Newsletter August 2019

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Tips For Selling Your House Fast

"I've yet to meet anyone who relishes their home sitting on the market any longer than absolutely necessary," says Timo. "Unless they don't really want to sell." 


Thinking of selling? Minimizing your days with your house on the market narrows down to a few key things:

"First things first, I'll help you to get the pricing just right," says Timo. "This is key. If your home is overpriced it may very well sit on the market for days, weeks or even months."


"I'm here to help you figure out the sweet spot to maximize your return and attract buyers."


Sometimes pricing a home slightly under market value is a sound strategy to incite multiple officers, if not a bidding war, depending on the current available inventory in your home's neighborhood.


The next most important thing is to make sure your home is move-in ready for a buyer by taking care of any work that needs to be done and sprucing up paint and curb appeal. "Staging is often employed but not always and my executive assistant, Renee Waters is trained in staging with your own furniture and de-cluttering advice for finishing touches. We only have one chance to make a first impression, so it's a good idea to tap into Renee's interior design sensibility and skill."


Next, take into consideration the time of year. "Putting your home on the market during the Spring and Summer housing rush is preferable to selling in the off-season, yet there are benefits to hitting the market before and after the peak time rush," says Timo. "It's critical to make seasonal strategies that work for you   and for prospective buyers."


Also, sharing links on social media may speed up your home sale by spreading word to your personal network and beyond. "Buyers come from near and far and the right one may be closer than you'd think in the form of a friend, neighbor, relative, or someone in their social groups. The more eyes on your listing, the better," says Timo.  


The MLS remains the best resource for marketing a home listing that has adhered to all of the above. "There is rarely any reason for additional marketing if all of the elements are in place," says Timo. "I pride myself on top-notch photography of my listings on MLS. This showcases the home at its best and generates more appointments to view than with listings that lack the allure   of good photography."


"At the end of the day, it pretty much always comes down to price," says Timo. If you're thinking of selling your home in the coming months, call Timo today to talk about strategy at 707- 477- 8396.

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How To Break The Rules On Interior Design This Summer

When it comes to summer season interior design, take a cue from the casual, free-spirited approach that summertime calls for and break a few of the tried-and-tested home decor rules. 


The summer months are the best time to welcome natural light into your home so why not strip those old, frumpy window treatments until you're ready for a new, updated look for winter? Highlighting windows instead of hiding them is a good thing to do if you have sufficient privacy. Sit back and enjoy the views outside, Scandinavian style.


Experiment with patterns. Mix it up to bring life to dull looking spaces this season. Design experts suggest limiting shades of color to three and play more with geometry and scale. Keep in mind that neutral does not necessarily mean boring. In fact, some of the best colors for neutral interior design ideas are soothing grays and buttery creams.


The less is more rule isn't always the best. When decorating your living room or any area in your home this summer, be sure to showcase your favorite items and objects, such as paintings, photo collages from your travels, souvenir items, and other interesting knick-knacks.


Most homeowners tend to paint their wooden doors, walls, ceiling, and other wooden elements in their home in flat white. But painting wood in colors may actually make your space look even more alive and unique.


Summer bounty is all around us making the perfect excuse for homeowners to garnish their homes with flowers and plants. Whether freshly picked from the garden or at a garden center, plants and flowers bring beauty and life to any interior. Situated near windows, flowers flourish in the summer sun creating a summer aroma and stunning setting.


Summer is the perfect time to give your home a face-lift. From bold colors to splashy prints, a few easy decor updates make your home feel like the tropical beach or calming lake cottage you've been pining for. 


Look for unorthodox outdoor spaces to hang out on summer's evening, by hanging a new string or two of outdoor globe lights not just on the deck and porch. Enjoy outdoor rooms created especially for the warmer months with a rug and a couple of deck chairs and an outdoor bar. Don't forget to switch the lights on as dusk turns to dark! 

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Recipe Of The Month

                           Forager's Blackberry Bramble Jam 


  • 4        cups blackberries
  • 1        cup white sugar
  • 2        tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4        teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4        teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2        teaspoon lemon juice


Mash blackberries in a saucepan with a potato masher. Stir in sugar until juices form; place about 1 tablespoon blackberry juice in a small bowl and stir in cornstarch. Pour cornstarch mixture into saucepan. Bring berries to a boil, stirring often, until jam is thickened, about 15 minutes. Store in refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze in batches..

Newsletter July 2019

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WHO IS BUYING ALL THE HOMES?

Timo prides himself on representing homeowners and sellers of all ages and walks of life  with a wide range of reasons for buying and selling in the Petaluma area. It is interesting to note statistics of national trends in home buying and how they relate to local sales, especially if you have a house to sell and you're figuring out how to fix up or stage your home and who may come to look at it.


"According to reports by the National Association of Realtors over the past year, first-time buyers made up 33 percent of all homebuyers, a decrease from the previous year at 34 percent," Timo says.  


"Sonoma County and Petaluma in particular has its own unique housing market and community and it's clear that the hometown charm and quality of life we enjoy in this region is the number one draw for newcomers," Timo says. "But it's good to keep an eye on what's going on throughout the United States this July, in regards for homebuying trends and how they relate to our local market."

Fifty-two percent of all homebuyers across the country fell into the 29 to 38 year range in the last year. Eighty six percent of buyers aged 28 years and younger were first-time homebuyers. Twenty four percent of buyers aged 39 to 53 years were also first-time homebuyers.


"Don't assume your starter home is going to sell to a millennial," Timo says. "There are many folk out there at all stages of life looking to get into the market, which is great."


At 26 percent, buyers aged 29 to 38 continue to be the largest generational group of buyers (the median age is 34), followed by buyers aged 39 to 53 years at 24 percent (with a median age of 45).


Sixty-three percent of recent buyers are married couples, 18 percent single females, only nine percent of buyers being single males, and eight percent unmarried couples. 


The highest percentage of single female buyers was found in the 54 to 63 years and 73 and older age group. The highest share of unmarried couples buying homes is found in the 28 and younger age group.


"Thirty-seven percent of all buyers have children under the age of 18 living at home," says Timo.


Fifty-eight percent of buyers between ages 29 to 38 years have at least one child under the age of 18 residing in the home.


Across the country, twelve percent of homebuyers purchased a multi-generational home to take care of aging parents, for cost savings, and because children over the age of 18 were moving back.


"Although we hear much on the topic, only sixteen percent of buyers aged 39 to 53 purchased a multi-generational home," says Timo.


The age 39 to 53 age group showed to be the most racially diverse group of buyers in 2018. Twenty-two percent of this group of buyers identified as Hispanic / Latino, Black / African American, or Asian /Pacific Islander.


"The most common reasons for recently purchasing a home tend to differ between the generations," Timo says. "For all three groups under the age of 63 years, the main reason for purchasing is the simple desire to own a home of their own. Among the age 63 and older age groups, the desire to be closer to friends and family tends to be the top reason to purchase."


Buyers between 73 and 93 years also, not surprisingly, are purchasing homes for the desire for a smaller home and retirement.


To find out more about who might be interested in your home or to start looking for the right place for your next move, call Timo at 707 477 8397. 

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FREDDIE MAC DEBUTS A NEW REMODELING LOAN FOR FIXER-UPPER BUYERS

National Association of Realtors reports in its Realtor Magazine this summer that as homes age, more homeowners are looking to remodeling to spruce up their properties. Of the nation’s stock of 137 million units, nearly 80% are at least 20 years old, and 40% are at least 50 years old.


"Freddie Mac says its new mortgage product is to help homebuyers finance or refinance fixer-uppers," Timo says. "Eligible buyers will be able to finance the purchase of their home and the cost of renovations into a single-close mortgage."


“Research indicates a large number of older homes need repair and renovation, either to meet the needs of current owners or as a viable option for new home buyers,” says Danny  Gardner, Freddie Mac’s senior vice president of single-family affordable lending and access to credit.


“The ‘ChoiceRenovation’ solution gives borrowers the opportunity to make improvements, renovations, and upgrades to a home using a purchase or no cash-out refinance loan that will be eligible for sale to Freddie Mac. This provides the borrower with a convenient cost saving option for financing renovations.”

Borrowers can also use the ChoiceRenovation mortgage to renovate and repair a property that has been damaged in a natural disaster or for renovations that will help the borrower prevent damage from a future disaster, such as storm surge barriers, foundation retrofitting, or retaining walls.


Gardner says Freddie Mac is launching the new mortgage to offer more flexible financing options in responding to “the increasing age of existing housing stock, the growing number of millennial and other first-time home buyers looking for more affordable home-buying options, and the increase in retirees opting to age in   place.”

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THINKING OF ADDING A FIRE PIT TO YOUR OUTDOOR PATIO?

 Adding a fire pit to your patio or backyard encourages more evenings outside with friends and family, more hot chocolate, whiskey or wine and most certainly more storytelling and s'mores — and you don't need to hire a whole masonry crew to get it done. Order a fire pit, bowls, or table online or better still, pick one up in a hardware store or garden store locally, in time for your next outdoor party. Thinking of going the DIY route, check out these fun selections on a range of fire pit ideas from Good Housekeeping   Magazine: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/g1444/fire-pit-ideas/


If you’re building a wood fire, it’s important to remember that not every piece of timber makes good fuel.

You may already know not to burn trash like coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood. Doing so can release toxic or harmful chemicals into the air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But even when choosing between two logs, there are greener (and less green) options out there. Here are some tips from Good Housekeeping on firewood NOT to buy:


1. Green Wood. When a living tree is cut down, the timber needs to age or "season" for a minimum of six to nine months before burning. Freshly cut wood, called green wood, is loaded with sap   (mostly water) and needs to dry out first. It’s hard to light and once you get it going, it burns very efficiently and smokes horribly.

If you’re unsure if the wood is green, ask the seller when it was cut. You can also check the bark: firmly attached bark that’s still sticky with sap when you nick it is a bad sign.

2. Big Wood. Don’t buy firewood that's too long to fit easily inside your fireplace or fire pit. If it’s more than 5 inches in diameter, you will need to recut or split it before you can use it. The work is great exercise, but if you just want a quick fire, it’s definitely a drag.

3. Non Local Wood. Firewood that travels too far is the number one way that invasive insects and diseases rapidly spread. Though   pests travel slowly on their own, moving an infected log can put new forests at risk and undermine conservation efforts. Millions of trees and thousands of acres of forest have been seriously damaged or even killed by these non-native pests. New outbreaks almost always originate in or near public campgrounds or link back to a homeowner who bought firewood from an infested area.

4. Soft Wood. Trees like pines, firs, or cypress have "soft" wood, which burns fast, leaves few coals, and makes a   lot of smoke that can coat your chimney with soot (not a safe thing in the long run). Seasoned softwood is okay for outdoor fires, but you may want to   avoid it if a fireplace is involved or you want a long-lasting fire or coals to cook over.

5. Drift Wood. Burning salt-saturated driftwood is a bad idea as it can release toxic or harmful chemicals when burned, according to the EPA. It’s probably safer to use your beach finds for decor and mounted planters instead.

6. Oleander & any   wood covered in Poison Oak or Endangered Species. Oleander shrubs thrive in frost-free climates and every part of it is toxic. Definitely don’t burn it, and don’t even use a branch to toast your marshmallow on. It almost goes without   saying not to burn any wood that has been infected with poison oak and certainly don't burn wood from a tree that may be an endangered species..

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Recipe Of The Month

 Watermelon Feta Blueberry Salad 


Ingredients

  • 1/2 seedless watermelon cubed (about 8-10 cups)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  •   2 tablespoons mint leaves  chopped
  • 4 cups arugula  

Dressing 

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Instructions:

Combine cheese, fruit, mint and arugula in a serving bowl. Toss in the dressing. 

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Newsletter June 2019

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Is This A Good Time To Sell Your Home?

"Clients are asking if this is a good time to sell their homes," Timo says.  "Given the current climate, the bottom line is while a flurry of homes hit the market in May and some are sitting on the market for a few more days or weeks on average when compared to the white-hot market of a couple of year ago, buyers remain highly active and the potential to profit from your home sale is highly viable."

From a buyer's perspective, mortgage interest rates have hit a bumpy course over the last few months. For instance, interest rates for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage reached their highest level in over seven years back in November of last year when they hit 4.94 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

By the end of February this year, however, interest rates lowering slightly to 4.35 percent, according to the mortgage loan company, has brought buyers back into the market.

"It’s reasonable to anticipate mortgage rates climbing gradually over the next year," according to Timo. "However, they’re expected to remain considerably lower than the historic high of more than 18 percent in 1981."


"If you’re looking to sell your home and secure the lowest interest rate possible on your replacement house, it's a good idea to try to make a deal sooner rather than later," says Timo.


If you are a homeowner who bought during the recession or shortly after, you likely benefited from historically low interest rates and, up until around 2015, lower home prices that were still in recovery mode.


For those who fall into that category, your home's equity will have risen with nearly every mortgage payment, each renovation you made to the house and all the other houses in your neighborhood that sold for a higher price.


The higher your equity in your home, the more you net from the sale, which will bolster the down payment on your replacement house. The larger your down payment, the better you look to lenders and the lower your interest rate will be and the less likely you'll need to increase monthly payments with private mortgage   insurance.


Sonoma County's real estate market operates on a cycle of its own, the length of which varies by market between 10 and 16 years total. Flow cycles from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market with a period of balance in between.


“Real estate   experts in the area aren't predicting anything that would cause a big spike in home prices or a dramatically increased demand in 2020 and going forward,”   Timo says. "If you sell now, you are not likely to be missing out on a hotter market in the next two years. It's a good a time as any to sell given that economists continue to have a positive outlook for the U.S. economy, capital markets, and real estate fundamentals through this year but not necessarily into next."


California Association of Realtors predicts: “With our national forecast for slowing economic growth, continued discussion on when the next recession will be, and the Fed indicating that the peak of the interest rate cycle could be near, we now expect weaker housing markets into 2020.”


"Even though the housing market likely won’t be the cause of the next recession, an economic downturn would still have an impact on real estate," Timo says. "If you're thinking of selling in the next couple of years, listing your property on the market in 2019 is a safe and sensible bet."

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Petaluma Central Park Envisioned

Timo is proud to be brokering the potential development of McNear Peninsula ... The Petaluma River Park Foundation is in escrow on this amazing property with hopes to create a public park for the entire Petaluma community to enjoy. This is a long-term project, but would benefit many people, families and visitors for many years.  Check out more by visiting the below links!

Click Here for Full Story
Click Here For more info on the project or how you can help 

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Sprucing Up Your Porch For Lounging

Front porches serve as perfect summer settings for gatherings, solo time and a chance to catch up with neighbors. Whether you like to escape the heat inside the house to sip iced tea in the afternoons or lounge on comfy seating sipping wines and cocktails after dusk, a porch is a special extra spot to gather when you’re home alone or entertaining.


Even if you don't use your porch as a living space, you may consider sprucing it up for safer package deliveries and good, old-fashioned curb appeal.

Here are eight ways to upgrade your front porch:

  • Build a new porch
  • Add a roof
  • Bring in new seating/cushions
  • Screen in the porch
  • Install a swing
  • Put in fans or heating
  • Stain or paint the existing porch
  • Replace welcome mats/rugs
  • Add planters, succulents and other plants

Sprucing up your front porch for your own enjoyment is as great reason as any to explore a project, especially since it has the potential to make your home more attractive to home buyers down the line.

“Homeowners, now, more than ever … are increasingly aware of the benefits of being connected to the outdoors, to nature and socially, within neighborhoods for health and well-being,” says Timo.

Want to make  the front of your home more appealing, user-friendly and dynamic? If you’re looking for a brand-new porch that transforms the front of your home, make sure that the porch follows the architectural style of your house.

Ready to find the porch of your dreams? Click here to take a tour of a wonderful range of types and designs. https://www.thespruce.com/porch-ideas-4139852

Recipe Of The Month

Summer officially begins this month and, after so much extended rainfall we are all more than ready for picnic dishes, seafood, fruity desserts, and an array of delicious food from the grill. Don't know what to do with all the local citrus fruit hanging from the boughs? Here's a recipe to quench the thirst throughout the long summer days ahead. And what pairs better than a garden fresh fish taco?


Local Bounty Lemon/orange/limeade 

  • 5 lemons
  • 5 limes
  • 5 oranges
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups sugar

Squeeze the juice from 4 each of the lemons, limes and oranges; pour into a gallon   container. Thinly slice the remaining fruit and set aside for garnish. Add water and sugar to the juices; mix well. Store in the refrigerator. Serve over ice with fruit slices.
 

Summertime Fish Tacos with Pickled  Onions & Cabbage


Pickled Onions:

  • Small halved and thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 stemmed jalapeño chiles, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cabbage:

  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1/4 cup pickling liquid from the pickled onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

White Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Fish:

  • 2 pounds skinless meaty white fish fillets, cod, halibut or haddock cut crosswise into 4-inch by 1-inch strips
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 quart vegetable oil
  • 24 (6-inch) warmed corn tortillas
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Prepare pickled onions up to two days ahead by combining onions and jalapeños in a   bowl. Bring the vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and salt to boil in small saucepan. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onion mixture and let it sit for   at least 30 minutes. Refrigerate if longer. Prepare the cabbage: toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Make the white sauce by whisking ingredients together in a bowl. The sauce may also be   made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead of time.


To assemble the tacos, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat oven to   200°F. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season it with salt and pepper. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt in large bowl. Add beer and whisk until smooth. Transfer the fish to the batter and toss until evenly coated.

