Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Is it really back to school time already? We are starting to see the back to school TV ads so it must be time to get started. I always felt that I had to race and get all the school supplies and new school clothes purchased and organized before the first day of school. Some things can wait until after school begins, of course. Traditionally all the best back to school deals can be found in August, so before school begins is the best time to get organized. Here are a few tips to get you started. Now what happens when the kids come home from school? They drop all their stuff….somewhere. Here are a few ideas to keep organized after school begins.
Baskets:  Be ready with a designated basket for each child with a DIY label. Add a basket for mom and dad to hold notes and permission forms that need signing before they get lost!
Wall Mounted Coat Racks: If you had a place right inside the door to hang their coat and store their hats and gloves would they use it? It’s worth a try. Hang a wall mounted coat rack with hooks and shelf storage. Place each child’s name above a hook and hope for the best.
Storage Lockers: If you have the extra space or have a mud room, a cute wood or metal storage locker will hold everything in style! The kids can hang their coats, store their boots and gloves and still have a basket for their school books.
Get all their stuff organized and you will surely be ready for the back to school season!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending August 19, 2017

With each passing August day, fewer households with school-aged children are
willing to embark upon a big move for fear of unsettling kids from the important
routines that lay the groundwork for a good education. But savvy sellers and buyers
know that there are good deals to be made in August and well into the school
months, as household formations take on many shapes and sizes.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 19:
 • New Listings increased 3.0% to 1,618
 • Pending Sales decreased 3.8% to 1,244
 • Inventory decreased 16.2% to 12,733

For the month of July:
 • Median Sales Price increased 5.9% to $254,000
 • Days on Market decreased 16.7% to 45
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 99.2%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 19.4% to 2.5

Publish Date: August 28, 2017 • All comparisons are to 2016

Information gathered from MAAR

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The State Fair Starts Today!

Are you ready for the joy that is the State Fair and the food that comes with it? While favorites like garlic fries, pronto pups and cheese curds are sure to please have you taken a look at the new foods debuting this year? Here is the complete list along with new vendors:


Bacon Fluffernutter: Grilled cinnamon bun sandwich with a bacon, peanut butter and marshmallow cream filling. At The Sandwich Stop, located on the west side of Clough St. between Carnes & Judson Avenues
Bacon Up Pup: A Belgian waffle served on-a-stick with bacon in the batter, dipped in chocolate, drizzled with maple syrup, and topped with whipped cream and bacon. At Granny’s Kitchen Fudge Puppies, located on the east side of Underwood St. between Dan Patch & Carnes avenues,outside the Food Building
Bowl O’ Dough: Scoops of straight-up, raw cookie dough that is safe to eat and available in four flavors:
  • Brownie Batter Swirl: A chocolate chip cookie dough and brownie batter mash-up.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (gluten-free): A mix of classic cookie dough and chocolate chips.
  • European Cookie Butter: Made with Biscoff® European spiced cookies.
  • Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake with Blueberries: Lemons, fresh curd ricotta cheesecake and blueberries blended into a sugar cookie dough.
All served with a side of sea salt-flavored ice milk. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the northeast corner of Carnes Ave. & Chambers St.
Breakfast Buddy Bowl: Waffle bowl filled with hash browns, maple syrup, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and bacon, topped with a biscuit, country sausage gravy and green onions. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of the Schilling Amphitheater
Brown Ale and Onion-Gouda Tipsy Pie: Onions caramelized in Lift Bridge Brewery’s Chestnut Hill Brown Ale with smoked Gouda cheese, baked in a pie crust, topped with an onion sugar and drizzled with a sweet beer glaze. At Sara’s Tipsy Pies, located in the Food Building, south wall
Cheesy Nacho Corn on the Cob: Roasted corn on the cob lightly coated with crushed Dorito® corn chips and nacho cheese. At Texas Steak Out, located on the west side of Underwood St. between Lee & Randall Avenues
Cherry Bombs: Red licorice dipped in batter, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar. At Vegie Fries, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Underwood & Cooper streets
Chocolate Popover with Peanut Butter Spread: Hot out-of-the-oven chocolate popover with a side of peanut butter spread. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of the Schilling Amphitheater
Cranberry Wild Rice Meatballs: Swedish-style meatballs with cranberries and wild rice blend covered with Lingonberry sauce. At Hamline Church Dining Hall, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Underwood & Cooper streets
Deep-Fried Avocado: Avocado slices dipped in a lightly seasoned batter, deep-fried and served with chipotle ranch dipping sauce. At O’Gara’s at the Fair, located at the southwest corner of Dan Patch Ave. & Cosgrove St.
Deviation Stout Steak Taco Naan: Steak marinated in Modist Deviation 004 - Mexican Dark Chocolate Stout beer, grilled and topped with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, queso fresco, cilantro lime and jalapeño ranch sauces, and wrapped in warm naan flatbread. At San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building, east wall
Double Dose of Pork Belly: 100% ground pork belly burger topped with crisp smoked pork belly, pepper jack cheese, coleslaw and pickled onions, served on a toasted bun. At RC’s BBQ, located on the north side of West Dan Patch Ave. between Liggett & Chambers streets
Duck Bacon Wontons: Duck bacon, grilled sweet corn and cream cheese combined inside deep-fried crescent-shaped wontons and served with dipping sauce. At Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located at the southeast corner of Lee Ave. & Cooper St. at The North Woods
Fall Guy Breakfast Panini: Capicola and scrambled egg topped with white cheddar on ciabatta. At The Hideaway Speakeasy, located in the Veranda, Grandstand upper level, northwest section
Honey Puffs (Loukamades): Deep-fried dough balls crispy outside and sweet inside, tossed in a sweet syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. At Dino’s Gyros, located on the north side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets
Italian Bomba Sandwich: Beer-braised pork shoulder with prosciutto cotto ham, fontina cheese, giardiniera (Italian relish) and aioli on a grilled ciabatta roll. At Mancini’s al Fresco, located on the north side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets
Maple Cream Nitro Cold Press Coffee: Locally sourced heavy cream and maple syrup in a cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen. At Farmers Union Coffee Shop, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Cooper & Cosgrove streets
Memphis Totchos: Sliced bananas and sautéed bacon over tater tots, topped with peanut sauce. At Snack House, located in the Warner Coliseum, south concourse
Mini Sconuts: Buttermilk scone holes filled with chocolate, marshmallow and Nutella®, deep-fried and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. (Gluten-free) At French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, located on the north side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets
Mobster’s Caviar: Cream cheese dip with crab meat, green onions, fresh red pepper and water chestnuts, served with whole wheat flatbread crackers. At The Hideaway Speakeasy, located in the Veranda, Grandstand upper level, northwest section
Pie'n the Sky Malt & Sundae: A sweet and tart mix of crunchy, spiced “airplane” cookies and lemon curd, topped with dark chocolate drizzle and served with vanilla ice cream as a sundae or malt. At Dairy Goodness Bar, located in the Dairy Building, south wall
Pizzarito: Flour tortilla filled with pepperoni, Italian sausage, risotto, mozzarella and marinara, coated with garlic butter, parmesan and Italian spices, baked and served with a side of marinara. At Green Mill, located on the east side of Cooper St. between Randall & Wright avenues, at Family Fair at Baldwin Park
Slow-Roasted Pork Mole Tamale: Fresh corn tamale with slow-roasted pork, mole coloradito sauce and black bean andpineapple relish. At Tejas Express, located in the Garden, north wall
Sonoran Sausage: ONE.BAD.DOG: Tex-Mex sausage stuffed with pepper jack cheese, wrapped in bacon, baked andserved on a cornmeal-dusted bun with fresh corn salsa and a drizzle of avocado ranch sauce. At Sausage Sister & Me, located in the Food Building, east wall
Spicy Thai Noodles: Rice noodles and red curry with coconut milk served with kaffir lime, basil leaves, bell peppers, galangal, onions and tomatoes. (Gluten-free) At Oodles of Noodles, located in the Food Building, east wall
Sweet Corn Blueberry Éclair: Kernza® flour éclair filled with sweet corn pastry cream and topped with blueberry glaze. At Farmers Union Coffee Shop, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Cooper & Cosgrove streets
Sweety’s Churros: Sweet potato, cinnamon and nutmeg kneaded into a traditional churro dough, deep-fried and served with a side of chocolate or maple-brown sugar sauce or whipped cream. At Potato Man and Sweety, located on the west side of Liggett St. between Carnes & Judson avenues
Swing Dancer Sandwich: Honey smoked salmon, cucumbers, capers and cream cheese with fresh dill on pumpernickel, served with sliced lemon garnish. At The Hideaway Speakeasy, located in the Veranda, Grandstand upper level, northwest section
Swine & Spuds: Bacon-wrapped pork belly and mashed potato croquettes served on a skewer and topped with a choice of homestyle gravy, Korean Bulgogi barbeque sauce or sweet chili sauce. At Swine & Spuds, located in the Warner Coliseum, northeast corner
Triple Truffle Trotters: Sliced peppers and bacon with black diamond truffle oil mayo on top of waffle fries. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center
Wild Bill’s Breakfast Bake: Scrambled eggs, roasted chicken and chorizo sausage baked and topped with salsa and a mix of lettuce, pickled red onions and cilantro. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center


