- Profile: Beth is a practicing Realtor and Interactive Marketing Manager at Barrett & Company Real Estate in Concord, Massachusetts. She spends her days coaching home buyers and sellers through the intricacies of buying and selling property and training her fellow agents on the importance of and benefits to an online presence, most recently on Google+! Read more of her work on the Barrett Massachusetts real estate blog.
Beth has written 24 Articles:
Mmm…beer. 72 bottles of yummy, frothy goodness. And even better, this particular beer is one that I actually crafted, along with family and friends (including Andy at the Altar), with an actual recipe and ingredients like hops and malt and yeast, and a real live process of brewing and bottling at Incredibrew in Nashua, NH. It’s like homebrewing only better because you get to use professional equipment, have dozens of recipes and ingredients to choose from and they clean up all the mess!
We made two batches, one of Irish Red “Straight from the land of Smithwicks and Killkenny. Imported malts and yeast. A perfect balance of sweetness, flavor and aroma. An Irish Classic in a land of dark beers.” and another of Scotch Ale “This “wee-heavy” ale is dark, rich, complex, with distinctive malt sweetness and aroma. Selected English hops and yeast from Edinburgh.”
It’s a combination social event because you get to hang out with your group and it’s a learning experience where you find out what goes into beer making and then have the actual product to drink and enjoy. You don’t get the immediate satisfaction in being able to drink what you make that day as the beer needs to age, ferment, and condition for two weeks. But you do get to sample beers other people have made, using tried and true recipes, from the “take one, leave one” cooler. All the beer is bottled in 22 oz. bottles and you can get 5 or 6 good samples to share, using the tasting cups they provide. It works on the honor system so when you come back to bottle you pay back what you drink. Everything is labeled on the bottle cap with an abbreviation so you know what it is.
So once we decided on the recipes we wanted to make, with help from the friendly guys that staff the place, we measured and weighed the barley and grains and ground them up to go into a big fabric bag (like a tea bag for a giant)…
which goes into a big steam-fired copper kettle filled with filtered water, to soak and come to a boil.
We measured out the malt extracts and the glucose and added them to the kettle.
Then we measured out the hops and flavorings which were added in next.
Once the brewing is done, the contents of the kettle go into a big plastic barrel and active yeast gets added and over the next two weeks fermentation, cold aging, filtering and carbonation take place. Since they carbonate and chill it for you, the beer does not need to bottle condition and you can drink it right away.
The brewing process takes about 2 to 3 hours depending on what you’re making and how many other people are there brewing and bottling on that day. It’s best to make an appointment, especially on the weekends.
We already had bottles that had been used previously so bottling, which also takes a couple of hours, consisted of playing pirate and making sure there was no sediment in the bottom.
Then all the bottles go into the automatic bottle washers and our kegs were hooked up to the automatic fillers. Each batch make 13.5 gallons of beer which fills about 72 (22 ounce) bottles. You can trade with the other folks that are there for bottling or we even swapped a few out with what was in the cooler. Some folks show up like it’s a picnic or a party with chips and dips and snacks. Or we ordered a pizza from the place next door and enjoyed it while we bottled.
Once you own the bottles, the cost is about $5.00 per traditional six pack. You can custom design labels and the bottles are a great size to share with friends and also make a nice gift. People even use them as favors for weddings and birth announcements.
The experience was really fun, the fruits of our labor are quite tasty and I enjoy ordering different beers out at a bar or restaurant as I have a better educated understanding of what I like about beer and why.
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My favorite part of Christmas has always been the stockings. As a little kid I used to wake up early to marvel at the assortment of items that Santa so artfully arranged in and around my stocking, that sat on the piano bench at my aunt’s house, where we spent Christmas each year. As a grown-up I still like Christmas stockings best and like to give and receive useful, fun and intriguing stocking stuffers. So here’s my list of 9 standout stocking stuffers all for under $25 (and most are under $20!).
1. These Schatzii Smart Cloth Screen Cleaners are ultra chic, anti-bacterial, anti-static, machine washable ultra screen cleaners. You can use them for computer, tablet and phone screens plus they work on eyeglasses too. And if their cool designs aren’t enough, you can brand them with your own logo or custom artwork.
2. I can think of several friends that I bet would like to receive this Enduracool Instant Cooling Towel for when they play tennis, run road races, play soccer and more. The proprietary fabric has sustained cooling properties.
3. I’m not even as much of a shoe girl as many of my friends are but this Scotch Tape Shoe Dispenser is just too damn cute.
