7 Pantry Staples You Can Make At Home

You don’t have to be the Next Food Network Star to make pantry items from scratch. Here are 7 foods that are not only healthier, but more cost-effective to make at home.

1. Bread

Before you go running in the other direction, let me explain. There’s no need–or knead–to be afraid of making bread at home. Bread can actually be a very simple kitchen project with this No Knead recipe. The steps look intimidating at first, but the process is actually very hands off. 4 ingredients (one of them is water!) and a hot oven are about all it takes!

2. Hummus

Trust me on this one. Homemade hummus is so delicious you’ll have a hard time keeping it stocked in your fridge for very long. You can even go one step further and cook the chickpeas in your slow cooker.  Not only will this stretch your dollar further, you’ll avoid the additives sometimes included in canned beans.

3. Salad Dressing

For a simple foolproof salad dressing, combine 1 teaspoon good dijon mustard with 2 teaspoon acid (any kind of vinegar or citrus juice). Whisk in olive oil until you reach desired consistency (3-4 tablespoons). Taste. If the dressing is too tart, add a dash of honey.  You’ll taste the difference!

4. Broth

According to Reuters, Americans throw away nearly half of their food a year. Shocking, right?! Take a note from the pros. Professional kitchens are masters at creating something from small budgets. Keep a gallon plastic bag in your freezer for vegetable scraps–ends of an onion (even the peels), carrot peels, herb stems, celery tops. Once you have a full bag, throw the contents into a crock pot, cover with water, add a bay leaf and peppercorns and turn it on low for 6-8 hours. Strain, cool and store. That’s all there is to homemade vegetable broth. Use the broth to flavor soups, grains or sauces.

5. Applesauce

With apple season around the corner, keep this idea handy. Your crock pot is about to become your best friend. Follow this slow cooker recipe for a sweet and healthy dessert you’ll be adding to everything–warm on vanilla ice cream, stirred into oatmeal, served alongside pork chops or straight out of the bowl with a big spoon.

6. Nut Butters

I was quite shocked to discover that the peanut butter I grew up eating was packed with added sugar and oils, especially when making your own is about as easy as pressing the on button on your food processor.

7. Pasta Sauce

You don’t have to have an Italian grandmother to make great marinara. Try this simple 4 ingredient recipe tonight. Now that’s amore!

Being a home cook doesn’t have to be difficult. These pantry staples you can make at home are simple and delicious!

Image Source: Flickr

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Use Accent Walls to Add Some Oomph to Your Decor

Accent walls can be the subject of fierce debate. Some design experts think they look dated, while others think the walls are a great way to add some excitement to a room or improve an otherwise dull interior. Creating an accent wall in your home lets you play around with a color you like without committing to using it everywhere or experiment with wallpaper without committing to covering the entire room. An accent wall can also be a great way to highlight a particular interest or to tie the room’s purpose into its decor. For example, if you’re decorating a game room, you can devote one wall to a mural featuring Philadelphia sports teams.

Choose the Right Wall

Accenting the wrong wall can derail your decorating efforts, according to licensed property staging consultant Kristie Barnett. Start off by choosing a wall that deserves to be accented. It might have some architecture on or around it that demands attention, such as a fireplace, a picture window, or molding. The accent wall can also be a wall anchored by a large piece of furniture, such as your bed or a couch.

Select a Visual Approach

Although a single bold shade of paint might be a popular pick, it’s not the only way to accent a wall. You can also use paint to create a pattern on your wall, such as thick stripes, a chevron design, or a checkerboard. Accent walls give you a chance to have some fun with wallpaper, too: You might choose a bold pattern that’s visually striking but would be too overwhelming spread over all four walls of the room.

If you’re renting your home and can’t make permanent changes to the walls, you might use removable wall decals to create your accent wall. Wall decals are available in a number of different designs and patterns, from inspirational quotes to wall-filling silhouettes of trees or cityscapes.

Getting It Right

Beyond choosing the right wall to focus on, you want to make sure what you do to the wall coordinates with the rest of the room. If you’re sticking with paint, pick a color that complements whatever color you’re using for the rest of your walls and with your furniture. A bright pink accent wall might be overwhelming if, say, you have a lot of bright pink furniture but if you have ivory walls and gray or neutral furniture, a pink wall might work nicely.

The same rule holds if you’re using a pattern or design on the accent wall. The design should complement the other areas of the room, both in terms of color and the size of the pattern. For example, a very large mural might overwhelm a small bedroom in a Philly rowhome, but it might be a lovely approach for an expansive living room wall.