Add the vegetable oil to a large Dutch oven to measure about 3/4 inch deep and heat   it over medium-high heat. Working with 5 or 6 pieces at a time, remove the fish from the batter, allowing any excess batter to drip back into the bowl, and add the fish to the hot oil, briefly passing the fish along the surface of the oil to prevent sticking. Fry the fish, stirring gently to prevent pieces from sticking together until golden-brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to the prepared wire rack and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining fish. Divide fish evenly among the tortillas. Top with pickled onions, cabbage, white sauce, and cilantro. 

 

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Newsletter May 2019

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10 Ways To Green Your Home This Spring

      

Earth Day   has come and gone but that doesn't mean we can't continue to do our part to   protect the environment and save on utility bills at home. Going green   may also make a difference at resale: "Promoting energy efficiency in   listings is increasingly valuable in a home sale," according to the   latest REALTORS® & Sustainability Report.


Here's a   handy ten-step checklist Timo recommends for homeowners who want to improve   their home’s efficiency inside and out.

1. Check   windows for signs of drafts and seal any air leaks. Add weatherstripping   around the frame to any drafty windows. Energy-efficient windows tend to help   improve thermal insulation and save on energy costs.

2. Unplug   small electronics when not in use. Computer monitors, cell phone chargers,   lamp fixtures and other small appliances suck up power.

3. Switch to   halogen, compact fluorescent lamps, or LED lightbulbs in your fixtures.   Energy-efficient lightbulbs use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional   incandescent bulbs, according to energy.gov. They may also last three to 25   times longer.

4. Check   your roof for leaks, ponding water and damaged shingles. If a roof   replacement is needed, consider a green alternative such as engineered cedar   or slate roofing shingles. These roofing products are mostly made from   recycled materials and may last for decades.

5.   Traditional insulation may not reach every crack or corner of wall space.   Make sure the siding around the home is fully intact to lessen the chances   that air is seeping in or out. Insulated siding may add a blanket of   insulation to the exterior and help improve thermal insulation and preserve   energy.

6. Go with   eco-friendly outdoor materials for siding, fencing and railing, windows and   shutters.

7. Install   solar panels. Providing you with completely clean electricity they may even   make enough energy to allow you to sell some back to the grid. Solar panels   are a long-term investment and it may take around 20 years for you to break   even depending.

8. Switch to   natural cleaning products. When we wash harmful household chemicals away away   we are simply flushing them into the water supply. That means water will take   more purification before it is safe to use again. For most day-to-day   cleaning tasks, natural products like vinegar, citric acid from citrus fruits   and bicarbonate of soda may be used in place of caustic chemicals to great   effect.

9. Buy   recycled products. It’s great to buy recycled products whenever we can, from   toilet tissue to kitchen roll. Whenever you notice that there is a recycled   option available to buy, it helps to green your home by purchasing it.

10. It's time to get serious about water. Don't run the tap when you brush your teeth   or shave. It’s also a good idea to install a low-flow showerhead – these have   been shown to save up to 160,000 liters of water for a family of four. For homeowners looking to do a home remodel, there are plenty of ways to save on water bills. 

Tips To Go Green at Home

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Turn Your Backyard Into A Staycation

Landscape   design trending is increasingly focused on carving out space in our backyards so that we feel like we are on vacation year round! Who needs airport lines,  freeway traffic jams and living out of a suitcase when the weekend rolls around?

Here’s some design tips from the pros for inspiration:

  • Whatever your plan, keep it low maintenance so you        don't defeat the object of some serious rest and relaxation.
  • Set up a weatherproof speaker system to enjoy music while you’re outside.
  • Position destination spaces— such as a fire feature or a comfy lounge chair in a spot that will draw people        outside but not so far that you forget about it.
  • Invest in outdoor furniture that you actually want to        sit in.
  • Include lighting to make your outdoor spaces        easy to access when it gets dark out.
  • Install an outdoor kitchen if you love to cook.
  • Turn backyard structures into focal points. Some        structures in the garden are necessary—sheds, walls, pool equipment  boxes, etc. Since these are things you’ll see every day, why not make them beautiful?
  • Use salvaged materials, such as rough barn wood and antique iron gates, to create a rustic cabana.
  • Re-purpose an existing structure, such as an old shed, stable or barn into an outdoor dining pavilion. Invest in good quality outdoor furniture that will last.
  • Create a small retreat within a larger garden.
  • Include a simple water feature
  • Surround the space with lush plants
  • Use an arbor or pergola to create a sense of overhead        enclosure
  • Build a wall to separate a small area from the rest of the garden
  • Use tall narrow plants as a privacy screen

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Recipe of The Month

With Spring in full fling, head on over to your favorite farm shop, be it Green String Farm,Tara Firma Farm or one of several farmstands in and around Petaluma. There is an abundance of fresh and delicious produce  waiting for you to fill up a basket and create some of the best   home   cooked meals of the year. In season are kale, cabbage, chard, artichokes, leeks, beets, fennel, brocolini, and oranges . . . so much to spark the inspiration to concoct a splendid Sonoma County feast, however simple.

 

Sonoma County Fennel & Blood Orange Frisée Salad

 

         Ingredients

  • 4  blood oranges
  • 4 tangerines
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 heads of frisée
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pistachios

Citrus Vinaigrette

  • Juice of 1 blood orange
  • Juice of 1 tangerine
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • Local honey
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

1.   Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients.  Season with honey, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate at least an hour before using.

2.   Peel and thinly slice oranges and tangerines.  Arrange on the bottom of a large, shallow bowl or platter. Using very sharp knife or mandolin, thinly slice the fennel and arrange on top of the oranges.   Roughly chop or tear the rinsed frisée and add to the top of the salad. Sprinkle with toasted pistachios.

3.   Toss salad with vinaigrette before serving. Season with freshly ground black pepper. 

Keller Williams Realty Takes on Zillow & Opendoor with It's New Online Home Buying Program

"Keller   Williams, the country’s biggest real estate franchise brokerage has announced   its plans take on competitors Opendoor and Zillow in the new,   all-cash, online home-buying offers craze," says Timo, currently-ranked in the top two of real estate agent/brokers for Keller   Williams in Sonoma County and top 1% nationwide. 

The   Austin-based firm is launching its iBuyer program, Keller Offers, in Dallas this month, with plans to expand to as many as eight “major” markets by the   end of 2019. 


"There's been a lot of chatter about the iBuyer concept. It will be interesting to see how soon this rolls out in the North Bay," says Timo, a Keller Williams leading broker since 2009.


The basic idea is that an iBuyer company estimates the value of a home and makes an   offer. If the seller accepts, they take on the burden of owning, marketing, and reselling the home. Depending on the service a seller chooses, the   benefit is the certainty of an all-cash offer and more control over when sellers are able to move.


Why would anyone do this in a competitive market? Good question. The simple answer is   that real estate transactions are often complex, slow and stressful. The iBuyer concept targets sellers looking for the purchase of their homes at fair market value, saving them the time and work of readying a home for a  traditional sale.


"This may be worth it to some sellers," says Timo. "Though the industry news is reporting that most of the home buyers in these sales are sticking to working with a real estate professional on the other end."


According to Marketwatch reports, Keller Williams plans to invest $100 million through the   program this year.


iBuying start-up Opendoor is currently active in 19 markets nationwide, while Zillow Offers has a presence in nine.


"From what I have learned, the sector represents less than 10 percent of the real estate overall market,” says Timo, "though this will undoubtedly be an important additional option for KW agents such as myself to be able to offer our sellers.”


The Keller Offers program plans to pair users with a Keller Williams agent, a probable key point of differentiation from other more automated iBuyer programs, reports real estate site therealdeal.com.


"New market realities call for innovative moves," says Timo. "I'm keeping an open mind. It remains to be seen how this option translates to real market trends. Needless to say, selling your home is one of the most   important financial decisions you will make. Preparing your home for sale, listing and showing until you get the right offer is part and parcel of a traditional sale. This is when working with an experienced sales agent comes   into its own, making sure everything goes smoothly during transaction negotiations and you're able to move on to your next home with maximum return on your initial investment." 

Call or email Timo today to talk about your real estate plans, questions and options. 

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Newsletter April 2019

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PETALUMA PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS... FINAL Voting Round

 PETALUMA PEOPLE'S CHOICE - FINAL VOTING ROUND

The Petaluma Argus-Courier People's Choice award of 2019 is in the FINAL ROUND of voting and Timo is in the FINALS for Best Realtor of Petaluma! We have a wonderful community with great local business owners. Click here to Vote for Timo and your favorite restaurant, dentist, CPA, veterinarian, etc. bY APRIL 21, 2019 

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SPRING HOUSING FEVER

The repressed demand of people wanting to buy a home in the Petaluma area has woken up a sleepy winter real estate market with a kick-start in the advent of Spring. Ask any seasoned real estate professional in the area what he or she predicts for the Spring/Summer 2019 home pricing and sales arena and you'll likely hear the same response. Though the past six months have been extremely unpredictable, with record low inventory and home sales, the rush of properties coming on to the market in March and April has brought with it a renewed flurry of activity and, when pricing is realistic, a return to the multiple offer scenario which is good for sellers and not so great for buyers.  

"It's back to the drawing board for buyers looking to strategize on best buys in the Petaluma/Penngrove area," says Timo. "When you're up against a bunch of buyers making offers on the same hot property, it's vital to have the stellar representation of an agent who knows how far you should go in a bidding war."


Just when local buyers were beginning to feel that they had the upper hand with soaring home prices stabilizing, the housing shortage throughout Sonoma County has especially pushed entry level homes up another notch, making it a challenge to get into the market. "I've been working with several first time buyers this past year," says Timo. "It is so rewarding to identify their housing needs and to fully utilize my extensive market knowledge and negotiating skills to secure homes for families, young couples and individuals, including seniors, who otherwise had feared they were priced out." 


When faced with rising prices, buyers are being forced to take a leap of faith that their property purchase will be a wise investment. One of the big questions asked is are we currently in a boom in Sonoma County and when will it burst? "The best way to overcome concern over the housing market cycle is to buy a home for the longer term," says Timo. "I advise all of my clients to settle on a home that is readily affordable to them, ideally securing a long-term, fixed-rate, low interest loan." 


Timo's client base consists of people who want to be a part of the local community. "It's an entirely different deal when folk are looking to make the Petaluma area their home, the place to raise kids and grandkids. "I feel that this bodes well for real estate values given that housing prices in neighboring Marin County and in San Francisco are amongst the highest on the planet," he says. "With minimum new construction in southern Sonoma County, it's vital that we work to secure our roots in the area now if we plan on sticking around." 


It is not difficult to picture what a flood of newly minted wealth from an anticipated 2019 next round of IPOs in San Francisco headquartered companies such as Airbnb, Lyft, Pinterest, Postmates, Slack and Uber will have on the Bay Area real estate market. "While the city itself will be most affected by an unprecedented next wave of multi-millionaires, many existing city and Marin County homeowners will likely capitalize by putting their homes on the market. And where will they go?"

The trickle down effect will undoubtedly impact Sonoma Wine Country with weekend tourism to our downtowns, tasting rooms and eateries. Given that the long-awaited freeway expansion is finally shaping up, it's hard to imagine that housing prices in Petaluma and other closest communities with commute access will not be impacted. "This may well put extra pressure on buyers with home values rising in Petaluma, as a result," says Timo. "We're certainly going to have to come up with more creative ways to build the affordable housing that is already so badly needed," says Timo. "Those few empty parcels we see within Petaluma's City limits are gold. Housing is one of the most pressing and important issues facing our community today."


