Saturday, July 29, 2017

The basics to a happy home and balanced day

A common phrase I hear a lot as a realtor is that "Home is where the heart is".  I believe one of the things that defines home is a place where people feel comfortable and welcomed.   This  type of environment is not defined by the size or age of the property but rather by the ambience set by its owners.  No matter the square footage of a house,  the kitchen often becomes the epicenter of the property.  One lesson I learned from my parents (who had the smallest house of  all my friends)  was that it was alway very important to be a good hostess to anyone crossing the threshold.  It was important to always have a full kitchen and to offer beverages (either warm or cold) to anyone who visited.   Following through with this philosophy in life is to always be prepared and able to serve my guests.  You never know who may come by unexpectedly.  Thus when I set up my kitchen below I am sharing my basic vital items that I always keep on hand.

As many of my friends know I am a big coffee drinker.  I frequent Starbucks and have more recently learned how to make a good brew at my house.  In fact, the first purchase for my house even before kitchen furniture was a coffee maker.  I have more recently acquired different coffee maker devices specific to my crowd.  (see my toys in bottom photo).  Depending on the guest size,  I will make a pour over cup if it is just for me or use a Keurig for my husband who loves flavored coffee.  If I have a large group I will brew a pot of coffee.  A good cup of coffee is particularly enjoyed earlier in the day.  It is also great as a mid-afternoon pick me up or after a meal with dessert.   In addition,  coffee is always great to offer a guest who may be doing work at one's home during the day.  (Of note, I also keep a full stock of tea bags on hand).  My guests often say I run a great local coffee shop!

Conversely towards evening a libation is a great way to wrap up a busy day.   Most adults (over 21) I know will enjoy a glass of wine.  Wine is a the holy drink of many religions but has also become the versatile drink to have as the day winds down for even the agnostic.   I often enjoy having a glass before dinner (sometimes while cooking).  I also welcome the chance to share a glass of wine with guests  often accompanied by appetizers or during a home cooked dinner.  Wine is perfect to serve during a party or  an evening social event , as well, such as bookclub.

For the non-drinkers I always have some ice cream on hand in my freezer as this is something easy to serve that generally disappears quicker than it would perish.    Who doesn't love ice cream?  This is alway my happy food and my last basic stock item.  Guests of all ages can't say no to a little treat and just the mention often brings a smile to ones face.  These days I try to keep a supply of regular and low sugar options as some of us have to watch our diets.  Although there is nothing better than Brighams Ice Cream,  the Halo flavors are low in sugar and high in protein and a great alternative.  Ice cream is a great mid afternoon snack or after dinner dessert.  It is also a great late night munch.

These days with the all the turmoil in the world, all three of my above basics can help one get through each challenging day.  I enjoy a cup of coffee at home when I wake up in the morning as I read the newspaper and catch up on my social media feed.  I may also pick up a cup mid-day as a pick me up.  Incidentally studies have shown positive health effects on drinking coffee including longevity.  More often than not,  most of the turmoil is a bit abnormal and once I get home at the end of the day, a glass of wine is quite welcome while I watch World News.  I sip it slowly as I prepare dinner and generally finish it off with my meal.  My doctor actually told me a glass of Red Wine in moderation is actually good for my heart and we all love to listen to "Doctor's Orders".  Lastly depending on how much I ate at dinner I will have a small scoop of ice cream for dessert or sneak downstairs and have a bit later in the evening before catching the daily recap on late night comedy shows.

As my readers can see, my three basics have been the key ingredients to make my house a happy home.  Whether I am entertaining or home alone, these easy items enable me to be a good hostess or to keep balance in my daily homelife.  I love hearing from others about what simple things make them happy and help make their homes their happy place.  Maybe we can meet up in person and discuss over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys writing about local events and issues near and dear to her heart.  Please visit her website or visit her Facebook page @wendybcb.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What is means to be a valuable team player

When I was a young child I absolutely hated team sports.  I was not very athletic and was often the last choice by appointed team captains for their team.  The captains wanted a team of winners and it was commonly perceived that I would bring the team down.  I always felt isolated and a bit like an outsider to this activity that so many of my peers flourished in.  As I graduated to be an upper classman, I had the option of selecting physical education activities that were a bit more specialized.  At this point I also was allowed to get credit to take something off campus on my own dime.  I much preferred taking a dance class at a classmates mother's dance studio to taking a required team sport at my high school.

In my first job as an accountant I too learned to excel in my own style of work and enjoyed independent projects at an entry level position, however as I watched my colleagues move up the ranks I began to learn more about the comrade they shared around the coffee break area talking about team sports.  Although an anomaly to my upbringing, (my Dad was a historian and said sports were against his religion) I began to see the value of these conversations.  My colleagues were sharing a common interest that sparked conversation beyond the parameters of a spreadsheet.  New understandings of workmanship were often sparked during these impromtu dialogues and sometime led to collaboration of work ideas.

Sadly politics has become a high level team sport.  There are two major teams who do not understand the value of team sports.  Each team is becoming extremely polarized for their own benefit and it is becoming nearly impossible to work together.  Last week Mitch McConnell, Republican House Majority Leader said if the health care bill doesn't get repealed the Republicans may need to work with Democrats as a last resort.  Shouldn't this have been a positive sign to allow the 2 major players to work together to come up with a plan to ammend the ACA Health plan that works but needs some modification.  Instead today they vote to push ahead "repeal" and then "replace" and are rallying to get everyone on the McConnell team.

As a realtor we are trained to work and collaborate with other professionals who are able to complement and enhance our skill set. This includes working and collaborating with professionals on both sides of a transaction to optimize the purchase or sale of real estate.  When I studied management during my MBA program we were taught that the most successful leaders were the ones who worked with others and took the team approach.  In one book I read a long time ago it was noted that the most effective managers were the ones who allowed the team approach and often the best ideas come from the bottom.  See book In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman (Warner Books) was an American business management “bible” that presents eight specific management principles common to successful companies.  Many of the practices in the book are still being used today by the successful top tier companies.  

As we move more and more forward in the current administration means you have to be on the "right" team of the leader or you are bullied and singled out.  There is no such thing as equal play time.   This was further exemplified today by Trump when he publicly stated today his disappointment in Jeff Sessions for not recusing himself from the ongoing Russia investigation.  Although I do not agree with much of Sessions policies he is a man who is following the law and doing his job in accordance with the Constitution.  The President is not a team player and believes that all loyalty must be to protect him.  A true leader would trust the team to do what they feel is right and to support their work.  

Although through my life and career my perception of participating in a team has changed drastically.  I have learned to become a team player when it is important but it has also become apparent to me that team loyalty is only valuable if the members also have a sense of integrity and can stand up to their individual beliefs when they conflict with the goals of the team.  To me this is the true definition of becoming a winner. 

p.s. since writing this post the latest version of the repeal and replace of the ACA health care bill has not passed thanks to the teamwork of Chuck Schumer for the Democrats and the Heroic efforts of 3 Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Wendy is a realtor at Coldwell Banker Needham.  She has been a realtor for over 8 years and knowing the area quite well can share a hands on local perspective.  She is constantly networking and working hard to build a team that will provide the best level of skills available to fully service her clients in all aspects of the real estate transaction.  She also has her SRES,   Feel free to contact her directly or click here if you would like to learn more.  

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Will July 4 bring us together or keep us blindsided?

When one thinks about American traditions July 4 always comes in to mind. The themes of patriotism, "The Star Splanged Banner" and "America,The Beautiful" as well as parades, barbecues  and fireworks have become the hallmark of the typical way to celebrate the birth of our great nation.  

This year however the ideology of patriotism has taken on a different and sometimes divisive feeling.     Half the country seems to view this idealogy as wanting to go back in time to the great period of deregulation and manufacturing prosperity.  Technology has replaced much of our society and progressed towards a more service oriented and global economy in the span of my career.  Much of the old manufacturing jobs no longer exist.   

As I watch the America of today and hashtags like MAGA "make America great again" the meaning behind this idealizes for some a conservative less unified United States of America than I remember growing up with.   In fact,  some of these rants and statements actually make me cringe at the thought of what patriotism doesn't mean to many Americans.  I find it sad  and it makes it difficult to share the same space with many who under this philosophy do not stand for the same meaning of patriotism that I grew up with.  

I grew up in a different America.   The world I knew wanted to take care of those less fortunate and have always worked hard to make  the world a better place.  In the Jewish tradition this is called Tikin Olam  "repair the world".   The America I see ,particularly, since January has seen a much more self-centered America where people just want to take care of themselves.  

The proposed health care plans are made to make the rich richer, environmental protection regulations are being forgone by lobbyists to the likes of the Koch brothers and the energy populist base to make those investors in many oil and commodity companies richer , see EPA de- regulations, regulations on education and private schools are dividing instead of bridging  cultural understanding for our youngest citizens ( See Education reforms).  The public school was a place where we all learned and grew from each other.   We worked to cooperate with others and to have a society where we learned to become inter-dependent.  

Freedom of the press and government transparency are gone.  In fact as I began writing this blog on Tuesday,  Trump had just asked the press to leave a meeting he was having with just Republican senators to discuss the health care bill .  This is a bill that was created behind closed doors by 13 white rich men that will impact all Americans.  Our country should represent all Americans not just the rich agenda.   See Dark Money.  Shouldn't we all be included in the conversations .  It seems most of the rights and freedoms  that we should be providing to our citizens appear to be dissipating.

I feel that since the start of the new administration we have started to become much more independent with each man  out for himself.  I don't think this is the America that our ancestors dreamed of.  Most of us were immigrants and came here with common goals.  See   Lin Manuel remix . I think our ancestors wanted us to work cooperatively together globally and in a unified manner with a set of the values that we don't often see now.   

Further since starting this blogpost there has been a national epidemic of bullying starting from the top.  see Cruella and this doesn't even approach the policy issues that concern me.  I am honestly not sure I can say I am proud to celebrate our Nation's birthday if this is how we are becoming represented throughout the world. There seems to be a total meltdown of respect and ethics stemming from our leaders.  In addition,  there is talk of repealing the ACA act without a replacement thus uninsuring millions of the sick and vulnerable.  What is going on here? Just turn on the news.  

I don't have all the solutions but in my world to make America great again we all have to work together and have respect for those who share and will converse to discuss our differences.  I hope all Americans will take this holiday weekend to reflect on the core values that have made us a great nation.  I hope the America I grew up with will be the America of my children's tomorrow.  

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys writing about local events and issues near and dear to her heart.  Please visit her website or visit her Facebook page @wendybcb.