2015 Holiday Gift Guide: What to Buy for Foodies

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: What to Buy for Foodies

Have a foodie on your holiday shopping list? Try one of these ideas.

Give Them A Reason to Say Cheers

What is dinner without a delicious cocktail to go with it? Consider gifting your foodie with a Wine, Beer or Champagne of the Month Club!

Go For the Latest in Smart Home Cooking

Sous Vide is a hot trend in the cooking world. Allow your home chef to up their culinary game by giving them this super smart cooking machine. If you are looking for a great deal get on the waiting list for the new Mellow machine and pre order for $99instead of the full price of $599!

A Gift for the Health Conscious Foodie

Have you heard? Noodles are out and zoodles are in! If you have a health conscious foodie on your list they will love a spiralizer.  Buy this one for $50 here.

Splurge on Serious Bakeware

This may be better as a group gift as it comes with a heavy price tag but I can guarantee any amateur home baker who receives this KitchenAid mixer as a holiday gift will be jumping for joy. Bonus: there is a solid chance this gift will pay you back down the road in the form of delicious treats.

Give Your Favorite Home Chef a Night Off

Your foodie friend or family member may love showing off their cooking skills but who doesn’t love a night off? Gift them with an in-house personal chef so they can worry less about preparing the meal and spend plenty of time enjoying it. Not sure where to start? Try this link.

Go Custom with Personalized Cookware

Monogrammed items are elegant and they show that you put extra thought into the gift. I love this versatile multipot from Williams Sonoma but if this is out of your price range consider a monogram cutting board, custom wine glasses or personalized cheeseboard.

And the Sweetest Gift Idea of All…A Mini Chocolate Library

Hitting the books will be a sweet treat for the foodie recipient of this gift. This library of 9 mini exotic chocolate bars has mouthwatering flavors ranging from Banana Super Dark to a Chocolate Bacon Bar. Yea, a chocolate bacon bar. Mmmm Buy it Here.

Have more people on your gift list that you need ideas for? Stop by each day this week right here on the Blue Matter blog where we will be sharing a new gift guide each day.

Guest Room Ideas for the Holidays

Guest Room Ideas

With the holidays quickly approaching, here are some quick ways you can get your spare bedroom in shape for the family and friends you’ll have staying over this season.

‘Tis (almost) the season for elaborate Thanksgiving meals, mouth watering desserts, lively conversations with relatives we don’t see often enough, and the inevitable overnight guest or two…or ten. If you’re like me, chances are you’ve let your spare “guest room” morph into a spare “lets just put everything in there until we figure out where it should really go later” room.

The good news is Thanksgiving is one week away, giving you (ahem..and me) plenty of time to get the spare room ready for the onslaught of guests you might have this holiday season. Let’s take a look at some great guest bedrooms fromcoldwellbanker.com for inspiration.

San Fran

This architectural jewel in San Francisco had the right idea when it came to setting up this guest room. Instead of opting for one very large bed, they decided to have two full-sized beds (arranged very nicely) in the same room. If you have the space, this is a great way to set up a guest room for family and a sly way of forcing them to spend even more time with each other. As far as decor goes, you don’t have to run out and buy a whole new bedroom set. You can achieve a very hip look by incorporating spare pieces you already have in other rooms in your home; like the credenza they’ve got up against the wall of this fantastic guest space.

Listed at: $11,850,000 – San Francisco, California

VT

It doesn’t take much to make your guest bedroom look and feel like home for friends or family staying over. Simple touches like adding an area rug, chairs and some magazines/books can completely transform your space into a zen-like retreat.

Listed at: $1,495,000 – Stowe, Vermont

Color

Our guest rooms may not have stunning views like this contemporary home in Seattle, but a great low-risk way to add some pizzaz to your extra room would be to opt for colorful bed sets. Combine the pop of color you get from bedding with the simplicity of this room’s decor and you have a really vibrant space perfect for visitors.