According to Bay Area Market Reports: "Going back thousands or even tens of thousands of years, human beings have tried to predict the future, and whether using priests, oracles, astrologers, pundits, economists, analysts or "experts" of every stripe - and currently having their "authoritative" forecasts headlined every day in the media - we show no aptitude as a species for having the ability to do so with any accuracy."

"Maybe we're not able to fully foretell what's going to happen with the real estate market in the next few years, but it's my best bet that sitting back and waiting is not going to put anyone in a stronger position," says Timo."I'm ready when you are to strategize your real estate plans, your friends and family's future housing needs in the Petaluma, whether they're immediate or sometime down the pipeline."

Thinking of making a move, or know someone who is? Call Timo today for a no-pressure appointment, in person, or by phone — 707 477 8396.

For more information on Petaluma's Regional Housing Plan Debate Click Here - Petaluma360.com "Petaluma Debates Regional Housing Plan"

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OUTDOOR PROJECT - RAISED GARDEN BED

Spring fever is upon us after months of record rainfall in Sonoma County. What better way to celebrate the change of season than by taking on an outdoor project that will pay a little time and effort forward for months to come? Raised planters are the way to go for growing our own, whether you're a weekend garden warrior or a fully-fledged backyard farmer. We're lucky to be able to grow just about everything here in Petaluma, except for bananas and blueberries, so why spend top dollar in the store for salad greens and veggies when we have all the tools at hand to feed ourselves, our friends and families with the best of the west, in our own backyards? Give it some thought. As with any project, it pays to think through your garden project before you buy your seeds or transplants. Making the garden too large to manage is one of the most common mistakes of enthusiastic, first-time gardeners. Here are some tips for a successful new garden.


1.     Choose a Good Location   

2.     Start Small

3.     Pay Attention to Your Soil  

4.     Grow What You Love

5.     Keep Your Tools Simple


Warm weather produce-starters such as salad greens, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, strawberries and squash are ready and waiting to be planted now the chance of frost has passed. Give them a space to grow where the gophers can't get them by building a simple 4 foot by 8 foot raised bed or two. Raised beds sidestep the issue of tricky soil. By bringing in a healthy, organic mix of soil and compost, nutrient contents, drainage, PH and organic matter will boost your garden's growth. We suggest lining with gopher wire and covering structures with bird netting as an essential investment in your crop. Set up irrigation before picking out and planting your summer crop. Protective hoops of PVC pipe hold bird netting in place, especially useful when tender young starts are getting established. Build your beds to a height that are comfortable for you and help to prevent gardening strains and aches and pains. For framing construction details we looked to Sunset Magazine's trusted Home & Garden Do It Yourself section — click here for a step-by-step guide to RAISED GARDEN BED 

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SPRINGTIME PETALUMA MEYER LEMON PEA TOAST

 April calls for Spring greens and fresh, easy recipes that bring the taste of the outdoors in. Here's our tasty alternative to the popular smashed avocado on toast.


  •    1 garlic clove, peeled and quartered
  •    1/4 cup fresh parsley
  •    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, extra for toast
  •    Kosher salt
  •    2 cups shelled fresh peas
  •    2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  •    1/2 tablespoon finely chopped Meyer lemon peel, divided
  •    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  •    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, extra for serving
  •    Freshly ground black pepper
  •    12 slices Della Fattoria or favorite local rustic bread, toasted


Combine garlic, parsley, 1 tablespoon of oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Add peas and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, about 5 minutes for fresh peas. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Transfer pea mixture to a food processor; pulse until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to a medium bowl; mix in chives, 1/4 tablespoon lemon peel, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Stir in reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls until mixture is still thick but spreadable. Season pea mash with salt, black pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.

Drizzle toast with oil; top with pea mash, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon lemon peel and more red pepper, and drizzle with more oil.

Pea mash may be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Newsletter March 2019

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THE RENTAL MARKET

When is the best Time to Buy or Sell a Rental Property?

Looking to buy a rental property, or off-load a rental home or income property? The million dollar, or, likely, several million dollar question for Sonoma County property buyers and sellers is how best to time a property hunt, sale and transaction?

Although there are fewer potential income properties on the market in the first quarter of the year, there's also a lot less buyers ready to pounce, making the ratio of inventory to sales in the buyer's favor. "If you're contemplating an income property purchase, start searching now," says Timo. "Competition typically ramps up by late Spring/early Summer, so let's get ahead of the crowd in identifying properties that fit the bill while everyone else is binge-watching the last of their favorite Netflix series".

Fewer buyers lowers your risk of competing in a bidding war with all-cash, multiple offers and over asking prices come June and July. If you've been on the fence as to when to jump into the rental property market, it is important to note that: "Despite growth in home and other property prices being predicted to slow somewhat in 2019," says Timo "it's unlikely we'll see any drop in prices in the Petaluma area. In fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) expects median existing-home sales price to climb up 3.1% this year from last year's figures." Shopping for properties in March and April allows you to see houses under cooler climate stress before you commit to taking on any challenges as a landlord. Experts predict mortgage rates will rise by the end of 2019. Now is a great time to lock in a lower mortgage rate that may save you thousands of dollars over your loan's lifespan. If you are contemplating selling a rental property in your real estate portfolio, whether to liquidate assets or to reinvest, making a call or arranging a sit down with Timo for a thorough assessment of your options should be your first move. 

"Could the money you've invested in your income property be earning you higher returns elsewhere?" asks Timo. "Do you need the money right now, or will you soon?" These are the critical questions to consider when timing the sale of a rental house or income property. "My next key question, after you've talked things through with your CPA, is could you realize a significant tax benefit from selling a property or is it more, or less beneficial to hold or purchase another property?" says Timo.

Under Section 1031 of the tax code, also known as a like-kind exchange, sellers avoid paying capital gains taxes on income from rental property sales as long as they purchase another property of equal or greater value within 180 days.

"There are lots of detailed rules involved with a 1031 transaction," says Timo. "Working with an experienced real estate professional is key." The rental property market in Petaluma and southern Sonoma County continues to be a viable investment given a widely reported housing shortage. "Depending on your unique circumstances, buying or selling a rental property in this desirable part of the North Bay remains a good option for investors."

For whatever reason, sellers who choose to off-load an income-producing property and pay taxes on the capital gains without a like-kind exchange, depending upon taxable income, should anticipate a significant tax bite of up to 20%. "The easiest way to defer these capital gains taxes is to swap one property for another, or others," says Timo. "The main stipulation is that the swap must be for rental properties only, personal homes or vacation homes don't count." It's all about the timing with a 1031 exchange. If you have one to sell, you'll be given 45 days from the date of sale to identify potential properties with which to close on within the 180 day time frame, or sooner, if your tax return is due. Miss the deadline, then you'll all of the capital gains taxes come due. Another option for rental property owners to avoid some of the capital gains tax on a property they've owned for three years or more is to move into the home as a primary residence for an additional two full years. "Positioning your ducks in a row is all-important when buying or selling rental income property," says Timo. "If you're thinking of buying or selling a rental property in the near future, let's start strategizing now. "



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SLOW COOKED PETALUMA STOUT ALE & CHICKEN SOUP

March calls for comfort foods as chilly weather lingers. Here's a tasty alternative to corn beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day or any day this month!


  •  6 tablespoons plus ½ cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2½ pounds boneless, skinless, trimmed chicken thighs 
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pieces bacon, chopped
  • 1⅔ Lagunitas Brewing Company's Imperial Stout Ale
  • 1 pound carrots, chopped  
  • 8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, halved 
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons thyme
  • 1 cup organic chicken broth
  • 2 cups of green peas  


Combine 6 tablespoons flour with ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper in a wide bowl. Dredge chicken thighs in the mixture, coating completely; transfer to a plate. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until well browned, 2 to 4 minutes per side; transferring to a 5- to 6-quart Dutch Oven or casserole dish. Reduce heat to medium and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and chicken thighs. Arrange the chicken in an even layer in the Dutch Oven or casserole dish. Add bacon to the pan. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup flour over the heated bacon and stir into meat and melted fat for a couple of minutes. Add stout and use a wooden spoon to scrape up browning from the bottom of the pan. Pour mixture over the chicken. Add carrots, mushrooms, onion, garlic and thyme, spreading in an even layer over the chicken. Pour broth over the top. Cover and cook until the chicken is falling-apart tender, four to six hours on a low oven heat. Add in fresh peas an hour before removing the dish from the oven. Season with salt and pepper.

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HOME TRENDS FOR SPRING ...

Kick-start your spring-cleaning plans with an interior refresh of some new paint hues. And contrary to popular belief, your paint job will dry faster in the winter/early spring months compared to summertime. Cold and crisp days allow for your paint to dry quicker than on hotter, more humid days, though you will have to open your windows at least a little to ventilate the room.

Whether you are hiring professional painters or planning on a nifty DIY interior paint job, check out our curated Sonoma County selection of 2019's top color trends:


1. WOODLAND SHADES

“While nature is a common inspiration for home décor, in 2019 we will see a shift from oversized botanicals to the woodlands, with mushroom grays and fern-inspired colors," says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin Williams. "Their earthy color–gray blended with warm brown–gives off an old world, naturalist feel."  

Click here for Shiitake, Sherwin Williams

 

2. ENERGIZING CORAL

Put Pantone's 2019 color of the year – Living Coral – on your radar. According to interior designer Carolyn Pressly, as featured in Elle Decor: "We’ll be seeing more hopeful and optimistic colors in the home, as evidenced by the recent selection of living coral, Pantone’s color of the year. Instead of using coral literally, you can separate it into its orange and pink counterparts." The mood instantly becomes energizing and uplifting, something we could all benefit from.

Click here for Coral Reef, Sherwin Williams


3. HUNTER GREENS

According to interior designer Becky Shea, hunter greens are a great choice for 2019. "Hunter green holds a sultry and worldly value to it, it's intrinsic in nature and all of life. It's timeless in every respect, and works beautifully with natural elements and neutral tones. What we also love about this color is how seamlessly it transitions between millwork, walls, furniture and accessories. Its gender neutrality also holds a special place in my heart, there's no definition of a home feeling more masculine or feminine; it's the perfect balance of each," she says.

Click here for Hunter Green, Benjamin Moore


4. SATURATED MOODY HUES

Currently, I’m in love with the deep saturated colors," says interior designer Keita Turner: "Beau Green, Kendall Charcoal, Hale Navy and Hunter Green. These darker moody colors are perfect for custom built-ins and kitchen cabinetry. I would ideally use them in a room with an abundance of natural light."

Click here for Hale Navy, Benjamin Moore


5. PALE PINK COLORWAYS

Pale pinks are being seen more this year due to their neutral properties and compatibility with other shades. Interior designer Barbara Schmidt explains: "Monochromatic colorways will be popular in 2019, mixed with an abundance of white or lemon yellow for the ideal look."  

Click here for Pale Pink Satin, Benjamin Moore


6. MISTY BLUES

We're expecting to see more blues with a softened mistiness and haze. This moody blue has a calming grey undertone that promotes a serene energy in the home. Blues benefit from a touch of purple to free our thinking, with hints of gray to ground.

Click here for Seattle Haze, Valspar


7.  ALMOST WHITE

There is nothing more classic than an all white palette. And while pure white is a winner with many homeowners and designers, 2019 is the year of “almost-whites.” These shades offer subtle nuances that adapt to different lighting, furniture, and surrounding colors. For those who crave a minimalist palette that still feels dynamic, an almost-white shade is the foolproof choice.

Click here for Decorator's White, Benjamin Moore

Newsletter February 2019

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The Winds of Change Are Brewing In The Southern Sonoma County Real Estate Market By Frances Rivetti

The winds of change are brewing in the Southern Sonoma County real estate market as affordability challenges and buyers fatigue continue to soften the steady median price increases of the past four to five years and create a saner market.

