3 Easy Barbecue Sauce Recipes to Up Your Grilling Game

barbecue-bbq-beef-597422Grilling season is upon us, and we’re prepping by giving our grills a good scrub and stocking the pantry with things like dry rubs and seasoning salts. And while we always love a good homemade meat glaze, there is no shame in going out and buying a bottle of barbecue sauce when you’re strapped for time. Or maybe you’re simply feeling a little bit lazy. Don’t worry, we’re not judging. There are plenty of top-notch bottled barbecue sauces on the market these days, many of which are made without high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. But making a grilling sauce from scratch doesn’t have to be a big production.

We turned to three chefs across the country to get their easy barbecue sauce recipes that don’t require a lot of time to put together. Though the ingredient lists can look a little daunting at first, it’s likely you have most of the components in your pantry already. Plus, after stocking up on the rest of the ingredients, you can make these delicious meat glazes all season long. Whip up these big batch recipes, store them in the fridge, and reach for them anytime you break out the grill.

South Texas Mustard Base BBQ Sauce

(By Jason Dady, owner of Shuck Shack, Tre Trattoria, Two Bros. BBQ Market, B&D Ice House, and The Bin Tapas Bar)

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“This is a classic South Texas mustard base barbecue sauce,” Dady says. “It is the Texan staple, from brisket to ribs, turkey to cabrito. It’s a tried and true Texas barbecue sauce. I love using the Maille mustards because of their finesse and sharp flavors.” Ingredients:

  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 lb fresh peaches, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup worcestershire
  • 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse black pepper
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard

 

Method:

    1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sweat onions, garlic, and peaches until soft.
    2. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 hour over low heat, being careful not to scorch.
    3. Puree and strain. Chill immediately and use as needed.

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3 Reasons Your Rent-vs-Buy Math Might Be Wrong

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It’s common knowledge that owning a home is cheaper than renting (at least in the long term), but anyone who has ever sat down to try and figure out the numbers knows that finding out how much you’ll save is harder than it looks. There are so many factors to consider.

To try and help you come as close to the real number as possible, we’ve outlined three ways your rent-vs-buy math might be wrong — and how to straighten things out to give you the best picture possible. Keep these details in mind as you weigh your decision and you’ll have a much clearer vision of which path is right for you.

You’re only looking at the mortgage payment

Anyone who’s ever looked at a mortgage calculator knows that seeing that number can be shocking – in a good way. For the most part, the number you’ll see there ends up being far less than monthly rent. Unfortunately, though, it only tells part of the story. It only accounts for your mortgage payment.

In addition to a loan payment, homeowners need to account for supplemental costs like their homeowners insurance and property taxes. Be sure to include those costs into your estimates. To estimate property taxes, you can take the property tax percentage in the area where you’ll be living and multiply it by the value of a potential property you’d buy. For homeowner’s insurance, the Federal Reserve Bureau estimates that premiums typically fall between $300 – $1,000, annually.

You need to account for closing costs

The term “closing costs” simply refers the fees that are incurred during the buying process. They’re unique to each sale, but could include things such as the costs of inspections and appraisals, the cost of running a title search, or an association fee. These costs are paid at settlement and typically add up to a few thousand dollars, so they should absolutely be accounted for in your home-buying budget. For instance, if you expect to stay in your future home for around 5 years (before you outgrow it or take off to a new city), add in one-fifth of the closing costs to your annual expenses when considering whether renting or buying ends up cheaper.

Luckily, there are a few ways to cut down on these costs. While some fees are fixed according to the home sale regulations in your area, others are negotiable. Try your best to buy when mortgage interest rates are low and to go research professionals (like your inspectors and loan rep) who have low fees. During sale negotiations, you may also be able to ask the seller to cover a portion of the costs in exchange for a higher sale price.

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Home Staging Ideas for Your Garage

    Need some home staging ideas for you garage? Yup, this grease-covered dumping ground that serves as a “home” for your car (at least we hope your car fits in there) is not overlooked by home buyers. A good-looking garage is worth its weight in gold, and can be a strong selling point. In fact, a recent realtor.com® survey found that 32% of home buyers say the garage is one of the most important rooms in a house! As such, in the same way you might try a little home staging to make your kitchen and living room look their best, it’ll pay to learn how to stage your garage. Here are some garage staging ideas that’ll wow buyers even before they’ve entered the more civilized parts of your home.

