Thursday, November 19, 2015

Realtor Trick: Simmer your way to a good-smelling home!

If you have ever been on the house-hunt, you too can attest there is nothing worse than walking into a property only to be accosted by a cheap, smelly air freshener (or in more extreme cases- 15. ).

Headache central.

SELLERS: please resist the temptation. Just don't do it! It offends the bulk of Buyers, makes them assume that you are attempting to cover something up, and often times results in a quick U-turn back out the front door.

Obviously, if there is an unpleasant stench that you are attempting to mask rather than remedy- STOP. As an agent, I 1st recommend getting to the root of the problem: deep clean, open windows, buy Fido a crate until you sell, clean the air ducts, move the litter box to the basement, paint, steam clean, bleach, replace the carpet, whatever it takes.

Once that is done, however, if trying to create a more pleasant smelling home- stick with warm, natural scents and methods as it will be pleasing to the nose of *most* of your Buyer Pool.

I am a huge fan of bowls of lemons, gorgeous fresh flowers, and oranges with cloves during the holidays. Most agents also recommend baking cinnamon buns or cookies on Open House Day or prior to scheduled appts to create a warm, homey environment for potential Buyers.

Wonderful? Yes. Realistic on a daily basis? No. 

I have a quick and easy solution that just takes a quick simmer on the stove and I have used for YEARS. In fact, I have implemented it in my own home this week?! After 3 weeks of small home projects, I want to ensure that my own house smells like a home rather than a construction zone when I host Thanksgiving.

FIRST: Gather warm, natural ingredients. My favs- orange peel, cloves, apple cider, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon sticks.  I usually boil in water.  If I have it on hand, I boil in apple cider or juice.  My friend swears by vanilla beans, equal parts vanilla extract and orange juice, water, and a few slices of orange... though you can truly use anything.

If you don't have Pumpkin Pie Spice on hand- improvise! Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, extracts. No need to measure. A little goes a long way and you can't mess up... just throw it in.
NEXT: take a quick run to a local thrift store and purchase a small pan to use strictly for this purpose as it will get trashed, trust me. Avoid non-stick. I have used my little 1960's 5x4 shallow aluminum steamer pot exclusively for this purpose for 12+ years. It isn't pretty, but does the trick!

Fill the pan 3/4 full with water or cider. Throw in your spices and place on a low simmer...
Voila! Within 5-10 minutes, your home will smell like Grandma's kitchen. 15-20 minutes prior to showings or in the AM will make your Buyers feel right at home! NOTE: I have found that I can use the same spices for 2-3 days. I also recommend closely watching the liquid level, as should it gets too low and your spices BURN... yuck!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cinnamon Apple-Stuffed Crepe recipe

Unfortunately, the older my boys get, the less time I have with them as their busy schedules take them from sports practices to music lessons.  The one time that always seems to be ours as a family, however?  Sunday morning. While teenagers are not typically eager to rise early on a Sunday morning (ha!), sweet smells from the kitchen always seem to naturally beckon them so I don't have to. 

Every family has their weekend ritual.  While ours is typically Finnish Pannukakkuh, I often like to revisit MY childhood Sunday morning memories when my father would wake the family with stuffed crepes.   He tended to fill them with whatever was in season at the time: berries in the summer, apples in the Fall, or even homemade mousse if feeling unusually decadent.   

I share as his basic crepe recipe is fool-proof and is the one that I still use to this day. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Apple-Stuffed Crepes

Basic Crepe Recipe  

1 large egg
1/4 cup + 2 T milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup flour
1.5 tablespoon melted butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of cinnamon
Additional butter or pan-coating spray for pan

NOTE:   I double this for our family of 4, to allow for mess ups and 2 hungry teenage boys.

If using the basic recipe for a savory crepe, I omit the cinnamon and vanilla.  I often add garlic powder and chives.

Mix ingredients with a whisk.  It will be runny! Heat pan on medium to medium-high. Grease pan with butter/spray. Pour approximately 1 ounce of batter in center of pan and swirl until it is spread super thin. Cook for 30-45 seconds and flip.  Cook for another 15-30 seconds and remove to a plate.  Layer them in between small squares of wax paper until batter is gone.

Cinnamon Apple Filling Recipe

Slice 3-4 apples.  Toss in a pan with 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon or brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and an 1/8 tsp of salt.  Saute until soft.

Assemble, garnish, enjoy! =)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hidden Gem: Magic Chef Mansion tour

Over the weekend, my family finally toured the Magic Chef Mansion after years of discussing it...

The 1908 French Renaissance Revival mansion sits on 2 gated acres in the Compton Hill neighborhood, caddy-corner to the Compton Hill Reservoir Park, at #3400 Russell Blvd.  

It was designed by architect Ernst Janssen for Charles Stockstrom (1852-1935), the founder of the Quick Meal Stove Company, later renamed the Magic Chef company.  The largest stove maker in the world at one time, the St. Louis plant alone employed over 2,000 locals.

Stockstrom worked closely with Janssen in designing the 12,000 square foot, 30+ room  property plus carriage house. Construction began in 1907 and was completed a year later at a cost of $49,500 (equivalent to 1.3 million today), as the Stockstrom family traveled the world.

In 1935, Stockstrom died at age 83. His daughter, Adda Ohmeyer, continued to reside in the Mansion until her death in 1990.  The current (and only 2nd) owner purchased the property in serious disrepair at that time for $400,000 and has spent the last 25 years restoring it and hunting down original furnishings and fixtures sold at auction after Ohmeyer's death.

In addition to currently acting as home to the present owner, it is also open to the public for events, parties, and tours once per month in correlation to the adjacent reservoir tours. Learn more HERE.

While the Magic Chef Mansion is not quite a genuine peek-back-in-time like the Rockliffe Mansion, where the original goodies and furnishings remain in the property in their original state... the history and scale does impress.  In addition, the extent of renovation that this homeowner has taken on as a labor of love is astounding and commendable, for example recently converting the property to geothermal. Renovation photos HERE

Here is a peek at our adventure.  Note: the tour is not a guided historical tour as one may expect.  Rather, it is open house style with numerous guides along the way to help answer questions as they arise. Also, my mobile photos do not do the property justice....  

See my other recommended St. Louis Hidden Gems HERE.

In St. Louis and contemplating a move? I would love to help. Learn more about me HERE.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

2015 Dream Home Per Pinterest Users

This is so fascinating!  Pinterest is the growing go-to app for homeowners to collect, plan, and organize ideas for future home projects in a vision board format.  The social media site recently revealed their most popular home pins, unveiling the Pinterest User dream home... 

It is no surprise that clean and classic spaces came out on top.  Lovely!

See more of the home here:  

Connect with me on Pinterest here:  

Friday, October 16, 2015

St. Louis Weekend Happenings: October 16- 18, 2015

Boo at the Zoo Nights
Nightly, October 16-30, 2015
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Explore the Zoo after dark during the special Halloween evenings: Boo at the Zoo Nights! This non-scary, kid-friendly Halloween experience is filled with laughs and adventure. Children are encouraged to wear costumes. Children 12-and-under will receive a treat bag upon exiting. Boo at the Zoo Nights is not a trick-or-treating experience.

$6/member; $7/non-member; children under 2 are free 
$1 discount for children 2 to 12 in costume

Parking is free - details on the website.

More info:

9th Annual Harvest Festival at Laumeier Sculpture Park
Sunday October 18

Hosted by Sauce Magazine and Laumeier Sculpture Park, the 2015 Harvest Festival celebrates the best Autumn has to offer: delicious eats from St. Louis area restaurants, a farmers’ market featuring fresh local produce, arts and craft wares, family activities, live Bluegrass music and all of Fall’s splendor in Laumeier’s beautiful outdoor setting.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for Laumeier Members, and children ages 10 and under free. Buy tickets at the door or online

Laumeier Sculpture Park
12580 Rott Road
St. Louis, MO 63127

More info:

The Great Schlafly Pumpkin Festival
Saturday, October 17
12:00pm - 7:00pm

Calling all beer lovers!  Think county fair meets pig roast meets a trip to the pumpkin patch as Schlafly kicks off the Fall season and the return of their popular seasonal Pumpkin Ale.Complete with live music, local vendor booths, family-activities, amazing cuisine, and tastinsg of unique ciders and harvest-time beers... a great time is guaranteed.

Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood

7260 Southwest Avenue

More info: