Monday, August 31, 2015

The Tech-Filled Kitchen

When you think of advanced technology, you probably don't picture a kitchen.  But technology is moving into every aspect of our lives and it makes sense that it would move into the part of the home where most people congregate.

Some of these advances are already being used in homes, and some are still in the not-too-distant future.  But you can be assured, this isn't Grandma's kitchen anymore.

Steam Cooking


In a nod to healthier lifestyles and higher efficiency, steam ovens are gaining in popularity.

Induction Cooktops

Source:  Appliance Science

Induction cooking involves magnets that create electric fields that heat up the pan, but not the surface of the cooktop.    Not only is this safer, it's more efficient because only the pan is heated and you do not lose any heat to the surface or the air from a pan that doesn't quite fit it's spot.

 Touchscreen Cooktops


Even more advanced is an induction cooktop that includes a touch screen.  Since induction cooking doesn't generate any heat, any surface can act as a cooktop, including a touchscreen.  

LG Food Manager

LG Food Manager
Source:  PC Magazine

You're in the dairy section of your grocery store and you can't remember whether you have a whole gallon of milk or if there's just a sip or two left.  Grab your phone and ask your refrigerator! Food products can be entered into the digital database by selecting icons on the fridge's LCD panel, issuing voice commands, or scanning barcodes or receipts with a smartphone. Using the input list, the system can suggest meals that can be prepared with available ingredients and the Health Manager feature can make recommendations based on customized profiles and dietary restrictions. Chefs who select a suggested dish can then press "Send to Oven," which signals an LG Smart Oven to heat to the proper temperature.

A New Kind of Refrigeration


This appliance cools a biopolymer gel using luminescence.   Items are suspended in the non-sticky and odorless substance that refrigerates them individually at their optimal temperatures. This also eliminates the need for doors or compartments, so the Bio Robot is one-quarter the size of a traditional fridge.

 A Smart Trashcan

Simplehuman Trash Can
Source:  PC Magazine

This trash can has sensors that can tell what your doing and will open the lid for you when you need it, eliminating the need for you to even touch it.  It also has a carbon filter in the lid to keep odors at bay.

WiFi Coffee Machine

wifi coffee

This coffee machine can be programmed using your smartphone.  So just dial up a cup from your desk and it will be ready when you get there.  You can even have it give you an extra shot of caffeine when it detects when your Jawbone UP shows that you haven't had a great night sleep.

Coffee Mafrigerator?


GE has come up with a refrigerator that can brew coffee and tea using it's filtered water system.  Need we say more?!

Food Printer

3D printers can print everything from organ parts to a new bike.  Now you can print your food into any manner of design that you'd like using XYZ's Food Printer.

High Tech Crock Pot


I'll bet you've never heard those words all together.  Belkin has come up with a crock pot that connects with your cell phone.  You can turn it on, adjust the temperature, alter cooking time and turn it off from anywhere that has a WiFi connection.

You heard it all here first folks.  The kitchen of the future is just around the corner.  And it's cooler than ever!

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Weekend Happenings: August 28-30, 2015

Minnesota State Fair

1256 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul
Aug 27-Sept 7, 2015
6:00 am to Midnight
Cost:  Adults (13-64) $13; Seniors (65 and over) $11; Kids (5-12) $11; Children (under 5) Free

State Fair Ferris wheel

If you're a Country and Western fan than you'll definitely want to be at the grandstand of the State Fair this year.  The lineup includes:

Keith Urban - Raise Em Up Tour
August 28 at 7:30 PM

Photo of Keith Urban

Carrie Underwood
August 29 at 7:30 PM

Photo of Carrie Underwood

Alan Jackson - Keepin It Country Tour
August 30 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $40

Photo of Alan Jackson

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Projects To Complete Before It Gets Cold

The hottest days of summer are behind us and kids are getting ready to head to school.  Gone are the busy days of summer when you try to squeeze in every last drop of fun.  It's time to reclaim your weekends.

Fall is a great time to get some house projects done that you didn't get to all summer.  And the weather is perfect...not hot and muggy with flies and mosquitoes, but not frigidly cold either.

We've put together a list of great projects that are perfect for autumn weather.  So put your working gloves on and cross off some jobs from your to-do list.

Steam Cleaning Carpets

Technician cleaning carpet

Whether you hire someone to do it or go rent a steam cleaner for your carpets, fall is the perfect time for this task.  With windows wide open and humidity at low levels, your carpets will dry in no time and you won't sweat buckets while you're doing it.

