How to Prepare Your Home Plumbing for the Philadelphia Winter

Winters in Philadelphia are sometimes harsh, and if you don’t prepare your house before the temperatures drop below zero you could find yourself faced with a number of unwanted plumbing issues. Luckily, it’s relatively simple to prepare your home plumbing for winter using basic items that you can find at your local home improvement store.

Insulate the Exposed Pipes in Your Home

There are generally three main rooms in your home where you’ll find exposed pipes: the kitchen, the bathroom, and the basement (or the garage). You can easily insulate the exposed pipes in your view with a product called pre-slit polyethylene insulation. This is a long piece of foam-like tubing that has a slit running down the side. Simply remove the adhesive and carefully wrap the insulation foam around the pipe — this keeps the cold air from freezing the metal. You may need a few pieces, depending on how many pipes you have to cover. Also, make sure you buy the right size insulation, as pipes have varying widths.

Insulate the Crawlspaces

A lot of Philadelphia homes (especially rowhomes and townhouses) were built with small crawlspaces instead of full attics. These crawlspaces are rarely heated during the winter, so if you have piping in them, it’s important to ensure they’re insulated. Fill your crawlspaces with fiberglass insulation, which will help shield the pipes from the winter’s cold.

Triangle Tube boiler

Image Source: Flickr

Protect Water Heaters in Winter Months

Although your water heater is a source of heat for your home, it may also need a little help when icy winter days roll into Philly. You can protect your hot water tank by wrapping it in a large “blanket.” Just visit your local home improvement store and purchase a water heater insulating blanket kit. Shut off the unit first, then wrap it with the blanket provided and secure it with electrical tape. Depending on where the tank controls are, you may have to cut out holes in certain places on the insulating blanket. Carefully follow the directions on the kit you choose to ensure a safe and secure installation. Note that some modern water heaters already come manufactured with insulation — consult your unit’s manual.

Shut Off Your Outdoor Water Source

When the late fall season arrives and winter is right around the corner, you’ll no longer need to water your lawn or garden. Leaving the water on could cause any water left inside to freeze and expand. Since there will be no need to use the water, shut off the pipes that lead to your outdoor water faucet. First, turn the outside water faucet on all the way, then go inside and turn the spigot on the pipe closed until the water stops running completely. Cover the pipe nearest the faucet with a small piece of pre-slit polyethylene insulation for the winter.

Follow these simple steps to prepare the home plumbing in your Philadelphia home for the upcoming cold season, and you should be all set for the winter. If you’re unsure about certain plumbing and HVAC issues in your home, don’t hesitate to call a specialist to your home for a checkup. Keep in mind that if you’re a new homeowner with a home warranty, the visit may be covered.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Les Chatfield

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7 Hosting Tips for Throwing Thanksgiving in Your Tiny NYC Apartment

Need some holiday hosting tips? Just because you don’t have a proper dining room — or even room to put a proper dining room table — doesn’t mean you can’t invite over the family and friends. Below are seven tips for pulling off Turkey Day in your tiny NYC apartment:

1. Edit Your Guest List

This might be the most important of all hosting tips: Less is more when you’re entertaining in a small abode. Now isn’t the time to invite all of your distant cousins for dinner. Try to keep the guest list down to a number that fits easily around the table and the couch afterward, once that tryptophan starts doing its thing.

2. Accept Help

If your kitchen and its appliances are on the smallish side, you may not have room to heat up and store all parts of the holiday dinner. If friends offer to make dishes, take them up on those offers. It’ll help you avoid a meltdown.

3. Invest in a Foldable Table or One With Leaves

A gateleg table (which folds down on both sides) is a great option to have when you’re entertaining. Once the guests leave, you’ll fold it down to less than half its size. A table with leaves is also a great option.

4. Open Up The Space

Make room for your guests by moving any unnecessary furniture out of the dining/entertaining space. Use your bedroom(s) to store things like coffee tables and lounge chairs that take up precious space. If you’re desperate, use the bathtub.

5. Do It Buffet-Style

If your table is small — which we’ll assume it is — and you don’t feel like buying a new one, you may be better off lining the dishes up in the kitchen (or on a small, foldable side table like this) and allowing guests to get up and serve themselves so as not to use up precious tabletop space.

6. Find a Place to Store Outerwear

Don’t fill up your apartment with your guests’ outerwear. If your building has a coat rack (some do), ask them well in advance if you can use/rent it and place it in your hallway so that it’s out of the way. Otherwise, consider buying a cheap over-the-door hook system or use your shower rod for hanging coats (unless, of course, you’ve used your tub to hide your stuff!).

7. Don’t Annoy the Neighbors

Keep in mind that when you live in New York City, you have neighbors in proximity. Don’t be too loud or let the partying go on too late. Better yet, invite the neighbors over for dessert if you want to stay on their good sides. Also, if you’re asking people to take off their shoes or you’re expecting guests with strollers, make sure everything that’s left in the hallway is stored neatly and doesn’t become an eyesore.

Image Source: Flickr/Steve McFarland

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Real Estate Myth Buster

When it comes to real estate, there can be a lot of opinions. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction. Is Spring really the only season to sell my home? Is location, location, location the number one factor in real estate?

Wondering if something is fact or fiction? Well, Ron Aiosa of the Coldwell Banker Boswell Aiosa Group is our real estate myth buster. Aiosa answers questions about curb appeal, the importance of location, and the cost of remodeling. Check out the feature below, which first appeared on LXTV Open House, to find out what is real estate fact and what is real estate myth.

Do you have a real estate myth you’d like us to bust? Tweet us your questions @coldwellbanker.

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Real Estate Headlines with Debra Messing, Gen Z and a Free Bentley

Let me be the first to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, but don’t get too excited. You have a few work days left before it’s time loosen that belt to make room for more stuffing. While you dream of pumpkin and pecan pie, here is your weekly dose of real estate headlines to start your week.

Debra Messing has a new place for $5.45 million in NYC.

The Street has a list of the 12 absolutely cheapest places to live in America.

How do you know if you can afford an investment property?

Gen Y? Pfft. That’s so last decade. Gen Z is the one with ambitions for homeownership.

Can a big house lead to the poor house when it comes to retirement?

Boston.com has a handy breakdown of real estate jargon and what they really mean.

Want a free Bentley? All you gotta do is sell this house.

Should you renovate your home before selling?

And finally, from Pilgrim Point to Wishbone Way, we’re serving up 9 homes where the Thanksgiving spirit lives on year round.

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Setting the Holiday Table with Toddlers in Tow

I am about to let you in on a big secret: Martha Stewart is not my middle name, and Pinterest is not my friend. When I was first married, I envisioned the perfect holiday table with linens, china, sparkling candles, and all the family exclaiming over my beautifully set table and food. Then, the kids came along and reality set in. FYI, toddlers and candles do not mix. So I have now created a much easier plan to keep the little ones and the grown-ups (including me) happy and entertained for the holiday dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner with family

Step 1. If it can’t go in the dishwasher, don’t use it.

I found these white plates with gold trim at Walmart a few years back. They were around $50 for eight complete place settings, and they are dishwasher safe. Bed, Bath & Beyond carries these lovely white serving dishes that are microwaveable, oven-safe, and dishwasher-safe. White makes the perfect backdrop for any food. Also, the dollar store has gold chargers that you can use for everything (see Step 2).

white with gold trim

available at bed, bath, and beyond

Step 2. The dollar store is your best friend.

Not only do dollar stores sell gold chargers to go under your white and gold plates, they have everything else you need, too! To keep my kids entertained while prepping, I let them make the napkin rings — using materials from the dollar store. Your kids can draw, color, and cut out a fun holiday-themed paper shape. To transform it into a napkin ring, all you need to do is tape their creation to a shower curtain ring ($1.00 for 12), and that’s one holiday decorating to-do item checked off your list.

The dollar store is also great for centerpieces, as they carry lots of things like mini-pumpkins, pine cones, and flameless LED candles. For example, I put three LED candles of various heights on a gold charger and surround it with pine cones. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I might even sprinkle on some gold glitter!

turkeys and trees by my little cuties

Step 3. Make it simple

  • When in doubt, add butter. Butter makes everything better.
  • Use bag liners. Put your turkey in a basting bag. Use crock pot liners. I even line my baking pans with foil. It makes the clean up so much easier.

Step 4. The bird: The single most important item on the table.

Many a meal has been ruined because the turkey was thawed improperly — or gasp! — raw. If you’re cooking a turkey, here are a few things to remember:

  • Frozen turkeys take a long time to thaw. If yours is frozen, it will need 24 hours for every 4–5 pounds to thaw. So a 10-pound turkey needs two days in the refrigerator to thaw out.
  • Cooking time for a 10–12-pound bird is 4–4.5 hours. Make sure it’s done.
  • Your bird will still cook internally after you remove it from the oven. If you cut it immediately, all the juices run out and it won’t be as moist. Let it stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Step 5. Take time to laugh.

Laugh at yourself, with yourself, and with your kids. Holiday stress can take its toll on all of us. When you’re hosting Thanksgiving at your Grand Rapids home, just remember, nobody’s perfect and no one will remember if the napkin wasn’t centered precisely on the plate. But they will remember if you serve them raw turkey. So do your best, go easy on yourself, and congratulate yourself on being a great mom!

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Redding’s Thanksgiving Turkey Trot

This year on Thanksgiving morning, before many of us are out of bed, thousands of people will meet to carry out a decades-long tradition. Now in its 29th year, the annual Redding Turkey Trot, taking place on November 27 this year, has been a Thanksgiving highlight for many local people. They come from all over to join the ” race,” which is just a stroll for some and an all-out competition for others.

The crisp morning air and the effort to get to the finish line is just what the body needs before the day’s Thanksgiving feasting begins. In this race, it doesn’t matter how it’s done or how long it takes to do it, as long as you touch that finish line.

This event has something to appeal to everyone: Parents, grandparents, and children of all ages can participate in either the six-mile run or the the two-mile fun run/walk. In the two-miler, you’ll see babies in strollers or wagons pulled by older children, as well as older people in wheelchairs or with walkers. (There are many locals who don’t register for the event but still want to “trot” along anyway.) People come in silly hats and turkey costumes, or they wear their original Turkey Trot sweatshirt. Colors and dates on the shirts change each year — and at this event, wearing a very old Turkey Trot shirt gives a person status and is a conversation starter. When first arriving at the starting location, the fun is in the mingling. Some people only see each other once a year at the race, and it’s fun to see them again.

All participants meet at the historical Diestelhorst Landing. The morning begins with the opening ceremony at 7:45 a.m. Shortly after the official opening is the Diestelhorst Dash, a quarter-mile sprint just for kids 8 and under. Each child is given a treat for participating. After the Dash, the six-mile wheelchair race will begin, followed by the six-mile run. The entire event concludes with the two-mile fun run/walk. At 10 a.m., the awards ceremony is held. The prizes in past years were Marie Callender’s pies for those who finished in record time. Everyone who crosses the finish line, however, receives a participation ribbon.

So dig out your goofy warm hat, put the turkey in the oven (or wear it!), and head to the Turkey Trot. Take the challenge or meander along; either way, you’ll be glad you went. It really does feel good to start the day by participating in an activity with your family, friends, or someone you haven’t seen in a year, and you’ll feel better about eating all the turkey and trimmings later. Register at the organizers’ page (cost for registration varies). Happy trotting!

Image Source: Flickr/Chris Cast

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Thanksgiving Dinner to Go: A Guide for Philadelphia’s Non-Cooks

Thanksgiving is the holiday for cooks — it’s a time to show off your skills in the kitchen and to welcome people into your home. But what if your cooking skills never advanced past making toast? In Philadelphia, that’s no big deal. A number of the city’s renowned restaurants and markets offer either dine-in meals or Thanksgiving dinner to go. Celebrate all you have to be thankful for this holiday, without stressing about burning the stuffing or making the mashed potatoes lumpy.

Have a Turkey-Less Turkey Day

If you don’t eat any type of meat or anything containing animal products, Turkey Day can be a problematic holiday. Instead of confining yourself to celery sticks and olives, consider ordering Thanksgiving dinner to go from an all-vegan meal delivery service. In South Philadelphia, Miss Rachel’s Pantry offers a relatively affordable animal-free Thanksgiving menu. Meals start at $26 for a portion that serves one. You can order a dinner for up to eight people for $185. The traditional Thanksgiving turkey is replaced with either a seitan loaf or a tempeh-lentil roast for people who are also gluten-free. Miss Rachel’s is taking orders until the Friday before the holiday, and will deliver the meals the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Do Some Good with Your Meal

Thanksgiving is about taking the time to give thanks for all that you have. What if you could be thankful and help others with the meal you order? Percy Street Barbecue, a restaurant from the team behind Federal Donuts and Zahav, will donate one turkey to a food bank for every turkey it sells. You can order a 15-pound smoked turkey on its own from the restaurant for $75 or go all out and get an entire meal to feed up to eight for $250. The full meal includes mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, collard greens, baked apples, and a pecan pie.

