How To Decorate for Halloween Without Going Overboard

The humid summer air is slowly turning into cool and crisp bursts of wind. Colorful flowers like impatiens and begonias are being replaced with yellow and orange mums. Yup, fall is here.

As the countdown to summer resets, our list of things to do around house includes transitioning our house from summer to fall. For many of us that also means breaking out the Halloween decorations. If you want to show off your festive side but would prefer your home not to resemble that of Morticia Addams, then these tips are for you.


(Not So) Spooky Steps

Your steps are probably the easiest thing to decorate. If you want to go basic, you can buy a few pumpkins and you are all set. Want to take it a step further? Add a few lanterns for an elegant effect.

Get instructions for this DIY project

Party Porch

Porches were made for Halloween decorations. OK maybe I am exaggerating, but they are the perfect spot  for seasonal decor. Focus on one corner of your porch and pick one large item as your focal point. Some ideas to get you started: a cauldron, broomstick, pumpkin topiary or a hay bale.

Candy Sign



Ghastly Garden

Mums are a fall classic that are an elegant addition for your curb appeal. In addition to planting mums you can find other garden decorations like flags and signs on sites like Etsy and Amazon.

Like this flag? Buy it here.

Dressed Up Door

A simple wreath will tie the look together. You can make your own or buy one from Michaels or Etsy.

Like this Wreath? Buy it here.



Eerie Entry Table

Creating a frightening foyer is as easy as picking a theme. You can go with colors, like orange, black and/or purple, creatures like bats, skeletons or witches or just an overall Autumnal theme. This is the first, and sometimes only, thing guests will see when they enter so you can show off your Halloween spirit without even touching any other room in the house.

Get the look here

Frighteningly Fun Fireplace Mantel

If you have a fireplace then you have prime real estate in your home for a Halloween display. Candles, mini pumpkins and simple garland are affordable touches that go a long way.

Need more mantel ideas? Click Here

Looking for more Halloween fun? Click here.

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5 Great Summer Hostess Gift Ideas

It seems like during both the summer and holiday seasons we’re bombarded with invites to this and that. If you’re like me, the first thing that pops into your mind upon receiving notice is 1) what am I going to wear and 2) what am I going to bring?

When in doubt bring a gift that is both personalized and one-of-a-kind. You won’t have to worry about your recipients having one of the same or not liking it. Below you’ll find five ideas that are guaranteed to be a hit and make you the most liked guest of the night.

1. Custom Coasters


Coasters probably get used the most during parties and the like. So there is no better hostess gift!

2. Coffee Table Books

Coffee table books are simply stunning and they are a great decor piece. Get your hostess a book on a topic she loves. 

3. Custom Cutting Boards

 Ever go to reach for your cutting board only to find it’s still dirty? I have, that’s why having a couple on hand is great. Another gift that is functional and can be personalized. 

4. Hand Towels

Who doesn’t love a pretty hand towel? Every time your hostess goes to use it, she’ll think of you. 

5. Your Favorite Old School Game

 If you fear running out of good conversation at the party, bring a classic board game to spark up nostalgia! 

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The 10 Commandments of Throwing a Great House Party

One of the greatest joys of owning a home is sharing it with others. Follow these commandments and become the ultimate party host.

1) Thou Shalt Not Drive Yourself Crazy Cleaning Beforehand

Now I am in no way saying your house should be a mess but it is easy to get carried away cleaning before guests come. Focus on the areas you know your guests will be spending time in and tidy up the rest of your home.

2) Thou Shalt Not Run Out of Food

This is one of the most important rules you must follow. Seriously, is there anything worse than showing up to a party and leaving with a growling stomach? Avoid your guests having to stop at a McDonalds after your party by ensuring you have the right amount of food. Check out this simple chart that tells you how much food and drink to have at your dinner party.

3) Thou Shalt Be a Responsible Party Host

If cocktails are on the menu then please be sure you keep an eye on your guests. Also, don’t forget to have a variety of non-alcoholic beverage on hand like water and various juices and soda.

4) Thou Shalt Have A Plan For Your Pets

If Fido isn’t the friendliest perhaps he should remain separated from the group. Also, if your indoor cat is an escape artist you may want to alert your party goers to ensure they always shut the door behind themselves.

5)  Thou Shalt Give Your Neighbors a Heads Up

If your neighbors aren’t invited to your party then it might be a good idea to give them the courtesy of letting them know you will be having a party, especially if it will be outdoors and/or if you plan on having it go late into the night.

6) Thou Shalt Plan A Few Activities

First things first, make sure you introduce everyone to each other if they aren’t already acquaintances. Next, having a 3 page itinerary filled with activities for your party goers isn’t necessary but you should have a few activities planned that you can pull out of your hat if you see people getting bored. For smaller crowds, board and card games are always great ways to pass time. If your party is outdoors you can consider volleyball, horseshoes or cornhole.

7) Thou Shalt Not Forget About the Kids

If you have guest coming with children it is important to give them something to do. Here are 116 awesome ideas.

8) Thou Shalt Use Paper Goods (When Possible)

Unless you are having a formal dinner party it is always best to go with paper goods. (recycled if possible!) By doing this you avoid a sink full of dishes, time away from your guests (cleaning them) and the possibility of having your good plates, cups and cutlery thrown away or broken.

9) Thou Shalt Play Music

Having music at your party is a must. Depending on the type of party you have it may even lead to a dance party! Here is a great playlist you can use.

10) Thou Shalt Remember To Have Fun!

Sometimes being a host can feel more like work than play. Make sure your guests are well taken care of but don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

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“America the Beautiful” by Coldwell Banker

In honor of Independence Day, we’d like to join you in celebrating America with a look at our country’s beauty, as seen through the windows of Coldwell Banker homes.

“America the Beautiful”
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward


for amber waves of grain


above the fruited plain



God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 

from sea

to shining sea!

Each of the images above are from Coldwell Banker listings.  Click on any image to see more about the property.

To view more Coldwell Banker listings, or to search for your dream home here in the USA or internationally, visit

Happy 4th of July!

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Grilling Guide for 4th of July

Nothing says “Freedom” like firing up the grill! BBQ is near and dear to the hearts of so many Americans. Looking for a grilling guide for 4th of July?  We’ve got you covered!  Here’s our guide to home cooking, 4th of July style!

Main Event
Let’s start with the meat. For the ultimate 4th of July BBQ, you’ll need to give your guests a few options. Whether you go with classic burgers & dogs, chicken & steak, pulled pork, or tofu & a big platter of grilled veggies, you’re sure to please a crowd! Remember to prep and marinate meat in advance so that when your guests arrive, you can relax and sip one of these delicious watermelon cocktails with them.

Classic burger

Image Source: Food & Wine

Savory Sides

For me, a summer barbecue is not complete without the side salads: potato, pasta, greens. Here are 16 great BBQ sides to give you plenty of ideas for dishes to round out your menu.  One of the easiest side dishes is buttery corn on the cob.  Soak husks in water for 10 minutes before throwing on the grill to avoid burning.


Image Source: Real Simple

Get Saucy
There are about as many varieties of BBQ sauce as there are states in the U.S. Depending on your tastes, you can go sweet, spicy, smokey, tangy and even mustard-y. Check out this clever guide to American Barbecue Sauce Styles to find one that’s right for you.

Neely's BBQ Sauce

Image Source: Food Network

Sweet Freedom
Looking for a creative way to bring red, white and blue into your 4th of July menu? Dessert is the way to go! Check out these patriotic dessert ideas.  When in doubt, throw some sweet like peaches or pineapple on the grill for an easy, healthy treat.

4th cake

Image Source: Mashable

Header Image Source: Backyard Simple

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What Really Happened on July 4, 1776?

Guest Blog by Lisa Yauch


Every year, most Americans celebrate the Fourth of July in recognition of Independence Day, when we declared our sovereignty from Great Britain and the birth of the United States of America.

But did you know…

  • Our predecessors actually began fighting for our freedom, during the American Revolution, in April 1775
  • One of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, completed the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776
  • The Continental Congress decided it was in our best interest to declare independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress finally approved wording of the Declaration of Independence after deliberating over the copy for two days following its initial submission on July 2. And so July 4 became the date included in the actual document. It also happened this was the date printed on original copies of this historic piece, which was circulated throughout the new nation.

The formal and handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence, which is on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., was actually signed by our founding forefathers in August of 1776. Great Britain did not receive official notification and a copy of the document until November of 1776. Talk about snail mail!

How July 4 became an official holiday

Approximately 15-20 years after the Declaration of Independence was drafted, people did not celebrate much as you might image they would have. The idea was very new and a wave of political unrest was surfacing.

  • 1790s – The Declaration was seen as controversial and two main parties (the Democrat-Republicans, who sided with Jefferson and the other, the Federalists, who did not) were bitterly divided
  • Following the War of 1812, the Federalist Party began to unravel and new parties of the 1820/30s became more supportive of the Democrat-Republicans; printed copies of the Declaration once again began circulating throughout the nation
  • Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who both uncannily died on July 4, 1826, may have helped spur the notion of an important date to be recognized and celebrated
  • The Fourth of July became more common and celebrated as the years went by
  • In 1870, (almost 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was written!) Congress declared July 4 to be an official, national holiday

While you celebrate the freedom of our great nation this coming Fourth of July, whether with ceremonies, fireworks, spending time with family and friends, just remember, you could have been celebrating it two days sooner had history dictated otherwise.

Sources – Google,, Wikipedia

Cover image via coversfortimeline

Lisa is the Manager of Communications for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

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10 Cool Kitchen Appliances

In almost every household’s kitchen there are standard appliances and tools that everyone uses. These consist of toasters, blenders, pots and pans, forks, spoons, knives etc.  Besides these run-of-the-mill appliances are others that are genius.

Recently, while roaming the internet I came across some interesting kitchen appliances that I had never seen before. Things like a tomato stem remover, vegetable cleaner, a pineapple slicer, and a salad chopper.

I rounded up some of what I thought were the coolest tools that I could find. Most of these are total luxuries and not entirely necessary but they will definitely make your life easier. Check them out!

1. Pineapple Slicer and Wedger  Have you ever nearly sliced both hands off whilst trying to prepare a pineapple? I certainly have, once or twice. I think this tool is incredible because whether you’re preparing the fruit for your family or trying to look fancy for a party, a tool like this one will help you get it right every time.

2. The Original Whirley Pop™ Stovetop Popcorn Popper This may be the hottest summer attraction in your home this summer. Does it get much better than custom made popcorn on your stove top? It’s a healthier and more fun alternative to using the microwave.

3. OXO Good Grips® Apple Divider Here is another tool that I think would make a great addition to your kitchen lineup. Imagine a world where you could have a perfectly sliced piece of fruit in one shot. If you are an avid baker, unlike me, this is a must have for ensuring that your pies look completely immaculate.

4. Icy Bottle Sticks Trays These ice trays struck a nerve in me. I have, for seemingly, my entire life looked for ways to squeeze regular sized ice cubes into my water bottles. It never worked, and I was always stuck with hot beverages. The moment I saw these special ice trays, I nearly jumped for joy. You can bet I’ll be ordering these soon and just in time for summer.

5. Bagel Biter I’m starting to notice an overlapping theme in this post. Many of the products mentioned thus far, and even ones that are to come, all involve ways to avoid accidentally chopping your hands off. Being from New Jersey, bagels are a regular part of my daily diet. Subsequently, this will get a lot of use in my house.

6. Oxo Good Grips® Salad Chopper and Bowl I’ve never been able to properly or gracefully eat salad. I like this salad chopper because it allows you to cut up salad into socially appropriate pieces.

7. Flavor Injector with Storage Case If something as genius as a flavor injector exists why would I ever resort to marinating meat over night again?  This is going to really come in handy this summer for all of the backyard barbecues that’ll go on.  

8. OXO Good Grips® Natural Bristle Vegetable Brush  Have you ever wondered how exactly to remove that gross wax coating from your favorite fruits and vegetables? Here is the answer to your dilemma!

9. Chef’n® Bananza™ Banana Slicer  All you need for perfect, uniform banana slices in no time is the Bananza™. Great for cereal, desserts, smoothies or just a snack, a quick squeeze of the Bananza™ and you’re all set. (Bed Bath & Beyond)

10. OXO Good Grips® Jar Opener

Open jars of any size and stubbornness. Simply wedge the opener around the lid and twist. (Bed Bath & Beyond)

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35 Ways to Show Dad Love at Home on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is this weekend. Stop. Don’t even think of how you need to buy him a tie. Or socks. Or a book he’ll never read. Show the dad in your home you love him not with just gifts, but really good gifts.

Here are some ways to show dad how much you appreciate him being in your home:

