Monthly Archives: October 2014

4 Great Places to Take Kids on the Upper West Side

The Upper West Side is one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods in New York City, filled to the brim with all of the apartments, schools, and activities that parents are looking for in a great neighborhood. If you’re new to the area and you’re trying to find great places for your little sprouts to plant roots, consider some of these tot-approved hot spots.

Apple Seeds Upper West Side

If you’ve been, you already understand why the Apple Seeds is such a big deal. This members-only kiddie wonderland is the perfect place to take your kiddoes (from newborns to five years old) to hang out with their buddies. Classes with names like “Build It! Break It! Fix It!” and “Scribble and Dribble” are sure to entice even the most seen-it-all toddlers. “Dinner & a Show” and “COOKing Monsters” are perfect for all the future Daniel Bouluds and Gabrielle Hamiltons in your house. Plus, there’s a 2,000-square-foot indoor playground. You can sign up for memberships that offer you access to either one or both NYC Apple Seeds locations. (Oh yeah, and adults are welcome, too.)

West Side Community Garden

Just because they live in a fast-paced urban environement doesn’t mean that your kids can’t learn about the beauty and peace that comes from growing their own flowers, plants, and vegetables. Take them to the West Side Community Garden. The Flower Park is open to the public, so your kids can see what their local community members are doing to bring more green to NYC. The vegetable beds are open for viewing to the public if a garden member is on site, but if you really want to give your kids a more hands-on gardening experience, you can sign up to get on the waiting list.

Chocolate Works

Willy Wonka has set up shop on West 91st Street — or at least that’s what you’ll think when you and the tots head over to cocoa confectionery kingdom Chocolate Works. Like the Jacques Torres Chocolate SoHo or DUMBO locations that allow you to press your face against the window and watch the chocolate-making process in action, Chocolate Works offers you the chance to see master chocolate-making in action. To top it all off, the place also offers the most awesome workshops ever, where tiny chocolatiers have the chance to get their hands deliciously dirty as they mold, shape, and create their very own chocolate delights and treats. Or you can really blow your kids’ minds and give them their very own Chocolate Works birthday party — drop-off parties that include a tour of the chocolate factory, plus pizza. You can tailor it to add all the extras that would make Veruca Salt and Violet Beauregarde proud.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

One of the best things about the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is that in addition to all of the amazing interactive exhibits for kids, this Upper West Side mainstay also offers plenty of awesome and informative chats for parents. Their “EatSleepPlay” initiative is an immensely popular ongoing attraction that shows kids and parents how they can develop healthier and more active lifestyles. Kids can make their way through a massive digestive system, following the path that nutrients make as they enter — and leave — our bodies. Vegetable superheroes and an amazing play center are perfect examples of how the museum mixes learning and playing so perfectly.

Image Source: Flickr/Sarah Ackerman

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5 Simple Kitchen Organization Tips for Your DFW Home

The kitchen is one of the most commonly used rooms in a home. Whether you’re operating in a small space or enjoy tidy counters and cabinets, an organized kitchen can help assist with meal preparation and provide practical storage for kitchen utensils, dinnerware, and dry goods. Consider the following kitchen organization tips so you can reap the benefits of a clean and orderly culinary space in your DFW home.

1. Place Frequently Used Items within Easy Reach

Items you use most often should be easy to find and grab. For example, spices and herbs that you use on a regular basis should be placed at the front of a cabinet or storage container with lesser-used spices toward the back. The same principle goes for cookware and dinnerware: Place large pots or fine china that you rarely use in less accessible spaces so you have room for daily items such as plates and skillets that can be easily pulled out of cabinets or large drawers.

2. Organize Dry Goods and Pantry Staples

Rather than leaving a messy bag of opened flour in your pantry, use organizers, such as jars or sealable canisters. Not only will this help keep pantry staples fresh, properly labeled containers will help you find what you need quickly, while eliminating the likelihood of mistaking ingredients such as sugar for salt. Clear containers also promote efficiency because they allow you to see what’s inside. If you like your containers to have a unique look, pick up something eye-catching at these premier DFW home furnishings stores. Or if you prefer to get crafty, Martha Stewart offers a DIY tutorial for etched glass storage jars.