Enjoy Some History

Philly is a city teeming with history. Even though Thanksgiving wasn’t an official holiday back in the colonial era, you can still enjoy a taste of history on Turkey Day by making a reservation at the City Tavern. The historical restaurant will be serving a Thanksgiving meal similar to what people would have enjoyed in the 18th century. Roasted free-range turkey takes center stage, although other options — including a fried tofu supposedly favored by Ben Franklin — are also available. The prix-fixe meal is available for dine-in, only and reservations are required.

Take in Some Waterfront Views

Try something different this Thanksgiving by enjoying your holiday meal on board the Moshulu, the oldest rigged sailing vessel still on the water. Moshulu has been a restaurant in some form or another since 1975 and has been located at its current location since 2002. For Thanksgiving, the restaurant will be offering an à la carte menu from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. Menu options include fish, as well as a spiced brined turkey.

While Thanksgiving should be a time of rest and relaxation, the hassle of meal prep can often make it stressful. This Thanksgiving, say no to stress and mess by ordering your meal to go or to dine in at your home. When you’re not the one doing the cooking, you’ll find you might actually enjoy the holiday.

Image Source: Flickr

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5 Not-To-Be-Missed NYC Activities This Fall

It’s not winter just yet. Check out these NYC activities before fall is over and you officially start your winter hibernation!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

It’s the parade watched in pajamas all around the country, and you can watch it live and in person. This year’s record-breaking six new balloons include the Pillsbury Doughboy and Thomas the Tank Engine, along with old standbys like Spider-Man, Ronald McDonald, and of course Snoopy (2014 marks his 33rd parade). Performing this year are Idina Menzel (of Frozen fame), Hilary Duff, and many more. Bundle up to experience this awesome NYC fall pastime.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Balloon Inflation

On the Wednesday before the big day (that’s November 26th this year), the balloons are inflated on 81st and 77th Streets, between Central Park West and Columbus (the public entrance is at 79th and Columbus). It’s a bit of a zoo, but worth checking out at least once … especially if you’ve got kids who appreciate getting up close and personal with some of their favorite characters in balloon form.

Smorgasburg

Head out to the open-air foodie fair before it gets too cold (and don’t worry, there are plenty of soups on offer). The season’s final iterations of Smorgasburg will be November 22 at the Williamsburg waterfront and November 23 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s a great way to train for the Thanksgiving overeating.

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

If you’ve got kids, you’ll want to check out one of the most beloved NYC activities of the year: the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, which runs November 15–January 19 at this amazing (and vast) garden in the Bronx. This year, visitors will find more trains than ever — nearly a quarter-mile of track. Model trains zip past popular NYC landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge, all re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials to make a miniature replica of NYC.

Outdoor Ice Skating

Before it gets too cold, do some ice skating at some of the city’s outdoor rinks, including The Rink at Rockefeller Center, Trump Rink (formerly known as Wollman Rink) in Central Park, and Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Of course, it’s never too early for some hot chocolate après-skate.

While it might be tempting to hunker down in your cozy apartment when the weather gets cold, there are too many NYC activities beckoning to city dwellers this fall!

Image Source: Flickr/Patrick Nouhailler

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Home Tip of the Day: Thanksgiving for the Fantasy Football Fan

If Thanksgiving dinner falls right in the middle of the football action this year, be sure to follow these simple tips to keep track of the big games.

The following Home Tip of the Day was filmed at 41 Lafayette Dr Livingston Twp.NJ listed at $2.95 million with Dalia Shliechkorn at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

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A Thanksgiving Feast of Homes

The Thanksgiving holiday is all about the feast. So, in that spirit, we’d like to serve up a feast of Thanksgiving-themed homes. From Pilgrim Point to Wishbone Way, here are 9 homes where the Thanksgiving spirit lives on year round.

406 Turkey Cove Lane, Knoxville, TN

Turkey Cove Lane, TN

38003 Potato Canyon Road, Oak Glen, CA

Potato Canyon Road CA

165 Cranberry Lane, Cheshire, CT

Cranberry Lane CT

4676 Thanksgiving Lane, Plano, TX

Thanksgiving Lane Plano, TX

821 Apple Pie Ridge Road, Winchester, VA

FV8430495 - Dining Room

20853 Yam Street, Orlando, FL

Yam Street FL

111 Wishbone Way, Courtland, MN

Wishbone Way, MN

3196 Southeast Gravy Gulch Way, Pineville, OR

Gravy Gulch Way, OR

204 Pilgrim Point Drive, Lexington, SC

Pilgrim Point, SC

We’re certainly thankful for home.  To find a place to host your feast, browse homes on coldwellbanker.com.

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