Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Naughty or Nice?! A Holiday Recipe Makeover

When it comes to holiday-time calories, nothing adds to your bottom line as much as this rich punch. But only a scrooge would give up eggnog altogether, so check out the two versions below. One for those feeling naughty this year, and one for those feeling nice!

The Naughty
(42% of Calories from fat)
Makes: 18 (½-cup) servings.

2 1/2  cups  plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1  cup  half-and-half
1  (4-inch) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6  eggs, lightly beaten
1/2  cup  sugar
1/2  cup  bourbon
1/4  teaspoon  freshly grated nutmeg
1  quart French vanilla ice cream, softened
Sweetened whipped cream (optional)
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan; stir well. Cook over medium-low heat until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Combine eggs and sugar in a medium bowl; stir with a wire whisk until well blended. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, 20 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and reaches 160°.
Remove mixture from heat; stir in bourbon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Let cool. Cover and chill 3 hours. Remove and discard vanilla bean; stir in ice cream just before serving. If desired, top each serving with sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 164  (42% from fat)
Fat: 7.6g
Protein: 5g
Carbohydrate: 15.4g
Fiber: 0.0g
Cholesterol: 97mg
Sodium: 71mg
Calcium: 0.0mg

The Nice
(17% of Calories from fat)
Makes:  13 (½-cup) servings.

3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
5 1/2 cup(s) low-fat milk
1/2 cup(s) sugar
2 tablespoon(s) cornstarch
2 tablespoon(s) vanilla
1/2 teaspoon(s) (plus additional for sprinkling) ground nutmeg
1/3 cup(s) dark Jamaican rum (optional)

In bowl, with whisk, beat eggs and egg whites until blended; set aside. In heavy 4-quart saucepan, with heat-safe spatula, mix 4 cups milk with sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook on medium-high until mixture boils and thickens slightly, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat.

Gradually whisk 1/2 cup simmering milk mixture into eggs; pour egg mixture back into milk in saucepan, whisking constantly, to make custard.

Pour custard into large bowl; stir in vanilla, nutmeg, rum, if using, and remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. Sprinkle eggnog with nutmeg to serve.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 105
Fat: 2g
Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 14g
Fiber: 0.0g
Cholesterol: 53mg
Sodium: 125mg
Calcium: 0.0mg

Monday, December 06, 2010

Real Estate Market Stats for Wilmington, NC

Do you stay up at night wondering what the home values are in your neighborhood? Is all the gloom and doom in media getting you down? Well, I got you covered.  Let me help you separate the truth from the hype.

I'm now offering real-time market trend data and statistic reports for Wilmington, NC and the surrounding areas. These reports are critical in helping you make informed decisions on buying and selling real estate. I can deliver you reports that show current, historical, and seasonal trends in real estate pricing, inventory, and days-on-market analysis. 

I've included a few snapshots below just so you can see exactly the level of detail you'll get. The reports are a FREE service from me, your agent, so be sure to give me a call or an email today!

      For Sale vs. Sold $359,999 and Less

   Avg DOM & Sale Price/List Price

Friday, December 03, 2010

Using Web 2.0 Tools for House Hunters

With the advent of so many electronic means of communicating all of us are sometimes faced with information overload especially while looking for a new home.
Last month I talked about the very handy app for iPhone and Android. So you got this great app and you want to show you're sweetie all the cool houses you've picked out. Well, you'll have to send an email from within the app on each house you found interesting. Which is OK. But not great especially if your sweetie has been picking out houses too. Now you've both got a pile of emails and no way to organize them unless you want to kill a tree and print them ALL out. 
Wouldn't it be great if you had a virtual 'notebook' of your home search instead? One centralized place for all the screen captures from from and other internet searches? Or maybe one that lets you add pictures you took with your cell phone camera while at an open house? Or maybe one that keeps all your text and voice notes for each house you've visited? And one that can be shared with your sweetie that let's them add stuff too? Well, you can with a bit of free software called Evernote
This handy little app is available for your Mac, PC, iPhone and Android phone. And it SYNCS between all your devices so your notes are updated no matter what device your on. House hunting just got a whole lot easier and paperless! 
Use Evernote when you're starting your house hunt to create lists of any must haves like hardwood floors, a bonus room or fireplace along with a list of would-be-nice like granite, pool, large backyard. As you search the internet clip info on the homes you like. Then you'll have them all in a central spot always available online, able to sync to multiple devices. When you're ready to go see the homes share your notebook with me, your agent. I can easily pop into Evernote to see which homes to make appointments for, and I can add a note to your notebook listing open house visits with times, addresses for homes you might like.
Once we start visiting homes you're interested in fire up your Evernote app on your phone to keep track of what you are viewing. Take snapshots, text and voice notes of each place you visit, so you won’t forget any important details. 
Once you're back home from hunting you can easily review all the information on your computer. Evernote syncs your account between all the devices you use. Now you can start to narrow your decision down to THE one or make a list follow-up questions you have related to specific properties for me, your agent! 
If we go under contract, we can even use Evernote to save pertinent emails and documents in one spot. Evernote will import emails out of any web mail or Outlook with a simple click. You can highlight portions of text and/or images on the computer screen and clip them. If it's a webpage an automatic link to the site is permanently recorded. You might need a premium account if you start uploading more than 40MB per month but at $5 a month, it's not going to break the bank.
How many times have you made a note and lost it? This will never happen again with Evernote. Take those post-its and put them in Evernote. When you need one, search for effortlessly. Evernote makes collecting and finding information easy.

Evernote has two types of accounts--a free version and a premium service. For most users, the free version is all you will need. The major differences between the free and premium service are upload limits (40MB per month vs. 500MB) and file synchronization (limited vs. any file type). Check out the detail comparison in the image below.

By the way, this image of the account comparison...I clipped it using Evernote. Once I clipped it, the image was automatically stored in my Evernote account. Then I clicked over to my Evernote app on my computer, hit the Sync button and viola! There's the comparison chart I just clipped saved as a note. Now I click on the chart, click save as picture and now I have an image file which can be inserted into a blog post. Like this one! Do you remember how you used to save screenshots or images from the web? Yeah. It was a lot more work.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Small Way to Thank Our Veterans, Android Unveils App

Small Way to Say Thank You
Veterans Day was created to honor the heroism of those who served the country. Set on Nov. 11 to honor the end of fighting in World War I, Veterans Day was meant to be observed with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
And though we could never repay those men and women who've sacrificed to serve, I've compiled a list of discounts for area vets as a little way to say thank you. All discounts require valid military ID.

Applebee’s – Free select menu varying by location, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you
Arby’s -  Discount varies per location, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Burger King – Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Captain D’s – Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Chick Fil A – Varies, Discount with ID card (location dependent), discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Chilis - Free meal
Ci-Ci’s Pizza – Discount varies, dependent on location, must present military ID
Dunkin’ Donuts – Veterans advantage members save 10% on all online orders.  They also send free coffee to the troops oversees.
Flaming Amy's - 10% discount to all active military. 
Golden Corral - Free buffet meals - including beverage and dessert - to current military and veterans on Monday, Nov. 15, from 5 to 9 p.m. No military ID is required for its ninth annual Military Appreciation Monday, according to Dolly Mercer, national events manager. The event is held on this date, she says, "so we don't interfere with Veterans Day activities."
Hooters - Veterans and active duty eat free with valid military ID. Drink purchase required.
Krazy Pizza - 50% off a meal with valid military id
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts  - Free doughnuts to all Veterans and active military personnel.
The Melting Pot – Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Outback Steakhouse – Free bloomin’ onion and one free drink
Subway – All active military and veterans get a free regular 6 inch sub
Texas Road House – 30% military discount
Wendy’s – Discount varies, simply ask
Zaxby’s – 10% off

Bed & Breakfast Inns – A number of bed-and-breakfasts and inns across the country are offering free accommodations to veterans on Wednesday. Reservations are needed. Go to to see details and a list of participating venues.  You have to pre-register.   
Best Inns and Suites – Varies, must present Military ID with check-in
Best Western - Rates within allowable per diem, must present military ID with check in
Clarion Inn – Rates within allowable per diem while on travel orders.    Must present valid miliatry ID with check-in
Comfort Inn – Rates within allowable per diem while on travel orders.    Must Present valid military ID with check-in

