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How Can You Eat Pumpkin? Let Us Count the Ways!

by The Hat Team

Pumpkin is very popular this time of year. It seems “pumpkin spice” is everywhere.  But if you’re like most people, you have never ventured beyond the most common way to serve and enjoy pumpkin -  in a pie.  Don’t get me wrong!  Pumpkin pies are great!  But if you love pumpkin, you might be surprised to discover there are a lot of other ways you can enjoy it!  Check out these 6 ways to eat pumpkin (not in a pie):

  1. Pumpkin Soup - If you’re looking for a simple way to enjoy pumpkin, then pumpkin soup is the way to go. Nothing says fall like a warm bowl of soup.  Make it from scratch with this Simple Pumpkin Soup recipe!
  2. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds - Not only are they tasty, but they are a healthy snack!  After getting the seeds out of the pumpkin, rinse them in a colander. Boil them in a pot of salted water for about ten minutes. Drain the pot and toss the seeds in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add any seasoning to taste. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the seeds start to turn a toasty brown.
  3. Pumpkin Pancakes - Create a sweet and tasty breakfast with these  Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes! This easy recipe is made with ingredients you probably already have at home. And along with pumpkin, fall flavors like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg will have your mouth watering for this delectable dish!
  4. Pumpkin Dip - If you’re hosting a holiday gathering or you will be attending one, this yummy pumpkin dip is perfect for serving to guests. This quick and easy Pumpkin Dip is light and scrumptious. Serve with apple slices or graham crackers or ginger cookies for a tasty treat!
  5. Roasted Pumpkin Risotto - Looking for a more savory pumpkin dish?  Try this Roast Pumpkin and Feta Risotto.  A combination of sweet and salty, this recipe will please most any palate!
  6. Savory Pumpkin Hummus - Another savory option, pumpkin hummus is easy to make and healthy to eat.  Just blend a can of garbanzo chick peas with a can of pumpkin, season to taste, and voila! - you have a healthy hummus, perfect for snacking!

So, don’t limit yourself to pie! These are just a few of MANY recipes that include palate pleasing pumpkin. Try them and enjoy all things pumpkin!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: laferme1794.ch

24 Felder Ave: Updated Garden District Beauty!

by The Hat Team

24 Felder Ave, Montgomery Al 36104

MLS# 443966

4 Bedrooms | 3 Bathrooms | 2,584 sqft | Garden District

 

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​Wonderful updated Garden District beauty awaiting it's next owner. From the moment you step onto the covered front porch, you will be amazed. A seldom used sun room off the main bedroom has been turned into a FABULOUS master bath! Also, the hall bath and kitchen have been renovated and beautifully updated. And, for you purists out there...don't worry! It still retains the built-ins, arched doorways, antique medallions, and beautiful mantles. The wing off the kitchen makes a perfect teen or in-law space with bedroom, bath, and separate den/study area. If you are in the market and have NOT had the privilege of seeing this wonderful property, call your agent and schedule a tour. This just might be your next home.

A Handy Guide to Hosting Guests During the Holidays

by The Hat Team

It’s that time of year again.  A time for friends and family to come together to celebrate the holidays.  Many of you will be hosting guests in your homes over the next two months and while you are surely delighted to spend time with your loved ones, it can be a stressful time as well.  If you are opening your doors to family members or friends this holiday season, here are some ideas for prepping your home so that you’ll be ready to welcome them with open arms.

Tidy up the house.  Use this as motivation to thoroughly clean your house.  Get rid of clutter, make small house repairs and complete that decorating project you’ve been putting off.

Stock up on food and drinks. Make sure you have different types of beverages and snacks that your guests enjoy. It’s nice for them to be able to easily grab a quick snack whenever they want. Check with your guests to see if they have any food allergies or dietary needs so that you can provide safe and healthy choices for them.

Have activities planned for your guests. Depending on how long they are staying, you may want to plan some special events or activities for your guests.  Whether it’s a shopping excursion, a day at a museum, a holiday concert or just a nice dinner out, your visitors will appreciate your thoughtfulness in keeping them entertained. Click here for a list of fun events happening in the Montgomery area this holiday season: Holiday Events

Be mindful of the little ones. If your guests include children, be sure to plan for them as well.  If you don’t have children, you may want to pick up a game or some arts and crafts to have around for them.  Find out their food preferences prior to their arrival so that you are prepared to accommodate them at meals. 

