where it’s below freezing such as the eaves. It then refreezes and accumulates into a dam that prevents melted water from leaving the roof,” Kuhl says.
Solutions: Two main strategies help eliminate ice dams. The first is architectural and more expensive. “Home owners can increase their insulation and ventilation, which often costs between $8,000 and $15,000. The advantage is that the work improves the home’s energy efficiency. The second involves installing heat cables on the lower edge of a roof in a serpentine pattern to stop water from freezing and backing up. That typically runs between $1,000 and $2,000,” Kuhl says.
Extra tips: It’s a common misconception that keeping gutters and downspouts clear will eliminate ice dams, but Kuhl says it’s a good idea to perform the task at least twice a year (more often if a lot of trees grow near the roof). Home owners should also be aware of how much insulation is suggested for their area by referencing resources such as Energy Star.

Collapsed roof

It doesn’t happen often, but an extraordinary amount of snow can become excessively heavy and push in a roof. That happened last year in many parts of the country, especially in Boston when nine feet of snow accumulated during a relatively brief period.
Why it happens: Buildings can only handle so much weight before they collapse. But they also need to be constructed properly with reinforcement that braces rafters together, says CJ Antonucci, insurance restoration manager with Nurzia Construction in Fishkill, N.Y.
Solutions: Have an insured, experienced roofer or contractor sweep or rake snow from the entire roof (not just the lower few feet near eaves), says Kuhl. Also, make sure anyone removing the snow does so gently, so no shingles, shakes, or other roof materials are damaged, says contractor Jeff Cohen, founder of Canada & Klein Ltd. in Winnetka, Ill. How much snow should cause concern? Jenn Koeune, maintenance manager at Orren Pickell Building Group in Northfield, Ill., says 18 inches or more indicates it’s time to remove it. “It may not mean the roof will collapse, but getting rid of it will alleviate ice dams and pressure,” she says. But Kuhl suggests removing snow that’s only four inches deep on homes if ice dams have posed a prior problem.

Nonfunctioning furnace

Just when you need heat, the furnace conks out.
Why it happens: There are multiple causes: Maybe it’s old and needs to be replaced, dirty and needs cleaning, or the filter needs replacing. If it’s a high-efficiency model, the exhaust pipe may be clogged and the system’s computer has alerted the furnace to stop producing heat to prevent carbon monoxide from entering the house, Koeune says.
Solutions: Advise home owners to be proactive and service a furnace annually before winter starts, says broker Jennifer Fivelsdal, ABR, GRI, with JFIVE Homes Realty in Red Hook, N.Y.
Take Steps to Stockpile Supplies
Many home owners get so busy in fall that they forget to stock up for winter. Then, when emergencies occur, many stores sell out of essential equipment quickly. Advise your clients to source supplies early on, including a good snow shovel or blower, bags of deicer, multiple flashlights, and extra batteries in case power fails. A good source of information is the federal government’s disaster preparedness site, which also recommends stockpiling canned or dry food for people and pets, clean bottles for fresh water, an emergency radio, and warm blankets.

No power

Lights out! But that’s not all. Home owners experience more fallout when their refrigerator, freezer, sump pump, computer, and other appliances stop working.
Why it happens: It’s usually due to snow, wind, and ice damaging power lines.
Solutions: Home owners should have branches trimmed near power lines before winter begins. They may also want to invest in a stand-alone generator, which can power a few or all of their necessary lights, security system, garage-door opener, refrigerator, sump pump, and more. Stand-alone generators run between $5,000 and $10,000, but they can cost more, depending on the size of the home, what home owners want to back up, and how much power the systems require, according to Generac Power Systems, a manufacturer in Waukesha, Wis. Another related cost is that they require yearly servicing, Koeune says. A less costly option is a portable generator, but it’s only good for a few days, can power only a few appliances or lights, and requires gas or liquid propane to function, which may not be readily available, says sales associate Stephanie Mallios, with Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, N.J. Home owners should also check that their generator works properly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, Fivelsdal says.
Extra tip: Advise home owners that whenever a big storm is expected to hit their area, they should unplug appliances to avoid power surges that may damage appliances and computers. They should leave on one light so they know when power returns.

Heat loss

Feel a draft? It doesn’t happen just in old houses.
Heating tips
  • Even if a dirty furnace is still working, it will be less efficient and more costly to operate than a clean one.
  • Many oil and gas providers offer a service plan that includes a once-a-year checkup, typically for a few hundred dollars.
  • If home owners need a new furnace, suggest that they look for one that operates at 96 percent efficiency and has a 15- to 20-year lifespan.
Why it happens: Cold air can enter where windows and doors aren’t sealed well and cracks can occur in foundations, walls, roofs, and other places.
Solutions: Home owners should replace broken panes before winter, says Fivelsdal. If they can’t afford new energy-efficient windows and doors, encourage them to add storm windows and doors or to caulk window frames and weather-strip doors to cut down on leaks. Many big-box stores also sell kits to fashion makeshift double-insulated windows with plastic. These may not look great, but they offer an affordable seasonal fix. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, the average home owner can save 15 percent on heating and cooling costs by air-sealing a home and adding proper insulation.
Extra tip: Suggest that home owners consider a professional home energy audit to check for leaks and measure their home’s insulation values.

Frozen pipes

Any pipes connected to appliances or fixtures on outside walls can cause ice to build up and pipes to freeze and perhaps burst.
Why it happens: Insufficient insulation or air leakage near a toilet, sink, dishwasher, or other water-using appliance can cause this common problem in below-freezing temperatures.
Solutions: All pipes leading to the units cited above should be wrapped with pipe insulation, and walls or crawl spaces near them should be checked for holes and sealed. When the weather drops below freezing, home owners should open cabinet doors in a kitchen or bathroom that has plumbing on an outside wall, and turn on faucets to allow hot and cold water to drip. That permits the water to run and eliminates freezing, Koeune says.
Extra tips: It’s smart to drain a water system and shut off the main water valve if home owners are away for even a few days when temperatures are expected to remain well below freezing, Mallios says.

Frozen exterior faucets or septic tank

The result can be an unappealing flood or backup of waste.
Why it happens: When outside water sources are left on, water can freeze in pipes, burst them open, and flood a home. A septic system can also freeze and cause waste to back up in toilets or sinks, Fivelsdal says.
Solutions: When temperatures dip, home owners should turn off the outside water for the season and disconnect drained hoses from faucets. A septic system should be checked and cleaned every few years to be certain it’s not full and prone to overflow.

Icy driveway, walkways, and steps

They can easily become slippery and cause falls and broken bones. They may also cause home owners liability issues.
Why it happens: When snow and ice aren’t removed promptly, they can form highly treacherous surfaces and paths — sometimes as slippery as an ice skating rink.
Solutions: Suggest home owners shovel as soon as a snowfall ends, and spread sand or other snow- and ice-mitigating material around. Caution them against using salt, which can hurt pets’ paws and soil alike, says Mallios. Some home owners heat their driveway, though this can be costly.
Extra tip: Home owners should also replace chipped or cracked stones and bricks, which may not be visible when covered with snow or sand but can easily cause accidents, Mallios says.

Flooded basement, foundation, or crawl space

Melted snow and ice can also enter a home at the ground level.
Why it happens: Any of the previously discussed issues may be the culprit of water leakage, such as burst pipes or a failed sump pump. But too much snow piled up close to the house also can push against walls and leak in when it melts. Insufficient drainage around the home is another common cause.
Solutions: Remind home owners to check for holes or cracks at the base of the foundation or in the basement at least once a year, both inside and outside. If land slopes toward the house, they may want to have landscape work done to ensure it slopes outward. They should also check that their sump pump works properly, and that they have a battery back-up or generator in case power fails or the sump pump can’t keep up with the amount of water flowing in, Koeune says. Exterior drain tiles also form a good line of defense to keep out water and are better than tiles installed inside. But interior ones are useful if the exterior perimeter of the home can’t be accessed easily, Antonucci says.

Trespassing animals

Come cold weather, many critters seek warm shelter — and your clients’ home might provide the perfect spot.
Why it happens: Animals get in any way they can, whether through the top of a chimney or by chewing away at a home’s exterior to form or enlarge an entryway.
Solutions: A cap should be installed on the chimney to seal it off. Trimming branches will help keep trees from becoming a launching pad for animals looking to break in. Also close small gaps or cracks that mice and squirrels can use as a way inside.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Bad Winter Coming? 10 Ways to Get Ready

Bad Winter Coming? 10 Ways to Get Ready

With a particularly strong El Niño cycle brewing in the Pacific Ocean this year — it may develop into the worst on record, scientists say — this winter could pack a wallop of weather disturbances on par with recent years.
There are 10 common winter problems you can help your clients avert, and now is the perfect time to start planting the bug in their ears. Find out what causes these issues and what the solutions are in our article, "Help Clients Prepare for Weather Challenges."
."Those living in colder climates are wise to prepare, whether they're sellers needing to clear walkways and maintain a furnace in good condition or buyers eager to know that their future home will be well-insulated and energy efficient to avoid surprises after they move in. Knowing how to winterize a home is more than half the battle.


Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center  Guzanick@gmail.com,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

www.HomesWithStacey.com

See you at the closing!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

HGTV Star Shares Chic Solutions for Empty Walls

HGTV Star Shares Chic Solutions for Empty Walls

By Christina El Moussa, HGTV’s “Flip or Flop”

phpM903LUPMWhen I look at blank walls, I see a fun opportunity to brighten up a room and make it all yours. Of course, if you aren’t super experienced with interior design and décor, you might see a blank wall and think, “Oh my … what am I going to do with this?” In my experience, creating attractively designed rehabs and updates for old, distressed homes with my husband on our show “Flip or Flop,” you don’t need to fill your house with tons of art or photographs, but blank walls are kind of boring. A little touch of décor can go a long way.
Here are some fun, creative, and inexpensive ways to spruce up an empty wall and bring new life to any room.
Creative Shelving
First of all, I love killing two birds with one stone with my wall décor. With this tip, you can add more storage and display space while breaking up an empty wall and creating more style, too. Instead of shoving a big, bulky bookshelf against your wall, install modular shelves in a color that complements the color of your walls.
With modular shelving, you don’t have to place your shelves directly in line with each other in a vertical stack—you can offset them in attractive groupings to create a display out of books, vases, framed pictures, and/or anything you’d like to place on them. The possibilities for storing and displaying small items are just about endless, and you get rid of your empty wall problem at the same time.
Wall Decals
If you don’t want to add shelving, and you aren’t sure about punching holes in your wall to hang pictures, you might want to consider an attractive wall decal. Most of these are made of vinyl, and you can remove them if you decide to redecorate, but they look like you had a scene or silhouette painted onto the wall. I really love decals that look like silhouettes of trees and forests climbing the walls, but there are all kinds of other options to choose from too. And because they’re removable, you can even change them with the seasons or for special occasions.
I don’t necessarily recommend getting a decal for every wall or every room in the house, but they do make a fun alternative to the classic accent wall and can add dimension to a room without a lot of effort or cost.
Unconventional Wall Hangings
You can turn your heirloom jewelry into wall art by framing different pieces of jewelry (an earring here, a broach there) and hanging them in a cluster over the side table in your foyer. You can also search through antique stores for unique frames and hang them up in a cluster fitted closely next to each other without anything in them. The effect is really cool and creates its own work of art without any paintings or pictures at all.
Decorative Mirrors
Finally, mirrors make great wall décor. You can find them in all kinds of fun shapes and sizes, and you can even create a mosaic effect by clustering a collection of small mirrors on the wall over your couch or mantel. Mirrors reflect light, so they can add the illusion of more space and increase the effects of natural light in just about any room, depending on where you place them.
Don’t get intimidated by a blank wall. Think of it as an opportunity to express your personality through a fun décor project.
ChristinaABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christina El Moussa is the co-star of HGTV’s real estate reality TV show “Flip or Flop,” along with her husband and business partner Tarek El Moussa. The couple started Success Path Education and teach students from all over the country how to successfully find and flip houses and invest in real estate. Please visit www.SuccessPathEducation.com for more details.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Home Staging on a Budget


Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center  Guzanick@gmail.com,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

www.HomesWithStacey.com

See you at the closing!