Thursday, July 30, 2015

Weekend Happenings: July 31 - Aug 2, 2015

Vikings Training Camp

Minnesota State University Mankato
200 Stadium Road
Mankato, MN 56001
July 24 - Aug. 15, 2015
Cost:  Free to attend, $10 parking charge

Vikings Training Camp

For 49 years, the Minnesota Vikings have come to Greater Mankato for training camp. Join in the excitement as fans attend practices and scrimmages at Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Blakeslee Field. The festive Vikings Village includes a Vikings Autograph Zone, a Kids Zone, delicious food along with regular and adult beverages.  Kids can attend free football and cheerleading clinics.  Saturday, August 1st, stick around for team introductions and a fireworks show.

Shakopee Derby Days

Huber Park
150 Fillmore St. N, Shakopee
July 30 - Aug. 2, 2015
Fri:  10:00 am to 11:00 pm
Sat:  7:30 am to 10:00 pm
Sun:  1:00 pm Parade
Cost:  Free to attend

Shakopee Derby Days Logo

Shakopee's 28th annual community festival, held the first full weekend in August. Many events and activities for all ages, including entertainment, Family Fun Park, bags tournament, Taste of Shakopee, soapbox derby, market fair, business expo, fireworks, parade, 5K turf run, turtle derby, and more. Most events are located in Huber Park.

Tour de Taco

Gold Medal Park
2nd St. S & 11th Ave. S, Mpls
Aug. 1, 2015
3:00 PM start time
Cost:  Free to participate, need cash to purchase tacos

Leave it to Minneapolis to come up with this idea: a bike ride focused around tacos. That’s right, at 3:00 pm folks will gather at Gold Medal Park, ready for a casual bicycle ride and plenty of tacos. The route is not yet firmed up, but you can bet there will be plenty of corn and flour tortillas to be had.

Everyone is welcome…as is cash for those places on the tour that don’t take plastic. Simply show up and prepare yourself for bikes, tacos and awesomeness.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Take Pictures Now

Maybe you've found the perfect lot and are planning on breaking ground this fall and will be able to move in sometime early next year.  But you need a place to live until then so you don't plan on putting your house on the market until January. 


Or maybe you know that you're relocating this winter and will be forced to put your home on the market in November.  Or maybe you know you'll move sometime in the future, but just don't know exactly when.


While none of these scenarios is a deal-breaker, one of the problems you will run into is a lack of pictures when you're house and gardens are at their most attractive.


Each summer when your gardens are at their height of beauty, regardless of whether or not you're planning to move, you should snap pictures of the exterior of your home.  Take some early in the morning, at mid-day and at twilight.  Show it off!  Then, when and if you ever do have to move, you'll have gorgeous pictures of your home to show on-line, even in the dead of winter.

Cottage Exterior of Home with Kaiser Wood Shake Roofing, Pathway, Transom window, French doors
Source:  Zillow Digs

Traditional Landscape/Yard with Transom window, exterior stone floors, Stamped Concrete Walkway, Wrap around porch, Columns
Source:  Zillow Digs

Craftsman Exterior of Home with Eldorado Stone Autumn Leaf RoughCut, Pathway, Raised beds, Trellis
Source:  Zillow Digs

Country Exterior of Home with Pathway, Wood bridge, Trellis, Pond, River rock exterior facade, Gravel driveway
Source:  Zillow Digs

Traditional Exterior of Home with Raised beds, Transom window, Pathway, French doors, Sun room
Source:  Zillow Digs

Cottage Exterior of Home with Covered porch
Source:  Zillow Digs

Be sure to include special features of your yard and landscaping that might be buried under snow someday and won't show to their best advantage.

Traditional Landscape/Yard with Raised beds, Outdoor kitchen, outdoor pizza oven, exterior stone floors, Pathway
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Landscape/Yard with Outdoor kitchen, Outdoor GreatRoom Company Sonoma Pergola, 12x16, Fire pit, Arbor, Trellis
Source:  Zillow Digs

Traditional Landscape/Yard with Campania international williamsburg tea table cast stone bird bath, Pathway, Fence, Bird bath
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Landscape/Yard with French doors, Pathway, exterior stone floors, Transom window, Amaryllis & Caladium Candidum
Source:  Zillow Digs

