Be Sure to Insure

There are so many things to organize when purchasing a new home, that home insurance probably isn’t the first thing you’ll think of. Your mortgage lender however, will probably require you to have homeowners insurance. Especially for first time buyers, you should take the time to research and be sure that you’re choosing a policy that will give you peace of mind and protect your investment. Here are some things to consider.


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You worked hard to find the perfect home, now you have to work hard to find the right insurance. Each provider has a different algorithm for determining customer premiums so the price of home insurance varies widely from carrier to carrier. It pays to shop around, compare and contrast rates. A U.S. consumer financial services company recently conducted a survey of home insurance costs from four companies. The survey, based on addresses in 15 cities nationwide, revealed home insurance rates ranged by as much as 188 percent depending on the location. Contact several companies to compare coverage but shop for value, not necessarily the cheapest price. Since you’ll mainly deal with insurance companies during times of disaster, be sure to find a company that is financially stable and has a high customer satisfaction rating and reviews.


More is More
Of course you’re looking to save money on insurance and don’t want to pay more than you need, however you need to be sure that you’re getting enough coverage. Standard home insurance policies offer protection from a variety of potential risks, ranging from liability to damage from weather-related perils. However, you may want to adjust or add coverage depending on your needs. Pay close attention to the part of your policy that protects the structure of your home – you should have enough dwelling coverage to rebuild completely in case the house is destroyed. That amount, however, is often different from the purchase price. Many homeowners buy only enough insurance to cover the amount of their mortgage, which may only be 80 or 90 percent of the value of the house, depending on the original down payment. Some homeowners insure an amount equal to the current value of their home but this figure may be less than the actual cost of rebuilding (including labor and supplies, which may rise sharply after a storm when there’s big demand and short supply). Be sure to notify your insurance agent whenever you make significant improvements to your property, which will affect your home’s replacement cost. To avoid calculating your home’s value every year, ask your insurer about an automatic inflation provision.


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It is so important that you read the fine print of your policy and fully understand it, so that there are no surprises later and you’re home free. Understand the terminology, like deductibles, liability, premium, sub-limits and riders. Study the exclusions section of the policy and know what isn’t covered so that you can purchase additional coverage. For example, flood insurance is not part of a standard homeowners contract, and if you live near a river, the ocean, or area affected by hurricanes, you may need to buy additional flood protection. Consider additional living expenses if ever forced from the dwelling. If a house becomes uninhabitable due to a flood, fire or other disaster, you will need to pay for living accommodations and may need additional money for food and transportation, etc. This coverage is “additional living expenses” (ALE) and is a benefit that is usually worth about 20 percent of the home’s replacement value. Be aware of the benefits, limitations and exclusion. A mistake homeowners often make is believing they are covered for mold or sewage backup – many policies don’t offer this protection or have claim limits. Another is thinking that they have one, flat deductible – ask your agent if your policy has different deductibles depending on the cause of damage.


Where Credit is Due
Give yourself credit! You know that it matters when getting a favorable interest rate on your mortgage, but it also matters for home insurance. Providers use your credit report as part of the formula for assessing the risk you pose as a policyholder. Their models show that consumers with good credit are much less likely to file claims. Studies have found that people with poor credit may pay at least twice as much as people with excellent credit when it comes to homeowners insurance. So before you get too far into the buying process, assess your credit and take steps to improve your score. At the very least, make sure to correct any errors. There are many simple ways to improve your credit score, including paying your bills on time and keeping low balances on your credit cards. Improving your credit score can result in big savings on your mortgage and your home insurance premiums.


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Bundling your policies and sticking with one insurance company can help you save on your home insurance costs. Some providers offer discounts that commonly range between 5 to 15 percent off your premium of you obtain your home and auto insurance for them. You may save even more if you purchase multiple policies from them, for example if you have multiple vehicles or a boat. See if you can bundle all items with one carrier to save money. Some insurance companies also offer special discounts for long-term policyholders. You may be able to lower your home insurance premium by up to 10 percent if you stay with certain providers for six years or more.

PumpKings County

It’s the time of the year when pumpkin is king, and you will find loads of pumpkin foods, drinks, products and events sprouting all over Brooklyn. Here are some of the ripest pumpkin picks in the borough!



Coney Crop
You can get your pick of the patch for the next few weekends at Luna Park’s Halloween Harvest. From 12pm-6pm this family-friendly event offers activities and entertainment, like spooky crafts, dance contests, a dog costume parade plus all of Luna Park’s rides and games. Entry to The Pumpkin Patch is $5, which pays for you to pick the perfect pumpkin and then paint it! Visit Jack, the festival’s resident giant pumpkin and guess his weight, for a chance to win prizes worth over $1,000. The Harvest comes to an end on October 30.
Luna Park, 1000 Surf Avenue, Coney Island


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You’ll find plenty of festive cheer in this beer! Post Road Pumpkin Ale made by our fave local brewery, The Brooklyn Brewery, is described as “colonial style”. Early American colonists, seeking natural ingredients for brewing ales, turned to pumpkins, which were plentiful, flavorful and nutritious. Blended with barley malt, this versatile vegetable became a commonly used beer ingredient. The tasty tradition lives on, with hundreds of pounds of pumpkins blended into the mash of each batch, creating a beer with an orange amber color, warm pumpkin aroma, biscuity malt center, and crisp finish. Perfectly paired with Holiday dishes such as roasted ham and turkey, root vegetables, macaroni and cheese, mascarpone and Thanksgiving dinner. Available from August to November. The Brewery is open daily.
The Brooklyn Brewery, 79 North 11th Street, Williamsburg


mg_7116Fall Fires
It’s the sweet smell of Fall and Thanksgiving, brought to you by Brooklyn Candle Studio. The Pumpkin Harvest candle is full of pumpkin, spice and everything nice, and infused with natural cinnamon, clove and ginger essential oils. Choose from an Amber Glass or Mason Jar candle and carve out a spot for your wonderful wax pumpkin pot on your mantle. Hand-poured and made in Brooklyn, these 100% soy candles are derived from American-grown soybeans for an eco-friendly, clean burn. The cotton wick is lead-free and primed with vegetable-based wax and premium grade fragrance oil. No added dyes or chemicals. From $14 to $34.
Brooklyn Candle Studio, 67 35th St, Greenwood


PIEce de Resistancebrown_butter_pumpkin
Oh my gourd, get ready for some game-changing pie. Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Gowanus have cooked up a pumpkin pie to squash all others. Sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen founded the bakery in 2009. They learned to appreciate the art of pie-making from their Grandma Liz and created a local Brooklyn enterprising boasting scrumptious, old-fashioned, butter-crust pies. Their Fall pie menu includes the Brown Butter Pumpkin pie, approximately 10 inches in size, serving 8-10 people and available for $40. The sisters have kindly shared the pie recipe here, for expierienced chefs! The pie shop is open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 9am-8pm and Sunday 10am-7pm.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds, 439 3rd Avenue, Gowanus


Brooklyn Hikes to Fall For

Time to take a hike! It’s a new season, and the perfect temperature to get out and about. There are some wonderfall places to hike and leaf-peep, right in your very own Brooklyn backyard! Here are some hikes you’re sure to like.


57e43ecc90fb2Marsh March
Fantastic fauna features in Marine Park’s Salt Marsh Nature Trail, also known as the Gerritsen Creek Nature Trail. Considered an easy to moderate hike, the path is about a mile long and follows the shore of Gerritsen Creek, which empties into Jamaica Bay. The trail takes hikers through a prairie of tall grass and a restoration project was recently completed in the area, clearing it of invasive plant species, and allowing native flora to flourish. The boardwalk trail with viewing platform is a great spot to spy on fish and crabs, and is a haven for bird-watchers with egrets, herons, ducks and geese often frequenting the landscape. NYC’s Urban Park Rangers run free, guided hikes of the marsh throughout the year, with one coming up on Sunday, November 20.
Avenue U and East 33rd Street, Marine Park.


57e554d400b2eA Pleasurable Prospect
Boasting lovely lawns and a sixty acre lake, hiking in Prospect Park is so much more than a walk in the park. Numerous hiking trails wind throughout the park, including Prospect Park Trail which is an easy 3.25 mile hike that takes about 2 hours to complete, and is dog friendly (be sure to take your pup to the dog beach before it gets too chilly!). NYC Parks run several free organized hikes throughout the park, such as the Fall Foliage Walk on Saturday, October 22 . On this hike, Urban Park Ranger naturalists explain why leaves change colors, and introduce hikers to the diversity of trees found in our urban Brooklyn forests. On Black Friday, November 25, hikers of The Midwood Trail will be taken on a journey back in time, with a 30-minute walk through Brooklyn’s oldest remaining forest, filled with birds and other animals. Home to some of Prospect Park’s largest trees, The Midwood is a relic of Brooklyn’s history and was preserved and incorporated into the park during its original construction. Also worth checking out are the Lullwater, Peninsula and Waterfall trails.
101 East Drive, Prospect Park.


newtown_creek_nature_walk_4220-8l50pz3dtxwc4o0k0wg0wkk8s-c4xtg9uu3r404wggo4ss0ss8s-thTalk a Walk on the Waste Side
You’re not likely to see beautiful birds or wondrous woods on this walk, but it is closer to what one might imagine when they think of a New York City hike. Newtown Creek Nature Walk is a quarter-mile long public walkway along Newtown Creek in Greenpoint. Designed by environmental sculpture artist George Trakas and completed in 2007, the walk offers a taste of nature and beauty, next door to a sewage treatment plant, and amongst what some might describe as an industrial wasteland with a heavily polluted waterway. The trail affords visitors a truly unique view of Brooklyn’s settling tanks and digesters and educates them on wastewater treatment, the harbor’s water quality and the history of New York City. Open from dawn to dusk, the trail is a secret point of relaxation in the far north of Brooklyn, and features young trees, shrubbery, flowers and a Scavenger Hunt. Dotted with stone resting areas, tiled patios and drinking fountains, it is an unexpected place of beauty, tranquility and learning, amidst a history of environmental damage.
Paidge Ave & Provost St, Greenpoint.


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A kaleidoscope of colors will greet Brooklyn Botanical Garden-goers this fall. Begin your exploration at the Native Flora Garden, a small forest of some of the oldest plants in the Garden, such as the 100-foot-tall, century-old sweet gum tree with deep crimson foliage. Be sure to visit the meadow in this Garden, and observe the colorful grasses, wildflowers and butterfly milkweed. Next, head to the Cranford Rose Garden and catch the second and final flush of blooms, which last into October and often, early November. Also in the Rose Garden keep an eye out for squirrels and mockingbirds – these little guys drop by to snack on the rose hips. Following this, walk over to the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, which offers sweeping views of a landscape filled with maple trees in stunning shades of orange, red, yellow, and purple. The gorgeous Garden is open in October from 8am-6pm on Tuesday to Friday, and 10am-6pm on weekends. Kids under 12 get in for free and entry for adults is $12.
1000 Washington Avenue, Prospect Park.

The Perfect Productive Home Office

When you work from home it is easy to become distracted and lose focus. It is worth spending the time to create a home office that encourages productivity, comfort and concentration so you can work hard for the money. Here are a few tips for crafting a stylish and functional work-space.


dp_caicedo-living-room_4x3-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-616-462Light Bulb Moment
Let there be light in your home office! Draw back the curtains and draw inspiration from natural light. Don’t put your desk in the darkest corner of the room. Hit the bright spot and move your desk close to windows but parallel to the panes. Give yourself a view and try to position the desk where you can stare at something more interesting than a blank wall when you look up from the computer. A window’s natural light is ideal, and when you let the light in, it will cut down on eyestrain and headaches and improve mood, energy, alertness and productivity. Position your monitor so there’s no glare from windows or overhead lights – the object is to create balanced lighting. Even with great natural light you’ll still need additional lighting for darker hours. Put a small lamp with a nice soft glow on your desk for task lighting or a floor lamp that can give concentrated lighting to your specific work area.


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You don’t get to choose the perfect desk height and chair at an office, but you do have this option at home! You spend hours parked in your office chair every day, so don’t hurt yourself by sitting in a non-ergonomic position every time you work at your desk. Your comfort is worth every dime, so spend the money and invest in your health and a stylish, supportive, comfortable chair with an adjustable seat and backrest height. Ensure that the top of your computer screen is at eye level or a little below. As you scan down the screen, your eyelids will naturally close a bit and moisten, which reduces eye fatigue. Position your keyboard so your forearms are parallel to the floor. Adjust your chair so that your feet rest firmly on something. Even if you sit perfectly however, you shouldn’t do it all day long. Move regularly – set regular breaks or take a stroll around the block.


adcbe033aa7ad05e656df4fff60f5eeaa5b9af65Dream Design
If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in this space, you want it to be a space you enjoy. Don’t hold back – create your dream office and add personality to its aesthetic. Paint the walls a color you love and one that creates the right mood – perhaps a cheery orange or a calming shade of sea foam blue. Get a great rug. Personalize thoughtfully and inspire yourself with a piece of framed art, a scent that makes you happy, a special photo, or a few cherished knickknacks. Add greenery to bring what’s outside your window into your space. Get creative with storage – if filing cabinets don’t tickle your fancy, consider organizing vertically and horizontally. Hang floating shelves and use vertical file folders on the desk to keep important papers within arm’s reach. Consider magazine type racks, bookshelves or wooden cube storage. Choose accessories that enhance a comfy feeling in your home office and decorate in a style that energizes your space.

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You need the right tools to get the job done and being successful in a home office requires creating an office space that promotes efficiency in a non-traditional work environment. Master your technology and invest in the right equipment – a phone, a good desk with plenty of space, an ergonomic chair, computer with efficient memory and performance, a fast internet connection, a clock, and any specialized equipment, tools or software that are key for performance in your area of expertise. Take the time to organize your equipment properly – hide unsightly cords by running a power strip behind your desk and plugging everything into that. Tame the cord jungle on the floor with cord winders, tubing or an organizer that’s attached to the desk and lifts cords off the floor. Keep all your office supplies handy and stocked, so you don’t need to dart out of the office every few minutes.

Making Room for a Roommate

The reality of high rent costs in NYC means that many of us can’t afford to live alone, and often you’ll need to split rent with another person or several people. Roommates can offer cost and space efficiency and become great friends, or they can be messy, unreliable and noisy. So, before you enter a semi-long-term, committed relationship with a complete stranger, here are some screening tips.


1cd092b0-77ed-0132-1d4f-0a2c89e5f2f5Bills, Bills, Bills
People often say that one of the biggest sources of stress in marriage is money. The same can be said for roommates. Money conversations can be awkward but are best discussed first up. It’s a good idea to establish, before you move in or someone moves into your place – obviously, can they afford rent? Do they have a steady job or is their rent paid for by someone else? How will the bills be paid each month? Who is responsible for paying them? Who will be paying who back for what? It’s also a good idea to establish an expected timeline for payments. If you pay the full rent every first of the month, do you expect your roommate to pay you back that day? A day or two before? Or is a few days later ok?


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Just like hiring someone for a job, you want to find a roommate who has been there, done that. Ask the potential candidate about the best and worst roommate experiences that they’ve had. You can learn a lot about a person by hearing about the troubles they’ve encountered and how they dealt with them. The more you talk with the potential roommate, the more you’ll get a feel for whether or not you actually get along. Do you enjoy their company? Or can you just not wait to get out of the situation? Taking the time to talk to the person and discovering if they’re the right person, could be the difference between a friend for life that you look forward to seeing at the end of the day, or horror stories that you’ll tell at dinner parties for years to come.


61324c703423de5f59050915a700d9b615cf1d81Shared Space
Consider the space you’ll be sharing. Apartments where autonomy is possible (e.g. having large bedrooms or two common spaces) work best in roommate situations, however this is not always possible. If you’re moving in with a friend or your roommate will never be home, it may not matter that the space is small and intimate. Think about if the space will work with your respective lifestyles. Do they have a pet? Like being alone? Watch a lot of TV? Determine how you’re going to decorate. Who will be responsible for contributing which items to the common areas? If you or they are particular about décor, let it be known up front. Talk about things you might be confronted with within your shared space – bedbugs, bad neighbors or an unresponsive superintendent for example, and how you would deal with these together.

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Once you’ve found the perfect roommate, it’s a good idea to come up with some rules together. Talk about how often you like to have friends over, if you expect the house to be spotless and tidy all the time, if they plan on getting a pet or how often a significant other is allowed to sleep over before they have to start paying rent. Even though it’s early days and these conversations may seem premature, it’s better to have an open discussion and maybe even put the decision in writing, that way if there are problems down the line, you can refer back to what you both once agreed upon.


While we can help you find the perfect home in Brooklyn, check out the below services to help you find the perfect soul/roommate!


Labor Day in Brooklyn

Labor Day is fast approaching and while many people head out of town, there’s no place we’d rather be than Brooklyn. Labor Day was first observed in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, as a day to celebrate labor. It has come to be regarded as a day of rest and/or partying, and the last true day of summer.


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Work hard, play hard, right? You will find no one partying harder in Brooklyn on Monday September 5th than the members of the West Indian Day Parade, also known as the Labor Day Carnival Parade. One of New York’s top summer attractions and biggest cultural festivals, the annual event will celebrate its 46th anniversary this year – drawing close to two million people to Crown Heights! Join the crowd waving flags from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, Haiti and other Caribbean and immerse yourself in rich Caribbean culture and heritage. The march starts at 11am and is a joyful expression of cultural pride. During the seven-hour carnival, steel-pan, calypso and reggae bands wearing elaborate costumes march down Eastern Parkway. Vendors sell home-style island grub along the route, with favorites like jerk chicken, Bajan fried flying fish, rice and beans, and johnnycakes. Admission to the carnival is free.
Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights.


Hair For a Good Timebeard
Did you start Movember six years ago and forget to stop? Think facial hair holds sexy secrets and not just leftover food? Here’s one for you… Coney Island’s 9th Annual Beard and Moustache Competition at Sideshows by the Seashore on Saturday September 3rd. Over the past eight years, hundreds of bearded men (and women!) have competed to take home the much-coveted Beard & Moustache Fez trophy. You will see the strangest and most extravagant beards and moustaches outside of Williamsburg, with the New York’s hairiest contestants competing in categories such as Best in Show, Worst in Show, Best Styled Moustache and Best Chops. The event is $20 for both participants and spectators. Doors open at 6pm and the main event kicks off at 8pm.
1208 Surf Avenue, Coney Island.


12417992_1077709758927003_6880316649301149185_nPoets and They Know it
If you partied a little too hard over summer and are ready to take it down a notch, check out this Brooklyn Heights event on Saturday September 3rd – Brownstone Poets. This group has been inspiring Brooklyn since 2005, encouraging poetry, fostering creativity and celebrating great talent. Brooklyn-born poet/collagist, Steve Dalanchinksy – winner of several awards and prizes – will present his work, along with Mike Jurkovic, whose poems and music criticisms are forthcoming globally and feature in various print media. Also performing will be poet and visual artist Yuko Otomo, who pens haiku, art criticisms and essays, and contributes regularly to a collective critical writing forum. The event starts at 2:30pm at Park Plaza Restaurant. Entry is a $5 donation, plus the cost of food and drink available on the night. Don’t be shy, there’s an open mic!
220 Cadman Plaza West near Clark St and Pineapple Walk, Brooklyn Heights.


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If Labor Day is the worker’s holiday, there’s no better time to recognized skilled and hard-working individuals such as Julie Orlick. Julie will present her solo exhibition, Tintype Photography & Film, on Saturday September 5th between 7pm to 10pm at The Living Gallery in Bushwick. The evening of analogue experiences will feature up to twenty one of a kind wet plate collodion tintypes and five 16mm short films by Julie Orlick, a director, analogue/alternative photographer and 16mm surrealist filmmaker currently working and living in Brooklyn. The tintype work was hand processed, developed and shot in Brooklyn, featuring visual artists and “creative weirdos” that inhabit New York city’s art scene. The exclusive work featured in this show has not been released elsewhere and the selected films explore floral landscapes, in-camera edits, double exposures, the surreal experience, lust for love, confusion and wonder. $5 suggested entry.
1094 Broadway, Bushwick.

Keep Musicool in Brooklyn

There’s something about summer that makes us want to sing and dance! As summer comes to an end, Brooklyn is keeping the music alive. Listen out at these upcoming, mostly outdoor, events in the best borough!

archSwing and Sway Away
There’s something for everyone at Live at The Archway, a weekly event every Thursday night in DUMBO under the Manhattan Bridge. The 18-week series from July to September boasts the best of Brooklyn talent, with broad music and performance genres including sizzling salsa, Colombian Cumbia, swing dancing, world roots music, sultry R&B, an Italian modern dance troupe, puppetry, funk, DJs and more. The free performances start at 6pm right under the Bridge, so the events are on rain or shine. Take in the epic scenery below the Manhattan Bridge and enjoy beer, wine and bites from The Lighthouse. Visit to see the full schedule. All ages.
50 Adams St, DUMBO.

funkFormidable Festival
A music festival that claims to give “power to the party”, AfroPunk Brooklyn returns to Commodore Barry Park on August 27 and 28. The annual festival was created by its founders to showcase what they billed as “alternative black culture”, with acts that didn’t always fit into other major festivals. Described by The New York Times as “the most multicultural festival in the US” AfroPunk promises an impressive weekend of live music and good vibes with an eclectic line-up and diverse audience. The international event, now also held in Paris and London, is a mix of music, art and politics. Come sundown the creeps into the streets, bars, and restaurants of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill and comedy shows, dance, pop-up performances, film screenings, art installations and drink specials will feature at AfroPunk After Dark. GA and VIP tickets are available for Saturday, Sunday or both days, from $45 to $250 plus booking fee.
Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave, Fort Greene.


americanaUnited Stages of America
For the second year running, round up your favorite folks, friends and family, and mosey on down to the Brooklyn Americana Festival. On September 23, 24 and 25, fifty free shows will be held over the course of three days, on seven stages, from outdoor daytime performances to evening concerts. Festival-goers will shimmy and sway to the best original and traditional Americana musicians, playing live country, folk, roots, blues, old time and bluegrass and enjoy performances from Brooklyn’s Best plus special guests from Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee. The beloved pioneer hosting establishments in DUMBO and Red Hook include The Archway, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Gala at Jalopy, Sunny’s Bar, 68 Jay St Bar, Superfine and Bait N Tackle. All ages. Visit to see the full schedule.
Various locations in DUMBO and Red Hook.

Pave the Wavenext wave

Although the Brooklyn Academy of Music delivers impressive shows year-round, their Next Wave Festival is one of the largest experiments in live performance in the world. The annual multimedia, multi-genre art festival includes music, theatre, opera and dance, and runs September 7 through December 18. Opening the festival is “the loser” an opera piece by David Lang in which the title character is held in mid-air with a grand piano hovering in the distance behind him. The line-up also includes music by The Magnetic Fields, So Percussion and The Dublin Guitar Quartet. Single tickets for all shows are now on sale and range from $20-$130. Subscriptions to the festival are also available.
Various locations in Downtown Brooklyn.