And buyers and sellers are unsure of what 2019 and 2020 may hold for home sales.

"We've seen a period of rapid climb in residential prices during the economic recovery of the last few years and what's been happening since late summer 2018 is a return to a more sustainable housing market in this still, highly desirable region of the North Bay," says Timo.

Lending standards are much higher after the major debacle just over one decade ago in December 2008 when the sub-prime mortgage crisis reached fever pitch. Home values across the United States were recorded as having dropped by an average of 18% causing some four million recession-strapped American homeowners to foreclose.

"Throughout my 20 plus years in real estate I have always guided my clients to purchase a home to enjoy life, not primarily to make a fast profit," says Timo. "If you're in it for the long term, either as a primary home owner or as a rental property owner, buy and borrow responsibly and you're still making a solid investment in the Petaluma/Penngrove/Rohnert Park area today."

According to MLS statistics for the Bay Area in general, some 80% of homes listed in September/October of 2018 saw a price reduction after sitting on the market prior to recorded sale. "Sellers have been reluctant to take on board the fact the days of the infamous bidding wars with multiple offers are largely over for now," says Timo.

On the other hand, buyers have grown tired of overpaying in the aforementioned bidding wars and may expect a lot more leverage going forward into the next couple of years.

"I expect to see prices staying more or less where they are and appreciation slowing to a more steady rate," says Timo. "Unless interest rates go through the roof, I don't think we will see housing prices dropping dramatically in Southern Sonoma County, where, as we all know, there is a serious housing shortage. Sellers will have to adapt to pricing their home to sell and to be prepared for a listing that sits on the market more than a few days."

Millennials are coming of age, growing their families and looking to buy into the limited entry-level inventory, which makes for the fiercest competition in this particularly important housing segment in the Petaluma area, where the median home price was recorded at $695,000 in December 2018.

Realtor.com expects U.S. Millennial will account for 45% of mortgages with 37% going to Gen Xers and 17% to baby boomers in 2019.

"At the other end of the housing chain, many of my Baby Boomer clients are deciding whether to downsize now, or sometime in the future, or, instead, to make modifications to their properties to age in place," says Timo. "With limited inventory in the area for downsizing, it is all the more vital for clients to have their ducks in a row." If you are looking to downsize in the next few years, Timo recommends you sit down with an accountant/and or financial advisor and mortgage broker to maximize retirement income and establish a strategy for housing, mobility, health and financial needs. "Once you have a solid plan in place, it's time for us to start investigating this still very competitive local market together."

The old-fashioned, personal touch is all-important to Timo when it comes to working with established and new clients. "Going forward into the housing market of 2019 and 2020, online search engines, virtual tours and social media continues to grow, though, for me, face to face, personalized and experienced service is every bit as vital as staying on top of the technical tools."

"With a slower price appreciation across the board, incomes finally have a chance to catch up," says Timo. "Ultimately it's a good thing."

Call Timo with any real estate questions at 707-477-8397 or email him at Timo@RivettiTeam.co

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Roasted Sonoma County Cauliflower Soup

Don't let the winter blues get you down. February is the perfect month for savoring winter warming soups stews and casseroles by candlelight. Winter vegetables such as kale and chard, beets, squash and sprouts are in abundance on farm stands and in our back yard gardens, as are radishes, cauliflower and cabbage and our favorite, juicy mandarin oranges, served with freshly cracked walnuts. Seafood is a plenty, be it oysters, Dungeness crab, salmon, scallops. Spring's bounty is on its way, but February's offerings are equally enticing. Comfort food does not have to be overly time consuming. So, invite a friend or two to join you at table and crank up the stove . . .


  •    1 head cauliflower 
  •    4 garlic cloves 
  •    Quarter of a finely chopped onion
  •    4 tablespoons olive oil
  •    1 teaspoon salt
  •    1/2 teaspoon ground blk pepper
  •    2 tablespoons butter
  •    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •    4 cups organic chicken broth
  •    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  •    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •    1/4 teaspoon cayenne  pepper 

Directions:

1.      Preheat oven to 450 Degrees F. Chop cauliflower and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper, toss and lay the cauliflower on an oiled baking tray with garlic cloves. Roast for a half an hour until golden brown, stirring half way through.

2.      Sauté onion in a little olive oil in a small frying pan.

3.      Melt butter in a soup pot or Dutch oven over a steady heat. Sprinkle in flour and stir. Reduce heat and gradually whisk in chicken broth, thyme, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Add cauliflower, onion and garlic and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.

4.      Puree with an immersion blender. Pour back into pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

cLICK hERE TO Pair Soup with the Perfect Petaluma Gap Vintage ...
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February Home Trends By Frances Rivetti

Why wait until Spring to take on a new color scheme or to transform your living space to better suit your spirits?

Interior designers predict a continued move away from all-white kitchens in 2019, with saturated colors such as dark green making statements on partial cabinets and walls with wallpaper motifs and the modern take on the classic floral making a big comeback, especially in small spaces. Look o graphic tiles for pop and punch. Expect to see darker counter tops making a comeback.


Warm up a room with beautiful plants and containers for an instant boost.


According to Elle Decor, everything you invest in for the home should have a purpose. Yes, it's the time of to ditch any unnecessary clutter that has built up over the fall and winter months.  “For 2019, there is greater interest in biophilia–emphasizing the relationship between humankind and nature, and the connections between the two. Natural, organic materials–such as wood floors, stone, and daylight and plant life–remind us of the exterior and brings the outside and nature, in. We are machine- and technology-driven society, but nostalgic about past processes and handiwork, so opportunities for custom Millwork and crafted materials are very important.”—Angie Lee of FXCollaborative.


Blush, dusty pink and bronze are big on the interior color scene for 2019 along with light colored walls, perhaps a move away from the cooler, grey tone neutrals. 


Bold, dark, sultry bathrooms are apparently IN - evoking the spa experience 

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