Staining/Painting/Sealing Windows

Source:  The Family Handyman

At a minimum, if you have wood framed windows, you should seal them with a coat of polyurethane each year to prevent fading and rotting of your windows from condensation build up.  Being able to have your windows open with the screens off for this task is essential.  Which makes fall the perfect time for this chore.  Its also a perfect time to change up the look of your woodwork by staining or painting your windows.

Clean Out The Garage


Pick a nice weekend, throw open the garage doors and get cracking.  Get rid of junk that has accumulated all year.  Install shelving and systems to hold shovels and rakes.  Sweep and then power wash the garage floor.  Won't it be nice to actually park your car in your garage?

Painting/Staining Furniture or Cabinets


If you've been meaning to repaint that old dresser or are considering taking on a bigger project like changing the look of your kitchen cabinets, then now is the perfect time.  Now that your garage is all clean, set up shop in there so that you're out of the wind and direct sunlight. Leave the garage doors open for good ventilation.  Be sure outdoor temperatures are above 50 degrees F for paint to properly cure.

Clean The Deck


Your deck is a workhorse in the summer.  You eat meals out there and entertain guests.  All the traffic along with taking a beating from the rain and weather, can make your deck look dingy and dirty.  Pull out the power washer and give it a good scrub on a nice sunny fall day.  Follow up with a deck sealer and it will be ready to go next spring.

Planting Trees and Shrubs


Fall is a perfect time to plant trees and shrubs.  And the bonus is that many of them are on clearance at landscape centers.  Planting in the fall gives the roots a chance to establish and then next spring it's ready to take off and grow.  Now is also a great time to plant bulbs for spring blooming like tulips and daffodils.

Maintain Outdoor Furniture


It would be a shame to have a sparkly clean deck with grungy furniture.  Now is a great time to do a little maintenance on your outdoor furniture.  Clean off dirt and cobwebs and inspect for repairs.  If you have metal furniture check for rust or flaking paint.  If you have wooden furniture, it might need a good sanding and a coat of polyurethane.

Air Out The Rugs


So many homes have wood floors and rely on rugs for comfort underfoot.  Even if you vacuum regularly, there will still be some dirt that has accumulated over time.  One great advantage to rugs is that you can pull them up whenever you want.  Grab your rugs, haul them outside on a nice day, lay them over the deck railing or some sawhorses and give them a good old beating.  You'll be amazed at the dust and dirt that comes flying out of them.  The sunlight will also enable you to spot any stains that you may have missed.  Spot clean your rugs or give them a good all over scrub and let them air dry in the sunshine.  You'll have brighter and cleaner rugs when you bring them back in.

If you're able to accomplish some of these tasks early in the fall, you'll be able to enjoy them for some time before the snow flies.  And if not, then you'll be all ready for spring when it arrives next year.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Weekly Market Update: August 24, 2015

According to statistics jointly released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, privately-owned housing starts rose 0.2 percent when comparing July 2015 to the prior month and 10.1 percent when compared to July 2014. These numbers are at the highest levels the market has seen since October 2007. This bodes well for the eventual landing of a flock of potential buyers currently holding in a rental pattern or the wakening of those resting in extended parental basement hibernation.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 15:

 • New Listings increased 3.1% to 1,746
 • Pending Sales increased 18.9% to 1,268
 • Inventory decreased 12.3% to 16,950

For the month of July:

 • Median Sales Price increased 4.7% to $225,000
 • Days on Market decreased 7.4% to 63
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 97.6%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 19.6% to 3.7

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, August 24, 2015

Make Your Space Unique

There are so many homes out there that are really beautiful.  But it might be hard to say that there is anything out there that is really unique.

Whenever you go with the latest trends, you are pigeonholing yourself into a certain look.  Why not break the mold and go for a truly unique look that expresses your love of color or you whimsical side.  You can stand out from the crowd in how you decorate or how you build out your spaces.

To give you some ideas, we've found some really unique spaces.  If you're not that adventurous, start with just one part of a room, like one wall.  Work you way up to an entire room.  And soon you'll find yourself with a completely unique home.  Let your inner muse be your guide.

