Neighborhood etiquette: 3 tips for being a good neighbor this holiday party season

The holiday party season is one of the busiest times of year – you’ve got presents to wrap, dinners to plan and family and friends to cater for. But while you’re caught up in the events happening inside your house or apartment, do you ever stop to think about your neighbors and keeping the people outside of your apartment happy too?

Try these 3 simple steps to ensure you’re a good neighbor this party season.

#1 Provide a little warning

1elehOnce you’ve gotten the word out and invited your friends through Paperless Post or other organizer-friendly apps, it’s time to warn your neighbors too. You might like to include details on the time and size of the event. Your neighbors will likely be more comfortable with the whole scenario knowing you’ve taken them into consideration too, helping resolve issues before they even arise.

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#2 Be reasonable about the noise and the hour

While this might seem like a no-brainer, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities of the night and forget the time and just how noisy you’re being. Most co-ops have a no-noise rule after 10pm, but given it’s the holidays, your neighbors are likely to be a little more flexible.

As a general rule, try and turn things down after midnight. If you have guests moving out onto a terrace or balcony, remember that voices tend to travel quite easily outside too, so it’s not just your neighbors you’ll need to consider!

taskrabbit-logoWhile we’re on the topic of time, you might like to think about timeliness too. If you’re in need of a little extra assistance for setting up or packing down, you might like to consider enlisting a little help to make sure things run smoothly. There are plenty of options for help. For example, you could hire an assistant from Task Rabbit to help keep you on track with setting up, during the event –keeping glasses filled, getting more ice, putting food out, and packing down – emptying the rubbish, cleaning up etc.

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#3 Contain your party

If you’re throwing a party, your neighbors will be thankful if it stays exactly that – yours. Keeping everything from your decorations to your guests and their belongings inside will help to ensure you’re not blocking the hallways and stairwells or cluttering common spaces.

It can be as easy as having a coat stand and shoe rack inside by the front door for guests to leave their belongings on. While you’re at the front door, you might also like to hang a “please close the door behind you” sign for your guests, to help keep the noise inside.klean-freaks

Containing your party extends to the day after too! Don’t forget to clean up both inside and outside your apartment – checking that the hallways and common areas are left as they were prior to your party. You can always enlist the help of cleaner like Klean Freaks to make the task even easier!

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Date night? 3 evening childcare services in Brooklyn

So you’re planning a romantic date night with your other half? Unfortunately, when you’ve got children, date night isn’t just about the two of you anymore, is it? Every great date night requires peace of mind knowing you’ve secured safe, reliable evening care for your little ones at an affordable price. And as a quick Google search will tell you, that’s no easy feet!

That’s why we’ve shortlisted 3 evening drop-off childcare services in Brooklyn, so you don’t have to miss out on your next date night.

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#1 The Parent-Free Pajama Party

Brooklyn Explorers Academy – Brooklyn Heights

brooklyn-explorers-academyEvery Friday evening, 6-9pm (excluding holidays), Brooklyn Explorers Academy host their parent-free pajama party, with dinner in the main room followed by a child-friendly film showing in the library upstairs. Caring for children ages 2+, Brooklyn Explorers Academy recommends advance registration to secure a spot.

$20 per child

$10 per additional sibling

 

#2 Kidville Park Slope Drop Off Pajama Party

Project Play Date – Park Slope

pj_party_product_7_1024x1024Similar to BEA’s parent-free pajama party, Project Play Date offers a three-hour kids-only party, every third Friday of the month. From 6.30pm-9.30pm they’ll enjoy an evening of activities including dinner, arts and crafts, story time, dance time and movie time!

While the extra activities do come with a slightly higher price tag, you can RSVP via the website for a $20 trial deal.

$60 per child

$40 per sibling

 

#3 Kid’s Night Out (a.k.a. Parent’s Night Out)

Ms. J’s Gymnastics and Dance – Williamsburg

ms-jsSaturday evenings never sounded more fun! Kid’s Night Out at Ms. J’s, for children ages 3+, includes pizza dinner, play time on the big trampoline, learning tumbles across the floor and a range of balance, flexibility and social exercises. It’s safe to say the kids will probably be ready for bed time by the time you come back to collect them!

$40 per child (members)

$5 discount for siblings

Top 4 Ideas for Fun Stay-cations In Brooklyn

#1 Girl’s Night

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Photo by elycerose

Try out some new cosmetics like these face paints that are actually facial masks from  memeboxMemebox. Flex your artistic muscles painting masterpieces on your friends’ faces and nourish your skin in the process. The sets are customizeable so you can choose the exact treatments that you think you and your ladies will need.

Also, you can keep everyone’s glasses full and conversation flowing with a wine delivery from Minibar.

#2 Family Fun

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Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Try organizing a scavenger hunt to keep the kids occupied and working together for hours. You can set up the hunt in your home or somewhere else like the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to bring some new excitement to a place that you might have already visited.

You can also try planning an indoor camping trip. Children have such vivid imaginations that simply sleeping somewhere besides their own beds can transport them to a different world. Eat s’mores, sing campfire songs, stay up a little past your bedtime and create memories that will last them a lifetime!

#3 Date Night

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enl150Lock the doors, set your phones to silent and plan some quality time with your other half. Heat things up with some sexy board games that are sure to elicit some giggles.

You may not be able to visit another country but you can try their food! If you do decide to venture out into the cold, try something a little more exotic than your usual pizza spot. Take a look at this epic list from Thrillist of the best places to find every cuisine in NYC.

#4 Singles’ Paradise

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Nothing beats curling up in your PJs and watching your favorite shows when you’re flying mestizohotchocolate_10ozsolo for the weekend. Netflix is releasing a bunch of new original series like White Rabbit Project and Chasing Cameron in December to fuel your next binge watching session. You can check out the line-up here. If movies are more your thing, Hulu has a whole list of great films being released in December.

Of course you need the proper refreshments to enhance your viewing experience. Marie Belle offers same day deliveries of their gourmet hot chocolate all over New York!

How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent for You

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Photo courtesy of coryccreamer

Buying or selling your home can be a scary prospect but with the right agent, the process can go much more smoothly. Just a few easy steps can insure that you’ll have a qualified person with your best interests at heart to guide you along your way.

Find out the word on the Street(easy)

With websites like Streeteasy, Zillow, Trulia, and , you can quickly check what others have to say about your prospective agent. People usually only take the time to write an online review if they’ve had an extraordinary experience. If the agent has more than a couple five star reviews it can be a good indication that your working relationship will be a good one.

Put them to the test

Don’t be afraid to ask your agent about how long they have been in the business, how long they have been working in this neighborhood, and info about their license. If you didn’t find enough info about them  online, go ahead and ask them for references. A good agent will have no problem answering these questions if it will put your mind at ease.

Communication is key

If you notice early on in your working relationship that it takes hours for your realtor to respond to you, you might want to consider moving on the someone else (during the day of course, we don’t recommend texting your realtor in the middle of the night!). An open line of communication will help you to feel more comfortable with the process. Also a few hours can mean the difference between closing a deal or not.

Get your figures straight

You will often be required to pay a commission to your realtor (especially if you are a seller). Be sure that you are clear about what will be expected from you so you won’t have a costly surprise when it comes time to sign the papers.

Go with your gut

Above all, trust your instincts. Ask yourself,” Do I feel like this person really wants what’s best for me?”. You can usually get a good sense of a person after working with them for a short period of time.  Listen to the answer you give yourself!

You can start the search for your next realtor by browsing our qualified agents here!

5 Tips for Moving in Winter

The temperature is dropping which means you might be concerned about your future move being a little tougher. Not to worry! We’ve scoured the internet to bring you the best tips to make your move go smoothly.

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Photo courtesy of Two Men and a Truck

#1 Harness the Power of Professionals 

According to Two Men and a Truck, springing for some extra help is worth the cash. Professionals are trained to deal with unpredictable cold and icy conditions. If you attempt the move on your own you’ll risk injury and damage to your possessions.

#2 Rise with the Sun

The Huffington Post suggests that you set your alarm and get a pot of coffee brewing to accommodate the decreased hours of daylight. You don’t want the added difficulty of trying to move in the dark. So, get a good night’s  sleep and get moving early!

#3 Make Sure You’re Covered

Get a cheap tarp to throw down over high traffic areas in your old and new home. imove.com has pointed out that things can get messy quickly when snow and slush is on the ground. Save yourself some clean up time by planning ahead.

#4 Bundle up Your Plants

MakeSpace advises that you protect your indoor plants from the cold by wrapping them in plastic or blankets (being sure to leave an opening at the top so they can breathe). If your plants have spent their entire lives inside, the shock of cold air can cause a lot of damage. So, while you’re piling on the layers your self don’t forget your plants!

#5 Give Your Landlord a Ring

You don’t want to show up to your new home to find there’s no heat! GoGetter urges you to call your landlord and make sure they know when you plan to move, to be sure your first night will be nice and cozy.

Brooklyn Comfort Foods

Sometimes when the temperature drops, your spirits do too. While you might want to stay inside and hibernate all winter, we’ve found some delicious foods throughout Brooklyn that will entice you to leave your apartment and warm you right up.

 

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You could’ve fooled us, we think Peter has been doing chicken way before 1969, if not before the egg. Peter’s Since 1969 is back to basics, comfort food in a casual, family style setting. Named after the former Williamsburg tenant, Peter Kuper of B & B Meat Market, who ran the neighborhood butcher shop with his wife Lucy since 1969, the new Rotisserie Chicken concept was born in the location in 2007. The herb-marinated chicken roasts and self-bastes over an open flame, resulting in the perfect crispness on the outside and soft, juicy tenderness within. Humble, filing sides like mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, stewed okra and green beans are served out of Le Creuset cast iron pots. Chicken and two sides will set you back between $10-$15.
168 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg.

 

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We have to be honest, there won’t be anything comforting about the wait, but the reward will certainly be worth it. For over 50 years, Di Fara has been plating up perfect pies in Midwood. With a no-frills reputation, Anthony Bourdain once proclaimed this spot to be “the best of the best”, which is why you can expect to be waiting in line a while for your iconic, thin-crust slice. For almost five decades owner Dom DeMarco insisted on making every single legendary and delicious pie by himself, slowly, but methodically. He now shares the responsibility with his sons. At $5 a slice, you can bet that this pizza, made from scratch with the best, imported ingredients will be exceptional.
424 Avenue J, Midwood.

 

starMeat an Unbeatable Burger
When a pizza place is known for having a burger on the menu, you know it is going to be something special. Emily in Clinton Hill is an intimate pizza restaurant serving up an overwhelming selection of creative pies, however, the real standout is the critically-acclaimed Emmy Burger. The Emmy Burger features a dry-aged patty which is quickly seared in clarified butter then showered in black pepper before being topped with rich melted Vermont cheddar, sweet caramelized onions and a house-made aioli sauce inside of a sturdy pretzel bun. A limited amount of burgers are served every night so head here on a Sunday for lunch when the burgers are plentiful and unforgettable.
919 Fulton Street, Clinton Hill.

 

Superstar Startermac
Mac and cheese might just be the ultimate comfort food. Creamy, crunchy and carbolicious. The Brooklyn Star serves New American cuisine with a nod to the traditions and style of the South and Southwest. Quintessential to a Southern-style menu is of course, mac and cheese. An all-time favorite at the Star, served in a cozy cast iron skillet, this mac is superior to many macs, with its game-changing ingredient, bacon. This mac and cheese is meaty from the bacon bits, rich from the generous cheese and crispy from the buttery breadcrumbs. Served at brunch or dinner for $9, you will be thinking about the taste and texture of this meal long after the weather is warm again.
593 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg.

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.

 

july2015-trulia-homeowners-insurance-7-things-to-consider-before-signing-girl-at-work-looking-over-papersResearch Required
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.

 

Comprehend Coveragehome-insurance
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.

 

houseBundle and Benefit
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.