The Hideaway Speakeasy: Serving appetizers, breakfast ciabattas and panini sandwiches (see New Foods List for items). Located in the Veranda, a new shopping and dining destination in the upper level of the Grandstand, northwest section
Miller’s Flavored Cheese Curds: Serving three flavored varieties – ranch, garlic and jalapeño. Located on the east side of Nelson St. between Dan Patch & Carnes avenues, next to the Giant Slide
Que Viet: Serving bubble tea in mango and strawberry flavors, giant egg rolls on-a-stick, garlic cream cheese wontons and cold-brewed Vietnamese iced coffee. (All items are gluten-free.) Located on the east side of Cooper St. outside the Merchandise Mart
Waffle Cones: Serving soft serve ice cream, dipped cones, floats, sundaes and specialty shakes and malts. Located near the southwest corner of Wright Ave. & Cooper St., at Kidway

To see photos of all the new foods check: 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Toss These 5 Things Before You Move For a Fresh New Start

It’s a great feeling to walk into your new home and know you have a blank space to work with. But making sure your new home stays this fresh, clean and exciting is much harder. Here are five things to consider throwing away before your next move.
1. Old trash cans. Old and used garbage cans and bins can be dirty and in bad shape. And nothing says “yucky” like an old trash can that you’ve used for years.
If your family is anything like mine, you have gum, stains and sticky spots on even the cleanest of indoor and outdoor trash cans. Do yourself a favor and throw out the old bins before you move to your new home. You can buy new trash cans that match, fit the space and are clean. This rule may also apply to recycling bins you have around the house.
If buying all new cans isn’t in your budget, definitely clean your cans before packing them into your moving truck or car. Fill the inside of the can with dish soap and warm water and let it soak. Then scrub. The soak will make scrubbing easier.
2. Toys. Moving is the best time to clean out the things you haven’t used and the things that won’t serve you in your new space. Toys are a major clutter culprit, and often many of them just aren’t being used anymore. My motto: Keep the favorites and toss the rest. Once you’re in your new space, you can buy a special new toy to celebrate the move.
Pro tip: If you feel too guilty about getting rid of your child’s toy, pack up the ones you think your child may miss and leave them in a separate box in the garage. If they don’t ask for them after a certain amount of time, get rid of them.
3. Old paint. Every client I work with has gallons of old paint. Chances are the colors match your old house but not your new one, so this is a great time to clean out all the old cans.
Before disposing of paint, check your town’s rules on recycling or disposing of it.
Pro tip: If you loved some of those colors, add them to a spreadsheet on your computer. Make sure you list the room a paint was used in, for future reference. Make sure to update the spreadsheet as you repaint in your new house too.
4. Paper. As long as you’ve rectified your statements, paid your bills and set aside important documents and receipts, you don’t need to keep all the paper that’s weighing you down. File the things you need to keep, such as tax documents, health insurance paperwork and property records, and get rid of the rest.
I keep three files on my desk at all times: bills to be paid, business receipts to keep and paid bills. Once I see online that the paid bills have been registered as paid, I throw the paper versions out. This keeps the files small and manageable year-round.
Pro tip: In the weeks before you move, carve out five to 10 minutes a week to tackle the paper piles you have around the house. Almost all of the items in these piles can be thrown away if you take the time to go through them.
5. Storage containers. Do yourself a favor and get fresh storage containers for your new home! The container drawer is often a major source of clutter and frustration for my clients. Your new home will feel even newer with a full set of matching storage containers.
I store my containers with the lids on so they don’t get separated. If for some reason the lid does go missing, I repurpose the bottom or get rid of it. I’m loving glass containers these days because I can microwave, store and eat from them. They can do it all and then go back into the drawer with their matching lids.
Pro tip: Buy storage containers based on your family’s needs. For example, if you cook often and send friends and family home with leftovers, buy inexpensive, disposable containers. If you use your containers weekly for whole meals, buy larger sizes.
Houzz Contributor, Aly Finkelstein

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending August 12, 2017

The prevailing trends have continued to prevail through the summer, which has not
really been a surprise. There have not been any jolting changes in the economy that
would affect residential real estate. This includes steady news for factors such as
wage growth, unemployment, new construction and mortgage rates. Every locality
has its unique challenges, but housing as a whole is performing as expected.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 12:
 • New Listings increased 1.2% to 1,668
 • Pending Sales decreased 8.0% to 1,195
 • Inventory decreased 17.1% to 12,576

For the month of July:
 • Median Sales Price increased 5.9% to $254,000
 • Days on Market decreased 16.7% to 45
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 99.2%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 19.4% to 2.5

Publish Date: August 21, 2017 • All comparisons are to 2016
Information gathered from MAAR

Friday, August 18, 2017

It's a Solar Eclipse!