Powder Rooms pasted with colourful pages depicting shells, birds, crustaceans, and more from a reprint of Albertus Seba’s 1731 Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. Elle Decor
Source:  Elle Decor

I WOULD rather have a footed bath...Also good mix of pale blues and whites, with rustic wood walls

If you are a person who reads a lot you know you need to have a way to organize your books and put them into shelves. Most of the bookshelves that you find in stores are simple and really dull, but there are certain designers who create unique bookshelves to be placed in offices or at home, to blend in the interior design that you have. If you want to have a cool library at home, unusual bookcase designs.

outdoors indoors 18 Fresh Interior Design Trends to Watch For in 2014

Corrugated Metal for Interior Walls | Create a unique accent wall with corrugated sheet metal fastened onto ...

Walk by your favorite passage from your favorite book every day | Community Post: 30 Totally Unique Ways To Decorate Your Home With Books

30 Of The Most Incredible Wall Murals  You Have Ever Seen (12)

A black and white photo wall... Where can I do this?

Wowser!  How cool is THAT?!     20-unique-kid-rooms

Unique Bathrooms With Attractive Style. Visit To Create Your Own Unique Bathroom

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Friday, August 21, 2015

Weekend Happenings: August 21-23, 2015

Foo Fighters World Tour

Xcel Energy Center
199 Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul
Aug 22, 2015
7:00 PM
Cost:  $35/$55/$75

Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters are following up the release of the band’s most ambitious album with its biggest ever North American tour to date.

In the wake of Sonic Highways’ climb into the top three of charts worldwide and the announcement of the band's first ever U.S. stadium dates, Foo Fighters have now unveiled a full North American stadium/arena/amphitheater assault for summer/fall 2015. This most massive North American on the road undertaking in FF history will see Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear headline multiple historic U.S. stadiums for the first time.

Royal Blood has been confirmed to support on the July/August run of these newly added dates.

Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Eastbrook Drive, St. Paul
Aug 23, 2015
3:00 PM to Dark, Lanterns light at 8:30 PM
Cost:  $5, $3 for kids ages 3-12 and seniors

The family-friendly festival, reminiscent of Japan's annual Obon holiday, celebrates Japanese culture through food, entertainment, gardens, vendors and more.

MN Zoo Tiger Tracks 5K and Kids Run

Minnesota Zoo
13000  Zoo Blvd, Apple Valley
Aug 22, 2015
8:00 AM
Cost:  $35 for 5K participation, $20 for kids run participation

Lace-up your shoes and make tracks to the Minnesota Zoo for the annual Tiger Tracks 5K & Kids’ Run. This wild run takes place along a beautiful 5K course that weaves through the Zoo and out around the Northern Trail. Bring the whole family for a brisk morning run then stay and enjoy a day at the Zoo. Proceeds from the run will help support the Zoo’s conservation programs.

Course Description: approximately half of the 5K course will run through the zoo.
Ipods and cameras are allowed on the course.

Race cancellation and weather policy:
Events may be delayed, shortened or in rare circumstances cancelled, due to inclement weather. This includes lightening, wind, heat, snow, or the threat of imminent severe weather that may harm or injure participants, staff, set up crew and bystanders. Event time frame includes setup, race and teardown. All possible attempts will be made to contact those involved by email, website and social media. No refunds or transfers allowed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Weekly Market Update: August 17, 2015

That time of year is here for some and on its way for others: School. The summer's fun is winding down. Perceived as good for some weary parents, bad for some summer-loving kids and standard fare for real estate professionals that know August as a quiet identifier of the expectation of housing market slowdown. That said, home sales and housing prices have both continued to edge up across the country on a macro level compared to last year's numbers. Let's take a look at the local trends.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 8:

 • New Listings decreased 2.8% to 1,746
 • Pending Sales increased 13.5% to 1,293
 • Inventory decreased 11.0% to 17,038

For the month of July:

 • Median Sales Price increased 4.7% to $225,000
 • Days on Market decreased 7.4% to 63
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 97.6%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 19.6% to 3.7

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, August 17, 2015

Home Office Inspiration

More and more people are working from home these days.  It only makes sense that home offices are a growing trend in many homes.  Having a separate space to work means you'll be more productive and you can literally shut the door on work when it's time to switch to family life.

If you're looking to convert an extra room into a home office, there are a few essentials you'll want to consider.

1.  Adequate Power
Be sure you have enough power outlets to connect all your electronics, printers, fax machines, etc.  You'll also want to be sure that you have adequate connectivity in your office space.

2.  Good Lighting
Offices are task-oriented spaces and require good lighting.  In addition to an overhead light, be sure to have enough task lighting.

3.  Storage Essentials
If you need a lot of reference manuals, or you need to have fabric swatches on hand, you'll need a place to store them when you're not using them.

4.  Double Duty
Many people opt to use the office as a multi-use area, like doubling as a guest bedroom.  Be sure to plan out your space well so that you can accommodate all the different uses you have for the space.

5.  Make It Comfortable
You spend a lot of time working in your office, so be sure that it's a space you enjoy being in and feel comfortable in.  A natural light source like a window or skylight will help.  Nice decor, art, decorations that speak to your style, and great organization (because who wants to always be cleaning the office!?), will help you better enjoy your work environment.

Now, on to the inspiration!  Here are some great home offices that we love.


23 Amazingly Cool Home Office Designs-2






Traditional Home Office with specialty door, Hardwood floors, Built-in bookshelf, Keendre Indigo Accent Show Wood Arm Chair
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Home Office with Carpet, Global Total Office Accord Executive Mid-Back Pneumatic Office Chair, Crown molding
Source: Zillow Digs

Contemporary Home Office with Hardwood floors, Staples, Columns
Source:  Zillow Digs

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Weekend Happenings: August 14-16, 2015

2015 Blues, Brews N BBQs

Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth
12235 Old Rockford Road, Plymouth
Aug 15, 2015
4:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Cost:  $15, Kids 10 and under are FREE


Twin cities music, craft brews and local BBQ join together for a fourth year to build community and make a difference in the Northwest Suburbs!

This one day event is headlined by local legend, The Lamont Cranston Band, and will also feature fellow Twin Cities acts: Soultight Committee, Jacy Pelstring, and The Lisa Wenger Band.

Lamont Cranston Band: Minneapolis blues legends famous for the “Upper Mississippi Shakedown”, multiple Critics Choice and Reader’s Choice award winners for best “Best Twin Cities Blues Band” in City Page, and inductees to the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame.

SoulTight Committee: Exciting ten piece band bringing old school soul and R&B to the stage. Multiple Minnesota Music Awards nominees, 2001 “Best Cover Band” winner, and noted by Rolling Stone as "Godfathers (and Mothers!) of Soul ."

Jacy Pelstring: Performer/songwriter out of Plymouth with powerful edge-of-your-seat vocals, frontwoman stage presence, and soulful delivery beyond her years.

Lisa Wenger Band: Staple of the Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene, sweet & gritty vocals, and sets ranging from blues classics to contemporary soul and New Orleans R&B.

Kid friendly activities will be available from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. that include face painters, balloon artist, magician, and Home Depot workshop.

Craft beer and wine from 612 Brew, Insight Brewing, Third Street Brewhouse and Winehaven will be available for purchase, as well as BBQ from Mr. Pig Stuff, Chuck Wagon, and Von Hansons.


St. Paul Capitol Grounds
75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd
St Paul, MN 55155
Aug 15, 2015
11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Cost:  FREE


India Association of Minnesota (IAM) invites you to IndiaFest in recognition of the growing and vibrant Indian community in Minnesota.

IndiaFest celebrates the rich heritage, traditions, diversity, and culture of India. The FREE event is open to every Minnesotan, and this year, the festival is bigger and better than ever with performances by two internationally acclaimed Asian Indian dance groups based in Minnesota – Ragamala and Katha Dance Theatre - as well as delectable Indian cuisine from local restaurants, foot-tapping live Bollywood music, exhibits, cultural displays, and Indian bazaar.

Art Crawl Through The Garden

MN Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska
Aug 15 & 16, 2015
Sat:  10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sun:  12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Cost:  $12 Gate Admission, Kids 12 and under are FREE

Art Crawl Through the Gardens

Back for its third year, the MN Landscape Arboretum’s Art Crawl Through the Gardens is a showcase of art and nature. Instead of tent upon tent, artists are nestled amongst the Arboretum’s beautiful landscapes and gardens. Guests are encouraged to take a stroll through the beauty of nature via the Arboretum’s 3-Mile Drive (also accessible by car and the Arboretum's free, hop-on, hop-off Circulator) and enjoy handcrafted items from local artists.

Meet Shawn McCann, multi-media artist who will be creating a chalk artscape on the Dahlberg Terrace, Saturday only. He will be starting by 8 a.m. or earlier. Watch his chalk illustration come to life throughout the day.

