Friday, December 27, 2013

11 Fun New Year’s Eve Party Ideas for Food, Games & Decorations


Picture a great New Year’s Eve party at your home with all your friends: Sparkling decorations and candles all about. Your guests take hilarious photos, dance with loud, crazy noisemakers, and enjoy a selection of appetizers. When the clock strikes 12, you toast with champagne and feast on a midnight supper.

This scenario has to cost a fortune, right? Well, not necessarily. With a few money-saving tricks up your sleeve, you can host a great New Year’s party on a budget that people will be talking about for a long time to come. From food, to refreshments, to games, you can cut costs everywhere without sacrificing any of the fun! And if your New Year’s resolution is to save money, this is a great place to start.

Party Food Ideas

1. Make It a BYOA Affair – Bring Your Own Appetizer

Phone your invitees and inform them that it’s a BYOA event. There are a number of cheap and easy appetizers that your guests can bring, but if someone doesn’t know how to cook or what to bring, suggest raw veggies and hummus, a fruit and nut platter, or a cheese and crackers plate. If someone claims that even those are too difficult, ask them to bring a container or two of mixed nuts – you can provide the bowl!

2. Serve Champagne Sangria for Midnight Toasting

This is an easy and delicious way to cut down on champagne costs that will be appreciated by all! To make champagne sangria, simply use these ingredients and follow the instructions below:
Ingredients:
  • One 32-ounce bottle of apple juice
  • One 12-ounce can of frozen cranberry juice concentrate
  • One cup of orange juice
  • One-and-a-half liters of champagne (or ginger ale for a non-alcoholic version)
Directions:
  1. Keep items chilled (or frozen) until use.
  2. Combine the apple juice, cranberry juice concentrate, and orange juice in a large bowl. Stir well.
  3. Add sliced oranges, kiwi slices, and any other fruit you like.
  4. Slowly add the champagne or ginger ale at the last minute to keep it bubbly.
This recipe serves 12, but you might want to double up for thirsty guests!

3. Have a Midnight Supper

After the midnight toast, close the bar and invite everyone to take part in a midnight supper. A baked potato bar is easy, fun, and inexpensive. Bake the biggest potatoes you can find, and follow with dessert!
  • Put potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees at about 10:30pm. They should be done in about an hour.
  • Set out as many toppings as you like: sour cream, bacon bits, chopped scallions, salsa, shredded cheese, jalapenos, chives, steamed broccoli, butter, mushrooms, chili, and anything else you’d like. Let everyone fix their own potato, as loaded as they want.
  • For dessert, serve chocolate cake from a mix with white icing and colored sprinkles. Serve with ice cream and a little hot fudge sauce.
  • Be sure to provide coffee with dessert for the drive home.
This menu will cost about $2 per person, which is very reasonable for a hearty supper. If you want to spend more, make a cheesecake instead for a rich finish to your meal.

4. Remember That Timing Is Everything

Since you want to keep the party hopping until (and perhaps well past) the midnight hour, consider starting around 10pm. But if you prefer to start much earlier, have the potato bar ready at around 10pm so guests don’t go hungry.
If your group wants to spend five to six hours together, plan on having a full-scale potluck early in the evening. You can skip the appetizers in this case, but still prepare your midnight supper.

Fun & Games

5. Ask Guests to Bring an Unusual Noisemaker

Have a ”craziest noisemaker” contest and be sure to shoot video! Replay each person with their noisemaker for the crowd and vote on who wins. Provide a prize to the winner, such as earmuffs. Then, get everyone together for the big midnight countdown and create your own symphony of racket, clatter, and boom.

6. “Hire” a Photographer

Ask one guest to serve as the “official” photographer to take before and after photos, or do it yourself. As guests arrive, invite them to pose with one person seated and the other standing next to a chair (like an old-time photo – no smiling allowed). You could provide old-fashioned hats, and maybe a shawl or scarf for props.
Later, take “after midnight” photos of your guests in their holiday party outfits showing off their noisemakers. Post all the photos online to share.

7. Ask Guests to Write Predictions for the New Year

Have your guests sign their predictions and place them into a bowl or a box. Then, during supper, take turns reading the predictions while everyone guesses who wrote them. It can be surprising how difficult it is to guess your friends’ predictions – and it’s a great way to wrap up the night!

Final Word

Have a blast at your New Year’s party, but remember, no matter what, never allow anyone to drive home impaired! Not only do you want to keep your friends safe, but as a host, you could be legally liable for their drunk driving. These are known as “social host” laws, and many states have them.
To protect everyone, have a sober person drive intoxicated friends home, call a cab, or take their keys and let them sleep at your place. A simple bacon, eggs, and coffee breakfast will be fine for these overnight guests.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fun Things To Do in December

Baking together is one of many activities you can and your children can do together to enjoy this special time of year.
 
Photo © Dave J. Anthony / Getty Images
There are so many fun things to do in December with your family. Pick any of these month-long activities to enjoy quality time with those special adults and kids in your life.
Things to do in December
Send Holiday Cards
Get the family involved in sending out holiday cards. Buy a box at the store or get creative. Homemade cards are a treat to receive but they also give you one-on-one time with your children while you create them together. Paint your cards, use rubber stamps or use the computer to design your own holiday cards.

Have Holiday Pictures Taken
Put on your matching green and red sweaters and capture the moment with family holiday portraits. Posed pictures are the norm but also get creative holiday shots. Keep your camera ready all month long so you can capture unique holiday pictures of your family.

Visit Santa Claus
Take the kids early in the month to see Santa and avoid the crowds closer to Christmas. The guy with the white beard in the bright red suit can be a scary sight to younger children so prepare them for what to expect during their visit with Santa Claus.

Bake With Your Kids
You probably spend a lot of time in the kitchen in December. Let the kids be your little helpers. Bake with them to extend your holiday fun. Make gingerbread houses from scratch or bake cookies.

Wrap Presents Together
Usually kids wake up to find presents have been magically wrapped overnight. Keep a few out and ask your children to help wrap presents with you. Spend some special time with each of your kids as they wrap presents for their siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

Donate Time and Goods
December is a great month to introduce your children to the concept of charitable giving. Donate your family's time. Drop off a toy at a qualified charity event to help other kids in your area. Participate in a fundraising walk or run. There are many ways to help others during the holidays.

Get to Know Your Neighbors During Hi Neighbor Month
Getting to know your neighbors has many benefits. You can make some new mom friends. Kids can meet playmates their own ages for fun play dates. Families who know each other well can benefit from swapping free child care, even starting a neighborhood babysitting co-operative. Neighbors can look out for each other through neighborhood watches. Start with a simple introduction. Show up with baked treats as a friendly hello or organize a neighborhood block party.

National Stress-Free Family Holiday Month
The crowds, traffic and family time overload can be stressful even if you're usually the merriest of people. December is National Stress-Free Family Holiday Month. Part of its purpose to help you survive the holidays and reduce your family's holiday stress.

Safe Toy and Gift Month
With so many toys coming to good little girls and boys this month, it's only fitting that it's Safe Toy and Gift Month. As you shop for new toys or inspect your current ones, be sure you follow the toy safety checklist. But also use this month to talk about toy safety with your children. What may be age appropriate for one child could be dangerous to another. It's especially true if you have a baby in the house who could easily choke on small parts or be injured from an older child's toys.

Read A New Book Month
Every month should be Read a New Book Month. But during December, you have plenty of opportunities to introduce new books to your children. Pick books centered around the month of December. They can focus on the holidays, an author's birthday and specific events.

Universal Human Rights Month
 Celebrate peace, liberty and freedom with your children. Teach them about human rights. You'll show your kids how to be thankful and they'll learn about respect at the same time.

Write to a Friend Month
Grab a pen and paper. Encourage your children to write their pals. They can write a kid-friendly thank you card to their friends or simply write to say hi. It's an excellent exercise for all age groups that doesn't include phone calls, texts or emails. Preschoolers can practice their writing skills and older children can learn letter writing basics. You're not off the hook either. Write your children letters to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.

Monday, December 16, 2013

8 Easy Front Porch Holiday Decorating Ideas


8 Easy Front Porch Holiday Decorating Ideas
When decorating your home for the holidays, don't forget the front porch. Spread holiday cheer outdoors with just a few festive touches. Deck out your front porch for the holiday season with our rustic decorating ideas and easy how-to projects.
DIY Reindeer Pillow
Cozy up a front porch chair or bench with this adorable reindeer pillow. With a few basic supplies and our free printable template, you can whip up one of your own in just a few steps.
Add a Special Touch
Embellish store bought finds with a few crafty touches that tie the look together. This rustic twig reindeer is cute enough on its own but better fits our theme with the addition of a satin ribbon and fuzzy yarn-wrapped balls.
Mini Christmas Trees
We found these small faux pine trees at a garage sale and turned them into something special by adding new baskets, satin ribbon, handmade ornaments and yarn garland. Mini pine trees are perfect for displaying by your front door; try adding one to each side of the entry to frame the door.
Easy Ornaments
We continued our yarn theme throughout with these easy do-it-yourself ornaments. With a few basic craft supplies, you can quickly whip up a whole bunch. This project is easy enough for even the littlest crafters so get the kiddos to help.
Embellished Wreath
Take a simple everyday wreath and dress it up for the holidays. This driftwood wreath is perfect year-round, but for the holidays it gets an extra special touch with the addition of satin ribbon and a cluster of yarn-wrapped balls in various sizes and colors. Tip: Use hot glue sparingly, so you can easily pop off the embellishments after the holidays without damaging the wreath.
Gorgeous Garland
Pine garland is perfect for draping along banisters to add a winter touch to your outdoor decor. Another easy option is to string white bunny tail yarn garland around doors and windows to create a mini snowball effect.
Light Up with Luminaries
Hosting a holiday party this year? Line your walkway with these simple DIY luminaries. Fill clear glass or plastic vases with stones or sand and add tea lights or votive candles (we prefer the battery-operated kind). Finish each luminary with a cute yarn bow.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Barringer Team Market Trends Newsletter - Decmber 2013

The following information is from the local MLS database, as of December 2, 2013 and is compared to (November 1, 2013).As we enter the last month of 2013,we are still seeing mostly all equity sellers  as prices are beginning to level off.There are only a little less homes on the market,  and most listings are not  receiving as many multiple offers and most are at the asking price or slightly below, if they are priced right. Interest rates have stayed the same with 30 yr fixed at 4.45% and 15 year at 3.51%. 
   If you have been on the Fence about selling your home then NOW is still the time to sell. The holiday's there are typically less homes on the market and only serious buyers out looking. (see the article below) If you are curious to see how much equity you have in your house, give us a call for a market analysis!  Just call or e-mail for an hassle free appointment or to just talk about the market anytime. 1-800-894-7282 or sales@tracyhomes.com.
Tracy, CA
ACTIVE STATUS
Total # of residential properties for sale in the city of Tracy: 114 (123)
# of REO (foreclosures): 6 (7)
# of Short Sales: 7  (13)
Average # of days on market: 32 (30)
The median price of all homes for sale in Tracy: $365,000 (385,000)
 
PENDING STATUS
Number of properties currently under agreement: 174 (174)
# of REO: 5 (5)
# of Pending Short Lender Approval: 55 (60)
Median pending price: $317,000 ($301,000)
 
SOLD STATUS
Residential property sold over previous 30 days: 66 homes (76)
REO's sold in the last month: 3 (0)
Short sales sold in the last month: 9 (12)
Median sale price: $342,500 ($330,000)
Median # of days on the market:  15
 
 
Mountain House, CA
 
ACTIVE STATUS
 
Total # of residential properties for sale in the city of Mountain House: 37 (42)
# of REO (foreclosures): 1 (1)
# of Short Sales: 2 (2)
# of New Construction: 7 (10)
Average # of days on market: 32 (28)
The median price of all homes for sale in Mountain House: $436,880 (441,500)
 
PENDING STATUS
 
Number of properties currently under agreement: 40 (33)
# of REO: 0 (0)
# of Pending Short Lender Approval: 12 (12)
Median pending price: $404,975 ($377,118)
 
SOLD STATUS
 
Residential property sold over previous 30 days: 14 homes (15 homes)
REO's sold in the last month: 0 (0)
Short sales sold in the last month: 1 (1)
Median sale price: $417,940 ($415,000)
Median # of days on the Market: 9
*************************
 
HOMES SOLD IN TRACY IN NOVEMBER
 
Take a look at this chart to see the SOLDS in Tracy for November.  Notice how many sold at asking price or over?  So call us for a free Market Analysis on your home!  209-833-7777.
  -     Address -          Street NameAddress - Street _Bedrooms   Bathroom Square FootageCurrListpri priceCurr Selling Selling PriceDOM
3141 HollyDr32 (2 0)128016000016000016
358WEmersonAve21 (1 0)7959000010500041
1040 WinterCt32 (2 0)133427900027500046
125 Loma Prieta Cir43 (2 1)204528990028990014
139W12thSt21 (1 0)83116500016500020
107 BarcelonaDr4 (5)3 (2 1)268944888840000038
1036 SallieLn34 (3 1)170331000030650051
499 GonzalezSt32 (2 0)121426500027000059
2630 Ponte Mira43 (3 0)223527900027900040
1422 WhittinghamDr53 (2 1)202937500037200033
536 Park HavenDr33 (2 1)195836000035000067
417 HollywoodAve22 (2 0)203433000034500014
335WCarltonWay31 (1 0)119125000023000045
425 PachecoDr33 (2 1)179427900027900045
3135 Milton JensonCt43 (3 0)244339900039900069
909 RooseveltAve21 (1 0)81919800021000010
475 PeerlessWay22 (1 1)116616490016200040
305 CecelioWay43 (2 1)259737990038000064
1311 RooseveltAve21 (1 0)10641850001950006
617ERobert L Smith43 (2 1)240738900036900050
788 PalmCir42 (2 0)1230860001000001
1986 CalaverasCt33 (2 1)180833900033900055
1828 BayberryLn33 (2 1)190235999935900031
2972 RugbyCt43 (3 0)239737900036990037
2925 HollyDr3 (5)3 (2 1)110420000020100025
1427 MansfieldSt53 (3 0)291739900039500025
335WBeverlyPl32 (2 0)204829900029900023
4156 EscattaAve43 (3 0)26113990003800008
2133 Diego Ct 43 (2 1)268943500041000046
143WBeverlyPl22 (2 0)106419800020500018
4154 ReidsWay3 (4)2 (2 0)208339900039900010
1760 Thicket 43 (2 1)189932500033700013
1705 ParksideDr43 (2 1)208032500035000014
471 BaldwinCt33 (2 1)213534000034000015
1285 SunpeakLn33 (2 1)156630500030700016
2238 Golden LeafLn43 (2 1)235538000037200014
1900 CourtDr31 (1 0)101621999522200025
787 Harold SmithDr33 (2 1)17053300003345006
1340 StandridgeCt31 (1 0)12352010001925006
3055 ElsinoreDr42 (2 0)13582580002580006
1561 DuncanDr42 (2 0)152728500028500019
1480 VelasquezLn42 (2 0)183435000036750014
1172 CochranDr4 (5)3 (3 0)26563850003970007
224EBeverlyPl42 (2 0)158931880031500013
1520 HurleyCt32 (1 1)10872299002300005
215WCloverRd33 (3 0)151626400025000010
2455 GeraldCt43 (2 1)177531490031490012
422 GlenbriarCir32 (2 0)14213200003150001
1951 ParksideDr43 (2 1)16303000003000005
160NClub HouseWay42 (2 0)18062700002860002

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

S.J. doctors join typhoon relief efforts in Philippines


Kudos to these 2 fine Doctors to help these poor people. Our own son Brian went to help the people of New Orleans with the Red Cross in 2005 for over 2 months.  We were very proud of him for doing that.  It took much courage him and 7 other people to run a shelter for over 1,000 people displaced by the Katrina  disaster.
F.Y.I. Dr .King was our Families personal Doctor for over 10 years a real nice guy and a good Doctor. Found this article in the Stockton Record and wanted to share.

 Dr. Katherine Gabon Cadacio of Stockton flew out of San Francisco International Airport last night bound for her homeland. It won't be a vacation.

Cadacio, 42, a family medicine doctor at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices on West Lane, is going home to the Philippines on a mission to do what she can to relieve some of the pain and suffering wreaked by the effects of Typhoon Haiyan two weeks ago.

Another area physician, Dr. Bill King, 59, a Kaiser assistant-physician-in-chief based in Manteca, is on call to follow Cadacio to the devastated island nation. They will be among more than 140 Kaiser doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from the large health provider's Northern California network who have signed up to spend two weeks in the disaster zone.

As of Wednesday, the Associated Press reported the Philippines government saying the typhoon had killed more than 4,000 people and left 1,600 missing. Uncounted tens of thousands more are injured and left homeless. Saving lives and providing emergency aid are still the main focus. Corpses are still being collected from beneath debris. But in a week or two, authorities will start transitioning into an "early recovery phase" and planning how best to rebuild the estimated 320,000 destroyed houses.
Cadacio is from Samar Island, a close neighbor of Leyte, the hardest hit island in the Philippine archipelago. She knows many people in Leyte's capital city of Tacloban.

"One of the main reasons I volunteered for this mission - every day since the typhoon hit the Philippines, it took us three days to get in touch with my uncle, who lives in Tacloban. When the news started coming in about the devastation, it would make me cry. I was just praying that Kaiser would offer something like this, so when I got the email I just decided to volunteer right away. To help the people," said Cadacio, who speaks Tagalog and Waray, the local dialect of the population most affected.

"When I was in med school, my parents always told me to make sure when you graduate, you always give back. After I graduated, I went back for four years to my home province Samar," she said.

Now she will return again, only this time she's not quite sure what she will be doing or where she will be assigned until she arrives.

Cadacio and King are traveling to the region on behalf of Relief International, a nonprofit humanitarian agency that provides emergency relief wherever it is needed worldwide. This is the first such mission for Cadacio.

King, on the other hand, was with Relief International in Haiti immediately after that Caribbean nation's devastating 2010 earthquake and has made several trips to Louisiana to help in the aftermath of 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

The doctors said one of the basic problems affecting the disaster zone is its water supply.

"There's contaminated water supply from human waste and dead animals. You save lives, especially young children who get diarrhea, when you provide them with a Gatorade-like drink. If there were a cholera outbreak, hours matter. That is the fear when you have a large amount of displaced people with no access to clean water," King said.

While the doctors will be called on for emergency medicine, treating infections and diseases common after a calamitous natural disaster, they also expect to provide critical relief for the local practitioners who have been working nonstop since the typhoon struck Nov. 8.

King credited Kaiser's Central Valley physician-in-chief, Dr. Moses Elam, with granting him and Cadacio permission to participate in the Philippines relief effort.

"I've had four or five people already come up and say to me they would take my patients," King said. The same is true for Cadacio, who said her Stockton colleagues have already stepped forward to handle her scheduled appointments for the next two weeks.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Should You Sell During the Holiday Season?

Traditional school of thought dictates that selling a home during the holidays is a bad idea. People are busy celebrating with their families and will hardly go shopping for a home, right? Not so! There are numerous advantages to listing a home during this season and below are ten great reasons to put a home on the market now.  
This is all courtesy my good friend Brad Korb, a top selling Realtor in Burbank, California who came up with this list.  In my 25 years of selling homes in Tracy, I can agree that this has always been a good time to sell a house in our market.
  1. More serious buyers – Less time wasted These are people who are interested in buying so there is a far greater chance of actually selling the property.  Nothing is more promising to a seller than a motivated and qualified buyer that knows what they want and is actively seeking to get it.
  2. Fewer Homes On the Market The less competition there is, the higher the chance there is for homes on the market to sell. Where during the peak season sellers might be dealing with some interest from buyers on their home, nonetheless there is more selection for buyers to choose from and they can stray to another property.
  3. In January Inventory Increases – Chances of Selling Decreases With so many homeowners assuming the holidays is a taboo time to sell there is a plethora of new listings in January, resulting in a diminished chance of your home selling.  Also, there is a risk that the price you may receive on the home can be less.
  4. Decked Halls Look Great Homes are very appealing to prospective buyers when they are decorated for the holidays.  With all the festive décor, lights, greenery and added beauty of the season – the home shows very well and attracts buyers faster than if shown during other times of the year.
  5. More Time To Browse Homes Buyers have extra time off from work and are on vacation, which translates to a more aggressive buying pattern and more chances of your home being viewed.
  6. More Emotional Buyers Because of the high stress of the holidays, buyers tend to be more emotional during this time than in the summer months. A more emotional buyer will tend to pay more for a new property, so selling your home during the holidays could make you more money.
  7. Show The Home With Flexibility Sellers that have their home listed prior to the holidays have the added advantage to be able to “pause” the process so they can celebrate the holidays, essentially not showing the home during a period of time during the break.  When the festivities die down, things can pick up again and the seller has not only managed to save potentially lost time but can also jump right back into the market.
  8. Transferred Employees January is typically the month where employees are transferred into new position. In order to capture this demographic of buyers, your home must be on the market since these buyers cannot wait until the spring to buy.
  9. Sell Now For More Money Then Delay Closing. Extended occupancy can be negotiated, leaving both parties the leniency to get through the holiday season and past the New Year so that all sides can rest assured the deal is done but it can follow through at a more convenient time.  For sellers this option is great because they are able to secure a higher selling price on the property before the market is inundated with new listings come January when the selling values drop.
  10. Fewer Foreclosures On the Market  Many banks will suspend foreclosure listing during this time of year, especially on properties where there are still families occupying the home.  As a result of this, some of the competition that arises for sellers from low-priced foreclosures can be avoided during the holidays. Keep in mind that the idea of your home’s value increasing significantly over the next several months is a myth.  The truth is that housing values likely only go up when consumer income rises. Pay rates increase at a rate of three to five percent each year and that is about the maximum yearly increase we can expect to see in a home as well. So if you are wondering whether or not to put your home on the selling market now, or to wait – one important factor is that waiting will not provide much benefit.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Home prices continue to climb

  @CNNMoney

Home prices posted the largest annual gain since housing bubble days in August, although the month-over-month gain slowed for the fourth straight month.


tracy homes expert home prices continue to climb
The closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller home price index increased 12.8% from a year earlier, the biggest 12-month gain since February 2006.

But with mortgage rates significantly higher in recent months, the pace of increases is slowing. The 1.3% rise compared to July is only half the monthly increase posted in April when mortgage rates were near a record low.

Still, the recovery in the housing market continues to be strong, helped by a drop in foreclosures that were weighing on overall prices. A drop in the unemployment rate is also helping to support the housing recovery.

Related: To get the house, get there first
Experts said the slowing of the monthly increase is not necessarily a bad thing, as it will reduce the chance of another bubble in home prices.

"It's good to see the pace of home value appreciation moderate, allowing the market to get back into a more sustainable balance and not topple over," said Stan Humphries, chief economist of home price tracker Zillow.com. "Home value appreciation is better when it's boring, and we expect to see continued moderation."

Related: Shiller, two other win economics Nobel for 'bubble' warning
Despite the rebound in prices, overall prices remain about 20% below the July 2006 peak. But prices in Dallas and Denver once again hit record highs. And markets, including Boston and Charlotte, are now less than 10% below their peak prices.

The markets that rose fastest during the bubble -- Las Vegas, Miami, Tampa and Phoenix -- remain more than 35% below their peak valuations. But those markets are also among those with the most rapid price increases compared to a year ago. The fastest growth has been in Las Vegas, where prices are up 29%.

Courtesy of CNN Money