Listed at: $2,385,000 – Seattle, Washington

Montclair

Want to step your cozy guest bedroom game up? Another great way to add some warmth to a spare room is to simply put some art and photographs on your walls. The fireplace here ties the whole room together and gives the room an extra air of elegance and comfort. If you don’t have a “real fireplace” but still love the look, there are some fabulous electric fireplaces that can be had relatively inexpensively.

A few mouthwatering Kitchens

We’d Like to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner

We couldn’t think of a better place to whip up Thanksgiving dinner than these gorgeous kitchens!

It’s not often I jump for joy at the thought of cooking a meal, but looking at these incredible kitchens stirs up my inner chef. With so many different top of the line appliances, endless counter space, and enough seating room to fit all of my friends and family, the possibilities seem endless. While having a kitchen like these (all in homes currently for sale with Coldwell Banker, of course!) is a treat all year round, Thanksgiving is the ideal time of year to really enjoy the heart of the home. Take a look at these amazing kitchens & tell us which one is your favorite in the comments section!

5 Pelicans Drive, Newport Coast, CA 92657,
Listed by Mary Ellen WeglarzColdwell Banker Residential Brokerage

This kitchen has enough counter space to put out every Thanksgiving appetizer you can possibly make!

61 Shadow Lane, Ridgefield, CT 06877
Listed by Terry ConlonColdwell Banker Residential Brokerage

The open concept flow of this beautiful kitchen allows you to interact with guests at the table while you put the finishing touches on your special Thanksgiving dishes.

4860 E Harbor Rd, Freeland, WA 98249
Listed by Richard LentzColdwell Banker BAIN

There’s no such thing as too many cooks in this kitchen! With enough room for you and a helper or two, you’ll have Thanksgiving dinner on the table in no time at all, so you can relax with a fall cocktail and really enjoy the holiday!

50 Bayside Drive, Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716
Listed by Christine KuchColdwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Cooking is a lot more enjoyable when you can look out to panoramic views of Sandy Hook Bay, the New York City skyline, AND the Atlantic Ocean from this gorgeous kitchen!


No matter where you prepare Thanksgiving dinner, we hope you & your family and friends enjoy a happy, safe, and delicious holiday!

Top 6 Projects to Tackle This Fall

Top 6 Projects to Tackle This Fall

Neglecting regular home maintenance is never a good idea. Take care of these fall projects now to avoid costly surprises in the long run.

The costs below are based on national averages from more than one million users who’ve submitted real cost information about real projects to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide, an online database providing cost information on over 300 project types. View Local Costs.

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5 Essential Furnace Maintenance Tips

When is the last time you performed maintenance on your furnace?

Guest Post by HomeAdvisor

With colder weather coming, your heating system will work overtime to keep your house warm. To prevent a call to a heating professional during peak season, take a look at your furnace and perform preventative maintenance now. Here are some tips to help you keep your furnace healthy:

#1 Look at the air filter.

Check the furnace air filter on a monthly basis for any dirt and debris. If it’s been working hard to battle drafts or cold nights, it’s probably accumulated some dust. Too much dirt can lead to reduced efficiency and failure of the furnace. When that is an imminent threat, you need to change out the filter. Use the old one to find a new filter that fits in your furnace.

#2 Vacuum around the furnace.

Dirt and debris can also build up inside the furnace and its parts. So, you will need to vacuum inside every once in awhile. Open the door and use a cleaner’s attachment to get any debris out of the base and burners. You should also vacuum in the crevices behind the furnace.

#3 Inspect fanbelt.

The furnace’s fanbelts wear down and loosen over time, so check them occasionally and make replacements as needed. These are essential in moving the blower. If one is loose, you can sometimes tighten it by loosening its bracket. Otherwise, you will need to put a new fanbelt in.

#4 Lubricate bearings.

In older furnace models, the bearings will need regular oiling. You can use household oil to keep them lubed and in good condition for the winter ahead. Find the oil caps and remove them. Be sure not to put too much oil in though, or you could be looking at a potential fire hazard in your furnace.

#5 Keep vents clean and clear.