Kids Art/Coloring Fun (Adults welcome, too!) on the Dahlberg Terrace, Saturday only, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m..

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Weekly Market Update: August 10, 2015

According to a recent study, housing starts are expected to be slightly over a million for the U.S. in 2015, with more than half of those being single-family homes. New home sales are expected to increase by at least 20 percent compared to last year. An increase in housing starts hints at a state of homeostasis for the residential real estate market. More homes means more choices for buyers, from first-timers to upgraders.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 1:

 • New Listings decreased 8.1% to 1,665
 • Pending Sales increased 14.3% to 1,341
 • Inventory decreased 10.1% to 17,183

For the month of July:

 • Median Sales Price increased 4.7% to $225,000
 • Days on Market decreased 7.4% to 63
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 97.6%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 19.6% to 3.7

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What $250,000 Looks Like

Ever wonder what kind of house $250,000 will get you in different parts of Minnesota?  We thought we'd highlight some metro areas and then some of the larger out-state towns in Minnesota and see how much house you can get at this price.

888 SqFt
2 Bed/2 Bath
0.13 Acres

4608 Xerxes Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

This charming home is located in the Linden Hills area of Minneapolis.  It's a tight squeeze but it does offer a garage and a deck out back.  So it's a big step up from apartment living.  It also is located near lakes and walking/biking paths.

1,978 SqFt
3 Bed/2 Bath
0.34 Acres

14012 Royal Ct, Minnetonka, MN 55345

Move out to the suburbs and you get a bigger lot, another bedroom and bath.  Located in an area of excellent schools and a quiet neighborhood.

2,341 SqFt
3 Bed/4 Bath

7710 Madelyn Creek Dr, Victoria, MN 55386

Victoria is an affluent suburb of the Twin Cities, surrounded by lakes and nature with a quaint but thriving downtown.  While you get more square footage and a newer footprint, you'll have to settle for a townhome in this price range.

3,060 SqFt
4 Bed/4 Bath
0.2 Acres

5304 52nd Ave NW, Rochester, MN 55901

In Rochester, this amount of money will buy you a decent-sized family home in a nice neighborhood, although the lot will be fairly small.

2,723 SqFt
4 Bed/2 Bath
0.5 Acres

2340 Woodland Ave, Duluth, MN 55803

In historic Duluth, you can buy this beautiful painted lady.  This home has a decent-sized lot but comes with some of the hassels of an older home like small closets, leaky windows and closed off rooms.

St. Cloud
1,705 SqFt
3 Bed/2 Bath
0.18 Acres

141 Glenview Loop, Saint Cloud, MN 56303

In St. Cloud, you can get a nice sized home with new construction.  This means granite countertops, a 3-car garage, and all the bells and whistles.

Mankato, MN
2,937 SqFt
5 Bed/3 Bath
0.31 Acres

336 Cardinal Dr, Mankato, MN 56001

Mankato is a nice college town on the Minnesota River.  You can get a lot of house for your money in a great neighborhood.

2,590 SqFt
4 Bed/2 Bath
0.6 Acres

3365 27th St S, Moorhead, MN 56560

There's a lot going on in the Fargo/Moorhead area.  And there are a lot of nice homes to choose from.  This one is in a great neighborhood and boasts over a half acre lot.

2,200 SqFt
5 Bed/3 Bath
0.8 Acres

142 E Garvin Heights Rd, Winona, MN 55987

You can get a whopping 5 bedrooms in Winona.  But you won't have a big selection at this was the only one we could find.

1,968 SqFt
3 Bed/3 Bath
3.44 Acres

1731 SE 34th Ave, Owatonna, MN 55060

While you may not get the newest or the biggest house, you can get a lot of acreage for a decent price in Owatonna.

1,488 SqFt
3 Bed/1.5 Bath
1.8 Acres

1220 Olaf Ave NW, Willmar, MN 56201

In Willmar, you can get this adorable cottage home on a lake with almost 2 acres of land and 400 feet of lakeshore for $250,000.

4,600 SqFt
5 Bed/4 Bath
0.2 Acres

717 Lake Blvd NE, Bemidji, MN 56601

This beautiful older home sits right on the shores of Lake Bemidji and is located right in the middle of town as well.  Plus it boasts almost 5,000 square feet of living space.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors