Saturday, October 31, 2015

Daylight Savings Time Ends Tonight

Daylight savings time ends tonight (technically tomorrow - Nov. 1) at 2:00 AM.  Don't forget to set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed.

We hope you had a safe and fun Halloween!

Sharla & Eric Stafford

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Weekly Market Update: October 30 - November 1

Terror Trot

Lake Harriet Bandshell
4135 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy, Mpls
October 31, 2015
9:30 AM
Cost:  5K:  $30 pre-race, $40 race day, 10K:  $40 pre-race, $45 race day


The Terror Trot benefits Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Registration is through, the worlds most trusted and secure website for race event registration. You may set-up teams, view teams, transfer registration, and handle all of your individual registration needs. 

Registration includes – A Terror Trot custom T-Shirt, Customer Finisher’s Medal, and a post race water.

We highly recommend wearing a costume for the event! Our favorite costumes will win prizes. We will have a pre/post-race event area for you to take pictures and check out all the costumes the event has to offer. Families are definitely recommended to join, and we even allow strollers on the course if your kids are to young to make it the full 5K.

Wayzata's Boo Blast

402 E. Lake Street, Wayzata
October 31, 2015
11:00 am to 3:30 pm
Cost:  Free

Celebrate Halloween in Wayzata and trick-or-treat at retail shops all around town during Wayzata’s Boo Blast. Families can enjoy in-store activities, spooky specials and goodies for the little ones. The trolley will be running from 11:00 a.m. -3:30 p.m. Don’t forget your costume.

Join Lunds & Byerlys Wazyzata for live music, a photo shoot, facepainting and free hotdogs & chips. Other activities include ‘Scare Hair’ at Salon Marquee, bean bag toss at Nor-Son, Inc., a Halloween photo shoot at Monique of Switzerland Jewelers, mini pumpkin decorating at Lunds & Byerlyls Kitchen, games at TCF Bank, a photo shoot with a gargoyle at Lindblom Jewelers and hang out with Sporty the Mascot at Sports Clips.

Pick Your Poison Paint Event

Bottle & Bottega
1216 W. Lake Street, Mpls
October 31, 2015
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Cost:  $35

Even if you’re not dressed up as one, you can play artist for the evening and paint whichever spooky image you choose from Bottle & Bottega’s selections. And if you’re so inclined, wear a costume because the best costume will win a certificate to paint with them again.

The cost is $35 and includes all paint supplies, step by step instruction, aprons and a 16 x 20 take-home canvas.

The fun begins at 6:00 pm with a reception and the painting begins at 6:30 pm. You’ll be done and on your way by 9:00 pm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Weekly Market Update: October 26, 2015

Jobless claims have dropped once again, matching levels not seen since 1973. Housing sales have continued to perform well, which should not be a surprise to those active in the real estate industry. Good economic environments foster healthy housing, and persistent health should lead to a Federal Reserve rate hike before the year is over.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending October 17:

 • New Listings decreased 0.2% to 1,301
 • Pending Sales increased 9.8% to 1,001
 • Inventory decreased 15.3% to 15,895

For the month of September:

 • Median Sales Price increased 8.3% to $222,000
 • Days on Market decreased 8.5% to 65
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.0% to 96.6%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 26.1% to 3.4

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wood Ceilings Add Warmth And Richness

We have a vaulted ceiling in our main living space that is covered in less-than-desirable popcorn goop.  It's fine.  One doesn't seem to focus on it much.  But why have a nice vaulted ceiling if you're just trying to make people ignore it?

Adding wood to your ceiling adds interest and many times makes the difference between a nice room and a spectacular room.

Many think a wood ceiling would make your space too dark.  But there are so many options for a wood ceiling, including painting it white (or any other color).  It still adds a nice detail that most homes don't have.

If an entire wood ceiling seems too much for you, then consider adding wood beams (or even fake wood beams).  The idea is to draw attention to a space that is normally overlooked.

Today we're highlighting some gorgeous wood ceilings for you to peruse.  Consider how you might incorporate some of these looks into your next project.

I love the color contrast of the wood ceiling and the walls in this room. I like the bank of small windows, that might be something that would work in the living room above the fireplace as well.:

Traditional yellow & gray living room with vaulted ceiling, stone fireplace flanked by built-ins, TV, jute rug, pair of mustard yellow chairs, light gray linen slipcover sofa, blue throw, espresso chunky cocktail table, wall of French doors & transom windows and iron chandelier. Designer: Hickman Design Associates @ Home Improvement Ideas:
Source:  zillow.digs

Love the vaulted ceiling window combo...note the grey and white tones.  The best ones always have a warm or colour object or treatment area.:

Get ready to flood your Pinterest boards with kitchen envy! Check out these dream kitchens from

House of Turquoise: Set The Stage with a touch of turquoise in every room of this Louisville home:

Bleached oak never looked so it with the Belgian bluestone in black, gorgeous!:

Bathroom Trend: A Tub Inside The Shower:

Rustic Living Room with Pella Custom Floor to Ceiling Window, Chandelier, Sunpan Malibu Wing Back Leather Chair, High ceiling
Source:  zillow.digs

Eclectic Living Room with Exposed beam, Sardinia Area Rug, Lee Industries Custom 299-01 Chair, Concrete floors
Source:  zillow.digs

Contemporary Living Room with Window seat, Pendant light, Joybird Franklin Leather Sofa, Hardwood floors, stone fireplace
Source:  zillow.digs

Jeanne Racioppi, Williams & Spade Interior Design Interior Design -

Dramatic modern bathroom with cement walls and vanity, warmed up by the wood treatment on the ceiling.:

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Weekend Happenings: October 23-25, 2015

Twin Cities Film Festival

ICON Theatre
1625 West End Blvd., St. Louis Park
Oct 21-31, 2015
Cost:  $12 General Admission, $20 Each Gala, $50 for 5 films, $80 for 10 films, $120 for 12 films plus 2 tickets to Opening, Closing or Gala Film.

Several dozen films will debut during the 2015 Twin Cities Film Fest, complete with nightly parties and a handful of educational panels.  The 11 day festival is a celebration of film with curated content from all across the country, as well as a good representation from Minnesota filmmakers. (The above trailer for the film "Room" is one of Opening Night Gala films.)


MN Zoo
13000 Zoo Blvd, Apple Valley
Oct. 24 & 25, 2015
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost:  Free for 0 to 2 years, $12 for 3-12 years, $18 for 13 -64 years, $12 for 65+

This October, the Zoo is celebrating fall color and things that go bump in the night. Enjoy up-close encounters with both cute and creepy critters. From bats and tarantulas to tigers and tapirs, HallZooWeen offers something for kids of ALL ages. Participate in hands-on education programs and watch the animals enjoy Halloween-themed treats throughout the Zoo. Weekend activities include face painting, live music, and more.

There has never been a better time to visit or join the zoo! Bring your own little goblins and ghouls to the Minnesota Zoo this fall for some HallZooWeen fun! Costumes encouraged.

HallZooWeen Activities:

October 24 & 25 and 30 & 31
Creature Features – 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m.
Story Time in the Bee Hive – 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Face Painting – 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Tropics Plaza
Family Education/Craft Activity – 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Tropics Plaza
Live Music – 10:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.
Close Encounter Animal Photo Opportunity – 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Apple Press Demonstration – 11:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m. – Wells Fargo Family Farm
Tropical Reef Skeleton Dive Show – 10:30 a.m. – Tropics Trail
Conservation ‘Scarousel’ – 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Hay Maze at the Wells Fargo Family Farm
‘Creepy Crawly’ Animal Encounter – Minnesota Lodge – 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. & 2:30 p.m.
HallZooWeen-themed Wings Financial World of Birds Show -Target Learning Center
Treats and Goodies – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (While supplies last)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Before It Gets Too Cold

Here in the Twin Cities area we have been very blessed with a warmer than average fall.  But that's going to change soon...very soon.  Are your house and yard ready for winter?

Today we highlight some tips for getting your home and stuff ready for the long winter ahead.  A little investment of time now could save you a lot of heartache come spring.


Mulch up the leaves - Leaves make great mulch and add much needed nutrients to gardens and compost piles.  Make the most of this valuable and free resource!


Trim down your plants - Many of your garden plants, like hostas and daylilies, could use a nice trim right before winter sets in.  Leave a few inches of steps poking up and add some leaf mulch.  This is also a great time to prune back bushes.  Consider leaving tall ornamental grasses, however, to add visual interest during the winter months.

Continue to water your trees and shrubs - Adequate water supplies help trees and shrubs throughout the winter and give them a boost come spring.  You can continue watering plants until the ground freezes completely - you'll know when the water just runs off instead of soaking in.

But then shut off the water - Water left in silcocks and hoses can do a great deal of damage.  Once the evening temperatures start dropping below freezing, it's time to turn off the water to all your outdoor spigots and put your hoses and water nozzles away for the winter.  Now is also the time to blow out your sprinkler system, too.


Plant spring bulbs - Fall is the perfect time to get tulips, daffodils and any other bulbs planted.  Come spring, you'll have lots of glorious color right when you're longing for it.

Deal with outdoor furniture - Now is a great time to inspect your outdoor furniture, make repairs, and spruce up the paint or stain.  Then find a good spot to store them for the winter so they are out of the way.  If you have a shed, your set.  If not, under the deck or under the eaves behind the garage are good spots, too.

Winterize your summer machines - Lawn mowers, weed trimmers, motorcycles, fishing boat motors...they all need to be winterized and stored until next year.  While every motor has its own unique maintenance needs, generally most will do best with a fresh oil change and either a fuel stabilizer or simply running the fuel out of it before storage.


Warm up your winter equipment - Do some maintenance on your snowblower before you need it.  Make sure it starts and fix anything that isn't working properly so that you're set to go when the snow flies.

Clean out the gutters - During late winter and early spring there will be many episodes of thawing and refreezing.  If your gutters are full of old leaves then the melted water may make its way under your shingles and refreeze, causing ice dams that can do severe damage to your roof.


Put up Christmas lights - Yes, it may seem early, but won't you be glad that you did it while it was sunny and 50 degrees instead of -10 with blowing snow?  You don't need to turn the lights on yet, but you'll be happy when the season arrives and you can simply flick a switch and be done.



Seal the house - Fight drafts now before the furnace even goes on.  Inspect weather stripping on doors and windows and add it where it's needed.


Make sure the furnace works - Crank up that furnace and be sure that it's in good working condition before the really cold weather sets in.  While your down there, check that your home's humidifier is in good working order as well.

Get fireplaces ready - If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, be sure the chimney is cleaned of soot and that the damper is working correctly.  Inspect a gas fireplace as well to be sure it's in good condition.


Inspect smoke detectors - Sadly, most fires that start inside the home happen in the winter months.  Inspect your smoke detectors and replace all the batteries.

Make room for winter gear - In the summer month you might see a few pairs of flip flops on the floor of your mudroom.  Now is the time to make room for boots, snowpants, big parkas, hats, mittens and scarves.  Set up a spot where wet gear can dry quickly.


Air out the rugs - Now is a great time to take out your area rugs and give them a good whack or two.  Clean up any stains and give them time outside so that the sunlight can kill surface germs.  A quick spritz or two of an odor eliminator will make them smell fresh and clean when you bring them back indoors.

Replace bulbs in light fixtures - The days are definitely getting shorter which means you'll be using your lights a lot more.  To save energy, consider swapping out regular incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient LED lightbulbs.  Do this on lights that you know you'll be using for more than four hours per day.  LED bulbs are expensive and you may not see the return on your investment if you install them in every fixture of your house.

Set aside a few weekends and winterize your home. Then you can snuggle in with a warm mug of cider in front of your fireplace and let the cold weather come.


Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weekly Market Update: October 19, 2015

Supply and demand drive housing prices, and this basic economic tenet has been in the spotlight recently, as inventory remains low across the country while prices continue to edge up in many locales. Cash investment has gobbled up supply in some regions, while a lack of new construction has hit the supply side in others. The truth remains that there is still healthy demand in most corners. Every market and situation is unique, so let's track the listings and sales for the week in your area.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending October 10:

 • New Listings increased 2.5% to 1,453
 • Pending Sales increased 13.0% to 1,053
 • Inventory decreased 14.7% to 16,048

For the month of September:

 • Median Sales Price increased 8.3% to $222,000
 • Days on Market decreased 8.5% to 65
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.0% to 96.6%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 26.1% to 3.4

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, October 19, 2015

Master Bedroom Getaway

I used to wonder what all the fuss was about a big master bedroom suite.  I mean, you have several other rooms in the house.  Why would you want to spend all that time in your bedroom?

And then my kids got bigger.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my kids deeply.  But I don't always love what they watch on TV.  I don't always love the music they want to listen to.  And I don't always love the brotherly/sisterly banter (nice word for fighting) that seems constant.  Plus, they are staying up later than me now.  I need my own space!