Declutter, of course


Gather all the items in your garage, and divide them into three piles: keep, donate, and toss. Once you’ve purged, it’s time to restore what you need in a better way.

“Resist the urge to stack bins on top of one another,” says Jennifer Snyder, a professional home organizer and owner of Neat as a Pin in Waco, TX. Instead, hang tools on a pegboard ($50), store boxes on a ceiling storage rack ($160), and mount a Spoga Wall Organizer ($8) for your mop, broom, and other cleaning equipment. Clean up When’s the last time you cleaned your garage? Never?! Well, you’d better take time now to dust the walls and corners and sweep the floor. Find an oil stain on the ground? Pour paint thinner on the stain, and then apply an absorbent material (e.g., cat litter, baking soda, cornmeal, or sawdust) over the saturated spot. Let the mixture set overnight, and sweep it up in the morning with a heavy push broom with sturdy bristles. Check garage safety

Make sure all flammable products and poisonous chemicals are stored out of reach of children and pets. (You don’t want potential buyers to wonder what else you may have handled irresponsibly.) And if you don’t already have one in your garage, install a smoke detector.
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Spring House Plants Add New Life And Color!

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It might be spring, but warmer weather is not exactly here yet for much of California which means we’re still not spending as much time as we’d like outdoors.  This set the scene perfectly for spring projects around the home, like spring cleaning. Spring is also a great time for new beginnings, it can be a great time to buy a new property and make a move.

Whether you’re moving or staying put, spring is a great time to start fresh; getting rid of clutter, adding a fresh coat of paint or changing the layout of your place are all great ideas to get into the spring of things.  As you’re making changes, consider bringing new life into your home with fresh houseplants!

The right houseplant can be really beneficial to the overall environment in your home; plants add just enough moisture to the air to help you breathe, they add fresh air and even clean the air of some of the air pollution.  Houseplants also bring the room together adding both color and texture that really set the mood.

Areca Palms are some of the best when it comes to cleaning the air, according to a NASA study.  Not only are they great at removing toxins from the air, they’re also a great humidifier which helps keep you healthy.  This plant is perfect for anyone looking to add a tropical vibe to their home décor. If you have less than a green thumb, don’t worry!  This plant is very easy to take care of and is very drought resistant.

Peperomia plants are easy to grow, compact and uniquely alluring.  They grow heart-shaped leaves that would rather be neglected than meticulously cared for.  These plants are most adaptive in spring when they’re in their sprouting phase. The plant does well under fluorescent lights and prefers an east-facing window where it will receive light to moderate light.

Snake plants go by a variety of names depending on which part of the globe you’re standing and are native to tropical Africa.  This plant is hassle-free, you can set it and forget it because it can withstand almost any condition. These plants like humidity and low light, so they make a great plant for the bathroom.  The shape of their leaves and color is absolutely alluring and they’re great at cleaning the air.

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Pothos plants stay contained to a few feet in a shrub-like diameter when potted and are great house plants not only because of their size but their uncommon leaf coloring.  A wild mix of green, white and yellow which dazzles the eyes, it is easy to see why this houseplant is so popular. Just like the rest of the plants mentioned, it is very easy to take care of and luckily it thrives even in dimly lit rooms.

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Dracaena plants also called the Madagascar Dragon Tree, can stay smaller if potted or grow to be as many as 6 ft. tall.   They do well indoor or outdoor with very little care and are popular for their strappy, colorful, palm-like leaves.

No-Fail Kitchen Color Combinations

pexels-photo-276554Walking down the paint aisle at the home improvement store can be overwhelming. With so many paint chips to choose from, where do you start? Let us help you whittle down the choices with our picks for the best kitchen color palettes.

Make your kitchen an expression of your personal style by drenching it in the colors you love. For a no-regrets approach, choose neutral tones for the expensive foundation elements (cabinets, floors, countertops, appliances) and introduce color on the walls, backsplash, window treatments, lighting, and other less-expensive accents. With this strategy, you can easily and affordably swap out the color scheme as your taste and popular trends change.

Chomping at the bit to pick the perfect palette for your kitchen? These delicious color combinations are sure to please.

Blue + Orange

Bring your kitchen to life with this energetic duo. Bold and juicy citrus orange pairs perfectly with soft blue. Plus, both colors complement bright white woodwork and provide lively punctuations against the austere backdrop of modern design.

Red + Yellow

This regal combination has been popular in Europe for generations, and it has found its way into modern design. Pair a deep red with golden yellow to evoke the sense of a stately English manor, a relaxed French country cottage, or a beautiful Tuscan villa. To make your kitchen feel larger, use yellow as the room’s anchor color, then add red accents to punctuate the design.

Gray + Purple

When paired with a deep charcoal gray, purple doesn’t seem quite as intimidating. A neutral base helps royal purple accents stand out without overwhelming the space. Balance rich, royal colors with plenty of white.

Black + White

Few color combinations are as balanced as black and white. Make use of the timeless duo by pairing white foundational elements with black accents. Further amp up visual interest by incorporating a black-and-white backsplash, wallpaper, or tile flooring.

Blue + Brown

This color combo has universal appeal. For modern or transitional homes, pair chocolate brown with crisp sky blue, and throw in a few bright accent colors for visual interest. In a country kitchen, pick robin’s egg blue and wheat brown, then layer on cream-color accents for a warm and cozy look. To give the duo a traditional feeling, choose deep shades of both colors and break up the dark tones with crisp white and rich gold accents.

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Does Your Home Staging Look Too Sterile? How to Warm Things Up

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Home staging—the practice of arranging furnishings and decor in a house so buyers can envision living there—is becoming an ever-more important tool for home sellers. In fact, studies show that staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more money than those that aren’t staged.

And yet: Home staging can be taken too far. Home sellers sometimes clear out every last family photo, pillow, and doo-dad until their house looks like a hotel for Scandinavian robots. How do you stage your home with warmth, so it looks as though humans live there? And by humans, we mean very tidy people with excellent taste but who still do stuff like eat and entertain? Here’s how to strike that warm yet aspirational balance, so that buyers feel that your house is the perfect place for them.

You still need to declutter

Even if you think you’re a minimalist, the truth is, we all tend to collect a lot of stuff. And that stuff is going to distract people from seeing the best features of your home. So reduce, reduce, reduce. You will probably end up adding a few things back in, but it’s easier to see what to keep if you’re starting with a nearly empty slate, so to speak.

Corcoran real estate agent Dennis Margulies, who stages most of the homes he sells, has edited back the belongings of clutter-loving clients “just for the photograph.” And when his clients see how amazing their decluttered home looks, they tend to want to do even more. So be merciless in your editing before you start adding the details that will warm up your space.

Furniture: Keep only the right stuff

How do you know how much of your furniture to keep? When Margulies works with estate sales, he keeps this principle in mind: “You’re trying to highlight the best attributes of the space.” So he’ll rearrange furniture (and remove some pieces) in order to make a room look and feel as spacious as possible. You want enough furniture to make the room comfortable, but not so much that people miss architectural details and the feel of the space itself.

If you are renting furniture to stage your home, don’t pick sets. That matchy-matchy look can create a sterile atmosphere, Margulies says. “Personality comes in when you mix things. There needs to be a sense of style.”

Warm up your lighting

“Changing the lighting makes a big difference,” says Margulies, “and it’s one of the simplest things you can do.” He says you should particularly consider this if you have directional lighting, such as spotlights or track lighting, which can create shadowy corners. What you want instead are rooms that are evenly lit throughout. This is especially important in the front entryway and in kitchens, Margulies says.

You also want to make sure that the light casts a warm glow. Triplemint agent Sam Lazar likes dimmers to create what he calls “golden hour” lighting, explaining, “You want to show that an apartment is bright, but doesn’t look like a hospital, with superbright lights.” So avoid those harsh, blueish LED light bulbs. Once you’ve got your primary lighting set, you can add in a subtle glow. “Literal warmth, like candles, or if possible, the fireplace if it’s winter, go a long way,” says Lazar.

Don’t be afraid of color

All the walls should be white, right? Not necessarily. While you don’t want to hit prospective buyers with a kaleidoscope of different colors in every room, one accent wall of color in the right place can be effective, says Margulies.

