Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A History of the New Year

The celebration of the New Year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. The earliest recording of a New Year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.
Early Roman Calendar: March 1st Rings in the New Year
The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the New Year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the New Year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for "seven," octo is "eight," novem is "nine," and decem is "ten."
January Joins the Calendar
The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.
Julian Calendar: January 1st Officially Instituted as the New Year
In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. The Julian calendar decreed that the new year would occur with January 1, and within the Roman world, January 1 became the consistently observed start of the new year.
Middle Ages: January 1st Abolished
In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.
Gregorian Calendar: January 1st Restored
In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year's day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire —and their American colonies— still celebrated the New Year in March.
For more New Year's features see New Year's Traditions and Saying "Happy New Year!" Around the World.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Around the World

Christmas as we know it today is a Victorian invention of the 1860s. Probably the most celebrated holiday in the world, our modern Christmas is a product of hundreds of years of both secular and religious traditions from around the globe. Discover the origins of Christmas traditions from around the world, like the Yule log, caroling and how Christmas is celebrated “Down Under.”

Most people in Scandinavian countries honor St. Lucia (also known as St. Lucy) each year on December 13. The celebration of St. Lucia Day began in Sweden, but had spread to Denmark and Finland by the mid-19th century.

Did You Know?
Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.

In these countries, the holiday is considered the beginning of the Christmas season and, as such, is sometimes referred to as “little Yule.” Traditionally, the oldest daughter in each family rises early and wakes each of her family members, dressed in a long, white gown with a red sash, and wearing a crown made of twigs with nine lighted candles. For the day, she is called “Lussi” or “Lussibruden (Lucy bride).” The family then eats breakfast in a room lighted with candles.

Any shooting or fishing done on St. Lucia Day was done by torchlight, and people brightly illuminated their homes. At night, men, women, and children would carry torches in a parade. The night would end when everyone threw their torches onto a large pile of straw, creating a huge bonfire. In Finland today, one girl is chosen to serve as the national Lucia and she is honored in a parade in which she is surrounded by torchbearers.

Light is a main theme of St. Lucia Day, as her name, which is derived from the Latin word lux, means light. Her feast day is celebrated near the shortest day of the year, when the sun’s light again begins to strengthen. Lucia lived in Syracuse during the fourth century when persecution of Christians was common. Unfortunately, most of her story has been lost over the years. According to one common legend, Lucia lost her eyes while being tortured by a Diocletian for her Christian beliefs. Others say she may have plucked her own eyes out to protest the poor treatment of Christians. Lucia is the patron saint of the blind.

Many Finns visit the sauna on Christmas Eve. Families gather and listen to the national “Peace of Christmas” radio broadcast. It is customary to visit the gravesites of departed family members.

Norway is the birthplace of the Yule log. The ancient Norse used the Yule log in their celebration of the return of the sun at winter solstice. “Yule” came from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth. Ever wonder why the family fireplace is such a central part of the typical Christmas scene? This tradition dates back to the Norse Yule log. It is probably also responsible for the popularity of log-shaped cheese, cakes, and desserts during the holidays.

Decorating evergreen trees had always been a part of the German winter solstice tradition. The first “Christmas trees” explicitly decorated and named after the Christian holiday, appeared in Strasbourg, in Alsace in the beginning of the 17th century. After 1750, Christmas trees began showing up in other parts of Germany, and even more so after 1771, when Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited Strasbourg and promptly included a Christmas tree is his novel, The Suffering of Young Werther. In the 1820s, the first German immigrants decorated Christmas trees in Pennsylvania. After Germany’s Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, he introduced the Christmas tree tradition to England. In 1848, the first American newspaper carried a picture of a Christmas tree and the custom spread to nearly every home in just a few years.

In 1828, the American minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, brought a red-and-green plant from Mexico to America. As its coloring seemed perfect for the new holiday, the plants, which were called poinsettias after Poinsett, began appearing in greenhouses as early as 1830. In 1870, New York stores began to sell them at Christmas. By 1900, they were a universal symbol of the holiday.
In Mexico, paper mache sculptures called pinatas are filled with candy and coins and hung from the ceiling. Children then take turns hitting the pinata until it breaks, sending a shower of treats to the floor. Children race to gather as much of of the loot as they can.

An Englishman named John Calcott Horsley helped to popularize the tradition of sending Christmas greeting cards when he began producing small cards featuring festive scenes and a pre-written holiday greeting in the late 1830s. Newly efficient post offices in England and the United States made the cards nearly overnight sensations. At about the same time, similar cards were being made by R.H. Pease, the first American card maker, in Albany, New York, and Louis Prang, a German who immigrated to America in 1850.

Celtic and Teutonic peoples had long considered mistletoe to have magic powers. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility. Celts hung mistletoe in their homes in order to bring themselves good luck and ward off evil spirits. During holidays in the Victorian era, the English would hang sprigs of mistletoe from ceilings and in doorways. If someone was found standing under the mistletoe, they would be kissed by someone else in the room, behavior not usually demonstrated in Victorian society.

Plum pudding is an English dish dating back to the Middle Ages. Suet, flour, sugar, raisins, nuts, and spices are tied loosely in cloth and boiled until the ingredients are “plum,” meaning they have enlarged enough to fill the cloth. It is then unwrapped, sliced like cake, and topped with cream.
Caroling also began in England. Wandering musicians would travel from town to town visiting castles and homes of the rich. In return for their performance, the musicians hoped to receive a hot meal or money.

In the United States and England, children hang stockings on their bedpost or near a fireplace on Christmas Eve, hoping that it will be filled with treats while they sleep. In Scandinavia, similar-minded children leave their shoes on the hearth. This tradition can be traced to legends about Saint Nicholas. One legend tells of three poor sisters who could not marry because they had no money for a dowry. To save them from being sold by their father, St. Nick left each of the three sisters gifts of gold coins. One went down the chimney and landed in a pair of shoes that had been left on the hearth. Another went into a window and into a pair of stockings left hanging by the fire to dry.

In France, Christmas is called Noel. This comes from the French phrase les bonnes nouvelles, which means “the good news” and refers to the gospel.
In southern France, some people burn a log in their homes from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. This stems from an ancient tradition in which farmers would use part of the log to ensure good luck for the next year’s harvest.

Italians call Chrismas Il Natale, meaning “the birthday.”

In Australia, the holiday comes in the middle of summer and it’s not unusual for some parts of Australia to hit 100 degrees Farenheit on Christmas day.
During the warm and sunny Australian Christmas season, beach time and outdoor barbecues are common. Traditional Christmas day celebrations include family gatherings, exchanging gifts and either a hot meal with ham, turkey, pork or seafood or barbeques.

Ukrainians prepare a traditional twelve-course meal. A family’s youngest child watches through the window for the evening star to appear, a signal that the feast can begin.

Most Canadian Christmas traditions are very similar to those practiced in the United States. In the far north of the country, the Eskimos celebrate a winter festival called sinck tuck, which features parties with dancing and the exchanging of gifts.

In Greece, many people believe in kallikantzeri, goblins that appear to cause mischief during the 12 days of Christmas. Gifts are usually exchanged on January 1, St. Basil’s Day.

A manger scene is the primary decoration in most southern European, Central American, and South American nations. St. Francis of Assisi created the first living nativity in 1224 to help explain the birth of Jesus to his followers.

According to reports by Captain John Smith, the first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in his 1607 Jamestown settlement. Nog comes from the word grog, which refers to any drink made with rum.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ideas for a Low-Key Lexington Holiday

Do you get so wrapped up in the holiday tradition that every surface of your Lexington home is adorned?
"People tend to do all these elaborate things year after year. But each year you add a new thing, each year you have a new chore," says Tracey McBride, author of "Frugal Luxuries by the Season: Celebrate the Holidays with Elegance and Simplicity."
If holiday decorating is bringing out the Grinch in you, then perhaps it's time to pare down.

Spreading the spirit outdoors
Bob Pranga, known as Dr. Christmas, the holiday decorator for Candice Bergen, Jaclyn Smith, Andy Garcia and, in years past, Madonna, says the glitterati is not known for elegant simplicity. "Very few people here are minimalists," he says of his celebrity clients.
Truth be told, neither are most non-celebrities, either. "I find the smaller the yards, the more they put in them," Pranga laughs.

Those who decorate for others, however, know that impact, not inundation, works just as well.
"I do one wreath on the peak of the house, one on the front door and two spotlights. I'm done in 15 minutes, and it looks great," says Becky Shearn of Decorating Den Interiors in West Chester, Ohio.
Instead of unpacking every last box of lights and baubles this year, give one or two of these low-key ideas a try.

Hang simple wreaths with red bows every few feet. If you have a fence in the front, a well-placed garland may be all you need, Pranga says.

Wrap a garland or red ribbon around a street-side mailbox, a lamppost or a big tree in your front yard. In North Palm Beach, Fla., Christopher James of Christopher's Creative Designs is usually exhausted after decorating homes for folks like Rush Limbaugh. At his own home, he does little more than add red ribbons around the necks of the decorative resin geese in his front yard.
Skip stringing lights on every eave and bush. McBride puts them only on the arbor in front of her house. You could just do the perimeter hedges in front of your home. If you want to light your foliage but hate the hassle, look for the new net-style lights that drape over your shrubs or wrap easily around trees.

Shine one or two colored floodlights on the branches of a tree or on a single, large decoration in your yard. Or choose a yard decoration that lights up by itself: a '50s-style plastic Santa or candles or a pair of wire reindeer pre-wrapped with mini white lights.
Confine your spirit to the front door. Flank the door with two small lighted pine or rosemary trees, or lean a big sled with a bow next to your entry.

Making the most inside
When you want to dress up a woman's outfit, you don't haul out every piece of jewelry and wear every shade of makeup. A few choice pieces make all the difference. Your Lexington house is no different.

"The simpler you keep it, the stronger the message," says Sarah Boyer Jenkins, FASID, an interior designer in Chevy Chase, Md. One or more of these ideas is all you need this year.

Consider your tree, mantelpiece and wreath as the "Garanimals of Christmas," as Pranga puts it. Match those three and "that's all you really need," he says. Tie them together visually by keeping the accessories the same. If you have a red ribbon on your wreath, use the same on your tree and mantel, too.

Stick with a theme. "If you do all white and gold or all nutcrackers, it makes it simpler because it helps you eliminate, and keeps you from getting sidetracked," McBride says.
Skip the towering tree. Use a small tabletop tree, or put baskets of presents around a skirted table with a crche or other focal point on top. Make the mantel an eye-catcher with a swag of greenery and some ornaments or pinecones placed atop. One of Shearn's favorites is a reindeer candelabra with tiny ball candles on the antlers.

Pair electrical candles with red ribbons around the pots of your existing houseplants, and you have the simplest holiday decorations ever. Or simply put electric candles in the windows. "They show inside as well as out," Jenkins says."

Cut last year's taper candles to different lengths and wrap them together with a raffia bow for an instant pillar look, James suggests. Holiday greenery and some pillar candles on a mirrored tray or pretty platter work nicely on the dining table, too.

Keep your table free for food; swag greenery on the arms of your chandelier. Dangle a few holiday balls or decorations from each arm with fishing line or sturdy thread.

Add lights. McBride adds twinkling white lights to one window treatment each year. She's also tucked lights around the mirror in her bathroom for instant holiday appeal.

Let the decorations come to you. Swag a thin faux garland on a bare wall or over a room entry, and clip Christmas cards along it as they arrive. Jenkins suggests putting a pretty basket with a red bow on your coffee table and filling it with incoming holiday greetings.

Cook your decorations. Leave your boxes in the basement, bake sugar cookies using a straw to poke a hole before baking. Tie them up on the tree or around the house. "Then you don't have to worry if your 2-year-old grabs an ornament," McBride says.

Some final thoughts
Track down a Christmas decorator, such as Dr. Christmas or Christopher James, if lack of time is the only factor. They put it all up and take it all down.

Avoid the temptation to overdo it by paring down your decorations. Have a yard sale, or take them to a consignment shop. Use the proceeds to buy presents.

Steer clear enticing stores with great Christmas ideas until after the holidays. "That way, you won't feel compelled to copy all those gorgeous displays," Jenkins says.
Leave town. "Go visit someone else's house, and let them do the work," James jokes.
Sourced from: 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday TV Line-Up

Feeling in the holiday spirit? Few things are better than catching your favorite Christmas classic on television. Here is the lineup of holiday films scheduled this week on network television:

Tuesday, Dec. 9
Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, 5 p.m., ABC Family
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, 8 p.m., ABC
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 8 p.m., CBS
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, 10:31 p.m., AMC

Wednesday, Dec. 10
The Year Without a Santa Claus, 6 p.m., ABC Family
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 9 p.m., ABC Family
The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause, 10:30 p.m., AMC

Thursday, Dec. 11
Reindeer Games, 10 a.m., AMC
Jack Frost (1998), 5 p.m., ABC Family
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 7 p.m., ABC Family
Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas, 8 p.m., AMC
Scrooged, 9 p.m., ABC Family
Holiday Affair (1949), 9:45 p.m., TCM

Friday, Dec. 12
Jack Frost (1979), 4:30 p.m., ABC Family
White Christmas, 7 p.m., AMC
The Santa Clause, 7:30 p.m., ABC Family
Miracle on 34th Street (1994), 9:30 p.m., ABC Family

Saturday, Dec. 13
Home Alone 3, 11 a.m., ABC Family
Miracle on 34th Street, 3 p.m., ABC Family
White Christmas, 3 p.m., AMC
Mickey’s Christmas Carol, 5:30 p.m., ABC Family
The Santa Clause, 6 p.m., ABC Family
Miracle on 34th Street, 7 p.m., AMC
Frosty Returns, 9:30 p.m., CBS
Fred Claus, 11:30 p.m., ABC Family

Sunday, Dec. 14
Miracle on 34th Street, 7 a.m., ABC Family
Disney’s A Christmas Carol, 9:30 a.m., ABC Family
Jack Frost (1998), 11:30 a.m., ABC Family
Fred Clause, 1:30 p.m., ABC Family
Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 6 p.m., ABC Family
The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause, 10:30 p.m., AMC

Monday, December 8, 2014

Classy Holiday Decorating Tips for Your Lexington, MA Home!

With the holiday season in full swing, you might be wondering how extravagant to get with your Lexington home’s holiday décor. If you’re selling your Lexington home this season, it’s especially important that you decorate just enough, without going overboard and taking the attention away from your home’s best features.

As your Lexington real estate agent, I’d like to share some tips for traditional, classy holiday decorating that every potential Lexington homebuyer or holiday home guest will appreciate!
  • Door wreaths. The front entryway to your Lexington home is the first place that most Lexington homebuyers and home guests look. Make sure it especially catches your eye around the holidays with a classy, eye-catching holiday wreath. Wreaths have come a long way. There are so many styles to choose from now, so have fun with it!
  • Gold and silver décor. The classiest approach to holiday décor is gold and silver decorations. Decorate a Christmas tree in all metallic gold and silver ornaments, bows, ribbons and lights. Decorate your fireplace mantel with gold or silver vases, ornaments and holiday statues. Wrap gold or silver garland around posts or stairwells. Because these colors pop all on their own, you don’ t need a lot of decorations to make a big difference.
  • Greenery. When most of the greenery found in nature disappears this time of year, the scenery can seem gloomy. Bring that greenery indoors this holiday season with green evergreen branches on your mantel, a green wreath on your door, a green Christmas tree, green garland around your front door and a winter plant as your table centerpiece. Add some pine cones, holly and poinsettias to the greenery to really make it stand out.
  • Personal ornaments. As a rule of thumb when selling your Lexington home, you should store away personal décor, such as family photos and children’s artwork. However, for the holidays, I find that personal ornaments on a Christmas tree are okay. In fact, they really give a home that extra homey feeling, which potential Lexington homebuyers will appreciate around the holidays. But if any ornaments are falling apart or are dreadfully unattractive, store them away until next year.
Hopefully these holiday decorating tips will give you good headway for your own holiday décor in your Lexington home this winter! When you’re ready to sell your Lexington home, or you’re ready to buy a Lexington home, don’t be afraid to contact me, your Lexington real estate agent. The Lexington real estate market runs nonstop through the holidays. Anytime that you’re ready, I’m ready to help you!

Happy holidays, Lexington!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Upcoming Events in Lexington MA

Friday December 5, 2014
4:00 PM until 10:00 PM 
Our holiday concerts have become a cultural cornerstone of the holiday season in Lexington. The 4 p.m. Kids’ Holiday POPS! matinee offers a program suited for families with young children, many of whom will count this experience as their very first symphony concert. The evening Holiday Fanfare! concert at 8 p.m. features holiday favorites that evoke joyous memories and music from many parts of the world. Sing along and celebrate with Lexington Symphony, friends, and family as we rejoice at this special time of year. Location Lexington High School

Wednesday December 10, 2014
10:00 AM until 11:00 AM 
Take part in the intergenerational program that connects Youville Place residents and families with young children from LexFUN! – Includes craft activity and socializing. Location: Youville Place Assisted Living, 10 Pelham Rd

Sunday December 14, 2014
12:00 PM until 4:00 PM 
Discover the magic of trains at the annual Model Train Weekend at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library (National Heritage Museum), Sunday, December 14 from 12 - 4 pm. This family-friendly event is a perfect holiday-season outing for adults and children of all ages. The HUB Division of the National Model Railroad Association presents miles of track with trains running on multiple main lines as they chug up mountain climbs, past coal mines, through small villages and into tunnels. Some engines pull 50 cars past hundreds of charming venues including icy lakes with skaters, snow-covered farms, and urban skyscrapers. Admission is $7 per family; $5 for member families.
Location: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library (National Heritage Museum) 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA

Friday, November 28, 2014

Citizens for Lexington Conservation: 2nd Annual Turkey Trot Walk

WHEN: Sunday November 60

TIME: 1:00PM-3:00PM

CONTACT: Walk Leader: Keith Ohmart   781-862-6216

Join us to walk off those turkey leftovers as we explore the Cranberry Hill Conservation area and the adjacent watershed lands of the Cambridge Watershed Authority. Along the way we will enjoy some of the best vistas as well as one of the largest and best-preserved fieldstone foundations to be found in Lexington.

We will hike in all but steady rain. Wear appropriate footgear for hilly woods trails and actual weather conditions. Hiking poles would be useful, especially if the ground is frozen. Meet Walk Leader at the end of parking lot C in the Cranberry Hill Office Complex. The entrance to the office park is on Massachusetts Avenue, just south of Marrett Road.

Maps of conservation lands can be found at

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

12 Hacks to Make Your For-Sale Home Look and Smell Pet-Free

Do you refer to your pet as one of your children, without irony? Me, too. This unconditional love is not a sentiment all who visit my home share, particularly if they stand up from my couch and discover their once-black pants are now covered in beautiful (and trendy!) tan-and-brown ombre doggie fur.

If you’re putting your Lexington home on the market, owning a dog or cat could deter buyers or reduce offer amounts. There’s no amount of money that could persuade me to banish my mutt while I entertain guests this holiday season — or put my home on the market and show it — so I’m happy to use these easy tricks and tips to help take care of pet odors, messes and damage.

It’s Not Called Furrrrniture
1. Rubber Glove Treatment: Rub a damp rubber glove over furniture, and static electricity will help remove fur quite easily. (Tip via Real Simple)

2. Duct Tape Solves Everything: I could use about 15 lint rollers to pick up fur from my couch or car seats, or I could go heavy duty and wrap duct tape, sticky side up, on a paint roller for a stronger version of the same concept. (Tip via Family Handyman)

3. Squeegee Power: Sometimes vacuuming is no match for the fur buried deep down in the living room rug. Amazingly, a window squeegee can do the trick instead. (Tip via Lifehacker)
Prevention Is the Best Medicine … Or Something Like That

4. Better Bitter: To stop dogs and cats from chewing on furniture or — zzzzt! — power cords, you can purchase Bitter Apple spray, or make your own by mixing white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.

5. Stick ‘Em Up: This special double-stick tape will annoy cats enough to make them avoid using your furniture as a scratch pad. (We imagine regular double stick tape would do the trick, too.)

6. Leave the Mud Outside: I’ve always kept Wet Wipes in my entryway, to wipe the dog’s paws when we come in from a muddy day. This Paw Plunger looks even more effective (and kinda fun to use).

Eau de Kennel
7. Smell Check: Before you sell your home or have special guests over, you might want to invite over a close, exceptionally honest friend who can tell you if your home smells like wet dog or a very well-decorated litter box. You need the friend, because it won’t smell bad to you at all anymore.

8. Clean Those Rugs, And Clean Them Again: Like your mom always told you, baking soda does wonders for odors. Sprinkle it on any urine stains on rugs. You can also use a black light to find old stains you never knew about or thought you’d taken care of. (Tip via Care2 and Petslady)

9. Litter on the Bar-B: Add a sprinkle of activated charcoal to the litter box to absorb smells. (Tip via ehow)

10. Clean Ears = Happy Noses: If your dog is prone to stinky ears, clean them regularly with a solution of vinegar and alcohol. This will do wonders for the smell of the whole house, too. (Tip via ehow)

Pets? What Pets?
11. Trunk No-Show: The internet is flooded with instructions on how to customize old trunks, new Ikea storage units, and built-in cabinets into excellent litter box and dog crate camouflage.

12. Play Date: When in doubt of your pets’ behavior or your visitors/buyers preferences, consider asking a friend or neighbor to have them over to play for a little while. If you’re selling your home, make sure you also put away pet toys and pet photos. You shouldn’t lie to potential buyers about furry creatures living there, but you don’t want any unnecessary reminders around either. (Tip via

Taken from: 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Prices That Are Rising This Fall

Brace yourself for sticker shock this fall! Here are five common expenses that are on the rise, and tips for minimizing the monetary bite.

1. Grocery staples
You’ve likely seen the headlines: expect hikes this this fall on everything from oranges, bacon and milk to cheese, butter, chocolate and more.
What to do: Start by clipping coupons — studies show that the average family can save up to $1,000 per year. Also give generic brands and private labels a try. A family that spends $100 per week on groceries could save up to $1,500 annually with this strategy, according to Consumer Reports. Finally, buy alternatives such as turkey bacon instead of bacon, and margarine instead of butter.

2. Airfares
Did you know that the average cost of a domestic round-trip ticket reached about $510 in the first half of 2014? And that doesn’t include extra fees such as checked luggage, fast-track security lines, early boarding, additional legroom and other perks that can add from $9 to $299 to the cost of a flight.
What to do: While some “gotcha” charges are unavoidable, airline-affiliated credit cards that offer benefits such as discounts on in-flight entertainment, meals and more can translate into big savings. You should also buy your ticket about six weeks in advance for the biggest savings.

3. Clothing
As the economy recovers, apparel demand is rising, yet supplies are tight. Plus, we’ve been up against some of the worst weather patterns since the 1930s, and cotton crops have been totally destroyed. Given that nearly three-quarters of all garments sold in the United States contain cotton, prices have risen — up about 5-8 percent this year — and are expected to continue increasing.
What to do: Shop consignment, and dig deep into your own closets — and even your friends’ closets. Clothing swaps are big right now. They’re a great way to declutter your closet and update your wardrobe, all while hanging out with your favorite people.

4. Homes

Not only are prices on the rise, but so are mortgage rates. Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries, predicts rates will rise from their current level of just below 4 percent to 5 percent by the end of 2015.
What to do: If you’re on the fence about buying a home, think about entering the Lexington market sooner rather than later. After all, waiting can be costly. Even a small, 1-percent increase in rates reduces your purchasing power by a whopping 11 percent.
To put this into further perspective: if you could afford a loan of $400,000 at a rate of 4 percent, an increase to 5 percent would mean you could afford a loan of just $356,000.

5. Electricity rates
While electricity rates vary widely from one state to the next, the reality is that due to more stringent regulation and other factors, they’ve been rising just about everywhere over the past decade, jumping by the double digits in many states, even after accounting for inflation.

And there’s no end in sight. In fact, National Grid recently warned its customers that they should expect their electricity bills to be as much as 37 percent higher than last year – starting in November.

What to do: Your home’s biggest electricity guzzler is air conditioning and heating, accounting for as much as half of your energy bill. Make sure your systems are running at their highest efficiency by having annual professional cleanings and checkups. Schedule a service call now.
In the meantime, become as energy efficient as possible. Steps such as installing programmable thermostats, lowering the temperature when you go to bed, or using a high-efficiency furnace or boiler can reduce your bill by 10-30 percent. Sourced:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Prepare Your Lexington, MA Home For Winter!

We lost an hour of daylight, we saw our first snowflakes, and the holidays will quickly be upon us here in Lexington, MA. As your Lexington real estate agent, it’s my recommendation that you prepare your Lexington home for winter now, before it’s too dark and cold!

To help you along, here is a checklist:
  • Clean your gutters. Fall foliage is beautiful this time of year, but when the leaves clog up your gutters, problems could arise later. Clear out your gutters by climbing up a ladder and doing it yourself, or hire someone to do it. You’ll be glad come spring!
  • Clear the outdoors. The longer you leave your patio furniture out, the more likely it is that it’ll rust or break with each morning frost. Now is the time to clean and store it away, or at least cover it up. Remove hoses before they freeze, and store garden supplies and grills as well. It’s time for the patio to hibernate!
  • Prepare your windows. Walk around your house with a candle and notice where the candle blows from a draft. Windows are a common culprit, so get ready to caulk holes or to add weatherstripping or plastic around the windows. You could also replace your thin summer curtains with a heavier winter material.
  • Get your fireplace ready. If you have a fireplace, chances are, you’re going to want to use it this winter! Now is the time to clear out the fireplace of last year’s ashes and leftover wood, and to stock up with new wood for this year. You should consider having the chimney cleaned out as well.
  • Stock up for winter. Now is a much better time to go shopping for winter supplies than after the first major snowfall, or after freezing temperatures hit. Stock up on salt for your sidewalks, shovels, extra blankets, canned food, wood for the fireplace, heavy curtains, and anything else you can think of. Check to see if your snow blower needs maintenance, too.
These are some great tips to get you started on winter preparations around your Lexington, MA home. But winter hasn’t arrived yet! This fall is actually a great time to buy a Lexington home or to sell your Lexington home. When you’re ready to achieve your real estate goals in the Lexington real estate market, contact me, your Lexington real estate agent!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day in Lexington

Today, Tuesday, November 4 

Below are important links and information for Lexington.

Election Results

Precincts & Poll Addresses
Voter Registration Status - Link to find your voter registration information
Voter Registration
 - Download a Voter Registration Form

The Town Clerk administers elections and election-related processes and functions. The Registrars of Voters, appointed by the Board of Selectmen, oversee voter registration and voter records.  Election administration is managed by the Town Clerk and staff of the Town Clerk's office. The Registrars assist the Town Clerk's office in promoting voter registration, maintaining voter registration, certifying signatures on nomination papers and petitions, issuing party enrollment certificates, certifying absentee voter applications, investigating challenges to local nomination papers, conducting recounts, and assisting in the preparation of the street list.

General Duties and Administration
The Town Clerk administers nomination and election processes, registers voters, conducts the annual municipal census and certifies applications and documents for veterans' bonuses. The Town Clerk also verifies residences, prepares and provides statistics on elections and census, and provides general assistance for citizens, political parties and members of the press.
The Town Clerk conducts all presidential primaries, state primaries, state, presidential, and Town elections. The responsibilities of the Town Clerk include:
  • voter registration
  • supplying nomination papers for candidates, initiatives and referenda
  • certification of signatures on all nomination papers and petitions
  • printing ballots for Town elections
  • maintenance of elections system
  • recruitment of poll workers
  • tallying elections results
  • maintaining and preserving the records of the election

Board of Registrars

     Barrett, Jean H. (Republican) 2015
     Hooper, Donna M., Clerk (Unenrolled)
     Hussong, Laura J., Chair  (Democrat) 2017
     Warren, Sarah L. (Democrat) 2016

Appointed by: Board of Selectmen

Length of Term: 3 years
Appointments made: March 31
Meeting Times: As needed

Purpose - The Registrar of Voters consists of three members who shall represent the two leading political parties of the Town; however, no more than two members may be from the same party. The Town Clerk need not be enrolled in a political party. While the Board's original purpose was to verify the accuracy and validity of elections, the Board may vote to authorize the Town Clerk to perform all certification functions.
Registrars assist the Town Clerk's office in promoting voter registration, maintaining voter registration, certifying signatures on nomination papers and petitions, issuing party enrollment certificates, certifying absentee voter applications, investigating challenges to local nomination papers, conducting recounts, assisting in the preparation of the street list, and being present at all elections as part of the reporting process.

Criteria for Membership - Member of one of the two leading political parties in Town. The Board of Selectmen makes each appointment from a list submitted by the town committee of the political party from the members of which the position is to be filled.
Ref. – Mass. General Laws,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween In Lexington

Lexington's Halloween Trick or Treat
 with your Local Businesses

Friday, October 31, 2014,  2 - 5 p.m.

Looking for a way to get an early start on Trick or Treating? 

Come visit your neighborhood businesses for the Lexington Retailers Association 13th Annual Lexington's Halloween Trick or Treat with your Local Businesses, Friday, October 31, 2014, 2 - 5 p.m.  Just look for the Orange/Black/White balloon bouquet outside the doors of participating businesses throughout the Town.

So Mom and Dad, dress your children in costume early and get a jump on filling their goodie bags.  We feel it is a great way for the parents to learn more about the businesses in your area, and your children will begin to collect their Halloween's bounty in a safe and fun way.  For more information and a list of participating businesses, visit   Please join us for some fun and remember, say "Trick or Treat!"

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bowman Adventure Run

It’s a road race.  It’s a trail run.  It’s a super way to spend an autumn Sunday with your friends, family and Bowman Community.  There’s something for everyone.  Lace ‘em up for the Kids Fun Run.  Enjoy the 5K through the Bowman neighborhood and its Big Backyard.  Join us for the post-race festivities.
With Halloween around the corner, help us add to the festive air and come with wild and crazy hair!  We would love to see a mob of crazy hair running throughout the streets of Bowman and it’s community!
And beware..if the ghosts and goblins don’t get you, the mud may!
3rd Annual Bowman Adventure 5K Run
Sunday, October 26th from 10am – 2pm
Kids Fun Run 10:30 am
5K Trail Run 11:00 am
Post Race Party to Follow
About the Course
This unique 5K will take off from Bowman, lead you through the rolling hills of the neighborhood and onto Bacon Street, a gravel road leading to Dunback Meadow.  The last mile covers boardwalks and trails that are part of the extensive conservation land in Lexington.  You will then cross the Bowman fields and the finish line on Worthen Road East.  Click here to view the 5K and Kids Fun Run courses.
Please note – this adventure is for all ages but if you are under the age of 11, please participate with an adult.
Kids Fun Run
This year, the KFR will take place before the 5K so all you parents can cheer on your kids and run the 5K.  The 3/4-mile course leaves from the front entrance of Bowman down Worthen Road East to Philip Road and back to Bowman.  It’s complete with a water stop and finisher awards.  Register the morning of the event to sign a waiver.  This year the KFR will be free.  Donations for Bowman will be accepted at the table.
Register for the 5K adventure today!
Register online at Bowman Adventure Run REGISTRATION before Oct 25th or the day of the race.  Registration prior to October 20th will be $20 and after will be $25.  Race packets will be available for pick up at Greater Boston Running Company (1844 Massachusetts Avenue) on date to be determined in the near future.  Or register by mail using the Mail-In Adventure Run Registration form.
Race Opportunities
If you’d like to VOLUNTEER to be part of this race, please send an email to  Or click onAdventure Run Volunteers and sign up!
Interested in becoming a SPONSOR of the 3rd Annual Bowman Adventure Run?  Please contact us at
* About Lexington Conservation Land
Lexington has more than 1,400 acres of conservation land, over 10% of the town, an impressive figure for a community so close to Boston. Conservation land provides the space to experience fresh air, green leaves, and the pleasure of a stroll through the woods right here in our own community. Conservation land also protects many beneficial functions that nature performs for us, such the flood control, water quality improvement, and air purification. And because all of Lexington was once farmland, forest, or wetland, conservation land helps to preserve the historic character of our town. When exploring Lexington’s conservation land, consider the hard work that many citizens and friends have contributed toward protecting and caring for these important properties. Conservation land is protected by the Conservation Commission and cared for by the Lexington Conservation Stewards, a group of citizen volunteers. Learn more
Timing services provided by North Shore Timing Co.