4. This Travel Surge Protector with USB Charger by Belkin is almost identical to one I carry in my computer bag and use when I am working from the road at my local library or coffee shop. It expands available outlets, charges my phone or tablet with my own micro USB cord and has the added bonus of surge protection.
5. It seems everybody is either a coffee fanatic or knows a couple dozen. And for the ones that have a brewing machine at home, this My K-Cup Reusable Filter will let them brew with their own coffee, while saving both money and the environment.
6. First it was chalkboard paint, now these Mini Chalkboard Wall Decals can create a chalkboard in an instant for shopping lists or notes. And each peel-and-stick wall decal is removable and reusable.
7. Some folks have a thing about soggy cereal and this Obol “The Original Crispy Bowl” is mainly marketed for how it separates the cereal from the milk. I love the other uses they show for it like keeping your chips and guacamole or soup and crackers conveniently together but apart.
8. This Flow Control Spray Nozzle by Nelson is so clever with its Ergo Easy Clik on/off button and seven spray patterns.
9. Lots of people love candles but sometimes kids or pets make having the ones that burn a real flame not the best thing to have around. That’s where these Flameless Candles from Inglow enter the picture. Lots of styles to choose from.
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I know that I should be eating more healthy. I know that, and I try. But sometimes I just give in and eat some of the things that I know are not doing me any favors but they just taste so good!! Sometimes you just need to have some good ol’ fried fish. When it comes to seafood, my preference is classic fried haddock and fried native Maine shrimp. And one of my all-time favorite places for both of these is at the Clam Box in Ipswich Massachusetts.
The Clam Box is a classic self-service New England fish shack. You order your food at the window to the kitchen and there is often a line out the door, wrapping its way towards the parking lot. On a recent early summer Saturday mid-afternoon, we stood in line for about 15 minutes before we got up to the window for our chance to place our order. This gave us time to figure out what we were going to order and in what portions. The Clam Box sells all types of fried seafood: clams, calamari, haddock and more and you can order as a “plate” which comes with your choice of two sides, french fries, onion rings or cole slaw, “mini meals” with one choice of side or “box” which is strictly the seafood item. Between 3 of us we ordered a haddock plate with fries and cole slaw and a native shrimp plate with onion rings and cole slaw. Definitely the right amount of food for 3, anymore would have been too much as the portions are so generous.
When we placed our order we were told the cooking would take about 12 minutes. And they were pretty much spot on, they have the cooking of things down to a science and it comes out just right every time. The haddock is light and flaky and the batter is sheer perfection. The shrimp are the teeny, tiny ones from Maine that almost melt in your mouth. The onion rings are good, the fries are better, the fish and shrimp were the stars. Cole slaw, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce all seem to be made in-house and are a perfect complement to the meal.
A few things you should know: The Clam Box has seating inside in a small dining room and outside on a good sized deck. They are not open all year long, usually closed for the winter months. They recently started taking credit and debit cards, which is a big bonus. They change their oil around 2:30 in the afternoon, which can take 15 minutes or so, plan your visit accordingly.
246 High Street
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one…a buyer, a seller and an appraiser walk into the same house…waiting for the punch line? All 3 of them have a different opinion of what the house is worth.
The best way to determine what a house is worth on the open market is to compare it to similar properties that have been recently sold. When a home goes on the market, the owner/seller may have emotional attachments to the house that cloud their vision when it comes to pricing the house for sale. It doesn’t matter what they purchased the house for, it doesn’t matter how much money they have put into it, it doesn’t matter what they think their own home is worth. It’s about what the market will bear.
When a buyer submits an offer to purchase a property, they need to take into consideration the location and condition of the house and compare it to similar properties that have sold very recently. They may see that a house has been listed for several months and think they can put in a low offer because the seller must want to get out of there, right? They may only WANT to pay a certain price for a house.
If a buyer is taking out a mortgage to purchase the property, the lender will order an appraisal to determine the property’s value. The appraiser views the house and then goes back and looks at…you guessed it…records of similar properties that have sold recently that are comparable to the subject property. The appraiser’s job is to help the bank determine if they are making a wise investment when they loan money to a buyer for a particular property.
What happens if the appraisal comes back lower than the price that has been agreed upon by the buyer and seller? It all depends on several factors…the amount of the discrepancy being a big one, the financial stability of the buyers is another, along with how the contract to purchase was written up. Let’s say the buyers and sellers have agreed on a sale price of $300,000. Suppose the appraisal comes back with a lesser value, for example, $290,000. Ways to resolve the difference:
- Seller and buyer could agree on a new sale price of $290,000
- Buyer could make up the difference by bringing an extra $10,000 to the deal, if they have the extra cash
- Real estate agents can provide a list of comparable sales that justify the original price and appeal to the underwriter to review the list
- Order a second appraisal, bearing in mind there is additional cost associated with it
Sometimes the seller and buyer can’t come to a new agreement and the deal falls apart. A smart buyer doesn’t want to overpay for the house and the seller may feel they have a chance to get other, higher offers. Every situation is different but whether you are the buyer or the seller in the deal, remember that the appraiser is involved in the transaction as well.
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There is no escaping it, the holidays are fast approaching. Christmas tree stands are popping up in parking lots, at least 2 Boston area radio stations are playing all holiday music, all the time. And we are very excited that the smokestack Christmas tree at the Wannalancit Mill in Lowell, Massachusetts will shine again this year. The 270 foot “tree” will be illuminated during this weekend’s City of Lights Parade and Holiday Arts Stroll.
Amidst the festive spirit, there is often a looming question in the minds of home sellers and real estate agents alike. Should I keep my home listed on the market during the holidays? Or a slight variation for would-be sellers, should I wait until Spring to list my house? This question comes up often at our office sales meetings and the answer is that there is no single answer, but current market activity is a good place to look. Laurie Cadigan, our broker at Barrett & Company, provided some insight:
“Judging from the activity and offers happening on our listings over the past 30 days, I believe we will see an uptick in accepted offers this year compared to the last few. It appears there are serious, qualified buyers out in the market right now.” Read More »
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“What are my closing costs going to be?” is a very common question for homebuyers to ask, whether first timers or those who have bought before. According to a survey by bankrate.com, closing costs in Massachusetts on a $200,000 loan average $4,244 or 2.1%. That is a 5.2% increase over 2010 costs. The 2011 national average of $4,070 has gone up 8.8% from 2010 when the average closing costs totaled $3,741. New York has the highest costs, while Massachusetts is the 15th costliest state.
It should be noted that the bankrate.com survey does not include taxes and government fees such as documentary stamps, which can differ between cities and counties. It also omits escrow and prepaid items, which will vary by what day in the month and what month in the year you have your closing.
Many lenders and mortgage professionals claim that origination fees have increased because of stricter mortgage regulations that the government has implemented in the last two years.
“New regulations require more staffing and cost more money,” says Jason Auerbach, division manager of First Choice Loan Services in New York City.
Auerbach says some of the “new” regulations — which vary from having to take extra steps to verify a borrower’s income and employment to disclosure forms and licensing-related matters — have been in place for a couple of years already, but the mortgage industry takes them more seriously now. New forms and regulations that are still in discussion are influencing lenders already.
Fees will vary from lender to lender. While some of the items included in your closing costs, such as appraisals and credit reports, aren’t really negotiable, origination fees can vary widely. It’s important to compare good faith estimates, or GFEs, from each bank or mortgage broker.
And if you need suggestions for great mortgage brokers, please let me know.
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People seem to be decorating for Halloween more and more each year, I like to think of it as a costume for your house. Some people go with cute pumpkins or happy ghosts while others go for the zombie crawling out of the ground and animated coffins ready to make you jump.
Was just out and about with my sister, enjoying an absolutely amazing Columbus Day weekend. The weather with temps in the 80s and no humidity, was the kind you wish you could bottle and take out as needed, come next February. We saw lots of houses and yards already decorated for Halloween. One we drove by had over 50 witches, black cats, cauldrons, you name it. The kind you know the neighbors are sick of looking at after about 5 minutes. My sister said, “It looks like Halloween threw up there”.
I think most people are going for the haunted house look. I just did a search for “outdoor Halloween decorations” that brought up results, heavy on the spooky and creepy like “Hanging Bloody Zombie Torso” and “Skull on Jaws with Two Hands Prop”. We saw everything from flying bats to inflatable graveyard scenes. One house that we happened to see, was a side by side duplex, and was completely, and I mean completely, covered in that fake spiderweb stuff. I said to my sister, “At least they did the whole house. Nothing looks as stupid as half a duplex covered in spiders and webs and the other…” Before I got to finish the sentence, we saw one halfway up the same block, the left side swathed in fake cobwebs, the right side neat as a pin. My favorite part of all was the very real “For Sale” sign on the lawn in front of the right half. As if the neighbors just couldn’t stand it for another 5 minutes.
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