Provide comfortable sleeping spaces. Be sure to have nice, clean sheets, pillows and extra blankets.  If you have a guest bedroom that has not been used in a while, strip the bed and wash the bed linens so that they are fresh for your guests. 15 Tips for Turning Your Guest Bedroom into a Retreat

Provide toiletries.  The guest bathroom should have soap/body wash, shampoo, conditioner and lotion available for guests. 

Give instructions for electronics. If the guest room has a television, leave written instructions for how to use the remote.

By following these tips and prepping your home ahead of time, you will be able to offer a warm welcome to your guests and enjoy the time you have with them!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: frugalandthriving.com.au

210 N Panama St: Stellar Starter Home with Living Space Galore!

by The Hat Team

210 N Panama St, Montgomery, AL 36107

MLS# 442030

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 2,070 sqft | Capitol Heights

Perfect starter home or great addition to your investment portfolio! If you want large living spaces and a large lot with lots of detached storage, add this home to your list. Situated in Capitol Heights, the location is perfect for anyone who works downtown or at Maxwell/Gunter. With great bones, this diamond in the rough just needs cosmetics and kitchen/bath upgrades to be stunning. Great for an investor as a flip project or as an income producing rental. Don't miss out on this great deal!

3235 Wellington Road: Adorable Cloverdale Cottage!

by The Hat Team

3235 Wellington Rd, Montgomery, AL 36106

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 1,824 sqft | Cloverdale/Idlewild

This adorable Cloverdale Cottage will capture your heart! Whether one, two, or a family, this home fits all. Spacious living room with fireplace and lots of built-ins for books and collectibles, dining room for big family gatherings, PLUS cozy den/family room with classic coffered ceilings will satisfy all your living needs. Kitchen overlooks gathering room/breakfast room and allows grown ups to prepare meals while the little ones do homework or play. Elevated rear deck overlooks shady back yard, large brick patio with built-in firepit, and playground -grade jungle-gym for the kids. Back yard also boasts wired and insulated workshop that once was a music studio with additional storage space inside. And, this move-in ready home has had fresh paint in some of the interior rooms, so call your favorite agent for a private tour and start packing!

How to Raise Your Credit Score to Save Money

by The Hat Team

Want to buy a house but a low credit score has you down?  Don’t despair! There are ways to raise your credit score and save thousands on your mortgage.   A strong credit score can lead to better interest rates, additional loan programs to benefit homebuyers, and easy and quick approvals which will put you on the fast track to home ownership.  Here are some tips for raising your credit score:

  • Make sure your credit reports are accurate.  The first step toward improving your credit score is checking your credit reports.  You will find your credit scores on three different reports, one each from the 3 Major Credit Bureaus.  Keep in mind that credit reports can have mistakes…and they often do.  That’s why it’s important that you analyze them carefully.  Make sure that the information on the reports is accurate, because if there are mistakes, they will be reflected in your score.  It’s easy to check your credit reports and doesn’t have to cost anything since you are entitled to a free copy, once a year, of all three thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Once you have copies of your credit reports go through them carefully and make sure of the following:
  • Is your personal information is accurate?
  • Are all your credit accounts are being reported?
  • Are there any late or missed payments that you remember making on time?
  • Are there any applications for credit that you don’t recognize?
  • Are there any accounts you don’t recognize?
  • Are there decades old items still on your report?

Highlight any discrepancies you find.  If you do find errors, you will have to dispute each one separately.  How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

  • Figure out what you need to fix/change/improve.  Here are some examples of things that could be causing your score to be lower than it should:
  • Your identity may have been stolen and someone is screwing up your credit.
  • An old collection account could still be haunting you, way past its statute of limitations for your state.
  • Do you have an ex-spouse? Perhaps he or she has not paid a bill he or she was supposed to pay per your divorce settlement.  Unfortunately, you could be suffering the consequences.
  • If you have ever defaulted on a loan it might be showing up as several defaults on your credit report because it has been sold to other debt collectors.
  • It might be a simple name mix up…your credit information might be mixed up with that of someone with a similar name.
  • Devise a plan to improve your credit score.  You can open a free account on Credit.com where you can get tips to help you determine where your poor credit issues are and they can assist you in creating an action plan for improving your score.  To get started, try keeping your credit card balances as low as possible, and start paying down debt rather than moving it around.
  • If you have a habit of making late payments…stop.  It’s vital that you make payments on time. Set up alerts when payments are due so that you won’t forget.  If due dates don’t coincide with when you get paid, make some calls to get the dates moved around to better suit your schedule.  Don’t be afraid to ask a credit card issuer or lender to forgive a past due payment. You might be surprised to discover they will happily work with you if you have a history of making on-time payments.
  • Open a secured credit card.  This is a type of credit card that allows you to make a deposit into a checking account that “secures” the line of credit being extended to you.  You will be able to get a secured credit card even if you already have bad credit, and adding a new account with a positive payment history will help improve your credit score over time.

2018's Best Secured Credit Cards for Building Credit

Once you get your credit score where it needs to be, you will reap the benefits by qualifying for better rates and save money on your mortgage loan!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: cfcw.com

210 E Fairview Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36105

MLS# 442463

3 Bedrooms | 2.5 Bathrooms | 2,379 sqft | Pool | Garden District

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Old world charm with modern conveniences. If you love nostalgia and are impressed with the craftsman style  prominent in the first part of the last century, this lovingly cared for home will make you zing! Offering both formal and more casual living spaces on the main floor, you can enjoy family time or entertaining on a grand scale. Upstairs the spacious bedrooms will hold lots of big cherished furniture, with a layout that will suite any style and taste. Looking for storage? Look no further...this home boasts plenty of it, with numerous closets, attic and basement storage. For outdoor living, there is a sparkling inground pool for relaxing and cooling off in the warmer months, and a pool house for storing equipment, pool toys, and extra patio furniture. If you like guests, but like for them to have their own space, the cozy efficiency apartment located above the pool house fits the bill perfectly. It also could be rented for additional income. Contact agent for complete list of upgrades and features!

Precious Pumpkins - Fun Ways to Decorate with Pumpkins for Halloween

by The Hat Team

Halloween is just a week away, but with unusually warm temperatures this year it hasn’t exactly felt like pumpkin season.  If you’ve been waiting to decorate your porch with pumpkins for Halloween, it’s not too late. Here are some unique and fun ways to get your craft on and welcome trick or treaters with pumpkins on your porch!

Speckled Pumpkins - This simple project allows you to create whimsical pumpkins in various colors.  Paint a pumpkin white and then dip another paintbrush into the color of your choice and splatter paint on it to create different sized speckles and blob of color. Want smaller specks? Try dipping a toothbrush in paint and flicking it toward the pumpkin.  This is an easy craft to do with kids too!


Photo Credit: janecanblogcotcom.wordpress.com

Pushpin Pumpkin - This is another way to decorate pumpkins without carving them.  Whether you stick with orange or you want to paint your pumpkins various colors, you can add more to them by adding pushpin designs.  Just draw out your design on the pumpkin with a marker and then push the pins in and voila - you have a beautiful, shiny design!


Photo Credit: marthastewart.com

Patterned Glowing Pumpkins - All you need to create pumpkins that glow are a knife, a drill, an erasable wax pencil, and a battery-operated light.  While the common thing to do is to cut the top of the pumpkin off to place the light inside, in this case you can leave the top alone.  Cut a hole in the bottom instead. Once you’ve scooped out the pulp and seeds, draw the pattern of your choice on the pumpkin using the pencil.  Then, using a medium drill bit, punch out a dotted line of your image leaving approximately the same amount of space between each hole.  Turn on your light and set the pumpkin on top of it and your pattern will glow!


Photo Credit: bhg.com

Pumpkin Votive - Light up your front porch with candles in your pumpkins.  Purchase small pumpkins and cut out the top and scoop out the pulp and seeds.  Place a votive candle inside.  Use them to line your walkway and porch steps or along your porch railing…or set up a small table with a collection of them.  If you’re not going to be outdoors waiting for trick or treaters, use Flameless Votive Candles to be safe.


Photo Credit: apumpkinandaprincess.com

Googly Eye Pumpkins - Even toddlers can help with this crafty way to create cute, whimsical pumpkins.Buy pumpkins, gourds, and googly eyes of various sizes and simply glue the eyes on!It’s as simple as that!Next thing you know you will have a super funny collection of cute, happy looking pumpkins!


Photo Credit: lynnkilmore.com

So, if you haven’t bought or decorated pumpkins yet or you haven’t wanted to carve them for fear they would rot too quickly in unseasonably warm temperatures, don’t despair.  You still have time to get crafty and decorate with pumpkins for Halloween!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

357 Felder Ave: Classic Style with Updated Features!

by The Hat Team

357 Felder Ave Montgomery, AL 36104

MLS# 442316

3 Bedrooms | 3.5 Bathrooms | 2,808 sqft | Garden District

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You get the best of everything...classic style and updated features! This elegant Federal style 2.5 story home boasts both formal living and entertaining spaces as well as more casual living areas. The cook in the family will delight in the custom designed kitchen with high end appliances. Spacious den/family room is large enough to spread out in or have several more intimate seating/lounging/reading areas. Out back you will enjoy a big covered deck overlooking private back yard with in-ground salt water swimming pool. Master bedroom retreat on second floor runs the width of the house and has a cozy seating area around antique mantle. Access the third floor bonus rooms from a spiral staircase and find a wonderful split design with another full bath...perfect for teen retreat, rec room, home theater...use your imagination! Detached two car garage out back provides great off street parking. Call your favorite realtor to schedule a private tour of this marvelous Garden District charmer.

How to Pack Like a Pro!

by The Hat Team

Congratulations!  You have successfully sold your home!  What a relief, right?  Now comes the hard part. Moving.  Moving is one of the 10 Most Stressful Life Events along with job loss, death of a loved one, divorce and major illness. Sounds fun, huh?  That’s why it is important to go about moving in a thoughtful and organized manner.  The more prepared you are, the less stress.  Packing up your house can be overwhelming, but you can make it easier by spreading it out over several weeks rather than trying to do it all right before you move.  Here is a general timeline for packing that you can use as a guide:

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: PRE-PACKING - Hopefully when you sell your house, you won’t have to immediately vacate.  About a month before moving you can begin to pre-pack items that you won’t need or use before you move.  Out of season clothing, tools and small appliances, and collectibles/knick knacks are items that you won’t miss. Hint: if your house is still on the market you can take this step as well, and it will help with staging your home for prospective buyers.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: NON-ESSENTIALS - Among the items that you didn’t pre-pack, choose those that you know you likely won’t need before moving.  Books, extra linens, and kitchen items can be packed up because you likely won’t be doing much reading, and you only need enough linens, plates, and utensils for the number of people living in the home.  CDs and DVDs can go as well.

TWO WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: THE SERIOUS PACKING BEGINS - Yes…now it is time to start paring down the amount of “stuff” still in your home. If you have children, allow them to choose a few toys/games to keep out, and box up the rest. If you have a home office, clean it out and pack what you plan to take with you.  Any jewelry and shoes that you don’t wear daily can go as well.  You may feel that two weeks is a long time to go without these items, but trust me, before you know it you will be unpacking them in your new abode! 5 Ways Children Can Help During a Move

ONE WEEK BEFORE MOVING DAY: SEVEN DAYS AND COUNTING - Now it is time to pack up all but the few things you will need to get through the last few days at your current home.  The rest of your clothes and kitchen items can go (leaving yourself what you will need until the move, of course).  Go through your medicine cabinet and toss any expired medications. Pack the rest except for the ones you take daily.

TWO DAYS BEFORE MOVING DAY: IT’S GETTING REAL YA’LL - At this point your stress level may be peaking, but if you have been following the time-line and packing a bit each week, you should be almost finished!  Box up your electronics (in their original packaging when possible), bathroom items, and any miscellaneous items that are left.  Keep a box for essential items that you will keep with you as you are moving.

MOVING DAY: IT’S HERE! -  All that should be left is furniture and appliances.  Whether you have hired movers to load the large items or you are doing it yourself, it will be so much more manageable with everything else already boxed up and ready to go.

IMPORTANT TIP - Label every box.  You can either write what is in the box or what room the box should go to.  Or both.  You will be glad you did when you are unpacking!

Remember that this is simply a general guideline.  You should do what is right for you and your family when it comes to packing and moving. But hopefully this will make what can be a trying and overwhelming time a little less stressful.

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

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