Though not a part of the furnace itself, the vents help to move the hot air it produces through the rest of the house. If the vents are filled with dirt and debris, your rooms will fail to warm. Use a vacuum cleaner or duster occasionally to get dust out. If you have a lot of vents or a very large home, you can have them professionally cleaned for about $330. Otherwise, your furnace will work harder to warm your rooms, which increases your gas bill.

Getting a pro out for inspections

Heating contractors can do a more in-depth inspection of your furnace and may find potential problems that, unaddressed, could lead to expensive repair costs. For example, they can make sure your thermostat is working with the furnace and can also:

  • Tighten connections
  • Oil all the moving parts
  • Inspect the connected gas lines

If you think your heating system might need some additional work or cursory maintenance outside of what you can do on your own, schedule a maintenance appointment with a local professional.

November Honey Do List

Prep your home for the holidays and cooler weather with this list of home to dos that you’ll be especially thankful for.

This month, we’re especially thankful for home. Home is where the family comes together, where we’re protected from the elements, and where love abounds. Your home’s November Honey-Do list will make sure your home is ready for the holidays, prepared for colder weather and loved inside and out.

1. Winterize your home – For most of the country, November is the time when we can no longer deny that the colder weather has settled in. Now is the time to winterize summer tools and appliances like air conditioner units, grills and lawn mowers. Bring garden hoses indoors and check your windows and doors for drafts.

2. Make a Turkey Game Plan – No coach would head to a big game without a game plan up his sleeve. Likewise, no chef should hit the kitchen without thinking through the menu and timeline first. Determine what menu items you can make ahead, decide what responsibilities you can delegate, and take an inventory of your pantry and china cabinet. Oh, and now’s the time to clean that oven, too.

3. Polish the Silver and Dust off the China – Thanksgiving is a special meal, which deserves the best of your entertaining arsenal. Because we don’t often use our special dishes year round, it’s smart to give them a good deep clean and polish before setting the table on Turkey Day.

4. Give your living room a refresh – With the holidays ahead, your living room is sure to get plenty of use. Give the space a refresh by changing out the window treatments for a new look.

5. Use some pest control – Rodents and other pests are opportunistic and seek warmer environments when the temperatures drop. Be sure that they don’t call your house their home by implementing these 5 surefire tricks to pest control.

6. Clear out the gutters – Avoid drainage problems and damage to your home’s foundation by clearing out the gutters before snow and ice wreaks havoc. Here is aneasy how-to guide to cleaning rain gutters on your home.

7. Be ready for snow – Before the first winter storm, it’s a good idea to make sure your snow shovels and/or snow blower are in proper working order. Ready to invest in a snow blower after the brutal winter last year? Here is a buying guide from Home Depot that will help you make an educated purchase.

8. Start tackling the December to do list – The holiday to do list is notoriously the longest of the year. Get a head start by ordering your holiday cards, updating your address book, and making a gift wish list for each of your family members NOW. You can even start stringing twinkle lights on your shrubbery before the deep chill sets in. After all, the most important part of the holidays is taking the time to enjoy our family and friends.

Next month we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know to make your home holiday ready.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Laundry Room Ideas

7 Laundry Room Ideas to Fold into Your Home

These laundry room ideas provide inspiration for the most dysfunctional functional room in the home.

One of the most functional rooms in the house can often be one of the most dysfunctional: the laundry room.  From clothes piled high, stale fabric softeners and leaky detergents galore, our laundry rooms can have some dirty secrets. Here are 7 laundry room ideas to help clean up your laundry act.

We've heard of double ovens, but double laundry?  This is a phenomenal solution for a large family of hockey players.  This Miami Beach home is listed by Jill Hertzberg with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate.
We’ve heard of double ovens, but double laundry? This is a phenomenal solution for a large family of hockey players, or a household with plenty of guests. This Miami Beach home is listed by Jill Hertzberg with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate.
Clean Clothes, Clean Lines
laundryroom_924northclark

A laundry room with a skyline view? Yes, please! But, how about a plethora of storage, clean lines and sleek modern design? This Chicago, IL home is listed by Chezi Rafaeli with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

Here’s a Bright Idea: Natural Light

Natural light can make a big difference in a laundry room.  We love the square window in the laundry room of this St. Helena, California home.

