Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Warm and Cozy Lexington Home

November is almost  upon us and the days and nights are getting colder. Here are more than 9 mood-lifting ideas to make your Lexington home more welcoming and efficient this winter.

The dark days of winter can really do a number on your well-being. Shorter days trigger the blahs; freezing temps spark the sniffles. So we put together a list of ideas that’ll turn your home into a comfy haven.

Cozy and Clever Energy Savers

Here’s how to create a brighter and warmer home without using more energy or cranking up the thermostat.

1. Clean dirty light fixtures and dusty bulbs to make your home appear 30% brighter without turning on more lights.

2. Seal sneaky air leaks. It’s not just window and door leaks killing your cozy vibe. Don’t forget to plug stealthy gaps around recessed lights, electrical boxes, and wall outlets. Use a lit incense stick or scented candle to hunt down drafty spots while leaving behind a cozy scent.

3. Replace your traditional gas or wood fireplace. Why? Both suck out heated indoor air and send it up the chimney. A gel fireplace insert is an eco-friendly option that produces a burning fire without gas, wood, electricity, or even a chimney. It’s also smoke-free and emits fewer allergens than a wood fireplace; some options crackle like the real thing. A basic model costs between $100 to $210; custom models go up exponentially from there. A case of gel fuel comes with 12 cans that burn for three hours each (about $35).
Tip: Use a slow cooker to infuse your home with a warm and cozy aroma. Even better, slow cookers are more energy efficient than electric ovens, typically using less energy than a light bulb.

Immunity Boosters

You’ll feel coziest in a healthy indoor environment that keeps allergies at bay and reduces your chances of getting sick.

4. Get plants. Some indoor plants, like golden pothos and gerbera daisies, are particularly adept at sucking up nasty VOCs — the vapors emitted from household cleaners, paints, and dry cleaning. And since plants increase humidity levels, they help decrease household dust.

5. Vacuum while your thermostat is set to “fan on.” This helps filter dust that gets kicked-up while cleaning. Just leave the fan on for about 15 minutes after you finish vacuuming and switch it back to “auto” afterward. HVAC blowers aren’t intended to run all the time.

6. Change your HVAC filter every couple months (monthly if you have pets) to prevent excess dust from circulating.

Tip: Combat superbugs with copper. If you’re planning to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom fixtures, consider classic and homey-looking copper or a copper alloy like brass. A three-hospital study in 2011 found that bacteria can only survive on copper for a few minutes, but germs can live on stainless steel for weeks.

Sun Worshippers

Lack of natural light can trigger a mean case of the winter doldrums — or worse, mood-altering seasonal effective disorder. Maximize daylight and make rooms feel warmer by adding the following to your yearly fall maintenance checklist.

7. Make your windows pane-fully clear. Clean glass not only lets more natural light into your home, it’s a feel-good task, according to a survey by the American Clean Institute. When ACI asked consumers what clean surfaces make them happy, “gleaming windows” made the top five above a “spotless sink.”

8. Ditch your window screens in the fall and winter. They trap dirt and can make your home appear darker inside and out. It’s a good curb appeal booster, too.

9. Add an interior window to a room next to a sun-drenched space to take advantage of natural light.

Tip: Paint chilly rooms, especially north-facing walls that don’t typically get sunlight, in reds, oranges, or yellows — cozy colors that can actually help the room feel warmer, according to a Michigan State University study.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Halloween Activities in Lexington

Halloween Trick or Treat with Local Businesses
Thursday, October 29 from 2:00-5:00pm

Pre-Elementary and Elementary age Children with Parents:
Visit your neighborhood businesses around town to see what treats they have in store for you and your children!

Come in your Halloween costumes and look for the black, orange and white balloon bouquets hung in front of the participating businesses.
This event is rain or shine.
Sponsored by the Lexington Retailers Association.  Contact: Eric Michelson   781-862-1034

For a list of participating businesses

Halloween Parade
Saturday, October 31 from 9:45 to 11:30AM at the Visitor’s Center

LexFUN! is once again proud to host its special Halloween Parade for little ones on Sat. Oct. 31st!
Every year, Elmo leads our tiniest Lexingtonians on a parade walk around the Battle Green, as they show off their costumes and make noise with their kidde instruments. This is a long-standing tradition in our Town and provides a safe and welcoming environment for our youngest Lexingtonians to celebrate Halloween in their costumes in a family-friendly atmosphere. 
To this end, LexFUN! encourages parents to use their good judgment in selecting costumes. LexFUN! promotes a safe and inclusive environment for the parade, one that respects social, generational, and cultural differences. We encourage costumes that are family friendly (not scary to our little ones) and portray positive images to our children. This event is open to the public.

In addition to bringing your little tyke in costume, also please bring two other things to the parade: 
(1) Bring your child’s favorite noise making instrument to help Elmo on his march around the Battle Green. 

(2) Bring a couple of can goods to donate to our Lexington Food Pantry drive. It is a great teaching opportunity to explain the importance of giving back to our community. 
We’re looking forward to another great parade this year!!!
See you on Sat. Oct. 31st at 9:45 am in front of the Visitors’ Center!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lexington Community Center Grand Opening

 OCTOBER 17TH FROM 10:00 AM TO 1:00 P.M.


The Recreation and Community Programs Department and Human Services Department have moved to the Community Center.

On Monday, July 6th  programs and classes began at the Center.  39 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421
We thank you for your ongoing patience and cooperation while final touch-up renovation work is being completed. 

 As of September 8th, the Center will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Your Community Center - Look What's Coming
A multigenerational, multicultural, and inclusive space
Technology-enabled large and small meeting spaces for community use
Senior Services programs for a healthy, active retirement
Classes, programs, and activities for people of all ages and abilities
Specialized youth and family programs
Opportunities for community initiated programs
Fitness, wellness and cardio rooms for health and wellbeing
Games, billiards, and table tennis rooms
Support services for families, seniors, youth and veterans
Workshop, gift shop, craft, and classroom spaces for teaching and learning
Public WiFi, refreshment lounge, and plenty of sunlit spaces for reading and thinking
Centralized location for community connections, information, transportation services and making the most out of life in Lexington
Accessible via Lexpress and the MBTA
For more information, visit the Ad Hoc Community Center Advisory Committee webpage, or contact Karen Simmons, Director of Recreation and Community Programs, 781-698-4801, orSheila Butts, Lexington Community Center Director, 781-698-4802

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How to Save For a Down Payment as a Lexington Homebuyer

Lexington Homebuyer Down Payment Tips
Do you want to buy a Lexington home in the foreseeable future? As your Lexington real estate agent, I’ll be the first to tell you that now is the time to buy in Lexington! According to the latest reports, home prices and mortgage rates are predicted to increase by 4.7 percent by this time next year.

If you’d like to buy, but aren’t sure how to cut down on costs in order to save up a down payment, Trulia shared some great tips on how to ‘trick your mind’ into saving. Here’s a summary of some of their tips:

1.  Take away your spending money. If you are saving up for a down payment in your checking account, switch the money over to another account that doesn’t have a debit card attached to it. This way, you won’t be tempted to spend that money! You could also stop using debit cards altogether, and limit yourself to a certain amount of cash to spend each month.

2.  Automate savings. It’s easy to want to save, but then to spend the money before you ever transfer it to your savings account. To ensure that you’re saving money every month, or from every paycheck, set up an automated account that diverts some of your income into a savings account each month. Then you don’t even have to think about it!

3.  Set goals and reminders. A great reminder would be to post a picture of your dream home to a highly visible area, like your refrigerator, nightstand or desk, or make it your computer background. This will remind you what you’re saving up for. You could also create a savings timeline, with specifics on how much you need to save and how long you’re giving yourself to do it.

4.  Match purchases with savings. Every time you buy an impulse item, or something significant, put that same amount of money into savings. Sometimes the thought of spending double will be enough to deter you. If you buy an item on sale, figure out how much you saved, and put that amount into savings.

5.  Find support. Fill your family and friends in on your changes in spending habits. Post on social media sites about it, so your friends know, and you feel more accountable. Hang out with people who are more frugal or also trying to save. Their saving habits will rub off on you!

6.  Maintain status quo. Even if you earn a raise, or come into some unexpected money, don’t think of it as ‘extra money’ to spend. Put it all into savings, and keep living the way you’re living now.

If you actively follow these tips, you should save up a down payment for a Lexington home in no time! The most important thing to remember is to save everywhere you can, deter yourself from purchases you don’t need, and keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it.

When ready to buy a Lexington home, contact me, your Lexington real estate agent! I am here and ready to help you through the home-buying process with ease.

Theresa D'Antuono

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Renovating a Historic Home

Ever dream of sipping tea on the wraparound porch of a Queen Anne Victorian, or gazing at the soaring ceilings of a Gothic Revival after an endless workday?
Lexington Historic homes carry tons of charm, but here’s the thing: They’re old. And that means they often come with truckloads of hidden or weirdly unexpected issues—and may require exorbitant upgrades.
But fear not! With smart planning and a few expert tips, you can renovate the historic home of your fantasies. And, hey, why not create some new history while you’re at it?
Shaunna and Matt West, the restoration team behind the HGTV show “Sweet House Alabama,” have some ideas to get you started. The Wests have been involved with countless remodeling and design projects through their successful shop, Perfectly Imperfect in Troy, AL, so they know a thing or two about polishing up historic gems. (Above is a Southern Colonial-style home they worked on for the show.)
Before you get your heart set on updating a sprawling Georgian manse (like the “Home Alone” house in Chicago), don’t! Instead, read this list of things to avoid:

1. Don’t fall in love before you really know the deal

Before you make an offer, know what you’re getting into, Matt West says. Sure, you (presumably) already know about getting a standard inspection, but a historic home requires something more.
“Have a team of top-notch professionals—an agent who specializes in historic neighborhoods, a good home inspector, and a general contractor with experience renovating older properties—walk through and identify all critical issues,” West says. Topping the list: lousy wiring and plumbing, drafty or otherwise inefficient windows, badly sloping foundations. “Get estimates from at least three contractors for repairs,” West says. “You might find that the extra costs and time involved are just beyond your reach.”
Also, West recommends tapping your city’s code enforcement office as a resource for determining whether a historic property is up to code. If you’re obtaining an FHA loan and don’t have the extra cash for renovations, ask your lender if you qualify for the 203(k) loan program. The program allows borrowers to wrap renovation costs into their home loan if the property meets FHA standards.

2. Don’t create a budget with no wiggle room

As with any older-home renovation, expect the unexpected when you open up walls and floors, West cautions. Chances are, something’s lurking behind them.
“When you undertake a reno project, you always need to leave some space in the budget for those unforeseen hiccups, like a lead pipe in a wall you were going to tear down, or water damage in a ceiling,” he says. “Factor in an extra 10% into the budget to tackle those problems, as well as some extra time to get unplanned work completed.”
If the renovation goes sideways, remind yourself it’s more important to get the work done right the first time.

3. Don’t lose sight of the place’s character

What makes older homes so enticing? They have personality, uniqueness—and most important—history. Preserving all those characteristics while refreshing the look and floor plans is an important piece of the renovation puzzle.
 “Some of these homes have design elements that can’t be replicated easily such as detailed crown moldings or ornate fireplaces in nearly every room,” West says. “Design around those details instead of removing them.”
Keep in mind, too, that there might be limitations on what you can change if the surrounding area is designated as a historic neighborhood by your city or state, or if it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which contains more than 90,000 listings across the United States. Make sure you run your renovation plans by code enforcement and your local historic preservation board before any work gets underway.

4. Don’t try to save money by doing it all yourself

Sure, you might be an arena-level rock star when it comes to painting walls and installing light fixtures, but leave the major projects to the pros. Electrical rewiring, foundation and structural repairs, and reconfiguring plumbing aren’t tasks suited for the casual DIYer. Bring in experienced contractors who have worked on older homes before (ask for references!)—unless you want bigger, more expensive headaches down the road. Trust us on this one.

5. Don’t ignore the things you can’t see

Asbestos, lead, radon, wood rot, and mold are common environmental issues that crop up frequently in historic home renovations, especially if a property has been vacant for a long time. Hire a licensed home inspector who can catch these issues early on and recommend companies to address them. If significant mitigation work is required, you’ll be in a good position to negotiate those items (or the price) with the seller.
Now, go forth and get historic.