While Minnesota is not in the path of totality that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy a huge solar event on Monday. We can see the first total eclipse since 1979. The solar eclipse is happening from around 10 am in Oregon until almost 3 pm in South Carolina. At the longest point the sun will be blotted out for 2:48 minutes over Illinois. In Minnesota the maximum viewing time is 1:06 pm. We will have an 80% partial view. Remember you can't look directly at the solar eclipse so many people make or buy viewers.

To learn more about the eclipse check out this video:

To build your own solar eclipse viewer check out this video:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Does Your Living Room Feel Unfinished? Ask Yourself These 6 Questions

Have you ever felt like your living room looks incomplete but you haven’t been sure what to do about it? Being your own decorator can be difficult — you get used to your own furniture, and it can be challenging to think of new approaches to a space you’ve been living in for some time. If that’s the situation for you, ask yourself these six questions to jump start a new perspective and take your living room from not-quite-right to beautifully decorated.

1. Do you have a focal point? Many features in a room can be its focal point, including a fireplace, built-in shelves or even a grouping like a chest with a lamp and art overhead. If a focal point doesn’t seem to exist in your living room, think about where your eye goes naturally when entering the room and create a point of interest there with furnishings, such as a sofa table and lamp or maybe a curio cabinet with decorative items. To emphasize your focal point, add finishes or decor that will make it stand out: an accent wall can draw the eye, as can bold artwork, contrasting decor or a stunning piece of furniture.
In this photo, a wide doorway frames the focal point beyond: the sofa and art. The white sofa, light walls and rug create a bold contrast against the eye-catching red pillows and dark tables. The large artwork pulls together the different colors in the room.

In this room, the built-in shelving is the obvious focal point, thanks in large part to its fetching blue paint. The large framed art and contrasting shelf decor further draw the eye to this part of the room. It’s just as important that the sofa, end table, coffee table, gray chair and pillows provide a neutral foreground that doesn’t compete with the shelving.
Keep in mind that not every element of your room has to be special or colorful or unique — keeping some pieces simple allows the items you want to showcase to really stand out.
2. Do you have a cozy seating arrangement that enhances your focal point? Of course a wide range of options exist on furniture placement, but by placing your sofa or love seat facing your focal point with chairs laced in to create an intimate grouping, you naturally draw attention toward that focal point, whether a fireplace, artwork or view beyond. If pointing your sofa toward the focal point isn’t an option or doesn’t look quite right, try flanking your focal point with the furniture grouping instead to enhance it like in this photo.
Here, the bold green chair and colorful decor on the mantel give emphasis to the fireplace, while the yellow pillow and flowers add a cheerful pop of color.
This photo provides a great example of a U-shaped seating arrangement that enhances the fireplace focal point, providing an enticing place to sit. The striated horizontal tile and lit shelving flanking the fireplace call further attention to that wall.
3. Do you have stylish side and coffee tables? Not only are tables practical for holding lamps, drinks and decor like trays, books or flowers, but also they can make a design statement.
These quirky stacked tables are a great example of how to have an impact when mixed with simple furnishings. If you have upholstery that looks heavy — skirted, thick legs or no legs showing — try offsetting them with tables that show more leg for a lighter, balanced feel (and vice versa). In this photo, a gallery-style wall of art adds a personal touch and vibrant color to the room, as do the pillows and plants.
4. Do you have an ample-size rug that augments your design? Rugs not only help delineate spaces in open floor plans but also ground a furniture grouping, or help define it as a contained space. When selecting a rug, ensure that it supports your room’s style and that it is large enough to tuck fully under your seating area. If not, then place front furniture legs on top of the rug, as in this photo, to create a connection between the rug and the furnishings.

5. Have you added window treatments? Window coverings can range from draperies, as shown in this photo, to window toppers and hard treatments like shades, blinds or shutters. Window treatments need to be beautiful as well as functional, providing privacy, darkening, sun protection and insulation from outside elements when needed.
In this photo, the draperies add height to the room and reinforce the color palette, making the room feel more finished.
6. Does your room showcase your style and color preferences? As much as neutral schemes can be calming and beautiful, accent colors and stylish furnishings can bring a room to life. In this photo, bright orange and golden yellow pillows warm up the gray sectional along with the orange and yellow accents on the shelving beyond.
Wall shelves and a coffee table reveal an affinity for clean-lined furniture in light woods, while the rug and gold pillow fabric at the far end of the sofa demonstrate a fondness for graphic patterns.