3. Make Efficient Use of Your Space

If your cabinets or countertops are cluttered, there are a number of ingenious ways to maximize limited space. For example, you can purchase specialty cutting boards with a built-in colander that fit over your sink. And for a creative storage solution, get vertical: You can store items on wall-mounted hooks, racks, and magnetic holders. Instead of a counter-hogging bulky knife block, you can use magnetic knife strips to hold kitchen knives against a cabinet or backsplash.

4. Compartmentalize Utensils

Most kitchens have standard silverware dividers, but to cut down on clutter, you’ll also want to organize large stirring spoons, ladles, and other common-but-bulky utensils like pizza cutters and vegetable peelers. Many supermarkets and home stores carry larger compartmental organizers for bigger utensils. HGTV.com points out that expandable mesh containers are easy to fit in different-size drawers, and their mesh construction helps keep utensils stored sanitarily.

5. Reach Items Easily with Lazy Susans

No need to root around in cabinets and countertops — lazy Susans offer access to your stored items, with just a simple turn. A small lazy Susan is perfect for efficiently storing spices and herbs, while larger lazy Susans can store light pots or pantry items like canned goods or sauces.

Ready to start using your kitchen more efficiently? With this short list of kitchen organization tips to get you started, you can be enjoying a clutter-free kitchen in no time.

Photo Source: Flickr/Bryan Lee

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South Philadelphia Neighborhoods: Should You Buy in Whitman?

When it comes to South Philadelphia neighborhoods, places like East Passyunk, Newbold, and Point Breeze get most of the attention. While the accolades might be well deserved, people looking for homes in South Philly should know that those aren’t their only options. One often overlooked area is the Whitman neighborhood, located below Snyder Avenue on the eastern side of South Philly. Whitman might be more under-the-radar than its sister neighborhoods, but it has a lot to offer in terms of value and convenience.

Community Focus

One of the focal points of Whitman is Mifflin Square, a park that takes up an entire city block in the middle of the neighborhood. Admittedly, Mifflin Square has a checkered past. But in recent years, the Friends of Mifflin Square have made a big effort to bring a community focus back to the park. The group organizes regular park cleanups as well as events such as flower planting days, read-a-thons, and yoga in the park.

Aside from the official Friends of Mifflin Square group activities, Mifflin Square is a place for people to spend time enjoying the outdoors. When the weather is warmer, you might find people enjoying a game of volleyball, kids playing on the playground, or vendors selling street food, such as grilled chicken, on the cheap.

Easy to Navigate, Easy to Live In

Another perk of Whitman is that, like other South Philadelphia neighborhoods, it’s easy to get around. WalkScore gives it a rating of 91 for walking, 87 for biking, and 68 for public transportation, meaning you can get most of your daily errands done on foot. The Broad Street subway is roughly a mile away from the neighborhood. There are several buses that travel through the area, too, taking you to Center City, North or West Philly, and beyond.

Even though it’s easy to travel to and from Whitman, pretty much everything you might need can be found within the confines of this neighborhood. Whitman Plaza is home to a supermarket, a gym, clothing stores, and more. Several banks are nearby, as are diners, pizza places, and Tony Luke’s, one of Philly’s many cheesesteak outlets.

Need to head out of Philadelphia altogether? Whitman gives you easy access to the highways: The entrance to 95 is right at the southern edge of the neighborhood. You can also get to 76 East from Whitman without having to drive too far out of your way.

Not Much Nightlife

One big drawback of the Whitman neighborhood is that there isn’t much in the way of fine dining or nightlife. Fortunately, neighborhoods with plenty of action, such as East Passyunk or the South Street district, aren’t too far away. The neighborhood is scheduled to get its own bowling alley, but that’s still a work in progress.

Whitman might never be as cool as other South Philly neighborhoods. But there’s plenty to love about it, and plenty of reasons to call it home.

Image Source: Flickr

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Home Tip of the Day: Halloween Safety

Halloween can be scary, even for parents. Here’s an easy tip to make sure your children have a fun and safe Halloween this year. Happy haunting!