Eclectic Landscape/Yard with SuperDeck(R) IR Reflective Exterior Waterborne Semi-Solid Color Stain, Custom pool waterfall
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Landscape/Yard with Quesnel Antique Floral Down Filled Throw Pillow, Trellis, Arbor
Source:  Zillow Digs

Cottage Landscape/Yard with Pathway, Dove creek quarry natural shape amber quartzite step stone, Raised beds, Gazebo
Source:  Zillow Digs

Highlight the beauty of your landscape during its peak and you'll always have something to show online no matter what the seasons bring.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors,  All pictures from Zillow Digs unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Weekly Market Update: July 27, 2015

Let's try to never forget how bad the U.S. housing market got. The Great Recession lasted from about December 2007 to June 2009. Ever since then, and particularly in the last couple of years, the market has strengthened to once again become a cornerstone in one of the strongest economies in the world. Better lending standards, low oil prices and higher wages are a few of the catalysts for positive change. As we tip into the second half of 2015, the trends still reveal stable housing in a stable economy.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 18:

 • New Listings decreased 7.8% to 1,758
 • Pending Sales increased 7.7% to 1,210
 • Inventory decreased 9.1% to 16,973

For the month of June:

 • Median Sales Price increased 4.7% to $229,900
 • Days on Market decreased 5.7% to 66
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.5% to 97.7%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 15.9% to 3.7

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, July 27, 2015

Making The Most Of Your Kitchen Island

You can find a kitchen island in almost every home these days.  They are an extremely useful part of any kitchen.  There are many ways to incorporate even more usefulness in these structures.  Using pictures, we'll show you many ways to incorporate useful appliances and features into your kitchen island.

Contemporary Kitchen with Flush, L-shaped, MS International Bianco Romano, Farmhouse sink, Complex granite counters

Modern Kitchen with Flat panel cabinets, Hickory - Blackened Brown 5 in. Solid Hardwood Wide Plank, One-wall, Raised panel

Modern Kitchen with Simple granite counters, Pendant light, Flush, Lbl rocks clear cube nickel pendant light, L-shaped

Country Kitchen with Kitchen island, Flush, Pottery barn aaron barstool, KitchenCraft Cabinetry Chelsea Cabinets, L-shaped

Cottage Kitchen with Kitchen island, Tabouret 30-inch metal barstools, Pendant light, Undermount sink, Flat panel cabinets

Traditional Kitchen with One-wall, Restoration hardware - clemson classic single pendant - satin nickel, Wolfe gas cooktop

Contemporary Kitchen with Pendant light, Box ceiling, Oregon tile & marble madera ondeada marble tile, High ceiling, Flush

Rustic Kitchen with Soapstone Tile, High ceiling, Breakfast bar, Pendant light, Stone Tile, Kitchen island, Hardwood floors

Contemporary Kitchen with Exposed beam, L-shaped, Slate counters, Flush, High ceiling, slate floors, Kitchen island, Columns

Cottage Kitchen with Pendant light, Limestone Tile, Flat panel cabinets, Stone Tile, Powell prep table butcher block

Traditional Kitchen with Hardwood floors, Chandelier, Kitchen island, Complex marble counters, Glass panel, Raised panel

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors, all pictures from Zillow Digs.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Weekend Happenings: July 24-26, 2015

Lincoln:  The Constitution And The Civil War

Historic Fort Snelling
Hyws 5 & 55, St. Paul
July 21-26, 2015
Tues-Sat: 10 am - 5 pm Sun: 12 - 5 pm
Cost:  Free

Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War

"Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War" is a travelling exhibit that illuminates how President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership and constitutional vision steered the nation through its most turbulent years and into a future that forever changed America. The exhibit explores how Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the war: the secession of Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties. Visitors will leave the exhibition with a more complete understanding of Lincoln as president and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis.

The exhibit is organized into six main exhibit areas: “Secession Winter,” “Oath of Office,” “Crisis of Secession,” “Crisis of Slavery,” “Crisis of Civil Liberties,” and “Lincoln’s Legacy: The Gettysburg Address in His Time and Ours.”

This exhibition is sponsored by Lincoln Financial Group.

The traveling panel show of "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War" was developed by the National Constitution Center, in collaboration with the American Library Association.

