Holidays

5 Tips To Jazz Up Your Holiday Dining Table

 

The holidays are here again and if you're like us, you're looking forward to decorating and making your home feel cozy and inviting.

Here are some fun tips to spruce up your dining table this season and make your guests feel extra special without breaking the bank. 

Add a pop of color with a bold tablecloth

There's no need to splurge on pricey new place settings. Instead, pick up a festive tablecloth and coordinating runner and placemats. It's such an easy way to completely change the look of your table and inexpensive enough to allow you to buy a few different items to alternate through the season!

 

DIY greenery and floral touches

DIY greenery and florals are definitely in now more than ever! Instead of splurging on a premade bouquet, opt for individual stems or affordable greenery to tuck into your napkin rings or run down the center of the table.

Keeping your florals low and simple leaves more room for food and drinks and won't obstruct any views when catching up with your nearest and dearest over dinner. Stop by your local market or Trader Joe's and look for greens like eucalyptus, which looks—and smells—sumptuous. For extra oomph, throw in a couple of sprigs of rosemary to place in napkin holders.

 

Add festive copper mugs

Don’t want to spend a lot, but want a quick upgrade that will elevate the look of the entire table? Go buy a set of copper mugs! Your guests will love sipping something festive out of a special cup.

Copper mugs are everywhere now that the Moscow mule cocktail has grown in popularity, but even if you're not serving Moscow mules for the holidays, they make a nice touch. Try serving cold apple cider in your mugs, or any other cocktails you might have on your menu.

 

Modern farmhouse touches

The modern farmhouse look is still trending in home decor, and that doesn't stop at the holidays. The good news? You can get the vibe on a budget —just try some fun but affordable accents like birch logs, acorns, miniature pumpkins, buffalo check patterns, antlers, and greenery. Add some sparkling fairy lights to the mix, or wrapped around pine boughs, for an extra magical touch!

When in doubt, go monochromatic

This time of year our homes can be overwhelmed with festive decorations. Keep the focus on the meal by choosing a pretty tone and outfitting your entire table in it. Add a metallic of your choice for accents, and a few candles for a pop of interest. Not only is it simple to pull together, but the result is incredibly chic as well!

 

Brrrr! It's time to get your fireplace serviced!

With temperatures and snow falling fast, there's no better place to be than nestled in front of a cozy fireplace. Before settling in, there are a few safety measures to take to ensure you can relax and enjoy the comfort of a crackling fire all winter long. 

According to Susan McKelvey, a spokesperson for the National Fire Protection Association, half of all US home heating fires take place between December and February. Follow the tips below to put your mind at ease and start enjoying your fireplace right away!

1. Regularly clean the interior

Burning wood in fireplaces can release pollutants in the air and leave a buildup of dust, ash, and creosote, which can cause fires. Also watch for any accumulation of soot, which is softer than creosote, is flammable, and must be regularly cleaned from the chimney.

The NFPA recommends chimneys be cleaned at least once a year, at the beginning of winter, to remove soot and debris. For homes who use their fireplace regularly a more regular cleaning schedule may be better. Contact a local chimney cleaner to get a professional opinion.

2. Cap it

Use a wire mesh cap to cover the top of the chimney to keep birds, squirrels, rain, and other debris from entering. Some critters can mistake chimneys for trees and build nests inside them to escape the cold. This is not only a danger to the animals, but a potential fire hazard. Capping your chimney is an inexpensive fix, usually running around $75-$80.

3. Check the damper

The damper is a movable plate meant to seal the fireplace when not in use. Be sure your damper is working properly and free of debris that would keep it from opening and closing properly.

While you're checking the damper, also take a look at other components such as door latches, handles and grates. Over time these items can break or warp and should be repaired/replaced.

4. Monitor for smoke

Excess smoke can be caused by animal nests (see Tip 2), an unclean chimney that has creosote, soot buildup, a closed or partly open damper, or wood that is not burning completely.

Check that your chimney is properly vented to the outside to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure your smoke and CO alarms are functioning properly. 

5. Choose the right wood to burn

Hardwoods such as maple, oak, ash, and birch burn longer and hotter, have less pitch and sap, and will contribute less creosote buildup.

You can burn any type of untreated wood but to make sure it is properly seasoned. You'll know your wood is well-seasoned when it fades in color, is hard, sounds hollow when you knock on it, and has loose bark.The most effective way to dry out wood is to cut it, split it, and stack it.

6. Use heat-proof glass doors

Glass doors help protect against heat loss and keep embers, cinders, or logs from rolling out of the fireplace and causing damage. You can have doors installed on the frame of your fireplace or pick up a tempered glass screen. Of course, be sure to keep anything flammable well out of the way of the doors or grate. 

 

Halloween For Home Sellers

 

 

The doorbell to your home is used more on October 31st than potentially any other day of the year. It’s Halloween and there’s arguably no holiday where home plays a bigger role.

Sure, other holidays have traditions, but none encourage families to get out and actually walk around their neighborhoods going door-to-door. This is a perfect opportunity to meet new neighbors and spread the word that your home is on the market! Leave a lasting impression with tasteful lights, decorations, and of course, candy for the kids. It’s a night where we literally open our doors to others and make preparations to give regardless of who steps to our front door - something we should probably do more often.

We hope this year you'll be dazzled by the decorations and charmed by the children’s (and the dog’s) costumes, and we hope it brings a little joy to your heart as you think of all that home means…even on the scariest night of the year.

Here’s to Halloween and all the things that make a house a home.

If you have pictures of your home from Halloweens past or present, share them with us on Instagram by tagging them with @SignatureVTHomes

4th Of July Celebrations In Our Area

 

There are lots of fun activities happening locally for the 4th of July! Check out the list of events in our area: 

 

Bay Day Fireworks & Great Race - St. Albans Find more information here

4th Of July Celebration & Ice Cream Social - 195 Central School Drive, Williston  Find more information here

4th Of July Festivities & Fireworks - Rte. 116 Hinesburg  Find more information here

Independence Day Celebration & Fireworks - 1 Lake Street, Burlington  Find more information here

Fireworks Extravaganza - 44 Knight Point Road Find more information here

4th Of July Celebration - 75 Maple Street Park, Essex Jct.   Find more information here

4th Of July Celebration  & Fireworks - Lakeshore Drive, Colchester  Find more information here

4th Of July Celebration & Fireworks - 43 Bombardier Recreation Park, Milton   Find more information here

Old Fashioned 4th Of July - Main Street, Stowe   Find more information here

4th Of July Festivities - East Main Street, Richmond   Find more information here

 

Wishing you a fun, and safe, holiday!

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Tips to get your grill ready for summer

 

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and with it comes a time to remember the sacrifices made by so many to defend our freedom, as well as the official kick-off to the summer season! We hope you'll be enjoying some rest and relaxation with friends and family. In fact, this may be the perfect opportunity to whip out your grill if you haven't already this season. Here are some tips to make sure your weekend festivities go off without a hitch!

 

If you have a gas grill:

 

First, get the outside of your grill looking brand new using a solution of 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts warm water and a microfiber cloth, and soft bristled brush. The vinegar will help cut through any grease stains, and the soft cloth will ensure you don't scratch the metal. 

Next, move onto the inside of the grill, where you can be a little more aggressive. Remove the grates and place in a large container filled with warm water and dish soap. Using a stainless steel grill brush and some elbow grease, slough off any residue that's baked on, and rinse well. If you forgot to clean the tray out at the end of last season, remove it and brush any remnants into the trash. 

After you've replaced the tray and grates, be sure the gas tank is filled and secure before closing the lid of the grill and turning the heat on high for 15 - 20 minutes. This last step will ensure any leftover cleaning residue has been removed and help keep your burgers from sticking the next time you grill.

If you have a charcoal grill:

The first step is the same as if you have a gas grill -  using a solution of 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts warm water and a microfiber cloth, and soft bristled brush. The vinegar will help cut through any grease stains, and the soft cloth will ensure you don't scratch the metal. 

Next take a look inside and be sure there is no remaining charcoal left from last season. Remove the cooking grate, and leave it to soak in a solution of warm water, vinegar and dish soap. While that's soaking, take a look at the bowl of your grill - if you grill a lot, you may see some peeling, which is most likely carbonized grease. Using a stainless steel grill brush, and warm soapy water, scrub the inside until all of the layers have come off. Now that the bowl is clean, the soap solution should have loosened up any debris on the cooking grate. Go after that with the stainless steel grill brush and it'll look like new before you know it!

 

You're officially ready to start grilling!

 

If you're looking for a new home with a great backyard for barbecues, check out these listings!

 

From our table to yours...Cranberry Baked Brie Recipe

It's that time of year again, when we gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving and count all of our blessings. This year, the Signature Team wanted to share one of our favorite recipes with you. We hope you enjoy it!

 

Cranberry Baked Brie - the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer!

  • 8-ounce round brie cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • honey to drizzle
  • Fresh rosemary, to garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel or slice off the top rind of the brie and scrape out a small amount of cheese to form a shallow hollow in the center. Place the cheese in a small baking dish like a pie pan. (If you plan on transferring the cheese to a serving dish after it's baked, line the pie pan with a square of parchment paper.)