Accent walls are a low-commitment way to add some visual interest to a room, and one of the great things about them is that it’s a snap to update them. While it might not be a project you take on every season (or even every year), changing up or removing your accent wall is easy: Simply paint over it or peel off the wallpaper, and start over.

Image Source: Flickr/Nancy Hugo

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10 Design Ideas to Help Freshen Up Your Bathroom

One of our favorite boards on our Pinterest page is our gorgeous bathrooms board. This collection of bathrooms from coldwellbanker.com listings includes an interesting variety of modern, traditional and unique decor styles that inspired us to create a round up of our favorites. Whether you are looking for ways to refresh your decor or seeking remodeling ideas, this compilation has a little something for everyone.

Medina, WA 

Issaquah, WA 

Chicago, IL

Bellevue, WA 

Westport, CT 

Bellevue, WA 

Portland, OR 

Bellevue, WA 

Portland, OR 

Lake Country, BC 

To see more lovely bathrooms check out our Pinterest page.

Follow Coldwell Banker’s board Gorgeous Bathrooms on Pinterest.

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Optimizing Your Small Kitchen to Reach Its Potential

Contribution by Andrea DavisHomeAdvisor

Small kitchens can be difficult to work in, especially when you need to cook meals for families or host parties. You need everything to be accessible, and you don’t want to be squeezing past others as you’re preparing meals. You’d like a bigger space, but the cost of a complete kitchen remodel might not be in your budget. So how do you compromise?

The answer: small kitchens can be bigger if you’re willing to make adjustments and downsize in a few areas. Here are some recommendations for optimizing your small kitchen space so everyone can cook without compromise:

Create more storage space

To make sure all of your spices, herbs and dinnerware are easily accessible in a small area, optimize your cabinets by installing lazy susans and pull-out shelves. That way you can easily roll them out without having to be right in front of the cabinet, and you’ll have more room for storage than just what you can reach in the cabinet with your hands. It’s quick, efficient and doesn’t require installing new cabinets.

Install built-in cabinets

image via Guthrie Kitchen and Bath Plus, LLC

To save on space around the kitchen and avoid hitting your head, built-in cabinets are an effective storage option. They are long and tall, but they’ll be a bit thinner. A cabinet specialist can also cut out a space in the wall itself for additional shelving. That will maximize space while still optimizing for storage. Other built-in cabinet options include underneath the countertops, sink or an island. They should open up space for more storage rather than eliminate room.

Add more by decreasing sink size

Sinks are good for washing vegetables, meat, fruits and sometimes dishes. However, they don’t need to be as large as they often are when installed in kitchens, especially small ones. Consider replacing your large sink with a smaller one to save counter space. You will still have room in the sink to wash vegetables and meat, and there’s an even better appliances for washing dishes: a dishwasher.

Consider a pull-out countertop extension

image via Kopke Home Enhancement, Inc

If you need more countertop space for preparing meats, pastries or other dishes for dinner, it’s always possible to have a pull-out countertop installed underneath the edge of the counter to use when needed. That way you optimize the kitchen space while having the added luxury of more prep space. It will take a countertop professional to install this, but it won’t take them long or require being out of the kitchen like a remodel would.

Replace some appliances with their smaller counterparts

Large appliances—stoves, ovens, ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators—take up a good amount of space and can take away from other items living in a small kitchen. It might serve you better to replace some with smaller alternatives. If you don’t need to do dishes very often, it might be better to have a smaller dishwasher. If you don’t need a lot of groceries at any one time, consider a smaller refrigerator. The same applies if you don’t cook very often with stoves, ovens and ranges. One of the best options for microwaves is to install a built-in one above your range, which will save on countertop space without compromising on kitchen necessities.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine

See more of the home featured in the cover photo here.

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DIY: Installing a Pet Door

If you have a pet, you probably know the little story called “In. Out. Repeat.” Want to stop playing doorman for your dog or cat? Maybe it’s time to consider installing a pet door in your home. Here are a few things to think about before taking on this pet project.

Start outside
Before you start doing any research on pet doors, you’ll first need to address what your pet will do with his new-found freedom. Does your dog or cat have a tendency to run away? Do you live on a busy street? Will your neighbors mind if your pet is outside unattended? Keep all of these things in mind before installing a free pass to the outdoors. Whether you opt for a physical fence or an invisible one, a barrier will give you piece of mind that your furry friend won’t get lost or hurt.