The traveling exhibition is made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tour de Fat

Loring Park, Mpls
July 25, 2015
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost:  $10, reduced prices with donations

Yes folks, the Tour de Fat will once again be meandering through Minneapolis spreading the good word about the positive societal offerings of the bicycle. This is the biggest, most enjoyable TRAVELING BIKE FESTIVAL that we know of. And entrance is FREE!

What is the Tour de Fat you ask? It's a day of connecting people with bikes, beer, and community, while having a good ol' time. And everyone is welcome! This is a family-friendly event that involves costumes, bikes, and a parade that you (and your bike) can participate in!

The Bike Parade begins at 10 a.m. from Loring Park, but be there early to register. And be sure to stick around after the parade for performances by great local musicians.

Proceeds from Tour de Fat benefit Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, Midtown Greenway Coalition and Minnesota Off-Road Cycling Advocates.

Leonardo da Vinci, the Codex Leicester & the Creative Mind

Minneapolis Institute of Arts
2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls
June 21-August 30, 2015
Fri:  10:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Sat:  10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sun:  11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost:  Free


Engineer, inventor, scientist, artist: Leonardo da Vinci embodies the ideal of an innovative mind who uses his vast intellect, powers of observation, and boundless curiosity to explore the world around him. This rare exhibition presents one of Leonardo’s original notebooks, a vital tool in his creative process, and examines how his renaissance thinking is shared by some of today’s most visionary artists, engineers, and designers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Crafting Better Closets

Most homes built in the last 20 years are fairly generous when it comes to closet space.  But what if you live in an older home and have small closets?

There are ways to maximize your closet space and spruce it up at the same time.  We went looking for some great closets that weren't ginormous.  We've thrown in a few hacks, too, so that you can maximize your space no matter what size closet you have.

Putting the shoes on an end wall is a great way to make the most of a small walk-in closet.

Small Walk In Closet Ideas Pinterest | Best Furniture Design and ideas

Just did a bit of tweaking of my son's closet. Getting the laundry sorter into the closet frees up floor space in the room. Love these easy-to-adjust shelves and rods!

Reader Space: A View of a Beautiful Closet

Hang suitcases in awkward spaces on hooks.

Hometalk :: How a Girl Built Her Closet - use small cabinets in sides of closet for shoes

Hang catchalls on the inside of the door. I'll just put two command hooks to hang in my wardrobe! Perfect for panties, gloves, extras, etc.  | 25 Lifehacks For Your Tiny Closet

20 Bedroom Organization Tips To Make The Most Of A Small Space




A good visual for a kids closet, put a low shelving unit below and the hanging area low enough for kids to help put their own clothes away and pick their own everything with storage above for blankets and out of season or too small clothes.

I love being able to see enough of the drawer contents to know what's in there without having to open it. Great ideas for closet with limited space...

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Weekly Market Update: July 20, 2015

With the economy on the ups these days, the Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, is predicting a fine-tuning of monetary policy by the end of the year. In tandem with the improving economy, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.2 percent to 5.3 percent for June 2015. It is widely believed that interest rates will go up before the year is over, which is a pretty clear indicator that the housing market is thrumming along at a good clip.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 11:

 • New Listings increased 2.7% to 2,143
 • Pending Sales increased 7.5% to 1,310
 • Inventory decreased 9.0% to 16,655

For the month of June:

 • Median Sales Price increased 4.7% to $229,900
 • Days on Market decreased 5.7% to 66
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.5% to 97.7%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 15.9% to 3.7

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, July 20, 2015

Best Lighting Options For Your Kitchen

More than any other room in the house, the kitchen calls for the most diverse lighting options since so many functions happen in this space.  Today we'll talk about all the lighting options for a kitchen and, of course, provide some great pictures of some different kinds so you can maybe get some great ideas for your own home.

General Lighting

All kitchens need a main light source for the entire space.  In older homes this tended to be a single light fixture in the center of the room.  On newer homes you tend to see more recessed lighting.  Either way, there are some great options out there.  Many who have recessed lighting have found great LED retrofits that work great in a standard recessed can.

