Consumer Real Estate News

    • A Grilled Take on a Traditional Italian Meal

      25 May 2022

      (Family Features) Warm weather means grilling season is back, but evenings spent around the grill are no longer just for hot dogs and burgers. This summer, impress family and friends with creative new recipes that put a spin on your traditional go-to meals.

      To start, try bringing other cultural influences to the table. Get inspired by this Sweet Italian Sausage Polenta, starring flavor-packed Carando Sweet Italian Sausage and vinegar-laced peppers over soft, creamy polenta. Simple and satisfying, this recipe may just earn a permanent spot on your summer menu.

      Whether you’re grilling for neighbors or gathering the family for a weeknight meal, the sausage is convenient, easy to prepare and can help turn any occasion into a memorable one. Made from 100% pork and loaded with traditional Italian herbs and spices, it pairs perfectly with this creamy polenta, as well as pizzas, sandwiches, kebabs and more.

      Find more ways to put your own spin on summer grilling at Carando.com.

      Sweet Italian Sausage Polenta
      Total time: 35 minutes
      Servings: 4

      1 package Carando Sweet Italian Sausage
      8 cups chicken stock
      2 cups dry polenta
      8 tablespoons unsalted butter
      1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      1 red bell pepper, julienned
      1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
      1 medium yellow onion, julienned
      1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
      1/4 cup white wine
      1/4 cup red wine vinegar
      2 tablespoons honey
      2 teaspoons oregano

      Heat grill to medium-low. Grill sausages 15-20 minutes, using tongs to turn frequently; reserve.

      In a heavy-bottomed pot, whisk stock and polenta; bring to boil. Cook, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes, or until thick and creamy.

      Remove polenta from heat and whisk in butter and cheese. Reserve until ready to serve.

      Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, peppers, onions and garlic; and saute until vegetables soften and just begin to color.

      Deglaze pan with white wine and reduce by half. Add vinegar, honey and oregano; cook until reduced by half.

      Add sausages to the pan to warm.

      When sausages are warm, place polenta on a large platter then top with sausages, peppers and onions.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Remember to Leave Room in Your Budget for Moving Expenses

      25 May 2022

      If you’re planning to buy a house, you’ve probably given a lot of thought to your down payment, closing costs and new furnishings and appliances. Don’t forget to factor moving costs into your budget.

      Potential Costs Associated With a Move
      If you want to hire a moving company, you will have to pay for a truck and a team of movers. The amount of stuff you transport, its weight, the date you choose and the distance will all influence the cost. If you want to move heavy or valuable items, expect to pay additional fees. You should also plan to tip the movers.

      You may have to purchase insurance in case your belongings get damaged in transit. The moving company may include limited coverage in its fee, but it may not be enough to replace an expensive item. Check your existing homeowners or renters insurance policy to find out if it will provide coverage during a move.

      If you plan to move on your own with the help of family or friends, you will have to pay to rent a truck and fill it with gas, possibly more than once. Depending on the arrangement you work out, you may be expected to pay the people helping you or provide meals for them. If so, budget for those expenses.

      No matter how you handle the moving process, you will have to pack up your possessions. If you don’t have boxes or storage containers, you may be able to find some boxes online or from local businesses or borrow some from friends. If not, you’ll have to buy boxes or containers, along with tape, bubble wrap, furniture covers and other packing materials.

      You will have to clean out your current home before you leave. If you don’t want to deal with that stress on top of everything else, you can hire a professional cleaning crew. That may cost you hundreds of dollars, depending on the size of your house or apartment and the amount of cleaning required.

      If you can’t fit everything you own in your new house, or just want to avoid clutter, you may decide to rent a storage unit. Fees will depend on the size of the unit you choose and the amount of time you rent it.

      Budget for Things You Will Need Right After You Move in
      Before you move into your new home, contact the utility companies to make sure you will have water, electricity, internet, cable and other services working when you arrive. The companies that provide those services may charge one-time fees. 

      Transporting food can add to your overall bill, so it’s a good idea to use up as much as possible before moving day. Once you get to your new home, you will have to go grocery shopping. Expect the bill to be higher than usual. You may also order a lot of takeout in the first week after you move in. Factor those costs into your moving budget.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Should You Install Ceiling Fans in Your Home?

      25 May 2022

      Some homeowners love ceiling fans since they can improve air circulation, make a house more comfortable and keep utility bills down. Others think fans can detract from a room’s appearance and make it feel smaller. Consider your home’s design when deciding if you should install ceiling fans.

      Air Circulation
      In the summer, a ceiling fan can distribute air that has been cooled by an air conditioner. The breeze a fan creates can reduce the temperature in a room, which means you won’t have to rely on the AC so much for cooling. This can help you save money on your utility bills. In the winter, reversing the direction the blades spin can distribute warm air. 

      Lighting 
      If you choose a fan with one or more lights included, it can provide illumination that can spread throughout an entire room. This can help you avoid relying on several smaller lamps. If a fan has a light fixture, the movement of the fan blades across the light may, however, create shadows that may be distracting. 

      Noise
      Some ceiling fans create a sound that people find distracting and annoying. This is one reason why many homeowners have shied away from them. Manufacturers have addressed that issue, however, and many newer fans have improved designs that reduce or eliminate noise.

      Ceiling Height
      When deciding whether to install a ceiling fan, the height of a room is important. There should be seven to nine feet of space between fan blades and the floor. If the ceiling isn’t at least seven feet high, a fan will overwhelm the space and make it feel cramped. 

      Aesthetics
      Ceiling fans are designed for any room in the house and come in a wide range of styles. They have varying numbers of blades and a variety of blade lengths to suit spaces of different sizes. The blades can be crafted with several materials and come in a plethora of colors. You may be able to find the perfect model to enhance your home’s appearance while also providing functional benefits. 

      Are Ceiling Fans Right for Your Home?
      Some rooms in your house may benefit from ceiling fans, and others may not. If a room gets a lot of sunlight or has poor circulation, a ceiling fan may help, as long as the ceiling is high enough. Installing a fan may be a particularly good idea for a room where you and your family spend a lot of time. If you decide to install one or more ceiling fans in your home, look for ones that will complement each room’s design and decor.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Grocery Store Savings Hacks

      24 May 2022

      (Family Features) As people continue to eat more meals at home, shoppers everywhere are feeling the pinch of increasing prices on nearly every item at the grocery store. With almost one-third of Americans spending at least $100 per week on groceries, many are now looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality.

      In fact, 7 in 10 people (71%) are more likely to shop on a budget now than prior to the pandemic, according to a survey released by Malt-O-Meal, with parents being 21% more likely than non-parents.

      As you look for ways to save at the grocery store, consider these tactics:

      Create a Budget
      While you may have a number in mind you hope to spend weekly (or monthly) on groceries, it may not be sustainable. Start by determining how much you spend over the course of a few weeks and use that number to identify patterns in your spending and set a more accurate grocery budget. From there, it may be easier to find places to adjust, like buying certain items in bulk or switching to value brands.

      Make a List
      Creating a weekly meal plan and grocery list before you leave the house can reduce the chances of buying things you don’t need. Knowing exactly what you need for weekly meals and to replenish essentials – and sticking to that list – can help ensure you don’t spend money on products you won’t use.

      Seek Out Value
      The top two factors consumers prioritize when grocery shopping are quality (34%) and price (30%), according to the survey. To help save money on their weekly grocery bills while still buying high-quality products, one of the top tactics shoppers have used is purchasing food from value brands. One such option is bagged cereal from Malt-O-Meal, which is available in 36 ready-to-eat flavors so you can find a variety that appeals to each family member at an affordable price. With a commitment to quality and great taste, families can count on the wide selection packaged in resealable bags with a fun and colorful new look.

      “Our survey found cold cereal is the No. 1 choice for breakfast during busy mornings,” said Mike Porter, Malt-O-Meal brand director. “We’ve always been committed to providing top-quality cereal at an affordable price per serving. We know this is more important than ever right now as shoppers and their families strive to start their mornings with a convenient breakfast while keeping a close eye on the budget.”

      Shop Alone
      When shopping with other members of your family, like your children or significant other, the odds of straying from your list can increase. To help limit the chance of being coaxed into buying things you don’t actually need, go alone and stick to your list.

      Scan Sales Flyers
      Grocery stores run various promotions each week that can help you save on everything from meat and eggs to ice cream and other frozen foods. A simple way to save is checking the weekly ads at the grocery stores in your area. Shopping at a different store than usual may allow you to take advantage of different sales, and those items are often located in prominent areas of the store, like near the entrance or at the end of aisles, to make them easy to find.

      Use Rebate Apps
      While rebates don’t always provide the same up-front savings of some other methods, such as traditional coupons, you may see a greater savings in the long run. With a variety of free options out there, you can register and start earning cash back almost immediately. For greatest savings, pair rebate app savings with store loyalty discounts and credit card cash back rewards.

      Look for In-Season Produce
      When you’re shopping on a budget, sticking to in-season produce can get you the most bang for your buck. When fresh fruits and vegetables are out of season, stores typically charge more for them since they’re not as readily available. Planning your meals around in-season produce can not only help save money, but also put the best-tasting fruits and veggies on the table.

      Visit maltomeal.com for more affordable breakfast inspiration.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • When can You Handle Home Renovations Yourself and When Should You Hire a Contractor?

      24 May 2022

      Home renovations can be expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, you may be thinking about tackling some projects yourself. If you know what you’re doing and can do the job safely, that may be a good idea, but there are some renovations that should be left to professionals.

      Are You Qualified to Do the Job?
      There are plenty of projects, such as painting and replacing kitchen and bathroom fixtures, that you can handle yourself with little or no training. Watching an online video may be enough to teach you what you need to know. In some cases, however, you shouldn’t attempt a project unless you have received formal training.

      Plumbing is one example. You may be able to fix a leaky faucet, but if you want to move fixtures and don’t have the appropriate training, let a contractor or plumber handle it. If you make a mistake, your kitchen or bathroom may flood or cause a slow leak, which can cause structural damage or mold.

      Moving walls or creating an open floor plan is a project that should be left to a professional. If you remove a load-bearing wall and don’t adequately support the upper floor and roof, you may wind up with a disaster on your hands.

      Other types of work can pose a safety hazard to you or to others. Roof work is dangerous because of the risk of falling, not to mention potential damage to your house if you do it wrong. Any project that requires major electrical work, or that involves natural gas, should be entrusted to a licensed contractor.

      Can You Save Money by Doing the Work Yourself?
      If you don’t know what you’re doing and you make a mistake, you may have to hire a professional to fix the original issue, plus the additional problem that you created. You may wind up paying a lot more than it would have cost you to hire a contractor in the first place.

      Making a mistake when completing a home renovation can also come back to bite you when you sell your house. Shoddy work can be a red flag and may turn off potential buyers. 

      Perform a Cost-Benefit Analysis
      Request estimates from a few local contractors or use a website to get a ballpark cost for your planned project. Then, research prices for parts and estimate how long it would take you to do the work yourself, given your level of training and experience. If you would only be able to work on renovations in the evenings or on weekends, it could take you several weeks. A contractor could get it done much faster. Before starting a  project, ask yourself if you are equipped to handle it yourself or if it would be better to hire a professional.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.