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Gale Games blogI am an Addict. There I have said it! I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol or cigarettes.  I am addicted to online games!  Always have been, always will be. It started way back with Tetris, Bejeweled and Mario Brothers.  Then I participated in the Farmville and Candy Crush craze.  Now I play a combination of games that keep my brain thinking or my mind stress free.  My current favorites are Words with Friends, 7 Little Words, Trivia Crack, Lumosity and Monkey Wrench, which I try to play on a daily basis. Most of these give me more than a couple of days to play their daily puzzle, so I often catch up on the weekend.  I also play Red Herring, get bored with it, then go back to it.  And when I have a little extra time and need to not use my brain, my go to games are SongPop 2 and Match the Dots.

Also note that I do not pay for any games.  I play the daily puzzles which are free and I put up with the ads.

Words with Friends – Zynga – The game is just like its name! You challenge a friend (or an unknown person) to a game that is similar to the classic board game Scrabble.  There is lots of strategy as you try to get the most points each turn with your 7 letters, BUT try to make sure you don’t set your challenger up for a good score.  You have up to 11 days for your turn so there is not a lot of pressure.  I play with 4 friends right now; two I play with every day or two, and the other two is sporadic.

7 Little Words – Blue Ox Technologies – This game is a daily game and each puzzle is available for 3 days. You have to unscramble tiles that have 2, 3 or 4 letters on them and make 7 words.  There are clues for each word and it gets easier as you get each word, as there are less tiles to work with.  I find that I can usually get at least 4 words at the first seating, then I play again later and find that some of the other words just pop out at me.  Somedays I never finish.   Mondays are the easiest puzzles and they get harder through the week.  My favorite day is Sunday when they have “themed” puzzles.  Like other games I played this for a long time, got tired of it, stopped, and started up again when I taught my sister how to play.

Trivia Crack – Etermax – This is one of my newer games and I play individual games against my two sisters and an Alabama “online friend” I found through SongPop. It is very straight forward and easy to learn. There are 6 categories: Geography, Sports, History, Art, Science and Entertainment.  You spin the dial and get a category and a question with 4 answers.  You answer it right and you get another spin. You answer it wrong and it is your opponent’s turn.   You get 3 answers right in a row and you have the opportunity to get a Crown.  To win the game you must have 6 Crowns, a Crown from each category. And therein lies the problem…..I am good at Sports and Geography, but awful at Entertainment!  Another facet of the game is that you can see your overall percentages of correct answers per category.

Lumosity – Lumosity falls in the category of brain games.  If you play the free Lumosity you will get 3 puzzles a day, and you can play them once, or have access to them all day long.  Then the next day you will get 3 entirely different puzzles.  You have no control over what puzzles show up each day.  I think I have access to about 20 puzzles.  Some I absolutely love, and others are not as interesting, but overall I think it is a good workout.   The puzzles are in the following categories: speed, memory, attention, flexibility and problem solving.  My favorite is “Trouble Brewing” where you quickly take multiple coffee orders, pour the coffee, AND make sure that the coffee doesn’t spill before you get back to that cup again.  Another fun puzzle is “Train of Thought”.   There are colored trains and colored stations and you have to get the same colored train into the same colored station.  Sound easy?  Not really when there are 10 different colored trains coming out of the tunnel and you have to constantly change the tracks to get the train to the correct station.  And oh by the way the trains keep coming and never stop!  The puzzles start out easy and over the weeks as you progress through many levels the tasks become harder. (for example I think the train puzzle might start with 4 trains, you master that, then you get 5 trains, etc) I have not tried it but I have heard good reviews of the brain game called Elevate.

Monkey Wrench – Blue Ox Technologies – Okay Okay I know what you are thinking…….what kind of name is this?  Well the monkey icon showed up on the bottom of  my 7 Little Words game every day for ages, taunting me…..saying Gale Gale please play me.  I finally caved to the monkey and tried it.  And guess what?  It’s mildly interesting.  It’s a word search puzzle (hard to explain in this limited space), you play by yourself, you have one puzzle a day and three days to play.  Fun to play when you have 5 minutes until dinner is ready.

SongPop 2 – Fresh Planet – This is a fun, nostalgic, stress releasing, relaxing, music trivia game.  I mostly play with people I don’t know as they try to match your common music interests.  The playlists are from dozens of genres and lots of decades.  I seem to do best in the 60’s and 70’s, Pop and Rock (those were my teenage years and my twenties).  The modern songs I am pretty good at are the Country songs.  Obviously my music tastes have changed over the years.  To play the game you hear a song and then you have 4 answers to choose from, either 4 singer names, or 4 titles of the song.  You hear 5 songs a round and you have to answer faster and get more correct than your opponent.  I usually just play on the weekends, as the games never expire.  There are two women that I was matched up to about 2 or 3 years ago who I still play with.  SongPop used to assign you geographically and I was in Florida at the time. One woman is from Alabama and I am now on Facebook with her, and follow the pictures of her grandchildren.  The other woman winters in Florida and lives in Ohio the rest of the year.  We got chatting (on line) and it turns out she lives near Mansfield, Ohio where my sister lives, and her husband knows my brother-in-law. What a small world!

Match the Dots – IceMochi – Totally mindless.  You can play a quick game in a minute.  Connect the same colored dots.  There are timed games where speed is important, and other games where you are given so many moves to get a task done. Depending on how fast, or how few moves you take you get 1, 2 or 3 stars.  Often if I only get 1 star I play that particular game again and again to improve to 2 or 3 stars.

Red Herring –  Blue Ox Technologies – This game exasperates me! That’s why I can’t play it all the time. I’ll play a few games, then not play for weeks, then go back to it.  It is challenging and interesting, sometimes easy, but most of the time difficult.  The goal of the game is to group 4 words into 3 categories, but you don’t know the names of the categories.  You have a total of 16 words, so 4 words are not used.  Watch out for them as they are the Red Herrings that are there to mislead you.  Start with the hardest level first, then drop to normal and easy as necessary.  As with the other Blue Ox games there is a new game every day and they last for three days.

So these are my favorites right now. If I was to rewrite this blog next January, some of these games will be a memory, and there will be a few new ones to add to the list.  What are your favorite games?  You know I am always looking for good reviews and new games to try.

Gale Crop 2011 jpegAbout the Author – Gale enjoys her “down time” with online games. But she is most interested in working with both Sellers and Buyers and helping them reach their goals. Gale Spadafora is one of the Broker Owners at RE/MAX Legacy and can be contacted through her website at www.galespadafora.com.

 

 

 


Category: Things to Do

twas

Twas the night before Christmas,

and all through the house

Not a Realtor was working,

Not even their spouse.

The closings were done the week before last,

And the commission checks were deposited hard and fast.

The “For Sale” signs were nestled in the back of the shed,

While visions of spa visits danced through my head.

When all of a sudden I received a text,

A local Realtor’s name appeared, I was perplexed!

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a full price cash offer now that’s what I like to hear!

More rapid then eagles, thoughts raced through my mind,

This amazing offer was one of a kind.

NO home inspector, NO mortgage broker, and NO appraiser!

Mr. and Mrs. Buyer just did me a favor!

Before I knew it, my doorbell rang,

I sprung from the couch and my heart sang!

As I opened my door, he turned around,

I couldn’t believe what I had found.

His clothes were disheveled; he was a complete mess,

There was no doubt he needed to rest.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,

gave me the paperwork and turned with a jerk.

And laying a finger aside of his nose,

He shouts…remember we want a quick close!

He sprung in his Volvo and sped down the street,

This top notch Realtor doesn’t miss a beat.

As I headed inside and closed the door,

I thought there’s nothing I love more,

Than to be helping people with their dream,

And seeing a homeowner’s face beam!

Wishing you every happiness this Holiday Season

and throughout the coming year.

~ Jenn Scali

Jenn tree

Jennifer ScaliABOUT THE AUTHOR – Jenn has found a new talent – writing Holiday Poetry!  But when she’s not writing you can find her working with Buyers and Sellers. Jenn Scali is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy and you can reach her at (617) 905-7211 or on her website at www.jennscali.com

 

 

 

 


Category: Holidays

roland treeIt’s once again the holiday season and a question that many people have to answer is:  What kind of Christmas tree am I going to get?

It seems like a simple enough question, but its answer can get complicated.  Do you want artificial?  Should I cut down my own?  Should I support a local tree stand or garden center or go to a bigger store like Home Depot?

Let’s start with artificial.  Back in the fifties, my family traditionally got a real tree and usually a very big one.  Sometimes the top had to have so much cut off, we almost had a 2nd tree as a result.  And then one year my parents went to Gilchrist at Redstone Shopping Center and bought an artificial tree.  It was never explained to me why they did this, but I do remember the tree…in all of its silver glory.  Why silver?  Trees are green…aren’t they?  Well today, the artificial trees look almost real and if you have the room to store it and the patience to reassemble it year after year, then artificial isn’t a bad way to go.

If you want a real tree, it’s a simple task.  Go to your favorite local tree stand and find the one that catches your eye that will go perfectly in the designated spot in your living room or family room.  Check the branches to be certain they are firm (not wimpy) so the ornaments will not droop.  Most likely the prices will vary based on height of the tree and the quality.  Do you know if the needles will drop off the one you choose?  Well the main way to make certain the tree won’t lose needles rapidly is to check it for freshness (not dry) and make sure you keep it watered once it’s in your home.  It is important to cut a half inch or so off the bottom before setting the tree in the stand.  This will help allow the tree to take up water so as to keep it fresh as long as possible.

One thing we know when we go to a local tree stand is that these trees weren’t cut down yesterday and most likely are already a month or so old.  So if you really want a fresh tree, perhaps a trip to a local tree farm is the answer.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a tree farm within driving distance of where you live, you can go there and cut down your own.  Although prices may vary, many have a simple approach.  All trees, regardless of size are the same price.  So you grab one of the saws they provide, walk through rows and rows of trees, and all different varieties and sizes until that perfect (or almost perfect) tree for your home is standing in front of you.  Interestingly this tree, once it’s at home in your tree stand, is not going to take up as much water right away as the pre-cut tree from your local tree stand.  That’s because it is already quite moist (fresh) and it needs to dry out a bit before it will need more water intake.

So whatever your choice, it’s what works best for you and your family and there is no right or wrong.  Mainly it’s about having a holiday spirit and your tree can help make that happen.

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author:  Roland cuts down a tree every year with his step-daughter for her home, but continues to buy his own at the local tree stand.  He will tell you traditions are important to maintain.  Roland is a broker owner at RE/MAX Legacy.


Category: Holidays, Seasonal

Those who know me best know that I love finding ways to save a buck. Saving money on everyday purchases has turned into sort of a hobby for me and the challenge of finding the best deal is exhilarating!  Online shopping has made things super easy for finding good deals especially with the bevy of coupon codes circulating the web. However, there are two additional steps I take on all my purchases to ensure I am maximizing my savings.

 

Fatwallet.com – Fatwallet.com is a site where you earn cash back on
purchases made at most stores. Anytime I make a purchase online I go
to fatwallet.com first to see if that store is a cash back store and
access that store thru the fatwallet site. Once you make your purchase
fatwallet credits your account with the promised percentage of cash
back. The cash back adds up quickly…I love FREE money!

Cardpool.com – Cardpool.com is a site to buy discounted gift cards.  I
use this site most often when I want to make big purchases (usually at
Home Depot).  You can purchase the gift card in physical or electronic
form.  I’ve seen some vendor gift cards discounted as high as 25%
which is a pretty good savings.  Whether you’re buying appliances at
Home Depot or taking the family out to Applebees, buying a gift
card at discounted prices is going to save you money!

Next time you shop online remember these two helpful sites and save even more!

antnew1About the author: Anthony Giglio is one of the broker/owner’s of RE/MAX Legacy and is an avid bargain shopper. You can learn more about him and contact him directly by visiting his website www.myhomeMA.com


Category: Things to Do

Buying a home is a milestone.  When you are young you listen to everything your parents say.  Once you reach the age of 13 you stop telling your parents everything.  At 16 years old, you can drive.  By 18 years of age you graduate high school and think you know everything.  Somewhere in your late 20’s, 30’s or early 40’s you will buy your first home or your next home and you may find yourself at Ikea.  For young new homeowners, you will get the best bang for your buck, just bring a truck.  All Ikea furniture has to be assembled.  It doesn’t take too long but if you miss a step you will be taking it apart and starting over.  Last month, Auntie Jean and my favorite cousin Nicole closed on a home.  The strange part is, the week before the closing my wife wanted to use my truck to help Nicole pick up some items.  They went and bought many things.  The following weekend, my family and I went to see the new house and then it happened……. “ Fred, in the back of the truck there are 2 full size beds and drawers that need to be assembled.”  So in 3 hours I assembled all the furniture (Ann helped) and then they let me eat dinner.  I guess the moral of my story is that if everyone goes to Ikea after purchasing a home, they’ll need someone like me to put it all together.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/store/stoughton

 

Fred Damore headshot photoAbout the Author : Fred DaMore is a Mortgage Specialist at Ross Mortgage, homeowner and self-acclaimed do it yourselfer.  Feel free to contact him at fred.damore@rossmortgageco.com

 


Category: DIY, Home and Garden

apple picking GaleIt’s Fall in New England and that means only one thing! It’s Apple Picking Time! Pack up your family or head out on your own and enjoy the foliage along your ride to the orchards. Be prepared for an outdoor activity and make sure you wear sturdy footwear and layered clothing, and pack sunscreen and insect repellent. Besides apple picking, a lot of the orchards have hay rides, farm animals, and farmstands. Make sure you try the Cider Donuts if your orchard offers them.

Apples are one of the easiest fruit to pick and use.  They’re big, not easily bruised, and most varieties store well. Apples can be eaten fresh, cooked, canned, frozen and made into many delicious dishes.  And apples are fat-free, low sodium, and cholesterol-free.

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Russell Orchards

143 Argilla Rd.

Ipswich, MA

978-356-5366

www.russellorchards.com

Russell Orchards has fruit picking, hayrides, farm animals, bakery, store, and a winery. The bakery is located in the farm store and you can watch the apple cider donuts being made, as they drop into the fryer and bob their way down the conveyor. Besides the donuts the store features homemade pies, candy and fudge, local cheese and produce. The kids will enjoy feeding the farm animals. There is a wine tasting bar for adults, featuring wines from farm fresh ingredients.

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Parlee Farms

95 Farwell Road

Tyngsboro MA

978-649-3854

www.Parleefarms.com

Parlee Farms has fruit picking, hayrides, farm animals, farm stand, and special things for kids. After your apple picking adventure stop by Annie’s Animal Barns to see over 70 young farm animals. Enjoy feeding and petting the animals. There is a Hay Play area where there are almost 200 large round bales that kids can walk on top of, or make jumps to the next hay bale. For kids between 42”-55” in height there is Farmer Mark’s Tractor Training Course. The kids will have fun driving the heavy duty electric tractors around the track.

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Honey Pot Hill Orchards

138 Sudbury Road

Stow MA

978-562-5666

www.honeypothill.com

Honey Pot Hill Orchards has fruit picking, hayrides, farm animals, farm store and 3 mazes. When you are finished your apple picking check out the farm animals that include goats, sheep, bunnies and baby chicks. Honey Pot has three mazes! One of the mazes is called the “Big Green Monster Maze” and is 1.5 miles in length and can take up to 1 hour to complete. It has 3,000 hedges, 6 bridges and a look out gazebo.

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Pick a nice day. Have fun. And “eat an apple a day”!

 

Gale Crop 2011 jpegAbout the Author – Gale Spadafora is one of the Broker Owners at RE/MAX Legacy and can be contacted through her website at www.galespadafora.com. She enjoys working with both Sellers and Buyers.

 

 


“Success usually comes to those who are too busy looking for it”
~ Henry David Thoreau

 

Is it realistic to iSCALI A_Young_Real_Estate_Investornvest in real estate in your twenties?  The answer is YES!  You’re going to need to do your homework before you begin.  Learning about the market, getting your funds in order and hiring the right people are just a few items that need to be on your checklist.

There are a few options for people who have little to no money but want to invest.  You can set up an investment account with a brokerage firm, and invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).  REITs is a company that owns and operates many types of real estate that range from apartment buildings, warehouses to hotels and shopping centers.  Investors purchase stock in the REITs and in return the REITs must distribute most of its profits as dividends to them.  Once you have a sizeable amount of money you can sell your investments and use the cash as a deposit on your first property.

Another option is called Crowdfunding.  Crowdfunding is a method of raising funds through a collective effort of family, friends and individual investors.  First time investors who use a crowdfunding platform such as “Fundable” or “Patch of Land” have access to thousands of investors.  Create a campaign for your real estate project (for example a single family rehab) so investors can see for themselves if it’s a cash-flowing investment that they might be interested in funding.

Last but certainly not least option is borrowing money from your parents.  Although this may not work for everyone it is another option.

Now that your funding is in order, the next step should be establishing a business plan.  In order for you to stay organized and achieve your short and long term goals this should be a necessity.  Then you can build a budget to track all of your expenses that comes with owning a property.  Keeping track of where your money is being spent will help you learn where you can eventually cut back.

Learning about the types of properties you want to invest in is key.  Whether it be multi families or rehabbing single families you need to drive around to look at properties and the surrounding neighborhoods.  Getting yourself familiar with listing and sold prices will help you learn what to pay for property without overspending.  Also, work with an experienced, reliable real estate agent.  SHE will keep her eye on the market for new listings and promptly set up appointments for you.  She can check the MLS for comparative properties in the area as well and this will help you calculate your numbers to see if the property is right for you.

Staying on top of current trends such as mortgage rates, consumer spending and unemployment rates is important.  Remember being educated in all areas of real estate investing is the key to a profitable return on your investment.  One great way to learn about the business is to talk with other investors.  They may offer some tips and strategies that can help you with your new business venture.  Ask them about the process and the best way to get a great return.  Ask them how they started out as an investor.  Some people invest in real estate for appreciation but smart investors invest for cash flow.  Cash flow is the money you make from rental properties every month after all the expenses are paid.  Cash flow should increase over time without ever eating away at your principle investment.  Rents will increase with inflation while your mortgage payments stay the same.  Eventually you will pay off your loan and your cash flow will increase significantly.

Last bit of advice but not least is to hire a competent accountant who is familiar with current tax laws.  In the long run you will save yourself money and a lot of headaches.  By aligning yourself with the right people, you are putting yourself on the right path.

As you can see being a real estate investor can be profitable if you put in the time and effort.  Remember that there will be ups and downs in the market over the years.  If you make well thought decisions when buying properties your investments will pay off in time.

Jennifer ScaliJenn Scali is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy and she enjoys working with investors and buyers who are looking to purchase real estate property. You can reach her at (617) 905-7211 or on her website at www.jennscali.com

 


 

12 Shaker Hill picThese are the things I am working with in regards to showing my own home.

I have decluttered my house, I have taken down all personal photos, taken all the magnets off of the refrigerator.

If you go by this motto: Everything in its place, your world, your house will look and feel a lot brighter. Rearrange things, be creative. This was the fun part.

When I use to clean I would set my alarm for one hour and go to town, and the next day I would pick up where I left off. Simple, but that does not work in this scenario.

So now I just shut the doors on the rooms that are clean. For instance I have one son who no longer lives at home. His room has been cleaned, so hence the door is shut.

Some other tips:

The entryway must be cleared of coats, shoes and mail. Get into the habit of hanging up your coats, designate an area for mail.

Allow a mere ten minutes at night before you go to sleep, to wipe off the counters.

Dust and vacuum every other day and clean the bathrooms daily.

Make the beds daily.

Eliminate your home of odors. There is nothing worse than pet odor except if it is smelly food.

Empty the garbage.

Landscaping, make sure you have a good curb appeal no matter what the season.

This is my favorite. Have a bowl of chocolate candy by the sign in area. It has been proven that eating something sweet will project a favorable outcome.

All of these are good practices for when you do move!  Please leave the chocolate candy for me.

Patty 2About the author: Patty Lovett is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy and part of the Alliance Home Team. She works with both Buyers and Sellers. You can contact her directly on her website at www.pattylovett.com


Category: Home Selling

Roland Melted SidingA few times in recent years, I have come across homes with distorted, melted vinyl siding.  The first thought is to ask “how could this have happened?”  The answer is very simple – the neighbors did it!  Well actually the neighbors didn’t do it, at least not intentionally, but when they installed their new low – e windows, the process began (unbeknownst to all parties).

Here’s what’s really happening.  The neighbor installs low emissivity windows because they provide great benefit to him.  The low emissivity windows have a thin layer on the inside of the outer piece of glass of a double paned insulated window.  This keeps out the heat from the infrared rays of the sun while allowing natural daylight to pass through. In the winter time, it also reflects the heat within the room back into the room.  That all sounds great for the homeowner with the energy efficient low – e windows.

But what happens to the heat that is reflected away on the outside?  The window acts like a magnifying glass that directs a “laser beam” of energy towards the next door neighbor.  The position of the sun in the sky can affect the intensity and the worst conditions are winter time when the sun is lower which results in a greater impact.   Traditional siding like cedar shingles or clapboards is not affected.  But vinyl siding is affected and the siding melts and distorts.

If you have a cooperative neighbor, you can ask that he install screens on the outside of his windows that will disperse the energy without affecting the effectiveness of the windows.  This should take care of the problem.

Another option, although more costly, is to install HardiePlank siding on your home.  This is a fiber-cement product, but the cost is 3 times that of regular vinyl siding.

It sounds like the best fix is for the neighbor to invest in a few hundred dollars to purchase screens and hope it does the trick.  Replacing the defective vinyl siding without resolving the cause will only result in it happening again.

For more information about low – e windows to understand the benefit and potential problems, a quick Google search will provide all the information you need to know.

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author: Roland Spadafora is one of the broker owners of RE/MAX Legacy. You can learn more about him on his website www.spadaforateam.com