Bring in the green

Another way to make a minimalist space feel warm and vibrant is to add plants. “Definitely add flowers,” says Lazar. “Place flowers in several areas if you can, since they’re a touch of freshness that brightens the space.” So grab an arrangement, or opt for easy-to-care-for houseplants in attractive pots.

Now add some personal details

Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don’t have to banish every last personal object from your home before you show it. “Some family pictures are fine,” says Margulies. Just not all of them. Find the best ones, in the best frames (or have quality portraits reframed).

Yes, you can have a few throw pillows out. “Throw pillows and blankets project the fact that people live here and sit in those areas,” says Lazar. Just make sure they’re in good repair and in bright, harmonizing colors (this is another area that shouldn’t be matchy-matchy). And, if you have a dining area, “Set the table, and maybe add a centerpiece,” Lazar says. This could be a candlestick, or fresh flowers.

In bedrooms, Lazar likes a few well-edited personal items, like a ring dish or a small stack of books. “This also works in the bathrooms, which should have towels on racks and soap next to sinks.”

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Go Green At Home! Your Wallet Will Thank You!

Heating & Cooling 

Heating and Cooling your home takes up the lion’s share of energy consumption, but there are plenty of ways to mitigate the cost.  For starters, keep your ceiling fan running even in the winter when it is cold. The ceiling fan circulates more air, which makes heating and cooling easier. Next, consider insulating your attic.  Although this sounds like a big task, some insulations can be installed with just a small hole and there are lots of eco-friendly insulation fibers these days, like Green Fiber Cocoon. And while you’re insulating, make sure to seal up any gaps around doors and windows.  Last, set your thermostat at 68 during winter months and light up the fireplace. You’re probably thinking that chopping down trees to burn in your fireplace isn’t a green alternative? Try burning an eco-friendly alternative made from recycled coffee grounds; there are several brands to choose from these days, Bio-Bean, Java Log, and Pine Mountain to name a few.  They burn for 2-3 hours like a traditional log but produce 3 times the flame capacity. These logs burn 7 times cleaner than wood, produce 96 percent less residue and 54 percent less carbon dioxide than wood. You’ll love the gentle coffee aroma too!

Water

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Conserving water can be as easy as taking a shower instead of a bath, but for those looking to go the extra mile here are some more suggestions.  Try installing a water aerator on the faucet’s in your home; they’re inexpensive and almost invisible. They work by adding air to the stream of water coming out of the faucet, which still gives you a steady flow of water but can reduce water consumption by as much as 50% per use.  Another low-cost way to save more water is by installing low flow showerheads. These water efficient shower heads can save as much as 26 gallons of water per shower. Last, for all the garden lovers; try planning a garden composed of native and adaptive plants that require little to no watering.

Electricity

Whenever you leave a room, its best to turn off the light and most of us already know that.  But did you know that many of the devices in your home are drawing power even when they’re not being used?  It is best to unplug your gadgets when you’re not using them, but unplugging your TV, Bluray, etc. can become tiresome.  An easy way around this is using power strips which make it easy to switch everything off at once. Of course, these days there is another easy way to save on your electric bill if you have not already made the leap, consider installing solar panels on your home!  In sunny California, solar panels can save many homeowners about half of their entire electric bill!

 

5 Tips To Refresh Your Home For Spring Time

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It may still be snowing in some parts of the country, but spring is almost here. Before the flowers start budding outside, refresh the inside of your home to give your interior spaces that springtime glow.

Bring the outdoors inside
Adding fresh plants or flowers to an otherwise ho-hum space can spice things up in the blink of an eye. Even if you don’t have a garden full of fresh flowers to choose from, greens make a lovely addition to your living room, or even an eye-catching centerpiecefor your dining room table. Better Homes and Gardens suggests gathering a few fresh fern fronds for dramatic texture and rich color.

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Don’t be afraid to add color One of the easiest ways to perk up your space is to invest in a gallon of paint, call in reinforcements to help you out, and go to town with brushes and rollers. If you’re not incredibly adventurous when it comes to color choices but still want a pick-me-up, try going with a warmer, creamier version of the neutrals you already have; a creamy barely-yellow adds so much more warmth and interest than stark white. You could even paint an accent wall a bold, fun color and use that space to showcase some of your favorite art or family portraits for your own personal art gallery. ForRent.com suggests incorporating bright colors in a breakfast nook or one of the smaller spaces of your home or apartment. It’s less of a risk than painting your entire kitchen or living room, but still packs a punch.

Reorganize your bookshelves If you’ve got a fantastic library, now is a great time to take everything off the shelves, blow the dust off the covers, and reorganize. You might even consider artfully stacking books in different directions, some horizontal and some upright. Apartment Therapy reports some pretty impressive results simply by arranging books by color for a uniquely eye-catching display.

Update window treatments Spring is a great time to trade in your richly-textured drapes for lighter, breezier, more summery colors. If privacy isn’t a huge issue in a space, try adding light, breezy sheer curtains on a thin, minimalist rod. You’ll love how much the change automatically brightens your space. You might also consider substituting your ordinary blinds with Roman Shades. They’re a classier way to control light and privacy, and to update your style.

Make your entryway welcoming Upgrade (or thoroughly clean) your front-door mats and add a wreath to your front door. This could be a fun DIY project for the entire family. Make sure you have an efficient landing spot just inside your front door — a place to drop keys and hang up a coat or jacket before coming inside. This is also a great place for a fun mirror and a flower arrangement. Your home’s entryway often gives guests their very first impression of your home, so make it shine with your family’s personality and a touch of style.

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February home to-do’s

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You started off the new year with resolutions for yourself and goals for the home. As you now begin to settle into your new lifestyle, it’s important to clean up clutter at home and look forward to the months ahead. Winter is slowly coming to an end, and your house maintenance needs to reflect a fresh spring feel. Take a look at five chores to help give your home a boost of spring.

Clean up indoor paint

Unless your wall needs a fresh coat of paint, go through them with a sponge and freshen up the paint on your doors and cabinets. Take a deeper look and spot the smudges and dust that builds up in these areas. An easy run through will freshen the paint in the house and reduce the need for a new paint job.

Clean under the heavy stuff

It took time and lot of energy to put the fridge where it currently stands, the oven in its place, and the dresser in its corner. It’s understandable not to want to move them again. Though, there is dust and trash that can slip into these areas. These are not everyday chores, but it is important to clean under these untouched spots to prevent bad build up over time.

Raid the Fridge

A common trend that tends to happen during the new year is putting more food in the fridge than we take out. With our new diets or eating styles we outlined in the new year, eventually, there are a few of those items we just don’t get around too as much as we had hoped. Take some time to dispose of those items that got pushed to the back of the fridge.

Mattress and Bedding

Clean up the mattress by vacuuming and laying it on its side to fully air itself out. Replace the current sheets you have to give the bed a fresh new feel. It might be a good time to start packing up the winter weather bedding and start replacing it with a springtime vibe.

Windows/Screens

There are a few windows that get all the attention while the rest get none. The dust and grime that gets into the surface of your windows will make them look old and cloudy. Take a look at the windows around the house and grab some window-cleaner to take the cloudiness right off.

Tips on getting the home tax deductions you’re entitled to

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Taxes can be difficult for even seasoned homeowners to understand. With new tax legislation that was passed on December 22, 2017, there may be changes to the taxes you file this year. The following tips can help ensure you’re filing for and receiving all of the home-related tax deductions you’re entitled to.

1. Mortgage Interest Deduction

The Mortgage Interest Deduction can be used by itemizing using Schedule A. To qualify, the mortgage must be secured by either your primary or secondary home; homes, trailers, boats, and RVs can all qualify as long as they have a sleeping area, cooking area, and bathroom.

Interest on mortgages up to $1 million, or up to $500,000 for married couples filing separately, can be deducted. Likewise, if you have an additional loan such as a second mortgage, home equity line of credit, or home equity loan, the additional interest is still deductible up to a total amount of $1 million on all home loans.

While it will not affect your filing this year, beginning in tax year 2018 the mortgage interest deduction cap will be $750,000. The accompanying increase in the standard deduction may make it more worthwhile for homeowners not to itemize in the future.

2. Prepaid Interest Deduction

If you bought a home during 2017, the interest – or points – you prepaid may be 100% deductible along with the mortgage interest deduction. Prepaid interest deductions are also reported using Schedule A; your lender will provide you with a form 1098 that details the amount paid either when closing the mortgage or after refinancing.

 

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