Apple Computers - The discount varies, you need to sign up here –
AT&T – Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Auto Zone – Varies Per Store - Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Banana Republic – 10% military discount 1st of every month (may vary by location; in-store only).
Barnes and Noble – 6% off regular price plus free shipping, check out
Bass Pro Shops – 10% off from the 15th to 22nd of each month
Buff Masters Car Wash and Detail Center on S. College Road will offer a free car wash.
Cardinal Lanes North on Market Street offers free bowling to any retired or active member of the armed forces
Cruisers Car Wash - Free Full Service car wash to veterans.
Dell Computers – Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Dick’s Sporting Goods – Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Express Clothing Store- 10% off on top of other coupons as well with military ID
Extreme Outfitters -10-20% on miiltary Gear, online and in Store
Gap – 10% military discount 1st of every month (may vary by location; in-store only).
GNC – Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Hewlett-Packard – Log on to website and click on New User Registration: Enter first and last name, user name, password and email address. Use company code: 2727.  Discounts vary. Online only.
Home Depot – 10% off Year Round, to active duty, active reserve, retired military, and immediate family.    In-Store, just bring valid military IDLowes - 10% off
Jiffylube – 10% off with valid Military ID
Lowes – 10% off year round to active duty, active reserve, retired military, and immediate family.  Just bring in a valid military ID.  The military discount, however, cannot be combined with other coupons they may be offering.
Sam’s Club - Free Hugo folding cane for military veterans on 11/10-11/12.
Verizon – 23% discount on monthly bills
American Airlines – Discount varies,  requires military ID
Amtrak – 10% off
Avis – 25% off, online you should use this coupon AWD # A555084
Budget – Varies, up to 25% off time and mileage    Store, requires military ID to redeem
Budget Truck Rental – Discount varies, simply ask and have a valid military ID with you.
Days Inn – Rates within allowable per diem. Must present valid military ID with check-in
Dollar Car Rental – Allowable per diem rates
Hertz – Allowable per diem rates. Show valid military ID
National – No fee for additional drivers, and special off duty rates per location.  Service members receive full loss damage waivers
Ramada – 15% to 30% – depending on availability.  Must present military I.D. upon check in.
Sleep Inn - Rates at or below per diem depending on location. Discounts may vary and depend on availability. Must present military I.
Soutwest Airlines – Varies, it’s a dollar amount, not a percentage.  Not available on all flights, you’ll have to call Southwest and simply just ask.
Travelodge – Rates within allowable per diem. Discounts may vary and depend on availability. Must present military I.D

Android Jumps on Board the App Train
Not wanting to be outdone by iPhone, Android unveiled a app by Move, Inc. loaded with all the features a home shopper will want. It took 10 months but Android's free to download app has just as many bells and whistles, plus a few more that take advantage of the Android operating system. 

The app provides a widget that continually surfaces and displays nearby properties on the Android’s landing screen, voice entry capabilities to save notes, and Google Street View capabilities that give users a pictorial view of the immediate area surrounding a home before investing precious time. Just like the iPhone app this one knows your exact location via GPS. By far the coolest feature IMHO is being able to “draw” with your finger an area you want to search in and even refine! 

What's not to like?!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Latest Favorite App, Local Film Studio Scores Big Budget Production, September Market Stats

iPhone App Is Free & Very Useful
This app is free and it works on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.  It doesn't have any advertising on it keeping it clean looking and easy to navigate. Because it is from a user has access to all the same listings as the website, including listings from the Wilmington MLS.  There are alot of helpful real estate apps out there but's app is the most comprehensive providing the user accurate and up-to-date information with a super easy search capability.

The best feature this app has is the shape search. This is fantastic for buyers who've found an area they like while driving around and want to restrict their search to that area. The buyer can draw any shape they like in the app and all the houses listed on will show up as pushpins on the map. Each one of the pins shown on the map will deliver more details when it is touched. It is also location based so a buyer can search where they are no matter the neighborhood.  Users can also search by price range or number of bedrooms and more.  Information about the homes for sale can be saved, or emailed. The app has been named one of four great iPhone apps by Money Magazine. It has been downloaded more than a million times!

Here's a created video showing the app in action! It's pretty dang cool!

Wilmington Film Studio Scores Big Budget Production
Last week local film studio, Screen Gems, was to be one of the locations for shooting "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island", a family action adventure film starring Dwayne Johnson and Oscar-winner Michael Caine. The film is being produced by New Line Cinema, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, will spend five months in Wilmington. This will  bring a nice boost to the local economy and expose some newcomers to our great city who may want to relocate here! Who wouldn't?!

The film is about a teenager who sets out on a mission with his mother’s boyfriend to find his grandfather, who is thought to be missing on a mythical island, according to Internet Movie Database. It’s slated to be released September 23, 2011. And even more exciting is that "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" will use the water tank at Screen Gems for the first time ever along with five of the ten stages at Screen Gems. 

“Mysterious Island” is a sequel to “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” That movie, which was released in 2008, had a budget of $45 million and grossed $231 million worldwide. And like the first movie, “The Mysterious Island” will be shot in 3D!

September Real Estate Stats
Single Family Home Sales Dip in September After Rising in August according to data from the Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®. 
Which most likely reflects the concern of the upcoming elections and family's having little time for home shopping getting the kids back into the routine of school. In looking at the past several years of market stats, when Wilmington has a slight dip in September there more often than not is a rise for October. So even though it's not the news we all want to hear, it's certainly not anything to be too startled to end any plans you may have for relocating or moving-up. And, of course, if you want to discuss your situation with an experienced professional REALTOR® then give me a call!

Sept 2010 Home Sales Stats

Based upon data pulled from the Wilmington NC MLS on October 11, 2010.