Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What To Do In Lexington MA During COVID-19

While we safely stay home in Lexington MA during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of local ways to keep busy. As your Lexington MA real estate agent, here’s a guide I put together.

Support your favorite local businesses. Check out this list, which shows which Lexington MA businesses have takeout, delivery or both. There is also a list of shops, which may have online shopping options. Call and ask how to best support them!

Cary Library has all sorts of virtual offerings, such as book clubs, crafting clubs, storytimes, movie discussions and more. They also have tons of eBooks and digital media to enjoy. The Lexington MA rec department has virtual fitness, sports, attractions, kid learning and more. This week is Spirit Week, where you can share themed photos each day with your community!

Help your community. Donate to the Fund for Lexington, which will be exclusively dedicated to those impacted by COVID-19 until Sept. 1, 2020. You can also donate food to local food pantries, donate books to the More Than Words bin at the Composting Facility, and donate household goods to the Goodwill trailer at the corner of Bedford and Worthen. It’s a great time to spring clean!

We’re in this together! Reach out to family and friends, stay connected virtually as much as possible. If you have Lexington MA real estate needs this spring, contact me, your Lexington MA real estate agent! Real estate never stops. Let’s discuss your needs virtually and see what we can do.
  
Theresa D'Antuono

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Deep Cleaning Your Lexington Home


We all know those cleaning tasks we avoid until it’s absolutely necessary – when the oven makes smoke signals, or the inside of the microwave looks like your kids finger painting project. While it may be greasy, the payoff is huge. So, stop putting those deep cleaning tasks aside! Molly Maids offers this advice below.


What Do I Need to Deep Clean My Home?
  • Disposable rags, scrub pads or towels that you don’t mind throwing away
  • Two buckets: one for the dirty/greasy water and another for fresh clean water
  • Your favorite degreaser, dish soap and disinfectant spray
  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • An abrasive scrub pad
  • A spray bottle with 1:1 vinegar and water
  • A scrub brush or an old toothbrush


Deep Cleaning the Entire Home
Dust and vacuum: Hard-to-reach ledges, windows, light fixtures and above cabinets. Basically, all the places that are too hard to reach during your normal cleaning routine. Break out the stepladder! Just be careful.

Faucets: De-scale faucets / showerheads throughout the home with vinegar. Clean out aerators.

Vent Covers: Remove HVAC vent covers and wash them in the sink with warm soapy water.

Windows: Vacuum windowsills and window tracks. Remove cobwebs and bugs from window screens

Ceiling Fans: Wipe down ceiling fan blades.

Carpet: Spot clean stains on carpet and upholstery.

Doors: Wipe down doors and doorframes for fingerprints and smudges.

Garbage Cans: Wipe out and sanitize garbage cans, recycling bins and wastebaskets.

Blinds: Give your blinds a deep clean by spraying them with vinegar and scrubbing them down.

Couch & Chairs: Remove all cushions and vacuum the creases where pet hair and popcorn love to call home. Also, move the couch to clean underneath it and behind it if it sits against a wall.

Cabinets/Drawers: Empty cabinets and drawers one at a time and give them a vacuum and wipe with a clean wet rag or your favorite cleaning spray. Wipe down all cabinet faces as well.

How to Deep Clean the Kitchen

Oven: Before you crank up the heat on your “self-cleaning” oven, let’s get out all the stuff that can be a fire hazard. Learn the best way to clean an oven from the Molly Maid blog. Now that all the baked-on food is gone, you can clean the wire racks.

Stovetop: Remove the pot grates from the stovetop and soak in hot soapy water. If you have an electric oven, you can remove/unplug the coils to make cleaning easier. Some oven/cooktops have a slide-out tray beneath the burners to catch food – don’t forget this! Scrub down all surfaces and control knobs with a soapy sponge and then a clean wet rag. Don’t forget the hood fan and the hood fan filter.

Microwave: Before you grease that elbow, loosen the food splatters with lemon and vinegar. If your microwave is tucked into an enclave in the cabinets, or on the countertop, don’t forget to remove it to clean underneath/around it. Use glass cleaner for the microwave face and keypad.

Toaster: Remove the fire hazard (also known as breadcrumbs) in the bottom of your toaster.

Refrigerator/Freezer: Read more about how to clean a refrigerator / freezer. Don’t forget the rubber gasket around the door seals; clean these with warm soapy water and then disinfect. Use this time to throw away expired items.

Sink: This seems like a no-brainer, but after all that cleaning, your kitchen sink is going to be filthy. Wipe it out with hot soapy water, paying attention to the crevices in the backsplash, and around the faucet. A disinfectant spray with bleach can help with stubborn stains.

Dishwasher: Use baking soda and vinegar to clean your dishwasher to remove soap residue and build up that accumulates over time. Just run it empty with a cup of vinegar and ½ cup baking soda.

Deep Cleaning the Bathroom

Grout: White grout can really brighten the appearance of a bathroom. There are many special grout cleaners to make this deep cleaning job easier.

Shower Curtain: Wash your linen shower curtain if it’s washing machine safe. For the plastic curtain behind the linen one, you can either clean it or replace it. They’re cheap and usually cleaning can be difficult.

Toilet:  Wipe all surfaces. Pay attention to the base and behind it as well.





Thursday, March 19, 2020

What to Know About the Spring Equinox


In 2020, the spring equinox (also called the March equinox or vernal equinox) falls on Thursday, March 19, which is earlier than it’s been in over a century! This event marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. 


THE EARLIEST SPRING IN MORE THAN 100 YEARS
If you’re as calendar-obsessed as we are, you may have noticed something odd about this year’s spring equinox date. That’s right—it’s earlier than usual! But that’s a bit of an understatement.
For much of the last century, the spring equinox has occurred on March 20 or 21. This year, however, the equinox happens on the 19th in all U.S. time zones, making it the earliest spring we’ll have seen in our lives (so far). The last time spring arrived this early was in 1896—a whopping 124 years ago! 

Naturally, this leads to some important questions, like: Why is the equinox so early this year? Will the date keep shifting earlier and earlier? Will the equinox ever be on March 21 again? 

WHEN IS THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING?
In the Northern Hemisphere, spring begins with the March equinox, which may occur on March 19, 20, or 21. (In the Southern Hemisphere, the March equinox marks the start of autumn, while the September equinox marks the start of spring.)

Year
Spring Equinox (Northern Hemisphere)
2020
Thursday, March 19, at 11:50 P.M. EDT
2021
Saturday, March 20, at 5:37 A.M. EDT
2022
Sunday, March 20, at 11:33 A.M. EDT
2023
Monday, March 20, at 5:24 P.M. EDT

WHAT DOES “EQUINOX” MEAN, EXACTLY?
The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night). 
On the equinox, the length of day and night is nearly equal in all parts of the world. 

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE MARCH EQUINOX?
 On the March Equinox, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north. It’s called the “celestial equator”  because it’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator.
If you were standing on the equator, the Sun would pass directly overhead on its way north. 
Equinoxes are the only two times a year that the Sun rises due east and sets due west for all of us on Earth!

While the Sun passes overhead, the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. (Note, however, that the Earth never orbits upright, but is always tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees.)
After the spring equinox, the Northern Hemisphere tilts toward the Sun, which is why we start to get longer, sunnier days.





Monday, March 9, 2020

Homeownership Skyrockets in Lexington MA!

Lexington MA Homeownership Increases
Even with a lower-than-average inventory of homes for sale, the homeownership rate has skyrocketed across the U.S.! As your Lexington MA real estate agent, I am here to tell you that if you’d like to buy a Lexington home, now is the time to do it. Don’t get left behind!
The United States Census Bureau reported that the homeowership rate increased to 65.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, the highest level in the past six years.
Reasons for this include the millennial generation hitting the housing market in full force, low mortgage rates making it more affordable for homebuyers, the knowledge that homeownership is a great investment option for the future, and the continued desire of Americans to own their own home.
Ready to buy in the Lexington MA real estate market? Give me a call, your Lexington MA real estate agent! I’m here to help!
Theresa D'Antuono

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Wilson Farm March Events



FARMER'S BREAKFAST
MARCH 14th &15th • 10:00am to 2:00pm

Join us on March 14th & 15th from 10:00am - 2:00pm for our Annual Farmer's Breakfast to support Team Wilson Farm for the Pan Mass Challenge.
Hop from table to table and indulge on delicious breakfast items fresh from Wilson Farm as well as our amazing local vendors. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and this event is not one to miss!

All items will be $1/each and tickets will be available for purchase at the door. (1 ticket = 1 item.) ** Cash Only **
All beverages will be FREE!



SPRING FLORAL ARRANGEMENT CLASS
MARCH 19th • 5:30pm

Grab your friends and join us on Thursday March 19th at 5:30PM for our Spring Flower Workshop. Learn how to make a beautiful Spring Arrangement in a stylish wooden box vase.
Tickets are just $50/per person and includes everything you will need to create your arrangement.
Light snacks will be provided.

Reserve your space today 781-862-3900!



Wednesday, February 26, 2020

8 Quirky Facts about Leap Years



As you know 2020 is a Leap year. What are you going to do with your "extra" day this year? Below are some fun facts about this interesting day.

1. The rule: Leap Day happens every four years unless it doesn’t
The point of leap years is to help adjust our Gregorian calendar (aka, the 365-day calendar you can find on your desk or phone) to the solar calendar, and make sure we celebrate solar events like the spring and autumn equinoxes with some regularity every year. Even adding an extra day to February every four years doesn’t quite do the trick, which is why scientists sometimes call for a Leap Second like they did in 2015 on June 30th at 11:59:60 pm.
How do you remember if it’s a leap year? Simple: If the last two digits of the year are divisible by four (e.g. 2016, 2020, 2024…) then it’s a leap year. Century years are the exception to this rule. They must be divisible by 400 to be leap years—so, 2000 and 2400 are leap years, but 2100 will not be one. As a bonus, U.S. leap years almost always coincide with election years.

2. What’s crazier than February 29th? A woman proposing to a man, says history.
You’re not the only one who thinks leap years are silly. After Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian calendar in 1582, the idea of adding February 29th every four years seemed so ridiculous that a British play joked it was a day when women should trade their dresses for “breeches” and act like men. The play was meant as satire, but some early feminists must have been inspired; by the 1700s, women were using Leap Day to propose to the men in their lives. The tradition—now called Bachelor’s Day or Sadie Hawkins Day—peaked in the early 1900s and continues today in the UK, where some retailers even offer discount packages to women popping the question.

3. The Salem witchcraft trials are connected to Leap Day
If we’re looking at history a bit closer to home in the United States, then we should focus on Massachusetts. The Salem witchcraft trials weren’t a fun time in colonial America. There was a particularly negative connection with Leap Day. The first warrants for arrest went out on February 29th, 1692 for the Salem witchcraft trials

4. It’s rare to be born on Leap Day…but what about dying on Leap Day, too? 
According to the World Heritage Encyclopedia, in the 1800s, the British-born James Milne Wilson, who later became the eighth premier of Tasmania,  was born on a leap day and died on a leap day. Wilson died on February 29th, 1880, on his “17th” birthday, or aged 68 in regular years.

5. What do Tony Robbins and Gioachino Rossini have in common?
They are both extremely successful in their respective fields—but more to the point, they were both born on February 29th. The odds of being born on February 29th are 1 in 1,461, which makes it particularly rare for one leapling, as they are called, to meet another
Rarer still is the possibility that three children in the same family would be born on three consecutive Leap Days, but that’s exactly what happened with the Henriksen family of Norway. Heidi Henriksen was born on 2/29/1960, her brother Olav four years later on 2/29/64, and baby Leif-Martin four years after that on 2/29/68. According to many government agencies, the siblings would not legally be considered a year older until March 1st on non-leap years, but in 2020, we can officially say, “Happy Actual Birthday, leaplings!”

6. There is an official Leap Day cocktail
And it’s called…the Leap Day Cocktail! This colorful cousin of the martini was invented by pioneering bartender Harry Craddock at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1928. According to the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, “It is said to have been responsible for more proposals than any other cocktail ever mixed” (see: Sadie Hawkins Day above). Whether or not you’re in the market for a freshly soused spouse, you can make your own Leap Day cocktail with Craddock’s original recipe:
1 dash lemon juice
2/3 gin
1/6 Grand Marnier
1/6 sweet vermouth
Shake, serve, garnish with a lemon peel, and enjoy the flood of bittersweet flavors. It’s like a marriage, in your mouth!

7. Not thirsty? Celebrate Leap Day with travel deals.
How does one celebrate a holiday that’s not really a holiday? By shopping, obviously. Many businesses observe the rarity of Leap Day by offering massive deals. Take a minute to check in with any restaurants, hotels, or cruise lines you’ve been curious about; chances are, they have a promotion running.

8. Is February 29th good luck or bad luck? Depends on who you ask!
According to an old Scottish aphorism, “leap year was ne’er a good sheep year.” The superstition that Leap Days are particularly lucky or unlucky has been debated through history and across cultures, and there’s still no clear winner. For one thing, it’s bad luck if you’re a prisoner on a one-year sentence that spans a Leap Day. Also, bad news if you work on a fixed annual salary; no extra pay for that extra day. On the other hand, Leap Day is great luck if you’re on a fixed monthly rent (one free day of living!).



Friday, February 21, 2020

How to Take a Home Office Tax Deduction When You Work From Home



Of all the tax breaks available, the home office tax deduction is among the murkiest and most misunderstood. And the passage of the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has made things even more complicated.

So if you work at home like I do as a Realtor on most days, what should you do? Allow us to explain exactly who can take the home office tax deduction these days. Here's what you need to know before filing this year.

Who can claim the home office tax deduction?
We've got some good news and bad news. The bad news? In years past, if you worked for a company (and received a W-2) but worked from home occasionally or full-time, you could claim a home office tax deduction. But not anymore.

"There is a major change to the home office deduction: It is no longer available for company employees," says Bill Abel, tax manager at Sensiba San Filippo in Boulder, CO. "This has many remote employees frustrated."

But there is a ray of hope for these W-2 telecommuters. You could see if your employer will allow you to change your work status from an employee to an independent contractor (also discuss this option with a tax adviser), which would allow you to continue taking this deduction. Consider the pros and cons of such a move beyond just the tax benefits, however.
Another small loophole also exists, if your employer is willing to play along: Just ask your employer to set up what's called an "accountable plan."

For example, instead of being paid $100,000, your employer could pay you $95,000 in wages plus a $5,000 home office expense reimbursement, making your salary the same—while saving you more on taxes.

As for the good news? If you're one of the 40 million or so people out there who are self-employed—from business owners to bloggers—you can still continue to take this deduction.

How to take a home office deduction if you're self-employed
If you're self-employed, you have every right to take a home office tax deduction, but that's not to say it's easy.

In a nutshell, you'll be writing off part of your home expenses on your tax return by separating out the costs associated with using your home for personal purposes (making pancakes) and business (answering work email).

To claim the deduction, an area of your home has to be designated as your principal place of business, and—the clincher—used exclusively for work. Everything in that designated space needs to be for work purposes only.

What makes an office an office?
To be clear, that room you work in which doubles as a guest room when mom visits won't pass muster, even if you spend 40 hours a week there, says Abby Eisenkraft, a financial expert and author of "101 Ways to Stay Off the IRS Radar." So if you really want to do things right, have mom sleep on the couch!

If, say, your desk is parked in a corner of your bedroom or part of an open floor plan, simply measure the space you use for your office, whether or not there are walls.

The key is that the area must be used only by you, just for work—not to peck out personal email. To make that delineation easier, you can even put up a physical barrier like a partition or shelves.
And according to the IRS, an office can also be a "separate free-standing structure, such as a studio, garage, or barn."

How to claim a home office tax deduction
The IRS offers two ways to calculate a home office tax deduction, one simple, the other a bit more involved, says Jeff Morris, accounting partner at Nathaniel Jacobson, serving Maryland and Washington, DC.

The simple method: Figure out the square footage of your home that you use for business purposes. Each square foot you use for work is worth $5, and you can claim up to 300 square feet, for a maximum annual claim of $1,500, says Morris.

The complicated method: Track all the costs of your home (think maintenance, insurance, repairs, utilities, etc.) and depreciation (normal wear and tear).

Next, separate and allocate those expenses based on the percentage of the home you use solely for business purposes. So if your office space breaks down to 10% of your home's total square footage, you can deduct 10% of your home costs—which could add up to a sizable chunk of change. The key to using this deduction is keeping careful records.

Isn't the home office tax deduction a red flag for an audit?
Nope. In fact, the IRS simplified their method of measuring out your office space to take the audit scare out of the home office tax deduction.

"This might surprise some people, given the fear of an audit that the home office deduction used to strike in the hearts of many taxpayers," says Morris.

The reality is that the deduction is becoming increasingly common, and it doesn't make a taxpayer any more susceptible to an audit than any other deduction a small-business owner may take.

Written by Margaret Heidenry, a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine. Full Article



Wednesday, February 12, 2020

2020 Lexington Rec Summer Jobs



The Lexington Recreation and Community Programs Department hires approximately 200 seasonal employees and a large number of volunteers each summer and we welcome your interest in our department. We have several job opening for summer 2020.

The following pages provide a brief description of positions available, qualifications required for each position, starting pay, and approximate dates. Please check your schedule in advance as each position requires a time commitment.

Applicants applying for the first time must submit the Recreation and Community Programs application which can be found here:https://www.lexingtonma.gov/recreation-community-programs/jobs-and-volunteering no later than March 1, 2020. 

All applications received by the deadline will be reviewed. Qualified applicants will be contacted for an interview and scheduled to meet with department staff in February or March. Late applications will be held, should positions still need to be filled. Dates and times advertised for positions are subject to change.

All staff (returning and new) must attend a mandatory pre-season staff orientation. Orientations are held in May and/or June based on the position and program/facility you may be assigned to.

781-698-4800
recdept@lexingt onm a.gov www.lexingt onm a.gov/recreation
THE TOWN OF LEXINGTON IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER





Search For Lexington Area Homes For Sale

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Time To Sell Your Lexington MA Home Is Now!

Lexington MA Home Sellers
When sellers consider the best time to sell their Lexington MA home, many conclude that spring is the best time to sell, because both sellers and buyers come out of hibernation mode after winter and the market picks up steam! However, as your Lexington MA real estate agent, I’m here to tell you that right now might be the best time to sell.

In 2019, February had the most monthly views per listing on realtor.com. Because inventory is low, it can take more time than usual for buyers to find a home. Therefore, they start earlier! This is especially true when mortgage rates are low, like now.

Since most sellers still think spring is the best time to sell, winter inventory is lower than usual. The best time to sell is when competition is low and buyers are eager, and that time is now!

When ready to begin on the home-selling process in the Lexington real estate market, give me a call, your Lexington real estate agent. I am here and ready to help!

Theresa D'Antuono

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

HGTV 2020 Dream Home

Introducing the HGTV 2020 Dream Home 



This coastal escape is located on Hilton Head Island, SC. This timeless style home and detached garage were given a distinctive look. “The exterior stands out from most of the houses here because it’s painted a really calming shade of blue, with navy-blue shutters, all white trim and a charcoal shingle roof. 




This home offers many special features and plenty of space for your entire family. Enjoy, bonus space upstairs, game room, screened porches, pool and outdoor living space. It is the perfect home to entertain. Click here to see all the picture, rules and information about this beautiful home.

Enter daily, once at HGTV.com and once at DIYNetwork.com, for your chance to win HGTV Dream Home 2020, a grand-prize package valued at over $2 million.




Sign up to receive daily reminders to enter HGTV Dream Home® 2020 twice online per day.