Cottage Kitchen with Bosch Built in Microwave, Rejuvenation Jefferson school house fixture, Flat panel cabinets, One-wall
Source:  Zillow Digs

Cottage Kitchen with Custom hood, Flat panel cabinets, Hardwood floors, Complex Marble, Open shelving, European Cabinets
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Kitchen with Undermount sink, Complex granite counters, Flush, two dishwashers, Pendant light, High ceiling
Source:  Zillow Digs

Modern Kitchen with Flush, Undermount sink, Subway Tile, U-shaped, European Cabinets, MS International - Crema Atlantico
Source:  Zillow Digs

Craftsman Kitchen with Premier Housewares Vintage Home Utensil Holder - Cream, Kenmore 1.6 cu ft Over-the-Range Microwave
Source:  Zillow Digs

If you have a north-facing kitchen or one with no windows, you might also want to consider solar tubes. These tubes funnel sunlight from the roof down to your space using mirrors to bounce the light around.

Contemporary Kitchen with Wood counters, Breakfast nook, Brooks Custom Edge Grain Wood Countertops, U-shaped, flush light
Source:  Zillow Digs

Modern Kitchen with Crown molding, L-shaped, Kitchen island, Pendant light, Flat panel cabinets, Flush, Glass panel
Source:  Zillow Digs

Bar & Island Lighting

Hanging pendant lighting over bars and islands are a great place to show your personality.  If you have an open concept floor plan, keep in mind other light fixtures within the entire space so that you have continuity and cohesiveness.  Other than that, go nuts!

Contemporary Kitchen with MS International Marble Calacatta Lasa, two dishwashers, Undermount sink, Subway Tile, One-wall
Source:  Zillow Digs

Modern Kitchen with Bosch 30" Double Wall Oven Benchmark? Series - Stainless Steel HBLP651UC, Provenza Heirloom Color Dover
Source:  Zillow Digs

Cottage Kitchen with Trim Board Primed Finger-Joint, Complex marble counters, Thrifty White 32 sq. ft. Hardboard Panel Board
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Kitchen with Exposed beam, High ceiling, Pendant light, 5-jar chandelier, European Cabinets, Flush
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Kitchen with Era Backless Counter Stool Designed by Michael Thonet, High ceiling, Concrete floors, Pendant light
Source:  Zillow Digs

Task Lighting

Whether your washing vegetables, chopping them, or sauteing them, you need light to be able to see what you're doing.  Under cabinet lighting really helps with general tasks.  A light over the sink is a must to see the grime on your dishes, and of course, you need great lights over your cook space.

Eclectic Kitchen with Beveled subway tile, Rejuvenation Baltimore Pendant, Painted black cabinets
Source:  Zillow Digs

Cottage Kitchen with Pendant light, Wainscotting, Kraus KPF-1602 Chrome Commercial Style Kitchen Faucet, High ceiling
Source:  Zillow Digs

Cottage Kitchen with Soapstone counters, Davinci soapstone, Raised panel, Slate Tile, Stone Tile, Flush, European Cabinets
Source:  Zillow Digs

Cottage Kitchen with Flat panel cabinets, Pendant light, Calacatta carrara, European Cabinets, Complex Marble, Flush
Source:  Zillow Digs

Country Kitchen with Complex granite counters, Flat panel cabinets, Kitchen island, L-shaped, Farmhouse sink, Stone Tile
Source:  Zillow Digs

Specialty Lighting

Once you have the major areas covered, you might want to consider one or two specialty lights.  Inside glass cabinets or lights to highlight a specific feature come to mind.

Contemporary Kitchen with 1224wc 24" wine captain, Cabinet cup pull, 2 1/2 in. center to center, Wine refrigerator, Flush
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Kitchen with Undermount sink, Glass panel, Stone Tile, Hardwood floors, Kitchen island, tv wall mount
Source:  Zillow Digs

Modern Kitchen with Limestone counters, AKDY Stainless Steel Wall Mount Range Hood, One-wall, Large Ceramic Tile, Flush
Source:  Zillow Digs

Table Lighting

If you have a dining table in or near your kitchen, then you have a fun opportunity to put in a crowning jewel over your table.  Who says you need a regular old light for this space?

Traditional Kitchen with Wolf Gas Rangetop, Undermount sink, Crown molding, High ceiling, Breakfast nook, Flush, Raised panel
Source:  Zillow Digs

Traditional Kitchen with Inset cabinets, La Phillippe Reclaimed wood Rectangular Dining Table, Chandelier, Ceramic Tile
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Kitchen with U-shaped, Viking VCSB5483SS 48" Side-by-Side Refrigerator/Freezer, Complex marble counters
Source:  Zillow Digs

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors, all pictures from Zillow Digs