Suddenly, my bedroom is looking much more attractive.  Yes, we have family time, yes I'm involved in their lives, and yes, I'm there for them when they need me.  But I also need some space for me and my husband to simply chill away from the noise and constant demands of the family.

Therefore, I am revising my previous position and can now see exactly why a family would want a large master suite.  I've been shopping, people.  Here are some great features of a great master bedroom suite.

Serenity Now

The most important feature, to me anyway, is that the master suite is a calm oasis in the storm.  Colors should be calming and decor shouldn't be too obtrusive.  It should be a restful place.

Traditional Master Bedroom with High ceiling, Armstrong Flooring Oak Wide Plank (5 in. and up) Hardwood, Paint1, Carpet
Source:  Zillow Digs

Modern Master Bedroom with Threshold(TM) Seersucker Duvet Cover Set, Sunpan Modern Alexa X-Base Faux Leather Bench
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Master Bedroom with Stikwood Wall D?cor, Reclaimed Weathered Wood, slate floors
Source:  Zillow Digs

Enough Space To Sit

It's highly likely that you won't be just sleeping in your bedroom.  You'll be watching TV, reading, or just chatting together.  Make sure there's enough space for some comfy chairs so you can relax without actually going to bed.

Country Master Bedroom with Exposed truss, Capel Rugs Elsinore Honeycombs Wheat Olefin Rug, Carpet, French doors, Ceiling fan
Source:  Zillow Digs

Contemporary Master Bedroom with Carpet, Woodbridge Home Designs - Cottage Two-Tone TV Stand, A.R.T. - Blair Fawn Kidney Sofa
Source:  Zillow Digs

Modern Master Bedroom with Hardwood floors, Carpet, Wainscotting, Pottery Barn Lorraine Tufted Tall Bed & Headboard
Source:  Zillow Digs

Kitchen Convenience

Have you ever walked into the kitchen where all the pre-teens are hanging out and have the room go silent?  Only to have it resume after you leave with your soda?  Yeah, me neither.

While you don't want to have an entire kitchen in your bedroom, it might be nice to have a few conveniences.  Maybe you like coffee first thing in the morning - a coffee maker with some mugs might be your thing.  Or maybe you like popcorn and a soda while you're watching a movie in your room.  A mini-fridge and a small microwave might be the perfect solution.




What NOT To Have

There are a few things I'd recommend that you do not put in your master bedroom.  A home office needs it's own separate space, not connected to a spot where you are trying to relax.  Likewise, exercise equipment should be somewhere else in the home.  Remember, your bedroom is your place to relax and rest.  Keep it the sanctuary it was meant to be.



Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Weekend Happenings: October 16-18, 2015

Twin Cities Book Festival

MN State Fairgrounds, St. Paul
Oct. 17, 2015
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost:  Free


The Twin Cities Book Festival—brought to you by Rain Taxi—is not only the largest and most important literary gathering in the Upper Midwest, it is the annual get-together for the Twin Cities’ devoted literary community. This FREE, day-long festival brings people together to celebrate our vibrant literary culture. The festival welcomes ‘rock star’ authors, local literary heroes, publishers, magazines, booksellers—all of whom connect over great books and conversations.

Explore Minnesota Slopes, Ski & Snowboard Expo

Mall of America
8100 24th Ave. S., Bloomington
Oct. 16 & 17, 2015
10:00 AM to 9:30 PM
Cost:  Free

Get ready to kick off your ski season right! Get great deals on passes & tickets from local and western ski areas, see what’s new in equipment, and talk to the local Reps in the retail area and more! Kids can even learn how to snowboard at Burton’s Riglet Park right in the Rotunda! The excitement doesn’t just end there. There are many other vendors to visit! We hope you can join us!

Numerous local, regional and Western ski areas will exhibit, offering specials on lift tickets, season passes, instructional programs and more. Attendees will also see the latest ski and snowboard gear and apparel from leading manufacturers, and get expert advice from top local retailers.

Winter RUNway Show

Fulton Beer
414 6th Ave. N., Mpls
Oct. 18, 2015
6:00 PM
Cost:  $10

It’s no secret that we are hearty folk and just because the temperature drops doesn’t mean we stop running outside. So why not look your best when you’re running in and against the elements (if you run at all, that is)? This event, hosted by Mill City Running, will show off some of the season’s hottest running attire and raise money for Youthlink, which helps local teens go from homeless to hopeful.

