BOB UPTON, Realtor®, CBR's Blog
Looking for a soup for all seasons? Let Zucchini Potato Soup fill the bill. It's low-fat and light yet filling. It's power-packed with nutritious goodness, and enhanced with the perfect blend of spices and herbs.
This recipe serves a party of 6 or more. If you have a food processor or a blender, you can make it. Here's how.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
To create a robust soup base, you will need:
Step 2. Prepare the Vegetable Broth
Wash and coarsely chop your zucchini squashes, potatoes, carrots and onions. There is no need to peel the potatoes unless you prefer doing so. Sauté these vegetables together with a generous dash of your best olive oil, or heat them up in a non-stick pot if you'd prefer to go oil-free. As your vegetables become just slightly browned, add the parsley, pepper and salt.
Add enough water to cover these ingredients and create a savory broth.
Cover the pot.
Allow broth to simmer for 25 minutes.
Drain, while reserving the broth.
Step 3. Prepare the Hearty Soup
Sauté the chopped clove of garlic in a pan lightly lined with olive oil until the garlic is golden brown. Add the zucchini-carrot-potato mix. Toss in the chopped basil and tarragon.
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste.
Blend reserved vegetable broth into the soup.
Step 3. Simmer and Cool
Allow soup to simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.
Let the soup cool down. Pour just over half of the cooled soup into a food processor and purée the mix.
Pro tip: Why cool the soup before pouring it into a food processor or blender? Steam can quickly rise out of hot mixes and fill up the machine, splatter out and cause burns. Plus, pouring anything super hot into machines with plastic parts just isn't an appealing idea, even if the machine parts are all food-safe. So, if you want to speed the cooling process, use ice and a large spaghetti strainer and pour the mix through it.
Step 4. Heat and Serve
Add the puréed part of the mix back into the pot with the rest of the soup.
Heat and stir for 3 minutes.
Serve hot. This soup goes well with a fluffy bowl of couscous, rustic rolls or homemade bread.
It's probably much easier and less expensive than you realize to improve your home's curb appeal. Simple fixes such as replacing rickety porch railings or giving trim a fresh, bright coat of paint go a long way toward making prospective home buyers smile. And when you create a welcoming pathway, that leads right to your door from the street or driveway, you may get more than smiles. Depending upon how professionally it's done and how cozy it appears, you just might get more money for your home. Try these five attractive options for creating the perfect, welcoming walkway:
They come in all shapes and sizes, and they're relatively inexpensive when you catch them on sale at your local home store. Pavers can help you design a walkway that looks upscale and unique to your home. Place them on the diagonal, or lay them with small stretches of grass or gravel in between for a one-of-a-kind look that's unlike any other home in the neighborhood. A paved walkway gives guests traction on rainy days and can help keep the path to your front door mud-free.
Stamped concrete lasts forever, and you can customize it to create many different looks. Mimic cobblestone or slate, brick or natural stone, simply by stamping different designs into your concrete before it's fully set. Once cured, your design is there forever. And if your stamped concrete was dyed before it was poured, no one will even recognize that it's concrete.
Stamped concrete brings texture and form to your front yard. It also provides nice, clean edges for placing annual border plants such as petunias or marigolds. Add color and function all in one, when you install a stamped concrete walkway.
A mulched pathway is an improvement over no pathway at all, but it may not raise your property's value. Mulch keeps mud at bay, and it delineates where guests should walk as they move from driveway to front door. It's an economic choice, however. And if budget is an issue, mulch is a perfectly acceptable material to use in building walkways. You can always up the wow factor of your mulched walkway by evenly nestling single, large pavers on top for feet to land on.
Natural stone such as shale or slate gives walkways an immediate boost. It can be a bit slippery when it rains, however, so be careful building natural stone walkways on slopes. Natural stone is one of the more expensive building materials to use inside or out, but its distinct appearance adds value anywhere it's used.
When you're ready to bump up your home's curb appeal, whether for your family's convenience or to impress prospective buyers, consider the formidable power of the front walkway. It's a gorgeous few steps in the right direction.
Sometimes you look at many homes and can’t find the perfect luxury home. When that happens, you might have to get a home that meets every requirement except the one – and then add that feature yourself. Many luxury homes have plenty of room to add additional buildings and water features. When purchasing a luxury home that doesn’t have everything, make sure you have plenty of land to add what you need or that the house is situated on the property so that you can add onto it.
The Perfect Floor Plan
You found a house with the perfect floor plan in the perfect location and with plenty of property – but the house doesn’t have a spa area or a pool. Since the market is hot, it’s a good idea to put an offer on the house, but what if you don’t want it if you can’t fit a pool where you want it? When you submit the offer, make it contingent upon an engineer approving the pool and spa location and zoning allowing the pool. If the engineer approves of the location and zoning allows you to build a pool, you can continue with the purchase. If not, you’ll be able to withdraw your offer without any ramifications.
Pool and Spa Landscaping
Before you add the pool, decide on whether you want a hot tub, and if the hot tub will be contained within the same decking as the pool. If so, the pool builder will be able to add the hot tub in before the company builds the decking. This is especially important if you have an in-ground pool with concrete decking around the pool.