  1. Three words: Bacon in bed
  2. Don’t wake him. Doesn’t matter if it’s 4 pm.
  3. Five words: Coffee and bacon in bed.
  4. Remove Legos from the floor.
  5. Charge his iPad before he gets up.
  6. Get off his iPad.
  7. Abstain from comments about his attire, age, pants size, etc.
  8. Place Post-It note on TV remote that reads “your scepter.”
  9. Make plans to repeat step 8 tomorrow.
  10. Seven words: Remote and coffee and bacon.
  11. Do not spill any beverages for an entire day.
  12. Do not aggravate mom which in turn will aggravate dad.
  13. Clean golf clubs and insert them in vehicle of choice.
  14. Remove clubs from the minivan and place in other car so dad can maintain cred at the golf course.
  15. Do not ask him for money.
  16. Remove children from house for minimum of 30 minutes.
  17. Create “daddy do-list” that includes “nap” and “snackage” on it.
  18. Ask dad about “glory days” of high school sports.
  19. Act like you care about #18 for minimum of 90 seconds.
  20. Two words: filet mignon.
  21. Make sure The Good Wife does not grace the TV screen at any point during the day.
  22. Remove bills from sight for 24 hour period.
  23. Two words: 24 marathon.
  24. Compliment dad on how great he looks.
  25. Avoid laughter upon completion of #24.
  26. Tell dad you want to become a doctor. One who goes to med school on scholarship.
  27. Do the dishes for mom. Happy wife = Happy life.
  28. Fix that thing that only takes 5 minutes to complete that dad was supposed to fix last summer but never did.
  29. Three words: Chocolate covered bacon.
  30. At 8 pm proclaim it’s “John McClane time!” and proceed to watch whichever Die Hard dad wants.
  31. Kiss dad goodnight.
  32. Hug him.
  33. Tell him that you love him.
  34. Thank him for helping make this house a home.
  35. Then leave him some bacon for later.


Header image courtesy of

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The Ultimate Summer 2014 Playlist

The first day of Summer officially starts on June 21st but that doesn’t mean we can’t start getting excited a little early. Summer to me means happiness in the form of warm summer nights hanging out in the backyard with loves ones, eating my dad’s ridiculously delicious food from the grill, and jamming out to the best summer songs all season long. It almost seems like summer and music are synonymous and that the best tracks of all time are often released during the three month period. Does anyone agree?

Below you’ll find a playlist of what I believe are some of the most incredible and iconic summer songs of all time. I’ve also put in a few contemporary hits that I foresee being played on repeat. So whether you’re hosting a summer house party or simply want to get in the spirit, these songs are a must have. This summer playlist will definitely bring on some intense nostalgia as well as possibly introduce you to some songs you’ve never heard before. Happy listening!

1. Summer- Calvin Harris

I thought it was more than appropriate to kick off this playlist by making Calvin Harris’ song, Summer, the number one must have. It is a dance song that will make you do just that. Harris, who is Scottish, was, according to Forbes, the highest paid DJ of 2013. He made a reported 46 million dollars.

5. Sky Full of Stars- Coldplay

Coldplay is one of my all time favorites. This song’s words and instrumentals are simply beautiful. I think you should add this to your summer playlist because it will literally make you want to jump around. Coldplay is another band from the UK. They have won 7 Grammys and sold almost 100 million albums.

10. Summertime- DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince 

Alright now, this truly has to be one of the top three summer songs of ALL TIME. Everything from the words, music, and video exude summer. This song is just fun and pure perfection. I listen to Summertime year round. If you didn’t know, the track’s vocals are lead by The Fresh Prince, aka, Will Smith.

15. California Girls- The Beach Boys

It’s not summer if you’re not playing some Beach Boys. I’m actually a ‘Jersey Girl’ but for 2:47 minutes, I want to be a California Girl! The Beach Boys have been considered ‘America’s Band,’ and have been featured on The Rolling Stone’s list of, ‘ 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”

20. Summer Nights- John Travolta

The movie Grease and subsequently the song Summer Nights are both American classics. Along with listening to this song you’ve got to watch the movie once, twice, maybe five times at least during the summer. Grease was a huge box office success and at the time was ranked at number 2 on the charts, right behind Jaws.

25. Summer Madness- Kool and the Gang

One of the greatest Jazz songs, and bands, of all time. Summer Madness, is anything but. It’s slow,  instrumentally diverse, and a reminder that the summer is for enjoying each and every moment. And I’m proud to say that Kool and the Gang is one of New Jersey’s finest, they hail from Jersey City. This song was also sampled for DJ Jazzy Jeff & Will Smith’s Summertime.

30. BRANDY- Looking Glass

“There’s a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes”
This song has references of summer all throughout. Its message is that the summer is short, so enjoy it for what it is while you have it!


35. The Way You Make Me Feel- Michael Jackson 

Would any playlist be complete without a little MJ? Nope. This track makes me feel ready to for June 21st to begin!

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15 Beautiful Backyard Swimming Pools

With summer quickly approaching, everyone is gearing up for the season’s hottest pastime: swimming! The beach can be fun but there is nothing like having your own oasis right in the backyard. Swimming pools have long been a focal point for homes because they bring everyone together where real lasting memories are made. Whether you love to swim or enjoy soaking up the sun poolside, we think you will find these backyard swimming pools amazing.

If you love these pools, be sure to check out more here!

1.  A Custom-Built 27,000 Gallon Salt Water Pool- $929,500 

This home is graced with abundant custom details and craftsmanship yet still exudes comfortability. It features 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.

 Listed with Debbie Yankey of Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace, Realtors 

2.  A 60 Foot Resort-Style Pool- $34,500,000

An overwhelmingly beautiful and timeless cliff-side mansion. It features 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms.

Listed with Chris Cortazzo of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

3. A Rare and Private Gated Home- $3,250,000

There isn’t much this home doesn’t have! It features its own horse stables, an underground shooting range, gym, game room and an expansive, palm tree adorned, pool.

Listed with John Karadsheh of Coldwell Banker Trails and Path

4. A Gorgeous English Country-Style Estate- $10,995,000

A home with elegant and sophisticated design aesthetic. It features 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.

Listed with Hugh Cornish of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 

5. A World Class Estate Set on 18.6 Private Acres- $48,000,000 

A home made with the finest European craftsmanship, materials and design. Features include: a 1-bedroom pool house, and a 4-bedroom guest house. Equally as impressive are its incomparable manicured grounds, exquisite antique statuary, formal gardens, stone terraces, saline Pebble Tec pool, playground and 2 private driveways. The home has 7 impressive bedrooms and 11 bathrooms. 

Listed with Debbie Sonenshine of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 

6. A Classic Greenwich Getaway- $4,495,000

A fabulous and dramatic Greenwich, CT mansion and pool that epitomizes fine living. It features 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.

Listed with Tamar Lurie of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 

7. A Modern Miami Masterpiece- $37,000,000 

A home built by the renowned developer Todd Galser has over 13,000 square feet and features unparalleled views of the Bay and city skyline.

Listed with Jill Eber of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate 

8. Arguably the Finest Luxury Pool in Virgin Gorda- $5,500,000

The standard of construction, choice of materials – marble countertops, andiroba vaulted ceilings, mahogany hardwood floors, custom andiroba doors and windows, over 100 tons of imported stone, jatoba hardwood cabinetry, bedroom sets and interior doors and location, beachfront, Virgin Gorda, are all second to none. This home is set in a very private location amongst Virgin Gorda’s famous boulders. The property sits on a 2 acre lot, offers 240 feet of pure white sand beachfront and fabulous ocean and island views. This home features 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. 

Listed with Coldwell Banker Real Estate, BVI

9. An Old-Hollywood Influenced Retreat in Palm Springs, CA- $1,195,000

A classic 5,000 square foot home with contemporary decor and style. It features 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms.

Listed with John Nelson of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage  

10. An Italian Influenced Villa in Beverly Hills, CA- $45,000,000

This estate boasts 2 guest houses, a majestic library, theatre, swimming pool, pool house, tennis court, wine cellar, gym, parking for 30+ cars, coiffure salon, staff quarters, conference room, 3 offices and an observation deck. There are 10 bedrooms and a whopping 16 bathrooms!

Listed with Linda May of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 

11. The Ultimate Vacation Home in Tortola- 4,000,000

A mountainside retreat with a pool that will make your jaw drop.

Listed with Coldwell Banker Real Estate, BVI

12. An Olympic Grade Pool in Santa Barbara- $4,495,000

A custom designed and stunning Mediterranean home built on a generous 1/2 acre with a careful eye towards combining the breathtaking open space of the prestigious gated community of Ennisbrook with the openness of a European villa. 

Listed with Nancy Hussey of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 

13. A Rare Rooftop Parisian Chateau- $7,477,250

A wonderful and classic home situated minutes from the city center. It features 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms.

Listed with Coldwell Banker Paris Prime Residential 

14. A Home with Views of Ultra Exclusive Town of St. Tropez- $7,409,275

A beautiful newly built contemporary style villa in a private, gated domain for maximum enjoyment and security. 

Listed with Coldwell Banker PREVIEWS Demeure Prestige

15. A Southwest Contemporary Mansion in Scottsdale- $2,500,000

Forever views from this stunning Southwest Contemporary Masterpiece sitting on over 1.8 acres in the exclusive gated community of Boulder Crest at Troon North. Created by some of Arizona’s finest talents, including architect James Kotte, builder Todd Simmons and interior designer Lynne Beyer. Strategically placed, so that upon entering the pivoting glass front door you are greeted with the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. It boasts the finest quality and craftsmanship including the use of natural stone Brazilian cherry floors and walls of glass. The open and flexible floor plan offers areas for grand and intimate entertaining.

Listed with Wendy Walker of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 

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