A couple of familiar faces will walk the catwalk including Minneapolis city council member Jacob Frey and elite runner Heather Kampf while Fulton pours pints all night long. The fun begins at 6:00 pm and tickets are $10 each, which includes your first pint of beer. You can get yours at Mill City Running, online or at the door.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Don't Rake This Fall


Every season has it's beauty, but, in my opinion, none beat the glory of autumn at its peak.  Maybe it has something to do with the short span weeks that limit this beauty.  It makes it all the more precious.

Raking up all these little wonders and stuffing them into a plastic bag seems almost sacrilegious.  So I wanted to find out ways of preserving a little of this beauty or at least, putting it to better use.  Lucky for you, I'm gonna share all my finds.

1.  Make Flowers

For all you crafty crafters, you're gonna love this!  Find the most colorful leaves you can, and fold them into roses and other flowers.  Who knew?  I love this idea and think it would look beautiful on a Thanksgiving table centerpiece.


2.  Pressed Leaves

Yeah, you probably remember doing this as a kid.  This will bring back memories for you, then.  You flatten some leaves between newspaper and some books overnight.  The next day, lay the leaves between two sheets of wax paper and press with a hot iron.  This preserves the beautiful color and prevents them from crumbling.  Then the fun really begins.  Frame them, use them as book marks, or do just about whatever you want with them.  


3.  Give The Fish A Present

Did you know that old leaves are great for an aquarium?  They lower the pH of the water making a more healthy environment for the fish.  They fight bacteria and fungi and reduce the heavy metal content of the water.  The leaves can serve as habitat for the fish and some fish may even eat them.  Give it a try.  Your fish will thank you.


4.  Be Artsy

Leaves can be used like any other artistic medium.  It just requires you to be creative and come up with the idea.  I love this beautiful dried leaf display that simply uses leaves, a stick and a stained piece of plywood.


5.  Have Fun

The kids will love you to death when you pile up a bunch of leaves for jumping in (okay, I realize this will require a little raking, but hey, it's a great idea!)


6.  Be Nice To Your Yard & Garden

Okay, so maybe you haven't used up all the leaves not to mention that big pile you have to contend with that they kids were jumping in.  I still urge you not to rake.  Leaves make amazing compost and mulch for your yard and gardens. 

To help fertilize your yard, mow over the leaves with a mulching mower.  The small bits of leaves will add nutrients to your grass making it lush come springtime.  

To help your gardens, attach a collection bag onto your mulching mower.  Then simply mulch your garden with your leaves.  Throw any extra into the compost pile.  Your plants will be so happy.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Weekly Market Update: October 12, 2015

The Twin Cities region has now experienced 43 consecutive months of year-over-year price gains. Sales volumes are chugging along at a 10-year record pace. There is evidence that first-time home buyer demand and new construction levels have both improved lately. As the summer humidity gives way to fall colors and early morning frost, expect activity levels to ease when compared to the summer months while year-over-year improvements should continue.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending October 3:

 • New Listings decreased 7.2% to 1,371
 • Pending Sales increased 1.7% to 1,077
 • Inventory decreased 15.1% to 16,390

For the month of September:

 • Median Sales Price increased 8.3% to $222,000
 • Days on Market decreased 8.5% to 65
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.0% to 96.6%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 26.1% to 3.4

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, October 12, 2015

Grey Areas

Unless you're living under a rock, you probably know that grey is the new, hip neutral that many homeowners are choosing for their decor.  Grey is a wonderful neutral because it can be warm or cool, it goes great with most wood tones, and it pairs well with lots of colors.

Dark grey walls can make a real statement in your home.  But many worry about making a room too dark.  How can you incorporate a rich dark grey into your home but keep it from looking like a cold, dank cellar?  We'll show you.

Check out the photos below.  These rooms all feature dark grey walls.  The key to keeping them overpoweringly dark, is in the decor.  White elements, like trim and furniture, will always help lighten up a space.  Or try using dark grey on only one accent wall.  Pops of color help as does adequate lighting in the form of lamps and windows.







Another way to incorporate dark grey into your decor, is to add it in unexpected places.  Check out these interesting uses of dark grey as an accent.





Dark grey is also a great backdrop for pops of color in your home.  Everything looks even more colorful when contrasted with dark grey.








Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors