Monday, December 28, 2015


The idea of saving money in itself is daunting, let alone the amount of money you need to buy your first home. So how do you get from I want to buy a home to moving into your new home? Here are some tips that will help you along that journey.


Figure out how much do you need. Check out mortgage calculators on sites such as – these will give you an idea of monthly payments in the different price ranges. Keeping in mind ratios the lenders use for income to debt/payment.  Once you have an approximate range plan on putting down at least 3.5% of the total cost of the home as a down payment and another 3-4% in closing costs. With a reasonable offer you can ask the seller to help with closing costs. 

So now you have an idea of what you need in the bank to start your home search. Great now let’s get that money actually into the bank.

The obvious is to look at your expenses and cut out or back discretionary spending. 

Have your payroll department automatically put some of you paycheck into a savings account.

Check and see if you credit card has a cash back option – devote cash back money to your new home fund.

You don’t have to give up an active social life just because you are saving for a home – many Park and Recreation Departments have lost of free events as well as your local Visitor Centers.  Meet Up can point you to many opportunities for social outings that are free or almost free,

For ideas and inspiration visit this site:,her site has a wealth of information on opportunities to earn extra money, managing money and living on less.

Look at ALL your loan options there are many programs out there to help you get a home.

 In Ohio there is the Ohio Financing Agency - they have some wonderful programs that grant you money for a home purchase. This agency is not unique to Ohio all states have some form of this program.

The USDA has an excellent loan program for home purchases in Qualified areas, - the beauty of these loans is they do not have Private Mortgage Insurance so payments are lower than if you used an FHA loan.

The VA Loan is a wonderful benefit for Military and Veterans – no money down, no Private Mortgage Insurance

Homes for Heroes program is a program that rebates back part of the purchase money at closing This program covers, military, veterans, teachers, law enforcement, first responders, health care workers.

Talk to a knowledgeable Realtor – they can help guide you on loans, price points, special programs and help you find a lender that will guide on the loan process. Remember buyer representation does not cost you money – I am  ALWAYS happy to sit down and get someone started on the home buying journey even if we are a year or more away.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Never Forget....

Monday, December 7th - Pearl Harbor Day - I had the honor of attending a beautiful ceremony at the our State House. It was the Wreaths Across America Capitol State House Wreath Laying Ceremony. I was moved by the dedication the organizers have to make sure our Veterans are not forgotten.  There was a few brief introductions, the pledge of allegiance and few spoke reminding us the sacrifice made by others for our freedom. Paul Cline of Rolling Thunder ( spoke poignantly of the soldiers and sailors that became POW's or MIA in all wars and military actions. Their life's work is to correct that and make sure no warrior is left behind or forgotten.

Rebecca Frank of Gold Star Mothers ( spoke not of her loss but of a man that was a Pearl Harbor survivor, a man that helped save many lives as the bombs fell. She spoke of how at the end of his service he quietly went back to Medina County in Ohio and lived out his life without fanfare and without many even knowing his contribution to our country. It was a reminder of all the people that ensure our freedom and do so without asking for acknowledgement or accolades. It's easy to revere the actions of our warriors in the highly publicized missions, lest we forget the thousands of others that serve in ways we will never know. These quiet warriors do their time in the service, come home and quietly assimilate back into civilian life asking for nothing but what they earn.

On Saturday, December12, 2015 at Arlington Cemetery ( thousands of wreaths will be carefully laid upon the final resting place of the veterans. These wreaths are placed to carry out the mission of Wreaths Across America. In similar ceremonies at hundreds of cemeteries across the country, veterans graves will have a wreath laid upon them to fulfill the mission statement of Wreaths Across America. Please take some time this holiday season to honor our veterans and remember that freedom is not free.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Turkeys Are Not Thankful For Thanksgiving

It seems like 2015 has just flown by - like others have expressed I cannot believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thanksgiving use to be the kickoff of the holiday season; now it seems like a speed bump as we rush into a flurry of gift buying, parties and seasonal events. I truly miss the days when my large extended family would get together to break bread, catch up and give thanks.

This year we will have a few empty places at our table. As we all move around it becomes harder to gather everyone for this one special meal. My daughter will spend her Thanksgiving overseas with her Navy family. She will be with us in spirit as we will be with her in spirit. We will be grateful to her and all service members protecting this great nation.

I challenge you to not let this day pass without spending time with people you love, admire, rely on. Family is not always defined by shared DNA. Eat, talk, play a game - it doesn't matter what you do just enjoy each other. Please don't buy into the retail driven frenzy of gift giving. The greatest gift we can give is our time, time is something we will run out of - not gadgets, electronics, etc. Make a memory, take a few pictures and don't forget to have them printed and send them to each other, share the moments.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

So You Think You Know Your City

Recently we moved to the Columbus area. We have several people we know that have lived in this area for a long time - all of them sing praises for Columbus. Although the eye rolling starts when they talk about the amount of traffic, faces brighten when the very fact you can hop on I270 and get just about anywhere in the area in 20 minutes. Being in the state capital creates an energy you often do not experience anywhere else in the state.

Although we had spent lots of time in the area, when we decided to call it home we hungered to learn where the natives go. We have set out to learn about our new home. As we discovered neighborhood restaurants, checked out boutiques, dug through the internet for events we have found an engaged, vibrant community. It seems like every corner holds a secret treasure. Many of the people we know that have lived here for a long time have forgotten about many of these events and places.

Years ago, when we lived in the Cleveland area,  we had a German student stay with us for part of a summer. We set a goal to really show her around, we wanted to share our American life with her. As we started to research places to go we found a whole new Northeast Ohio we had forgotten existed. It opened our eyes and heart to all the wonderful neighborhoods, market places, museums, events and boutiques we had all but forgotten.

So if you think you know your city do yourself a favor look at it through the eyes of a stranger and make it new all over again. Enjoy a day at the Columbus Zoo, check out German Village and Schiller Park, take a walk through Short North- stop in Revue and experience the amazing items consigned and waiting to be loved by new owners. Take a walking tour from the Columbus Landmark Society and learn a few tidbits of history about Columbus - they may surprise you. Drop by the remodeled Columbus Museum of Art - check out the Topiary Garden in Olde Towne East. Spend a day getting to know an old friend, you might be surprised at how much Columbus has to offer.

A great source of information on events in Columbus is,

Happy Exploring!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


2015 Italian Festival

Since 1980 St John the Baptist Church in Columbus has been celebrating their Italian heritage with an annual festival. I had the pleasure of attending this year and was humbled by the dedication the parishioners have to making this a wonderful family event in Columbus. From the vendors, the food, games and the entertainment every thing reflected how excited this parish is to share their Italian heritage!

My family attended multiple days; each day offered a different experience. On Friday evening my daughter and I enjoyed dinner, cannoli’s and a brief Italian language lesson.  We also went to a demonstration by one of the parishioners on how to make pizza dough. I have for many years struggled with yeast based dough and I learned a few tips, pointers and techniques that will draw me back into the kitchen to try again.

The highlight of our Friday evening was watching the Tarantella – it brought back such wonderful memories of watching my own Great Grandmother, Grandmother and other family members dance that traditional, joyful Italian dance.  Friday was such a beautiful evening to enjoy the bands and talking with many of the volunteers as they mingled with the crowd.

Sunday’s weather was perfect for being outside. My family and I grabbed some homemade gnocchi, portabella mushroom ravioli and enjoyed the entertainment. After we took my granddaughter to the kid’s tent where she could color and make a macaroni necklace.  There were a handful of rides, just enough to keep the kids happy but not so many that it the rides overtook the celebration.  The crowd was lively and enjoying taking in all the culture and entertainment offered. This is defiantly a must do in Columbus.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Grab One Last Handful Of Summer!!



1        Columbus Museum of Art – Free Admission on Sundays!
3        Columbus commons – Free Fitness classes throughout the week for class schedules

4        Ohio State house Tours – Free –
6        Fountain Side at Scioto Fountains – multiple family friendly events

7        Grab the C-Bus for a Free ride to get around the Short North/Brewery District/German
Village/pm – Victorian Village

8        Short North Gallery Hop – the first Saturday of the month from 4-10 pm check out the art galleries, shopping and restaurants.

9        The Garden as Gatz in Grove City – located on Home Rd this gem has 3 gardens to tour – perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.

10    Anthony Thomas Factory – take the tour then enjoy the chocolate!! Tour days are tues/wed/thru  9:30-2:30

11    The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum located at the Ohio State University what a fun way to spend an afternoon!

12    Easton Town Center – free splash pad daily, family friendly movies on Tuesday! They even provide free towels on Sundays!

Friday, August 21, 2015


Who Has The Best Taco In Columbus?

Well I don’t believe the votes are in yet, however, I think Columbus Underground wins for holding the best taco event.

Thursday evening Columbus Underground held their Best Bites Taco Event and once again guests were treated to a mouth watering array of tacos. There were chicken based tacos, pork tacos, beef tacos, and of course fish tacos. The creativity that went into the different toppings and presentation offered something that would surely delight even the finickiest of taste bud!

We got to Huntington Park right when the event opened, checked in and started to feast! The weather was great, people were happy, we enjoyed the DJ and I have to reveal Katalina’s got my vote for best taco. A great big thank you to all the people who worked the event, all of the participating restaurants worked really hard to present their tacos and engage the guests. These events provide the perfect opportunity to taste some of the offerings from local restaurants –Thank You Again Columbus Underground!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Seller Beware!!

Sellers Beware!!
               5 Things you Need to Know About the Real Estate Agent you Hire

Ask any family member, friend, business associate if they know a Real Estate Agent and I bet they know at least one if not two or more! However, what do they know about the health of that agents business? Do they know about their production, if they have a specialty or how active they are in the real estate community? All agents are not equal. Do you really want to put the sale of what is probably one of your largest investments in the hands of just any agent?

Here are five things you should talk about when interviewing a real estate agent:

1.      Are you a Realtor?  - Not all real estate agents are Realtors. Realtors commit to a strict code of ethics and are provided with continuing education, the opportunity to expand their knowledge through designations and care enough about their business to belong to professional organizations committed to raising the standards of agents.

2.      Do you run your real estate business full time? Real estate transactions can get complicated and there are lots of time sensitive details, a full time Realtor’s first line of business is real estate. That’s not to say expect your agent to be available 24/7 but when you are working on deadlines it’s reasonable to expect your agent will be available and focused on your transaction.

3.      Are you part of a team or a single agent? With all that needs to be done to properly market your home – photos, MLS entry, letting the other realtors know your home is available, letting their database know your home is available, internet marketing, getting the paperwork into their office, etc, etc can they really do it all without the administrative support that a team provides? Not to mention every member of that team wants to sell your home the minute it hits the market they are calling their buyers.

4.      Do you use a showing service to schedule showings? Using a showing service means no missed calls and the showing service verifies the person calling ACTUALLY IS an active agent – they also follow up with every showing for feedback so you know what the prospective buyer thought of your house.

5.      What type of internet marketing do you do for your listings? Are your listings entered for search engine optimization? Do you have premium accounts on all major real estate websites?  Internet advertising is crucial for your home. The National Association of Realtors in a 2014 profile of buyers share that 92% of buyers use the internet for their home search. Make sure your home is one of the first homes found when buyers are searching.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ohio State Fair Time!!

A long standing tradition across America is the County or State Fair. What a great way to spend time with your family enjoying the sites, sounds, food and displays! No surprise to those that know me the animals are ALWAYS where I start my fair visit!! It never ceases to amaze me the creativity people have when I go through the art exhibits, quilting and baking. So much pride and commitment!

So before you say goodbye to summer make sure to stop at your local fair!!

For more information on the Ohio State Fair visit:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Is It Time To Buy a Home?

Sorry I don't have a crystal ball that looks into the future. What I can say is this - the economist are telling us prices will continue to rise both for homes and for rents. They have also said we will see a slight increase in interest. What that means to you as a buyer the higher the interest rate the less home you will be able to buy and ditto for the rise in home prices. 

So is it time to buy - it may be if you are financially ready and emotionally ready. There are some really great deals out there and some homes ready for a new owner's imagination to freshen up things. 

If you decide you are ready here are a few initial steps you should take. 

Gather your financial documents and create a financial resume. Your lender will ask for paycheck stubs, tax returns and anything that plays into your finances. Call a few lenders find out what loan products they offer, interest rates, loan costs and how long does it take to process a loan. It is imperative you get a pre-approval prior to looking at homes. Get a Real Estate Agent - preferably a Realtor. Your agent is a very important resource - they can help line you up with a lender too. Agents know the market, they will represent YOU and most of the time their pay will come from the seller. Having someone to negotiate on your behalf, help with inspectors, title, and generally coordinate all the parts of your transaction is so important. 

Lastly get an idea of where you want to live, what your must have features are and what will be a deal breaker. If you are not sure where you want to be drive through different areas and see what amenities they provide, work on figuring out what you want from your neighborhood. Then call your Realtor and start your search.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Shut Up! The Front Door Was What color?

Oh the psychology of color.

Without realizing it color often affects our moods or motivation. So can you affect potential buyers of your home – while the wrong color won’t make your home unsalable, a complementary color that helps reflect the style of your home and is well balanced with the exterior component will definitely help buyers get excited about seeing your home!

Picture a typical formal colonial, now picture that colonial with an over the top art deco style door painted neon orange. Ok so that’s bit crazy, but you get my point. Door styles need to fit in with the home to create a harmony. If you have a more rustic setting with a ranch a more rustic door is going to be better visually than a stately door with rod iron. A more contemporary style home needs a door that is not elaborate, clean lines and a currently popular color.

So what does color say? There are many articles about colors and their meanings and many different opinions of what a color says. However, most will agree yellow is a happy color, a red door is welcoming, looking for a cool sophisticated look? – black is your color, blue is calming and a brown door feels very grounded. Set the tone with your front door color and make sure the flowers and foliage you choose carry the same tone- the results will give the buyers a feeling of a well cared for home.

Friday, July 10, 2015

You Had Me At The Front Door

Are you thinking about selling your home in the near future? If so, I have a confession to make. Last fall my husband and I were touring open houses. We identified a few areas, knew our budget, open to different styles but getting down to the nitty gritty we wanted something we could snag under market. There were certain conditions we did not want to correct. We targeted neighborhoods where market conditions of homes were good to excellent and values were headed up.

We had our route set for the day and we headed to our first neighborhood. What luck there were three advertised open houses in our price range. As we drove down the first street we noticed two additional unadvertised open houses. I pulled both up on my phone, one was in our range and was obvious it needed work; the other was out of the price ranges we had searched.

We decided to look at both just because we were there and had the time. The home that needed work, REALLY needed work I felt totally overwhelmed from the moment I walked thru the first level.  So, on we go the higher priced home. Wow! I knew the moment I hit the front steps this home could be the one. The house was creamy tending toward yellow siding with not quite brown, not quite green trim and a purple door. Here comes the confession; that door was such a turn off, the color was wrong, the condition was suggested the home wan not well maintained, the storm door was a disaster and it told me right away the seller’s had put no thought into their curb appeal and I could get this house well under their asking price.

Too often sellers do not take into consideration their front door. When you pull up to a home you immediately, often unconsciously, scan the front of the house for the front door. Keeping in mind how you live in a home and how you sell a home are two different life styles. While a purple door is not inherently a no no. For this house it threw off the whole entry. The color did not complement the style, the brick or any of the exterior. The condition of the door and storm door led us to believe the home had not been loved - made it feel like it was lacking in maintenance, style, and generally unkempt. As we walked through the home my negative first impression of the house played a role as I evaluated the floor plan, condition and what I would offer. Lesson one is start your buyer’s tours on a high note and then keep meeting their expectations and end that tour with an offer!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Party At The Columbus Zoo!

One of my favorite places to go is the zoo. When I travel I try to visit the local zoo and I have seen some really wonderful zoos. So it makes sense that one of my favorite fundraisers is ZOOFARI, held every June at the Columbus Zoo. After an all day rain that soaked the entire central Ohio area, Saturday night turned into a beautiful summer evening!

One thing that impresses me about this fundraiser is they try to make it better every year. Last year the crowds were a bit overwhelming - a tribute to how popular this event is. So this year they seemed to have spread everything out a bit more easing the crowding. The food was a usual plenty and delicious.

What is this even you ask? Well the zoo is opened up to adults only for entertainment, animal viewing, area restaurants, beverage, companies, and retail food establishments showcase a dish or two from their menus. A ticket, for general admission, cost $85.00 (included 3 drink tickets) and you can eat till your heart's content. We feasted on Hawaiian tacos, meatballs with a spicy marina sauce, red white and blue pancakes,pepperoni bread,  wings - you name it they had it! The vendors are spread throughout the Zoo so you walk enjoy an adult beverage or 2 eat and listen to the bands.

A big thank you goes to the many people that volunteer to work the event, the vendors - this is a huge undertaking for them and the people that I am certain work hard all year round planning and preparing. It was a great night - for more information check out the Zoo's web page

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Home Selling Tip - Don't forget to Invite in Buyers!

Buyers Welcome!

Buyer’s interest levels are often determined from the moment they pull up to a home. Does your home say welcome? While the obvious is to have the landscaping well maintained and the area neat and clean, take one step further.  To put into context when the Realtor is unlocking the door, your potential buyers are looking around and passing judgment. What does your front entry say about your house?

Don’t let staging end at the interior front door. Make sure you stage your front porch. Start with the light fixture is is clean? Is it dated – for big paybacks change it if the condition or style warrants it. Make sure you consider your homes style and what finish hardware is on your front door. The fastest way to look like you threw new things in is to have mismatched hardware. Add a new welcome mat, some flowers or tasteful seasonal decoration and don’t forget the door!

What does your door look like? Is it faded and weathered? Does the color complement the other exterior components of your house? If not time to put some thought into your door and make sure buyers are excited to go in and tour your home.

If you‘re thinking of changing the door, consider the style of your home and choose a door that makes sense. Putting a gingerbread door on contemporary home would look out of place. Wild bright colors are great if you want your personality to shine through, but you want the buyer to see themselves in the home so a more neutral color that works with your roof, siding, stone work or brick is in order. Also consider how much sun the door will get – don’t turn off buyers by having a dark color door that absorbs the morning sun making it hot to the touch – the first thought will be “how much will it cost to cool this place?”

Well balanced neutral colors, clean matting, well placed planter with real flowers and foliage can make for a very welcoming front entry. Mulch is a nice finishing touch for your newly trimmed bushes and edged beds. Keep in mind while the agent opens the door the buyers will look around for clues about your home. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cityfied Living

Did you know Columbus ranked #15 in the Spring of 2015 Largest U.S. Cities poll? Have you been downtown lately? If not there is an abundance of events to attend, restaurants to dine at, shopping and just a really positive vibe to move to!

Recently I attended Columbus Underground's "Urban Living Tour 2015". This self-guided tour had 30 stops designed around introducing you to all downtown has to offer - rentals, amenities, and condos. What a jewel downtown Columbus is! Easy to walk around and each area has a different flavor - German Village, Victorian Village, Italian Village, Arena District, brewery District, Short North and the middle of it all downtown area.

Columbus Commons is right in the heart of it all - offering free fitness classes on the weekends, movie nights, a merry-go-round for the kids and lots of events. A short walk from there is the Scioto Fountains - a great for cooling off on a warm day and for relaxing in front of in the evenings. A short bus ride away is Short North with shopping, Pubs and galleries.

Some of the hottest properties can be found in downtown, Hip retrofitted buildings offer a variety of space with great city and river views. For condos is the premier site to learn about downtown living options. The Columbus Underground Urban Living Tour was a great way to experience the rich lifestyle Columbus has to offer!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Best Burger in Columbus!- Eating My Way Through Columbus

This past week I had the good fortune to attend an event in the Brewery District put on by Columbus Underground. When I saw the advertisement for it I knew it was right up my husbands taste buds! Thursday evening The Best Bites: Burgers was held at the Brewmasters Gate. Great venue, well attended and some really good burgers! We ate our way through with all kinds of burgers – black bean, duck, burgers with jelly and peanut butter, many flavors combinations. The restaurants were very generous with their samples and the people staffing the various tables were upbeat friendly and obviously enjoying the event.

What a great way to sample food from various restaurants and see the creativity the chefs put into what is generally humble fare. They truly raised burgers to an upscale tasty bite. And the winner is ….. Galleria Bar an Bistro with a beautifully crafted burger of Ohio beef topped with mortadella, provolone, pickeled pepperoncini, smoked onion, dijonnaise, a chianti-tomato jam and shredded romains. Each piece of this burger complimented and elevated the other. I definitely would recommend  the “Italian Village” burger.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Eating My Way Through Columbus

Our recent move to Columbus is giving us the opportunity to view daily life from a fresh perspective. There is something to be said about having to start fresh - find the grocery store that fits your needs best, the best restaurants, the dog park, walking paths, etc. So this is me sharing my new environment.

One thing I have always noticed about Columbus is how many restaurants and the wide variety of restaurants. On any given night diners fill eateries to enjoy a meal and lively conversation. So I have decided one of the best ways for me to get to know the real Columbus is to get to know the restaurants. Growing up in the grocery business my taste buds are a bit adventurous, however, my husband, Dino is more meat and potatoes and a very vanilla environment. We’ll work on changing that. Recently we stopped by Holy Smoke Barbeque on Hamilton Rd in Gahanna. They also have a location in the North Market.  Very friendly family atmosphere, full bar and an adequate menu started our dining experience on the plus side!

Our waiter graciously brought us some samples of local crafted beer and we both choose a light crisp beer. We ordered an appetizer of hush puppies – I have not had hush puppies in years. We really enjoyed the deep fried treats with a nice selection of barbeque sauce for dipping. Next I had a trio of slider – chicken, pork and turkey. The chicken was bit spicier than I had anticipated, the turkey was very good but I really could not get enough of the pork. Oddly enough I am not a huge pork eater so it was surprising that the pork slider was the one that really made my taste buds go crazy! It was cooked just right, not too dry and the delicate smoky flavor balanced nicely with the tender pork. Overall we had a great meal at a great price and we can’t wait to stop in again!