Natural light can make a big difference in a laundry room. We love the square window in the laundry room of this St. Helena, California home.

Storage: More is More 

This Laguna Beach, CA home's laundry room shows that black is always in.

This Laguna Beach, CA home‘s laundry room shows that ample storage and bright natural light can help laundry not feel like a chore.

Consider a Calming Color Palette

Natural wood and soft wall colors make the laundry space in this Redington Beach, FL brings the beach to a home...without the sand, of course.

Natural wood and a soft sandy color palette make the laundry space in this Redington Beach, FL home a tranquil place…without the sand, of course.

Create a Folding Station

We love the idea of adding a folding station to your laundry room like the one in this Blaine, WA home.

We love the idea of adding a folding station to your laundry room like the one in thisBlaine, WA home.

Pack a Big Punch with Little Touches

Adding wall art, or a pretty catch-all basket can bring your laundry room to life, like in this California home.

Adding wall art, or a pretty catch-all basket can bring your laundry room to life, like in this California home.

Can Fido Share Thanksgiving?

What Food You Can and Can’t Share with Your Dog on Thanksgiving

If “drop it drop it drop it” is your dogs mantra near the dinner table then this is a must read.

via clickertraining.com

Google the phrase “Dog Stealing Turkey” and the results will yield an abundance of hilarious YouTube videos, pictures and gifs of pups doing their best to be part of their family’s Thanksgiving fun.

Slipping your little buddy a piece of Turkey is harmless. However, throwing them a piece with bones in it… not so much. The reason being they could get lodged into your pup’s throat, stomach or intestines.

As a pet owner we are sure you are very thankful for the the special role your pet plays in your home which is why you want to ensure their safety, especially around the holidays.

Follow this “How to Keep Your Dog Safe This Thanksgiving” infographic created byDogster for an easy reference on which Turkey Day treats are safe and which ones to avoid.

Interested in New Construction?

Image via Home Bunch
Image via Home Bunch

Nowadays, a finished home is never the result of a single contractor. In fact, statistics show that an average of 22 subcontractors contribute to the construction of a single house. When building your own custom dream abode, you’ll need the expertise of the following individuals at a minimum.

A Topnotch Architect

Crafting a blueprint for a custom home that fulfills your expectations while working within the limitations of your site isn’t easy. That’s why a competent architect is so crucial during the design phase. An architect with civil engineering experience will be especially helpful when conforming to local building regulations.

A Foundation Expert

Whether you prefer poured concrete, masonry or a mix of both for your home’s base, you’ll need a foundation contractor for optimal results. After all, a foundation is one aspect of a home that’s tough to fix once installed. Don’t cut corners when it comes to foundation construction.

A Framing Professional

Besides the foundation, a custom home’s frame is the most vital component to consider. Good framing subcontractors are easy enough to find if you do a little homework. Take special care when hiring a framer for a post-and-beam layout as these designs require years of experience to implement properly.

A Siding & Roofing Pro

Seeing to it that your custom home has a quality skin applied before the cosmetic touches are added is always clutch. A good siding and roofing installer will ensure that your new house is sealed up tight for the long haul and keep the elements from tarnishing a freshly erected frame.

A Superior Electrician

Wiring a house properly isn’t something that should be left to amateurs.Independent Electrical Contractors of Greater Cincinnati recommend hiring the right electrician with comprehensive electrical training and certification. Such an individual will guarantee that your wiring arrangements are safe and flexible to boot.

An Experienced Plumber

The last major interior construction step to take before slapping up the drywall is putting in the pipes. A great plumber is a lot like a great mechanic: he or she is hard to find but worth the effort. Take your time when vetting candidates to find the right one.

You can spend a fortune on custom home construction and still come up short if you don’t have the right subcontractors on your side. When you hire each of the specialists mentioned here, make sure that they’re the best in the business.