Choose the Right Door
Now that we know your pet will be safe once he gets outside, let’s discuss what kind of pet door is right for you. Just as there are many things to consider when choosing a front door for your home, there are plenty of elements to consider when selecting a pet door. A pet door can be installed in the wall, storm/screen door, garage door or sliding glass door. Cost of installation and complexity of the project varies with each, with storm door installation being the most cost-effective.

You’ll need to take your pet’s measurements before making your door selection. Consider that your pet will duck his head when entering and exiting, so you’ll want to find a door that is slightly taller than your pet’s shoulder height and at least two inches wider than his body. Creating a mock door out of cardboard is an easy way to test your measurements.

Ready to install? Hire a professional, or follow this step-by-step guide from Lowe’s.

Consider Resale
Most “tips for resale” lists recommend removing anything that says “a pet has lived here,” but according to the Humane Society, 62 percent of American households included at least one pet in 2012. Needless to say, there is a large population out there that may appreciate the upgrade. That said, if you don’t want to commit to a permanent pet door, consider opting to install the pet door in your storm door or screen door, so it can easily be removed or replaced should you no longer need it.

For me, home isn’t home without a furry friend. It appears many agree, just check out some of these other pet-centric home upgrades.

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Home of the Week: A Piece of Paradise

In our newest ‘Home of the Week‘ we move from a modern home in Ottawa to a stunning new construction in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Designed by renowned architect Mark Philp in 2011, this $7.4 million home sits comfortably on nearly 3 acres of ultra private land. The expertly constructed home does its town’s name justice because it is absolutely majestic.

From floor to ceiling windows that open up to manicured grounds and serene mountain views, to an open concept that allows you to put your stamp on it – this home is the embodiment of the 21st century design aesthetic that has become the pillar of modern luxury living.

The estate features a 5 bedroom main residence with an ample separate 2 bedroom guesthouse for friends or family. Mark Philps’ attention to the finest craftsmanship really pops in this home. French oak floors punctuate the clean lines while extensive millwork and imported marble countertops brins an air of sophistication to this seriously awesome home.

The panoramic views of the mountains are beautiful, as is the media room and library; but that pool and its perfectly landscaped grounds had me at hello. Jerry Maguire style. Click here if you’d like to see more of this beautiful home listed by Jan Kabbani with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

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DIY Garden Decor Ideas

If you love spending your weekend at home nestled within your garden, primping and perfecting each flower and shrub, you’ve come to the right place. In honor of the Summer season, here are some beautiful and outrageously cute garden and yard decor inspirations.

My favorite garden design has to be the potters made from colorful children’s rain boots. What’s yours?


How could you resist hopping scotch on this pathway!


Align these little feet along side your garden’s entrance. 


These old cans are perfect for kids to create their own designs on. 


How cool?!


Yes, I consider this corn wreath decor. And it serves a duel purpose!


Succulents are all the rage right now. Their beautiful and unique shapes and sizes are perfect for adding something special to your garden. 


The holes in colanders are perfect for draining your plants’ excess water. 


Characters made from planters, perfect for Halloween as well. 


Put old rain boots to good use by making them into pots. A great recycling idea.

To see more landscape and garden inspiration check our Pinterest page.

Follow Coldwell Banker’s board Landscape and Gardening Inspiration on Pinterest.

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Real Estate Headlines With LeBron James, Tom Brady and China

The midsummer classic arrives this week. That’s the MLB All Star Game for those keeping score at home. It also marks the depressing thought that back to school promotions are coming soon if not here already. But let’s not dwell on the negative. Instead glory in the amazing fact that your weekly dose of real estate headlines is here.

Business Insider thinks LeBron James just showed us how to solve what’s wrong with housing.

Here are 3 metrics you need to know in order to sell your home.

Want to see how the 1% live? Here are 5 of the most expensive homes in the U.S.

Are advanced analytics changing real estate?

Bigger Pockets thinks educating your kids about real estate matters…a lot.

Take a look inside 10 amazing celebrity bedrooms. Have to hand it to Tom Brady and Gisele. Might be my fave.

These people do not throw stones…like ever. That’s because they live in glass houses.

Forbes has a great read on 13 rules today’s new home buyers can learn from the past.

According to this report, Chinese buyers are eating up US real estate at a ridiculous rate.

While the economy recovers, millenials are still choosing to mooch off mom and dad. #smh


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3 Small Closet Ideas for NYC Apartments

If you ask a New Yorker for small closet ideas, they might say, “Wait, you have a closet?” And no, out-of-towners, it’s not a joke; plenty of New Yorkers live in apartments that don’t even have a single closet, let alone multiple ones. In fact, we’re a little tired of seeing those HGTV programs where people in other parts of the country pooh-pooh 30-foot-square closets, declaring them too small. But that’s OK — we’re New Yorkers, and we’re going to do what we always do: make it work. Listed below are some simple creative hacks that, when done, will turn your tiny closet into something that might remind you of Mariah Carey’s famous MTV Cribs closet (well, maybe if you squint).

1. Hang a rod on the inside back of the closet door.

This is so brilliant, it’s shocking more people don’t do it. You probably already know about (and even use) hooks on the back of the door. By hanging a rod, you get even more hanging space. If you want to hang clothes on hangers, you’ll need to get hangers with the handles that twist so that you can slant them to the side as they hang, allowing you to layer more clothes.

2. Hang additional poles in a tall closet.

If you’ve got a standard closet with a bar and shelf, take out the shelf and bar. Cut two smaller bars that fit the depth of the closet, and install one in the left corner of the closet and hang the other one on the right side. Then cut two bars that fit the width of the closet. Hang one of those bars high up and one of them lower. You now have four bars to hang all of your stuff. You could even use one of the bars to hang some of your favorite shoes. If you still want to use the shelf, you can hang it above the top bar, and use that space to store things like your out-of-season items.

3. Invest in a ready-to-go closet organization system.

You may think that you want to save money and figure out a way to make more space in your tiny closet on your own, but there are systems out there that have already done all the thinking for you. Before you balk at the price, be aware that a lot of them are a lot more affordable than you think..

With these small closet ideas, you can take full advantage of even the most Lilliputian of spaces.

Image Source: Flickr/Tammy Strobel

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Twins All Star Glen Perkins Knows No Place Like Home

The following a guest post from Coldwell Banker Burnet CEO, Joe Reis, who not only is a Twins season ticket holder, but is also infamous for catching the Kirby Puckett home run ball that helped the Twins win the World Series. He gave it back to Puckett for free asking nothing but a photo with he and his kids. Joe Reis went to the video shoot for Twins closer Glen Perkins to get a firsthand look at what home means to this hometown boy playing for his hometown team.

“We Interrupt this Family to Bring you the Baseball Season”. That’s the message on a sign that hangs in the stairwell of the Perkins’ unique and warm home on Lake Marion in Lakeville, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. It tells the story of the Perkins family. Glen and his wife, Alisha, are wonderful people, dedicated to their two beautiful daughters and their extended families. Baseball is sure an important part of their lives but their priority is family.

On June 30th, Robin Peterson, president of Coldwell Banker Burnet, and I had the opportunity to observe the MLB video shoot that was part of the Coldwell Banker Home Field Advantage video series. Glen, the All Star closer for the Minnesota Twins, had just returned from a road trip. He helped the Twins win the final game of the Texas series by striking out the side in the 9th inning and earning his 20th save of the season. We complimented him on his season and wished him well on his potential selection to this year’s All Star team. The mid-summer classic is being played at Target Field in Minneapolis, the Twins ballpark, so it would be a “home” game for Glen and a dream come true. And dreams do come true as Perkins did make the team and will more than likely close out the game in front of his hometown fans should the American League have the lead in the 9th.

The Perkins’ home is full of special touches and meaningful pieces that truly make it special. Glen and Alisha were very hands on during construction and did much of the work including welding, grouting, carpentry, painting and staining. They were very involved with the design, décor and themes throughout their home and even constructed numerous pieces of furniture. They describe each project with passion and a story; their home is very welcoming and fits them perfectly. Glen displays less baseball memorabilia than expected save for buckets of final out “save” balls, one bucket full for each season, are prominent in his family room. He’s had over 70 saves during the last two and a half years and has become one of the top closers in the game.

We had a chance to meet Glen’s parents too, Jeff and Diane. They told us about the rest of the family including Glen’s 83 year old grandmother who is looking forward to attending the All Star game to cheer for her grandson. They also described a very influential grandfather who helped and encouraged Glen in life and in baseball. I complimented both parents about their son and his achievements. Jeff offered, with modesty, that he felt very proud and blessed. I knew, without doubt, that he was talking about his son as a family man and person first; and, as a baseball star, second.

On behalf of Coldwell Banker, we’re sure proud to be associated with Glen and Alisha Perkins and to be welcome into their home. We invite you inside their home as well in the Coldwell Banker Home Field Advantage video below.

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