2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water and white sugar to a boil.

3. Add cranberries, vanilla extract, orange zest, ginger, nutmeg and brown sugar. Simmer until cranberries have popped. The smell will be fabulous!

4. Spoon the cranberry mixture on top of the brie.

5. Bake 8-12 minutes. Transfer carefully to a serving plate, drizzle honey and use rosemary to garnish.

Serve your baked brie with crackers, or sliced apples. Enjoy!

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From Our Home To Yours...A Thanksgiving Tradition


There is nothing like the smell of a turkey cooking to bring back fond memories of time spent with loved ones over the holidays. We'd like to share a delicious recipe with you, that has been a Thanksgiving staple for years in the hopes that it brings joy to your family. Maybe it will even become a tradition! Bon appetit!

Sweet Potato Souffle

Base

- 6 Large sweet potatoes cleaned, peeled and cut into chunks

-1/2 Cup Full Fat Coconut Milk

-4 TB Butter

-1 TB Maple Syrup

-1 TB Allspice or Pumpkin Pie Spice

-I TB Cinnamon

-1 TB Vanilla Extract

Topping

-1 Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts

-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

-2 TB Melted Butter

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Boil sweet potatoes until fork tender then drain

3. Add Coconut Milk and Butter to Sweet Potatoes and mash until smooth

4. Stir in remaining Base Ingredients until well comined

5. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into a medium sized casserole and set aside

6. In a medium sized bowl, add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir until combined

7. Stir in chopped nuts until well coated (add more melted butter or sugar to taste)

8. Sprinkle the Topping over the sweet potato mixture coating the top thoroughly

9. Bake for 20 minutes and enjoy immediately! 

2014-2015 Burlington Holiday Events Guide!

Your 2014-2015 Holiday Events Guide!

holiday-main

  • Meet Santa at the Burlington Town Center!  Santa and his helpers have lots of fun activities in store this season. 

  • Giant Menorah Lighting! Come down to the UVM Green Tuesday the 16th to celebrate the first night of Hannukah with music and treats from 5:30-Midnight.

  • The Nutcracker Ballet takes the stage at the Flynn Center Saturday December 20th! Enjoy a Christmas classic and a stroll up the beautifully decorated Church Street after! Get tickets here. 

  • Visit the Vermont Reindeer exhibit at the ECHO Center Saturday the 27th! This event will be magical for the whole family -- kids will love learning about and petting real reindeer. More information here. 

  • The Vermont Symphony Orchestra will perform at their annual Gala hosted by the Burlington Sheraton. Celebrate the season with beautiful music. More information here. 

  • First Night will be back in Burlington to ring in the New Year! Enjoy a day full of music, dance and celebration throughout Burlington. Buy your tickets and see the full calendar of events here. 

 

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VA Loans Provide Accessible Financing For Veterans

 

If you are a Veteran, you should know about the special mortgage benefits available to you through the VA Financing Program. Take advantage of this program! It's designed to make purchasing a home as affordable, and accessible as possible.

Here are the four biggest benefits of financing with a VA loan:

1. No Down Payment! This is HUGE, and certainly the defining benefit of the VA program. Instead of having to pony up the usual minimum down payment of 3.5-5% Veterans are given the opportunity to finance the entire cost of their home.

2. No Mortgage Insurance. Conventional borrowers who cannot afford at least a 20% down payment will be required to purchase mortgage insurance which can easily tack a couple hundred dollars onto their monthly mortgage payments. VA loans do not require mortgage insurance as they do not require a down payment. There is an upfront fee, however, that can be completely financed. If you were wounded during service that fee will be waived entirely.

3. Flexible Requirements. The VA program is designed to get Veterans into homes. With that in mind, normal requirements are suspended or made much more achievable. For example, a Veteran will receive full financing even with a credit score 100 points lower than what a normal borrower could get away with. Veterans can even secure financing if they have very recently gone through bankruptcy, foreclosure or a short sale. If you think you're situation puts you in too tough a spot to receive financing - think again! Please visit a lender to find out how they can help.

4. Closing Cost Limits. Unfortunately closing costs can never go away entirely, but the VA puts a cap on what Veterans are allowed to pay. They even make it possible for sellers to pay ALL of the buyers closing costs AND up to 4% of the loan amount in concessions. Keep that in mind when you and your Realtor negotiate the contract!

Thank you for your service. Visit our Concierge Page for a list of lenders we trust and work with regularly to help guide you through the mortgage process.