Houzz Contributor, Karen Mills

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending August 5, 2017

As we reach into August, we'll begin to see the volume of activity wane in
anticipation of the school year. Although not every buyer or seller has children, it's
no secret that homeownership is a popular housing option for those with kids. In
bulk, this has historically been enough of a factor for turning down the summer's
market heat before lower temperatures take hold.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 5:
 • New Listings decreased 0.5% to 1,787
 • Pending Sales decreased 3.6% to 1,285
 • Inventory decreased 16.9% to 12,541

For the month of June:
 • Median Sales Price increased 7.0% to $259,000
 • Days on Market decreased 16.1% to 47
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 99.5%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 13.3% to 2.6

Publish Date: August 14, 2017 • All comparisons are to 2016
Information Gathered From MAAR

Friday, August 11, 2017

What’s Happening this Weekend?

The big event is the Big Island and Back - Paddle for Freshwater!

Tune up your canoe, kayak or paddleboard and head on over to Excelsior on Saturday, August 12th for a friendly race out around Big Island and back. They start near the swim area at Excelsior Beach Park. The goal is to get paddlers of all ages and skill levels out on Lake Minnetonka for a great community summer event and raise money for a worthy cause.

Don't miss the after-party at Excelsior Brewing Company beginning at 11 AM for refreshments from Joey Nova's, music and of course, beer! Awards and door prizes at around 12 noon.

Proceeds go to the Freshwater Society and ICA Foodshelf! For More information check out:

For water fun before the paddle check out the Excelsior Beach Roleo! Log Rolling Tournament
This is a log rolling competition for beginner and intermediate rollers of all ages. Come experience the fun of competing in a friendly atmosphere, meet new friends, and enjoy free doughnuts and prizes! If you're a new roller this is a perfect first competition! This event will be outside. Bring some towels, water bottles, and sunscreen. Spectators are welcome and encouraged! It runs from 8am to 10am. 
Hosted by Blue Ox Log Rolling. For more information visit: 


The Star Tribune is hosting a Street Art Festival - August 12 & 13 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

Racing Starts at 12:45 PM each day. The fair will feature graffiti, chalk, and other unique art from local and regional artists. Other Activities Include: Kids Chalk Art Station, Giant Paint-by-Number Station and a Kids Art Station with Coloring, Bingo Dauber Art & Scratch Art.
& More Admission is $7 - Buy online in Advance & Save. Kids 17 & Under Free For More info check out:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tesla is producing a solar roof and it looks to be cheaper than expected.

Just under six months after announcing its Solar Roof, Tesla has finally put a price tag on those eco-friendly solar tiles that look like the real thing — and they're actually really affordable.
Orders are now being taken for the Tesla Solar Roof at a price of $21.85 per square foot, which is nearly 20 percent less than the cost of a normal roof — even without factoring in the energy savings.
Back in November, Consumer Reports projected that the Tesla solar tiles would need to come in at $24.50 per square foot in order to compete with traditional roofing materials, something Tesla CEO Elon Musk was able to handily deliver — and then some.
Tesla's Solar Roof tiles are made of glass over a photovoltaic substrate as a replacement for traditional roofing materials — not an aftermarket add-on to the roof line, so they actually look like the 'real thing" from the ground, allaying previous aesthetic hurdles to solar panel adoption (much like Tesla already has already done for the electric car).
Solar Roof is launching with four styles: Tuscan, Slate, Textured, and Smooth, with two of the styles — grey smooth and textured black glass — available to order now for installation, with the other two options (and orders outside the US) coming in early 2018. Tesla says that installation will take about five to seven days, entirely managed by the company itself.
In addition to purchasing the Solar Roof, Tesla is packaging the system along with its forthcoming Powerwall 2.0 — a battery storage device with a built-in inverter that connects to your home's electrical system, which will cost an additional $6,500 but could essentially take your house completely off the grid with 100 percent renewable energy, Musk promises.
The absolute best value feature, though? Despite originally joking that he wasn't going to promise an infinite warranty for the tiles, it turns out that Musk has changed his mind. "We offer the best warranty in the industry—the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first," a Tesla rep told Inverse.
In addition to the value proposition, Tesla's Solar Roof is being touted as stronger than traditional roofing tiles, too — something that will be especially important to homeowners in sun-drenched yet wild-weather-prone regions like Texas and the Southwest, where flying debris could also be a hurdle to adoption.
No sweat, says Musk. Just watch this video he posted on Instagram of a solar tile taking a direct hit from a "slo-mo hail cannonball."