If you want to add a steam room that is outside of the house, make sure there is room for it – don’t think of it as an afterthought, especially if the backyard is on the small side. Planning the location of all three pool and spa features is key to an area you’ll enjoy for many years to come.
If you want everything in a heated room, you could add on to the house or you could build a separate building that holds the pool, steam room and hot tub. Benefit of having a separate building including keeping it locked without having a fence and keeping the humidity from the steam and water out of your house.
Fencing and Privacy
Most cities and counties require you to fence the pool in for safety reasons. Make sure you know what zoning in your area requires for a safety fence. Hot tubs, unless covered and locked, usually have to have a fence around them to prevent children from getting in and drowning.
If you don’t like the idea of a high fence, put the lowest fence allowed by zoning around the area, then plant shrubs and trees along the fence for more privacy. Taller shrubs and trees still block your view, but will make you feel like you are in the middle of the woods if you choose the right plants. Put the plants inside the fence so that children cannot climb them from the outside.
Generally speaking, taking a family vacation can "recharge your battery," give you a new lease on life, and enable you to get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose. That's the ideal scenario when everything falls into place. However, if you're one of those families that are always looking for a new place to explore every year, then your vacation experiences may become more hit or miss.
While a little research can often go a long way, online brochures and articles tend to put a positive spin on what may or may not be an ideal vacation destination. Even customer reviews can give you a false impression of the desirability of a tourism spot. Just because a couple people had an especially good or bad experience in a particular tourist town, does not mean you're going to encounter similar types of service, weather, prices, crowds, or ambiance.
Online reviews, tourism information, and vacation blogs can provide you with helpful insights into the desirability of a vacation spot, but every time you try a new resort, vacation rental, or tourist attraction, you're gambling on whether or not you and your family will like it.
Since time away from work and vacation budgets are usually limited, it makes sense to do everything possible to increase the odds of planning and having a great vacation! Visiting the places you're considering staying at before you make reservations there is one method of choosing a location you'll probably love. Sometimes recommendations from close friends or relatives can provide you with some solid vacation ideas. While anonymous online reviews and blog posts can lead you down the wrong path, recommendations from a trusted friend or family member have much more credibility.
One method of ensuring a higher level of quality control over your accommodations, amenities, and -- to some degree -- your meals is to buy a vacation home. If you can find an affordable cabin, beach house, or ski chalet in a location you like, then you'll always know what you're getting in terms of living space, ambiance, environment, and local attractions. You can prepare a certain percentage of your meals at your vacation home, which can control your food expenses and make going out to dinner more special.
Another advantage of returning to the same vacation spot (and home), year after year, is that you become familiar with the best places and times to enjoy restaurants, golf courses, beaches, ski slopes, hiking trails, nightclubs, or whatever you enjoy doing on vacation. When you find the ideal "home away from home" to spend weekends, vacations from work, and school breaks, you'll always know exactly what you're getting and will have a higher degree of control over your environment and your overall vacation experience. One final advantage of owning a vacation home is that you can defray your mortgage payments and maintenance costs by generating rental income during the times you're not using the house.
Selling your home may seem like a relatively simple process. You hire an agent, let them take pictures and show the house to prospective buyers, accept an offer, and then close… right?
In reality, there’s a lot that goes into the selling process; especially if you want to have a smooth home sale.
Matters are further complicated by hr fact that most sellers are also in the process of buying, closing, and moving into their new home.
To make the most of your time in the weeks or months leading up to your sale, I’ve put together a list of tips that you can use to get ahead of the curve, making your sale as problem-free and simple as possible.
One of the most important lessons homeowners learn when they sell their first home is how quickly moving day creeps up on them. Make a list of all of the things you need to do before you hand over the keys, and set dates and reminders in your calendar for those tasks.
You can do this if you’re in the beginning stages of finding out when you want to sell by, or if you’re in the final stages of packing and moving your belongings to your new home. Regardless of where you are in the home sale process, you can always benefit from preparedness.
Find an agent
To get the ball rolling, reach out to a real estate agent sooner rather than later. They’ve been through this process several times before and will be able to give you advice that is catered to your specific situation.
Make sure your home is ready for sale
We all love our homes and value the time and effort we put into them. But, to get top dollar for your home and ensure a smooth sale, you’ll probably need to do some work.
This can include getting an inspection to ensure that the vital components of your home are working properly. Knowing this now can save you time and headaches if a buyer’s inspector finds an issue with your home that you weren’t aware of.
Similarly, you’ll want to make your home move-in ready by making small repairs, putting a fresh coat of paint, and cleaning up the exterior of the home.
Do your research when setting a price
Setting the price of a home is not a road you want to take shortcuts on. Research prices for comparable homes in your area, consider recent repairs you made, and value the home at what you think is a fair price.
However, don’t get too attached to one number and be prepared to adapt based on the offers you receive.
Have a moving day plan
Planning for moving day could be its own separate blog post. You’ll want to start packing things you don’t need early on in the process. Then, make arrangements for young children or pets, so that you can focus on the move rather than keeping track of everyone else.