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

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Home Tip of the Day: When to Change Smoke Detector Batteries

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Here’s an easy way to remember to change the batteries to make sure they always work. Hint: you should do it this weekend.

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

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Gated Communities in Dallas: 5 Things to Know

The gated communities in Dallas are a hot spot for individuals and families, and there are dozens of neighborhoods from which to choose. Making the decision to move into a gated community takes research, as well as an understanding of what kind of neighborhood best suits you. Here are five things to consider in researching the best gated communities in Dallas.

1. Location

Because of its size in miles, Dallas can be a puzzle to new residents. The difference between living in North Dallas, South Dallas, Northwest Dallas, and every other geographic direction is frequently a key point in the decision of which best gated communities in Dallas to choose. The gated communities in North and Northwest Dallas typically have more acreage, meaning larger amenities such as golf courses, walking and jogging trails, ponds and lakes. Having only limited green space, gated communities that are closer to downtown are more likely to offer a library, media room, arts and crafts, clubs for a variety of interests, as well as game nights. Also, if your gated community is farther north, keep your commuting time in mind.

2. Luxury Living and Upscale Neighborhoods

In Dallas, you can find a wide array of home styles. The question is what your budget will allow. For example, when looking at a gated community in Dallas, you can find ones with homes that start in the $260,000 range. If you go north and/or west, there are some that start as low as $160,000.

3. Amenities of a Gated Community

When seeking the best gated communities in Dallas, you might want towering oaks, creeks, lakes, waterfalls, green space, and neighborhood ducks. You might prefer a community with a clubhouse, golf course, swim pavilion, picnic areas, walking and jogging trails, or maybe you’re searching for a community with wine tastings, book clubs, and poker nights. And when you’re looking for your new neighborhood in Dallas, you’ll need to consider proximity of shopping centers, schools, hospitals and medical centers, business centers and nearby highways. Finding the best gated communities in Dallas with your favorite stores can make the difference.

4. Sense of Security

Many homeowners choose a gated community for the sense of security they provide, and the same goes for Dallas. You’ll find 8-foot-tall walls of Texas stone, wrought-iron fences, keypad entrances, guard gated entrances, ID-required entrances, security cameras, neighborhood watch groups, and even community newsletters that provide tips to help keep the neighborhood both vigilant and safe.

5. Ready for a Retirement Community

If you’re an older adult looking for an active community, you can choose from apartments, town homes and houses in the best gated communities in Dallas. There are tree-lined streets with downtown skyline views, golf courses, social centers, and nearby amenities. With apartment homes, there typically is the option to rent as well. If you go just a few minutes north and west of Dallas, you’ll find neighborhoods of garden homes all the way to million-dollar neighborhoods.

Choosing between the gated communities of Dallas does require research by the prospective homeowner, but with so many options — from beautiful terrain to lively shopping and entertainment districts — there’s no limit to what a private retreat in a planned community could provide.

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Philadelphia Neighborhoods: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Passyunk and Fishtown

Fishtown and East Passyunk are two Philadelphia neighborhoods that have really come into their own in recent years. The two neighborhoods have become popular for people looking to buy homes in Philadelphia and for people visiting from surrounding areas, as both are full of restaurants, bars and other things to do. Whether you’re a lifelong Philadelphian or a recent transplant to the area, here are some things you might not have known about these two areas.

#1: Fishtown is home to the world’s first pizza museum.

If you love pizza and can tell the differences between a slice in Brooklyn, a slice in Chicago and a slice in Philly, then you need to visit Pizza Brain in Fishtown. Pizza Brain is more than just a restaurant, it’s also home to the world’s first pizza museum, housing the world’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia. It’s even received recognition from Guinness World Records.

#2: Passyunk Avenue is a foodie’s dream come true.

Fishtown might be the place for pizza, but East Passyunk is the place for pretty much every other type of food in the city. Food & Wine named Passyunk Avenue, the street at the heart of the neighborhood, as one of the “10 Best Foodie Streets” in the country in 2013. It’s easy to see why — you can find restaurants serving fancy French-inspired dishes, places serving creative modernist cuisine, and even a store selling artisan limoncello.

#3: Fishtown’s Penn Treaty Park has lore all its own.

Fishtown is home to Penn Treaty Park, a green space on the edge of the Delaware River. Today’s park is home to a number of events and festivals while giving residents a place to enjoy some time outdoors. It also has a long history and a bit of folklore that accompanies its founding. An elm tree in the park (which has since fallen) was said to be the site of a peace treaty between William Penn and the Leni Lenape tribe. It’s possible the meeting never took place, but it’s come to symbolize the peaceful approach Penn took to settling in the area.

#4: Fishtown has First Fridays, too.

First Friday is a time of celebration in a number of Philadelphia neighborhoods, including Fishtown. While First Friday events in Old City tend to get a little crowded, Fishtown offers you a chance to check out local art without feeling like a sardine in an art gallery. Most of the events take place along the Frankford Avenue Arts Corridor. Free and open to anyone, First Friday in Fishtown is worth checking out, whether you’re into art or not.

#5: In East Passyunk, Second Saturday gets the attention.

Never one to go along with the crowd, East Passyunk instead celebrates arts and culture on Second Saturday every month. The Passyunk Avenue event focuses more on local businesses than on art, although some coffee shops on the street hold opening receptions. Food trucks and special deals are two of the main attractions at Second Saturday.

Whether it’s history, food, or art, Fishtown and Passyunk are each a treasure trove of facts and fun bits of information. Whether you’re thinking of calling Philly home or are just passing through, be sure to pay either a visit to learn more about what the neighborhoods have to offer.

Image source: Flickr/Vivian D. Nguyen

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Kitchen Storage Ideas for Your NYC Apartment

An uncluttered counter is essential in a small NYC apartment. It looks attractive, feels more airy, and encourages you to cook, rather than sending you running for the takeout menu. So get creative with kitchen storage ideas, and you can make clean counters a reality.

No Drawers? No Problem!

Some tiny NYC kitchens lack drawers. This may seem like a big problem, but with a few clever kitchen storage ideas, you can work around it. For utensils, you have plenty of options. Mason jars work great. You can do what Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic did, and put them on the counter where they double as an attractive interior design element — but if you’re striving for empty counters, simply put them inside a cabinet. If you don’t want to use mason jars, you can use the kind of utensil caddy typically used for outside dining. It has separate compartments for each type of utensil, making it the perfect storage tool for forks, knives, and spoons.

Nesting Bowls

If you like to cook and bake, you’ll have lots of mixing bowls, ramekins, and dishes. In order to allow them to be organized inside your cabinets and take up as little space as possible, it’s important to look for nesting bowls. Try Williams-Sonoma’s glass or melamine bowls — they’re incredibly useful for cooking while taking up minimal space.

Use Your Oven

Where’s the best place to store big, bulky pots and pans in a tiny kitchen? The oven! This saves invaluable cabinet space in a compact kitchen, and it takes only a few seconds to remove all the pots when you need to use the oven for cooking. If you have the appropriate overhead space, a pot rack can also be a good space saver — but be sure that your pans are attractive enough to be on constant display (copper is always a beautiful, high-quality option).

Maximize Wall Space

Use your wall space whenever possible. You can hang up a magnetic knife rack; you can also hang spices on the wall or the refrigerator, if you get magnetic spice containers. Both options look fun and eclectic, while saving valuable cabinet space.

Create More Counters

When your counter space is sparse, you need to get creative. Here’s an idea: Buy a large wooden or marble cutting board and place it over two of the stove burners. Instant extra counter space! When you’re not using the cutting board for cooking prep, you can put something on it like a French press or a spoon holder. It’s a win-win … but you must be careful of your stove dials! Always be vigilant about not accidentally brushing against them and turning them on while the cutting board is in place.

With these tips, your compact kitchen will be a clean, uncluttered space, perfect for whipping up meals and hosting friends!

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Home Tip of the Day: A Trick-or-Treat Set Up for Bad Weather

Kids will trick-or-treat in almost any kind of bad weather. If Halloween just so happens to fall on a dark and stormy night this year, here’s an easy ‘Home Tip‘ to keep the neighborhood kids dry when they visit your home – all the while giving you another great opportunity to give them a little scare.

*Image Courtesy of: National Weather Station

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